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Twas the time before children, and all through the house not a young adult was sleeping, they were leaving their house. They had packed their backpacks with care, in the hopes that it would carry their things with great care.

Rhyme over! Yes it was 2003 and we were off on our first overseas trip. First stop was Hong Kong to visit my lovely sister in law. I have always been a slightly nervous flyer and as it was taking a long time to take off, I said to my hubby, in a shaky voice, “This is a long taxi” and he came back with, “No it’s not, it’s an aeroplane!”. He thinks it’s the funniest thing he’s ever said but I say, it was, now it isn’t.

Moving right along. We land in sunny Hong Kong to be greeted by my smiley sis-in-law! We sit, drink and catch up then catch the bus back to her home on Lantau Island. Dooowwwnnn the narrow, winding roads in the darkness. But I wasn’t too concerned. This was only the first part of our 5 month adventure and I was determined to enjoy every bit I could! We arrive at the apartment and go to sleep.

The next morning, after we have slept like the dead, we join a group of 12 of S.I.L’s friends eating YumCha for breaky! When in Hong Kong. It was the best, cheapest breakfast ever! Everything was delicious except for the chicken’s feet that had nice tasty skin but then there were these weird bones. Didn’t know what to do with them so I just had a little gnaw and a giggle and plopped them on the plate.

Then off to the city – the zoo (sad little place with green concrete for the apes to roll around on!) and then up the peak of a kind of a tram! A beautiful day in Hong Kong.  The next day was a touristic romp through museums, towering skyscrapers with bamboo scaffolding (eeek) and finally our feet found rest when we had High Tea at the Royal Garden Hotel. 3 hours of food: dumplings, pastries, salads, antipasto, scones, pancakes, donuts, coffee and ice tea! Take me back!!!

When we headed back to the ranch we participated in a refugee simulation. We walked around the streets of Lantau, our only guides speaking to us in a foreign language. We didn’t know where we were going or when we or what we would eat. It was a powerful experience run by the incredible team at Crossroads International (http://www.crossroads.org.hk/). We ended up eating on the floor of a small room, all jammed together.

The next day I began to get silly. SARS was all around us. People were paranoid so I decided to join them. I had cut a piece of sticky tape (for my travel journal) between my teeth and some of it was stuck in my throat. So I started to cough, as you do. Then I was convinced they wouldn’t let us on the plane because of my sticky tape cough. Oh dear. Silly, silly me.

The next day we worked at the Crossroads warehouse then headed into the city for some Egyptian food with S.I.L. We were due to fly out later that night and they actually let me on the plane with my sticky tape cough! Phew!!! It was a great start to our trip and I can’t wait to go and visit again. This time with the kids!

If you ever want to do something to help your fellow man, the poorest of the poor, check out Crossroads.  They are always looking for volunteers with a variety of experience and skills, long term or short term! Go on, have an adventure!

Next time, we head to Egypt!

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Kids cannot understand where all the money goes. They don’t get why African people are sick and have no money for food. They just can’t understand why poor kids have no toys and why some people live on the streets.

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That was one of the questions my five year old raised with me:

“Why do people sleep on the ground in Australia? Did the boss of Australia take away their money?” Geesh, how to explain the complexities of this greedy world.

One of our good friends works with abandoned babies and the homeless in Zimbabwe. In a way, that situation is a little easier to explain to kids as the boss of Zimbabwe is corrupt and greedy. But when it’s on your doorstep and our government isn’t blatantly corrupt or evil, how do we describe accurately why people have to live on our streets? I don’t even understand it.

How simple are the eyes and minds of our kids? If only life were that simple. People need food. People grow food, so they should eat food. People need love, acceptance, a roof over their head and warmth and opportunities. Fullstop. How did we get it so wrong?

My three year old’s suggestion for helping the poor is this, “Tell everyone to give the African people money.” So, here it goes… please give the African people money. Or time or skills or prayers or exposure. Why is it so easy for us to sweep these problems under our expensive rugs? It’s not so difficult afterall. Just ask my daughter.

For an awesome opportunity to give money to the poor, you know where to go, what to do. But let me again plug our friends in Zimbabwe, who struggle everyday just with the basics. Go to http://www.pittwaterchurch.org/missions.php and click on the link at the bottom of the page and it will give you the info you need to make a difference in Zimbabwe. And please tell your friends!

Or if you want to extend yourself and help more of the poor of this world why not volunteer some time and skills at Crossroads (crossroads.org.hk). Don’t be overwhelmed, be empowered to make a change and bring justice back to our world.

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