In honor of my Daddy (Oz)

I’m blessed to have a father (and Papa) who taught me how to love unconditionally, give first, and live simply each day. Both my dad and grandfather supported me as a United Methodist Women and as a Young Adult missionary (though at times I think it was easier for my Papa who had lived through life). For their unending love, I’m truly blessed. So as I’m just off of our Cal-Pac Annual Conference, this is a tribute to my father. So if you know him, please show him!

A moment with my dad in Hong Kong, which pretty much pictures his time there. I’m chill and ready for the pictures and what happens and he’s like “oh tall building!” distracted. Love you Daddy!

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United Methodist Women (the Legacy of a father & husband)

Get home from work, wanting to sleep
The house is clean, so spick and span
What’s wrong I wonder, as I find my youngest daughter

She laughs with glee, as she tosses the car keys at me
Mama said its Pizza night, the United Methodist Women are coming over
And she it is time for us to leave

Its that time of the year, when they all come over full of cheer
Conversations of health kits, Relief buckets, and the communities needs
And tomorrow, she’ll say something about another mission project

And I wonder, do we have enough stamps in the house
For those gift to mission cards, Im sure they’ll write
I hear they write to every missionary every year.

You see usually this night, I’ll cook and clean
See my daughter through their homework and off to bed
While, my wife and mom, go on and on about youth and children.

But when they come over, out we all go for pizza buffet the street at Papa’s
They’ll do their homework with their Papa looking on
And if I’m lucky, they’ll be quick, and sleep before too long

For I know, soon they’ll be boxes to load, and items to pack
Lake Junelsaka it’s a Joy to be back
But what is this I here, our eldest can join now too?

Since she’s already in middle school?
Do you realize what you’ll do to her?
Teach her to love the world, seek justice, and walk humbly

That she can travel the world, with UMW chaperones
Nope we won’t care, If they all are there
She’ll understand more than I, how to live her faith fearlessly

Fast forward 8 years, my daughters more traveled than I
She’s been to meeting, schools of mission, and I heard something about assembly
Flying to Anaheim, during her college exams, but she came back with nothing from Disney

She talked on-and-on about women from Korea, Philippines and all over
And meeting the women and children who told stories of abuse
But stood strong now, thanks to the UMW

Her companion a High School Spanish teacher
Smiling big on how, my daughter represented us well
Volunteering, chatting, people forgetting she still in college

Taking each hiccup in stride
She came in late, and did have a popcorn dinner one night
But she never tired from the light

My wives a district officer, my eldest said the words “Missionary”
For the umpteenth time this year
Guess all that letter writing, has her a dreaming

Of course she goes to one of a few colleges, UMW related
I’m actually quite proud, as she learns how to speak-up
Engage, and truly make change happen

Laughing she shares stories of living on her own
Meeting new friends, and now she’s talking of her own UMW unit
It had something to do with that board she went to the monastery

She told stories of 2 hour van rides, and airports with 8 gates
All I know, is she came back super late (her mom picked her up)
And somehow she was still to work coaching early

Not that I would know, shes more traveled than me
But my dad has a point, she’s like her “Mima” and I should get a passport
Guess he learned something being married to a Untied Methodist Women all his life

Now, we’re at the airport, that “m” word was supported by all those UMW mentors
Guess letting them chaperone made her traveling dreams roam
She’s off to training in NYC, then to who knows where

Finally, getting to the passport office to apply
Before I head up to her commissioning
Its with great glee, she introduces her mom and me

 

To some of her UMW mentors from the National Office
They were there to wish her luck and send her off
Living in the footsteps of the women before her

The Bishop was right, shes truly dazzling
Dazzling off to Hong Kong she goes, now time to get over my fear of heights
All those Methodist women have trained her well

Then for Easter I did just that, Flying into the future
Meeting her coworkers and as she says her migrant sisters
She speaks languages I don’t understand, but they love her so

More powerful women for my daughter to know
They might not all be a United Methodist Women
But serving the people each day, so they will totally do

I’ll head back with stories to share, at the next United Methodist Women event
Of how no where did I fit, and well we won’t mention the pool
But they helped raise her right, a UMW Through

Married to one of them, I know I’ll never expect a clean house
Or dinner on the table when I get home
We’re in our relationship together

And shes to busy ensuring youth and children know how to read and write
The prayer shaws got delievered, and leading a mission study somewhere
Now she’s talking of maybe going to Assembly

Shes busy teaching others about Climate Justice, and Workers Rights
My daughters over near the Pacific living it out day by day
Raised by a UMW, I’m proud to say one too is my wife

We’ve raised my daughter to be strong in her faith
And fearless in action for Women, youth, and children
To know she can be anything she wants to be

And Lord only knows, why she chose to be a UMW
To her future husband, should she chose to take one
For that’s totally up to her

Do not ever expect your clothes to always be ironed, or a spotless house
For she’ll be quite busy, serving the people she loves
And in all honesty, you should join her in the class room, forums, and the streets

For when United Methodist Women rule the world
Truly better off we will be
A world caring for the women, youth, and children

Working for love, justice, and kindness
Bring heaven on earth, My families already involved
Most days, I’m proud to say

So no, I don’t care how clean my house is, I’ll clean it myself
But I’m glad the women in my life are UMW
For they know whats right and our in for the long fight

To the migrant mothers (and my mom) in my life

In 2015, I was asked to preach my first ever mothers day sermon. Reflecting on the sacrifices of the many strong mothers, nanays, women, migrants in my life, i used Mary’s Song in scripture usually associated with Christmas and preached something that I found more out of the box than i originally intended to go but something I was happy with. As the negative talk around immigrants and migrants and the refugees have been so televised and combined with the attack on women in such a patriarchal society. This sermon came back to my mind. So now two years later, Here is my “Women’s Day Sermon”

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Just incase the recent cold weather and the scripture have you wondering if you’re calendar is a bit off. No its not Christmas time, instead we are in our 6th week after Easter. Yet we are under nine months until Christmas season so this scriptures comes at timely place when we both our honoring our mothers and beginning to turn the church calendar a step closer to Christmas. What we also have in this story of the angel appearing to mother. Is a young poor women, being faced with an undeniably crazy choice by God to carry God’s son. Without reason, explanation and knowing the risk she would be taking in her community to become pregnant before her marriage. Yet, as most mothers do when faced with long odds and hard questions she doesn’t pause too long, she doesn’t put herself first. Instead she selfishlessly says “Here I am Lord, Use Me.”

Today on Mother’s Day, around the world there are 1000s of women who have said yes to hard decisions for the betterment of their families. Whether they are mothers making theses decisions for their own children or daughters, aunts or sisters making these decisions for their betterment of their parents, nieces, nephews, siblings, extended family members. That decision is the choice to migrate abroad for work because of the poverty, lack of jobs in their own communities, and governmental Labor Export Policies.

Along with my own mother and Mariarchs of my family these women are on my heart today.  During my time as a missionary, mothers day has become an emotional day. Growing up in NC, mothers day was always a day for celebration, of family coming together, of remembering mariarchs of the family who had passed before with those they impacted but then I moved to HK. There I lived in community & ministry with hundreds of mom’s and women who were far away from their children and families. Each Mother’s day there is extra skype sessions, a few more moments spent on fb, and an extra dollar or two of minutes bought to have the extra few moments with their loved one. Myself included stayed home a few extra minutes to Skype my family before heading out to join with the workers. A few workers got a special gift from their employers but most spent the day before helping the children they cared for prepare the mother’s day gift for their employers instead.  

But when the technology stopped, minutes ran out, or wifi got too slow what remained was the simple fact we still weren’t with our families. Normally joyous weekly day off became days for reflective conversations, times to remember, to affirm each other that the ups and downs are normal and remember why we were together in the way we were. Those who were blessed enough to have their children with them for the day brought their families to join in on the day.

Mothers, grandmother’s, daughters gathered together gave certificates of recongition to each other, broke bread, shared tears, and smiles together.  And marked the day the best they could relying on their community to get through.

These women, would give almost anything to have been with their families but had made the hard yet courageous decision to support their families and give them a chance at live. As Mary said yes to Gabriel to become Jesus’ mom, these women have said yes to their families survival even if it meant their children would grow up knowing their mom through the internet and occasional visits. At least they could grow up at all with food on the table and a place to survive.

The women who I proudly call my hong kong family consistently modeled for me what real love means and how the power of Mary saying yes to Gabriel can continue to be influenced in today’s world. We know God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. That God’s only son would die so we could be saved. And yet how often do we talk about all that started with a young poor mother who said yes to the crazy, to the unheard of idea, of giving birth to God’s son even more she was officaly married.

My HK Migrant mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and aunts continue to serve as an example of serving the least and following in Jesus footsteps because the next day off after Mothers Day, they were back out support their fellow terminated workers, making sure doemstic workers knew their basic rights and the protections they were entitled to. Confronting the status quo that tried to hold them down. Struggling for a home land where their children will never have to leave just to survive. Their leadership, their challenge, their struggle for justice is something we see also here in the US.

No longer fitting into the historical definition of what women do or what mothers do, stay at home mothers with two kids or working moms who still manage to do all the house work as well as work a job to supplement their family income. We see women making decisions that make those in power turn their heads. Making decisions contrary to what culture and history tells us in the role of women and mothers instead making the choices for social justice, for inclusion, for family, and saying to God, I trust you completely, please use me for your will.

Think about women in your life who inspire you. They may be someone today in this congregation, they may be celebrating this day at God’s banquet table, or maybe they are someone who lives in a different city. Maybe their well known or just your next door neighbor is doesn’t really matter. Do they inspire you because they did everything they exactly were supposed to, never rocked the boat or questioned injustice? Or do they inspire you because they weren’t afraid to say yes when God asked them a hard question? Were they willing to say to God

“Where you go, I’ll go, Where you stay, I’ll stay, When you move, I’ll move, I will follow you, Who you love, I’ll love, How you serve, I’ll serve, If this life I lose, I will follow you, I will follow you, yeah”

Its likely that the last words of the chorus to the Chris Tomlin song have much more to do with why the women you thought of inspire you instead of those who refused to do anything “out of line” or “rock the boat.

On this mother’s day, as we celebrate not only our mothers, family matriarchs also women who have inspired our lives. Because no longer is a women shaped by her ability to become a mother, but also providing a mothers care isn’t strictly defined to females. Instead things cross lines, people get lost, and somewhere admist the choclates and cards we loose sight of why we love the women in our lives so much. So I challenge you to reach out through some means whether it be in person, over technology, or even a hand-written letter and tell them thank you and for exactly why they inspire you.

Because one of the most important lessons I learned from my HK family was that no matter the joyful occassion or hard time there was power in having a connected community and people’s affirmations that make crazy things sound much more doable.

Because Mary said yes 9 months before the first Christmas. She could have had no idea what she was in for. We to can learn from Jesus mom, honor our mothers and matriarchs and say YES to what God is calling us to do. Even if it doesn’t seem logical or if we can’t see where the calling is taking us or the end of the journey will be.  We’ll be in really good company. THANK YOU and HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

#ToBishopKOwithlove (UMC) #NoSuchLaw

So I started the following blog weeks ago and well I was working on fine tuning the words and it never got posted. But as today was the UMC Judicial Council hearing on the validity of Bishop Karen’s election brought by another Jurisdiction. I’m realizing, its not about how ‘finely’ tuned the words are all the time, but that the words are being spoken and shared.

That my beliefs (as a United Methodist) is one of living giving loved filled obedience to the gospel, that all people including LGBTQI, divorced, all socio-ethnic backgrounds, refugees, etc, are totally welcome in our churches. That we have Open minds, Open hearts, Open doors for a reason and the denomination needs to continue to become welcoming of all people, and understanding of our diverse international structure. Is the basic gospel-living, social-holiness that our founder John Wesley taught up to have. So I stand in solidarity with my LGBTQI United Methodist Siblings, especially those who have answered the call to become pastors, and even more so the countless Siblings that my denomination has hurt, or caused harm to. Hurt & Harm is real, and know that there are many of us standing with you. For We as a United Methodist Church, have to do better

Below is the inital blog post:


So as the conversation in the United Methodist Church pushes onward about the future of our church. Questions remain more than ever. And the conversation on my Facebook news feed feels at times almost as polarized as the UMC at a whole. As a hetrosexual, White women who is a United Methodist since birth, born and raised in the Southeast Jurisdiction, now living out in the Western Jurisdiction I can honestly say that I’ve lived on the far edges of both sides of the United Methodist spectrum on contervisal issues. As such, I’ve been wrestling with how to write my thoughts on the election of Bishop Karen Olivto  and the LGBTQ question of our church .

Then the United Methodist Young Clergy Women published this letter in response to the Wesleyan Covenant Association. And the following paragraph hit my spirit hard, in a way that said, you have to speak out:

However, we all believe that the Book of Discipline needs to be changed, and we see that as faithfully keeping our ordination promises to study, preach, maintain, and support our church doctrines, government, and polity. As we continue to answer Wesley’s historic questions, we expect that as individuals and as a denomination, God is still working on perfecting us in love. We are earnestly striving after it in this life. If there was never an attempt to change the Book of Discipline by a minority of people, then we would never have sent laity to General Conference, de-segregated the denomination, elected divorced clergy as bishops in the United States, nor ordained women. Many women were ordained years before the church codified it— even John Wesley himself relied on women preachers in the Methodist movement. Elizabeth Strawbridge converted the first people to Methodism at her kitchen table. To make a promise to uphold the Book of Discipline doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make it closer to the way we understand God wants us to live. After all, as Wesleyans, we believe we are going on to perfection.

So, no I wasn’t in Scottsdale at the Western Jurisdiction when the vote for Bishop Karen happened, I was preparing to leave the country for month long solidarity mission and following the results for all the different Bishop elections on umc.org closely. And no I actually don’t know Bishop Karen that well personally. But what i know is, I’ve heard her preach, and seen her in action a couple of times not just from the pulpit but in the community and the Holy Spirit speaks through her in powerful ways against oppression and explotation. No I’m not from Cal-Nev Annual Conference the conference where she was ordained and nor am I currently living in the Mountain Sky Episcopal area, the area where is is appointed to serve. But that does not and will not stop me from standing with her and her partner Deaconess Robin. I did vote to elect the Cal-Pac Delegates who represented us at the Western Jurisdiction in the vote to elect her.

I was in the audience just this February listening as she intentionally gave space for the African delegate on the panel to share the realities from his Central Conference, where they are focusing on surviving and providing for the people’s most basic needs. Telling the facilitator that its ok, let him continue. She understands what it means to lead our church (Our international church) into the future, in a changing world.


For I know the UMC has lots of ways to go but its through organizing that we do and can continue to see growth. And this judicial council decision will likely impact alot of growth. I’m thankful for the movement and our organizing to keep me grounded in the world that we are fighting for and not to get caught up in the restrictions that church institutions designed by humans can so often impose. Jesus never was part of the formal structure, he flipped tables in the “structure” literally & figuratively. We organize, we pray, we build community and we fight on together!

The Call

“Ring, ring” A familiar tone
One I use strictly for those back in NC

Roling over, from the beginnings of the nap
The name a dear friend
Its been too long

Glancing at the clock
theres time, I sigh
Answer with a semi-enthusatic “HI”

With a laugh, and a familiar land mark
Before I know it, lost in conversation
laughing, remembering
Catching up
Laughing
Chatting

As i shared, the stress seemed to evaporate
Reminded that yes, times are tough
But I’m where I belong
Grounded
Connected
Called

The years blurring together
Taken back to my Mama’s and Papa’s house
And our late night phone conversations
High School
College
Swimming started it

Speaking the language that only swimmers speak
Soon we’ll be closer than a work day drive
Time runs on
And we’re not always in touch

Picking up where we left on
each and every time
comes naturally

No longer alone on this diving platform. We may be in different wells but we’re reminded that the connection of swimming spans the ages. Lifting the load with laughter, to share it across the distance.

So Friend, thanks for the call! Wishing you and your family all the best, and healthy wishes in these coming months. See you soon!

Turning 30

As the final hours (in my time zone), count down and I prepare to cross into a new decade. The UMW Birthday cards have arrived as has the card from my “favourite” aunt in Florida. Facebook wishes have been coming in for hours and even my sister has learned time zones and wished me birthday greetings in line with the days in my Asian homes. So here’s the final in my 20s obligatory blog post. For 29 was quite an adventure in discovering more of who I am on deeper levels. Overcoming fears and digging deeper into where I feel called for the long long term.

Finding my home, where my heart is. Not physically in my East Coast home, West Coast home, or Asian homes but instead in the movement for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. Along side kasamas who have taught me not just more about who I am but about what does it truly mean to live your life in Solidarity for just and lasting peace where your heart finds its home. The journey has been full of lots of organizing.

Days leading into my 29th were full of quick reaction to the Kidapawan Massacre and many Human Rights violations in the Philippines. Looking back at my 30th, we are now recognizing the successful completion of the fourth round of the Peace Talks to address the root causes of the Filipino people’s suffering. Not without its struggles but its heading toward true progress not of the ending of violence but of moving forward toward addressing the needs of the people.

Finding confidence to jump of the 10m platform into the diving well of organizing and start swimming (you know I need one swimming metaphor). Even if I’m not sure if anyone else is in the pool. Its more about learning my roots, understanding that some roots we’re planted 30 years ago and others just back in 2011 or 2013. Their newer in being planted in the ground but have been growing by the window sill for years.

Unplugging in meaningful ways to build relationships with workers, kasamas, friends, around the country. Learning to trust my community completely, trusting that in being vulnerable that together we grow stronger. Remembering lessons taught by mentors and building new friendships.

So here’s to 30! A year of wholistically taking care of my health collectively! Starting with dumplings, hot tea, fondue and remembering my roots at various homes. The first steps into not just discovering my calling but taking the concrete steps to live out my deep calling in real ways in the long term. Trusting the skills i have, remembering what it means to be a church organizer and learning more skills in supporting others and promoting our work. Putting my feet on the ground, taking to the streets, pulpits, and every where in between, doing the work, and discovering the not-so hidden beauty of organizing with families, investing in children for they are a the future of our lives.

Now as the last minutes of 29 count down, time to start the Facebook thank yous and catching up with friends on that side of the world!

30th birthdya wish

For the 580 Café

 

They say some people you meet leave footprints in your heart for a life time. Well, there’s a group of students who continue to leave more than footprints instead with each day I spend teaching me about their struggles, how I can support, and what does true solidarity mean. This poem/reflection is for them. For the students and those from the 580 café at the Wesley Foundation serving UCLA

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580
Three numbers, that mean so much, a place to breath
A place to be who you are, no ifs/ands/or but

To learn what it means to live in true solidarity
Where the margins come to the middle

And the middle learns to listen, love, and act
Where “communion” means finding

common-union in the struggle for justice
Over cookies, coffee, or other homemade good

A cafe where “cooked by chef guy” is a staple
And on Mondays and Tuesdays hot meals are coming

Church happens over mac & cheese, pizza, and soup
With conversations on things society rather not talk about

Organizing our communities, analyzing political situations
How it’ll effect our communities, not just students but families

Not just now but ongoing for Seven years
Seven years of feeding students with life-giving food to be able to survive

Seven years of feeding souls with life-giving food in the ongoing struggle for peace and justice
Seven years of living on the margins,

Seven years of being church in reality
Seven years of  familia, pamilya, family

Seven years of first time graduates, of breaking barriers
Seven years of going beyond surviving to living out your fullest potential

Others may say we need something “new and innovative”
But they’ve never done church at the 580 Cafe

Where societal norms of oppression aren’t allowed even near the door
Spanish, English, Tagalog, conversations run in many languages

Learning of each others lives, community struggles
across oceans and continents, students and workers

Its being there to listen, to pray, and live faith in action
Learning how to actively support each other and doing so

Overseen by everyone’s favorite abuela, lola, grandmother
Creating space that bridges communities, churches, and faiths

Setting the example, letting the students lead the way, create the community
She’ll be by your side in trouble, celebrate your smallest victory

And always knows when you need pie or a listening ear
To talk out whats going on in life and make the best decision for you

The community that welcomed me in
Teaching me
Building Trust
Sharing stories
Creating Solidarity
Powerful testimonies to how life happens
Creating laughter
Sharing experiences
Building movements
Teaching life

Blessed to know, to be part of, to do church with the students

For we don’t need to talk about what we “dream of” in a world of peace and justice
Just visit the 580 cafe for there, it is being lived out each and every day

 

A full 4 years in SoCal

Four years. Four years in SoCal. Time flies would be an understatement but also may be the truest statement of this anniversary. One of those things I knew was coming but like many of these past few years, when it came I almost didn’t notice it. If it wasn’t for a few spare moments on Facebook this afternoon.

Through the evening, I’ve tried to find a few minutes to reflect on these past few years, realizing not quite “how much has changed” but more of how things and people have grown. But before I get ahead of myself, let me say a quick thank you…

To the kasamas in the first kasama house who welcomed me in, reminded me to sleep, and seriously had to journey with me through some real cultural shock moments. Who had to teach me to how to grocery shop again, how to bake in F and cook with gas, and who taught me how to navigate the freeways. To the ones who took the time to wonder and plan intentional Easter meals because the “missionary” was here now and we don’t want her to feel alone, to the ones who made a point to celebrate my first birthday even if it was the same day of a major community event, and the ones who made the intention to have conversations as I processed and tried to build the connections from HK to the organizing work here.

Ok now where was i…The saying “if you wanna hear God laugh, tell God your plans.” still holds alot of truth in my life. My time in SoCal has taught me to trust God to live my life in Jesus footsteps with the people in the most oppressed communities and my community has taught me So much about life, organizing, myself, and true meaning of Solidarity, organizing, and trusting in the collective decision making.

Four years of settling roots not in a geographical physical location but in the movement where my heart calls home. So as I shared on Facebook, here are four facts that continue to hold true:

1. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is in my organizing work for National Democracy in the Philippines and peace with justice for all oppressed peoples.
2. My kasamas all around the world continue not only to be supportive but to hold me accountable as I continue to work on my weaknesses and become both a better person and more of whom God calls me to be.
3. Collective care is what keeps my soul alive and in the tough moments keeps me in the struggle. Its not easy and yes I’ve been close to burn out but the collective support and community especially the workers continue to give me strength to keep at it.
4. Reverse cultural shock is real, and after a while you just realize you’ve changed and that the “reverse” is actually the normal and you learn to love who you are and that you have family in all the places you lived and then some.

My time in SoCal has seen me not just find my calling but to trust the in my calling and to learn to trust my community, my kasamas to be in the hands and feet of Christ when I needed them the most. Humbling to say the least, yet always full of blessings when we least expect it. Grounded by experiences, pushed to be better, to be sharper in my analysis as a white person against the oppressive systems, to not be afraid to be open, to be an organizer. Throughout this evening, I kept thinking of a comment I made during end-terms of our missionary program “Being a missionary taught me I am a community organizer.” and yet tonight I realized no the workers we serve and my community taught me I must be a community organizer and gave me the skills to do it. You see God used my missionary program to put me in the community where I was called and it has been the community that has taught me how to live out that calling in real and meaningful ways.

On both sides of the Pacific, I still have relationships I hold dear. Not just of those who knew me before but even more so those who were part of my journey to let go of who the world was telling me to be (aka remold) to be become someone rooted in her organizing, practicing simple living, and relearning how to truly live collectively (just like the early Christians.). Now let that sink in. The roots, Showing me that where I’m called Long Term to serve, means I need to stop dragging my feet and dive feet first off the 10m tower of life into the pool and start swimming now. There isn’t any time to waste, communities here and around the world (especially the Philippines) need support, true solidarity support and that takes education, organizing, and mobilizing.

In some ways, those first days in SoCal, still feel like yesterday as reverse cultural shock remains a norm and memories are intertwined from Hong Kong and here. Collective community fueling the flames within. The mandatory HK “intern/expo” kasama picture every time we cross paths and I mean every time. Knowing, you are right where your supposed to be at this moment, that you’ll never totally get over the reverse cultural shock because you are much different than who you were and understanding where the future is taking you and knowing you have alot of work to get there but motivated to get that work done and letting the “reverse cultural shock” become the normal experience. Going beyond being ok with it but learning to love who you are now more than you ever loved your former self because of those in my community who have taught me that I am who i am and that is all i have to be and held me accountable to work on my weaknesses.

My heart is full of love as i type this, love for the community that welcomed me in SoCal all those not so many years ago, love for my kasamas whom I’ve continued to organize with who are there for the late night check-ins, random text, and lunch accountability not just to three meals but at least one meal away from computers and task and those I’ve met along the way, love for the workers we’ve met who never fail to bring a smile to my face despite some of the worse circumstances, and dedication to not giving up and seeing their cases always the way through.

As I turn 30 next month, likely more reflections to come. But wanted to mark this anniversary before it got away from me. And as I miss my kasamas and family back in Hong Kong and the kasamas I met in the Philippines oh so much! We should continue to find the ways to stay in touch—i also want to take a moment to say a special thank you to 2 kasamas. First to the kasama from the US who broke it down why I needed to come back to the US for a bit! Thanks Kas and thanks for holding true to your commitment that we’d see each other while I was still “new” and always taking the time to check in when our paths cross. Secondly to the kasama who picked me up the first day and drove me all around barely knowing who she was. Your welcoming, understanding spirit eased alot of my nerves and fear about coming back to my passport country, for trusting me to learn, to fly us half way back around the world, and taking all the time to process whats going on in deep ways. So Kasama you know who you are and thank you! You truly are an example of living out the life and community we say we are working for on the day to day. I appreciate you and our friendship more than words can say. (I’ll stop there since you do read my blog).

Looking forward to where 2017 continues to take us, to teach me, and how Gospel Living continues to shape the need for work for true peace and justice in todays’ world. As my third year officially comes to a close and I mark my fourth year beginning, I’m thankful for the moments of shared meals no matter how late, for shy conversations and the ability to have a couple goes at them, for ponies, dolls, and powerpuff girls, for green tea, immunity tea, and all the cups of coffee, the “celebrations” of surviving what ever recent event, and Facebook message to continue to build no matter what distance separates. For friendships that have begun, for relationships that are deepening, for the laughter when nothing else makes since, and the tear when you really just need to cry. For the moments when kasamas just understand and can help you process and the beginnings of building families united in serving the people.

 

“My open letter to the world”

And life is getting real, real fast. Before January 20th gets here, there’s something I want to say. Now I’ve gone back and forth about specifically addressing the election but after what has been my start to 2017 there are a few things I want to say. As a women of European descent who was born in the “Southern” United States, now living and organizing in active solidarity immigrant communities out in the Western portion of the United States, this is essentially to the world.

Dear World especially those in the USA,

Since November, I’ve seen drastic sides to the conversation post-US election playing out in my Facebook news feed. One side, happy with the outcome because they wanted to change. They don’t agree with everything Trump says but couldn’t deal with the status quo any longer. The other side, in disbelief and many living in real fear of what Trump and the new government is going to do that will directly affect their lives, their families, and their safety. As I’ve gone back and forth in reading the post, doing my best to understand where people who voted for him are coming from.

This message is for those who voted for change. Now I know your not part of the KKK, you still care about children, the protection of women’s rights, and welcoming the stranger. I get it, you just needed something different. But even beyond that since November 8th have you taken a look at the world around you. You were done with the status quo, I hear you. Folks in the US are suffering, I’m right there with you. Living wages don’t exist, parents can’t provide for the basic, basic needs of their families. Child care is through the roof and lets not even talk about the prices for basic social services.

You’ve lost your jobs, they moved overseas. The media continues to talk about the im/migrants swarming across the border so building a wall at the border makes sounds great. Now have you actually visited communities on the border, where border control and militarization are their norm? Nope, didn’t think so, before you tell me why we need a wall-GO to the border, talk with the communities who you are saying we need to build a wall through. Your not racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, etc.

But now I wonder, what are you going to do. Electing a “non-traditional” politain won’t actually address these issues instead with your vote. You’ve given people who do completely agree with everything he has said to act on their beliefs and feelings. Fear is real in many communities. It may not be spoken in a way, a lanuguage, a method you an hear or may totally agree with. But its real. Its scary. And its many people realities.

Now, we need you to come out to listen, to understand, and to further stand in solidarity with the oppressed communities. We need to come together as the people, to build organized communities that truly addresses the roots of the suffering of the people for that real change you want. For it is together, that we are both stronger and cause real and lasting change.

Because if you don’t over these next four years then its not just going to be those “other” people’s who rights are oppressed but yours too.

Yes, I’m looking at my fellow folks of “European” descent. We have to get out of our homes, leave our comfort zones to understand the stories of the im/migrants we meet in our day-to-day life. For we can’t forget, that our ancestors to were im/migrants years ago, we need to acknowledge our history and how with the years we have stolen power and further oppressed others to justify that power. This is the time to put those Facebook post, shares, and words into action. You say your not…then I don’t care who you voted for. Show your not, show up in solidarity. Sit, learn, and listen to the request for support and action. Don’t overpower with your experiences but show-up to support as asked for.

Because come January 20, if we’re not beginning to show up and listen and learn from our brothers and sisters who don’t look like us. To act together in Solidarity for the protection of everyones basic human rights. Then its just a matter of time before yours start to disappear to.

Sincerely,

I’m deeply concerned

Surviving 2016 and here we go 2017

It’s that time again. On what has apparently begun a blog tradition. The final blog post of the year. From what I can tell, I’ve only missed one new years eve post since this blog started. I’m considering it a tradition now and seeing its already 2017 in my “Asian Home”. Here we go…

Oh 2016! In many ways, the first word that comes to mind is surviving. Surviving the whirl wind start that actually became the whirl wind of a year. But that doesn’t quite capture it. It’s also been a year of growth, deeper realizations, and new experiences. A year of challenges, assessments and growing from the lessons learned. In the midst, also developing a clearer picture of my calling and what kind of organizer and person I’m called to be.

Before we get any further, I want to take a moment and remember one of my HK mentors and kasamas who passed this year, Ka Sol. Or as everyone called her in Hong Kong Ate Sol, was a fierce women whose patient yet persistent personality pushed me to expand my horizons, discover my real self and to find my place in the movement for national democracy in the Philippines. The news of her passing though not shocking still hit hard, as I reconnected and reflected. Though she’s not forgotten, as I’m often thinking back on those foundational lessons she taught me and had continued to teach me. Rest in Power Kasama Sol! You’re missed but your spirit lives on in those you met and organized.

Now back to 2016, the year of the Lumad coming to the USA. Getting to then rejoin them in Portland for UMC General Conference was quite an experience. It was also one of my first times really getting to build with Portland based kasamas and the 10 days or so I was there were much needed time to build, to grow our movement, and to begin to really see the possiblities in our church work. It felt like a long over due expo in the relationships built and conversations had. It was something I needed as it had been nearly four years since my last expo and the weight of being the Belly of the beast was getting really really heavy. It even jumped start my poetry again. We won’t talk about the actual UMC General Conference. Theirs a blog for that one here.

Then a couple months later, I got to go to the Lumad and back to Hong Kong in a month long exposure trip which saw more flights than I care to mention but an experience that pulled me far out of my comfort zone, thankfully with the support of SoCal kasamas to be there along the way. To really begin to reflect on the past four years, where I was at and where I truly see my self growing and organizing long term. It was great to reconnect with some folks I had met along the way and get to build with more kasamas in the Philippines and Hong Kong. Being back in “old” stomping grounds but much more advanced in my organizing and understanding of the root causes of migration was more than just a “highlight” but instead a week of deeper internalization of my calling. The experience of also at the end leading a broad mission team was full of challenges but still certainly up there on the experiences of 2016 as we spent time in Lumad schools getting to deeper understand their struggles through multiple languages. And a personal highlight, was speaking at rallys and conferences over the time without prewritten speeches. Instead having found the words directly from my experience and knowledge to both speak at churches as the United Methodist of the year Davao Episcoal area Bishop Francisco called us to as well as in the streets of the Philippines

There’s been growth in our organizing here throughout SoCal, we’ve had multiple family reunifications and the joy of being there seeing children and spouses back together after years of separation is something incredible special. We’ve had more church people following the passing of the UMC Resolution on Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights in the Philippines become interested and wanting to learn more about the situation.

2016 as also been a year of building relationships with new folks and getting to know better people and kasamas here I had met along the way but hadn’t ever had time to really know. There’s been more kasama children which is always good. As the importance of collective care and prioritizing that time to get to know each other on all levels has become even clearer as “surviving” 2016 has seemed to become more and more of a challenge the longer this year has gone on. Discovering more about myself, about my organizing, and where I’m called to serve the people, hasn’t been without me dragging my feet to get there. But with the support of kasamas and the people we serve I realize even more now than ever why we must continue to organize the broadest amount of people for peace and justice.

So as we close out 2016, I’m thankful for the moments of shared meals no matter how late, for shy conversations and the ability to have a couple goes at them, for ponies, dolls, and powerpuff girls, for green tea, immunity tea, and all the cups of coffee, the “celebrations” of surviving what ever recent event, and for the still be had long-overdue massages 😉 (since you read most of my blogs.) For friendships that have begun, for relationships that are deepening, for the laughter when nothing else makes since, and the tear when you really just need to cry. For the moments when kasamas just understand and can help you process and the beginnings of building families united in serving the people.