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

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