A Sojourn to Louisville

My trip to Louisville, Kentucky took longer than expected. There wasn’t a crazy story involved. Rather we simply sat on Hong Kong’s tarmac for 2.5 hours, which caused us to miss our connecting flight and stay overnight in Chicago.

The cool part is that my family made a trip from their home in Rockford just to have dinner with us. I couldn’t believe my mom’s reaction when I called…

“Hi mom, it’s Grant!”
“Oh my dear heavens! What are you doing calling me?”
“So Kristin and I are stuck in Chicago overnight. I know it’s a long shot, but I wanted to let you know that we’re free all night if you want to come visit.”
“Your brother Scott and I can leave in 30 seconds. Is that too soon?”
“Shouldn’t you tell Scott about the visit?”
“I’m sure it won’t be a problem!”

The conversation was a little longer, and I might have exaggerated a bit. And my mom doesn’t actually use the phrase, “Oh my dear heavens!” However, it conveys the way I felt and the fact that my mom was willing to drop everything and drive 1.5 hours each way just for dinner. That’s pretty cool and a sure sign of love.

It kind of reminds me of the father’s reaction in the story of the Prodigal Son. No explanation was needed from the son. No coercion or questioning. The father just dropped everything and made his son feel like the most important person in the world. It was the kind of gesture that few people in the world are capable of demonstrating. [Just to be clear, I’m not necessarily saying I’m like the prodigal son in every way!]

So, mom, if you’re reading this. Thanks for loving Kristin and me. It was well-received 🙂

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In-N-Out

The Ad in HK

Today my youth group took a trip to an In-N-Out promotional event. From what I gather, In-N-Out only has store locations in 5 of the 50 states of the US. Upon hearing that it would bring its burgers to Hong Kong, our youth group dripped with anticipation. After church today, we took a special field trip up to the rented restaurant in a fleet of rented vehicles (also known as taxis). Upon arrival, they were all sold out. Well, at least we were told that, and the time was only 2.5 hours into the 4 hour event. What a disappointing field trip. That’s like telling kids that Disney World is closed after traveling to Florida.

Burger Fail

Anyway, that’s not what I really wanted to reflect on. Rather, I wanted to reflect on and write about the sermon topic this Sunday at church.

For the month of January, the youth group is discussing the much anticipated topic of sex. Yep. Coitus and everything else related to it. Today was particularly focused on homosexuality and our identity in Christ. As you might imagine, this was not the most comfortable talk to prepare for, but it has been one of the most engaging and enlightening topics to date since I began the job.

To clarify, this is not a post to get into the details of my beliefs on homosexuality or anything related to the LGBTQIA movement. Rather, I feel more sure of my beliefs, and I believe that I can have better, Christ-centered conversations with other people, no matter their view on this culturally-relevant subject.

As I’ve drawn closer to Jesus, He’s drawn nearer to me. As I’ve sought Him out, He’s shown me part of His grand perspective. It’s not about our identity in our sexuality, but rather our identity in Him. It’s not about filling myself with information and having all the right answers, but it’s about filling myself with God and relying on Him to show us the most excellent way to live. It’s about love and our value found in Christ.

Today was a good day.

The Help

It was a lazy Saturday for me, and I’m perfectly okay with that! I watched two movies today, Contagion and The Help. Both were completely different movies, though both were thought-provoking. Hong Kong has been a hot spot for viral scares in recent years, and Contagion clearly reflected it in spite of being a fictitious movie. I don’t think there’s a way for me to really prepare for such an epidemic, so I think I’ll just accept my fate and do my best to survive if that time comes. I’d rather not live in paranoia while I’m perfectly healthy.

The crazy take-away from Contagion: Humans touch their faces between 2,000 and 3,000 times per day. Whoa.

'Concrete Picnic' photo (c) 2007, J Aaron Farr - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/As much as I liked Contagion, I was way more impacted by The Help. I was stirred inwardly (slightly more manly way of saying I was a touch emotional) by the struggles that the women went through. Racial conflict ran so deeply for so many years in the United States that it’s no wonder many citizens still have problems to this day.

Even though race is a still a hot topic in the US, I’m quite surprised that it’s not talked about more in Hong Kong. In fact, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a book or movie written in a similar fashion to The Help, but based in Hong Kong. I’m pretty sure there are almost 300,000 helpers living in HK. That’s about 4% of the current population, and a huge percentage of people who’s story is not getting told.

'IMG_1235' photo (c) 2008, Ines Yeh - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I’m not the expert by any means, but I know many of the helpers in Hong Kong are not treated well, particularly by the local Chinese population. Though there are helpers from many backgrounds, most are primarily Filipino and Indonesian. And although so many are well-educated, their respective countries are rather poor and have fewer job opportunities than a place like Hong Kong. For example, a trained teacher or nurse from the Philippines or Indonesia often earns MORE money as a helper in Hong Kong. That is crazy and messed up.

In spite of so many well-educated helpers who are simply trying to squeeze out a respectable living and lifestyle, they are regularly looked down upon, viewed as inferior, and often mistreated. Even their living spaces are as small as their salaries. For more details, check out this well-written blog entry, Maid in Hong Kong.

I hope that someday the HK helpers’ stories will be told and widespread change will occur to improve their treatment and conditions. In the meantime, I hope that I can personally be moved to be kind and outgoing to the helpers here. I know I’m not an instigator of oppression, but I also hope I can be an instigator of change for at least a few helpers, even if in small ways.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18