parting is such sweet sorrow

thanks for reading.

the end.



Don't look back.
Forget who you are for a moment.
only a moment.
remind yourself of your love, your worth.

it is no longer you who is
you are somebody.

no need for comparison
only compassion
slow down
take your time
tell an old friend of new joys

in a world of steadiness, readiness, harmony.
waiting for your swagger

living freely, hopefully, and forgivingly

embracing the good and the bad
not just in you
but in others
in him
and her.

watching the tree sway
its tenderness and comfort by you
standing near you

love yourself
love the God who made you, shaped you, loves you

be kind. its necessary.


in the event

you don't hear from me until i arrive in the states, may these be yours and mine.



the usual

in the last few days i've:

moved out of the dorm
seen a giant snake

understood prostitution a little better
encountered tons of stray cows
moved to a remote part of hk with people from Finland, England, China, New Zealand, and Ireland
slept only a couple hours each night
finished 3 papers
ate pb&j a lot
took almost no photos
contemplated the future
drank way too much tea
been emailed about two different jobs back in houston
been locked out of a flat for 4 hours
got really lost

went to mainland china for a night
got a 3 hour massage (dont be jealous, she broke my back)
prepared myself to be a victim of human trafficking (i'm fine now)

seen lots of rain
done 3 loads of dishes and cleaned a guys bathroom
ate a lot of bananas
thought about all the people quarantined in China that don't have the swine flu
dreamed of cooking

just like that, i moved from here

to here

and i'm moving again tomorrow.


perfect timing

I didn't think it possible, but it happened; I fell in love and me and Hong Kong will never be the same. And yesterday was my last day of work. It's quickly coming to an end and I'm living up the moments I have left. Well, after I write 4 more papers...

"In the end, it’s our friendships that live in the spaces between our biggest life moments. It’s our friendships that hold the divide between life and love, fear and compassion, doubt and courage. And it’s our friendships that crack open our hearts to the light within ourselves waiting to be seen, to be born." - Kelly Rae Roberts


i represent that remark

This is a sample chart from the Economist which is used as a guide to understanding currencies worldwide in relation to the BIG MAC. In America, the Big Mac costs around $3.57.
I am introduced by people here at work as "Jennifer, the American that doesn't eat McDonalds."

I'm lovin it.

Country U.S. Dollar Purchasing Power Parity



tell me it aint so.

dear papers,

i want to thank you for allowing me to procrastinate as i approach you with great confidence and ability. i have one question for you, will you be the death of me?

sincerely yours for the next 48 hours,
jennifer in china.

p.s. i know where you live.



A hurricane hit Hong Kong two nights ago. They rate typhoons 1,3,8,9, or 10. Makes complete sense huh? This one turned out to be a 9.

It was a beautiful night with everyone rushing to get home.

It was quite uneventful after going through Ike.


beauty from ashes

i truly thought that this blog would be about social work. turns out i like talking about myself a lot more. i wrote a 'piece' to make it up to you. its called

why i chose you social work

i see her face
i recognize myself in her
but i disclose only when necessary
so i play on her strengths

strengths the theory not the muscle
for she needs someone to listen
not a man to depend upon
not another baby at 16 years old

old she became as she entered the stairway of the school
the aching face with makeup full and bright
but with the questions of open and close ended
i see the real her, even if it takes years

years she spent feeding her grandfather
left overs
because her mother was at work
and her father was not around

around the time she failed math
but she was only in 5th grade
so why keep trying
5th grade is so young

young enough to see her mom get abused
by a man she called by his first name
not a man of example but a prisoner
needing to be released

released he was
at 58 years old
for selling cocaine
because a neighbor said it would make him feel good

good enough for who, he thought
good enough for myself
good enough for the moment
for the night

night falls and she has no electricity
because the county wouldnt accept her
she had already been helped one time before
that's when she got food stamps too

too kind when the ministry gave out cans
and school supplies
but she used them for her
not her son or daughter

daughter she once was of a mother
who died in a fire
because the apartment building
was not up to code

code of ethics we must follow
to counsel a woman such as her
with a life of complexity, pain, and fear
where to begin? what to work on first?

first, i'm here to listen
listen to you begin to unwind the last 15 years of life
life that seems to not go your way
and to bring forth beauty from ashes and maybe some new choices



good food. good fun. good friends. good fish. good fake.

hong kong at its best.


this article

i read the new york times, chronicle, and various other news sources to keep up with the 'big' stuff going on in the world. i rarely make it through one article as i either have no idea what they are talking about, or it burdens me too deeply, or i have no interest. its very rare that i will finish a 10 page article, but this one i couldn't stop.

this article not only reminded me of my great love for life, but how we as humans have the capacity to care so deeply for others. again, heaven on earth. its not a short article but if you are curious about life, i say give it 20 minutes, maybe 30 if you read like me. i mean hey, screaming kids in the background, the pressures of facebook, or cooking for 15 people shouldn't be an excuse...

i am a vegetarian because of articles like this. im asked constantly about my belief in vegetairanism and honestly all i want to say is, "i love animals." I tend to add that i dislike suffering, i couldnt kill them myself, they produce a lot of pollution, and my heart thanks me. But the truth is, i just love them.
i love the mean ones and scary ones.
i love the snakes although i never want to touch or even look at one.
i love the ants that bite and the lions that nurse.
i love the fish that seem stupid and the dogs that provide love to hospital patients.
i love the horses that train and the bats that fly.
i love the ones that remind me of myself and the ones that i can't imagine being real.
i love that when i read the article i wept because in the end, i am just another animal trying to make it in this world.

This comment on the article sums up my thoughts.

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals …. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man …”

hong kong up high


before i sleep

what amazes me about fear is that as it comes and goes, it never has more or less power. in this world, it has no power. only we can give fear power. there are times when i think fear has nothing on me and other times when i believe fear will be the death of me. what causes it? why do we let it get to us when we know inevitably, we are not even the ones in charge? is it because we are waiting for the next struggle, the next lesson? or is it because we don't trust? i want to learn to take life as it comes. to live in a world where fear cannot stop me. is this attainable? being far away allows me to see the big picture of my life and realize so much about it. she really is a beauty that i take for granted.

here's to life and all the fear that comes with it. may we be strong enough to face the next moment.

goodnight loved ones.


directions for the MTR

step 1

figure out where you are going.

step 2

wait in line with the other thousands. both of these are places to wait. the ones with the glass are newer. the older ones are quite scary as the MTR comes racing through.

step 3

people watch.

step 4

remember that mcdonalds rules the world. and here's why.

step 6

eat your icecream before you get on the MTR (with your finger) or pay a fine.


why i write

I write because of the surrounding poverty and made up wealthy
Because if I didn’t, all people would stay broken.
Because a sentence in a book can change my life.
Because our thoughts are 5 million stories put together as one.

I write because seeing is believing and sharing is caring
Because my formulated thoughts aren’t good enough
Because paper is my plunger and the pen is my toilet.
Together, we do our job.

I write because I love to follow rules and then break them before our very eyes
Because I love words and meanings and letters and the way my hand can shape them
Because as I learn new things I use them in the wrong way just so I can be corrected
Because for a moment I can control what is said and done. But only a moment.

I write because it truly means nothing at all.
Because my message really only lies hidden deep within my heart
Because I can escape to a place even I dont really know of
Because I can make up anything that is lovely and true

I write because a younger me was told my comprehension was very low.
Because I want to have something to show for myself and myself only
Because I didn’t read an entire book until I was 19 years old
Because ‘The Things They Carried’ makes me stay awake at night

I write because I can be myself and then share her with you
Because I feel as if the world cares for a short period of time
Because ideas are burning and circling around my head as if preparing to explode
Because when I write I can be you or me or someone else

I write because books are an escape and I owe them something
Because I dont want to be famous but long to be known
Because I can process and think and rewind and fast forward
Because I have questions and answers and more questions than answers

I write because I hear of pain and sadness and shock
Because joy and kindness and faithfulness outlast the others
Because of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus and Christians
Because God’s creatures and earth need a voice to be heard

I write because I know I’m not good at it and I long to be better
Because I really have no say in anything at all
Because I shock myself when my pen touches the paper
Because I want to change my own life

I write because I have never written before
Because I was a coward without an Oz
Because I was devout without a place to worship
Because I was sorry I had never given myself the chance

I write because we need to remember the past
Because everyone’s got a story to be heard and understood and accepted
Because babies are dying left and right and their mothers are weeping
Because I need you to know as well.

I write because I still feel like I’m sixteen and forty at the same time
Because I have a new perspective every moment
Because I have so much information up there that its got to go somewhere
Because I want my heart to touch yours

adapted from this blog


little poem

alive, well, spoken for
non-existent, surrounding, creeping
empty, profit, appealing
mine, yours, today


i believe in miracles, since you came along

click on the picture to read about Dolomite's recent adventure.


say cheese

I knew she looked young, but I just couldn't tell why she and 2 other women were carrying Asian babies on the airplane.

So I had to ask.

I walked up to the three white women right after we got off the flight in China and said, "This may sound really weird, but do you all have a blog?"

Lame, I know. I was really uncomfortable about asking outright, "why are you carrying Asian babies" because clearly that would be weird. So instead I opted for the blog route. Everyone has a blog these days, especially infants.

And I was right. The babies do have blogs and tonight as I remembered talking with these women in the airport I searched and found the blog.

These babies are not just any babies. They are orphan babies. I don't know the circumstances or their stories but I know that they have no parents and each of them has a cleft lip.

They were one their way to have surgery funded by Operation Smile. What a beautiful organization. I asked the women to tell me more about themselves because at that point I clearly couldn't keep it together if I knew the babies stories, so they began to share.

They were all volunteers. One of them had been doing orphan work in China for many years, another was a mom from England, and another was a college student. Like it was no big deal the young one said, "yeah, i am just on my summer break so I volunteered to take a baby to have surgery and stay with him in recovery". A college student, from Maine or something.

It was such a brief encounter, but life-changing. I walked away so proud, so thankful, so hopeful that people exist in our world like these women. If this story on June 19th doesn't redeem humanity for you, I don't know what will.



You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. -Thomas Merton


happy 4th america

i'm more thankful than i've ever been to be american. may joy and laughter be yours today.

i celebrated by going kayaking with couchsurfers with a 90% chance of rain. and rain it did!

nothing like eating good soft serve icecream from creepy truck guy with foreigners on the 4th of july.

i always picture america celebrating the 4th like they did in the sandlot.
how did you celebrate?


did it make a difference?

Maybe that's not the question I should ask.

Maybe I should ask if I got something from it?

And the answer is yes.

a friend. and a really sweaty back.

Ava went with me and 100,000 other people yesterday to protest.

Ava and I joined other social workers to plead for the rights of the disabled.

Disabled persons have harder times getting jobs, getting around, and getting benefits.

We marched for 4 hours through the streets of Hong Kong chanting, screaming, complaining, laughing and sometimes dancing.

Were we heard?

Maybe. Maybe not. But we stood together fighting for those who might not be able to fight for themselves.

Some critics may say that this protest did nothing at all and the approach was all wrong. And I may agree to a certain extent, but I learned some things as I united with other Hong Kong people to show the government that people are suffering and change needs to take place. People matter. Every last one of them.

There were a lot of causes displayed. It is a time for people to say what they want to the government of HK. You name it (within reason), people were fighting for it.

and the news people were all over it.

been to any good protests lately?

brave soul

Haley has been around the world and back in the last couple years.
following her makes me braver.
take a look at what she is doing now.

years back i remember her telling me about problems with organizations that build wells. she said that often times when a well is built, the org. doesn't do anything to teach the people about proper sewage and waste disposal, therefore it runs into the wells and pollutes the new well water. now, she gets to do something about it.

p.s. we became roommates because of craigslist. and God.


i was

singing in the shower
taste buds
sex education

text messaging




if you want to get things done,

go to a three hour meeting,

in a another language....

wrote a blog about food

wrote a list of suggestions for the next intern in HK

made a list of things to buy like deodorant

created a program for next years youth group called 'love actually'

went over some hebrew vocab i studied last night

created my activities for ethnic minority youth for the rest of the summer

laughed at my dream of flying on a broomstick with harry potter last night

decided what movies to rent from the library

chewed some gum

i'm sure you all care...


i, pictures

i wash all my food in the sink with bottled water

i ride the subway everywhere

i appreciate that hong kongers dont use dryers (this is 30 stories up)

i try to add healthy to my microwaveable meals

i couldn't believe when a girl puked all over the bus that the driver took a bucket, splashed water all around our feet (thinking it would get rid of the barf?) and just moved the throw up all around the bus

i like to pet animals. did you know that?

i'm glad hk is trying to be 'eco-friendly'

i eat curry for lunch almost every weekday. this all costs less than $4

i play squash now, it's quite enjoyable. i think i had just been hit in the head.


her in all her glory

Many years ago I began reading a book titled, "Life Together". It was written by a man who was imprisoned and eventually killed for his fight against Nazi's in Germany. One may never know of his background however, because he decided to write about things beyond himself. He was hung weeks before the wars end. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

He was a great Christian thinker and produced many books that are challenging and encouraging today. So challenging that I never finished his book, as my view and experience of "life together" with other Christians seemed like such a far cry from what he wrote about.

He wrote things like,
“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ”
“believers are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians”
"the physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.”

Some of the best friends I have are a result of living in community but some of the most scaring and challenging times in my life are as well. Living in community has meant two things to me the past couple years. One is the actual church in which I attend and give much of my time to and the other is living within the same household or at least nearby and truly sharing life together. These two have been seperate in my life as well.

The church is a place of great brokenness and great triumph. I have been disappointed and rejuvenated, hurt and helped, saddened and enlightened and thank God for my husbands job, because He knows how quickly I would just quit.

But I am in no place to put the church in my own little box like I have for years. I've been seeing the negative, the brokenness, and the weak in church and have wanted to create it in my perfect image. I don't accept her for who she is. I want her to treat me with respect and lovingkindness but when I don't find that, I give up.

Tonight, I have finally realized what Bonhoeffer was talking about. The quote, 'you don't realize what your missing until its gone' comes to mind. I don't have the church in Hong Kong because she is hard to find, and I truly miss her, even with all her brokenness. I'd take a punch in the gut every once in a while just to have the grace and love that also comes with her.

I met with other Christians from around the world tonight and I can't explain the impact it had just being in the presence of people who confessed Jesus is Lord. It was only then that Bonhoeffers words made sense about 'source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer'. Before tonight I took advantage of the church and used her for my own gain.

Again, things come full circle...It seems to me that when you believe in a God that transforms and redeems, things always come full circle.

The first thing I learned in Hebrew. Now I know why.

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
שִׁ֥יר הַֽמַּעֲלֹ֗ות לְדָ֫וִ֥ד הִנֵּ֣ה מַה־טֹּ֭וב וּמַה־נָּעִ֑ים שֶׁ֖בֶת אַחִ֣ים גַּם־יָֽחַד׃


stories untold

I think I am beginning to adjust. It took me longer than expected, I believe due to the fact that I was here with a group of students in Hong Kong, traveled to China, and then came back alone. Life changed drastically as I was not staying in a fancy hotel nor was I able to rely on anyone else really. I miss my social worky friends...

victory at the great wall!

I wasn't (and still am not) sure how I can process such events as traveling abroad. I thought I would be able to blog about the incredible sights I see, the people I meet and maybe give a picture or two of poverty and struggle, but honestly when you're over here, the surprising struggle oneself experiences is enough to discuss. The only problem is that I am not sure what to discuss. All I know is that its been a struggle.

A struggle that picks you up in one place lonely, deserted and drops you off at another stronger, braver.
A struggle that sometimes makes you think that Jesus is standing right in front of you whispering 'keep going, i'm here when you fall'.
A struggle that you think may kill you when your in it, but when its over you think, ah it wasn't that bad.
A struggle that you may never be able to verbalize because words can't do justice.
A struggle that makes you want to tell all your friends what a gift they are...

Us humans are funny ya know?
Sometimes I'm thinking, I'll never travel abroad again, and other times I think, how in the world will I go back home?
Walking contradiction I say. My life's motto.

I want to explain my job because I feel as if I have left much of what I am doing here up in the air. Perhaps?

I am working at an agency that services many different populations in Hong Kong. Think Catholic Charities, without all the money. They work with refugees, elderly, immigrants, ethinic minorities, children, and the likes. My job is to work with the ethnic minority youth.

Today actually was our first event. It was brilliant really. I did not however, come up with it. We took them on a "city hunt" (think Amazing Race) around Hong Kong to find opportunities for further education and work.

Ethnic minorities have fairly difficult lives in Hong Kong for several reasons. Simply put, they have major language barriers as they speak only their native tongue and english. They do not have ESL here in Hong Kong, therefore they are not forced in school to learn Cantonese. This is a very negative thing because to join the work force in Hong Kong one must speak both Cantonese and English. Social workers are pushing and have been for years to get policies that would change the way Hong Kong educates ethinic minorities. Also, there is discrimmination against the ethinic minorities because of their differences in culture. Thats another story though.

But today was great. I have been working 12 hour days this week to prepare for the event and out of the 100 people I called, 9 showed up! And this, I was very happy with. The youth were engaged for the entire activity and seemed as if they want to come back for more!

one our way to get the youth

One other thing I have been doing throughout the week is tutoring and playing with ethnic minority children. Here is an example of an interaction.

Me: Yes I will teach you how to country and western dance.
EM: really? I can't wait! okay, tomorrow I come get you from you office.

One Day later a EM walks into the office.
EM: Can Jennefer come out to play with us?
Me: I'm busy girls come back later on.

Ten minutes later.
EM: Can Jennefer come out to play?
Me: Tomorrow

Tomorrow's here.
Staff at our agency: The girls told me yesterday that you are there new dance teacher and that they will be performing for us at the end of the summer a dance from 'High School Musical'
Me: hahahahah
EM: but you promised....

all the summer interns (all different fields). the office is the size of my living room and holds about 17 staff!

This week has been great and incredibly busy. I think I am beginning to learn to process...


meet me

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.

Cesare Pavese


a normal day in panorama

i get up and go to work
anyone notice i don't have sheets?

i walk past all the dorms

i walk along a path and gaze at the mountains....

i walk to the subway station

and i arrive at the purple building called work

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