Lent is underway and so is my fasting! I have to admit that while folks were visiting (David and the PB and Lynette from ENS) I accommodated their hospitality and did not hold to my fasting, but now they are gone and things have settled back into the normal routine. I notice now the abundance around me and the ease in which food can be obtained... we have free food here at the Mission, and there are a number of ways to get food anywhere I go. It's easy. But for many people in the world, it is not easy. So when my stomach starts growling in the afternoon I think about how easy it would be for me to grab a sandwich or go somewhere and buy food, but how there are so many in the world who do not have those options.
This week I am attending a couple of preliminary hearings for cases at the Labour Tribunal. Today I went with a client of the mission, a Sri Lankan man whose claims amounted to around HK$68000 (~US$8700). His employer is a British big-wig at some kind of finance company, and had employed the client for about 7 years... The presiding officer heard the evidence from both sides then tried to get them to come to some kind of settlement agreement. (That's what usually happens... they don't like going to trial..) I was heartened a bit when the officer told the employer that if he decided to go to trial then his chances were less than half.. so they ended up settling for HK$40000 (~US$5200). Not a bad agreement, I think both sides just wanted to be done with it, as they had not parted ways on good terms.
As I have said before, the main type of ministry I engage in is a ministry of presence. In the court room I can't speak. I can't jump up and say anything in defense of the client, or assist him in expressing succinctly what I know he is trying to say. I can't do anything--except bear witness to the proceedings and give the client confidence that no matter what happens, he knows he is not alone. While this particular case was not mine, his case officer is out of the country and Cynthia was not available to go to the hearing today so I volunteered to go, I had seen him around the Mission and exchanged a few words. He was always polite, kind, and there is a genuine goodness that just seems to radiate from him. Not once did he raise his voice during the proceedings and he maintained a calm demeanor throughout. During a break we talked a bit and he told me that what was frustrating was how he is treated because he is a domestic helper. He asserted the common humanity between he and his employer, how we are all human beings and that is our common denominator. We all want to provide for ourselves and our families, and nobody wants to be in such a contentious situation. After the case was settled we walked to the MTR station and we spoke a little about our faiths. He is Buddhist, I am Christian. We both share the belief that we should strive for a life of balance and compassion towards others. We offer help to others, and in turn when we need help, others offer help to us. We are all here to love and support each other through the trials of life. We parted ways then and I had to blink back tears in the station as he thanked me profusely for all of the help, for being there and supporting him, and for being here to serve others.
Tomorrow I am going with one of my clients to her preliminary hearing. She came to the Mission in October and has been dealing with issues surrounding her case since then. I don't know how it will go tomorrow, if it will go to trial or a settlement will be arranged. I only know that I will be there, supporting her in seeking justice and praying for both parties involved.
I continue working on the Data and Statistics project, compiling data and putting it in a compelling format. Tomorrow afternoon, Joy and I will head to Cheung Chau Island for a little retreat. She just recently returned from a trip to Thailand with some of the other missionaries in her program. Looks like they all had a great time, and from her tan they got a lot of sun! It's getting warmer, bit by bit, but still quite a bit rainy so I don't know if we'll get any beach time on Cheung Chau. I'm hoping to go for a hike along one of the trails while I'm there at least. (Hopefully not as cold and wet as the last time I went for a hike...)
Grace and Peace