April 1st

YAMs – this is taken partly from my monthly update, sorry for the repeat….

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Today marks the halfway point of my time in Hong Kong.  Eight months ago today I was stranded in the airport, curious it that was to be the precedent for my time here.  Thankfully, it was not. 

It is strange to think that this is the halfway point of my international placement.  That 8 months from now, I’ll be learning to re-adjust to American culture, learning my way around a new city, making new friends, finding a new church, learning a new job, setting up yet another home. Maybe it is not healthy for my time here, but I just can’t help but wonder what will follow.  I’ve spent so much time doing and learning and stretching and crying and growing here.  I’m ready for this leg to be done, so I can reflect.  And yet, at the same time, I have grown to be so comfortable in my work environment, that I can’t imagine doing anything else.  Its a hard place to be in.  Stuck in between wondering and  contentment.  I know that the next steps will come in their own time.  That before I know it I’ll be trying to shove 15 months of Asia into my 2(?) bulging suitcases.  The thought of not going every day to the Shelter or the Mission twists my heart.  And then I have to stop and realize, I’m not leaving yet.  I still have 8 months! Eight glorious months to continue soaking, learning, crying, searching, wondering….

So today, I’d like to reflect a little on the things that I have learned so far in my time here:

* There is no difference in Asian breakfast, lunch or dinner – with the exception of the time of day it is served, it is all the same thing.  Noodles and chicken feet are just as readily served at 8am as they are at 8pm.  What ever happened to pancakes and scrambled eggs?

* The work day goes so much faster on days that we have protests or rallies.  There is the preparation ahead of time, the debriefing afterwards – sometimes it can really take a big chunk of the day.  And its way more fun to shout and waves signs than it is to sit in-front of a computer encoding data.

* I am inept at language.  Some people truly have a gift for learning another language quickly.  I am not one of those people.  Taglog is harder, because it is all about rhythm. I’m white.  I have no rhythm.

* Not being able to get a visa is not always a bad thing.  Sometimes, it means you have to leave the country every three months.  And that leads to cool places like Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

* It is essential for the well-being of my soul (and subsequently, for all those around me) that I have weekly interactions with nature.  Living in a city is all well and good, as long as I can get out at least once a week.  Too many buildings, too much smog, too many people.  I need trees, water, quiet.

* Some people assume living away from the US means living in desolate conditions.  Now please don’t misunderstand this, I am thankful for people at home who love me enough to worry.  Its just sometimes, the assumption is that I’m living in a hut and hunting for my dinner.  While that may be the life for some, it is not mine.  So when someone sends me a package filled with plastic bags “to sell, in case you need money,” I just can’t help but laugh.  Again, appreciative of the thoughtfulness to send me a package halfway around the world – but maybe ask what I need first.  (those who assumed I need girl scout cookies assume correctly! 🙂

* Life isn’t easy.  It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do or who you know.  There are going to be good days, and there are going to be bad days.  Sometimes, there will be great days, and sometimes there will even be horrible days.  On those horrible days, it is okay to do the following: cry, scream, throw small objects at the wall, eat cookies for dinner.  But, on the good days, it is imperative to do the following: write the good down to remember on the bad days, laugh, sing, let friends and family know how appreciative you are of their constant love, prayers and emotional-support.

* I could write 50 posts on the things I have learned about Migration Issues and working amongst women migrant workers.  But I think it really can be summed up in two points. 1 – There is never just one cause, but that doesn’t mean giving up.  2 – Listening really can solve a lot.

* Church and community, like nature, are essential for my soul.  Having a place to worship in community, with people I trust, is a gift.  And I am thankful to have found that here.

* Time flies when you are having fun.  Time crawls when you are lonely or bored. But regardless, time marches on, so might as well soak up what you can, while you can.

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3 thoughts on “April 1st

  1. Not that I consider Mgm’y a big city, but it is city enough for me. I almost broke down after 24 hours in Chicago, then I saw a horse pulling a carriage and I was stuck to it like white on rice.
    I enjoy going to the barn in M’brook to get away, even though the city is building up all around the wooded acreage.
    All that to say I echo your sentiments. AND when you get back I’ll have Sam make you his famous “Breakfast for Dinner” meal. It’s awesome…

  2. “Time flies when you are having fun. Time crawls when you are lonely or bored. But regardless, time marches on, so you might as well soak up what you can, while you can.”

    Amen. Thank you.

  3. Beautifully written post Liz. I think too often we have experiences like these and don’t take enough time to sit back and reflect and appreciate our experiences.

    Also, it seems crazy that you’ve been there for 8 months!

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