On Monday we head to Hong Kong & East Asia for 7 weeks! We’re so excited, although I don’t think our imminent departure has sunk in yet. I must confess I’m especially excited about shopping & seeing friends in Hong Kong. I was there in 2005 for work and also stayed w/friends and got to properly explore the intriguing city. Hong Kong is such a juxtaposition of class and culture. Alongside sleek modern skyscraper are open air markets selling dried shark fins and herbal remedies. The smell of rain on fresh pavement blends with fragrant incense shopkeepers burn for their ancestors. During our time there we’ll be doing work downtown with the homeless, drug addicts and prostitutes. Hard core, eh?
The history of Hong Kong & Britain is quite ironic. Basically, by the late 1700s the UK was buying loads of tea from China, but there wasn’t much that the Chinese wanted from the Brits. That is, until the UK began sending shiploads of opium to HK. Opium sold like hotcakes! However, the Chinese emperor wasn’t too pleased with this trade & outlawed it, but to no avail. The illegal trade flourished and in 1839 when the Chinese tried to use force to stop the trade the Opium Wars began. And the Brits won and got a loan on Hong Kong until 1997. Bizzare, eh?
This tale reminds me of the story of Joseph from the B-i-b-l-e. Something horrible (his bros selling him into slavery) is transformed into something advantageous (Joe having food during a famine). It’s not a perfect analogy but it is remarkable how such a shameful beginning has had some beautiful benefits. Because HK was British-run for 99 years, it had greater freedom of speech and religion & later served as a haven for refugees from mainland China (not to mention economic prosperity). In 1997 HK was returned to the People’s Republic of China, but it’s “one country, two systems,” meaning many of the former democratic policies remain. So…. all this is not to justify the illegal sale of opium, but just to muse over God’s miraculous up-side down ways of working despite man’s less-than-perfect waysP.S. This is a deeply simplistic and brief historical overview