I recently returned from my first ever Mission U with Cal-Pac UMW. Now I’ve been to a number of School of Christian Missions since I was young but this year they renamed it Mission U so this is the first one entitled mission u. But this was also the first one on the West Coast, whereas all the others I had attended were on the East Coast. (the other side of the country) This was also the first one I was a “study leader” at instead of just a “student.” (the other side of the classroom).
The college campus still lots of brick and beautiful. The diversity of the school was unique and beautiful. The diversity of the people reminded me of what a truley diverse world we live in and how beautiful it can be. A world where first languages differ but the love of Christ does not.
Yet from the other side, has been a blessed, challenging and eye-opening experience. I facilitated a class of mainly young adults and through conversations and sharing of experiences we were able to learn from each other. The ladies really pushed me to think about what it means for me to live sacramentally while walking justly in my daily life. The class entitled The Call: Walking Sacramentally and Living Justly is a book I suggest to any one. Especially if your trying to discern what God’s call in your life may be. Through our conversations on the topic we expanded our knowledge, struggled with hard questions, and realized that while we have different veiw points its oaky. This morning as we recapped, tried to put into concrete ways how to do it, I realized how humbled I was to be sitting in the conversations with a diverse group of ladies who want to break barriers and aren’t gonna stop until they do.
Through conversations and plenaries I got to know some of the other UMW ladies on various district teams. Shared some about the work I am a part of at the Filipino Migrant Center and had challenging conversations. In evening sharings, was able to expand my
A quote from one of the ladies sticks with me. “To walk Justly, you have to have Courage.”
Yet, as I celebrate the weekend. My heart reflects back on the Schools of Christian Mission on the other East Coast. And to a time before I left the country when Deaconess Naz was serving at Brooks Howell (a retirement home for Missionaries and Clergy in Asheville, NC). Naz, the first Pakistani deaconess, attended conference events blessing us with her smile and love for dance. I was finding my way up through the conference at the time and Naz each time would do her best to teach me the simple steps of her native dances. Each time, it seemed like we went back to square one but each event she was there smiling, bubbling over with Christ Love ready to try yet again. “Just keep trying Joy, and always smile” She encouraged me. She lived her life through her faith in pursue of justice.
I hadn’t seen Naz in years when I got a text from my mother Thursday afternoon “have you heard about the deaconess?” Before I could respond to my mother I got on Facebook and saw mutual friends posting the news. Naz had died in a random act of extreme violence. It shook my soul, I wasn’t sure what to do, how to respond or what to think. With so much work to do, I needed to reflect and I stepped away from my computer. I reflected on a recent article I’ve had published in New World Outlook about finding my voice during my mission experience through dance and realized that process of finding my voice started much earlier then me stepping into Hong Kong. it started with a Deaconess, a young lady, and a reminder to “Just keep trying & always smile.”
My heart is still in many ways in shock but I feel the loving arms of God surrounding me and holding me close. I know with her loving support the death of Naz may never make since and I’m beginning to be okay with that. Because, my Christian community is united and Naz’s kindness, love, and dance will live on in those who knew her. Even as she has left earth, I know there are many dancing angels in Heaven.
A weekend connected from both sides. A weekend that has left me tired but a good tired. A weekend I won’t soon forgot and a weekend I am thankful for.