I was born in China at the end of World War 2. Soon after I was born, the Civil War started between two political parties – the Communist and the Nationalist party. Our family escaped to Hong Kong in 1949 right before the Communist took over China.
We were the only family to have escaped to Hong Kong from both sides of my parent’s families. I was only about 4 to 5 years old at the time and do not remember the journey to Hong Kong. My early childhood memories about our family were from my mother.
Hong Kong was occupied by the British. People who were afraid of the Communist fled to Hong Kong, but not everybody wanted to go or could go. In that time, Hong Kong was an undeveloped place and Shanghai was well developed and prospering as many other provinces in China. A lot of people did not believe the Communist Party would take over China and some of them were hoping a different Government would bring people better lives. However, for most of the rich people, as long as they did not get involved with the politics, lived their lives without much change. Also people who had money did not want to leave China and leave their wealth behind. That was some of the situations during that period of time, according to my mother.
My mother’s side of the family fell into the category of people that did not want to leave. My uncles were bankers and importers and married to prominent families. My Aunts were married to medical doctors. They stayed behind and did not want to leave. Later on they were tortured and sent far away to revolution labor camps. They suffered a lot and their children did not have a fair chance for education. My brother, sister and I had a chance to visit them in 1989 right before the Tiananmen square incident. One of our uncles, who was an importer, was still alive then. He used English to carry a conversation with us. Amazingly, after all these years, he did not forget the language. We got a chance to meet our uncle and some of our cousins and their children whom we never met. It was a happy time for all of us.
As I’ve discussed previously, the reason we got the opportunity to escape to Hong Kong was because my father was a high ranking officer in the Republic of China. We previously had the choice to retreat with the Government. My parents could choose to go to Taiwan or stay in Hong Kong. They chose to stay in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s official language is Cantonese. Although the dialect is a form of Chinese, for someone from other provinces the language is totally foreign to them. Fortunately written Chinese is the same so at least they can communicate in writing in the beginning. Like a first generation immigrant struggling to perfect English, they eventually learned Cantonese, but it was never perfect. Just like me.
When we got to Hong Kong, my parents did not have money, did not speak the local dialect (Cantonese), did not have a place to stay and did not have a job. I was too young to know all of this but as I grew older, I knew we were poor. But the poorness did not bother me at all because my mother came from a well set family. She taught us the value of life and that money is not the whole matter of our lives. Your character is much more important. We did not have many material things while we were growing up but now, my 8 brothers and sisters and I are doing well with our lives.
“Are you doing what you were created to do? What can you DREAM of doing that would get you out of bed in the morning and keep you awake at night?” Dr. Myra Perine
Every summer, our church invites famous speakers within the U.S. and sometimes from around the world. This is good to give the congregation a chance to hear other pastor’s insight and to give our pastor a break. It is very hard to preach Sunday after Sunday all year long.
One such speaker was Dr. Myra Perrine – a famous Author, Life Coach and Church Resource Minister.
She told us that dreams help you discover your inner compass and can also provide a picture of your future that you want. Dreams are treasures. They can show your life as it is or as it could be. Of course, she also reminded us that dreams can come with a price. It will cost you to take risks you need to take. Often, sacrifice and pain cannot be avoided to fulfill your dreams.
I think whether you are a Christian or not, the successful processing of dreams are the same. The only difference is a Christian will often look to and rely on God to restore them in the midst of difficulties.
Dreams with God have many benefits. Along the way, He will be our helper and sometimes He takes our burdens away. Many people succeed without God’s help. But many of them are very lonely after they reach the top of the mountain. Some of them even destroy their lives as well as their families.
Dream with an unselfish motivation and succeed with a blessing to the world as well as in Heaven. That will be the greatest fulfillment.
Here is a continuation of my husband’s trip to Guyana last summer:
The second day, more people came. That brought the total number of people attending the workshop to ten. I was told this was much less than the number of people that said they would come, but it was still a record number of people attending a training class in the community. I spent a little time to go over the initiation phase with the newcomers just as I did on the first day. They worked together to start making the shampoo while the first day attendees finished the shampoo they had started with a day before. The second group did not finish the shampoo making as expected, but was able to observe the second day process from the first group. One of the second group attendees took the partially finished shampoo home to finish it on his own time.
We all made Crabwood oil cream and lotion after lunch. Again, I divided the people into two groups. One started with making lotion while the other group made cream. Once each group had completed their assignment, they cleaned their mixing container and were eagerly ready for a new assignment in the later afternoon. The group who made lotion earlier was working together to make cream and vice versa. Each person took turns handling the weighing of the chemicals, heating and mixing. This actual hands-on batch making experience is very important; each person not only observed and felt the congealing phenomenon in an emulsion system twice, they were able to observe the other group’s process in re-confirming their learning.
We completed the training on the second day in the late afternoon. Each person who participated in this workshop had the opportunity to make a batch of shampoo, (second group completed the first phase only), and a batch of cream and a batch of lotion. Each took some sample of what they made home; and each could proudly proclaim “I made these’ as Annie did with her cream and lotion at the seminar. I gave each lady who came for the training a baseball cap and a Blistex lip balm as to represent their “certification of completion”.
I was supposed to be in Georgetown, on Friday but stayed in the forest for one more day. I visited the shells beach after lunch. It was the first time I was physically out of Greg’s home in about a week. We visited a family in the beach community. This family is responsible for protecting the leatherback turtles as they came in laying eggs on the beach each year. Interestingly, we met a young volunteer from Germany who has been living with this family for about four months in helping this community building an internet site to reach out to the outside world about their mission.
I wished I had more time to visit other families in the Three Brother Community; especially those that came for the workshop.
On Monday August 29, 2011, I said goodbye to Georgetown, Guyana; – a beautiful country with many waters – and returned home in the United States. It was a great experience for me to work with people in a community so far away. I pray for this beautiful country, the community people, and the success of their new businesses.
Here is Part II of my husband’s volunteer work in Guyana. It was great to hear how my husband was able to use his considerable experience to help this people group to formulate products with local ingredients. Without the benefit of modern western facilities, they were able to successfully develop several products.
My host, Greg’s house is built about 200 to 300 feet deep into the wetland area. It is connected via a dugout water trench to the river. When it is high tide, the dugout is filled with water, so his motor-boat can go in and out freely. When it is low tide, he can only push the boat in and out of the trench with paddles. After arriving at Greg’s riverfront home, his wife Annie welcomed me to their lovely home. His home consisted of several wooden structures built over the swamp and connected to each other with wooden boards forming bridges over the wet land. Of the two main structures, one is their house and the other is used as his Crabwood oil manufacturing plant. The building housing the manufacturing plant and holding his inventory is also used as a community training center. I stayed in a room in this building during the training period. We wasted no time and went through the training arrangement and our expectations. I learned from Greg that the workshop is actually arranged on the last two days of my stay for people to come. I asked if we could move the workshop a day or two earlier and to allow time for people to come back for follow up questions. Unfortunately it is apparently difficult to make arrangements or to communicate changes in the meeting days, so the request was not carried out.
During the first three days, we made two batches of shampoo, each with a slight variation. Greg and Annie also successfully made a batch of Crabwood oil lotion and a batch of cream independently. Annie was so excited about her achievement that she took all of the cream and lotion she made to a seminar she was attending in the following three days. She showed these two new products to her class and gave them to her friends. She told Greg and our workshop attendees that her seminar classmates gave her all positive feedback to the new products and they will purchase them from her. Needless to say, it was very positive and strong encouragement to our group.
The first day of training was attended by four people from the community. Annie was in her last day of the seminar and wasn’t able to come back in time. I was told that four other community members had to abort their trip when the engine of their shared boat ride had failed to start. I went through a brief introduction and training agenda with the present attendees. I covered briefly the chemical and physical properties of the ingredients and showed them the samples I prepared in the last few weeks before my trip. I let them visualize the difference between the samples made with different types of oils. I explained to the group that safety is the most important learning exercise they must follow and how to prevent product contaminations during manufacturing. We started making shampoo on the first day right after lunch. We had very limited equipment on hand and the shampoo making practically utilized most of the stainless steel containers that Greg had. We worked together as one group, everyone took turns, and all took part in the weighing, heating and mixing. As planned, the workshop dismissed for that day with the shampoo base at the stage of sitting for self-dissolving overnight.
This past summer, my husband was invited to volunteer with the Florida International Volunteer Corps (FAVACA) to help the Amerindian population in Guyana to develop cosmetic products using an abundant local ingredient called Crabwood Oil. My husband was able to use his extensive experience to help out this community to develop a product for them to sell and support their families. This was not an easy trip for my husband going to this remote area and I’m very proud of him for going. Over my next couple postings, I’ll let my husband describe his experiences in his words:
On August 17, 2011, the plane I was on touched down in Guyana in the early morning. It was the first stop for me in Guyana in the capacity as a FAVACA volunteer in partnership with Farmer to Farmer to work with Amerindians that reside in the Three Brother Community. This inland mission was also by the invitation and arrangement of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs of Guyana.
I flew out on the 19th from Ogle International Airport, which is a small airport mainly used by single engine airplanes for short flying distances serving the rural areas. The flight was unexpectedly very smooth. We left the airstrip and went down to a small village by the river named Kumaka. This is an important marketplace for the nearby communities doing their merchandise exchange and shopping in these river communities. The journey to my host, Greg’s home took one and a half hours by a boat fitted with a powerful outboard motor. I was told that it would take about four hours if only using a small motor; and twelve plus hours if paddling a canoe. Boating is the only way of transportation for everyone living in this community because there is no road connecting the houses and communities in this area. All residents have their houses built near the rivers for easy access transporting in and out of the area by boat.
Before we got to Greg’s house, he pointed to two small wooden building along the river used as the school buildings. I was told all students regardless of the grade level share the larger building as a class room. It very much resembled the one room schoolhouses in the early North American settlements. The smaller building is used as the teacher’s residence. There was no one on the grounds because school was in recess. I took a picture of the buildings from the river.
Greg also made a stop by the bridge leading to another building which is used as a community healthcare center. This center provides minimal medication and treatment for minor illnesses. More serious illnesses and open wounds have to be transferred to Mabaruma where they have a hospital with some equipment and is better staffed. If the Mabaruma hospital could not handle the situation, the patient would be airlifted to Georgetown for treatment. One of the learners that came for the workshop is the health worker of that center. She took a patient with an open cut by boat to Marbaruma after her first day of training. It was a long journey for a young lady riding over two hours on the river in the dark of night. I salute her.