Hong Kong | China

It takes a while to “download” after a 10-day mission trip marathon through China. Not to mention the jet lag….

And if I am being perfectly honest, I haven’t really been sure what to share. I could throw in a bunch of history about the city, some statistics on how many people were reached and make it easy, but that wouldn’t be honest and I am afraid my honesty will turn people off to missionary work…. But I’m committed to sharing my heart.  

The seventeen-hour flight over was nothing short of a crap-sandwich. It all sounds really adventurous until you are 7 hours in with 6 left to go, the stranger next to you wont shut off his reading light so you can sleep and your headphones wont work in spite of your attempts to MacGyver the end of the adapter in a gum wrapper made of foil because you’re so desperate to watch The Godfather for the third time. All we needed to do was get someone saved on the flight over and it could have been a mission trip in and of itself.

We landed in Hong Kong around 6pm and I was elated and overwhelmed. It was good to get out of my seat and feel my legs move again, even though my shoes wouldn’t fit properly due to the swelling. We had quite literally flown half way around the world, through 11 time zones, clocking in a record of 7,794 miles. 

Richard Welsh, the Pastor of Lifehouse Hong Kong, was there to meet with us and take us into the city where we would be staying. We arrived a few hours later at The YMCA Salisbury and divided up into our rooms.

Over the next 8 days, we would be in and out of specific parts of the city doing outreaches based on building community and relationships in the heart of Hong Kong. One of the outreaches we frequented the most was CityU in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

We spent a few hours Monday through Thursday eating lunch with and getting to know the students at the university. And again, if I was being honest, I dreaded this part the most. I was instantly teleported back into the high school cafeteria, only there were no familiar faces and I had no idea who I would talk to or what I would talk about.

But, I was so surprised and most of all impressed by the hospitality of the students of CityU. The first day my sister and I sat with two girls we connected with right away. We talked about religion, hobbies, travel, school, food and Grey’s anatomy. They actually wanted to know about us, to talk to us and compare and contrast our different worlds and cultures we grew up in. Not one time was I turned away when I asked to sit with someone. Not one time did I feel unwelcome or different.  And not one time was I asked why I wasn’t married. Which was the most refreshing part of visiting with the students. Because here in Oklahoma it’s the first question out of someone’s mouth when they want to know about you and your life. “What are you up to, are you dating anyone?” And to be honest, I only ended up asking about their dating lives after all other topics had been exhausted and their responses were minimal. My new friend Vivian was very casual about how she had been single for almost 5 years (a death sentence at the age of 31 in Oklahoma) and it made me very aware of how relationship-status minded we are. 

We participated in several other outreaches like Language Exchange, where the locals meet up with us to practice their English and Street Live, where I would end up singing Let it Go and Adele live, on a long walkway similar to NYC’s high line.

Lifehouse Hong Kong is a small but thriving church in the heart of the city and we enjoyed spreading the word about the good things the church was doing in the community. We had several events throughout the week at the church including a pizza party and a neon dance party that was way too much fun.

The trip was amazing and exhausting all the same time. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t come back changed, but I didn’t come back changed in the ways I thought I would.

This trip did not rock my world. It didn’t upend broken beliefs and attitudes. It didn’t make me want to move across the globe, become a missionary and change the world. And I have felt for a few weeks now that this trip had kind of fallen flat for me. My worlds didn’t collide and I didn’t experience God in a mind-blowing way.

You see, I am an adrenaline junkie. That’s why I got into ICU nursing. No two days are ever the same and we move from crisis to crisis. It's high octane. Extremely high highs and very low lows; that’s what I am used to. That’s the environment I thrive in.

Often, when new believers decide to follow Christ, we expect some totality of our being to be changed in an instant. It’s like we think we will wake up a new person the next morning and all that has ailed us before will no longer be an issue. But that’s not truth. That’s not how God works. If He gave us everything we needed in one moment, there would be no point in needing Him for the rest of the journey. Knowing Him and becoming more like Jesus takes time and sure the highs and lows are important, but it’s the every day staying, working, mudane bits and pieces of life that string together those epic highs and lows. It takes more than ten days in a foreign country to experience who God is. But, He is there, to be experienced, every single day.

He was there in the new friendships that were forged on this trip. He was there in church, at pizza and neon night and in the late night ice cream runs. He was there on the mountain peak, staring over the cityscape, taking in all the wonder and glory that He himself created. He was there in all the small ways and all the big ways.

And I have realized that in going on this mission trip I expected to come home a different person, but in reality, I came home a better, broadened version of the person God created me to be. I met and made new friends who taught me that everyone has a purpose and a plan in the body of Christ. All parts to play being so very different but so equally as valuable.

And all in all, Hong Kong taught me to adjust my expectations of my growth and development as a follower of Christ and to let go of unrealistic standards I have set for myself. Every encounter changes us, piece by piece, until we are molded and shaped into the image of Christ. There will for sure be highs and lows on our journey but meeting the real Jesus takes time and wonder and imagination and sweat and tears and hard work. He is there in the midst of all of it and He is the well that never runs dry.



Tiffany Tolbert1 Comment