Practicing Faith

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Guiding Light

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

My parents knew I was going to church. They didn’t see any reason to stop me even though it was a different religion. I was getting very active in the youth group and was elected to be the President in the September election. Paul and Esther assisted me and other teenagers to plan for the weekly activities.

By becoming a Christian, I faced a challenge at home. My mom worshiped the multiple gods. For every major festival such as Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival in May, Seven Sisters Festival in July, Mid-Autumn Festival in August, my mom cooked a feast that included a whole chicken, mushrooms, roasted pork, and vegetable with sliced beef. She placed the cooked food on a large tray and offered it to the gods represented by wooden plaques. Incents were lit and inserted into the containers filled with ashes. With hands folded in front of her chest, she bowed to each idol three times. She repeated the same motion to all the idols. After my mom offered the feast to the idols, my family sat down to eat the plentiful dinner.

As I continued to read the Bible, I came to I Corinthians, chapter 4 of the following verses,

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.”

I didn’t fully understand the concept of eating or not eating the food sacrificed to idols. I thought to eat the food sacrificed to idols was associated with worshiping the idols, so, I stopped eating the feast after my mom offered the food to the idols. I only ate the rice. My mom was very observant, after several festivals, she made the connection between my church activities and the food offered to the idols. As a result, she cooked a separate dish and set it aside for me. At dinner time, she put that dish in front of me. I was appreciative of my mom’s consideration.

When my youngest sister was a baby, she became very ill one day. My mom didn’t know what to do. I carried my sister to church and asked Pastor Zeto to pray for my baby sister. After I got home, my mom took my baby sister to a Chinese doctor. The Chinese doctor examined her and prescribed the herbal medicine for her. The medicine cost five dollars. My mom only had five dollars, just enough to pay for the medicine. She took the herbal medicine home, boiled it and gave it to my sister to drink. My sister was recovered from the illness the next day. My mom didn’t say too much but seemed to be appreciative of the pastor’s prayer.

During the same year, my older sister, Jan, was married to her boyfriend. As an endowment to my parents, my brother-in-law paid to have a custom-built bunkbed for our family. It was needed as the family grew bigger.

One and a half year went by since I stopped going to school. My dad found a job working in a factory as a supervisor of the inventory of the molds for the machines. He was pleased to have a steady income for the family.

By this time, the government had a new plan for the city development. The residents on our block were relocated to a subsidized housing in Kowloon. My parents were assigned to a large unit. The flat was an empty structure with no rooms. My dad hired workers to install two bedrooms and put a bunk bed in each bedroom. We were on the fourth floor of a fourteen-floor building with twenty-four units on each level. There was a centralized bathroom with eight stalls for every eight units. The residents had their own keys to their stalls.

The market and all the shops were on the ground floor. There were stores for dried food and beans, pharmacy, beauty products, toiletries and bathroom products, barber shop, beauty salon, bakery, candies, toys and small sizes of hardware.

In the market, there was fresh produce such as green vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms. In the meat section of the market, there were whole fish or cut up pieces from large fish. Pork or beef chunks were hung on a bar with big hooks. The shopper could choose the portion of the meat and specify the amounted they wanted to buy.

After we moved, my dad soon found another factory job in Kowloon. He had a good routine for his day. He got up at six o’clock in the morning and stretched from head to toes for half an hour before leaving for work. After dinner, he read the newspaper. He seemed to be interested in reading the paper from front to back. My dad had a green thumb. He took care of his plants on Saturdays. The plants grew so well that they needed to be transplanted to bigger and bigger pots.

My mom also found a good routine for her days. She went to the market at least twice a day to buy the food for every meal. We had no need for a big refrigerator. My mom made friends with several women on the same floor. She went to play Mahjong with them several evenings a week. One neighbor had a square Mahjong table with drawers for dice and money. They played for fun, so the winners only get five cents from each player per round. There were sixteen rounds per game. So, the women had plenty of social time together.

When my dad got a job working from Monday to Friday, he was more relaxed. He took us kids to the parks or went short hiking regularly on weekends. My #2 sister and her family lived closed by. My siblings and I went to visit her or she brought her children to visit us. Her children are about the same ages as my younger siblings. I started the hobby of taking photos as a teenager. The black and white photos remind me of the fun time we had together.