It has been an incredible two weeks here in Toronto! Five of my fellow YASCers from the discernment weekend were present, along with another lovely lady who missed the weekend but is going to El Salvador. Two Canadians with the United Church of Canada are doing an Ecumenical Accompaniment program in Palestine for three months, which has been really fascinating to learn about. There were also a few missionaries going out from the Episcopal Church for longer term placements.
Our time has been spent in fellowship, learning about ourselves and our placements, and getting some idea of what it will be like to immerse ourselves in a new culture for an extended period of time. I have been abroad before, the longest for six weeks, but I still anticipate feeling some culture shock and re-entry shock when I return next year.We have also explored global issues (human displacement, environmental issues, economic issues) and the ways they impact the places and people we go to serve.
One session we had was with a Jesuit who had just finished his dissertation on Matteo Ricci, one of the first missionaries to China. Ricci's theology of friendship and the way he introduced Christianity into Chinese culture (mainly by using Confucianism and aspects of their culture) really spoke to me. He sent me some resources that I am looking forward to getting into when I am not engrossed in other things!
Another day that I really enjoyed here was the day we spent going to a Sikh temple and a Chinese Buddhist temple here in Toronto. Learning about these other traditions and what the people who practice them aspire to really amazed me. The gentleman who led us around to these places summed their main tenets up with: Be Nice. Kindness to others and to ourselves are held in common by many religions.
Spare evenings and a Saturday afternoon have been spent getting around the city of Toronto, and I actually had the opportunity to spend Saturday afternoon at Niagara Falls. It was incredible!! I am so fortunate to have had these experiences here. Currently the city of Toronto is having a Luminato festival, in which musicians from around the world are highlighted and perform evening concerts downtown. There are also readings by authors and other performances, but since they are during the day we have not been able to attend.
Oh! I also have happy news to report: my ticket for Hong Kong is booked! I will be leaving as planned on July 15th. My apartment is actually on the island of Kowloon, so I am excited about all of the opportunities to explore the area. If you would like to know my address in Hong Kong please drop me a line and I will email it to you. Or, just comment on this post and I will send it to you. I will have four weeks to prepare for departure and say good-bye to the wonderful people and places that have been my home for the last few years.
I invite you to please comment with any thoughts or questions that you may have, and I hope you will keep me in your prayers as I begin this amazing journey.
Grace and Peace!