29 December 2011

Merry Christmas / Happy New Year!

Glory to God in the highest and peace to all people on earth!

Apologies for the sparse updates this month. It has certainly been a busy one!

Midnight Mass Servers
Let me be quite honest here: It was hard being away from family and friends this time of year. As excited as I was to celebrate the joy of Christ's coming into the world with my dear friends here, I missed being home. I missed my parents and my brothers and my friends. I missed St. Paul's! I let myself slip into a bit of a funk and found it hard to enter into worship with a happy heart. Midnight Mass is one of my favorite services; it feels so full of love and mysterious wonder. The Cathedral was packed and extra seating was set up in the garden and in one of the indoor halls and people were still standing!

Me and Darcy
I met up with a friend of mine from the Cathedral for dinner before the service. She was so gracious and we had a great dinner together. I enjoyed spending time with her and our conversations.

After the service was over I sprinted home (thank goodness the subways were open late--the service didn't end til 1am!) so I could skype with my family. It really lifted my spirits, although it was hard not to feel a little sad that I wasn't there in person. My nieces and nephew had already opened the presents I sent them (they are still learning "patience"... come to think of it, so am I) and I opened a few I had been saving for when we skyped. The best part, though, was just talking with my brother and his fiancee, my mother and father, my sister in law, and my nieces and nephew. That time was precious! 

practicing for the competition
Christmas Day I pulled myself together and headed down to Chater Road for the UNIFIL Migrant's Christmas Party. There was a caroling competition, dancing, a counseling booth from the Mission, and lots and LOTS of people! My friend Mark met me down there and we headed to The Flying Pan--I was CRAVING a Western style breakfast--eggs, bacon, toast, grits (!!), and some fresh fruit. Oh, and coffee! It was amazing.

After that we headed up to Sham Shui Po to the apartment of a friend of his for a little Christmas party. We played games (Hong Kong Monopoly and Pictionary) and generally had a blast. By the end of the day I had been lifted out of my funk by the kindness and love I experienced through my friends here. It was definitely the most International Christmas I have ever experienced! I celebrated with brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. It made the immensity and inclusiveness of the Body of Christ all the more real to me.
Chapel at the Mariner's Club

The next day, Boxing Day, aka The Feast of St. Stephen, I went to Rev. Catherine's home at the Mariner's club for a service and lunch with other clergy members and some of their friends. Her husband, Rev. Stephen, celebrated and I served with him. The simplicity of the service after the laud and fanfare of Midnight Mass was humbling and intimate--just shows there are many ways to worship and connect to God and one another. 
A full table and full tummies!

The Christmas lunch was delicious! For dessert we had sherry trifle and the traditional English Christmas pudding. We also played several rounds of charades before ending with a cheese plate. Fellow missionary Joy and I waddled off home around 6pm, with full tummies and full hearts. What a wonderful day!

Enjoying some Christmas Pudding
As we approach Western New Year's (gotta love living in a place where, when discussing plans for New Year's, you have to specify Chinese or Western) I am thrilled to the gills to be heading to Japan to visit fellow YASCers Katie and Nicole. Nicole is serving in northern Japan at the Asian Rural Institute and Katie is in Nagoya at a youth center. I fly into Nagoya around 9pm, and then will be traveling around with them for a full week! We have plans to visit an onsen, Hiroshima, and Kyoto, and I am excited to see them both and spend time with them. 

2012 is going to be another great year! I don't really have any resolutions other than to travel as much as possible and to start my Master's degree in the fall at Belmont. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church will be here in February so I am hoping to see her while she is here. I have tentative plans to visit Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and hope to squeeze in a trip to Beijing as well. My work here continues to be difficult at times, but also full of redemption and reconciliation. The women I serve here are incredible, amazing people and it's hard not to stand in awe of their sacrifice, love, and strength. 

Pray for the Mission. Pray for the Migrant Workers. Pray for me.

Happy New Year!

08 December 2011

What's Up Lately

Things are buzzing along here in Hong Kong. Lately work has been fairly busy; I have a couple of somewhat complicated cases going on that keep me on my toes. Here are some of the highlights of the last week:

SUNDAY: I attended the event of one of the Indonesian organizations. There were speeches on different issues (the participants attended a public speaking workshop by one of the AMCB members), dances (both traditional and modern... I love watching the Indonesian Horse Dance! So interesting), and a fashion show where different smaller groups had created outfits out of recyclable materials. I was one of the judges for the fashion show and it was tough! They were really created--and talented! Some of those definitely could have been from a challenge on Project Runway...

I also attended an event protesting sexual violence against women and victim blaming. Some of you may have heard about these events, called Slutwalks, that came as a response to a Toronto policeman's statement that if women didn't want to get raped they should change what they wear. (i.e., it's her fault she was raped because of how she was dressed.) There have been walks all over the world and my friend Angie organized the one here in Hong Kong. There was a media frenzy and a large group (maybe 200 people?) walked from Causeway Bay to a recreation area in Wan Chai for speeches and presentations.

MONDAY: I was off and spent most of the day at my apartment cleaning and catching up on housework. Funny how that laundry monster seems to grow and grow... I skyped with my lovely mother that evening and it was so good to catch up with her.

TUESDAY: Day at the office working on case files and meeting with clients. I took notes at a meeting in the evening of the 3rd National Consultation of Service Providers to Ethnic Minorities in HK (CSPEM-HK). Service Providers in HK (like the Catholic Centre and some of the shelters and other migrant organizations) came together to talk about ways to improve the situation for migrant workers in Hong Kong. They came up with a "wish list" of things that would make a big difference to MWs. There will be more meetings next year to advance the proposals with the appropriate government agencies and individual initiatives. Afterward I went to my friend Becca's house in Yuen Long since I had to be in Tuen Mun in the morning and she lives close to there. It was also her last night in Hong Kong! She left the next morning to go back to West Virginia for Christmas. I will miss her!! Most of my ex-pat friends are departing for home in the next few weeks.

WEDNESDAY: I met with my client in the morning at the Tuen Mun Police Station. She is out on bail at the moment while an investigation is going on (this is the client whose employer accused her of hitting the child--when really it was a light smack on the hand when the child was kicking and hitting her and trying to spit in her face). They ended up extending her bail until Sunday, so she has to report back then (drat! I can't go). They will either extend her bail again, say that they concluded the investigation and did not find sufficient evidence to charge her with anything, or say that they did find enough evidence to charge her. Really hoping for situation #2... I headed to the mission in the afternoon, and then served with Rev. Catherine at the evening 6pm service at St. John's. She is delightful! And she invited me to her flat on Boxing Day (gotta love the brits!) since we are all so busy on Christmas Day. Really looking forward to that!

TODAY: Went to a demonstration at the Philippine Consulate in honor of International Human Rights Day, which is actually Saturday but they are closed on Saturday. I went by the post office to mail my Christmas Letter (which I will also post here) and gifts for my family back home, and then in the afternoon spent time with clients working on paperwork. It was quite a full day!

TOMORROW: Another full day, with a workshop on epilepsy and first aid and keeping case files updated and the database too. My friend Kyle's birthday is this coming weekend so some friends are getting together in the evening to celebrate. I'm serving on Sunday, and next week is shaping up to be another busy week!

Thanks for tuning in! I hope you are all having a blessed advent and preparing for the joy of Christ's coming into the world.

Grace and Peace,

02 December 2011

December Update

Hello Friends!

December is here and it's finally getting chilly! I had to break out my coat this evening when I went out with a friend. 56 degrees tonight! The little Christmas tree Spencer left is out on my table but that's about all the decor I've got going on. I've already received two Christmas Cards and I was thrilled to the gill! Keep 'em coming :D

I'm almost at five months here in Hong Kong and the travel bug has bitten. December 30th I am traveling to Japan to visit Katie and Nicole (fellow YASCers) for a week and I can't wait! We are tossing plans around for what sounds like a great week of fun and good times together.

I am handling six cases right now, involving accusations of child abuse and illegal terminations of contracts (i.e. fired because she found out she's pregnant, fired while on medical leave). One client's employer was also trying to convince her that they had cancelled the letter of termination that she had sent to immigration so that she would have to stay with them. So grateful for my amazing co-workers at the Mission who give me advice when I'm not sure how to proceed. I am surrounded, daily, by an incredible, dedicated, loving group of people.

Blessings to you all in this Advent season! I wrote an Advent wreath lighting liturgy focused on Mission if you are interested. (it's not too late!) Just email or comment!

Grace and Peace,