Sara fong, awake as ever!

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Sara fong, awake as ever!

Just stopped in Austin. Will be off to Dallas soon enough!

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Changing Perceptions

Now, I would normally start by writing something along the lines of “It’s another day at work and I’m sitting here after a well-fed wholefood’s sandwich listening and blogging during a staff meeting…”  But that would be like saying every day is the same, which would be false.  BAyUP has been sooo amazing, and every day has been its own adventure!  From orientation week until now, so many things have happened and I have been learning so much!  God has truly been blessing us with such love that I cannot find the words to share it with.  But I will try 🙂

[And now, since I haven’t posted before (sorry!) I feel like i need to start from the beginning, haha.  Here we go, marathon post!]

It’s funny because the first day at BAyUP/Orientation Week, after meeting all the other teams (who are such awesome people!) and doing like 50 different ice breakers, I thought I was in for a really chill ride this summer.  But, God surprised me (as He often does!), and I think everyone as well.  From touring old/new Oakland and hiking/touring Angel Island, to sleeping on the streets for a night and picking up recyclables for lunch money, my chill ride turned out to be a narly roller coaster.  Sleeping on the streets for a night was actually really comfortable for me.  Once I got over all the ants roaming around, I fell asleep like a baby.  Although I’d wake up in the middle and think “Why is there a tree above me? And, whoa…I can see the sky!”  Haha.  It took me a while to remember that oh, we’re sleeping on the streets tonight.  I think that happened like three times throughout the night.  I remember people would come by and give an interesting stare to the six of us sleeping side-by-side in a line.  And with the recycling activity, I think that was really hard for me because it was just a really hard and humbling situation going through other people’s trash cans.  When I first heard of the activity, I didn’t think that anyone could raise enough money to buy a significant meal.  But of course, God surprised me.  Our team of four raised $1.95 in bottles and cans, and was able to buy three day-old loaves of bread, two bananas, one carrot, and one orange for lunch.  It wasn’t filling but it put a lot of things into perspective.

From orientation week, we moved in to our housing sites. Our team has a very spacious top floor of a duplex.  We are eleven people living in three bedrooms (three guys in one, six girls in another, and the two staff in the third) with one toilet and two showers.  I must say, it’s been pretty amusing living in a house full of people all the time, but not difficult as I imagined it to be (it’s especially useful when you get locked in the closet, because someone or another should be going in and out of the room sometime soon.  Yes, this is from experience).  We get a lot of traffic in the bathroom in the mornings, but other than that, we’ve seemed to manage a system that doesn’t get too chaotic.  Some things I’ve really been enjoying about our team is our morning prayers before we all trickle off to work, (longer) evening prayers/ listening prayers/ intercessory prayers, our cooking rotations (we have seven “head chef” and four “sous-chef” who rotate around every day.  I cook food – usually Indian food – on Sunday nights.  And boy, we have such good chefs in this house and consequently are blessed with such good food this summer!!!  I’m going to miss this!  Tonight, I believe David is making breakfast-for-dinner.  If you know me, you can just imagine how excited I am right now 😛 ), and saving the best for last, our team members themselves.  I LOVE our team!  And the dynamics of our team!  Everyone is so cool and weird and just plain awesome!  I’m getting teary now that we have only one week left.  :((   Much love to you guys! ❤

We’ve been trying different ways and approaches to Sabbath.  I think something I really need to work on is prioritizing the Sabbath and understanding that we are not just the products of our work.  I think that there were a lot of lies that were instilled on me growing up, and sometimes it’s hard to break away from them.  This past Saturday, we went to a beautiful park whose name I cannot recall right now, but it was so peaceful and relaxing.  I think God speaks to me through nature, or at least, I seem to always find God in nature 🙂  I picked flowers and everything, haha!

[Now I’m just going into random stories I remember, so sorry if it doesn’t flow or seems random.]  One time, earlier in BAyUP, we went star gazing at the Chabot Space Center with the Chico team.  It was really cool, but I couldn’t help but find Saturn to be the most interesting thing there.  David says that it’s too easy to like Saturn since its interesting looking with its ring and all – and I agree – but I guess I’m not enough of a space nerd to be awed by the ring nebulas and star clusters.  Last Friday, we went dancing at the Jack London Square and met the Stanford team there.  They were giving free lessons on how to Waltz.  So I was really excited at first, but then disappointed when they only taught us four moves.  However, I got to dance with one of the instructors there who taught me a little bit of the swing, so that was fun.  Another time, we invited the family downstairs over for dinner and later watched “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” at their house.  It was interesting because they forgot about the invitation, and we waited about forty minutes discussing whether we should go down and get/remind them or not.  Some people on our team valued promptness, whereas for me, I thought it was just a cultural thing to be “fashionably late”.  I know my family does that way too often.  I think John Knox cooked spaghetti that night and it was delicious!  I had to write down the recipe 🙂  I also feel like I get way too happy much too quickly by just food.  Hmm…   Oh! And another time (I think this is the last story, don’t worry!), earlier or kind of to the middle of BAyUP, we went to a Block Party near our neighborhood.  It was soooo much fun!  Shela, Sarah Lee (!!!) and I were helping out at a fishing game, where kids would throw over a small fishing pole and we’d attach candy and toys to it.  It was funny when one of the girls decided to go behind the station and watch us do it.  She went back to the line and told her friends, “Guys, it’s not real!  They’re totally putting the candies on the fishing rod!”  Haha!  As if there was a real candy fishing pond in the middle of the street!   I love kids 😀  Speaking of kids, I’ve decided that I really want to adopt/ be a foster parent later on.  I think it’s something that’s been on my heart for a while now, and God has really been convicting me of it this summer.  But you can ask me about that later.

Anyways, other than living with the lovelies, work has been so good as well!  As you may or may not know, I am interning at MISSSEY (Motivating Inspiring Serving Supporting Sexually Exploited Youth) with Shela and Ally.  Though, I work with Direct Services and in the afternoons.  Direct Services is basically the department that works directly with the clients in providing whatever services are needed.  The first week of work was an orientation/ training week.  It was a really heavy week for me, and I think all of us as well.  There was so much information to absorb, but the hardest part was just dealing with the cruelty and brokenness of it all.  It was crazy to hear about all the stuff that has been going on to our people – neighbors really – and how little we are aware of it, let alone standing up against it.  For a while, I felt like someone just dumped a heavy dose of information/reality on me and I didn’t know what to do other than just carry it around.  To be honest, I still haven’t figured it out and sometimes still feel like that.  During yesterday’s BAyUP prayer and reflection night, however, I learned that I’ve been tying my head and heart together, letting my head do all the thinking for my heart and not being able to hurt for all the pain that can be seen around me – as a almost protective and guarded instinct.  But, I received prayer and have been praying myself for the breaking of that tie, being uncomfortable and vulnerable, letting my guards down, and just being able to hear God with clarity.

Working at Direct Services with MISSSEY has been such a privilege for me!  In our building, we have a place called the SPA (Safe Place Alternative) which is where I work/stay most my day.  The SPA is where the girls come in and chill at.  It’s where we talk, provide a safe space, do workshops, and have staff and services available.  During the beginning of my internship, I worked with one of the staff to plan out the curriculum for the month of July.  And every week (or day), I have the privilege of researching, creating, and putting together all the materials, handouts, brochures, lesson plans for that day’s workshop.  I have also gotten the opportunity to lead and facilitate some of the workshops.  The SPA is a drop-in place, with regular hours every week.  So my day normally looks like this: I come in around noon (or before if there’s a lot of work to be done), work to finish that day’s curriculum materials, hand over and talk about the curriculum with the SPA director (she is soo cool!), do random tasks until the clients come, whenever the first girl comes in, the director and I start cooking some yummy and slightly healthy food, then we eat with the girls and talk/catch up/play games/do art with them, and sometime later do a workshop with them.  Since it’s summer, there have been a lot less girls coming in than in the school year.  We generally have been getting 1-5 girls in here at a time.  They are very cool people, and from what I have gathered, love to paint.  We just had a wine tasting fundraiser where we sold some of the girls’ art pieces, and two of them sold for over $500!!  It’s really cool at the SPA, and I feel likes it’s less of a job and more of just a bunch of things I already like to do put together.  We’ve been playing Monopoly a lot recently, and [wo]man, it some serious stuff here.  Haha!  Everyone is so imaginative, and we all take the game personally.  At one time, the director of the SPA had to mortgage all her properties, had $8 left, then landed on someone’s hotel and was literally tearing up to the point of crying.  Another player always (and I mean ALWAYS) has the misfortune of going to jail multiple times in a game.  And then, the really cheap properties by the GO-> box with cheap rents are known as the hood.  When you land on someone else’s bought land in the hood, you’ll be paying rent to their crack house.  I once had a hotel in the hood.  It was kind of awesome.  As you can see, the games are very intense with a lot of emotional drive and revenge-seeking.

I’ve been learning a lot about perceptions and just how to build relationships with people cross-culturally.  I’ve been picking up things from conversations at the SPA and BAyUP program nights about the brokenness of systems (education, foster care and group homes, medical, immigration, etc..) in this country.  I feel like being at BAyUP, my general perception of things has changed.  I am learning to love, and to love everyone.  Because loving just the ones you already care for is neither true love, nor God’s love.  But loving a stranger or neighbor as your brother and sister is.  And that is hard.  I pray that I would learn to and be able to love like that.  I am so thankful of my placement here, in the beautiful city of Oakland and in MISSSEY, and often wonder what God has been visioning of this place and organization.  There is a lot of healing and love to be received here, so it’d be awesome if you’d pray for these girls and MISSSEY.

 

I want to take this time to thank all you wonderful people for supporting me in this journey.  I really appreciate your support and prayers!  And I just want to give a shout out to the Berkeley staff and students that came to visit us during program night (and Erina and Eubanks yesterday!).  It was really really really encouraging to see you guys here, especially since some of you were tired too and had a full day. We all were so blessed by your presence and support!  I was totally not expecting it 🙂  You guys are awesome! ❤  Also, I had never been to Tea Way before then, and that was sooo good! Ahh!  😀

 

So I am no longer at work or at a staff meeting, rather I am home right now.  Work was good today.  I am thankful to be using AC Transit instead of biking (as it did not go well for me the one day I actually biked!).  David and Ally are cooking pancakes right now, John is munching on nutella, Sara is in an interesting pose exercising, Erin is chatting away, and Allie, Josef, Kimmy, Shela, and Erica are on their way back from an event that got cancelled.  Actually, John is now crying because David did not put nutella in the pancakes.  Sara says that this is probably because he has not processed enough during the trip and that now all his feelings are being stirred up.  He is talking to me now, but I think this is the part where I ignore him.  So, yeah.  This is our typical dinner conversation.

 

But before I leave, I’ll end with a few prayer requests.  If you could pray for the team and I, that’d be so cool 🙂

–          Please intercede for the city of Oakland and all the brokenness it carries.  But do not pity the city, for it is a beautiful and great city.

–          Please pray for MISSSEY and sexual exploitation/ commercial sex trafficking in this world.  It is enslavement and torture.  It really needs to come to an end, and we all need to be aware and be in active opposition of it.  I have a lot more to say about this, but not now.  You can ask me about it later, or expect me to tell you about it later.  Also, the book Girls Like Us by Rachael Lloyd is a good reading about this topic.  It is an account of the author’s own exploitation and founding of the GEMS program (similar to MISSSEY but in the east coast) as well as a good narration of the sex exploitation/ commercial sex trafficking problem in America.

–          Please pray for clarity in hearing God and better processing skills

–          That I would continue to prioritize the Sabbath and grow in my relationship with God

–          That we all would remember the lessons learned and convictions made during our time at BAyUP, and bring it back to campus and incorporate it in our lives.  That we would not just go back to our “normal” ways, but become the change that we want, and God wants, in us.

–          Please pray that I would have the boldness to speak out against injustices and strength to be what God has called me to be

–          And lastly, the director of the SPA is in the hospital right now.  She is seven months pregnant and the baby has been positioned too low.  This morning she had been experiencing contractions, but it is too early for delivery.  I don’t know what is going on there, but if you could pray for her and her baby girl, that would be awesome.

 

Thank you all!  If you read this whole thing….wow. You are cool.  And now… dinner time!  Pancakes yum yum 😀

 

Peace,

Bhavna  [pronounced BH-ow-na  (but not B-ow-na or Ph-ow-na… so don’t do that…)]

 

 

Shela’s Last Post & Spoken Word

For the past two weeks, the Word of God and the words of godly men have pierced me and planted in me wisdom about the kind of woman and daughter of God I should desire to become. Funny, because I’ve never been one to want to sit down and read for long periods of time, but I guess things don’t always stay the same, nawmsaynnn?

Ahnyung friends, and welcome to the tallest BAyUP blog post of posts.

On the 13th of July, I indulged in a short but compelling reading of Jean Vanier’s From Brokenness to Community. Jean exhorted me that my ability to heal others will not come from my riches, but from my poverty. It’s true. The riches that I cling to in this life, I consciously know to be ephemeral. Yet it never occurred to me that my worth, then, must not be in that which is extravagant, but in that which is poor. Do I consider myself poor? Not really. But I want to embrace the poverty in me, my broken humanity that will draw me close to Christ’s heart. I want to understand and conduct myself in a way that someone who knows she is poor would – with humility and grace and patience among both poor and rich men.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the epitome of this humility, and he ended up healing, oh I don’t know… everyone and their moms. So the tactic probably works. What this means for me is this: I will not consider myself superior over any person, in any facet of what it means to be a human being, me who lives only with the breath that God chooses to give me every new day. I won’t consider my talents to be above anyone else’s; I won’t hold my filled stomach over those of the hungry; I won’t consider my physical and mental health superior over the disabled; I won’t hold my college education above those who didn’t have the resources or support to receive one; I won’t, I won’t, I won’t! But realistically, I know will, against my own will. So help me, Jesus. Prune me, Jesus. It is the only way.

I followed by reading Ezekiel’s inaugural vision of the awesome approach of the glory of God in Ezekiel 1. Reading closely into the text, I found myself in this silent place of awe. All Ezekiel could manage to describe was the likeness of living creatures, the appearance of burning coals of fire, the like of gleaming beryl, the likeness of an expanse, like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty. There are no words in the human language that can depict the glory of God. And I just sat there like… :O. I constantly casual-ize his holiness, and my insensitivity to his glory informs my sluggish life response to his commission over me. Foolish.

That following Friday, I had a lovely date with the Holy Spirit, sitting in the middle of a narrow hiking trail at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland’s Dimond district. The spot overlooked the tops of trees off to the side, and a slight view of the bay. The only sound was that of chirping birds and breezing winds, and it was vere naahce. In that quiet spot, Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest (July 15) sparked a really intimate time in the secret place for me. “Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent himself to express it.” It’s not about trying to earn my salvation, but rather letting that deep gratitude translate into a form of loving and thankful service to the person that Jesus was in this place, in this time. I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus. Meditating upon this, I found myself focused on the truth: my life in him, and death in myself. By his blood, I am free to bind myself to him. And then I thought back to the awe that Ezekiel had in his vision of God’s glory approaching him. I’ve been given access to the likeness of everything glorious. I have been given freedom to be bound to that glorious God. I am free to bound to You, my Giver of glory, I said out loud. It felt odd-kward, but really freeing.

Amos study with the entire BAyUP team fed me very fully as well. I took away that my worship to the Lord must be coupled with a pursuit of justice. If God truly compels me to respond to him in worship, my life should be that worship service. My soul and presence should exude the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, and my life here – my choices in relationships, lifestyle, career, stewardship of resources, character – should pursue justice and love over God’s people. Justice shouldn’t be an intellectual commercial break in the trajectory of my own life, but let it consume and transform my life. I need Jesus’ heart to replace mine in order to do this. Help me, Jesus.

One lovely day, Erina Melody Kim wrote us a letter, sharing the passages she received while praying for each of us. She gave me Luke 1:26-38, where the virgin Mary hears from Gabriel that she is to birth into the world, the Savior of the world. How krrrray kray must that have been? Her short but powerful response stuck with me for many days and nights: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said.” As her response lingered with me, I came upon Jeremiah 42:1-7 during a reflection time we had. In this passage, God says that he upholds his servant, that he has chosen him and put his spirit on him, that his servant will bring justice to the nations and will not be discouraged until he does so. God, the One who spoke the heavens and earth into being, has called me into righteousness. He speaks righteousness over me with power, and holds my hand in my pursuit of justice. In response to this, I pray: I, Shela Sinhye Jeong, am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said, whatever it is you have said. “For nothing is impossible with God.” –Luke 1:37 Ahhh-men, brothers.

On Wednesday, the 20th of July, we attended a vigil for immigration reform, totally organized and put on by the fabulous Erica, Erin, Sara, John, and David. I shared a spoken word that the Holy Spirit totally wrote. You can read it if you want, below!

“Freedom is not a universal phenomenon.
Instead, it is contingent upon the context
by which we establish our identity.
It is contingent upon the standard of life we
have accepted as our own,
the standard of life to which we
have been assigned.

In this place and time,
the standard of life which I must accept as mine
seems to stem from
the color of my skin,
the songs of my mother, working in the kitchen,
from the direction from which the sun
smiled down at 3 o’clock,
casting playful and faithful shadows
that followed me
all the way home to my mother
working and singing in the kitchen,
whose sweet tunes danced their way
into my childhood ears
every day, as I walked home from school.

According to the color of my skin
and songs in my ears,
the forces of politics, politics, economics,
money tricks, and
politics
authored the kind of freedom
that we so desired,
but that my mother, working and singing in the kitchen
could never feed us.

According to the color of my skin
and songs in my ears,
we went hungry
for the kind of freedom that would keep us
from going hungry,
for the kind of freedom that would give us
permission to spend our evenings
dancing,
not playing chase with our hours of sleep,
which always seemed to taunt us
about how quickly they got away,
but I guess that’s just part of the game.

According to the color of my skin
and songs in my ears,
I was forced into a game of hide & seek,
elimination round.
I never understood
why
the seeker couldn’t just find me, tap me on the shoulder,
and laugh.
I never understood
why
I never got to laugh,
why the game was so serious and strained,
but I guess that’s just part of the game.

Because even if I were found,
and by the rules of the elimination round,
sent far away
to a life I’ve never known
and to a land that’s never known me,
I’m still
here.
I still pray to the same One
hears.

I still stand
on the same ground you stand on
by the same gravitational,
family relational,
five sensational,
“come all who are thirsty and drink from springs of Living Water” invitational
dominion of God,

the Maker of Heaven and Earth,
the Giver of life and
every good thing.

You can chase me with a stick.
You can move me across lines like
a game piece on a Monopoly board.
You can tear my family and home
apart
like a house of cards.

But remember,
that games are fun for everyone.
A smile is a smile.
Grieving is grieving.
The same things make us proud and ashamed.
The sun gives a playful and faithful shadow
to every child walking home from school.

There is the human race.
And then there is God;
and humanity as a whole falls
short of his glory.
And all of a sudden,
we are one.

The prophet John says about the coming of the kingdom in Revelation 7:
                  “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands, and they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!’

Then, one of the elders said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

Brothers and sisters,
our freedom is contingent upon the context
by which we establish our identity.
It is contingent upon the humanity
that we own in ourselves,
the humanity through which
we dwell in our sin.
And our freedom is in Christ.
My freedom is in Christ,

And I await the day when the people of God
come together in righteousness
for justice
in unity
to re-erect the kingdom of God on this earth.

The song of his kingdom come
still rings
in my ears,
and I believe
we will be free.”

We will be free, friends! Thinking about being there, among the nations, tribes, peoples and languages, worshiping God on his throne, gives me joy and excitement that transcends my usual fear of the unknown, despite the knowledge that the unknown is good. So thank you, Jesus.

This might be the last time I blog before returning home. So see you later, beloved. I can’t wait to see you guys again, hug and share the blessing that has been this anointed experience.

In love and joy and peace and Him,

Shela S. Jeong

The Mural

Erin, David, John, Erica, and I (Sara) have been working at Street Level Health Project 3 days a week.  They asked us to create a mural of the Street Level story.  It’s been amazing to see it come together.  Major props to Erin & David – our lead artists & visionaries.  (Don’t miss the slideshow captions!)

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Our final presentation to Street Level is on Friday.  Pray that this will be part of our witness and love to them & the community.  We’ll post the final pictures soon!

Nutrients for my soul

The disciples had just come back from a whirlwind of work, casting out demons, healing, and teaching. They were exhausted. And when they told of Jesus all that they have done, He invited them to come and rest in a desolate place via boat. 

Over the last year, I’ve moved five times, worked two different jobs, lived and worked in the Philippines, met tons of new people (Filipino, expatriates, new JHSPHers, and now the CCF students), written reports, finished graduate school with honors, moved back to California and, to say the least, I’m tired….but Jesus has invited me to come and rest in a desolate place called Oakland. How is living with 9 students, and co-leading the Bay Area Urban Project for Cal Christian Fellowship students, rest?

And when Jesus and the disciples landed on the other side, 5000 men (and their family) were waiting to hear Jesus preach. The disciples barely got enough rest or food and now they are faced with the needs of the crowds. ‘Send them away to get food’ they told Jesus. But, Jesus said, “You feed them.”  Grumbling, they looked for food among the crowd and found some fish and bread. Jesus blessed and multiplied it so that it fed everyone. And the disciples even gathered baskets of left overs. 

In a place of ministry where I feel exhausted and have little to offer, I am leaning on the promise that I am and will be given much through the crowd (the very people who I can perceive as draining– especially as an introvert): the CCF students, the young adults at Covenant House, the San Antonio neighborhood. It may not equate to more hours of sleep or time to reflect and pray… but  I hope that it is nutrients and rest  that seeps deep into my soul.

  • Witnessing students’ paradigms shift regarding justice, living simply, and urban poverty
  • Seeing homeless young adults regain confidence in their self worth and capabilities at Covenant House
  • Times of prayer and worship with the team
  • Teaching on generous justice and the book of Amos
  • Participating in New Hope’s Block party for the San Antonio neighborhood
  • Hearing about the ways that my boy friend, Matt and his household of Servant Partners generously cares for an old single lady and other neighbors in their complex up the street from our household
  • Hiking up the trails of Joaquin Miller and eating Chinese pastries for Sabbath 🙂

Shift our ideologies

Oh my gosh, so many of you caaaaame! So many of you came to our Open House, beloved friends and family in Christ. I think our whole team could agree that we were blessed by your support and presence tonight. And those aren’t just words. Trust.

(I was going to end that paragraph^ at “Trust” to sound cool and concise, but I just must go on in expressing my joy in having seen and hugged all of you.) The Lord has blessed me incredibly in the powerful sense of community and relationship I possess in you guys. I don’t think you really realize or appreciate it until you spend time away from it. To have relationships in which you find yourself eager to share about anointed experiences, and in which your beloved are willing to hear – that’s a big big deal.

Tonight, I am basking in the abundance of “home” in my life. For me, friends, home is where I find intimacy, and God is allowing these spheres of intimacy to constantly sprout new branches more deeply and in new people. And so, as I finish sippin’ on my mango flavored milk tea (ANDREW JOPSON, THANK YOU <3), I reflect on what a blessing it is to be given the capacity for intimacy, for relationship. If I were hungry, hurting, or broken, intimacy would be the last thing on my mind. Yet here I am, basking in it. So thanks be to God.

I’m currently allowing God to speak the truths and great intentions he has for my life through a process of intake and reflection. Summaries of things I’ve internalized in the past three weeks: that every man is but a product of his surroundings; society manipulates systems to feed the rich and further exploit the poor; and everything is about money. (Maybe these are obvious.)

How has the Spirit led me to process this information? When I say that every man is but a product of his surroundings, I mean that I’m here – 20 years young, halfway through my undergraduate career, emotionally and physically healthy, spiritually filled, lacking essentially nothing – and the 20 year old “prostitute” walks the track as we speak, justifying her fatherlessness, beatings, and dehumanizing labels of “whore” by completely embracing “prostitute” as all she’s worth, because we were simply born into environments that molded our lives into these forms. I’m still left perplexed by this arbitrary and heavily skewed allocation of privilege between her and myself. And I’ve come to the point in my faith where I can truly sit and just receive God’s abounding grace without trying to earn it. But when I sit here, my cup overflowing, inches away from her cup, left empty and dry, I am honestly lost in making sense of it.

But what if his grace isn’t arbitrary? What if he was intentional in his heavy distribution of privilege, opportunity, options… to me? What if Israel was God’s chosen nation for reasons deeper than “just because,” but possibly because it would bless, teach, reveal more of the glory and love of God to the nations? By the Spirit, I’ve partly reconciled my confusion by deciding that I must and hereby take ownership of this privilege and grace. It’s not enough to simply receive when there is purpose and commission behind what I am given. I seriously thank the Lord that he’s teaching me this now, that my next two years of schooling will be anointed and purpose-filled. Dude, exciting.

When I say that society has manipulated systems to feed the rich and further exploit the poor, I mean that I’m an overweight man sitting on top of an iceberg, whose stubby white tip hides the boulder submerged and suffocating beneath the surface. What I mean by that is, that almost everything about my privileged lifestyle feeds on the exploitation of other people’s labor. And as I learn about this corruption, I want no part in it, but it’s impossible to leave and expect to survive. I want someone to fix it, but something’s stuck – ideology. For the longest time, I didn’t know how to pray for society because I didn’t know enough about it to ask for the right things. But now it’s my prayer: Lord, shift the ideologies of my generation to ones that honor your heart for your people, that future leaders would lead our people to a state of justice.

God is good in reminding me to never stop interceding for both the leaders and the broken. I want to take this heart of intercession back to Berkeley with me, so Holy Spirit, it’s my prayer that you give me your heart which intercedes over us (because I’m easily distracted and prone to lose passion).

Finally, I have come to the rather obvious conclusion that everything is about money. People crush each other to climb the corporate ladder, they exploit each other, they kill each other… whether it’s out of greed or a simple will to survive, everybody wants the moneys. Because money is something you earn, right? Because once you have it, you’re the owner. With ownership comes responsibility – responsibility to sustain yourself in such an unstable world. How taxing and suffocating is that? I don’t want to spend my life investing in, loving, slaving over, and fooling myself into thinking that I own what God could easily give and take away. Even before “making my own money,” I want to surrender and say that it was never mine. I believe it’ll save me many white hairs, and I believe in his provision.

Sunday, our teams spent the whole day together, learning about economic discipleship from Gary. It was a blessing indeed. The day before that, we had our block party on a cute little chunk of E 16th street. Dancing in the street with a bunch of mothers, grandmothers, little girls, and Sara Fong (whom we’ve discovered will become extremely happy as long as she gets to dance to fun music) was so freeing and fun! The community is alive here, and it’s great.

Another thing: the men in our team have taken a liking to creating beats out of weird noises they can make. That + Sara’s (new) obsession with dancing led us to a Saturday night prayer meeting, during which we found ourselves standing in a circle in our living room, motioning out and making rhythmic noises such as barks, claps, shrieks, and “OHH” on repeat. Bhavna got it on tape, and watching it play back was a semi-awkward experience for me, just cause we’re so weird. But God bless us all.

I’ve embarrassingly talked wayyy too much in this here post. Until next time, friends!

 

-Shela Jeong, 7/11/11

About MISSSEY

I have been avoiding blogging about my site, MISSSEY, but I cannot do that any longer because  (1) sites are (as I am finding out) a significant part of BAyUP, at least on Mondays through Fridays and (2) I spent a lot of time thinking about it this past week!

Since we started interning at MISSSEY, I have done random clerical tasks—calling volunteers, entering data from one database into another, mailing letters, and faxing forms. I’m going to be whiney and a youngest child and say that all of these tasks have been as boring as they sound, and I spent a lot of time wishing I could do direct services or, at least interact more with staff, or actually, interact with anybody or do something that feels more purposeful and less like busy work. This summer, I was really looking forward to building relationships and getting to know people in this community, and I was disappointed to see how that wasn’t happening at my site.

I think that is why I really love when I get to play with kids in the neighborhood. (btw sarah- I think those dodgeball tournaments have helped me so much because when we played this week, I was better than all of the kids there! They were only 10 years old, but still, I felt so great about myself afterwards.) Also, look! This is a cute note that little Edgar from downstairs taped to our door!

Anyway, sometimes at MISSSEY, I am annoyed and frustrated that I don’t get to do work I enjoy, or that I don’t get to have cool and inspiring—or even sad—interactions with clients like other BAyUP-ers. Sometimes I am hopeful that things will change, or I will change, or at least it will build character and I will learn how to whine less. And then I begin to question whether I’m actually that hopeful or just faking optimism because it sounds like what I’m supposed to be thinking. And then I decide that I need to be more real and admit how disappointed I am.

I am still wondering what I can learn from this, or if I’m even thinking about this stuff in the right way, and I haven’t had any crazy and insightful answers yet. I end up thinking a lot about how I can be very honest with myself while still being open to what God wants to do. I am still doing that riiight nowwwww.

Also:

  • We finished all of our Wheaties L Nobody knows exactly how many we started with but we think it was at least 20 boxes in two weeks! Gross huh
  • I have run out of ideas for what to make for dinner. Turns out the only thing I know how to make is roasted vegetables!
  • Harry potter!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t know what else to say but that has to go somewhere in this post
  • A bird pooped on my bike’s bell

-ally, 7.16.11 11PM