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



My roommate the first week in Hong Kong rides a scooter. She is an all-star with an attitude of a saint. In Hong Kong, they do not have Americans with Disabilities Act, therefore the first day out on the town was quite the adventure. You see in HK you take the subway or train everywhere. Perhaps you get on a bus every now and then, but for the purposes of our visit the first week, we did not use buses.

When we got to the platform of a subway train, after going on about 9 lifts (elevators), we were 20 minutes behind everyone else and without a tool to get her on the train. There is about a 8 inch gap between the train and the platform and she was not about to be a daredevil.

Of course we died laughing, because humor we found is the best way to deal with these kind of situations, and it was just so ironic that we had worked so hard to get to that point and had not even considered how she was going to get on the train or that there would even be a gap. We walked around for a while to find someone to help us and 10 minutes and two trains later, we were on!

I could go on and on about what people with disabilities struggle with daily but instead I ask you to go rent a wheelchair, grab some friends, and take the ride of your life. You won't regret it! You could even make it a scavengar hunt.
Ex: How many people have we caught staring in the last 3 minutes?
How many bumps have I gone over since I got in?
Does my bum hurt?
Will someone pick me up if I try to hitchhike?


One Child Policy

If you have been to Beijing or Shanghai, you get it. Being from Houston where I thought traffic was at its worst and people were in close proximity, I have now found that Houston has met its match. And then got whipped...

In '79 China's leader decided to make a huge decision for the born and unborn. They created a policy in which families could only have one child. The rules within the policy have changed over time and I am unclear as to whether it effected every single family back in '79. Today, it effects roughly 30% of China's population. They allow minorities, rural, and other small cultures to have more than one. The minorities need growth and the rural need growth and laborers as well.

The implications of this policy are monumental. You hear about babies needing to be adopted in China and you hear little tidbits about the population growth, but until you see the amount of people and hear the stories of life in China from a local, I'm not sure it sinks in. Our guide told stories of what they use to do back in the old day. She said, "yah, back in old day, we drown our baby girls. because you know, we want boy. hahaha. we don't do that anymore. no. we don't do that now. well, some people may, but mostly we just get abortions. yah, sad right? but we want boys." Before, insurance would even cover your abortion and if your employer found out you had another baby, you would be fired most likely.

So why are there now 18 million bachelors that are not married in China and girls still fill up the orphanages?

Because families want boys who will carry on the family name, provide better labor to the family, and take better care of the parents when they are old.

Now, China has a major problem on its hand and to be honest, I am not sure China realizes that. Maybe they do, but China keeps to China, if you know what I mean...

Today, I don't think insurance covers abortion and people have a mindset of having one baby. If you want to have two however, you must pay a large fee and everything that comes with having a baby. Education, medical, and all the likes. The government is not responsible for that child, in other words.

Orphanages are overloaded, men are without wives, the population is incredibly unbalanced, and grandchildren have huge responsibilities now on their shoulders because China does not have a great social security system. What ever will China do?

pakistani loves

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."

pakistani's come because they seek refuge
because they have family here
because there's more opportunity
because they are possibly fleeing war, famine, violence, etc.
because there's better education
these kids know 3 languages and struggle more than i'll ever know. they are all out of school because of the swine flu. i've been having so much fun with them at night because i have been working until 10pm most nights. they are right there with me dancing, laughing, and playing. telling me all about bollywood videos, IM chatting, and everything muslim. i love every second of it. especially the little boy. he is a firecracker.

they gave me permission to show these pictures to my friends.



here, they love Buddha.

(which is really hard for me to spell

because i get my b's and d's mixed up,

so it looks like Dubbha. no disrespect)

they love him so much

they built the biggest one in all of Asia,

which sits on a large mountain in HK

he is really big

you have to take this to get to him

and the Buddhist Monastery that also is there

oh and the many tourist stands

but don't worry that it crashed about a year ago

because if i died, i was in good company

who, once she got her feet wet

walked around the cable car

to take pictures

like it was no big deal

even when it rocked

but i won't mention any names.

and then i took a picture like this

and someone said,

"this place is suppose to be sacred, how can she do that?"

and i screamed,

"yeah, cause they just sold me icecream like 3 steps away,

and there selling clappers 10 steps away"

ok, so maybe i didn't say that

but i thought since she was offering up her box,

i could offer up my icecream

but i guess i was wrong.

it is a gorgeous place and

when you come to visit

i'll take you there

and we'll go to starbucks

and talk all things religious



I had my first day of work yesterday! I made it through a two hour meeting then my supervisor made me go to the doctor. I've had some lovely stomach issues the past couple days and I guess they figured it out when I used the bathroom every 10 minutes during the meeting. New people would come into the meeting and say, "Hi, I'm _____, I hear you're sick". It was fabulous.

But then my body started to really ache and I was unable to turn my neck. I left willingly as I had resigned to believing that I had the swine flu. No joke. I had all the symptoms and I'm from America so most people think I have it anyway. I took an hour bus ride home, which may have been the loneliest bus ride to date. I thought of all the different ways I was going to have to contact people in Houston and let them know I was quarantined in a hospital in HK.

I get to the doctor who informed me with her wise stethoscope that I had a gastrointestinal infection with no fever. YAY! I kept being like, "but my gums hurt really bad and I can't turn my neck." And she was all like, "yeah you have a stomach infection." And I'm all, "oh, right, because that makes sense."

She said I probably got it from something I ate. Weird, me getting sick in a foreign country from something I ate? Never happened before, well except for the last time I went out of the country and almost died. But, I am better now.

could it possibly have been something like this?


Because we ate like this every meal. I'm not sure my body is use to consuming that much food, which is what I told the doctor was my problem and she said that I was wrong. Now that I am back in HK, my body is lucky if it gets a banana for dinner. That may change because I actually feel like eating again.

I slept about 10 hours last night and feel like a new person. By the way, HK has a rockin health system and I paid about $15 US to see the doctor for 30 minutes and get 3 different medications!


Hong Kong Haven

In the words of James Taylor, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end, I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend...

Hong Kong is China for dummies. Having it really easy the first week in Hong Kong and then moving to explore the Mainland was interesting to say the least. Because Hong Kong is Americanized with its clean toilets, nice hotels, malls, and wonderful subway systems one can easily be blocked from the poverty and struggle of its citizens.

Mainland China is a different story. Although we were on a government tour for most of the time, you can see and if your listening closely to the guides that equality is yet to exist. Smog and overcrowding however, exists in both.

Exhibit A

The whole time I struggled with feeling guilty, blessed, cursed, outraged and encouraged. There is joy in the people (as always when you visit poverty stricken places) but from what I have seen, their system relies heavily on the American people. With all our money, we buy what they make. Its simple economics really. They are brilliant inventors, hard workers, and daily sacrificers. As simple as it is, its very complicated because people are involved.

We were lead through a silk factory, jade factory, pearl factory, rug factory, tea factory and possibly others I cannot recall at the moment.


It was a great experience to see how things are made, but I can’t help but think this is not the real situation in China. This is the situation in which they want the foreigners to see, especially since there is a huge room in which to buy things at the end of the tour. So my dilemma continues, do I buy ‘made in china’ to support their existing situation in hopes that it will get better or do I refuse and stand firm in the belief that things still need to change and until they do I will not support them. If you get in deeper conversations with any person in China about economics they will probably talk about how things changed drastically 40 years ago when Chairman Mao left office and Deng Xiaoping took over. They say he led the Chinese people to have the economic system they do today, which most would argue is drastically better than what they had before, which can be described as communist hell.

What concerns me however is there seems to be a lot of things hidden. And unless you poke and poke with questions to the guides they will act as if China is a socialist heaven on earth.

I'm thankful that I was able to experience what I did and here is a little piece I wrote one night when we got back to the hotel.

From the sights of heaven to the smells of hell I could stay in this place forever and leave tomorrow at the same time. I could picture myself joining the movement to increase social workers impact here in China or I could head back to America to continue to prove our profession is worthy of something. Worthy I guess, to be acknowledged of being a real profession. A profession that has skill, talent, care, and impact in our society. Not to prove we are right, but to ask if there could possibly be another way. I could stay and learn the language, become rich and live in a 500 sq ft apartment that costs millions or I could go back home and enjoy the empty spaces that are left in my 1200 sq ft duplex with a yard. I could stay and continue being gawked at for my white skin and big eyes or go home and just be me. I could take a orphaned baby home or I could leave the millions of them here for their own people to care for. I could choose to see only black and white about China's economic and social system or I could take a deeper look and remember that God works in all the grays and blues and greens as well.



Hi everyone,

This is not Jen. It is Jen's friend Ellen posting for her. Everything is ok, so do not worry. Jen wanted to tell all of you that at the moment her blog is blocked. She is still in China, visiting all sorts of fantastically enriching sites and is alive and well. Until the 15th however, she will be unable to blog because of the Chinese government and their censorship. But she did not want to leave all of you (and me) hanging. She presumes she will be able to blog again once she re-enters Hong Kong midway through the month. Until then, she sends her love.



I am flying to mainland China today. If you don't hear from me, assume the best.

Love to all.


History Happenings Here in Hong Kong

Today marks an incredibly important day in China's history. Depending on who you ask, the response will change, but it will most likely contain the words communism and democracy.

20 years ago today in Bejing, China history stood still at the same time it was rushing past. Sacrifice was made on the part of the innocent and uneducated and those who were there, will never forget. Democracy was fought for and in a sense lost.

Please take time to read about this incredibly important event in history. The best article I found is below, written by a man who was there.

Kristof's Opinion

While I join 500,000 tonight to remember the ones lost, I will consider my own fear in this world and those who stand up for things I already enjoy. May they give us all courage to keep going and pursue justice and true freedom.


Its a rainy day in Hong Kong

the view from my hotel room.

First Cultural Experience, 2nd hand

A group of students from University of Houston, went into China (mainland) last night to get massages and shop. It's about a 45 minutes train ride from Hong Kong. They got a 1 hour massages for $5, but don't get too jealous just yet, because the trauma they experienced, might have just taken their massage buzz away.

Jetlag had taken over yesterday, so I opted out and went back to the hotel. Slept a good 11 hours and am thankful I now hear their story, 2nd hand.

The paperwork, because of the swine flu, was an overload and the difference between Hong Kong and the Mainland was unexpected. They were touched often, begged upon, and burdened by the need. They were in a mall type area and looked a couple stores over to see two teenage girls arguing very loudly in mandarin. A few seconds later, one began to run toward the escalators, them assuming that she was stealing something but before they knew it, the two were in front of them beating one another while the Chinese citizens surrounded them with cameras and phones to take pictures. As everyone laughed and cheered, many of those from my group began to cry. They were locked in the store and all they could do was watch. A man jumped in and beat the girl to the ground and for 30 minutes she was beaten.

No one knows the outcome, as their view became blocked and no one really wanted to watch anyway. Our teacher says its cultural, but cultural to us, doesn't mean okay.

A group of social work students at this conference didn't accept the whole "cultural" bit too well.

It's what our profession teaches however, and I will be the first to say, I struggle with the 'cultural' thing the most.

I realized this morning that my brain is like a box. When people do things outside my box, I question, I hurt, I often get very angry and it takes a lot to begin the process of understanding. Herein lies my professions work. Understanding. Not necessarily accepting and liking, but getting a glimpse into the why and how must be the first step.

More on this understanding later, as I have a conference to attend now. My session is titled "Social Justice Initiatives: Peaceful Solutions to Challenging Opportunities."


This is not uncommon

because these things are everywhere.

History, at its finest.

With such a brilliant past and recent historical change, one would think I knew something, anything before today about this great place we call Hong Kong.

I’ll begin with opium. Back in 1773, China was very self-sufficient and was not much into trading with other countries, like Europe. But Europe was addicted to tea that China had, so China got smart, some would argue, and brought over something even more addictive than tea, opium. Opium spread like white on rice all across China until they realized their silver was being drained. Then, this guy tried to stop it, but it didn’t work because of corruption and addiction. Then, another guy came and in one week (because he cut off the opium guys food supply) they surrendered it all. British did not like it and thus began the First Opium War of 1840.

British besieged a part of China which scared them so they sorta agreed to give Hong Kong Island to the British. oops.

Then the second Opium War began in 1856 and a lot happened but it ended by the British agreeing to sign a 99 year lease of the “New Territories” beginning July 1, 1898. This is one of the Hong Kong Islands.

The population in Hong Kong grew significantly, especially when China had wars and massive amounts of people fled to Hong Kong. Then Japan got occupation of Hong Kong for 4 years because the British surrendered to them on Christmas Day, 1941.

Years later, the working conditions were horrid (think ‘Made In China’) and people wanted things to change so they started riots. That ended because there were bigger fish to fry.

Communists got power of China and everyone thought they would take over Hong Kong, but they didn’t. They actually let Hong Kong function on its own, still as a British territory, and things like the brilliant Mass Transit Railway (that Houston needs) were built and housing was better and more affordable. They also got into the money making business and China had this ‘open door’ policy, which allowed Hong Kong to be a major trans-shipment point for China’s exports and imports.

Then many years passed and people migrated away from Hong Kong because they were scared what would happen with the 99-year lease agreement with Britian that was coming up. The plans were all wishy-washy and that clearly scared people. But just after midnight on June 30, 1997, Hong Kong was given back to China!

Hong Kong was ‘reborn’ as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, which it still is today. This means that Hong Kong still functions much like it did when British ruled for 99 years, therefore it has a very modern, Britian/American feel/look. Now, China has implemented policies as well. For example, all the children in school now have to learn Mandarin, as well as Cantonese and English. This may be a seemingly small change but it is a very big deal that this trade happened so smoothly and in my lifetime.

I mean really, where were you the night of June 30, 1997?

Thanks to the Lonely Planet book for helping guide me through this incredible journey to the past. Hope you enjoyed your first history lesson. Let me know if you want to read any books about Hong Kong.


I am officially delirious

and when i saw this man petting a fish tonight, i could not stop laughing and crying because i loved it so much and i had just walked around most of Hong Kong (which has 7 million people, by the way) for 6 hours without eating.

one could have thought that this fish was his child. he was tickling it, petting it with both hands, and looking at it with much adoration. i had to be pulled away.

has anyone else ever seen someone pet a fish before?

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