30 September 2011

Right of Abode for FDW's

Back in August I wrote about the Right of Abode issue going to court here in Hong Kong. Today a ruling was handed down by the High Court. Hopefully this is a sign of progress towards the reconciliation to which we are called. Below is the press release from MFMW. 

High Court’s ruling on right of abode for FDWs is a positive step for better treatment of migrants

As an NGO advocating for migrant workers in Hong Kong, the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) welcomes the positive decision of the High Court on the petition for a judicial review of the Immigration Department’s denial of right of abode for foreign domestic workers who have worked in Hong Kong for seven or more years.

This decision is a positive step towards the promotion of better treatment for foreign domestic workers who have been integral to Hong Kong’s development. We hope that this decision will jumpstart the reevaluation of other policies and practices in Hong Kong that marginalize the FDWs.

The Hong Kong government should not also use the High Court’s decision to create policies – such as putting a cap on the number of contracts for FDWs – that will negate the positive step towards the full recognition of FDWs as part of the people of Hong Kong.

We call for the Hong Kong public to take this decision as beneficial to the whole society. We hope that the negative sentiments against migrants due mainly to the doomsday scenarios painted if FDWs are granted the right of abode will not be resurrected and fanned.

We appreciate also the support of many local organizations and individuals who have served as the voices of reason amidst the hysteria that some narrow-minded politicians hoped to create.

The advocacy for equality and genuine multiculturalism is still long. The High Court's ruling has paved the way for Hong Kong to move one step further towards a society that genuinely respects and upholds the rights of everyone.

29 September 2011

expect the unexpected

Yesterday morning when I woke up around 7 (ok, so maybe it was more like 7:30) I noticed it was very quiet and very windy. I did not think anything was amiss though and got ready for the day as usual.

When I got online to check my email/facebook, however, I noticed several had posted 'Typhoon Holiday! Signal No. 8!' and discovered that the Hong Kong Observatory had raised the typhoon signal number 8 and that means the entire city shuts down for the day. I called Ate Sol to find out what was going on and she told me to go back to bed, lol. So, unexpected day off yesterday and boy did I need it.

Tuesday's court hearing for the helper accused of poisoning/neglect did not go well. (more on this case in another post, forthcoming.) Her defense lawyer is not doing a very good job of defending her (he is court appointed). I managed to speak to her for a few moments before the afternoon session, so I told her who I was and that we had received her letter. I was sorry we hadn't gotten back to her in time to get her better defense.

The next day (Wednesday) I went up to Tai Lam to the Tai Lam Women's Centre (prison) where she is being held. She had applied for bail but couldn't afford it so she has been on remand for the last few months awaiting trial. That was an interesting journey... I took a bus from Central which didn't take long, but had to walk a ways from the bus stop to get there (through what seemed to be a junk yard, abandoned theme park, and natural park area... strangest juxtaposition I've seen). I wasn't allowed to take anything with me in to see her (even though she was behind a glass wall) so I couldn't take notes... I just tried to remember what she said she needed. I was only allowed to see her for 15 minutes. The way home turned into a longer journey than it probably should have been, due to my getting off at the wrong stop a couple of times and taking a public light bus all the way back to Jordan.

Today is supposed to be the conclusion of her trial. I hope things go well, but the outlook is grim.

I invite your thoughts, comments, prayers, questions, or anything else you might have on your mind.

Grace and Peace,

26 September 2011

This Week

Today Joy and I went to the hospital to visit someone who had been referred to us. One of her friends had found her wandering ("she was like a robot" they said) in the lobby of their apartment building and brought her to a shelter. The other women at the shelter were concerned because she is listless, does not want to talk (except to say "please don't hurt me"), and when someone got a knife to cut a piece of fruit she was very frightened. They called the Mission and Sol told them to take her to the hospital. She is under observation now, and when we arrived they had taken her up to perform a CT scan.

We tried contacting her family in the Philippines to find out if she has any medical history of such a thing happening, and so far the person we talked to said no. We called a few of her friends also, and they said she was fine the last time they saw her. She had complained of long working hours and her employer nagged at her but that was it. We are thinking something had to have happened to her and are doing what we can to find out. The hospital is contacting the agency and the employer but we told the nurse not to let them in to see her in case they were the reason why she is so frightened. When I went in to see her and introduce myself she was picking at some food--she did not respond when her friend spoke to her and only ate a few bites of her meal. I tried to comfort her a little; I wasn't sure how much English she knew so I just tried to smile at her and let her know I was sympathetic with my eyes.

Tomorrow I am going to Tsuen Wan Magistrate Court. A woman who had been arrested and accused of poisoning and child neglect had written to the Mission from prison asking for help. She is having a hearing tomorrow so Cynthia is sending me up there to try and talk to her and let her know we got her letter.

Also this week I am going with an Indonesian client to her MECAB hearing and to the final judgement of another Filipina client's case. The ministry of presence is so important, y'all.

Thursday the Court of First Instance Judge will deliver his judgement on the right of abode case that I posted about in August. This will be a big day for domestic helpers in Hong Kong and I pray that justice and reconciliation prevail.

So, a busy week ahead. My internet at the apartment has been out for a few days but is back on now. Thanks to all back home for the prayers and support.

I invite your thoughts, comments, questions, or anything else that's on your mind. always!

Grace & Peace,

24 September 2011

22 September 2011

Article from ENS

A recent article on the Episcopal News Service website highlights a new focus for the national church--mission!

COO asks church to engage in 'structural reform' conversations to shift focus toward mission

The Episcopal Church's chief operating officer has asked the House of Bishops to engage the laity and clergy in their dioceses in conversation in support of a potential structural reform that he said could shift the church's focus toward mission.

The Rt. Rev Stacy Sauls on Sept. 20 offered the bishops a "model" resolution for each diocese to submit to the 77th General Convention in 2012 for consideration.
"We find ourselves at an adaptive moment in the time of the church, if we choose to take it," said Sauls at the start of a presentation titled "Becoming a Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: An Adaptive Moment."

Sauls gave his presentation during the Sept. 20 morning session of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops Sept. 15-20 meeting being held at the Hilton Colón Hotel in downtown Quito.
The model resolution would call for a special commission to be charged with "presenting a plan to the church for reforming its structures, governance, administration, and staff to facilitate this church's faithful engagement in Christ's mission…."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson would appoint members to the special commission. The resolution would also call for a special meeting of General Convention before the 78th General Convention in 2015.
The resolution, Sauls said, could be distributed at upcoming diocesan conventions or in committees to start the conversation. 

"This is a way of engaging the laity and clergy on the ground, not a bishop-centric thing," Sauls told ENS after his presentation. "We are asking the laity and clergy to have this conversation."

Sauls' presentation, he explained, stemmed from conversations and discussions going back to the 2004 formation of the Budgetary Funding Task Force. It began with the question: "Why reform?" From there Sauls used eight separate slides to list the church's 75 commissions, committees, agencies and boards -- those he could readily identify, he said -- and another five slides to list the 46 Episcopal Church Center departments and offices, all of which have multiple reporting structures.
And then, he said, there is General Convention, which has 46 legislative committees of the two houses, which meet together in another 23 cognate committees; nine provinces; and 110 dioceses.
He then offered a pie-chart break down of budget resources by percentage:
  • Mission – 53.2 percent
  • Administration – 26.3 percent
  • Other governance – 13 percent
  • General Convention – 7.6 percent
Sauls' next slide showed how the income earned by dioceses has declined in recent years. The Episcopal Church asks dioceses to contribute a percentage of their income to the denomination's budget, and thus revenue it receives from the dioceses has also declined.
That decline is coupled with a decision made at the last meeting of General Convention (2009) to reduce the percentage of the so-called "asking." It was 21 percent in 2010, dropped to 20 percent this year and will decline another percentage point in 2012. In addition, the convention increased from $100,000 to $120,000 the amount that dioceses could exempt from their income before calculating their commitment to the denomination. 

As it stands in the current budget process, governance is funded first, Sauls said, and then asked, "What would happen if we reversed that priority, starting with mission?"

In order to get a good rating from the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization should spend no more than 35 percent of its budget on overhead, while the Episcopal Church, he said, spends 47 percent of its budget on such expenses. Ideally he added, the percentage spent on overhead should be closer to 15 to 20 percent.

Based on that, he continued, what if, in creating a hypothetical annual budget of $27 million, $19 million of that budget went toward mission and the remaining $8 million toward overhead? (The current budgetis closer to $35 million, he said.)

Such a budget, he continued, could be funded by the church's investment and rental income and by a one-percent contribution of congregational income, based on full participation.
"One percent could fund mission and ministry at the church-wide level and leave more [money] for local mission and ministry," Sauls said.

From there he offered four principles: engaging conversations aimed at reducing overhead; redistributing oversight responsibilities based on strengths; creating a linear rather than a top-down approach to engagement; and emphasizing local participation.

Depending on how you look at it, he said, the fact that General Convention takes 7.6 percent of the church's resources is a major or a minor cost. Sauls went on to explain the estimated "total cost."
General Convention costs the church $8.3 million plus another $353,000 to church center departments and $3.5 million to dioceses to send its deputation and bishops -- a total of $12.2 million every three years, not including the costs to individuals, he said.

Reducing the frequency of General Convention to every four years would save 25 percent and every five years would save 40 percent, Sauls continued, adding that the length and size of the meeting, how business is presented and ongoing work also could be restructured to reduce costs.
If given an extra $1 million dollars, the Church Center could deploy 40 additional appointed missionaries, or 85 Young Adult Service Corps volunteers, Sauls said. And if the church center and the diocese split the cost of a YASC volunteer 50/50, they could deploy 170 volunteers.
"We are entering a period of leveraging our resources through partnership, but won't have resources to leverage unless we do things differently," he said.
Sauls ended his presentation by offering a "faith statement" about the people of the Episcopal Church:
"The people of the Episcopal Church want to engage God's mission," he said. "The people of the church want to participate in decisions about engaging God's mission. The people of the church want to fund God's mission."

Sauls then asked the bishops to talk at their tables about their own definition of what mission means and practical suggestions for reform. He also asked them to consider whether they would be willing to submit the resolution to their dioceses for support.

Sauls is scheduled to address the church center staff on Sept. 22, where he will begin a conversation with them on how they can begin to take some risks and shape their future rather than have it shaped for them, he said.

Sauls became the church's chief operating officer Sept. 1, succeeding Linda Watt, who retired in June.

21 September 2011

Reflection: Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:1-6

 1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

A life worthy of the calling. 

As a missionary (or "volunteer for mission" or "mission partner" if you prefer) I have often reflected on what my calling is, and what living a 'worthy life might mean. Here in Paul's letter to the Ephesians he gives a few pointers on how to live a worthy life: it involves patience, gentleness, humility, love, and peace. Later, he encourages them to "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (v. 32)

Christians are a reconciling people; we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and through God's love we are reconciled to each other. The "one hope" to which we are called is, for me, a hope of reconciliation. In order to bring about such reconciliation we must be patient, humble, loving, peaceful, and compassionate. In short, live a life worthy of the calling--a life like Christ's.

In my work here in Hong Kong I see people treating others as "less than"; I witness brutality and systems that support the exploitation of hard working people. I experience outrage and frustration when confronted head on with incivility, cruelty, and downright hatefulness. I have a hard time with patience, with gentleness, with peace. Yet, to meet these people and systems with more anger, with more hate, only furthers the distance to the reconciliation that I am called to participate in. So what is the reaction to those who do not recognize others as human beings, to systems that perpetuate exploitation?

Patience. Humility. Love. Peace. Compassion.

This is not to say that we should not assert basic human rights, or protest when systems threaten to take away even more from the people they are supposed to protect. When we act from a space of compassion we act through God's grace. When we act from a space of anger, fear, and hatred, we turn our backs on God's grace.

There is one body and one Spirit... one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Over all. Through all. In all.

I invite your comments, thoughts, reflections, questions, randomness. ;)

Grace and Peace,

19 September 2011

Update Time!

I know it's been a bit since I updated. So much going on here!

Tanya & Me
Last week I answered the phone in the Mission and the girl on the other end was looking for my boss, Cynthia. Everyone was in a meeting so I asked if I could take a message and have her call back. The girl seemed a bit distressed by her voice, and she said she was looking for an inexpensive place to stay for a few days while she does research here. Her name was Tanya, a Canadian-American, and she was working on a photojournalism project for school on migrant worker employment agencies. Canada is actually a big recipient of domestic helpers--many hope to go there because of their immigration policies and better working conditions. However, most are required to work for one year in Hong Kong, so Hong Kong is like a "stepping stone" for those wishing to go to Canada.

Joy, an intern from the Methodist church (who will also be here for a year!), has been staying at a guest house while her apartment arrangements are being made, so I gave her the name and number of that place. She asked how much it was per night, and when I said, "Oh it's around US$50 a night" she asked if anyone knew of another place. Since there was nobody else around to ask, and she is only here for a few days, I said, "Well, I know you don't know me but you are welcome to come stay at my apartment!".. recalling the early days of Christianity, when Jesus and the disciples went from town to town staying with families, or the early Christians going around proclaiming the good news and staying with fellow believers, I feel like hospitality is part of my mission as a Christian. Hebrews 13:2 says 'Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.'

We skyped that night to arrange details. Her flight arrived in the late morning and after some serious phone tag we met up and I brought her up to the Mission. Unfortunately, I had to give her the keys and instructions on how to get there and dash off, because I was accompanying a client to MECAB that afternoon. I made it juuuust in time.

After the hearing (in which my client settled for half of what she was claiming because the employer wouldn't budge... she kept insisting that the client had 'stolen money', even though the employer gave her the money and said 'buy what you need'), I met up with my friend Allison to go to a Cat Cafe in Causeway Bay. It's a little cafe that has about 8 or 9 cats living there, and you can play with them and pet them and so forth. A real therapy for me, as I am missing my sweet Jasper Kitty.

Me, Allison, and "our" kitten!
They have the cutest cat-themed desserts!

When I got back to my apartment Tanya was there and we spent the rest of the evening chatting about anything and everything. We made plans to go to an agency the next day for some undercover detective work.

The next day we went to an agency pretending to be employers looking for a domestic helper to come to Canada. I mostly just sat there (recording...) but jumped in from time to time. They said some very illegal things and Tanya was glad to have gotten the information. She said she hadn't gotten that much info in the weeks she spent in Manila! In the evening we went to Causeway Bay to find a battery for her camera and then had a fabulous Japanese dinner. We took the ferry coming home and she was happily snapping photos of the harbor lights.(you can view some of her work here: http://bindrah.tumblr.com)

Saturday I had the day off and spent the afternoon with my friend Amanda up in the New Territories. Five minutes from the mainland! Things are a bit more spread out up there, a little less urban than Central or Kowloon. It was nice to walk around some of the markets and see a part of Hong Kong I had not been to before.

Tanya left on Sunday in the afternoon. Because Sundays are busy days at the Mission, I was not able to say goodbye. I left her a note though, saying how wonderful it had been having her there and that I wished her the best in her endeavors. When I got home she had left me a very sweet note--and some sweets! We had bonded over some shared candy while she was there (we both have quite a sweet tooth, apparently) so it was nice to have some waiting for me when I got home.


Back to normal again on Monday here at the Mission. I'm helping clients, mostly with claims against agencies, and accompanying them to the Philippine Consulate or to Tribunal hearings.

I have added something new to my morning prayer practice. I discovered a podcast done by the Jesuits called Pray As You Go. There's music, scripture reading, and time for reflection, and I find that it is just what I need in the morning to keep my day focused and centered on God's will and His reconciling love for all. I try to spend 20 minutes before work in the Cathedral to prepare for the day.

Lastly, some sad news. Father Dwight called me last night to tell me that Marcella*, whom I blogged about last month, passed away Sept. 19th around noon. She had made it back to the Philippines so she was with her family when she passed. I received an e-mail from a member of her family with details about the funeral--they had found my address among her things. I offer up prayers for healing and grace for her family as they make her arrangements, and I hope you all will do the same.

Please feel free to comment with questions, thoughts, or anything else on your mind. I invite all responses here and thank you for reading!


Grace and Peace,

*name changed

12 September 2011

25th Anniversary of Bethune House Cultural Celebration

Yesterday was quite a day here in Hong Kong! We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Bethune House, the refuge for migrant women, with a big cultural festival.

There were dances and songs from several different migrant groups, including Thai, Nepali, Filipino, and Indonesian. I had a lot of fun watching the indigenous dances and even got up and danced a little myself! (I couldn't help it, they were doing a medley of pop songs from America... I guess American culture was included too!)

There were also games with prizes. I think "bring me" is my new favorite crowd game. The MC has a list of items and tells the crowd to "bring me" different things.... like pink lipstick, or an HK ID card with a 9 in the bracket, or even a used toothpick! The interesting thing was them trying to do it in English, Tagalog and Bahasa... they had to keep telling everyone to wait for the translation before running up with the item. So funny!

Bethune House is currently displaced due to renovations to the space at the Kowloon Union Church where it has been located. Once the renovations are complete it will house 10-15 women and offer counseling services as well. Currently we are referring clients to other shelters, and are sharing some space at another shelter.

It was a beautiful day with only a spot of a shower in the afternoon. As a result I was quite sunburned by the end of it...

Yesterday was also the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York. St. John's had a candlelight prayer service, and I felt it was appropriate to have spent the day immersed in different cultures. It is so important to learn and grow, to acknowledge the humanity in each and every person we meet--whether they are Christian, Muslim, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, American... Yes, we have different cultures and beliefs, but we can still share in love and joy, support one another in our times of sorrow and come together to make wonderful things--like the Bethune House--a reality. I pray that we, the citizens of the globe, will come together to stand in the face of hatred and bigotry and say, "Peace... Asalaam Alaikum... Shalom... Kapayapaan... Rerdamaian..."

10 September 2011

CRUNCH... CRACK... Adventures in Dentistry

The other day the Dean of the Cathedral had lunch brought in for all the staff in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. A scrumptious feast of braised pork, chicken, salmon filets, salads, rice, noodles, and a few things I'm not entirely certain what they were, was laid out in one of the gathering halls.

Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the big holidays in Hong Kong, right up there with Chinese New Year. For months there have been advertisements for mooncakes, a traditional food eaten during the festival, plastering the walls of the MTR and outside bakeries. They are given as gifts and are to be eaten while gazing at the full moon, preferably with a cup of Chinese tea. The festival celebrates the story of Chang'e, a deity that lives on the moon (and with rabbits in some of the stories). Monday is the actual Mid-Autumn Festival Day, coordinating with the Full Moon, and the following day (Sept 13) is a holiday. (Father Dwight says because everyone has been out all night reveling and looking at the moon!)

I sat down with my plate and began to dig in, choosing one of the pork pieces to start off. While I'm chewing I hear CRUNCH... CRACK... and feel something dislodge in my mouth. Alarmed, I spit out what I was eating---along with part of my tooth! One of my molars had cracked on an unseen bone!

Suffice to say I lost my appetite and only nibbled--carefully--at what was left on my plate. My co-workers said they would refer me to a dentist and take me there so I could have my tooth fixed.

After lunch Manang Sol, the two Finnish interns and I set off for the dentist's office in Wan Chai. The whole tram ride there I kept feeling the broke tooth and worrying that they would have to pull it out. The tooth in question had an old silver filling, which I had not had replaced due to the expense and my lack of dental insurance in the States.

When we arrived a girl came out of the back room with three teeth in a little bag and in a lot of pain. I hoped and prayed that I would not share her fate! The dentist was a Filipino woman who was acquainted with the Mission--I guess they have recommended people there before. Manang Sol ('Manang' means 'Older Sister', a sign of respect) was great with coordinating what was going on--I was totally clueless!

Once back in the dentist's chair she asked what I wanted done. This is not what I am used to--usually the dentist tells ME what they're going to do, not the other way around! So I asked her what my options were. She said she could either fix the filling or put a crown over the tooth. I asked what the price difference was--HK$350 for the filling, HK$3,000 for the crown. "You mean you won't have to pull it?!" She gave me an odd look and said, "No, but if that's what you want...?" "Ah, no! The filling will be fine."

She had to drill out the rest of my old silver filling, which she started to do without any Novocaine. After a few seconds of drilling and that awful metal-on-metal feeling that kind of resonates in your bones, I managed to ask if she was going to give me a shot. "Oh, did you want one?" YES PLEASE. So she gave me a shot to  numb my mouth.

The rest of the process went like any other trip to the dentist for a filling. Lots of drilling and pastes and that light that hardens the filling. After about 45 minutes she was done. She had to leave part of the filling because the cavity was so extensive and she didn't want to get too close to the nerve and damage it with the light. I didn't mind---I got to keep my tooth after all!

I am a lot more careful when eating meat now. Definitely learned a lesson!!

05 September 2011

Do you hear the people sing?

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.

These lines from Les Miserables came to my mind yesterday as I sat in Victoria Park among my Indonesian friends. We were celebrating Idul Fitri, the breaking of Ramadan fast, and no celebration is complete without singing and performances.

They sang songs and recited poetry about how corrupt their government is and the agencies that send them, and of the pain of having to leave behind family and loved ones to pursue what they hope will be a better life. They come here so that their children will not have to. They come here so that their mothers can receive care for sickness. They come here so that family members can survive. 

Yet when they arrive the dream becomes a harsh reality of agency fees, loans, abusive employers, adding up to a hard life for some and an unpleasant situation for most. They sleep on cots in the kitchen, or on the floor, or in cupboards. According to the contracts both helper and employer sign, the helper is to receive either adequate food or a food stipend. Too often they receive only noodles or rice and are expected to work hard on near-empty bellies. 

Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?

Organizations like ATKI-HK, The Mission for Migrant Workers, and Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants stand with migrant workers here in Hong Kong. They provide the workers with assistance in claiming their rights and standing up as human beings in a society that does not always acknowledge them. In the mission statement for APMM it says, "We dream of a society where families are not broken up by an urgent need for survival. We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life." Beyond the barricade of poverty, there is a world they long to see--of living with family and loved ones in a stable society in which they can provide for their needs. 

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

I was moved as I sat listening to these women express their hearts. For all of the anguish they feel at being apart from children and families, and the hardships they endure at the hands of agencies and employers, they remain joyous. We laughed. We ate delicious food. We sang and danced. (I even judged a beauty contest with two of the other interns!) They welcomed us into their festivities and shared so much with us. Ramadan is a time when Muslims remember the poor and less fortunate by fasting and prayer, and at the end of the month they have renewed relationships with each other and with God. Idul Fitri in Indonesia is a family celebration--families gather to break the fast, say prayers, recite parts of the Quran, visit graves of the departed. Since the migrant workers are so far from home they come together in the community they share here. Though their lives are hard they still give thanks and welcome all to their tables.

I will leave you with this Psalm, a simultaneous cry to God and praise for God's steadfast love.

Psalm 13
 1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? 

   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
   How long will my enemy triumph over me?

 3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
   my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
   for he has been good to me.

03 September 2011

Serving at the Cathedral

This morning I attended the 8 o'clock service and after it was over I went to the vestry to introduce myself to James, the head server. I thought I was merely going to chat with him for a minute and maybe set something up for later... ah, no. I was given a white robe and told to follow along with the other servers. (Next time wear a white shirt! and black shoes! aiyaahh!)

The 9am service includes the (fabulous!) choir and I basically did what the other servers told me to do... We processed in, sat in the chancel and the service was beautiful. The gradual hymn was an arrangement of Thomas Tallis, my favorite composer of hymns/sacred music, and the sermon continued the theme of taking up the cross from previous weeks. (Since I attended the 8 o'clock service as well I got a double dose!)

During communion I wound up chalice bearing. Not expecting that! Good thing I had plenty of practice at St. Paul's. (I only almost tripped on my robe once!) It was lovely and I was so glad to serve up there at the altar. The recessional hymn was a song I am quite familiar with (Awake, awake fling off the night) so I sang along as we went out. 

Today I am at the Mission in the morning and then in the afternoon I am going with the two Finnish interns to Victoria Park to break (Ramadan) fast with the Indonesians. Looking forward to it! In the coming week I will attend court with some of my clients and answer phones at the Mission, taking in any new clients that come seeking our assistance. 

Next Sunday the Cathedral is having a special service commemorating the 10th anniversary 9/11, promoting peace and healing for the victims, their families, and all who have suffered since in the on-going conflict. Also, it is the anniversary of Bethune House so there will be an event with programs and music and dancing. The shelter has been temporarily displaced from its location at the Kowloon Union Church due to the space being renovated. The pastor of the church will be using the space as the parsonage for her and her family, and the shelter has been moved to some rooms on the ground floor. BH is renting some space in Central and referring to other shelters for the next six months and will move back in once the renovations are complete. 

I hope you had a chance to watch the videos in my previous post. They are very informative and give an idea of what I am doing here and who I am working with and serving. I invite your thoughts, comments, or questions, and wish you a blessed day!

Grace and Peace,

01 September 2011

Domestic Helpers

Here are a few video documentaries about domestic helpers in Hong Kong. I hope you will find them enlightening and give you an idea of the women I am here to serve. The first video especially---watch for the Mission and Bethune House around minute 7!