Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving and Advent are EAR

Hey Y’all,
Greetings from Hong Kong.  Sorry it has been so long since my last update.  The past month has been very busy to say the least!  A few weeks back we had a conference here in Hong Kong for the East Asia Region of the Mission to Sea Farers (we decided to go by EAR for short).  It was absolutely amazing to be part of the process of discernment for future of the regional mission and to meet chaplains from all over East Asia.  There were chaplains from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, and of course Hong Kong.  The spirit was present throughout the conference, and talking to all of these men about their experience working for the mission and life in general was truly a blessing. The last day of the conference was also the Annual Maritime Charity Dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Mission to Sea Farers.  The event was a great success and we ended up raising a little over 1.5 million HKD (a little less than 200,000 USD)!  It felt amazing to be part of such a successful conference and fundraiser.
The EAR chaplains and a Bishop!  From Left to Right
Top-  Gram Weaver (Australia), Luca Ferrerio (Hong Kong), Peter Maninuthu (Singapore), Simon Ro (South Korea), Paul Tolhurst (Japan), Andrew Dangerfield (Japan), Samuel Akio Yoshino (Japan), Me
Bottom- Stephen Miller (My supervisor and the regional director), Bishop Andrew Nakamura, John Bell (Thailand)


Chaplain Selfie at the Gala!


Thanksgiving was also a blast!  I ended up celebrating with two good friends, Libby and Beth.  They are serving in Hong Kong with the Methodist Church’s version of YASC and are genuinely amazing human beings.  We ended up going to a BBQ place for Thanksgiving dinner.  This place had authentic NC style BBQ (the best kind of BBQ)!  Who would have thought that a comfort food of that sort would exist halfway across the world?  I was a little sad to be away from so many friends and family for Thanksgiving, but then I remembered something Momma Davis tells me when I feel a bit homesick.  “Think about the sea farers.”  Some of these men have not been home for four Christmas’ in a row!  Mom always tends to put things into perspective very well. 
As we come into this advent season I ask that you pray for the seafarers of the world every day.  Remember that there would be no Black Friday deals or Christmas shopping or even a majority of the foods for Christmas dinner if it were not for these men.  Remember that there are people who have not seen their families in over a year and who will not be home for Christmas.  Remember that these same people make sure we can have the luxuries that we do. Please pray for the sea farers of the world.
On a final note, thanks to all that have donated to this mission experience so far.  It means more to me than I could ever express through this blog.  I am however still fundraising, so if you are feeling extra generous please donate.  If donating is not an option I ask that you keep me in your prayers. 
I love and miss all of you!
Peace, Justin


P.S. donations can be sent to Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 8 N. Laurel St, Richmond, VA 23220.  Please include Justin YASC in the memo.  



Ship visiting in the port



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Visiting Ships and Chillin with Bishops

Hello all!  At the moment I am sitting in the Mariners Club Bar sipping on water (I have a football match at 9:30 tonight) doing some paperwork, reading my fellow YASCers blogs and reflecting on what a whirlwind of a week I have had.  Last week the House of Bishops met in Taipei Taiwan and some of the Bishops and their spouses came to visit Hong Kong.  They were hosted by the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and stayed at the Mariners Club.  It was amazing being able to spend so much time with leaders of the Episcopal Church.  Tuesday I got back from visiting ships and immediately after the Bishops arrived.  I was able to have lunch with them and generally get to know them.  Thursday we had dinner on a junk boat in the harbor and Friday we visited Macau to learn about the work of the work that the diocese is doing there.  Personally whenever I hear the word Bishop my mind immediately goes off into church fairy land (whatever that is).  I realized at the end of this week though the Bishops are normal people just like you and I.  They like to have fun and even had similar experiences that I have had up to this point in my life.  They are so knowledgeable about he church past present and visions for the future that conversation was never dull.  God was seriously looking out for me with this opportunity and I hope to cross paths with all of these wonderful people again. 

I would also like to share a story from ship visiting on Thursday.  Unfortunately I did not visit this ship, but the story is very powerful none the less.  The Catholic priest, Father Valan, whom I normally visit with was on a ship of all Pakistanis.  As soon as he got on board the Captain immediately greeted him and invited him to the Bridge.  Then the captain apologized for everything going on in the Middle East “in the name of Islam.”  He told father Valan that this ISIS and the other extremists are not true followers of the beautiful religion that is Islam.  This man, a sailor who is not involved in the Middle Eastern conflict at all, took time to show what Islam truly is…Peace.  This apology was such a simple gesture and yet I feel that Jesus would have done the same thing.  This captain humbled himself so that others might know what it is to follow God.  Is this not what we as Christians should be doing also?
Made some friends on a ship!

Chillin with the seven Bishops that visited 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Aung's Story

Jóusàhn!  (Good Morning in Cantonese)  I hope all of you are doing well.  It is hard to believe that I have been here for two and a half weeks already.  Honestly, I feel like it has been much longer.  Assimilating to big city life has been a pretty easy transition and it definitely helps that the people over here are so friendly.  Last week I started work with the mission to seafarers.  I have been mostly visiting ships in the anchorage and I must say being out on the water all day is just amazing.  I have already met some awesome seafarers from all over the world.  They are very friendly people and as long as they aren't too busy are down to have a good conversation.
 
One seafarer’s story really stuck out to me and when I asked him if I could share it on my blog he was all for it.  This man’s name is Aung Than.  Aung hails from Burma and throughout the time I was talking to him was smiling and laughing and just making me feel as welcome as possible on the ship.  He has been working as a seafarer since the early 90s.  On this particular day he was telling me about his family and how he found Jesus.  Aung said that back when he first joined as a sailor he was constantly drinking and smoking and just generally living a life that he was unhappy with.  He and his wife would fight when he was home and it was also taking a toll on his children.  He seemed to be living in a personal Hell.  Around 2004 however he was baptized into the Baptist church.  He told me that the same night as his baptism he got down on his knees and prayed to Jesus.  Aung prayed “Jesus, I am tired of this life please help me stop.”  The next day he stopped drinking, stopped smoking and started making positive changes to his life.  Aung now reads the Bible every day.  He no longer fights with his wife and has a very healthy relationship with his children.  He is so full of joy and the spirit and it is totally AWESOME!

Now there was definitely some self-perseverance here.  Aung wanted to make a positive change to his life.  I believe however that Aung is a perfect example of what happens when we just let God in and let the spirit truly take control.  Listening to what God wants us to do may not be the easiest way to live but it sure will make us happier.  Letting God take control is truly the way to live joyous and fulfilled lives.  I’m not saying you have to cut out everything like Aung did.  That was his personal choice, but seriously take a moment to consider what is important and how you can let God in so that you can develop into the person he truly wants you to be.
Until next time, Peace Justin


PS I included some pictures of my adventures around the city so far J

Here is a ship in the anchorage (about 250 yards away)

A dragon lantern from the Mid Autumn Festival

the incense dragon

A pond from a Taoist temple I visited 

From the garden of a Buddhist nunnery I visited

selfies for days

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Exploring the City

Hey Y’all!  I landed in Hong Kong on Tuesday night and am so excited that the journey is now beginning.  Thank you all so much for your support and prayers.  I would not be here without you.  Adjusting has not been too bad except for the jet lag.  I am writing this at four in the morning due to the fact that I just cannot sleep.  This twelve hour time difference is really taking its toll at the moment.  I start work next week with Rev. Stephen Miller and the rest of the mission to seafarers chaplains, and I have a class today all about working in the port of Hong Kong.  This week however has just been about adjusting and exploring the city.  Wednesdays are great here because all of the museums are free!  I was able to learn more about Hong Kong at the history Museum and also saw some amazing art at the art museum.  Hong Kong has an incredibly diverse story ranging from ancient Chinese dynasties to European Colonialism to Japanese control during World War Two and the eventual hand over back to mainland China.  I also applied for an ID card yesterday and will be getting a driver’s license soon after.  The streets of Hong Kong better watch out!  I will post again next Friday or Saturday after my first week of work so stay tuned. 

Until then peace, Justin
Jet Li's hand prints on Avenue of the Stars

View of Hong Kong Island from across the bay.  I took this on a morning run.

This is where I am staying

Art at the Hong Kong Art Museum (it spoke to me)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Training the Soul

What’s up y’all!  First of all I want to thank everyone who has donated to my trip so far.  Words cannot describe how thankful I am to all of you.  God is truly showing his grace through the wonderful support that I have received from all of you.  I am almost halfway to my goal of $10,000 and could not have done it without all of you.
About a month ago I spent two weeks at the Holy Cross Monastery  in in West Park, New York for missionary training.  It was absolutely incredible to meet fellow young adult Episcopalians who are making the same year long commitment to service overseas that I am.  We all had our own spiritual baggage from our pasts but looking to the future many of us had the same fears, anxieties and excitement about the upcoming year.  During this time we had different seminars on cultural awareness, prayer and reflection.  Personally I have been through many varieties of diversity training in the past few years so these were a little on the boring side for me because I knew most of the material that they were teaching us.  However I came back with a completely new outlook on prayer and my spiritual life as a whole.  In a sense I was training my soul for this experience rather than my mind.  One of the most important practices I took away from this “soul training” was centering prayer.  This form of prayer has been around for thousands of years and it first came about in the early monasteries of the desert fathers in Northern Africa.  It is a very mystical form of prayer and resembles many Eastern forms of meditation.  However, where Eastern mediation is more about emptying yourself to reflect on your soul, contemplative prayer is about emptying your soul of everyday thoughts in order to let God in.  I highly recommend all of you doing some more research and practicing this form of prayer on a daily basis.  Letting go of all the stressors of life to be with God seems to be something that is lacking in this society.  I feel that it is hard for me to build a personal relationship with God while wondering about past and future events.  My relationship with God has become much stronger from just a month’s worth of practicing contemplative prayer.  I have been reading a large amount of Thomas Merton, and for anyone who would like to begin this practice I highly recommend his books.  I challenge all of you who read this to take 15 minutes out of your day (it is not that much time), find a silent place, and just listen to God.  He is trying to give you a lot of insight but sometimes you just have to sit and listen.
Once again I just wanted to thank all of you for your constant support and prayer.  I will be updating this blog more often when I get to Hong Kong so please check back often and look for Facebook updates as well.  If you are on Instagram follow me @justin_davisiii for picture updates.  I am also still fundraising so if you feel moved to donate please send all checks to Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 8 N Laurel St, Richmond, VA 23220, with Justin Davis YASC in the memo.  Thanks for all the support.

Peace Justin       

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

And so it Begins

Greetings all!  My name is Justin Davis and I will be serving next year as a missionary for the Episcopal Church in Hong Kong with their Mission to Seafarers.  I am extremely excited to begin this new journey, especially because I get to represent the YoungAdult Service Corp, also known as YASC (basically the Episcopal Church’s version of the Peace Corp).  Moving to Hong Kong will be a huge transition for me, and I want to thank all who are reading for their support and prayers while I follow this call to mission work that God has put into my heart. 
I’ll start off by telling you all a little bit about myself.  I was born and raised in Chesterfield County, Virginia (a suburb of Richmond) and have spent the last four years at Virginia Commonwealth University. (GO RAMS GO!)  I am a religious studies major with a minor in business, and I hope to one day become an ordained minister.  I have attended Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for four years, where I have been particularly active in the Episcopal Campus Ministry.  I have also interned for Grace and Holy Trinity for three years.  Two of these years I spent as a youth intern (shout out to Lauren Kuratko) and one year as a Campus Ministry Intern (Michael Cadaret, you are the man).  This summer I am working in Fauquier County, Virginia at Leeds Episcopal Church as an intern with the Young Priest Initiative.  Because Leeds is a rural community, the transition to Hong Kong will be an even more interesting experience; however, the big city is a calling my name.  I cannot wait to transfer what I learn this summer to my experience with the Mission to Seafarers.
Finally, I will be raising $10,000 this summer.  Any sort of donation is welcome and greatly appreciated.  All donations are tax deductible, and I will provide you with a tax ID upon request.  Checks should be sent to Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 8 N Laurel St, Richmond, VA 23220, with Justin Davis YASC in the memo.  If you are not able to make a donation, I ask that you keep me in your thoughts and prayers because this is just as important if not more so.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.  My email is davisjb4@vcu.edu.  Once again, thanks for the support!  I am looking forward to keeping all of you up to date on my experiences in Hong Kong.