The Irish Pub

16 12 2009

So I spent my birthday with some great friends at an Irish Pub tonight. Now what’s a Chinese American who just spent four months in Mexico doing in an Irish Pub? It gets better. This evening consisted of topics and conversations that covered the whole spectrum. From sports, business, faith, church, you name it – we talked about it. I even spoke in Chinese. One of the guys asked me to share about what I will be doing in Africa because I promised his wife I would tell her why I’m so excited to go.

But before that, they wanted to hear about Mexico. The food, the culture, my host family and what I learned. I told them I learned to slow down. I learned about the sabbath. I learned that I am truly loved by some wonderful people (more on that in the next paragraph). And I relearned how to just talk to God. My school was about one mile from my house and I walked to and from school twice a day. During most days, I would just pray while walking. Just talking with God asking Him to show me things to do and asking for opportunities to share and talk with people about Uganda. Coincidentally walking four times a day helped me lose 15 pounds!

My friends asked how they could get involved with IJM and I shared a few different options. Then I shared with them why I’m so excited to go. I started to tell them that it’s ironic that the work I will be doing will be helping protect widows and orphans from forces of oppression. It’s ironic because some of my #1 supporters are orphans. I have over 125 children and staff from an orphanage who have committed to pray for me daily. And I know they pray because they’re up at 4:30 am during the weekdays for morning prayer (6am on weekends). And the times that I have been there this fall, the children and staff would gather around and lay hands on me and pray. They would also pray for my friends G & P who are going to Uganda as well. But here’s where I usually tear up while telling the story. The directors of the orphanage asked the children to pray about supporting myself, G & P financially. He said ‘why can’t an orphanage give to missions and especially to people they have known for many years?’ When they finished praying, he asked how many would like to give their money. ALL the children raised their hands…

The director told me the story the next time I came to the orphanage and true to their word, they have given and will continue to give financially and pray daily. That’s one of the many reasons why I am so excited to go. I have orphans praying for orphans to be rescued. I have orphans giving financially to the cause so that I can be part of the fight to loosen the chains of injustice.

When I finished sharing the story, I saw these men tearing up as well. The guy who asked me to share about Africa in the beginning of the story said that he and his family are going to commit to pray and support me as well. All of this happened at the Irish Pub. This is one of those memories I will cherish and look back with fondness.


Countdown: 5 Weeks

8 12 2009

Have you ever tried to pack for a two week trip? Then you probably know the dilemna I’m facing trying to pack for one year. Typically on a two week trip, you pack more than you will ever wear. You bring back from your trip even more than you pack. After sitting on your suitcase, kicking it a few times and calling friends and family to help you zip it up, you’re on your way.  The fun part is trying to come under the 50lb weight limit at the ticket counter.

So here’s my dilemna. The culture that I will be working in is very formal, therefore I will be dressing business formal most days. You’re probably laughing because if you know me, you know that I love wearing jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops. I’m also going to be living near the equator so that will mean African heat + suit/tie = sweaty American.

The other thing about packing your life in two suitcases for one year is wanting your creature comforts. I’m pretty laid back, but I like the brand name toiletries I’ve been used to. I checked before and they don’t carry some of the products at the local supermarkets.

Finally, when packing for a trip is figuring out if you will actually use those items there. Do I really need all my northface gear? Do I need boots or just tennis shoes? Should I buy bug spray there or pack it. How many Bibles should I bring? How many books will I actually read in a year?

As the countdown approaches I am trying to say goodbye to friends and family and satisfy my cravings for mom’s cooking and other comfort food.

Here’s the reality:

  • Getting used to frequent power outages
  • Being okay with internet that is sometimes equivalent to dial-up speed
  • Toilet paper that resembles party streamers at your local Party City store
  • No DIM SUM. Though there are a few Chinese restaurants, the food reminds me of Panda Express.
  • Driving with an International Driver’s License. This should be fun
  • Great Indian Food. Large Indian community thanks to colonization.

Actually to be honest, I’m really trying to enjoy my favorite foods in five weeks. It’s not about going to visit places one more time or seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s more like going to places like Yogurtland, In & Out Burgers, Beard Papas, that greasy Chinese restaurant on 8th street in Oakland, my favorite noodle shop on Franklin/8th Street, eating gai-mai bows and mom’s ju yook ben (pork pancake with pickled radish).

If you were moving to a new country in a few weeks, what would you crave or want to eat one last time?


5 12 2009

As I look back on the last few months here in Mexico, I am most grateful. My good friend recently shared during our Thanksgiving meal that if he spent more time being grateful and less time complaining about other things, it would be better. He then proceeded to go around the table, thanking each and every person for the friendships, the impact and the examples they have been in his life. I did my best to hold back the sentimental tears (meanwhile, the girls next to me were tearing up as if they just saw the latest Twlight movie). Seriously though, it got me thinking – ‘What am I grateful for?’

The word grateful means ‘feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful’. Some verses came to mind as I pondered this word.

‘Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires for good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s’ Psalms 103:2-5

I am grateful to be loved wholly and unconditionally by my Saviour. He loves me so much that He has crowned me with love and compassion. It is something that I am learning more and more each day.

I am grateful for the filling of the Holy Spirit each day. His supernatural power is what gives me the courage to live beyond my comfort zone and say yes to Him.

I am grateful for a country, culture and its people who have taken me in and welcomed me as one of their own for the past few months. I have learned much about their hospitality and genuine warmth. Being here has taught me to slow down and not be distracted by the pursuit of wealth and creature comforts.

I am grateful for my teachers. Interaction really believes in immersion and being part of the culture. My teachers have taken the time to get to know all the students, spend time with us outside of class and encouraged us to speak Spanish as much as we can.

I am grateful for the orphanage that I have been able to visit regularly while I’ve been here. The directors are my heroes and I do not know of a couple who sacrifices more than they do. They love each child unconditionally, pray unceasingly and give generously.

I am grateful for my mom. She prays for me daily, encourages me as I do things that make no sense at all and continues to be my #1 fan.

There’s more that I can be grateful for. I probably don’t tell my friends and family often enough how grateful I am that I have them in my life. I know I don’t tell God that enough.