Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What on earth is One Day's Wages and why am I always talking about it?

I'm a pretty sensible person most of the time. I'm not a genius but I have fairly sound judgment and got a good head on my shoulders. But there have been a few moments in my life when I've done things that if I were to leave my body momentarily and look at myself, I would've called that person crazy. I blame Jesus. Ever since He entered my life at the tender age of 12-13ish, I've been compelled to do some crazy things. Like giving up my acceptance to prestigious American universities I had actually heard of from my life in Taiwan, to attend a small Christian college in the midwest where the 95% white population asked me what it was like growing up in Thailand (*roll eyes*) and mistook me for Wendy, the other Asian girl on campus, ALL THE TIME. Crazy. Like meeting with maximum security juvenile inmates to play ping pong every week for three years. Crazy. Like marrying a dude whose cultural background is NOTHING like mine but thinking it was still a good idea because we both believe in Jesus. Crazy. Like pushing out a baby girl and taking off to live in China before she learned to walk. Crazy.

Our story with One Days Wages began sort of like these crazy moments. You know how people tell stories of when they travel to a third world country and the poverty they witness changes them? If you haven't heard of any, read this one, it's beautiful. I got to do this when I was in high school. I went to one of the poorest countries in the world and witnessed poverty first hand. I went through all the common human emotions - compassion, heartbreak, sympathy. However my most vivid memory of what went through my mind was this phrase: "Why them? Why not me?" Why did I get to sleep in a comfortable bed and have hot showers and get an amazing education, and not them? Why do I get to see a doctor when I get sick, and not them? I never received a satisfactory answer but I figured out I needed to spend my life asking the question.

I learned the pain stabbing at my heart in the presence of dignity-stripping poverty was actually the heart of God. I realized in the blueprint of His glorious Plan to restore the world through Jesus Christ was a design for rescuing the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. Each day, children starve, mothers and fathers' hearts break, women are raped and tortured, because of the root cause of grinding extreme poverty. I believe in a Jesus who says I have come to bring light into the darkness. I have to believe Jesus matters.

But what can we do? The problem of poverty is so deep and complex, how can we show the world Jesus matters? Is it possible? Is it worth trying? We didn't know the answers, again, but we started asking questions (I'm starting to see a pattern). We started dreaming, what if there was an organization who found people, the quiet ones no one hears about, who faithfully serves the poor and we help them do their job? We tell their stories and we invite others to join their work. I emailed my friend Sara, who is one of those quiet heroes working in the trenches where no one else wants to be and simply shared my dream. She wrote back and said, I know someone who is doing the very thing you're talking about, his name is Eugene Cho, let me connect you. Eugene is a pastor in Seattle whom I had honestly never heard of before (sorry Eugene, I know you now and you're great!). We connected and indeed found his vision for his organization exactly what I hope to do. We decided to set aside a portion of our finances and contribute to the seed fund to launch One Days Wages. Yes, we gave money to someone we had never met before to try to accomplish the impossible. Crazy.

But it's one of the most beautiful things we've ever done. Through the work of One Days Wages we've witnessed generosity that has left me wrecked by tears of gratitude. We've seen pictures that spoke hope and life straight into our souls like this one:

This is a picture of a girl in Cambodia who has been given the gift of clean water

We can confidently proclaim that Jesus matters in the life of this one girl in Cambodia, or that one boy in Nepal, and that one woman in Congo. Amazing what one person's one days wages can do.

Will you join us? There are so many ways to be involved in One Days Wages for each person who has made it this far in my humble ramblings. You can start by "liking" One Days Wages on Facebook and sharing the beautiful redemptive stories. You can consider giving your "one days' wage". You can start a birthday campaign. Or do some crazy amazing things others have done like shave their heads, or bike 6000 miles, or crochet hats, or sing songs, or dance! I've done a few of these crazy things, like help host a coffeehouse fundraiser, and it was SO MUCH FUN!! Really!

So come along for the wild ride that is One Days Wages. Join the crazy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Texting is Not Like the Real Thing

Friends, I'm thankful for such a full life, but I am feeling a little frantic lately because of a minor though chronic condition of overcommitment. February is busy because it contains the birthday of my firstborn, who is turning nine, and we must sound the trumpets and celebrate with style because she is worth it. Along with this, and traveling, and commitments at church, charity, and family, my cup overfloweth. I should and could come up with a list of things to do, proceed to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, and feel exhausted and drained without accomplishing much. Or, I could sit down, take a deep breath, and write. Hopefully the effect will be a calmer mind, more clarity, and a deeper appreciation of the purpose of these commitments. Yes, that sounds good. This I will do.

This past weekend I was out of town. I don't normally post how hot my husband is (I do think this) or loudly proclaim my love for him on social media because I don't want to annoy single people who resent hearing about my amazing married life. Not that all single people resent hearing about this. Nor should they. But I know sometimes it is hard so I prefer not doing that. But no judgment towards those who do flaunt their love life because it is something good and should be celebrated. Also, note to single people, our married lives are more than twitter and Facebook statuses, we also fight and that never gets posted. You should know that. End lengthy disclaimer.

The truth is, I do enjoy a very close relationship with my husband. We've been married for almost 11 years so let's face it we're past the honeymoon stage but definitely entered the deep intimate life sharing phase. When I was away, I texted him each night (truthfully to make sure my kids are clean and fed) and shared some short snippets from our day. We are thankful for the new iMessage which allows us to text each other for free as long as we both have internet access to our iPhones. After texting, I'd settle down on my hotel bed and drift off to sleep. I am able to sleep peacefully because I am content knowing my loved ones are safe, and having connected via a few texted words, sense my emotional and relational needs being met. There's a peace knowing my world is fine and I can wake up the next morning carrying on with the tasks of the next day. My marriage has taught me so much about the nature of our human-ness which requires a depth of connection which we find in marriage, friendship, family, communities, and beyond.

You know that bit in the Bible about how we, the followers of Jesus Christ, are metaphorically analogous to the Bride? This need for connection with my husband, this urge to text before bedtime, that's comparable to our longing to connect with our God. And Jesus, He is our iMessenger (wow, cheesy), giving us an avenue to directly relate to our Father. And He brings us peace to go to sleep at night. Peace knowing we are safe in His arms, safe to love others, safe to get up in the morning and carry on with the tasks of the next day.

But after three days of being gone, I came home. And I (after I told him to haul my luggage upstairs) gave him a hug. We settled into bed together and talked face to face. He told me stories of the kids antics and I shared about my trip.

And it was different. It was better. We were together again.

We are not there yet, the Church. We have a lot. We have Jesus, we have each other, we have glimpses of what is to come. It is enough for now. iMessage is sufficient. For now. But one day, we will be together, the Bride and the Groom, and it will be different. It will be better.