Happy 1st Anniversary, Stella!

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The first day we met Stella in China

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Celebrating 1 year together!

Hey TD!

One year ago today, we officially adopted Stella as our daughter.  So today, we celebrated Stella’s adoption day with her favorite food: hot pot! I guess you can get the girl out of China, but you can’t get China out of the girl! 🙂

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been a full year since we adopted Stella.  It’s been quite an incredible journey of life and love together, and you all at TD have been such an important part of helping her adjust to life in America.  Thank you!

We love having Stella as a full-fledged member of our family; each one of us loves and admires her quite a bit and can’t imagine life without her.  We look forward to what God has in store for us and for her, and we know that you all will have an important role to play in her life as well.

Here’s to new beginnings, God’s grace, and the love of family!

– Arthur

 

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Summer Trips Deadlines Approaching

***TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. INQUIRE VERY SOON!***

Hey TD!

One thing that made Los Angeles Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, one of the best basketball players of all time was his resolve to continue to get better each year; and the summer is when he went to work on adding new dimensions to his game before each new season.

Summer is an awesome opportunity to for you to “up your game” too. Whether it’s going overseas or staying in the US to serve others in Christ’s Name (and growing immensely in the process) or going to a special conference focused on helping to equip you better for the journey ahead, prayerfully consider how you can make the most of this summer to grow in honoring the Lord.

Here are some trips to consider that some fellow TD’ers and TD leaders will be participating in – Bring Me Hope’s Summer Camp, RZIM’s ReFresh Conference, and our very own Youth Summer Missions Project (YSMP). Check them out below:

Bring Me Hope Summer Camp 2019

Week 1: July 8 – 12 (Hsiehs, Calvin)

Week 2: July 15 – 19 (Calvin)

Week 3: July 22 – 26 (Megan, Calvin)

Week 4: July 29 – August 2 (Megan, Calvin)

TO LOVE

Our five day summer camps center around bringing forgotten children out of orphanages to experience a week of fun, love, and attention. This often includes many firsts for the kids—their first time swimming, eating ice cream and hearing “I love you”. Demonstrating God’s love in action is what camp is all about.

TO DEFEND

Most overseas trips end when you fly home, leaving you with only memories and pictures. However, our desire is for you to continue to have an impact long after you’ve left camp. Through our advocacy program, you can bring awareness to your child’s needs and even help find adoptive families. Our goal is to equip volunteers to defend vulnerable children.

DAY 1: The kids are coming! Today, you become a proud “parent” as you and your translator(s) are paired with 1-2 children to form a family group. Spend the day getting to know each other before you begin an amazing week of camp!

DAY 2-4: Let the fun begin! Camp is filled with activities for your family group to enjoy together. From arts & crafts to talent shows to dance parties, this is a week for your child to explore new experiences in a safe environment. You will have the unique opportunity to empower these children and show them unconditional love during camp. These are the moments that Bring Me Hope Camp was created for!

DAY 5: Today is the day that the children go home to the orphanage. It’s a bittersweet celebration of the relationships you’ve created and how far your family group has come in just 5 short days. It becomes more than just the last day of camp; You are left with memories and passion to do something about this orphan crisis.

AFTER CAMP: Bring Me Hope will provide you with the skills and training to make a greater impact on these children’s lives when you fly back home. You will be given the privilege to be an advocate for the children’s needs and help them find adoptive families!

If you have detailed questions about the camp, you can ask Megan, Calvin, Rebecca, Elissa, Sissi, or Abigail, who all have been.  Check out BMH Summer Camp and contact a TD leader if you have interest in going this summer.

If you are interested in doing the Bring Me Hope internship, ask Megan, Calvin, Angela, Sissi, or Aileen what they’ve been doing: BMH Internship

“ReFresh: Ready For College?” Conference for High School and College Students

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Hosted by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

July 18-21, 2019 @ The Zacharias Institute in Atlanta, GA

“I’m lost. I’ve gone to find myself. If I should turn up while I’m out, tell myself to wait here.” These words, written on a sign in a bookstore in downtown Atlanta, capture the feeling of displacement that High School and college students across America are struggling with today. We don’t know who we are anymore. In a world swept up in identity politics, our own identities, both as individuals and as Christians, can feel less secure than ever.

This summer, at our annual ReFresh: Ready for College? conference, we will be addressing the question that Jesus himself once asked his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” This was the most important question that the disciples had to answer, and our response to this same question remains just as critical for our own lives. Truth, justice, morality, sexuality, freedom, meaning, love, identity: everything that we care about, everything that we live for, all of these are grounded by the answer to that one question. To know Jesus is to know ourselves. Only when we are confident of who he is can we be sure of who we are, and what he has called us to.

So if you’re a junior or senior in High School or a college freshman, then don’t miss the opportunity this coming June to get time away with each other, with members of the RZIM speaking team, and most importantly of all, with God.

 

Check out ReFresh: Ready For College for more info and contact a TD leader if you are interested.

YSMP 2019

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YSMP is our youth short-term mission trip to the Native American reservations in Arizona. The dates are July 5-13, 2019 and the cost is $170 per person. Our two-fold purpose and prayer for this mission trip is:

1) To participate in the proclamation of God’s glory in the gospel by bringing annual short-term support the local church pastors and congregations within the Native American Reservations in Arizona. Our aim is to hear the needs and vision of the local church pastor and assist the church with our team.

2) To provide a learning experience for our youth and other church members who want to explore cross-cultural missions. We desire for participants to get a sense of the devotion to Christ, training, focus, and flexibility it takes to be on mission, to be challenged to share their faith, and to have their eyes opened to the need for the gospel in less-reached areas.

Each year the YSMP coordinators touch base with each church in the reservation sites to see what kind of support they would like from the STM team. Generally, what that support takes form in:

1) VBS and Youth Camp

2) Visitations and Evangelism

3) Adult Bible Studies

4) Work Projects and Harvest Night

Prayerfully consider joining us on this short-term mission trip! If you have any questions, contact Robert at bobert.chan@gmail.com.

Congrats Youth Speakers!

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2019 Youth Speakers Team

(Standing) Daniel, Benson, Calvin, Anabell, Megan, Arthur

(Kneeling) Sandra, Jason, Stefan, Angela, Stella

Hey TD!

Let’s give a shout out to  our 2019 Youth Speakers Tournament team: Anabell Xu, Benson Yu, Jason Ke, and Stefan Chu.  It was a very special year, as the team and coaches really experienced intimacy and bonding with Christ as the center of it all.  There was lots of vulnerability, openness, tears, and laughter, as the team learned to trust and share their lives with one another, warts and all.  In doing so, they learned how to keep one another accountable, while still accepting one another and all the quirks we all possess.

God grew each speaker deep down where it counts and helped them develop and deliver some excellent diverse powerful speeches on Sex & Television, Jesus is Greater Than Religion, 5 Things Every High School Graduate Should Know About the Bible, and Dear Younger Me.  Each speaker was able to reach their potential and most importtantly, meet God.

As far as the actual  CA State Youth Speakers Tournament results, we’d like to say a special congratulations to Anabell Xu for winning the tournament! Anabell is the latest in  MBCLA Youth Speakers Tournament winners that will be charged to steward her victory and entrustment well:

One track only:

2006: Kathy Hung (12th)
2007: Christine Winarko (12th)
______  Runner-up: Eunice Im (12th)
2009: Nathaniel Hsieh (10th)
______  Runner-up: Vincent Puu (10th)
2010: Clara Wong (12th)
______  Runner-up: Randall Hsieh (10th)

Two tracks:

2011: Isabel Shen (12th)
2013:     Runner-up: Daniel Hsieh (10th)
_______  Runner-up: Harvey Gan (12th)
2014: Daniel Hsieh (11th)
____  Joseph Chang (12th)
____  Alexandra Tagami (11th)
2015: Megan Lee (12th)
______   Runner-up: Aileen Wei (12th)
______   Runner-up: Judy Wu (12th)
____  Andrew Shi (12th)
______  Runner-up: Joshua Chang (10th)
2016: Angela Hsieh (10th)
2017: Joshua Chang (12th)
____  Michelle Chen (11th)

One track only:

2019: Anabell Xu (11th)

A Great Time at the SCC Solo Tour! What Next?

SCC Solo 2

TD @ SCC Solo Tour Concert at The Wiltern – 4/12/19

SCC Concert at the Hsiehs’ for Show Hope

Hey TD!

What an amazing time together at the Steven Curtis Chapman Solo Tour at the Wiltern!  Thank you, Show Hope!  Our family is so glad you got to hear his heart, his story, his ministry, and his music (and his ridiculous guitar skills!).

As I always say, when you have a chance to be around greatness, seize it.  Though many of you had never heard of him (though he’s had over 50 #1 hits, has over 70 Dove Awards, 5 Grammy Awards, etc.), you were willing to see the big picture and be open to new experiences and opportunities. Many of you expressed how unexpectedly blessed you were.

As SCC was sharing about his family’s own adoption journey and the work at Show Hope, like many of you, I had tears in my eyes.  Helping kids that don’t have families is a work that God wants us, His church, to be involved in.  At TD, we have done that through Voiceless For the Voiceless (V4V), visiting the orphanage each month, serving at summer camps for orphans in China, and with our monthly sponsorships of 4 boys in Africa (through Rafiki) and 3 Show Hope sponsorships in China (many of you are behind in your pledges.  Please bring them up to date).

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27

Please seriously pray through how God wants to use you to help reach kids without families.  It’s not whether He wants you to help (He does); rather, it’s how He wants you to help.  Please talk with your small group leaders to discuss the opportunities!

– Arthur

 

The Beauty of the Dandelion

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Hey TD!

Love One Another Night was a truly blessed time for all and something we will be doing more of in the future.  We have to.  The reports of blessing we’re getting confirm this.  But we shouldn’t be surprised at the blessing we got, for this what God promises us … “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Kathy shared this poignant and meaningful piece with TD’s leadership after Love One Another Night.  We’d like to share it with you as well, in hopes it will both broaden and deepen your understanding of life.
by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Sometimes I feel useless.

I once felt accomplished, serving others rather than needing to be served. I brought meals to people in need but now I can’t even make my own coffee, and sometimes my husband even helps me lift my cup. When Joel is out of town, someone needs to stay with me because I can no longer stay alone. Nothing seems easy anymore, and I look back on my days of independence with longing. At times, I feel I have little to offer.

I know in my head that usefulness isn’t what the Christian life is all about. God doesn’t need me, and I am not indispensable in the kingdom- none of us are. God delights in us, not because of anything we bring or do, but simply because we are his beloved children.

Additionally, usefulness isn’t for us to measure; God often uses us in ways that we never see or know. This life is not about our glory – the impact we make on this world – but about God’s glory. His grace is sufficient for us and his power is made perfect in our weakness. So when we look weak, we really are strong (2 Cor 12:9, 10b).

The dying dandelion, which is embedded in my logo and on my website, reminds me of strength from seeming weakness. While dandelions are unwelcome on my lawn, their beauty at the end of their lives has captivated me.

In its heyday, the dandelion is bright and rugged. It grows in harsh conditions, often in places where no one sees or knows but God. Some people see it as unstoppable, its bright yellow petals visible from a distance.

But as it is dying, being stripped of its strength, the dandelion is often hard to see. It has given everything and there seems to be nothing left; the vibrant color that once defined it is gone. In this stage, it is preparing to reproduce, doing its most glorious work.

Sometimes, like the dandelion, we feel we are most useful to God when we are sunny, strong and resilient. People notice us. But when our health changes and we feel delicate and dependent, we wonder what good our lives are. And society reinforces that doubt by ignoring the elderly, encouraging euthanasia, shunning the disabled, aborting the unwanted. It seems as though we must prove our usefulness for society to value us. And when we can’t, we may feel like a burden to others, wishing we could be more productive.

But when does the dandelion do its most important work? When it’s dying. When the fragile seeds are blown away by the wind. When it’s surrendered itself and is sowing seeds of new life. And the stronger the wind blows, the farther the seeds will go – to places that the lone flower could have never gone itself.

Lilias Trotter, an artist and missionary to Algeria in the late 1800’s said this:

This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals and has reached its crowning stage of dying – the delicate seed globe must break up now – it gives and gives till it has nothing left… There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that blows with where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given: a breath does the rest, turning the “readiness to will” into the “performance.”

In John 12:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” A grain of wheat may be useful and majestic when it stands tall and alone, but it doesn’t reproduce or bear fruit then. Its influence is only multiplied when it falls into the ground and dies. When it’s bruised and buried and the external kernel rots away underground, carrying the seeds of new life.

When we die, whether it be physical death or the death of our dreams or dying to ourselves, something remarkable happens. God brings new life.

No one looks forward to dying. Or being stripped bare. Or feeling useless. Most people say they want to die in their sleep when they are capable and healthy; they don’t want to face the ravages of aging and disability. But watching others trust God as they struggle with debilitating frailties is sacred. It inspires me in my own struggles. I know that God will be sufficient for me just as he has been sufficient for them. Their stalk may be bare, but it stands firm. And those people are a marvel to me.

I have the privilege of being in a Pain Pal group with friends who are enduring unspeakable physical suffering. Many of them have caregivers because they cannot care for themselves. Yet their radiance is profound; they speak of an intimacy and joy in Christ that carries them through the worst pain imaginable. They are my heroes. Their willingness to praise God and encourage others amid their own struggles has changed me.  Struggles like stabbing, mind-numbing relentless pain, waking up constantly through the night in agony (if they sleep at all), quadriplegia, multiple amputations, lying in bed in a dark room all day unable to do anything. Compared to most of them, I know nothing of suffering. And yet they constantly reassure me that my pain matters – all our pain matters.

These friends remind me of the dandelion. They are completely yielded to God and their lives are a testimony of his grace. They may feel they can do nothing but lie in bed and pray, but they are bearing more fruit than most do in a lifetime of serving. Their influence is greater than they can imagine, and the wind is carrying their witness to faraway places. It’s being carried by God who is using it for his glory.

Lilias Trotter has a sketch of the dandelion with a quote by Ugo Bassi beside it. It reads:

Measure thy life by loss and not by gain; not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth, for love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice, and he that suffereth most hath most to give.

SideBar-Vaneetha
Vaneetha Rendall Risner – http://www.vaneetha.com
Vaneetha was 3 months old when she contracted Polio.  Within 24 hours she was paralyzed due to a doctor’s mistake.  She has had a lifetime of immense suffering … and ensuing God-given joy.  Her blog Dance in the Rain is a powerful source of truth, sharing, honesty, vulnerability, and hope, as is her book, The Scars That Have Shaped Me

Pics and Video from Gingerbread Houses & Portrait Painting Project

 

 

 

Hey TD!

Click on the link below to see some of December’s sights and sounds from the Gingerbread House contest and the Portrait Painting Project:

Pics and videos – Gingerbread and Portraits

 

Galen Jee (1950 – 2018) – My Pastor

Galen Jee

Galen giving some pre-marriage counseling to Arthur and Sandra during TD in the ’80’s

Hello TD,

It is with deep sadness that I must inform you that Pastor Galen Jee, our English Department pastor for about twenty years, passed away suddenly yesterday from cardiac arrest.  He was doing what he loved to do – walking in nature and capturing it in photographs.  An avid and talented photographer, he loved capturing God’s creation.

I want you all to know that our English Department wouldn’t be what it is today without the foundation-laying, seed-planting, and personal investment into people that Galen and his wife, Eunice, provided.  What God has done in our congregation in the years since he moved on from our church has been built upon the foundation that God had Galen and Eunice lay; it’s a foundation that was committed to the gospel rather than gimmicks, to people rather than programs, to integrity rather than ingenuity, … to a saving God rather than to self-glory.  This is absolutely true.

Often times, people embellish the facts and persona of someone’s life after they have passed on, out of deference and respect, and sensitivity to the surviving family.  Galen would not have that, nor would want me to do that.  Anyone else who was under his care and leadership would whole-heartedly affirm what I just wrote above.

Pastoring our congregation during the heyday of the “seeker sensitive” church growth movement in the ’80’s and ’90’s, Galen felt the external pressure to grow our numbers more quickly, which forced him to look within and to continually check himself in order to stay faithful to our Lord and His Upside Down Kingdom, where measures of true success rarely look like what we think it looks like (even church goers).  Having his success as a pastor often gauged by others according to the metric of numeric success, Galen stayed faithful and true to what he knew the true church to be, Christ’s Bride; not a platform or a stepping-stone for feeling good about oneself and achieving some sort of self-worth and self-satisfaction through serving and through church-y “success,” which he rightly knew was still, in fact, worldly.  He wouldn’t do that.  He just wanted to be found faithful and obedient, plain and simple.  That was success.

Personally, it was Galen who not only was the official English Department pastor when I arrived at MBCLA, but who became MY pastor.  He saw a young, unchurched, worldly high school graduate and met with me in my home before baptizing me not too long afterwards (announcing to the congregation that I graduated from Marshall HS rather than my alma mater, South Pasadena HS).  Over the ensuing years, he saw something in me, investing in me and showing me the ropes.  As the years ensued, his belief in me grew and he entrusted me with the opportunity to serve our congregation in many ways.  He gave me my wings in ministry, as it were.  Though young, inexperienced, and “wet behind the ears,” he allowed me to make mistakes, and more importantly, he trusted me; for that, I will always be humbled and grateful.  I had the privilege of preaching several times at the pulpit of the church that he shepherded after he left MBCLA.  Knowing that he would only let people he trusted to preach from his pulpit, I always counted it a great honor to do so.

He preferred the private impact of personal ministry over the public show of it.  There is a place for everyone to minister, whether in public or in private; he was quite aware of the potential traps of public ministry.  He was understated in personality and not the dynamic “life of the party,” by any means.  I’m not sure he could’ve actually drawn the attention to himself that other more vibrant, boisterous, magnetic personalities can; nonetheless, he knew that even desiring to do so is tantamount to doing it in God’s eyes.  He knew himself and knew that he could “go there” if he wasn’t alert and careful.  So, he ordered his life to make sure he didn’t “go there.”

I appreciated his down-to-earth humility in that way.  He didn’t want anything to be above the Christ of the gospel, nor anyone to be out of His reach.  Galen was a personal minister who cared about the person and cared about that person living life truthfully, according to the way God ordained, as revealed in Scripture.  He was committed to the sufficiency of Scripture for all of life.  He was not one who could get himself to bend the rules, shade the truth, or to go against conscience, having to turn various people down for different requests, even though he hated to do so.

When Sandra and I got engaged, I remember him asking both our parents how they really felt about it.  Since Sandra and I have a large age gap, he was a little apprehensive of whether our relationship would really work out.  He loved us both and didn’t want to see us take a hasty step that would result in disaster down the road.  He did our pre-marriage counseling with us and gave us his blessing, eventually marrying us.

I spoke to him last week, and as usual, his eyes were ultimately on the Lord.  Over the last couple of years, he often spoke frankly and realistically about the tenuousness of life on earth, saying that God could realistically take him at any time.  A lifelong diabetic, he had to constantly inject himself and was constantly experiencing new ailments in his later years.  He reminded me that he was not scared of death and that he would be with the Lord.

Well, Galen is with the Lord now. and I bet he wishes he had his camera equipment with him.  It won’t be long, however, before realizes that he doesn’t need his camera to capture the splendor of what he is experiencing and seeing.  It’s permanent now.  He lives it 24/7.  I have an idea of who he’s making a beeline toward, who he’s anxious to meet and ask questions of.  Most of all, I know that he is overwhelmed and humbled to be in God’s immediate presence, as we all will be when our time comes.

I will miss my dear friend and pastor.  I’m thankful for his investment in my life and for handing the baton to me.  I pray that I will be faithful to carry that baton well and to faithfully hand it off to those such as you.  Amen.  – Arthur