My breath catches and tears sting my eyes because I know that despite all of the frustrating, reprehensible, despicable things people do to each other, there still exists kindness, compassion, and grace in the world. I see both sides here, sometimes in the space of an hour.
The other day I witnessed an employer threaten my client ("It would be really bad for your health if you were to continue to stay in Hong Kong.. do you know what I mean? Do you understand me? Very bad."). The anger and rage that I felt well up inside me were hard to contain, but at that point we just wanted to be done with it. She ended up accepting a settlement that was less than a quarter of what she was owed, but she did it with dignity and grace.
As we were walking out, about to part ways, she turned to me and said that even though what had happened was not good, she was thankful she had come to the shelter and to the Mission because she came to know God through the people there. She thanked me and blessed me for being there with her, that I was God-sent, and all while I am feeling impotent and sad that I could not have done more. I could not help thinking that her employer could have all the money in the world, but she doesn't have the heart of gold like this woman standing next to me does.
And then there's Reverend Catherine and Reverend Stephen, who invited me to come and stay at their flat this week while they are on vacation. They opened their home to me, have shown me so much friendship and love since I have been in Hong Kong. They live at the Mission to Seafarer's, which is right on the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui--suffice it to say there is an incredible view. I have been able to have my friends over and entertain, something I miss terribly and wish I could do more often but my apartment is too small. I keep trying to think of a way that I can repay such kindness and I keep coming up short---like God's grace, there is no way I can repay it, so I accept it with grateful humility and try to be a good steward of what has been entrusted to me.
This week I begin working on a few projects for the Mission. My position is changing a bit--I will not be handling cases like I have been, but instead will be lending my other skills and abilities to support the work of the Mission and of the Anglican Refugee and Migrants Network. I think it is important to know how to assess a situation and be self-aware enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses. I am much better in a supportive role than I am in confrontational situations (when fight-or-flight kicks in, I almost always choose flight), so in discussions with Cynthia and others I'm changing things around a little to help the Mission operate more effectively. I will also continue helping Reverend Catherine in setting up the Anglican Refugee and Migrants Network. I think these projects will keep me pretty busy and I can support the work of serving migrant workers here in Hong Kong in a way that is successful and meaningful.
This week the amiable David Copley, Mission Personnel Officer, will be visiting Wednesday through Saturday. We have plans to go to Macau and a few meetings as well. The Presiding Bishop arrives Saturday night and will be preaching on Sunday (squee!) and then she's off to Macau. Lynette Wilson, of the Episcopal Digital Network, will be with her and is staying on a few days in Hong Kong to work on some very interesting stories for Episcopal News Service.. I look forward to spending time with all of these wonderful people (including Peter Ng who will be with the PB!)
Ash Wednesday is happening this week, and I am still resolved to attempt an Islamic fast. This means going to bed a lot earlier... Please keep me in your prayers!
Grace and Peace,