20 –

IT’S MY LAST DAY AS A GMF! Where has the time gone?! The last 2 years has been an adventure! I thank everyone who journeyed with me, whether you’re with me in Hong Kong or abroad. Thank you for your messages, financial support, visits, or nonjudgmental ears. I would not have made it this far without y’all!

I don’t know how to process the last 2 years, except through the ways I know best – poems and lists. So… here are 20 things I learned during my 20 months as a young adult missionary!

  1. Missions isn’t talking about Jesus but loving like Jesus. And that is difficult.
  2. God is everywhere, in so many forms, on so many faces. God cannot be confined to the 4 walls of a church but on the streets, in the mountains, within the trees.
  3. Sometimes, we need to be rather than do.
  4. Being alone isn’t that bad. I don’t love it, and I really prefer roommates, but I can live – I mean, I have lived – alone. *shudder*
  5. Rest. Seriously.
  6. Invest in relationships that build up, not tear down. There are toxic people, and nobody got time for them. There were so many moments when I met people whose souls I connected with on such a deep level, but I understand it was only for that moment. Then, there are people who I had the joy to spend months with, who have enriched my life. Appreciate them; don’t focus on the ones who make you cry.
  7. Guilt will be there, but so will grace. Give some to yourself.
  8. Speak your truth. Be fearless.. or scared. That’s okay too. As long as you speak.
  9. Society tells us to do too much. It’s even more confusing when cultures clash. Who really cares? Embrace who you are – weirdness and all. Learn to laugh at yourself, and find the ridiculous in life.
  10. ..and find people who appreciate your weirdness.
  11. People care more than given credit to. For example, so many people reached out to me after I did my plastic-free fast. It gave me hope. Use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs (to start hehe)!
  12. On that note, it’s easier to focus on individuals rather than the system. Think bigger, so we can make bigger changes!
  13. Our journeys are ours. There will be people who journey alongside us, but no two people’s are the exact same. Appreciate these differences. Learn from them.
  14. It’s okay not to know what you want.
  15. But I do know that I love being creative with my work.
  16. God answers prayers of your heart and the prayers of your soul.
  17. Don’t worry. Trust that the way has been prepared for you.
  18. Traveling is overrated. Learning locals’ narratives and understanding their struggles are more amazing then finding Lonely Planet’s top 10 things to do.
  19. Temperature’s subjective.
  20. “When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.”

xx, sushi

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journey

Two years ago, I began my missionary journey, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Two years later, I finish my missioner journey, tired and in desperate need of rest.

Two years ago, I knew what I wanted out of life.
Two years later, I feel like it’s the senior year of college.

Each road I’ve taken in this journey has brought me to where I am today – loves, losses, joys, sorrows, disappointments, adventures. All had an impact on me, and no matter how how small has shaped me to be who God intended me to be. Perhaps the scariest, yet most exciting, part is what’s to come.

Heather once told me that life is about knowing the big 3’s – who, what, where. At any given point, I knew at least one of those answers. Now? Now, I know nothing. I am open. I am empty.

Now? Anything is possible. Let this next journey begin.

poetry

In the last few months, poetry has been how I process my world. I love the freedom of how words look on paper, how they play with each other to form thoughts and emotions, how they can convey nothing and everything at the same time.

As I write, as I process, as I (re-)cross cultures, I know that God stands with me in my pain and pushes me forward in love – the same love that embraced me as I lamented, the same love that brought me to kasamas in Hong Kong, the same love that guided me through the loneliness of service with communities. It is in this love that I have faith for the future.

it’s been a month

It’s been a month since
I got on the plane for LAX –
I left my (almost-)home.

It’s been a month of constant flying,
adjusting, and saying hello
followed shortly by good-bye.

It’s been a month of missing
and hurting
and yearning.

It’s been a month of emotional survival.

1 week can feel like eternity.

It’s been 1 week since I landed at LAX and found myself overwhelmed by the enormous amount of space, chilly air, and diversity of people. It’s strange to be back in this country. It’s strange to speak American English all the time. It’s strange how 1 week feels like forever when you miss people.

I don’t miss the humidity though. That’s something I can live without.

“Passover Remembered”

Alla Bozarth-Campbell

Pack nothing.
Bring only
your determination to serve
and your willingness to be free.

Don’t wait for the bread to rise.
Take nourishment for the journey,
but eat standing, be ready
to move at a moment’s notice.

Do not hesitate to leave
your old ways behind —
fear, silence, submission.

Only surrender to the need
of the time — to love
justice and walk humbly
with your God.

Do not take time
to explain to the neighbors.
Tell only a few trusted
friends and family members.

Then begin quickly,
before you have time
to sink back into
the old slavery.

Set out in the dark.
I will send fire
to warm and encourage you.
I will be with you in the fire
and I will be with you in the cloud.

You will learn to eat new food
and find refuge in new places.
I will give you dreams in the desert
to guide you safely to that place
you have not yet seen.
The stories you tell
one another around the fires
in the dark will make you
strong and wise.

Outsiders will attack you,
and some follow you,
and at times you will get weary
and turn on each other
from fear and fatigue and
blind forgetfulness.

You have been preparing
for this for hundreds of years.
I am sending you into the wilderness
to make a new way and to learn my ways
more deeply.

Some of you will be so changed
by weathers and wanderings
that even your closest friends
will have to learn your features
as though for the first time.

Some of you will not change at all.
Some will be abandoned
by your dearest loves
and misunderstood by those
who have known you since birth
and feel abandoned by you.
Some will find new friendships
in unlikely faces, and old friends
as faithful and true
as the pillar of God’s flame.

Sing songs as you go,
and hold close together.
You may at times grow confused
and lose your way.
Continue to call each other
by the names I’ve given you,
to help remember who you are.
You will get where you are going
by remembering who you are.
Touch each other and keep telling the stories.

Make maps as you go
remembering the way back
from before you were born.

So you will be only the first
of many waves of deliverance on these desert seas.
It is the first of many beginnings —
your Paschaltide.

Remain true to this mystery.
Pass on the whole story.
Do not go back.
I am with you now
and I am waiting for you.

almost-home

“When do you leave?” plagues my last few weeks of service in Hong Kong. The answer is simple – 15 June. I can handle this question.

“What’s next?” “How do you feel?” “What do you want to do after this?”

Well… that’s an entirely different story.

I can’t put into words my emotions, my thoughts, my desires in a succinct 1 minute answer. Honestly, do you even want to hear more than that? Are you asking out the politeness of seeing me?

For the first time, I don’t want to leave somewhere. Not because I’m going back to a country I’m supposed to call “home” but has never felt like home. Only in the last few months have I begun to feel like I’m finding my place here. It’s not home, but it’s the closest I’ve been. And I’m leaving it. My almost-home.

To answer your questions: “I don’t know what’s next.” “I feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, excited.” “I want to keep serving with those in the margins.”

It’s official. I leave Hong Kong on June 15th. I don’t know how to feel. I feel so much, but I can’t feel anything. That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But that’s what it feels like. My heart feels so overwhelmed that it can’t process anymore and shuts down.

How do I process 18+ months of service?
So much has happened.

How do I say “good-bye” (more like “see you later”) to those I’ve journeyed with here?
So many stories I’ve heard.

How do I say “hello” to a country that never felt like home?
So much has changed.

How do I interpret my heart’s song into words for you to understand?

That is the reality.

🤔

Abuse is such a taboo and triggering topic. I think it’s important to acknowledge that:

  1. Men can be abused.
  2. Any type of relationship can be abusive.
  3. Abuse is NOT just physical. Abuse can be psychological, emotional, and spiritual.

I’m not saying that I’m in an abusive relationship, but I’ve been thinking about it more recently, especially about the church and toxic relationships. I have nothing substantial to say except I’ve been thinking and evaluating my own life and relationships. 🤔

“Though you cannot go back and start again, you can start from now and have a brand new end.”

Let’s be real. My diminished spirit is crying out… has been crying out for months. I am tired. I am drained. I am done. I don’t know what Jesus was talking about when He said that His yoke being easy and His burden light ’cause it ain’t. The once joyful, enthusiastic missioner that left New York seemed to have disappeared into the Hong Kong stressful bustle, into a relationship that required more giving than receiving, into friendships that tore down rather than built up, into the pressure of a society that cares more about profits than people.

Perhaps Jesus’ burden is lighter than what society tells us what we should do? Perhaps that I don’t have to listen to what culture tells me what I need in order to be enough? Perhaps it’s knowing that me being me is enough?

If it is, it doesn’t feel like it. Me being me doesn’t seem to be enough for my partner, for my friends, for my job applications. I am being slowly undone, and some things have to go. So, I choose to let go of my toxins. I choose to say no to the people and stressors that do not give me life in the past few months. Easier said than done. When you build a majority of your life on something and it’s gone, what do you have left? Little pieces that resemble your life that you know are not your life. Break down to rebuild. Is 3 months enough time to rebuild, or am I too late? Is it ever “too late”?

No.

Start now.

And I did. I started to design more, to write, to crochet, to boulder. I started to do the things that made me happy. It’s difficult to flip off cultural expectations, but it’s even more difficult to live with cultural expectations that drain you. Slowly, I will feed my spirit. Slowly, I will relight my flame.