3-Minute Coffee with Uncle Reggie:
“Don’t ask too many questions (sometimes)!” Part 2
与曾叔叔喝三分钟咖啡: (有时)不要问太多问题!第二部分
(Susan Meng 翻譯)

In Part 1 you were with me when I tried to understand what really happened when I took “early retirement”, and how I began to realize that sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions!


Unexpected embracing warmth… “Don’t ask too many questions” also happened when we were doing our medical mission in two small towns of Yunnan. In a totally unexpected way, even though we did not ask to do this, we became regular informal visiting English teachers in the public schools, every time we were in town. All this just happened spontaneously, from the enthusiasm of the kids and teachers, even though we never had official agreements or contracts. See the related little stories in Coffee with Uncle Reggie Book 1

Innocent kids and innocent MSI team members just becoming friends with no bureaucracies involved.
单纯的孩子们和单纯的 MSI 团队成员们只是成为朋友而已,无需任何官方介入。

意想不到的热情接纳… 类似“不要问太多”的事也发生在我们去云南的两个小镇执行医疗任务时。尽管我们从来没有要求过,但出乎意料的是,每次我们去时,都会成为当地公立学校的非正式客座英语教师。我们从未签过任何正式的协议或合同,但因着孩子们和老师们的热情,一切就这么自然而然地发生了。相关小故事详见《与曾叔叔喝咖啡第一册》

Just spontaneously and uncontrived, we became a “natural” part of the school culture of the two towns. We also had such great fun and made lots of contacts. There were many opportunities to be friends and role models for the kids in subconscious ways. Some of these relationships have lasted even till today.


Friendship trumps everything else… The teachers and even the principals became good friends, and every time we walked into the schools we were warmly welcomed, even often with clapping and cheering! All quite unconventional, even irregular.

友谊胜过一切… 老师们,甚至校长们,都成了我们的好朋友。每次当我们走进学校时,都受到了热烈欢迎,他们甚至经常鼓掌欢呼!这一切都非常不寻常,甚至不合规范。

Breaking barriers… We broke through many barriers. A major reason for our being there, and even being on this Earth I suppose, is really to break barriers and make lots of friends and contacts, and we did just that. Everyone involved had such sweet memories of meaningful interactions between our teams and the local people.

消除障碍… 我们消除了许多障碍。我认为,我们到那里去的原因,甚至我们来到这个地球上的一个主要目的,就是为了要消除障碍,拓展我们的朋友圈。而我们就是这么做的。当时,我们的团队与当地人之间有意义的互动给我们团队的每个参与者都留下了美好的记忆。

High-speed growth… This approach became a significant motivating drive for our different “sending centers” around the world. It certainly was a factor in our significant “recruitment” of thousands of professional visits in 10 years, when sending centers realized we could so readily make numerous friends even in remotest places far away from home.

高速增长… 这种方式也成为了我们世界各地不同“派遣中心”的重要推动力。这无疑是我们在 10 年内大量“招募”并推动数千次专业人士出行的一个因素。当时派遣中心意识到,即使在远离家乡的偏远地区,我们也可以轻松地结交许多朋友。

“Off the books.”… The best feature of all this was that it was all “off the books”. There was no need for formal signatures or official bureaucracies. How touching it was to meet spontaneous smiles and warm welcomes everywhere we went!

“非官方的”… 这一切的最大特点就是都是“非官方的”。不需要正式签名或官方机构的介入。无论我们走到哪里,都能看到自发的微笑和热烈的欢迎,这是多么令人感动啊!

No one ordered or forced the students and teachers to smile, which might happen in some formal bureaucratic situations. We could barely believe it.


Great relationships still today, started through not asking too many questions, and can transcend time (decades) and space (oceans). Courtesy of the beauty of Wechat.

“We heard about this!”… For example, after we started in one town, a school in a nearby town heard about this, and asked our similar medical team there to do the same thing.

“我们听说了这件事!”… 比如,我们在一个城镇做了这些事后,附近城镇的一所学校听说了,就对当地的医疗团队提出了同样的要求,希望他们也能这样行。

A delegation of teachers came to our team leader in that town to make a special request, and so we began to teach there also. Talk about being a “good testimony”!


“You’re just being friends!”… Things were going so well that actually I was getting a little bit nervous. So I casually asked several principals when I was just doing my usual casual “chatting rounds” (1) with their leaders, whether we needed to do anything “more official”. The immediate response was “No, no! We like you to do this informally, because if you do this formally, there would be bureaucracies and rules involved! That would not work.”

“你们只是我们的朋友!”… 事情进展得如此顺利,都让我有点紧张了。所以我在和他们的领导进行日常的“闲聊”(1)时,随口问了几位校长,我们是否需要做一些“更正式”的事情。他们立刻回答说“不必,不必!我们喜欢你们以非正式的方式行事,因为如果通过正式渠道这样做,就会涉及官方机构和规则!那是行不通的。”

They emphasized, “You’re not official teachers, you’re just being friends, that’s the best!” Which was exactly what I thought also. Guan shi, relationships, in the best way. Plus also, essentially an implicit warning to “not rock the boat!” when all is going well.


Asking questions might provoke unintended answers… Well, someone rocked the boat for us, and began to ask questions of the higher-ups in the system. Good-intentioned questions, in the context of western societies driven by laws and rules. Instantly the boat was rocked, and the friendship-based teaching enterprise sank. Officialdom arrived, bureaucrats took charge and no more informal teachers were allowed!

提出问题可能会带来意想不到的结果… 好吧,有人开始给我们搅局了,向系统高层提出问题。在法律和规则驱动的西方社会背景下,这些是善意的问题。霎时,出问题了,以友谊为基础的教学项目被取缔了。政府机构到场,官僚掌权,非正式教学不再被允许了!

A meaningful lesson… We learnt a thoughtful lesson. Even though western cultures are urged from childhood to ask lots of questions, maybe sometimes we should not. In a relationship based system, relationships are most important, and once we start digging away at relationships by asking too many questions about the system, then the system no longer works well! The questions might also even come across as challenging the system. Questions are good in many ways, but can destabilize and sink a boat!

Having many good friends everywhere is usually good guanshi, no technical questions needed! For East and also West. We actually began in the western part of the country and have maintained wonderful guanshi to this day.

有意义的一课… 我们学到了非常深刻的一课。尽管西方文化从小就鼓励我们多提问题,但有时我们不应该这样做。在根植于关系的社会里,关系是最重要的因素。一旦我们开始在这个关系体系中提出太多问题,那么这个系统就不再能够良好地运作!这些问题甚至可能会被认为是对系统的挑战。提出问题在很多时候都是好的,但有时也会破坏稳定甚至造成伤害!

Oh well, we had a great run, and it was an extremely meaningful and touching time. But often even good things have to come to an end, somehow! Sometimes, just don’t ask too many questions!


“Do it first, and ask for forgiveness later!”… A related thought is sometimes posed as “Sometimes, do it first and ask for forgiveness later!” This is based on the assumption that some things are just too good to ask too many questions about them! “Do it first,” and then let’s sort it out afterwards!

“先做,然后再请求原谅!”… 有个于此相类似的说法,就是“先斩后奏!”这个说法是基于这样的假设:有些事情实在太好了,以至于不能对它们过多推敲! “先去做”,然后再来面对由此可能产生的问题!

When I first helped start the organization Medical Services International (MSI) to help in poverty areas of China, I frankly did not realize that there were bureaucracies involved. I was brand new at this “mission thing”.


I just simply sent out emails and phone calls to friends and contacts, and then showed up in different cities, showing doctors, nurses and health-related people the vision we had, and how they could help.


Just pack my bags and fly… To my pleasant surprise, I was warmly welcomed to visit these contacts. So I packed up my bags and traveled and traveled. And the word got around. I went to national and international locations and was indeed enthusiastically welcomed.

收拾行李,启程… 令我惊喜的是,我所联系的人给与了我热情的回应,欢迎我去拜访他们。于是我就收拾好行囊(实际上,我应该说是我太太收拾的!),各处拜访。消息传得更广泛了。我去了国内和国外各地,受到了热烈的欢迎。

I simply shared what we were doing. Truly, I was just trying to get people excited about the vision. I wasn’t thinking of systems of bureaucracies at all.


“What are you doing?”… For more than a year I freely and innocently did this, and established many “sending centers” in North America and around the world, through contacts who spread the word to others. Many people became eager to visit the various volunteer work locations in southwest China.

“你在做什么?”… 有一年多的时间,我单纯地做着这件事,通过人传人的方式,在北美和世界各地建立了许多“派遣中心”。许多人迫不及待地想要加入我们位于中国西南各地的志愿者工作点。

After a year of this flurry of activity, I received an unexpected call from a leader of a “senior agency” that we had a loose arrangement with. He had a simple question, something like, “Maybe we should get together, to get to know you better?”


It’s good for team members to connect with and visit the solid mother ship (skipper in second row far right strengthening my back in front, center). Even after setting sail. Also, filling out many forms helps.

“Reporting to duty.”… So I duly reported to the “senior organization” for the first time in my life, and faced a group of elders who pressed me about “what I was really doing!”

“报到。”… 于是我生平第一次如期到“上级组织”报到,面对一群领导人的追问“我究竟在做什么!”

They had gotten wind of my rather extensive, likely unorthodox travels, often invoking the “sacred name” of Hudson Taylor. Invoking his name seemed quite “natural” to me since the co-founder of our new MSI organization was actually a direct descendant of his.

他们听说了我相当广泛并且可能不那么规范的旅行,而且还听说我经常引用戴德生的“圣名”。引用他的名字对我来说似乎很“自然”,因为我们新的 MSI 组织的联合创始人实际上是他的直系后裔。

It turned out the elders seemed genuinely “impressed”, but they also had funny patronizing smiles on their faces.


They declared, “We need to do this systematically. There are processes and systems for this kind of thing. We need to start by registering you. ”


Was I supposed to ask questions first?… Indeed we began the process of registering the leadership of our new organization, which was all done efficiently, step by step. I really hadn’t known that there was a regular “system” we needed to register with. But now I did. I didn’t even know enough earlier, to think of questions! Let alone actually ask the questions!

我应该事先提出问题吗?… 然后,我们就开始了这个新组织领导层的登记过程,这一切都一步一步高效地完成了。我真的不知道我们需要注册。但现在我知道了。我之前根本就没有足够的知识来考虑这些相关的问题!更不用说提出任何问题了!

As some like to say, “Sometimes it’s better to do it, and then ask for forgiveness later” which is what really happened. All was forgiven and all went smoothly thereafter. Sort of!


“Forgiveness is sweet.”… Bureaucracies have bureaucracies that need to be sorted out (assuaged?), and it took us a while to sort them all out. Some people who’ve gone through the full process even joke that they sometimes felt they had to go through “one million forms”.

“被宽恕是幸福的。”… 相关机构中的各种关系需要被理清(被安抚?),我们花了一段时间才把它们全部协调清楚。一些经历过整个流程的人甚至开玩笑说,他们有时觉得自己填写了“一百万张表格”。

But the enthusiasm and spirit were fully there, and all was indeed forgiven, which was very sweet!


“Go, therefore!” … Sometimes indeed there’s “no need to ask too many questions”. Which is sometimes a variation of a profound inspiration, “Go, therefore…”, an inspiration that has sent literally millions of visionaries all over the world, with or without bureaucracies. Oftentimes not even knowing what questions to ask.

“因此,去!”… 有时候确实“没必要问太多问题”。这有时是一种来自灵魂深处的启示,“因此,去…”,这个启示已经向世界各地派送了数以百万计的有异象的人,无论有没有机构的背书。很多时候,甚至都不知道该问些什么问题。



1.To schmooze or not: https://reggietales.org/?s=Schmooze

1. 漫谈“闲聊”:https://reggietales.org/?s=Schmooze…