Hong Kong is a city that I have enjoyed going to for many years. It is a place our family has seen as a vacation spot full of wonderful western food and fast paced shopping. It has a convenient subway system, orderly and on time bus and tram system as well as a beautiful harbor to enjoy. We have seen what many see when they come to this fast paced New York City style city; wealth and power. I prayed that coming to this advance I would have my eyes opened to new experiences and see this city from a new perspective.
I felt as though I was able to see, experience and have conversations that were totally new that gave me a different understanding of this city. Not only was there speakers that shared information and told stories from views that I did not agree with, but also presenters that made me aware of areas of service that I had never thought of. I will simply say that I wish we had a greater time talking and hearing about the seafarers work. I had never considered a ministry like that and the difficulties would arise from that kind of work.
I think for me the biggest experience that has shaped me was seeing and walking through the thousands of house maids on their day off. Walking from the Peak on our “day off” laughing and joking about life, classes, ministries and the crowds I was taken back at the few Filipinos workers that were sitting under a stair case that we walked by. I thought, “oh those must be the maids that this must be there day off.” As we walked heading to our own plans to cross the harbor and find a nice restaurant to eat, the size and scope of the maids grew increasingly clear. Crossing a street we began to see more and more sitting in the park, on the ground, in the shade of trees and building. Hundreds and hundreds of these workers sat in small groups passing the day. We decided to take the tunnel under the road near central station. This large underground walkway had only a small place to walk in the center because these women sat, ate, sang and built community in their one day off a week. These thousands of women are what make the city’s elite function. They cook, clean, raise children for local Hong Kong residents and function like domestic slaves in some circumstances. As those that were walking watched Mark Peterson jump in and sing along with some of these women that were finding a moment of fun, I thought what is happening to their families? Who is concerned about their salvation? Who is working to find those that are trafficked or in situations that they are being abused?
This fast paced city that on the surface seems to embody what the work would view as successful has many hidden areas and people supporting in very unglamorous and often ignored ways. In our attempt to get to a better viewing position, we looked around, stepped over, and ignored those that we making it difficult to get to our fancy restaurant or perfect view spot for the fireworks show. I hope that I reflect on the journey I took in Hong Kong I will not see with the eyes of someone that has their own agenda, their own plan yet see with a love for the person in front of me.