Phew! Quelle weekend!
I was delighted to spend the day with visitors from Los Angeles on Saturday: Bishop Suffragan Diane Bruce, Rev. Ada Wong-Nagata, Associate for Asian Ministries; and Rev. Joshua Ng, Chair of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry. Their work in intercultural ministries in the Diocese of Los Angeles brings them in contact with many Asian communities, so this pan-Asian tour was a chance to get to know the places from which their brothers and sisters come. The main event was the World Anglican Chinese Clergy Conference in the Philippines, and after the conference they are traveling around China and South Korea.
Their first stop was Hong Kong and we spent the day Saturday going around town.
After a quick ride on the Star Ferry we walked to the famous Luk Yu Tea House for a dim sum lunch. Rev. Ada, a native of Hong Kong, told us that her father used to do business there when she was a little girl. We let her make our dim sum choices and settled in for an amazing meal!
Our tummies and taste buds satisfied, we then did one of my favorite things in Hong Kong: tram ride through the city! A steal at just HK$2.30, you can ride it from one side of HK Island to the other and see some sights. While we rode I talked about the work done here with migrant workers and the struggles they endure here in Hong Kong. We got off in Victoria Park so they could see the Indonesian migrants' hang out spot, and although it was a Saturday there were still many workers out having their day off.
We parted ways in Tsim Sha Tsui and I headed up to Yuen Long to a village party with my friend Amanda. I had never been to one before, this was a belated Tin Hau Festival. There was a giant pot of meat and rice, drinks, entertainment, and karaoke. It was really fun to be with people out in the country (sort of) and to celebrate a festival with them. They got me and Amanda up on stage to sing "My Heart Will Go On"... and then later I did "Crocodile Rock" (they had a surprising selection of English songs)... The crowd went wild! A little old man gave us each a bouquet of (plastic) flowers and we were instructed not to throw them
Sunday was another busy day with the 9am service in the morning and the Give Care to our Caregivers event in the afternoon. I accompanied Bishop Diane, Rev. Ada and Rev. Joshua to the service and then to the Cathedral bookstore. I helped set up for the Give Care event and some of my friends showed up to volunteer. I once again worked at the make-over booth doing make-up with a couple other ladies. It was so much fun!! The best part were the reactions of women who had never worn make up before... it is one of the most heart-warming things to watch a smile spring up as they see their beauty brought out and accentuated. I know to some the idea of wearing make up seems trivial or unnecessary, but it can really change your mood when you see your face transformed in a way you have never seen before. To see these beautiful women blooming with confidence and radiating their inner beauty is one of the most heart-warming experiences of my life.
I was pretty exhausted afterward and went home to crash at my apartment. I had to be up early the next day to accompany Bishop Diane, Rev. Ada, and Rev. Joshua to Macau. We met at the China Ferry Terminal at 8:30 and after an hour long boat ride arrived and went through Immigration. We were met by Fr. Kenneth Lau, our guide for the day, who drove us over to see St. Paul's Church and the Choi Kou school run by the Anglican Church. The congregation at the church is mostly young adults, I was surprised (and delighted) to find out. Touring the school was really interesting to me since I would like to come back to Asia and teach after I finish graduate school. We learned about the education system in Macau and what the society is like. Because Macau is a gambling hub (Las Vegas of the East) most of the kids start work after they finish high school. There isn't a lot of pressure (like in Hong Kong) to go on to university because they can do well there without a degree.
We had lunch with some of the clergy in Macau and then went to the ruins of the St. Paul's facade. We didn't have much time to spend there unfortunately, but we did go to Morrison Chapel and the Old Protestant Cemetery. The story behind the chapel and the cemetery is really fascinating and I find myself drawn to the tombstones and mausoleums on the grounds. One in particular has caught my eye, Mary Clark, wife of W. Sutherland, who has a large monument near the entrance. I'm so intrigued by her epitaphs, "beloved and respected by all who knew her", and "in her tongue was the law of kindness". These are things I hope people will say about me when I am gone. The second is from Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness." It's in the section on "A Virtuous Wife"... I knew it struck me in the heart somewhere!
We left the chapel and headed out to the island of Taipa where we learned about a community centre run by the Anglican church. It is a place where people can gather, away from the casinos, and engage with one another. They have all kinds of after school and summer programs, classes, a karaoke room, music room, games, books. There are rooms where people can go for counseling too. They even have a rooftop garden! It is an amazing place with wonderful work happening.
We finished the day with tea and egg tarts, chatting about mission and ministry and all of the things we'd seen. It has been so wonderful to spend time with such amazing people. Bishop Diane is an incredible lady, so down to earth and "with" the people. She is blogging about her trip so I encourage you to visit her blog: http://obispadjb.blogspot.com and read about her travels and ministry in the Diocese of LA! I wish more bishops and clergy would engage in the online world with blogs and facebook. It just makes them more accessible to the people they serve--especially young people.
Another hour long ferry ride back to Kowloon we bid farewell. They are off to the Mainland for a few days, then Seoul and Taiwan, then back to LA. I wish them safe travels and look forward to seeing them again this summer at General Convention!
I'm back to work today, with Rev. Catherine who has just returned from a long trip to the Philippines. Glad to have her back! I'll be at the Mission the rest of the week, finishing up encoding in the database and hopefully starting on the Quarterly Report.
Just under 20 days until my return!!! Thank you for the prayers and encouragement :)
Grace and Peace,