5-Minute Coffee with Uncle Reggie:
Don’t ask too many questions (sometimes)! Part 1
与曾叔叔喝五分钟咖啡: (有时)不要问太多问题!第一部分
(Susan Meng 翻譯)

“Why are you asking so many questions?”… I have always loved to ask questions. My “How, how, how?” questions led me into medicine and medical research. My “Why, why, why” questions led me into deeper philosophical ponderings. But I began to realize that, even though I think it’s wonderful to ask many questions, maybe there are times to not ask too many questions?!

“你为什么要问这么多问题?”… 我一直很喜欢问问题。我的“怎样,怎样,怎样?”的问题引导我进入医学及其相关的研究领域。我的“为什么,为什么,为什么”问题引导我进行了更深入的哲学思考。但我开始意识到,尽管我认为问很多问题很好,但也许有些时候不需要问太多问题?!

“Are you really leaving?”… After two years of prayerful thinking and planning, I was ready to leave the hospital, to take early retirement to start a medical mission in China. I was, however, not really prepared for what happened next, especially since this was a radical step very different from my previous intensely academic life.

“你真的要离开吗?”… 经过两年祷告中的思考和计划,我准备离开医院,提前退休,开始在中国的医疗服务。然而,我并没有真正为接下来会发生的事情做好准备,特别是因为这崭新的一步与我之前专业的学术生活截然不同。

I was ready to leave, but surprisingly the hospital leadership apparently was not! When I stood in the office of the director announcing my goodbye, he asked, “Are you really leaving?”


To which I replied, “Yes, of course! I’ve been telling you for two years about this! And I’ve already transferred all my different responsibilities, so I really haven’t left any major problems for you!”


My more than adequate office (5 units at the maximum time),
after I “officially retired”. No questions were asked.

Flabbergasted… However, he then shocked me by asking, “You’ll need an office, won’t you?”

震惊中… 然而,他接下来的问题更使我目瞪口呆:“你需要一间办公室,不是吗?”

To which I responded in a bit of bewilderment, “Are you saying you still want to give me an office?”


He ignored my question and went on, “And you’ll need a part-time secretary?”


Finally, he offered me use of essentially all the modern communication technologies I would need for my mission.


I was flabbergasted. I had not asked for anything, and had just assumed that one major phase of my life was over, and I was literally moving out to a totally new life, (far) away from my decades of academic medicine.


“Tough new sheriff in town.”… Astonishingly, his sudden offer to me had no strings attached. No conditions at all!

“镇上新来的警长很严厉。”… 令人惊讶的是,他给我突然而来的提议是没有任何附加条件的。根本没有任何条件!

It was suddenly quite perplexing to me, especially since he was “the new sheriff in town” (usually pictured in westerns with guns ablazing), representing a new hospital administration taking a very tough new look at all expenses. I fully knew that because I was actually the only vice chairman at the time, and even helped in this effort. Somehow, for some odd reason, apparently I wasn’t included in the extensive cost-trimming!

这突然让我感到非常困惑,尤其因为他是“镇上新来的警长”(New sheriff in town在西部片中,这个描述通常会伴随着激烈枪战画面的出现),代表着新的医院管理方式,对所有支出严格审核。我完全知道这一点,因为实际上,我是当时唯一的副主席(副院長), 甚至还为这种管理方式出谋划策。不知何故,出于某种奇怪的原因,显然我没有被纳入大规模的成本削减之中!

Surprise, surprise, “Why are they doing this?”… I sort of felt like a kid getting surprise gifts. I was asking in my mind, “Why are they doing this? Why are they giving me this and that?” In fact, “they” started giving me more, even when I didn’t ask for anything at all.


For example, regular checks started appearing from the hospital to my account! With no conditions or guidelines.


It was all very confusing, and I practically could not restrain myself from asking questions. And then I thought, “Why should I ask questions?” Indeed, why?


“New sheriff in town” usually means lots of changes, but my new sheriff had a novel approach (see story).

Quit asking questions!… It was too puzzling, and I was really too busy with my new venture. I felt maybe I should just quietly and freely accept tian yi, the will of Heaven!


But, fantasizing the answers… But, over the years, I still had many unexpressed questions in my own mind, and increasingly so as several generations of directors took over, and yet, to my amazement, instead of bidding me goodbye, they continued the support.

但是,想象一下答案… 但是,这些年来,我心里仍然有许多未说出口的问题,而且这些问题越来越清晰,因为,令我惊讶的是,随着几代领导的更迭,他们不仅没有切断对我的支持,反而一直延续了下去。

I began to fantasize and even romanticize this matter, in trying to figure out why this was really happening!


Enigmatic answer?… Years later, I actually had occasion to meet the first director who had started this unsolicited support. When I finally blurted out “Why?”, he gave me an enigmatic answer without really answering.

神秘的答案?… 多年后,我终于有机会见到了第一位开始主动支持我的领导。当我最终脱口而出问他“为什么?”时,他并没有正面回答我,却给了我一个神秘的答案。

He said something about “It’s good sometimes to keep good people around!” That did not really sound all that convincing, but I left it at that.

他说了一句话,类似“有时候让好人留在身边是件好事!” 这听起来并没有那么令人信服,但我就这样算了。

The enigma continued because I was increasingly aware of the other subtle “benefits” that accompanied the support. Because I was, unexpectedly, still wearing a hospital badge, I could move freely around the medical center, freely attend medical meetings, easily interact with medical staff and just generally go about as if I were still part of my very fine and reputable hospital (ranked first in USA in 2023)! I even continued to have an excellent prized parking spot! All these were probably subtly priceless, on top of what I had been officially given.


Did I really have academic value?… Some friends suggested to me the reason the hospital was so generous was that the hospital still liked to use my international academic reputation, so it was helpful if I was still “attached” to the hospital. Well, maybe there’s some truth there, but I think this kind of connection wanes quite unpredictably. Some years later, who would really remember, or even care?

我真的有学术价值吗?… 有朋友认为,医院之所以如此慷慨,是因为医院仍然喜欢利用我的国际学术声誉,所以如果我仍然“依附”在医院,对医院会有所帮助。好吧,这也许有一些道理,但我认为这样的关系会以不可预测的方式逐渐消失。若干年后,谁会真正记得,甚至关心?

There’s “real money” involved… All of this was totally out of our plans and expectations. My wife and I were already committed to spending our own funds during this phase of service, essentially spending down our future retirement funds, and we were fine with that. So all of this hospital support became basically a bonus over and above our own plans.

这涉及到“真金白银”… 所有这一切都完全超出了我们的计划和预期。我和我的妻子已经承诺在这个侍奉阶段会使用我们自己的资金,实际上,就是花费我们未来的退休基金,我们对此并无异议。因此,所有这些来自医院的支持,实际上为我们提供了计划之外的额外帮助。

The funds that we thus essentially saved were then invested safely, and became a significant contribution to our abilities to help our medical mission, and later to establish a new charitable foundation for support of other missions. So whether the hospital realized it or not, they really allowed and helped foster a long-lasting, wider impact!


International invitations had side benefits… Although I had officially retired, I was surprised there were still many international invitations for me to speak, especially regarding my academic research in babies. And these invitations came with side benefits.

国际邀请所带来额外的好处… 虽然我已经正式退休,但我很惊讶仍然有很多国际机构邀请我去作有关婴儿学术研究方面的报告。这些邀请有其自带的额外好处。

For example, if I was invited to speak in Melbourne, Australia, my air ticket was covered, usually plus an honorarium, which I could use to cover additional trips to other cities in Southeast Asia. Regional travel was, of course, a lot less expensive, once I was “already in the region”!


Or if a business class airline ticket was given, I often split it into economy class plus extra funds. So even though I was technically invited to just give one or a few talks, I stayed much longer for a whole array of visits to “mobilize” volunteers for our growing China medical mission.


Essentially, I did this for many regions in the world, at minimal or no extra cost! So why should I question what was happening? It was all happening for a better purpose.


When I traveled extensively overseas, many surprises welcomed us, even welcoming banners, and I learned more about not asking too many questions! See part 2.
当我频繁出国旅行时,有很多惊喜等待着我们,甚至还有欢迎横幅,而我也更加懂得了不要提太多的问题!参见第 二 部分。

What about the historical “founding spirit” of the Children’s Hospital?… I began to think that all this was somehow related to the Christian origin of the hospital, including the traditional Christian spirit of generosity and outreach to medically needy areas. What I was doing certainly would fit the original impulse and genesis of the hospital itself, albeit in China rather than Cincinnati.

儿童医院的历史是如何表现“立国之本的精神”?… 我开始思考这一切都与医院的基督信仰起源有着某种关系,包括传统的基督信仰代表的慷慨以及向医疗贫困地区伸出援手的精神。我所做的当然符合医院本身的最初动机和起源,尽管这些是做在中国而不是在辛辛那提。

In my particular situation, the august board of directors may have felt guided by this original purpose: in fact, they’re even obligated by law to follow the founding principles of the hospital. I’m guessing all these might have had some strange input into the decision to support me, all the while unbeknownst to me.


I never asked for permission… However, if that was the situation, I had never even asked permission from the hospital for my mission, nor had we planned this together. As I proceeded with the increasingly extensive work, I thought it was fair that I should at least give the leadership a yearly two-page self-report of what I was doing, which I regularly did. Although no one ever specifically asked me for it.

我从未请求过被许可… 然而,如果是这种情况的话,我甚至从未向医院提出过请求,使我的项目获得许可,我们也没有一起计划过这件事。当我继续进行越来越广泛的工作时,我认为,为了公平起见,我应该至少每年向领导层提交一份两页纸的报告,介绍我正在做的事情,而我也的确经常这样做了。尽管并没有人专门向我询问过。

No questions were asked of me… Every year I asked to see the chief briefly to submit my report and tell a short story about some project I was involved with. But no hospital senior leadership ever questioned me what I was doing in China at all. And there was never a deal made to do this or that for the hospital! It was all very strange.

没有人问过我任何问题… 每年我都会要求与负责的领导做个简短的会面,提交我的报告,并讲述一个关于我参与的某个项目的小故事。但没有一家医院高层领导问过我在中国做什么。而且医院也从来没有要求我们为医院做过任何事!一切都很奇怪。

Were they just “watching me?”… I thought to myself, maybe the leadership were just watching. Watching to see “what Reggie was really doing in China”?! And maybe seeing it seemed quite good work, I suppose, they didn’t ask questions.

他们只是在“观察我吗?”… 我心想,也许领导只是在观察。看看“雷吉Reggie到底在中国做些什么”?!我想,也许正是意识到这似乎是一项很好的工作,所有他们没有提过任何问题。

Maybe they were thinking, “Reggie gave up a very significant prestigious position and salary to do this on his own initiative, so he must be serious!”

亦或他们在想,“雷吉主动放弃了非常显赫的地位, 和薪水, 来做这件事,所以他一定是认真的!”

Or very simply, maybe they were just secretly appreciative of the work, and felt it was fitting to offer support, even though it was totally behind the scenes.


25 long years of support!… And the funding continued regularly every month without question, for 25 years! Until my final third retirement to move to Seattle. To this day, few people knew what had been happening all these years, so that’s why I’m writing this up now!

长达 25 年的支持!… 这种不带任何疑问的每月定期资助持续了 25 年!一直延续到我最后第三次退休搬到西雅图。直到今天,很少有人知道这些年来发生了什么,所以这就是我现在写这篇文章的原因!

So where did the funds actually come from?… I’m a very practical kind of person. So even though I felt the “gift was really from above”, it came through some practical routing. So where was that from?

那么这些资金到底是从哪里来的呢?… 我是一个非常实际的人。因此,尽管我觉得“这礼物其实来自上面”,但它的确是通过一些实际的途径而来的。那么它是从哪里来的呢?

I had been in hospital senior leadership for a number of years, so I knew a bit about hospital finances, but I had never seen any fund that might fit the description of my support! I supposed it had to be some secret source.


“Off the books?”… Maybe the chief of the hospital had a special fund for worthy causes that’s sort of off the books?!

“不入账?”… 也许医院院长有一项特殊基金,可以用于有价值的项目而不必入账?!

Or maybe since the Episcopal Bishop of Southern Ohio was the official chairman of the hospital board, maybe he had something to do with it? That’s less likely I think, because, in a separate story, he actually did ask me specifically whether I needed support and sent me a good-sized separate check for the work, from his Bishop’s Fund in the Episcopal Diocese.


My later enigmatic ID card. What’s the one-faculty China fund? Again, no need to really ask!

Novel “China fund” out of the blue… One glimpse about what the source of funding might be is that in the last few years of my Cincinnati life, I was issued an official new badge that claimed my office and I were part of the China Fund. No one, however, bothered to explain to me what that meant!

突然出现的崭新的“中国基金”… 在我生活在辛辛那提的最后几年里,我获得了一个新的身份证明,上面印有我的办公室,并且声称我隶属于中国基金项目。这让我对资金的来源似乎有了些眉目。然而,却没有人费心向我解释这到底是什么!

It seemed to be a fund that supported a one-professor category, since I never heard of any other faculty in that category! No one told me what my “job” was, either!


Wild imaginative thought… I imagined that maybe in the hospital’s history, someone had started a fund to do work in China since, for many institutions, China often used to be a destination for USA donor support. Many US interests in China were essentially frozen after 1950, and maybe the chief just happened to find this dormant slumbering fund. And decided to use it…

疯狂的设想… 我想象,也许在医院的历史上,有人设立了一个在中国开展工作的基金,因为对于许多机构来说,中国过去常常是美国捐助者支持的目标国家。 1950年后,美国在中国的许多利益基本上被冻结,也许这位领导只是碰巧发现了这个休眠基金。并决定使用它…

“Second retirement” surprise “value”?… Looking back, there was a good turn of hospital history, right after my 10 years spent in China starting the medical mission. As I began my second retirement, the hospital simultaneously decided to start a Global Health Division. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising I guess), I became a significant quasi-official part of that division, especially in our major outreach to China. See my unplanned role in the Bang Bao program in Reggietales.org.

“二次退休”的惊喜“值”?… 回想起来,就在我在中国度过了10年的医疗服务岁月之后,医院的历史上发生了一个美好的转折。当我开始第二次退休时,医院同时决定成立全球健康部门。令人惊讶的是(或者我想也许并不那么令人惊讶),我成为了该部门,特别是在针对中国的外展活动中,重要的编外成员。请参阅 Reggietales.org 帮宝计划中我的意料外的角色。

So you could say I resumed my academic value then!? But this was far off in the future from the time when we started my China mission efforts, so unless the hospital leadership was that prescient, I’m sure this was not part of their original intent!


The best conclusion?… Putting the story all together, my best conclusion is still the overriding tian factor, the Heaven factor, in perfect timing, waiting for me to come along and receive it!

最好的结局?… 综合整个故事,我认为最有可能的原因依然是天意,由天而来的因素,恰逢其时,等待着我的到来并接受这份礼物!

There is a world-famous teaching, recorded by a godly former money expert, that if we seek the right way faithfully, good results will come (1), which happens to be my life motto. No need to ask too many questions, just gratefully accept what happens! Which I’m trying to learn.


Postscript: Do I really need to know the details of what happened? (But… if you really have any bright idea or insight, I wouldn’t mind entertaining it… just for fun!)

后记:我真的需要知道发生的事情的细节吗? (但是……如果你真的有任何聪的想法或见解,我不介意了解一下……只是为了好玩!)

In part 2, come along with me as I discover another secret about asking fewer questions.

在第 二 部分中,请跟我一起了解减少提问的另一个秘诀。

1. Matthew 6:33
1. 马太 6:33