We had a nice quiet March full of birthday celebrations and Easter and some fun with friends here in Hong Kong.
Lizzy, Sam, and I spent the day at Hong Kong Disneyland with our friends, the Johnsons. Catherine the mom was born and raised in Millbrook, Alabama. She and her husband, Jonathan have lived in Hong Kong for 6 years. He is a pastor of a Hong Kong Baptist church and is also in the middle of getting his D.Min at a HK seminary. They have three kids, Stephen who is 11, Lucy who is 7, and Nicholas who is 3, all of whom are homeschooled. Lizzy and Lucy met our first day of scouts and the two have been best buddies ever since. Catherine has been a big help and encouragement to me and our kids get along very well. Here are some photos of Lizzy and Lucy at Disneyland, but there are no photos of Sam and Stephen....they got to run off by themselves! Growing up...
So the thing about being a cute Anglo girl dressed in a princess dress at HK Disney is that everyone wants your photo. And they are very persistent. Even when said princess says no and even when she cries... Then southern mama has to come to the surface and handle things. But, all in all, HK Disney is pleasant, little crowds during our day and very little waiting. Weather was so nice and kids were all well behaved. Lizzy then spent the night with Lucy and they had a fabulous time.
Lucy's Olaf cake made by her dad...also an artist.
We had our annual parental birthday week ....Steve turned 50 this year. He didn't want a big party, so instead I made him jambalaya and a cake. He enjoyed it very much. We may have to have an all encompassing family birthday party this summer when we come home to Alabama. I'll let y'all know!
For our birthdays, we decided on furniture for our terrace... which we all call a porch, confusing all our non-US friends and neighbors.
We experienced our first "red tide" here in HK. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs when there is an overgrowth of algae that changes the O2 level in the water, with a bad kind of algae bloom killing fish and plants and changing the color of the water. It can be bright red....but can also be muddy looking and yellow to brownish. Plus, even better than the color is that it smells horrible. Truly horrible. We braved the smell and the garbage littering the sands and got a small sample of water to look at under the microscope. I guess it was worth being able to see the tiny creatures swimming around, but I threw the whole jar and lid away that was used for the sample.
Sam has finished his confirmation study and will be having confirmation April 10. We are so proud of how hard he worked and how serious he took his confirmation. Even under extraordinary conditions, he made the most of the situation and had a memorable experience. He even attended the confirmation retreat at Trussville UMC via FaceTime! It was so much fun to see all our friends back home and to be included.
From HK to Alabama....
From Alabama to HK.
We attended a couple more birthday parties for little friends here in DB and enjoyed our first Easter here as well. Our church did a stations of the cross hike, a sunrise service, and a wonderful family service complete with an Easter egg hunt....for chocolate eggs. Father Mark seemed quite shocked to learn that in the US, we hunt for plastic eggs or even worse...real eggs!! Our Easter lunch was an adventure all by itself, we went with another Fedex family to a restaurant that serves American style food....really good hamburgers and the trimmings. It was worth it, but we learned a valuable lesson about making reservations in HK on a public holiday. Normally, Sunday lunches are not crowded at all. Only 7% of HK folks are Christian and so Sunday is just another day here....mostly for sleeping in and playing sports. Well, Easter is an official 3 day public holiday, so everyone has given their helper the weekend off and so they all go out to eat! We finally got a reservation at 3pm and enjoyed our meal SO much. Since we had some time to kill, we rode the star ferry, explored Kowloon park and the old police headquarters complete with cannons.
Aboard the Star Ferry with the Payne family. Mark, Stephanie, Ethan, and Abigail. Also a homeschooling family and also a Fedex family HK just a few weeks longer than us.
Kowloon park...these little artificial turf platforms are all over. The kids kept asking where is the park... Sorry kids, not all parks have grass!!
But some have cannons!
Lastly, I want to share that Lizzy did something really cool. Ok, a couple really cool things. First, she started mandarin lessons. A friend here in another part of HK does lessons via Skype and so she began a few weeks ago and is progressing nicely. Another week or so and she will begin teaching the whole family what she has learned!
Finally, Lizzy is still a registered Girl Scout with the USA. She is quietly working through her badges and journey books. For her first journey, she was asked to find a need and do a project to meet the need. Our visit to the refugee center fresh on her mind, Lizzy devised a plan to help. Our local grocery store gives out Happy stamps with each purchase. These stamps can be saved and redeemed for different items. Right now, the prizes are nice cookware. Lizzy wrote a letter to our friends here in town and asked them to donate their stamps to a goal of getting 10 woks. The refugee center told us they give each person/family a wok and a rice cooker when they are able to set up housekeeping in an apartment. She and I stuck stamps to the little booklets until we reached 3500... Yes...3500 tiny little stamps on paper. It took only 7 weeks, but Lizzy reached her goal.
Proud of my Brownie!
On March 31, we boarded a plane and headed off to Hanoi, Vietnam. I'm culling through the pictures and will be posting about that trip separately.
We miss y'all and love everyone. Hope this finds you all well and happy. Thanks for all the emails, FaceTimes, Facebook messages and packages. It really means the world to us.