Monthly Archives: February 2009

Your Place Youth Center

I wrote in July about my church’s partnership with Your Place Youth Center, a prayer-nurtured program that combats youth violence in our city.  What was then just a pilot program has now grown into a full-fledged deal.

Registration for the teens began this week.  There’s an article about Your Place in the New Haven Independent, a local paper.

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I’m looking forward to getting to know the teens, and it’s been fun seeing so many volunteers come from Elm City Vineyard.  Folks in the church really take to heart Jeremiah 29:7, to seek the good of our city because our welfare is linked to the welfare of our city.

May God bring His peace to our streets!

A Gift to Bridge My Worlds

peninkwebMy friend and colleague, Rachael, did a beautiful thing for me recently. Rachael is a scientist who’s also a gifted photographer, among other things. She insists that taking pictures is just a hobby, but her work is totally pro and Cambridge University Press recently purchased a collection of her photos as illustrations for a forthcoming textbook. Then she used the proceeds to buy herself a better camera. She’s really an amateur in the true, original sense of the word – doing something for the love of it rather than for financial reasons (the word derives from the Latin amare, meaning “to love”).

Even before she got her new camera, she and her husband invited me over for dinner one evening. She’s Jewish and I was already feeling very blessed and welcomed because it was Passover and she was having a seder. Then as we shared stories in the kitchen, she told me that she’d talked it over with her husband and decided that she’d like to support my upcoming work in Taiwan by giving me her old camera – a very nice SLR.

I can’t tell you how humbled and touched I am by her generosity. She knew that I love photography, and it was such a thoughtful gift to empower me to better show (as well as tell) my dear ones at home what I’m experiencing when I’m living 8000 miles away. And now I find myself looking at things a little more attentively.

So here’s to another way of learning to see! Rachael gave me the camera about a week ago, and I took the photo above the next day – morning sun and my more usual communication implements.

Challenging American Individualism

gregandjordan02My former housemate, Greg moved to China just this summer and has been living with a Chinese roommate. Recently, a local magazine featured an article about them and the things they discovered about their respective cultures by living together. I was especially challenged by the light it shed on my own devotion to individual autonomy. In so many ways, I actually live and believe like personal space and self-actualization are the highest untouchable human rights.

I think American culture does tend to coach us to isolate ourselves, and to miss out on the depth of relationship that can only develop through accepting the inconveniences that come with prioritizing relationship over self-actualization. There’s a high cost to this. A friend of mine who’s Romanian tells me that there’s no word for “loneliness” in her language. She talks a lot about the adjustment she had to make when she moved to America to avoid treading upon “the sacred cow of the autonomous individual,” as she put it. As a kid in elementary school, I remember feeling bewildered by an odd sense of distance I felt with my non-Asian friends. I was coming from being immersed in the Taiwanese immigrant community, so it was a change of worlds for me. I suppose this is all anecdotal, but it’s something to think on as I head for Taiwan.

Here’s a link to the article I mentioned:

http://chinahopelive.net/2009/01/30/two-worlds-one-apartment

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Running for Refugees – part deux

So as promised, here are more photos from the race yesterday!

Meet Katie and Ethan Smith, co-leaders of the Smith-Kennedy homegroup.  They are one of the fabulous homegroups that nurture my church here in New Haven, the Elm City Vineyard.  Yes, Katie’s got puffy-ball ears on.  Their homegroup also came to compete for Best Group Costume… as a flock of sheep and a shepherd.

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.And here are the pre-race Michelle and Todd Kennedy, the other co-leaders.  See Todd’s shepherd’s crook?  Todd is famous for saying that he’ll never run except for his life, and Michelle’s expecting their first child in June… so the two of them sauntered the whole way.

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.And we’re off!  Here’s Katie running sheepishly.  The other woman is Kathy, who was my running buddy for the race, and an ESL teacher for IRIS.  She and her husband, Andy, are also homegroup leaders at my church.  Their family lived for over a decade in the Muslim world and, since moving here, have poured so much love and wisdom into our lives.  Kathy is amazing.  She’s diabetic and her blood sugar was low throughout the race, but she somehow managed to take glucose tabs, do a finger prick, check her blood sugar, and encourage one of her colleagues…all while running.  She did the whole 5K.  Did I mention that half of it was uphill?

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Smiles from runners on the downhill slope.

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.My roommate, Eden the sheep!

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.And here comes Janine!

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The Kennedy’s, making sure not one sheep is losttmwalkingsmall.

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Kathy’s family did the 5K too – here they are, cheering her on as she passes.

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Then Eden kindly took my camera at the end of the race to take pictures of Kathy and I heading for the finish line.  Hooray!kathymesmall

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Michelle and Maggie let loose at the end for a strong finish.

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Kelly (on the left) and another gal from the Smith-Kennedy homegroup (forgive me, I don’t know her name) sprinting for the finish. Kelly works for IRIS too, and helped run the event.

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.I got to meet the sons of one of Kathy’s students at the post-race party.boywithhatsmall

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.And what do you know… team Smith-Kennedy WON the group costume contest!

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.…They were also the only ones to enter.

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The SMITH-KENNEDY CHAMPIONS!  (Bless her heart, Kelly was still helping to run the event, so she wasn’t in the picture.)

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Running for Refugees

I ran my first 5 K race today! It was a benefit for Integrated Immigrant and Refugee Services (IRIS). Some Elm City Vineyard folk took the prize for group costume – they came as a flock of sheep led by a shepherd. More pictures to come…

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Kathryn’s Sendoff

Elm City Vineyard had a little send-off party for one of our sisters yesterday.

kathryn Kathryn, a recent graduate of Yale, originally hails from Zimbabwe. She’s leaving for South Africa to study forced migration and who knows… someday, she might become the president of Zimbabwe.

It was sweet to drift around the edges of conversations – to catch snippets here and there – friends telling her how much life she has brought to them.

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It’s wonderful to be sent off by a church that knows how to say goodbye well.

More photos here.