March 2017 ministry update of whitney & Larry Tu with epic movement

"Well, if you don't know it by now, you just don't know it."

That's what I (Whitney) would always tell myself in college the day before a test as I closed my books and tucked myself into bed around 10:30pm. I was not the kind of student who pulled "all-nighters." I'm sure my grades showed some indication of this, but I was sincerely committed to getting good rest above "knowing" more.

This March, I got to take a 4-week sabbatical where I could again commit to resting, hearing from the Lord, and enjoying many of the blessings He's given me. I'm so grateful for the opportunity and was enthusiastically looking at plane flights to see friends, checking the weather to see how often I could be outside, and buying and borrowing as many books as I could that were on my "To Read" list.

Where I hoped to spend all of my sabbatical!

With all of my plans written down (in pen!) and laid out very neatly in my planner, I might as well have written: "Well, you'll see." After one week going according to plan, I found out my grandmother, Karen Chen, was in the hospital for a brain aneurysm in Los Angeles and was unlikely to recover. She passed away four days later.

Visiting Poa Poa at the hospital

I am so keenly aware that you have committed much time, prayer, and resources to us and our ministry, and we are immensely grateful. And while this "update," has very little to do with the results of ministry, it is everything to do with the soul of ministry--aka. our motivations. I spent much of the rest of sabbatical grieving, processing deep thoughts, and in the midst of that celebrating Larry's 32nd birthday with great friends and pizza! Thank you so much for providing and praying for us in this season!

Below is what I shared at her memorial service. It's a collection of things I learned through our relationship, and also through this season of sabbath. I hope it gives you a picture of who she was and why she informs our ministry today (if you manage to get all the way through it!). Thank you, again, for your prayers and partnership with us!

Thank you so much for being here. I am learning so much about Poa Poa by your presence here today. And I’ve been learning so much recently, in general—much of it due to her passing.
The biggest question on my mind and heart recently: what gives life meaning? It’s not a strange or new question to ask in the presence of losing someone or something of great value. But I’ve been thinking about it…
French, renaissance philosopher, Michel de Montaigne says that “he who should teach men to die would at the same time teach them to live.”
It reminds me of Luke 9:23-25: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
And Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
When I hear these words of philosophy and Scripture, I come to the conclusion that life has meaning because death makes life here on earth finite and on a timeline. Life also has meaning because God has given us breath—His breath—and the freedom to do with it as we desire. But the most meaningful thing we can do with our limited timeline is to have relationships with God and others, and join in His work.
And when I look at my—and your relationship with Poa Poa, I can tell she was both very aware of this and quietly taught this to me throughout my life, and even in her passing inspires me to continue learning and living it out.
Whitney (in the white overalls...) with her dad, Poa Poa, and Uncle Weili
Our relationship never consisted of many words. Seeing her regularly throughout my life meant receiving, without-fail, a few choice phrases that always felt on the verge of extreme concern:
  • “So cold! Do you have a jacket?”
  • "So tall!"
  • "Drive safe!"
  • "What did you cook? Only spaghetti?!"
  • And recently... "Why no children!?"
Depending on my mood I would play along with her concern where she would then hold my hand, shake her head and say “Ai ya…”
I lived with her and Kung Kung and Uncle Weili for a couple weeks while I took summer classes at my high school. I don’t recall any particular conversations, but I do remember every morning there would be a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice (that she squeezed herself) that I had to drink before I left for school. It didn’t matter if I was late or not, I must drink that orange juice. No discussion.
When visiting her at their print shop several years ago, she was working on a puzzle in a book of sudoku with levels ranging from easy to “extremely hard.” I asked if I could try one. She made a copy for me of an easy-level one, and then when I came back to her and said it was too hard, she laughed and said, “So easy!” She finished the puzzle very quickly after. The next time I saw her, she insisted I practice, and then with a big smile gave me my own sudoku puzzle book.
I always felt her incredible care for me and her joy upon being together. Being here today has been such a gift to see even more of the life she led and how, not only was her life so meaningful, it gave meaning to so many people—me included.
With her gone and by extension her care and presence gone from my present life, I am just so aware of what I’m missing. I want to imitate her life and care for others unceasingly, be generous without judgment, and joyously join in fearing the Lord and keeping His commandments.
I deeply wish I could’ve shared more moments with her along with these beautiful lessons and even more so be able to share them in Mandarin, but I feel honored to share them with you. Poa Poa, I miss you (wo xiang ni).
Us with Whitney's grandfather who, at 97, furthers some of Poa Poa's legacy by urging us to have children.

Credits:

Whitney Tu

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