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Saw these toothpastes in CitySuper! the other day. Altogether 32 flavors… Never thought there’re so many flavors for toothpaste! And… some of the flavors are just… kinda beyond imagination: Cafe Au Lait? Bitter Chocolate? Cola? Indian Curry???

As mentioned in caption, toothpaste may also work in an erotic sense… brush your teeth before you kiss! If you wanna surprise your lover, brush your teeth with Indian Curry! If you want you lover to feel how sweet you are, go try White Peach or Cola! If you wanna punish him/her, go for Espresso or Bitter Chocolate!

Or in a more “educational" sense… for kids who don’t like brushing their teeth, you can put all the toothpastes into a big bag and have lucky draw every time before they have to brush their teeth. Most kids like lucky draw, no matter what they’re drawing for. And you may lure them with giving them Cola flavor on the first day, and start the lucky draw system from the second day on! 

I’m so creative! (And so “moliu"!) 

One of the things I bought from Osaka is a Japanese Bible. It’s a very nice pocket-sized Bible. The best thing about it is it has all the hiragana alongside the kanjis. The other versions I found in the bookstore just don’t have the hiragana. And as a really elementary Japanese learner, it’s just impossible to read kanji without hiragana printed on the side.

Two weeks ago, I brought this “newly-bought" Bible with me to my Japanese lesson. It’s a private one-on-one tuition and we do it in a way that my teacher teaches me Japanese and I teach her English as an exchange.  No money involved. The way I found this teacher was quite amazing as well but it’s a long story. Anyway, in short, she was not the one I intended to find but that person fell ill and couldn’t teach me and referred me to my current teacher. My teacher was born in China and went to Japan when she was 12, then married a Japanese guy and came to Hong Kong about two years ago. In China, as everyone knows, Christianity exists but only in the underground. It’s not allowed for anyone to spread the gospel publicly. In Japan, it’s hard to find a church. I mean, in a place where you can find actor acting as pastor/father in wedding, what can you expect? As a result, my teacher has never heard of the gospel, never read the Bible before. It was her very first encounter with the Bible on that Friday two weeks ago when I showed it to her and asked her to teach me reading it. 

On that day, we read through Genesis 1. She’s never heard of the Creation story. She asked me some simple questions and said it’s kinda interesting. 

Then I went for lesson yesterday again. And she showed me a simplified Chinese Bible! She went to Macao during the weekend and it so happened that there were free Bibles available outside a church. She took one and started to read it on her own! 

It’s my wish to spread the gospel through that small Japanese Bible I bought but I never thought it’d work so quickly. Maybe it’s a bit early to say that it’s working but it’s the work of the Spirit, not of me. If God’s willing, may this be a channel to lead her to the Lord! Amen. 

It’s been a week since the 8.0 richter scale earthquake took place in Sichuan. 

I hadn’t watched TV for a very long time but during the last 7 days, I’ve been watching it all the time. It’s extremely sad to see people losing their loved ones. It’s always the ones who survived being in suffer, not the ones who died. It makes you burst into tears when you know that those you see weeping on the TV have lost literally everyone in the family. Many parents have lost their only child. Many kids have lost all their family members and are left orphans. And seeing these scenes, one can’t help wondering why such thing would happen. Why?

Some people said that it’s punishment from God/heaven/etc (depends on what you believe in). I’ve read different comments on youtube saying that it’s a result of the wrong doings of the PRC government. I’ve read local critic writing that this is a punishment to all the injustice of the Chinese government. Yet, I don’t believe so. God is righteous. (At least my God is.) He doesn’t punish the innocent for the sin of another person – except when Jesus took all our sins into his own accounts and God punished Him instead of us on Calvary. Surely the PRC government has done a lot of bad things, just like any government on earth does, God wouldn’t punish the people who didn’t choose to be born under the rule of the government (and it’s God’s will for those people to be born there). 

If it’s not a punishment, then why?

To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can give a concrete answer now. Just remember God is good all the time. It’s hard to believe that the earthquake took place for a good reason. But years later, we maybe able to tell. Just as many of us couldn’t understand why there was 64 incident but looking back now, we may see that it helped to pave the way for opening China. It’s not entirely open yet, far from it, but it’s opening now slowly and step by step. (Don’t mistake me. I’m definitely pro-DB/CP. Never ever voted for DAB.) If the students succeeded back in 1989, I wonder if China could have grown/opened that much. Look at where those student leaders are now. Few of them are still interested in politics. I’m not blaming them for not being persistent. It’s their lives and they have every right to choose their way. What I’m saying is, they might be really concerned about politics back then and they really wanted to correct all the wrong doings of the government but did they really know what to do next if they succeeded and the government overthrown? I doubt that. But since the incident was so painful that none of us would forget, it enlightened many people to think and plan how to help open up China. It changed the course of life of many people. 

Back to earthquake, it maybe a way to prevent an even bigger disaster; maybe a way to change Chinese policy; maybe a way to alert people of the “defects" in infrastructure; maybe a way to remind people of their conscience and pull their mind back from just focusing on money… etc. We don’t know. But just remember, in the end, it is good. 

Reflect on ourselves: did we have the same feeling when we saw Myanmarese  suffering after the cyclone? did we have the same emotion when Japanese suffered after the Kobe earthquake? Did we have the same sentiments when we saw what’s going on in Iraq or Afghanistan? Did we have the same compassion for those starving to death in the third world?

Then ask: when we say it’s a global village, when we say there is no frontiers among races, do our actions and feelings really reflect what we talk?

What can we do before disasters hit instead of making donations after it takes place? Many natural “disasters" are related to human activities. There’re more cyclones now than before because of green house effect. We talk about environmental protection but what have we done so far? When was the last time you buy clothes because you really needed them instead of just trying to get something new and trendy? Do you bring a shopping bag with you all the time and refuse to take plastic bags? Do you bring a bottle of water from home instead of buying a (plastic) bottle of water from 7-11/Circle K? Do you switch off the lights when you don’t use them? Do you switch on the fan instead of the air conditioner in the summer?

We’re so generous in donating money for emergency relief. It’s not a bad thing at all. But when was the last time you notice someone in need of help on the street? Maybe just a tourist trying to find his/her place; Maybe a kid running around and almost knock down another person; Maybe someone sneezing needs a piece of tissue… 

Compassion is not what we feel inside but the actions we take in response to what happens to the others. 

Grande Maison means Big Home/House in French but this Grand Maison is not big at all.

It’s always hard to find a place for lunch on Sunday in TST. It’s hard not because there is no choice but quite the contrary, there are too many choices. And as we were walking along Ashley Road last Sunday and was trying to pick one of the many restaurants there, we saw this blackboard menu at the entrance of this narrow building on the street. The price for set lunch there is around $60, which is not expensive but not cheap either. But then we noticed that there’s no service charge and it’s giving a 20% off discount. And it’s on the first floor of the building. And my friend said she had tried it with her colleagues and it’s good.

So we went up stairs to this Grand Maison on the first floor. As we stepped inside, my friend exclaimed, “oh no, this is not the one I tried!" The waitress heard it and, quite surprisingly, instead of persuading me to stay, she asked which type of cuisine we’re looking for and wanted to help us to find the one we had in mind. But we stayed anyway. 

The set lunch includes soup, a main dish, a dessert, and a cup of coffee/tea. My friend chose cream soup and I chose vegetable soup. The soup is ok…not bad but nothing special either. For main dish, my friend chose chicken fillet with pasta in white wine sauce while I chose lamb chop with veg and potato in black pepper sauce. We both though that with that price ($52-60), we can’t expect much but it’s good. Honestly, it’s beyond our expectation.  It’s as good as those offered in restaurants that would cost us over $70 (less service charge). We got the same dessert as there’s no choice. It’s dessert of the day – black currant blancmange. Pretty good as well, at least the display is good even if one doesn’t like dessert at all. My friend chose to have tea but I chose to have coffee as I usually do. My friend thought the tea to be too bitter and asked if it’s ok to have it replaced. The waitress happily replaced it with another one, which fits my friend’s taste buds perfectly. My coffee was… not bad but not exactly the kind I like. Well, let’s say it’s just ordinary house coffee. 

The bill was $95… for two sets. I “generously" laid a $100 banknote and told the waitress no need to change. Must say that it’s sooo much better than the $70 lunch we had a couple weeks ago in another cafe round the corner. And yet, it’s so much cheaper. I can see myself coming back to this restaurant again… even if it doesn’t offer discount anymore. 

So I’ve started teaching the two kids of my friend who lives in the very west of NT…

Every Wednesday, I take this taxi from my place to his place (on his expense – he pays the taxi driver a monthly fee to have this driver drives him to work almost everyday and me on every Wednesday). The taxi ride takes about 30 minutes or so and it’s never boring on the ride. The taxi driver is a pretty funny guy and extremely talkative. On the first ride, I’ve got to know how my friend goes to work, and how much he’s got paid from my friend, and how my friend’s wife goes to work, and how my friend’s kids go to school. Yes, I got to know all these from a taxi driver. On the second week, I learned how this taxi driver got to know his very first girl friend in his life and how they broke up because of family pressure, and how he married his wife, and how many kids he’s got, and what his son’s occupation is, and how he run into his first love again on the street… It’s never quiet in the taxi and it’s never boring. 

The two kids are actually very cute and sweet. The girl is about 6 years old and the boy is about 9. My friend wasn’t sure if the girl would like to learn playing the piano (but he was pretty sure his son wouldn’t like to do that) but it turned out both of them quite like playing the piano. The simplest example is that they’d fight for playing the piano. And even the 9-year-old boy likes playing it. They like playing the keyboard even though the “songs" I’m teaching are just like do-re-mi, mi-re-do, do-re-mi-re-do… Well, they’re the beginners and those “songs" are quite boring to my ears. Anyway, the piano lesson that was supposed to be for the younger sister only, now becomes a lesson for both. 

After spending 30 minutes or so on teaching piano, then it’s time to help the boy on his English. We’ve only got about an hour’s time as i have to rush back to the studio. The boy is actually quite smart but he’s really weak at spelling. The main problem is that he’s never learned any phonics and he can’t relate the spelling with the pronunciation of the words. Another problem is… well… all those who studied in Hong Kong local schools should know that the pronunciation we get to hear in the classroom just isn’t always correct. So… it makes it even harder to learn how to spell. The only thing one can do is just stuff it into one’s head even when it doesn’t make any sense. I hope I can help him to enjoy learning how to spell and thus have more fun in learning the language, especially in writing. And it seems the little girl also wanted to learn some English in her brother’s lesson. Two days ago, I saw this small book, an assigned reader from the kindergarten, and the little girl said she didn’t wanna read it. I asked her why and her brother immediately replied, “she doesn’t like English. She has no idea what the book’s talking about!" But when I read through the book (very slowly), the girl was eager to follow and read. She even insisted on reading aloud the front cover, the index page, the notice stuck on the back…=_=! Crazy little girl.

And this crazy little girl insisted that her name is Jellyfish. When she writes her name, English or Chinese, she writes her name (as printed on her id documents) and “Jellyfish" as if it’s part of her name. She told me seriously that it’s her favorite “animal" and it IS her name. And she holds in her hands a small jellyfish plush toy bought from Ocean Park all the time during the lesson. She’d kiss it suddenly during the lesson (then put the jelly fish onto my face…yikes!). Crazy little girl.

But they’re cute and sweet. The boy is now studying in a Catholic school but he said he’s never heard any Bible story in religion lessons. I hope I may read them some Bible stories later and sow the seed in their hearts. I’m not sure if I am the person who bring them to Christ but I know I’d regret if I’d never brought them closer to God when such possibility is lying right in front of me. For things as small as the angel jellyfish are God’s creation out of love. 

五月 2008
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