Monday, June 16, 2008

Working in New York

It has been an exciting two months! I got to work for the Mission Personnel Office of the Episcopal Church, helping them prepare for and put on the two-week orientation course for new missionaries.

It was exciting to commute into Grand Central Station every morning, navigating the teeming crowds. I loved noticing the way the Chrysler Building makes a shadow on the mirrored surface of the UN building in the early mornings of spring, as I walked to 815 Second Ave, the Episcopal Church Center. I got to walk in Central Park, explore Time Square, and visit the Metropolitan Museum. But most enjoyable of all, was staying with my friends the Copley’s, being welcomed into their home and family, learning how to rock climb and kayak, going to church, discussing mission work, and on one occasion, attempting to help with math homework.

Working at the Church Center was challenging and interesting. I loved the team spirit of the Mission Personnel Office, and the chance to get to know David, Douglas, Yanick, Michelle, and Rebecca a little better. Getting to see all the work that goes on behind the scenes made me even more appreciative of all that they do for the missionaries in the field! We are in good hands.

The Mission Orientation I attended in 2006 was a life-changing event for me. Everything was covered, from the theology of mission in the Episcopal Church, to what medical supplies to bring with you. But most important was the community of support that developed amongst the missionaries. So I was very excited to be involved in another Mission Orientation. Getting to watch and participate in that community building was wonderful. It is an exhausting, action packed two weeks, with lectures, skits, games, enactments, worship, bible study, celebration, and pilgrimage. Each one of the new missionaries brings their own passion, skills, and desire to serve. I can’t wait to get their updates, and hear about all of their transforming experiences. You can learn more about them, and see their blogs by going to:

As part of the Mission Orientation, we took the group to the “Everyone Everywhere” mission conference in Baltimore (which will be held every three years). There were more than 400 people there, involved in mission work all over the world. It was great to get new perspectives, and make connections. I got to present a workshop on tropical agriculture, and handed out nearly 100 copies of the handbook on tropical agriculture, which I wrote for missionaries (if you’d like an electronic copy of this handbook, just email me, I will try to also post it on this blog).

I returned to California just in time for my mom’s ordination, and my god daughter’s baptism. It has been an eventful two months!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Hope is such an illusive thing. When I think of the terrible weight of suffering in the world, when I think of the world wide shortage of food, when I think of all the obstacles that Liberia has to overcome just to maintain it’s fragile peace, when I think of the horror that is war anywhere and it’s aftermath… hope seems so feeble and far away. And yet the presence of hope is our only hope!

Since returning from Liberia I have felt the weight of these things pressing down on my very soul. It is only in recognizing and feeling this profound sadness for the world, that I am able to also experience the profound joy of finding hope alive in the midst of all this.

This summer hope has come to me in many forms, and I want to share some of that hope with you. I have been on two different short-term mission projects with youth and young adults through the Sierra Service Project. One trip was our diocesan youth mission trip to Nevada for a week, where we worked and lived on the Walker River Piute Reservation, repairing houses, and learning something about community, service, and spiritual journeying. As the week progressed, I worried that the youth were somehow missing the experience by being caught up in their caffeine cravings and boredom and heat exhaustion. Finally on the last day I realized that the experience had happened without me doing anything to push it. That community and spiritual growth and commitment to service happened in the midst of caffeine cravings and boredom and heat exhaustion. So many times I feel like I have to move the Spirit, I forget that all I have to do is show up and look. The Spirit was there, in all of it, and that gave me hope!

I just got back from my second mission trip this summer. I went to Honduras for two weeks with a group of young adults. We built (most of) two brick houses for impoverished families in Danli. The days were long, and the work felt back breaking. It is difficult to see hope when you have sore muscles and are surrounded by insatiable need. But I saw hope in the young people in our group. They are very much members of their popular culture and times, and yet they also were willing to sacrifice, to sleep on the floor, to go without running water, to work harder than they had ever worked, and to commit their remaining energy to building relationships with local people and learning about the struggle that is life in Honduras today.

I have found hope in other places this summer too. In Tegucigalpa our group visited an organization that takes in street children. We spent a couple hours there, and it seemed to me that hope was singing out of every wall, every bouncing ball, every footstep, every laugh. The door of this facility struck me as a sacred gate: its very existence gives me hope for the world. There is a door in Tegucigalpa, and any young person who approaches it day or night, will find it open, and behind it is a world of hope, sanctuary, and love. They will find there the Love of God, incarnate, and if they choose they will be transformed by it.

I have found that the reflections Bishop Mary has written to our diocese about her time at Lambeth Conference are full of hope, hope for our diocese, hope for the Anglican Communion, and hope for humanity as we struggle to live in a global community, a global communion, bringing our different truths to the same table.

There is a door in Tegucigalpa, there is a table in Canterbury Cathedral, there are young people stepping out in service, and there is you and me. Flawed as we are, we show up, we come to the door, we come to the table, we step out of our comfort zones, and the Spirit will do the rest.

Peace and Hope,

Bishop Mary’s Reflections:

Casa Alianza (A home for street children in Tegucigalpa, New York, LA, Canada, and Guatamala):

Sierra Service Project (youth mission trips to Native American Reservations, urban LA, and Honduras):