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!

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