When I was just a boy, I came up with the unusual idea of writing letters to all the embassies in Ottawa requesting they mail me a copy of their country’s map. Who could refuse the request of a 10-year-old? Soon, my bedroom wall became a patchwork of oceans and mountains, roads and rail lines from places like the Netherlands, India, and Ghana. At our Hong Kong Advance, when Jason brought up the metaphor of mapmaking, my ears perked up. (more…)
I start with this short clip because the fast-paced, city look and feel with its 8,000+ skyscrapers made the biggest impression on me more than anything else. There were plenty of times during my stay in Hong Kong when I felt the need to retreat and collect my thoughts and process the experiences of the days gone by and the days ahead. Ironically enough the place I sought sanctuary was at the local McDonalds which was a few blocks away from Panda Hotel, the hotel where our cohort stayed. Back home, a McDonalds would be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind to find peace and quiet. But in Hong Kong, where everyone is constantly on the move, McDonalds was the closest any place I could find in Hong Kong where some respite was found. Surprisingly, Starbucks was not even an option since the interior design was meant for people on the go. The tables and chairs, sans walls were empty; meant for passersby. (more…)
If South Africa was magical, then Hong Kong was insane. Literally insane. The city of Hong Kong should not exist. All of the elements that had to come together to make Hong Kong what it is, is truly bizarre. Witnessing the different parts of Hong Kong as a westerner was a demanding task. More than once a day I would be hit with the strange sensation of having your mind blown. The trip was barely walking the shore of a new land while of waves after waves of revelation and eye-opening experiences were crashing over us. After so much of this, at my biggest revelation began to to be how much safety and amazement I could have when I finally encountered something familiar. (more…)
“Turn yourself upside-down and look in a different manner.” The advice offered by Dr. Stephen Miller, Regional Director of East Asia Mission to Seafarers, intrigued me. As a child, I loved standing on my hands and seeing the world from a different perspective. Grown-ups rarely turn themselves upside-down on purpose. We wobble and weaken when flipped head to toe, and adults prefer to take stances that are stable and strong. But travel into a different culture–if you really choose to enter in–will turn you upside-down. You can either fight to find your equilibrium or choose, instead, to take in the view. (more…)
As I reflect on this past year, probably the most surprising part of this journey has been the amazing friendships I have developed with the wonderful people in my LGP8 cohort. I didn’t realize I would gain this extra benefit from pursuing my Doctor of Ministry, but it has definitely been a pleasant surprise. I can confidently say that my first advance to Cape Town, South Africa changed me. I will never look at apartheid the same or forget the tragic stories of how the extreme discrimination affected the people of South Africa. I have also changed in the way I look at my topic of research. As I have read and researched my topic of gender-balanced leadership, I have become even more passionate about making a difference in closing this long-standing gender-leadership gap in top leadership positions around the country and in almost every sector of life. I also see myself leading differently and being more deliberate in advocating for female leaders and educating others about the gender-balanced leadership crisis. I also feel more confident in my leadership as I read materials from the experts and discuss leadership principles with my colleagues over Zoom chats and blog discussions. (more…)
Since I first visited Asia when I was fifteen, I have been smitten. My time in Hong Kong only deepened it. What I mean is that I like the people, the places and the culture I experienced. There was a warmth that felt familiar but a pervasive drive, efficiency and sharpness of mind that was distinct.
Culture can be experienced many ways and food is one of my favorites. Eating good, local food and walking the streets of Hong Kong was of personal interest to me. And I got the feeling I was just scratching the surface. (more…)
Eight days of intense immersion into the Hong Kong culture had left me exhausted and even frustrated. It had been nonstop with six speaking engagements, meetings, touring, and that was before the cohort arrived. The environment of small spaces in the hotel room, elevators, buses and trains with so many people in extremely close proximity constantly in a flurry of activity was draining for this introvert.
Mong Kok was a fast paced, densely populated area of diverse stories. As we walked the streets I attempted to look into the eyes of those I passed. In most of the adults there was a somber expression and I realized I was reflecting the expression I was seeing. The only souls that were uniquely set apart were the children. Every group we passed going to and from school still had a face of wonder and laughter. This was in stark contrast to the countenance of most of the elders I observed. (more…)
Arrival in Hong Kong brought both a sense of relief and renewed expectation. Relief because I was finally able to begin the Doctor of Ministry programme, and renewed hope because I was supposed to be in Portland, Oregon doing Semiotics. The Lord works in mysterious ways. (more…)
I’m sitting in my stark white condo tower in Toronto calling the electric company and internet provider to cancel service beginning Sunday. We have a U-Haul truck lined up for Friday to cart the remainder of our possessions 14 hours east to the Maritimes. It’s the end of a long, slow, and sometimes painful 18-month transition from big city action to rural peace. And this DMin course and colleagues have accompanied me and unknowingly influenced me through this change of letting go, moving to obscurity, and being ok with less busyness. (more…)
Not often does one get the privilege to enter into the inner sanctum of another culture. To be able to see inside the way the people go about their daily lives and embracing the world through their eyes. The East Meets West Advance 2018 with George Fox University provided just that experience.
Before attending the advance, your thoughts and heart engage with the lives of the people through readings that connect you to the heartbeat of the culture. Though the texts are great nothing prepares you for the moment when the pages come to life before your eyes. The moment with the familiar is relevantly unfamiliar, and everything you thought of Hong Kong tantalizes your senses.
The sounds of the people in the marketplace, children in the schoolyards, and the hush sounds in the crowded subways. Extra moments are taken to breathe in the bountiful city landscapes and intentionality design beautiful architecture in the high rise building. Slower strides are made as you pass the parks filled with people of multiple nationalities, Indian, African, Chinese, Norweign, and the thought comes to mind of how similar our cultures are yet different. We all have different ways of thinking, religious, family traditions, socio-economic statuses but we are all also God’s creations. Created different with our individual paths.
Your horizons widen as you embrace the vision of a people of strength and hope facing a future yet unknown to them. A struggle to balance the haves and have-nots, the Chinese or Hong Kongers, the future or now, meet them every day. However, when they speak wisdom flows from deep places of experience and grit. From the young people in the Umbrella Revolution to the asylum seekers from South Africa, Sir Lanka and more, their stories force the challenger to arise in all that hear them.
You will leave the advance fully aware of who you are and the part you play in this big beautiful world. You will understand that culture does not divide us, it unites us.
As we continue on this journey of life we will see things from a different of view; a different view of looking beyond the lens, if you would.
Visiting Hong Kong in 2018 with my wife, after Cape Town in 2017 and previously being missionaries in Botswana and Zambia 2009-2011, was something I always hoped we could accomplish. I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of the Hongkonger culture. This ethnographic post is my story from the 2018 Face-to-Face Advance with my Leadership and Global Perspectives (LGP) class. Personal interest, new knowledge, practice, and application are the key themes I will reflect on and show examples of learning synthesis. (more…)
Glo and I had arrived for the Hong Kong advance a day early to get on local time and rest up. This picture was taken on Tuesday evening, September 25th, during our first advance activity (a meet-and-greet at a restaurant within the Panda Hotel complex). Not wanting to be late (as always) we were some of the first ones to arrive. We were tired and exhausted. Glo is always sweet and gracious when she is tired; I am not. We desperately wanted to find someone to talk to who was friendly and kind. We met Chris Roush who was one of the faculty advisors (not knowing anyone, we initially thought she might be a fellow cohort participant). We immediately connected and became fast friends. Chris may never know how she helped launch this life-changing experience for us. Thank you, Lord, for Chris! (more…)
When friends or family have asked about this new doctoral program that I started this year, I have explained it all to them again and again. And as I describe it to other people, I realize again: if I were going to make up a DMin program that fits for me and my interests, this is it! People constantly say things to me like, “yea, that sounds exactly like your kind of program.”
Looking back, I have been pleasantly surprised to see how my DMin work has fit into the rest of my life. There have been some intense periods when it felt like everything was due at the same time or where there are more assignments than I had wanted to do, but in general it has become part of the flow of my week. (more…)
I fell into the program in the midst of a headlong sprint having just completed my Master of Divinity degree in 3 hard years and passing the 5 required ordination exams for my denomination. I figured; ‘Why stop now? Might as well keep pushing and get the doctorate knocked out too.’ In hindsight a brief pause for air was probably in order.
The LGP program fell out amongst several other options as the one that seemed to be leading in the direction I felt I desired to head. That sentiment has proved to be salient as the initial advance in Cape Town, the connection with the LGP #8 cohort, the weekly Zoom meetings, faculty advisor correspondence, guidance of the lead mentor and even the uncomfortable introspection required to complete the PLDP have coalesced into an experience that has helped alter my perspective toward ministry, broadened my understanding of the world God created and shaped my own spiritual growth in unanticipated ways. (more…)
I’m alive and well – albeit tired – and still functioning fairly well four semesters after my program start. Unlike most of my cohort, I didn’t have formal theology/divinity education prior to enrolling in George Fox so I started leveling classes the summer prior to the program start (summer 17). I knew from reading bios/facebook introductions and synchronous initial introductions our first week that I would have a resource of amazing colleagues within the elite 8 cohort. What I didn’t know then, that I know now, is how significant the friendships would be – how much I would enjoy both social and academic banter with each member of the group. I’ve grown to respect every member of our cohort – even through our philosophical differences – and to value challenging feedback through synchronous and asynchronous discussions. One year later I feel transformed in my friendships, learning, and capacity to function under pressure. (more…)