Monday, June 28, 2010

Asian Ministry or how my language skills are getting a workout.

Last Sunday I celebrated at a trilingual service at Hacienda Heights -- English, Cantonese and Mandarin. As I have been speaking Spanish and English for the past 12 years in my ministry, my Chinese has become rusty, but is coming back quickly, especially Mandarin, though Cantonese isn't too far behind.

This past week I had the privilege of sitting with various Chinese clergy and talking with them about their ministries, and the challenges they face. The conversations took me back to my days at Berkeley studying Cantonese and Mandarin, and being immersed in Chinese culture. What to do about 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese youth?

This past Saturday I spent the day leading a workshop for the Episcopal Asian Ministry/LA group at Holy Trinity and St. Benedict in Alhambra. I wondered as I was speaking with them about my vision for EAM/LA in the Diocese of Los Angeles -- where IS the spirit moving here? Then it happened -- a wonderful young woman stood up and spoke about her recent trip to Sewanee for a Youth Leadership workshop. She talked about the challenges the youth face. Then it happened -- a priest stood up and told her she would open her parish to this young woman's youth group for a retreat -- plenty of room to meet there. Then the tent grew wider, and each parish gathered offered to send their youth to this retreat -- and Voila! -- a Episcopal Asian YOUTH retreat was born -- having my blackberry with me, I promised to be there as I blocked the date out in my calendar.

And then, another movement of the Spirit -- an Episcopal Asian ADULT retreat was formed. It will occur after the youth retreat. Then, the most AMAZING moment -- without prompting from me, the young woman who started the ball rolling stood up and said, "one of the things we will discuss on the youth retreat is how to communicate more effectively about our wants and needs as Asian Americans with our parents who were not born here." An incredible connection from the discussion among the Chinese clergy to this group. Holy Spirit moment? You bet. By the way, I've blocked off my calendar for the Adult retreat as well.

On a sad note, on my way to the EAM/LA workshop this past Saturday I received a call from the Rev. Peter Lo, Rector of St. Gabriel's in Monterey Park. He told me that the day before (Friday) a fire broke out in the Church -- more than likely in the Sacristy, which moved into the Sanctuary. The Sacristy, altar and 2 organs (one pipe, one digital) were destroyed. All the plastic in all the lights in the Sanctuary melted. Another Holy Spirit moment -- yesterday was the ONLY Sunday I am not committed to be somewhere all summer. I asked if he would like me to be there -- Peter enthusiastically said yes!

When I arrived at St. Gabriel's yesterday, I was very warmly received. My heart broke as I walked through the Sanctuary. I celebrated the Eucharist at a bilingual Cantonese/Mandarin service (again, my language skills are getting a workout). When I opened my mouth and spoke in Mandarin, there was a gasp from the Mandarin speakers in the congregation and lots of smiles -- and the same thing happened when I switched to Cantonese. I promised them the next time my Chinese would be even stronger, as I seem to be speaking it more and more these weeks.

After the service at St. Gabriel's, close to 40 of us went out for dim sum (Chinese tea lunch). YUM! One of my favorite things to do! Everyone wanted to know how often I've visited China (never). Where I learned Chinese (as a child (Cantonese) and at UC Berkeley). Will I come back and visit them again soon (yes!).

That evening, my husband Steve and I were at St. Thomas in Hacienda Heights for a dinner. It was a wonderful gathering, with people you can tell enjoy being together. Asians and Caucasians mixed easily -- and again my language skills got a workout. Live music caused those gathered to get up and dance -- me among them. They discovered quickly that what I lack in dance skills I make up with enthusiasm! We line danced (well, they did, I kept messing up). It was a wonderful time!

As I continue to wander, I never cease to wonder where the Spirit is going to move next -- and I am so grateful to the people of this Diocese for their willingness to let the Spirit soar!


  1. Oh my - how visibly God dwells in you !
    Your new blog is a living testimony to the presence of the Spirit in our lives. Thank you so much for being you and for sharing yourself with us.

  2. I still believe that the earlier someone starts learning a second language, the faster or more likely it will be for them to master it.Mastering a language skills is really a good subject to explore and to improve by valuating good information.

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