Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ten things i hate about golf in china

1. the humidity is higher than the 85 degree temperature
2. golf requires focus...i ain't got no focus
3. the fact that i don't play enough to help my team win a hole
4. showers...old men...and towel boys
5. drinking water is nowhere to be found
6. the halfway house isn't halfway
7. caddies don't speak english but man can they read a green
8. my irons
9. my putter
10. that ONE shot i hit every 3 or 4 holes that tells me i could be a really good golfer if i just put some time into it!!!

i want to get better at golf! i want my wife to play. i want my boys to play. i want to stop hating it, but golf is the one thing that we love to hate!!!

days 4-6

sorry for the delay, but monday, tuesday and wednesday have been consumed with 2 things...eating and golf.

monday we got to play the hong kong golf club (hkgc)...sight of the hong kong open. tiger woods i am not, but i am pretty amazed that a course over 100 years old is in the middle of a city of 11+million people. thanks barry for letting us play with you.

tuesday, we traveled to china (the communist part) early in the morning. there we met up with mark and traveled to a course the locals call 9 dragons...i prefer to call it hills, valleys, and murder for a pitiful golfer. while i didn't lose as many balls as i did at hkgc, i did however find it possible to almost pass out from the heat. at one point my caddie told me i needed to put on some suntan lotion. china really is a weather smorgasbord.

after golf we rode into shenzen for some fun and then to mission hills golf club to spend the night.

wednesday we had the privilege of being hosted by william at missions hills golf club to play on the world famous world cup course designed by jack nicklaus. it was an amazing adventure that was only cut short when torrential downpours started and lightning sent us back to the clubhouse.

i would love to say that after playing for the 2 previous days my golf game was in top shape, but that just wouldn't be the truth. my game is fair at best, and will only improve when in get serious about it. so maybe in 15 to 20 years, i'll be good at the game.

the truth about wednesday though is that even if i wouldn't have been able to swing a club, i was amazed. i was paired to play with cm, andy, and james. these three men exude what it means to be a Christian. i don't think i'm ashamed of the word Christian when i think about what God is doing here in asia. i know that these men spend their lives living for Christ the best they can. i know that they trust God with everything and have made HUGE steps of faith just to follow Him. James' story is one of the most amazing stories of someone coming to Christ through adversity i have ever heard or seen. what i see in front of me is a mild man who loves Christ and literally saturates each breath with God-sized passion, BECAUSE he lost a daughter to cancer but gained eternal life. check out his story here. if you don't think God can take something we consider HORRIBLE and use it for HIS GOOD, then please explain to me how this man gets through each day. he and his wife, melissa, lost a son due to a miscarriage at 18 weeks and his wife's mother just passed away as well...but he still chooses to walk daily in faith with Christ. AMAZING.

tomorrow: ladies bible study and special needs parents gathering...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

day 3

this morning was an interesting experience. i slept great (jet-lag is real, but i thank God i'm doing well) and got up and had a light breakfast with doc, mrs. L, and j. thank goodness we went light with cereal, fruit, and muffins, since lunch was beyond large.

after breakfast we went to church. what an experience church in hong kong is. my first experience with being a part of a service included me speaking. i didn't have the benefit of knowing how to really do it, so i just jumped in. after 3 songs (by the way, the people in hong kong sing like there is no tomorrow during the musical portion of their worship) i was up to share an 8-10 minute testimony. the first service was a little rough. i got a little mixed up and didn't read the verse i wanted to and felt like i rambled a little bit. oh well, God brought me here to listen to Him, not speak for me, so after talking i sat down and was grateful that He had brought me this far.

it's amazing to think that God will allow people like me with all of the baggage that i have in my own personal life, to travel half-way around the globe to share my story. i realize today more than ever that God is about bringing Himself glory, and He very probably is smiling today knowing that i am such a wretched being, but want nothing more than for Him to be made glorified in everything i am a part of.

the second service was much better. i had the opportunity to hear doc speak in the first service. he was so clear and simple, while also talking like you might expect any pastor to talk. his message was amazing and encouraging, and i think i left changed.

after the first service amrah danced the mongolian dance again, and doc set it up in a way i never thought of. he told the church that they were more than welcome to stay and watch as amrah danced. he said that amrah's dance was a gift to the church and that he was performing for God. how awesome to witness; a young man and his friend that travelled for 3 days on a train to get here were able to bring their gift to God. they saved up for 18 months to get to hong kong, and then GAVE their offering to the people. wow, humbling. they did get to benefit from some new experiences. they went to their first ever mcdonald's (and they loved it) and they sat up at night at maik's (pronounced "mike") house playing xbox. funny, even people in mongolia who don't have much enjoy video games.

the second service was MUCH smoother. i felt more comfortable and did my best to leave everything out of my time other than what God is doing in me. i realize that God doesn't need me to speak for Him, He wants me to life my LIFE for Him and let Him teach from the excess he has given me.

after church we went across the street for dim sum. dim sum is a chinese meal where people gather together and eat until they least that was my experience. it's much like family-style meals for us in the states, but it is a chance to share a meal, talk, enjoy each other's company, and eat some more. i had my first chicken foot today. was tasty but more skin and bones than meat. definitely a chinese delicacy as each of the locals ate up. i love the opportunity to share a meal with someone. today i got to meet james lee. james was my "food guide" as he took the time to explain what each dish was and what was in it. i also noticed today that a meal allows people to put their defenses down. as we ate we talked and i learned that james is a man who has been through many trials. he has lost a daughter to cancer and lost a son last year to a miscarriage. i think his story might be THE very reason that i made this trip. i realized as i talked to him that God had given Him massive grace and humility. here is a man who came to Christ AFTER his his daughter's death and was able to benefit from true Christian friends. i long to introduce people to friendships like that in the states. i am that much more thankful for those who have taken the time to be my friend and for those who care so much about me.

i look forward to church tonight and then dinner (yes EVERYTHING in hong kong revolves around a meal. i think i might have gained about 15 pounds here...oh well, maybe i need to eat more chicken's feet.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

day 2

i am so exhausted right now that even as i type this i don't know if my mind is working.

i had an incredible day today. we began with breakfast with a truly fascinating tan. mr. tan is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about numerous subjects. he is able to talk about business, church, finances, futures, and God all with the passion and knowledge of someone who has been involved in each. he was the example of a gracious chinese host. he took the time to share with us, eat with us, and showed genuine concern for us and each of our interests. doc and j were truly delightful to be with as they asked mr. tan questions that revealed more about who he truly is. what a great day.

*complete side note*
one of the most amazing sights i have seen is the scaffolding around buildings. it can go up many stories, but the kicker it is made of bamboo and put together with long wire ties. that's right, bamboo and wire ties make up the scaffolding. tonight i saw it completely surrounding a building of at least 30 stories from top to bottom! i wish i could have gotten a picture of that.

after breakfast i had the chance to share with a young lady for about an hour. doc set the meeting up in the church library and judy l. and i had the opportunity to talk about what LIFE had given each of us. i had the opportunity to share openly and honestly about my thoughts and feelings 10 years ago and now. i was able to give her some advice and encourage her to be spiritually dependent on God and trust nothing else--not her husband, her children, nor her job--to bring her joy, hope, and encouragement. it's funny, when you think things are rough, just sit down and listen to the stories of others for a few minutes. judy is hurting and frustrated, but it is easier for her to put the blame off of her and onto another rather than for her to accept that she is hurting.

the funniest part about today is that if you were to ask me what i LEAST like to do or feel comfortable doing, i would have answered counsel others, and today that's exactly what i did.

after my meeting with judy, doc, mrs. L, j, and i all went to the mall (one of about 10 million here in hong kong--i think they have one for each person) and we ate at a chicago-style restaurant...dan ryan's. that's right i came all the way to hong kong and ate at a chicago restaurant where they had a warning on the menu..."Warning, we serve AMERICAN portions." which is another way of saying that we american's ae FAT! We ate with Matt, (i don't remember his wife's name), and their daughters, Stephanie who is about to graduate from Princeton, and Audrey. amazing family. we are supposed to eat with them monday evening for Peking Duck at the peking palace. what a great thing. i hear that in china if someone offers you duck it is a great compliment. looking forward to that and chicken feet.

after lunch we got on the subway--which was one of the most crowded places i have ever been. i would have taken a picture, but i couldn't reach either my camera or my phone. i mean it was CROWDED!

we spent the afternoon shopping and doing a little errand running for doc and mrs. L. then we went home for a minute of down time then on to bubba gump's for an incredible dinner for the 4 of us. doc and mrs. L. were so amazing and patient as they listened to my stories and my words about what we and the church are going through now. what a blessing to have the opportunity to share with them and hear their wisdom.

we had an amazing view from the place called "the peak" where we overlooked the harbor and saw the lights. when we were finished with the meal we went outside to take some pictures and noticed the clouds had rolled in. we were so high the clouds obscured our view of the harbor below. oh well...

on the way out i passed on the chance to go to the harley davidson store here in hk. if you know me you know how much i love going to the hd store in the town i am in and getting a shirt, but tonight, i just wanted to come home and talk to my wife. got to chat with her and now i can finally go to bed...goodnight and God bless for another day/night...

Friday, May 23, 2008

day 1

i realize as i write this, i don't remember thursday (yesterday) at all. i remember getting on a plane in atlanta wednesday night, getting to san francisco, and getting on a plane bound for asia, then waking up friday morning 3 hours away from my destination. i lost a day somewhere, but boy, did friday make up for it.

today began with a couple of miracles, first, i was able to find both my luggage AND my golf clubs. second, my traveling companion--jl--found his as well. before we left the airport we both realized how much favor God had just given us. we arrived in asia, were reunited with our bags, and were on our journey.

as we walked out through customs, we were greeted by his parents and were taken through the streets of hong kong. first time for me in a right hand drive car and driving on the left hand side of the road. i must admit, while we've been doing it for almost 18 hours, i'm still a little unnerved every time we turn right or left.

our first stop was literally about 10 minutes down the road where doc turned off the main street and went across a bridge that was definitely NOT made with cars in mind. we drove up a winding road when i heard, "mike, get your camera, your boys are going to want pictures of this." we saw MONKEYS. that's right, real live monkeys out in the open. they were just hanging out on the side of the street. all of this before 8:00 AM!!

we arrived in Kowloon rather quickly to an unbelievably muggy and smoggy sky. we put our stuff down, grabbed showers, and headed toward KIBC (Kowloon International Baptist Church) where doc pastors. i got to meet a few of the people at the church and then we got to see an amazing sight--amrah (a mongolian) who rode on a train with his friend for 3 days from mongolia, just to come to hong kong--do a couple of traditional mongolian dances. one about a horse running and the other about movement. he spoke absolutely ZERO english, and his friend the translator (i can't remember his name at this time) spoke enough to get around. the dance was for the kindergarten at KIBC and was awesome.

after the dance show we went to lunch at nomad's--a mongolian bar-b-q. imagine the looks on the faces of the people when we walk through the door with a man dressed in full mongolian dancing attire. needless to say, we all asked him how the food was. we wanted to know if it was authentic mongolian or not. funny how we take things for granted in the states. on the bar-b-q bar was a bowl full of "US" eggs. they had to label them as US eggs to let everyone know they weren't from China.

after lunch and eating too much, i noticed some things about Hong Kong. It's an eclectic city. i had lunch at a mongolian restaurant, with 2 mongolians and 3 texans. there was an ad for a mexican beer company "sol" on the table, and brittney spears was playing on the intercom. everyone in the restaurant was either from india, america, china, england, australia, or somewhere else. what a true melting pot. when we got ready to leave a southern girl offered to take our ironic to get southern hospitality in a place where they don't have sweet tea but do have fresh octopus.

then we went back to the flat for a nap, a shower, and off to funeral street.

that was the most horrific and mind-blowing thing i had ever seen. if you didn't know any better, you would have thought you were walking into a 5 story bank building with marble floors and concrete ceilings. you would have been quickly greeted though to the sights and sounds of something very different. you would have immediately noticed the paper houses, cars, clothes, and literally everything you can imagine (ping pong paddles and balls, money, etc). this was all designed to be burned at the funerals. somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be a good idea to burn paper houses, cars, and the like, and have them waiting on the people who had just died. i couldn't get to the bottom of whether this was a daoist belief or buddhist, but the reality is that there were many people there who have put their hope and trust in the thought of an afterlife where you need a paper mercedes or gold paper shoes.

on down the hall was another funeral complete with buddhist monks chanting and singing their songs for and to the dead. their incense permeated the air and my heart skipped a couple of beats as i realized that not everyone believes or thinks like i do. many of the people there had chosen to follow something other than Christ, and others had thought maybe Christianity needed some more help. funny tip if you ever go to a funeral in Hong Kong--the Christians wear black and the buddhists wear white. don't know why, just know that's what happens.

after dinner i had the unbelievable opportunity to have dinner with alvin, see ray, thomas, and dorothy (i'm not even going to attempt to hit their surnames) at the Kowloon Cricket Club. alvin, thomas, and dorothy are ALL opthamologists and see ray is a family practitioner...all just a little big of over-achievers. alvin and dorothy are writing a textbook on eyes and thomas has just started his own practice. both couples have special needs children. they are both early in their journeys. alvin and see ray have a son (2) who has been diagnosed with learning disabilities and is "slow" developmentally. thomas and dorothy have a son (2) who has in the last 6 months been diagnosed with autism. they are all struggling with how to deal with their lives, their families, what the community and culture think, and how they should handle things. i had the opportunity over an incredible 4 course meal to share with them my own personal STORY.

they asked questions--questions i would NEVER be asked in america, and they wanted hope. they came to the table tonight looking for someone to genuinely be concerned about them and what they are going through. i pray that i get to be in contact with them again. they have all 4 been greatly influenced by what God has allowed them to walk through. i pray they are faithful and they have a support system of believers that come around them and love them at their church and in their community.

now, i'm laying on the bed, ready to go to sleep, but my mind continues to race. i don't know if i will sleep for a while, but i know i need to try.

God bless!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Venturing out of town

i have the opportunity to head out of town next week. i'm going to china! that's right, i'm venturing out of town for 10 days to get a chance to go to hong kong with a great friend. i have the opportunity to share my story and meet with people 11 times (as of now, the number is still growing!). i'm excited, anxious, and ready. the one feeling that is strikingly absent from my emotions? FEAR. i'm not afraid at this one. i've been afraid in the past to travel to some places. honduras was a little odd since it was my first time out of the country,

haiti was a little un-nerving simply because it's the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and going to mexico--even on vacation, was more than a little scary, since we had a category 5 hurricane (hurricane Kenna if you want to look it up...)

i look forward to getting a chance to meet with people from a different culture and share my story with them. i pray that i will be faithful to the Call on my life, and not care about anything else. stay tuned for more updates...

Monday, May 12, 2008


Lookout old Mushu is back! if you missed the performance of Mulan at Woodland Middle School this week, then you didn't get to see Mushu. So, here he to come soon hopefully.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

the rain is setting the mood

today here in nashville it is raining. the rain is setting the mood to how i feel right now. i'm not saying that i'm down in the dumps and droopy, but that the rain is forcing everything to change just a little. you can't drive as fast in the rain, that's a fact. well, i guess you actually could, but trouble would soon find you--maybe the reason for so many wrecks on rainy days.

my life is like this rainy season and i don't regret it one bit. this morning missy and i had the chance to talk to someone about our future. it's funny when you talk about your future, because you're planning it, thinking about it, and getting excited about the possibilities of what might happen one day, then you realize that the OTHER possibility is it might not really happen--pretty sobering.

when i walked into my office a couple of years ago my future plans were different. i never planned on being a part of a chaotic time, nor did i plan on being so caught up in a lawsuit. if you would have asked me a couple of years ago, i would have told you things were going to be different than they are now. i really expected to see things in a much different (even happier) place than they are now.

so the question i ask myself is i jonah? am i the cause? i don't think so, but the thought is still there. is God using this (one more) opportunity to get my attention and tell me to get on with what He told me 2 years ago? i think so...

so regardless of what my plans were or are now, i choose to always be willing to look at the rain and realize, sometimes things have to change...