The opportunity to travel to Hong Kong was a dream come true for me. In a way, I forfeited a year of college at Portland U for the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures through the eyes of a ministry program. And I do not regret my decision!
This Advance was my first trip overseas…and it did not disappoint. I was interested in learning about the Chinese culture and stepping out of my comfort zone. My kids have always told me that I live in a ‘bubble’ and, after traveling, I realized they were right! I have always had a passion for traveling, but the opportunity has not been there for me. The Advance opened that door and pushed me to experience more than I could have imagined.
I learned so much about Hong Kong that I never knew until I read the Modern History of Hong Kong. I had no idea that the British had any relationship to Hong Kong prior to reading the book. I also found it fascinating that Hong Kongers consider themselves Chinese, but do not consider themselves a part of China. After traveling there, I had no doubt that Hong Kong truly is the skyscraper capital of the world!
I also found Pullinger’s Chasing the Dragon to be eye-opening as it explored the ‘dark kingdom’ of drugs and human trafficking. I found the experience of touring St. Stephens Society in Hong Kong to be one of the most enlightening experiences of the trip. Worshipping with drug dealers/addicts was both engaging and powerful. There is no doubt that our Heavenly Father is the center of St. Stephens Society, as it is through God’s loving touch that barriers are being broken and healing is taking place.
I have had the blessed opportunity to share my photos of Hong Kong as a slide show presentation at many nursing homes and assisted living facility that I serve at as Chaplain since my return from China. I often hear from individuals at the end of their lives that they wished they had traveled more. So, presenting the slide show allowed them to enjoy and live vicariously through my experiences. It has brought light to so many who are at life-end on this earth and it is a joy that radiates from me to them. It has been a privileged for me to share my adventures.
I think one of the most powerful learning experiences for me from the Advance is the understanding and belief that the world is made up of all difference types of people and yet most of us are striving for the same thing: to truly make a difference and to follow our faith as we journey through life. Whether we are Christian or Buddhist or any other type of religion, most of us believe in a Higher Power and trust that this Higher Power will mean an eternal life after we leave this earth behind. Visiting the Temple made me understand that although there are many types of beliefs, we all believe that there is an answer through faith.
It was such a blessing to see that Christianity holds a powerful presence in Hong Kong. Listening to so many amazing speakers talk about their Christian faith walk and seeing the Christian-based churches located within a communist community was beyond words for me. I was awestruck and amazed that we could openly share our Christian faith – with some restrictions. But even the Hong Kong Baptist University holds a strong Christian focus within a Buddhist-focused culture, and this was an incredible and eye-opening experience for me.
After returning to the USA and sharing my traveling experiences with many others, I am amazed at how many people have stated that I am an inspiration to them. They noted that my desire to travel alone to a foreign country: navigating airports, experiencing prior travels through Thailand before arriving in Hong Kong, and then experiencing China with people I have never met is inspirational to many of my friends and acquaintances. Their feeling is that if I can do it, so can they. So not only has this Advance opened a new world for me through my travels, but I am also inspiring others to reach for their dreams and fulfill their desires to explore the world. I am humbled by their words of affirmation and am honored to be a role model in some small, but influential way, for others.