A Stone's Throw: October Update from Mr. and 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.

We're finding our rhythm!

New city, new home, new jobs - means finding a new daily rhythm. With Lyman working from home, Ruth working just 5 feet away, and work hours for both of us that allow for ample time to lesson/event plan, gather with teachers over tea or yum-cha, and the occasional pop homes for a mid day visit with each other, our schedule has been a blessing to our ministry, marriage, and to us individually.

In the classroom, Ruth has built in the rhythm of the church year - especially in bible class! And when it comes to English phonics, there's not a single class that doesn't have the kids up and out of their seats playing games or singing or chanting to help them learn more English with a little pep in their step. Lyman has enjoyed his new work rhythm that splits his days into three good working periods - morning writing at home or Fantasy Coffee, lunch at school with the kids, afternoon writing at home, 3:00pm devotions with our 3D (grade 3, section D) students, early evening writing before dinner.

Having gotten through the initial transitional/cultural adjustments, we really love the life we're building together in Hong Kong - and this not because of who we are but because of who we've come to know! God is good all the time, and in every place!

Making Our House A Home

In our last update we told you that we had moved in to our new apartment. But what we didn't tell you is that we were sharing this space with another missionary couple - David and Barbara Bush, who work with the deaf community in Kwai Fong. Our dreams of living that communal life finally came true! However, it was short lived as this was just a temporary arrangement while construction of their new apartment at the deaf school was being completed. Although our separate living quarters are ultimately better for each of our ministries (in terms of commute, community building, etc.), we sure did love having those few weeks of overlap.

NOW, we are living large with essentially two fully furnished apartments, conjoined by a connecting door - large, for Hong Kong standards that is! However, after lots of shuffling and re-shuffling of furniture we've re-purposed an entire half of the apartment exclusively for hosting - chez Stone is officially open for business. :)

We couldn't have asked for a better place to live and look forward to paying forward this great blessing through many gatherings and parties. Speaking of parties........

Did Someone Say "Reformation"?

For those of you who know us from our days living in DC, you also know that the Stones LOVE the Reformation, themed parties (heavy on the theme please!), and really ANY excuse for a gathering of tons of people that culminates in a group hymn sing.

As a result, we bring you Siu Leun School and Holy Word Lutheran Church's first EVER "Reformation Celebration Extravaganza." You may be saying to yourself, "Extravaganza! Really? Does the party truly merit such a title?" Let's just say with games like "Sola Cup Toss" (corn hole), "Luther's Rose Bowling" (bowling), "Wheel to Wartburg" (hula hoop rolling relay), a Reformation trivia scavenger hunt, and a candy apple stand - we'll let you be the judge. :)

The party was a HUGE success. But, to be honest, there was a LOT of tension in the Stone household leading up to this event. First, we were worried nobody would show up. Then, we were worried TOO many people would show up. Would there be enough food? Would there be too much food? What would they think of our games? Will anyone sing with us, etc. etc. etc. And then the event happened and we both just looked at each other and simply marveled in the goodness of our God!

To read even more about the reformation parties (yeah, there were actually TWO...which was a little crazy the week of, but so worth it!), check out our blog post!

We're Sunday School Teachers!

Sunday school is off to a great start! However, we must report that Ruth and Lyman are not the crowd favorite among the primary students....rather, Owl, the eight inch stuffed puppet (whose voice is played by Ruth) wins all the laughs, attention, and accolades each week. It's fine, really... Lyman's not jealous at all!

We just completed our three week introduction to Sunday School - "Who is Jesus?". Jesus is human, Jesus is God, and Jesus is Alive! Since many of our students have very little, if any, previous knowledge of Christianity, we decided to lay the ground work first before jumping into any sort of "regular" curriculum. As both of us are new to teaching Sunday School, we've kind of been flying by the seat of our pants. It's taken us a few weeks to get in a groove, learn to "co-lead" again (something we haven't done together since college), and not to rely on our own "human wisdom, but on God's power" (1 Corth. 2:5).  Once we really took to heart that last one, it turns out God can turn anyone in to a great team - even a couple of mossy Stones!

How You Are Helping

We would be remiss not to give thanks, however, where thanks is due. The reason we were able to throw not one, but TWO, rather over-the-top celebrations this month was because of the financial support so many of you have given to the mission in Hong Kong. We give thanks in every remembrance of each of you and seek to use the funds which God has entrusted to our care wisely and effectively.

A key component of the Stone love language is hospitality. We love to open our home, share meals, make music, play games etc. This is why we've decided to dedicate a substantial portion of our mission dollars to throw events, like the Reformation parties. We're already planning our next soiree for Epiphany :)

In addition, your support has also allowed us to implement a weekly coffee hour after Sunday worship, and buy Sunday School materials for over 40 primary students. Thank you for removing for us any financial barrier we would have had otherwise in beginning the work we have been called here to do! Right now our current funding levels look more than adequate to carry us through the end of the year, keeping us well stocked with party supplies and crafts the whole way.

Come To Hong Kong!

As you can tell, we are pretty well settled in here. That means, it's time for you to come visit us! Please let us know if you'd like to come to Hong Kong at any point, we'll make it happen!

But more importantly, the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod (LCHKS) is eager to identify, place, and support (including providing housing, stipend, etc) more missionaries in Hong Kong. If you or someone you know has ever considered the mission field, please put them in contact with us. One unique feature of the work here in Hong Kong is that the financial support-raising requirements are comparatively modest thanks to LC-HKS' generous support.

However, many of you are called to vocations other than long-term foreign missions! That's wonderful! If you or someone you know, or perhaps your church or its youth group, are interested in a SHORT-term mission trip, please let us know! We will help you organize one to Hong Kong, or can help connect you to other LCMS missionaries in the Asia region. We can help arrange your entire time in Hong Kong, including transportation and lodging, and identify useful projects for you or your team to undertake. Just let us know!

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. Our visa has taken a bit longer than anticipated. As such, we will be taking a quick weekend jaunt to Vietnam later this month in order to restart the clock on our temporary visa.

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.

6. That God would put it on the hearts of Lutherans in the United States to come to Hong Kong to serve as missionaries, either short-term in a team, or longer-term as a teacher.