01 December 2005


Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that doesn't end up with a lot of afterglow. It fades next to the plastic red sheen of the Christmas shopping season. It's December and Thanksgiving was last month, but I'm still thinking about it.

First of all it's striking that I think I've experienced hunger about one time total since our gathering at coordinators Matt and DeeDee's house. If they ever invite you, it's best to go with the understanding that 1) you're going to like whatever you put in your mouth, 2) you're going to put a lot of stuff in your mouth 3) and the majority of that stuff will come at dessert. Seriously, I think there were something like 18 different dishes and six of them were Nachtisch. They generously invited Team Taiwan and friends. Afterwards we collected twelve bushels.

We got all the celebratory stuff out of the way early (including stuffing hundreds of kids' faces with "foreign food"):

so that on Thanksgiving day proper we could shove off to Hong Kong. For dinner that day, I ate sushi. While riding a bus. It was probably the most thankful Thanksgiving I've ever lived, especially when we arrived in Hong Kong for collective participation in a missions conference and individual participation in a mystifyingly magnificent romance.

LCMS World Mish held a summit for all those involed in ministry all over Asia. They called it Asia Ablaze! (or Ablaze! Asia, we were never clear) but let's be honest, folks: your tongue just longs to say ABLASIA! I did my darndest to spread the terminology. I did a fair job among my field of influence. Unfortunately, within the lacquered networks of LCMS World Mish and other important Lutheran types, my realm of influence doesn't go too far. My handsome accomplice and I finally decided our best shot at spreading the coinage far and wide was to utter it as many times as possible within earshot of Lutheran Hour personality Reverend Ken Klaus. We're still waiting for the results on this.

Hong Kong International School hosted most of the goings on. This wonder of architecture crowned the tropical hills that protected harbors nestled in Hong Kong island, but was obviously chosen for its ideal group-photo circumstances.

Be sure and check the dead center of the above photo for the only one who knew she was in the photo, and also, incidentally, the cause of udder chaos in Macau.

The conference was tremendously edifying. Participants numbered almost 300, representing 16 nations. Upon arriving I immediately sensed togetherness. I reunited with people I had trained with, an admired college professor, A few Concordia PDX alum and a chance pen-pal from junior high. I met inhabitants fresh from places I can only imagine: Papua New Guinea, India, Korea, Indonesia, ad infinitum. We listened to and told one another our stories. We gave and received our name cards. Our understanding of the breath and width and depth and height swelled. Possibilities took on vivid color. Vague descriptions abounded.

When we finally rolled back into Concordia Middle School past midnight on Sunday, however, still sogged in bus-sleep, we noticed a queer emptiness. Upon looking up one of the mighty tree trunks, we found it led only to bare sky. The light of the next day revealed nineteen topless trees, cut to avoid loss of limb after exposure to pest during typhoon season. They didn't want branches falling on anybody. I guess it's safer, but none of us can help discomfort at the ominous brightness.

Those are the headlines, recently. Those only cover the physical world, though.