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.

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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.

Happy New Year! 🐶

As a child, Lunar New Year stood out the most of all the holidays. At home, it meant red packets, new clothes, fried foods, and loads of sweets. But at school, it was an ordinary day.

As a young adult, Lunar New Year meant a family dinner if we were home. Outside of our Chinese community, for the rest of the United States, it was an ordinary day.

As I serve in Hong Kong, Lunar New Year is an enormous holiday. It means multiple days off, shut down of most businesses, and a quiet over the busy metropolis. Such a contrast!

But it doesn’t feel like it’s my holiday. I don’t own up to it. I don’t get excited about it. I never felt I was Asian enough to make my own tradition but never American enough to ignore it altogether. Because I’m both and neither at the same time, a complexity that I didn’t understand growing up.

Holidays always make me nostalgic but also contemplative. It’s interesting the topics I choose to contemplate though. Apparently, for this one, I chose to think about my Asian-American identity (do you sense a pattern)?

The tension of my hyphen as an Asian-American has been the crux of my adolescence and young adulthood. Instead of trying to understand the complexity of this hyphen, I ignored it.

But it can’t be ignored.

It couldn’t be ignored in grad school as we explored the world through anti-oppressive lens. Where did my Asian identity fit into the talk about race? Where were my Asian brothers and sister when it came to advocating for our Black brothers and sisters?

It couldn’t be ignored when I moved across the world to serve with migrant workers. I am constantly reminded that I’m a Westerner. My passport holds more weight than my ethnicity. (“You’re not Chinese! You’re American.”)

It couldn’t be ignored during the 2016 presidential election. We are not exempt from racism. (“Go back to where you came from!”)

It was time to embrace the hyphen, my space in-between two worlds I called home. What does it mean to be both Asian and American in my passport land where I am praised as a “model minority” but criticized as a perpetual foreigner? What does it mean to serve with other Asians while raised with both Eastern and Western values? It means sitting with tension and being uncomfortable; it means accepting my hyphen for what it is; it means learning self-awareness and dismantling the systems of prejudice and injustice wherever I may be.

2018.

2017 came and went. I had no resolutions for last year because let’s be real – will I actually keep it? Nah. Is 2018 going to be any different? Probably not. And that’s okay too. There’s not going to be a “new year, new me” because the me that I am now is the me God created for me to be. I will continue to grow and change as my life unfolds and as I learn to fight with, serve with, and love with those in the margins.

My friends and I greeted 2016 with a sunrise at Fire Island, and I pray-sang a song that spoke to me during the winter of 2015 – for the Spirit to lead me where I am called, to have faith in my Creator. God has yet to fail me. 2016 was when I left for Hong Kong, and I rang in 2017 with my newfound migrant kasamas. This year, instead of going to the ocean, we went to the mountain to see the first light of 2018.

DSC00086.jpg

Lantau Peak overlooking Sunset Peak at 7am on New Years Day

With the countdown to the new year came a countdown to uncertainty, a feeling I am quite familiar with. This year brings with it uncertainty of the future. Where will I go after Hong Kong? What will I be doing? Who will I be with? How will I live? ..y’know, the usual. I can lie and say that I’m not worried because I have faith that God will provide, but honestly, I’m a mix of emotions. I’m scared but excited. I have faith but am also doubtful. We’ll see what adventures 2018 will bring and what becomes of this young adult missionary living out her ordinary adventure full of amazing days.