Bagels and Duck

12401648_10153834742087378_2458934439940637167_o (2)Through an artful rendering of multicultural and religious fare, our friend Bill is sending our family off with traditional Tagalog greetings of “Bon Voyage.”

Dear Philadelphia,

Back in 1987, we met for the first time after moving from the Garden State.  To be accurate, since we were living in the suburbs, I met Valley Forge National Park and King of Prussia Mall, before I ventured along the Schuylkill Expressway or PA Turnpike, to worship at a Presbyterian Church in Cheltenham.  There I met Gloria, a soul sister who also eventually left the PCA in order to pursue ministry of word and sacrament with the PCUSA.  During the cold winter mornings of our recent visit to Philadelphia, Gloria reminded us that a hot breakfast is sacramental, complete with freshly baked bagels and eggs made to order.  We love you, Gloria!

More recently in 2008, my husband and I started our married life together.  While working in the suburbs as a pastoral resident, my husband traversed the suburbs and city in search of volunteer opportunities and remembrances of the French food that he left behind.  Making friends with French food in common, Juan opened up his French ways to include Mark and Joan with their cooking and baking skills, but also Bill and Judith whose Narberth neighborhood helps anyone to remember their French pastries and cheeses.  Through their overwhelming generosity, these people celebrated with us and bid farewell to us when we moved to Michigan.  Last week, they pulled it off, in grander style, because of our move to the Philippines.  We love you, Mark and Joan, Bill and Judith!

Last week, we met again but this time with the purpose of sharing about God’s mission throughout the Philippines and Asia, with 4 congregations in New Jersey and Greater Philadelphia. Any city is that mixture of memories of people and places and food—but for our daughter’s sake, we’re glad that we connected her with the people who we knew from before, and going forward with some new congregations and individuals.

Too bad that we couldn’t retrace all of those 1987 and 2008 steps with our daughter— although not all things have stayed the same.  That mall where I bought my Benetton sweaters, the King of Prussia Mall, was a popular recruitment site of a prostitution ring a few years ago.  As I used to say, especially when returning as a young adult to the place that I grew up, “The view from the back of the station wagon is different from when you’re driving the wagon and paying for the insurance.”

Gathered around kitchen tables and dining tables and coffee tables, we enjoy several common bonds like parenthood:  yet now there is no kid’s table here, because many are no longer at home but working for the food to put on their own tables (and some younger children like ours refuse to sit longer than 2 minutes at any table to eat).  More than parenthood, we also share in friendship over bagels, duck, wine, craft and draft brews, as well as cheese puffs and pretzels (Thank you, Westminster), Hershey’s chocolate miniatures (Thank you, Swarthmore), Jamaican meat patties (Thank you, Hightstown), and anything else that’s being dished out— regardless of where we’ve been or where we’re headed next.

See you again when we have much more to share about God’s mission!

Call to Action

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January 2016

Throughout November, December and January, we shared with many congregations about one specific person caught up in human trafficking:  Mary Jane Veloso.   Our version of the story did not mention that Mary Jane was granted temporary reprieve from the death penalty last spring.  Together we ask you to sign a petition to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in order that Mary Jane receive clemency and pardon from the Indonesian government.

Note:  for those individuals and congregations who desire to learn more about Mary Jane, the link to this petition includes more background information.

Starting Tuesday, January 5 , the Presbyterian Church (USA) issued a seven-day call to prayer and action to end human trafficking.  January has been designated as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  For more resources to use throughout the month or any time during the year, click here.

January 10 was Mary Jane’s birthday:  in honor of her birthday, but also in remembrance of all human trafficking victims and perpetrators caught up in this system of exploitation, we urge you to respond to this call to action and and remain prayerful for God’s justice and reconciliation.