A Stone's Throw: Update from Mr. & Mrs. Stone

Responding to a call from the Lutheran Church - Hong Kong Synod, former ILS Manager of Operations, Mrs. Ruth Stone, along with her husband, Lyman, are now serving as missionaries in Hong Kong. Mrs. Stone serves as a missionary and English teaching assistant in a local Lutheran school, and she and Mr. Stone together volunteer their time to support school extracurriculars, church functions and Sunday school classes, Bible study, and evangelism with the Mission of Christ Network.

Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing regular updates from the Stones as they embark on their work in Hong Kong.

Please join us in praying for Mr. & Mrs. Stone as they live and serve in the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod, and especially the children, faculty, and parents in its’ associated school system.

Greetings from Tuen Mun!

When last you heard from us, we were living out of a hotel room, still not sure what our permanent accommodations in Hong Kong would look like! Over the last month, we've gotten settled into our apartment and started working, and God has begun opening doors for the gospel! We've already hosted people for meals at our house quite a few times.

English teaching has begun!

This month, we taught English at a series of three Saturday morning school promotional events at Holy Cross Lutheran, a church and school in Tsuen Wan. Ruth's formal teaching at Siu Leun/Holy Word Lutheran did not begin until halfway through September, so we were glad to use our Saturday mornings to help out elsewhere! But by mid-September, Ruth's regular teaching schedule (and Lyman's supporting role in that) had begun. Ruth teaches English phonics lessons to 5 classes of 5th graders, English conversation to her home-room (Grade 3, Section D, "3D") class, and bible to 4 classes of 3rd graders: all told, Ruth has multiple class sessions each week with 20 kids, teaches at least one class a week to about 180 kids, and leads the whole school (~700 kids) about once every other week.

We also lead a close-of-the-day devotion for the 3D class together, and help lead Tuesday morning religious assemblies. The students have great questions: as we were teaching an order of daily prayer, a 3rd grader asked us, "Why do you say Amen at the beginning and the end of the prayer? Doesn't it just mean the prayer is over?" It gave us a great chance to explain that Amen doesn't mean the prayer is over, it means that we want to accept what God gives us.

Church work has begun!

The community at Holy Word Lutheran is so excited to have us here, and has welcomed us into their services, their fellowship groups, and their homes. We have been planning an English Sunday School since arriving; it began this Sunday! We had 41 kids present, learning about the time Mary and Joseph "lost" Jesus in the temple. The kids learned a song telling the story (we couldn't find a suitable hymn on the subject, so put together a short one of our own to the tune of "Faith and Truth and Life Bestowing"), played a game where they had to "find Jesus" (or, rather, a cup with "Jesus" written on it) amid lots of the distractions of life (other cups with other things written on them), did a craft where they illustrated the scene of Jesus in the temple on a craft-scroll, and had story-time where they read and discussed the story in English and Cantonese. It was a HUGE hit!

We are also helping get a coffee (read: mostly tea) hour started to encourage fellowship after church. This Sunday was ALSO our inaugural coffee hour! We made pancakes and got some fruit, and a friend here baked a loaf of sourdough bread! We hope to soon start a bible study in our home as well, and maybe help with youth group too!

We're also finding opportunities to invite people to church. God has placed people in our life who are hungry for His word, from random people we meet helping us with a menu at a restaurant, to fellow teachers at school, to shopkeepers and workers at local businesses where we are fast becoming "regulars," we are getting ample opportunities to extend the invitation of God's love!

God is opening hearts!

Upon arriving here in Tuen Mun, our social schedule has been BOOKED! We've had so many opportunities to form friendships, share meals, and build relationships in our community. In our first week in our apartment, we hosted 5 guests for dinner/lunch. Next week, we'll have 2 different groups of overnight guests staying with us. We've been at BBQs, dinner nights, holiday festivities with families: anywhere life happens! And everywhere, God has provided us with opportunities to talk to people about why we are here, about the great good news of the Gospel!

We spent last Monday night sharing the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration with the family of one of the school teachers. We shared in making rice balls, enjoying a special meal, eating mooncakes, and watching the full moon. It was a special chance to be invited in to a piece of Hong Kong culture and family life.

We were visited by friends!

Jacob and Emily Belvery met us just on our side of the Hong Kong SAR-Mainland China border for dinner a few weeks ago. It was wonderful to see them, to hear about the good work they are able to do in Shenzhen in the amazing ministry opportunity God has provided there in a legally-operated Lutheran church, and to have fellowship with familiar faces from the U.S.

The team is growing!

We had a wonderful dinner with fellow missionaries last Thursday night, organized by our supervisor with the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod. We now have 4 American missionaries whose primary job here is working in Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod (LCHKS) schools. But we would LOVE to have MORE! LCHKS has the resources to receive many more missionaries and the need is great! So if you know a Lutheran with a college degree and a heart for the gospel who might be interested in doing a stint in Hong Kong, let us know! We are actively looking for ways to recruit more friends to Hong Kong! The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few!

What you can pray for:

1. The work being done at Siu Leun school, that we would be able to provide good lessons for the kids which provide for their instruction in their school subject and stoke their desire to learn more about the most important subject of all.

2. The teaching and worship at Holy Word Lutheran Church, that the Gospel would be proclaimed and that many people would be present to hear it, and to receive the good gifts that God provides for His people.

3. That we would speedily receive our Hong Kong ID Cards, and then that we would speedily get our visa into mainland China to visit friends there.

4. That God would open our ears to be listening for opportunities to form relationships with the people around us, and that God would be preparing hearts to hear the gospel.

5. Thanksgiving for the volunteers we've already had come forward to assist with coffee hours and sunday school. And that more folks in the church would use the gifts God has given them to serve in these and other ministries.