Chinese New Year comes early | Photo of the day 1.17

Dr. Franklin Chu talks to a full house at Bethany Lutheran Church on Wednesday as he helped the congregation celebrate Chinese New Year.

Chu, a retired eye doctor, is fighting pancreatic cancer and didn’t want to wait for the actual Lunar New Year to start (Chinese New Year is Friday, Feb. 16).

“We’re one month early,” he said. “I feel good now, so we can pre-celebrate.”

Chu spoke briefly before the meal prepared by he and his wife Linnea (ample amounts of pork dumplings, scallion pancakes and other goodies that the couple started preparing Monday), and briefly recalled the “troubling times we’re living through.”

Diasters, earthquakes, the refugee crisis.

“We came as refugees,” he noted, and recalled how his family had to repay the transportation costs of their journey. “In those days, they didn’t have Master Card and VISA.”

He added that the current battle over refugee programs “stabs me in the heart.”

After offering a prayer, it was time for the feast, and Chu took special note of the dumplings, a dish often prepared by the entire family.

“Take up to six,” he encouraged the crowd, which broke into laughter.