You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2010.

I admit it. I’ve been lapsing with my blog updates, and I apologize!!!

For those of you who have stuck it through with me and still come to check up on my blog, THANK YOU, and I will be more vigilant in posting regularly.

With that said, it’s time to celebrate not only the return of the blog, but more importantly… ::drumroll:

Mom’s Birthday!!! Yaaaaaaaay~

Thank you for being everything to us. Our house would have crumbled into dust a long time ago if it wasn’t for all of you hard work and sacrifice.

Love you!!! (Or, as we say it in the Whang Casa, “NOB YOU!”)

To the woman who inspired me to work so hard on this blog in the first place, I will do my best in getting better at it and become more creative with each entry I post.

(For more pics on how the Whang Family does Thanksgiving, click HERE)

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Ever have one of those days where your mind moves at 1,000 mph?

I’m having one of those days.

Which is good~ I just wish I had more hours in a day to get all them idears on paper!

This post will be short because of it, but just thought I would share a photograph that I took, capturing the moment when all that creativity became too much for my dinky cranium to handle.

DOUBLE RAINBOW ALL THE WAY.

My creative juices are flowing. It's making a mess!

Friday Features are BACK!

This week we have my namesake, Grace Liaw, a friend, inspiration, all around awesome person, and the muscle behind Metro Community Church. Pretty much without her, we’re gonna be in trouble…oh wait. She’s leaving for Shanghai! [Follow her blog HERE!] OH NOO!

Before I go into hysterics, check her photo comic and interview below:

Whee!

 

  • What’s your full name?

Grace Liaw

  • What do you do?

I am an elementary school teacher by profession, but currently work at Metro Community Church.  I’m a mother of two boys (14 and 19) and wife to David for 20 years.  Yikes!

  • How did you find this blog?

I first found/met Grace Whang, then stumbled on her/blog, probably via FB.

  • Mac or PC?

Mac, not because I know how to use them very well, but because they are pretty.  And I like the sound it makes when booting up.

  • You have a $20 bill in your hand and you have to spend it NOW or else it’ll crumble into dust! What do you do with it?

I will buy 10 cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli and a bag of Doritos, because I’m thinking I can’t get either of those in Shanghai.

  • Favorite Drink?

Vitamin Water XXX.

  • One article of clothing you can’t live without?

My old, gray, holey sweatpants.

  • The most recent movie you watched…and how was it?

Inception.  It was far from boring, and at the end…. I gasped a little.

  • Any fun plans coming up?

Hoping to head into Chinatown this Saturday, buy some banh mi’s, and maybe hit up Mile End deli in Brooklyn.

  • Is there a website or cause you’d like to advertise to the Webernet?

http://www.kiva.org/ I have an account with Kiva and think it’s a great concept.

  • Any final words for the Webernet?

Beware of how the dynamic of your relationships get twisted or confused, due to the overuse of IM’ing or chatting. A friend and I were just talking about how the internet has changed the way people relate to one another. Some of it is good, some of it is arresting the development of our social skills. Don’t let chatting or FB replace real face to face, voice to voice interactions!

Though I’m physically back, mentally, I think I’m still a little out of my mind.

As I was cleaning my bathroom today, I accidentally knocked my retainers into my toilet.

Oops. I’m hoping that lots of Listerine, dishwasher detergent, and my gag reflex will keep me from ingesting any residual toilet water.

Hehe, I’m back! Sorry for the recent delay in updates, but expect more posts on a regular basis once again! Yay!

Good thing Mini-Grace was kind enough to get it out for me.

Today is our last full day in Haiti. Because of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Tomas, our team’s trip is unfortunately and sadly cut short.

We got up at the break of dawn and made our way to the Grace International hospital and campus and broke up into groups in order to do as much work as possible in the short amount of time we had left.

While Kate and Jenny worked in the kitchen to help prepare the meals for the children, the other girls went to work by moving rocks and rubble away from the main paths and walkways that the children and workers used on a daily basis. And while the girls did some of the simpler lifting, the boys went to town lifting hundreds and hundreds of pounds worth of stone floor tiles up several flights of the hospital. Great job, guys!

During our rock/rubble moving, 3 young boys that lived on the Grace International Village campus came up to us, and without a word, began to help us pick up the heavy loads with their bare hands. I was so moved by their warm hearts and willingness to serve.

I turned and looked at Steph and asked her in amazement, “Back at home, do you know any kids that would volunteer their time to do not-so-fun physical labor in this kind of heat?”

After we finished our tasks, we hung out with the kids for a few minutes and when the older women in the kitchen were ready for us, we got ourselves mentally and emotionally ready for the same influx of kids we fed the day before…

…but to our surprise, lines of orderly school children of Grace International, all in clean, bright blue-green uniforms, came strolling in. I practically threw my Sharpie Marker into my pants pocket and went to help some of the little kids get to the tables.

Together, our team was a well-oiled machine. We were able to interact and entertain the children, seat them down, serve them the rice and sauce meal, and feed the smaller ones that needed a little help.

The difference between yesterday’s feeding and today’s was like night and day, and what this contrast truly indicates is how much of a difference Grace International makes in the lives of children.

I found out that for about $200 a year, a child can be educated, fed, and taken care of at Grace International. That’s nothing for us, but everything for a child. If you want to see a child going from the chaotic mess of yesterday’s feeding to today’s civilized and joyous partaking of food, please let me know and I can connect you to Grace International, where you can change the life of a child in Haiti.

After saying our goodbyes to the kitchen ladies (who are AMAZING, by the way), we piled into our dear little white van and went over to see Port Au Prince, the epicenter of where the earthquake hit.

If shocked was what we were on the first day, today we were floored. You can see glimpses of what Haiti used to be (and it was heartbreakingly beautiful) amidst the destruction. The state of the Haitian White House looked like the aftermath of the movie Independance Day…you know, after the aliens blew it up. Seriously. It was ridiculous.

Before we left, Grace International for the very last time, we met with Bishop Jeune and his wife and prayed together one more time. We all agreed that our relationship is only at the beginning. Our hearts will never leave Haiti, and we will be back.

During our debriefing meeting, we worshipped our hearts out…God is so good, even amidst what the world may throw at us. There is no one like our God.

I think we all came to realize what true heartbreak is. All my life, I have purposefully avoided missions, relationships, and anything that would cause me to feel heartbreak. But after going to Haiti…how can you not fall in love with the people here? The heartbreak wasn’t caused by merely seeing the destruction that was all around us…but it was caused by seeing people that we loved having to suffer.

We all cried that night. Our tears were for our brothers and sisters in Haiti who showed us what true love was, and the way our lives should look like as followers of Christ…and though there is pain involved in heartache, I am so grateful to have fallen in love with Haiti.

I know that I will be back.

If yesterday was effortless, today was draining to the point of feeling defeated.

We started off the day just as energetic and early as the one before. 4 of the girls went to assist the older women in the kitchen to prepare food for the tent community children, while the rest of the team went back to the boy’s orphanage to finish the fence.

The fence went up without a hitch. In the span of 7:30 am to 11:00 am, we had completed the fence from top to bottom, with doors on each end to boot. We felt so proud of what we managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time and praised God that we were able to do so before we had to leave. The four girls that prepared food also were able to distribute school supplies to the children who were studying at Grace International.

The next place we went to was back to the Grace International campus. Together, we assembled baggies of donated clothes with toothbrushes, diapers, and other amenities to hand out to the little kids that were going to come through the gates for food.

With the money that was raised back home in the States, we were able to feed over 700 children…but they were the most heartbreaking 700 children we had ever encountered.

After yesterday’s experiences, and before the chaos set in, we were all super pumped and excited to give a meal to the little ones in the tent community. But the moment they opened the gates to start letting kids in, we saw the frantic panic and chaos of kids trying to be part of the first group to get fed. Parents were almost throwing their babies over the crowd and into our arms in order for them to get fed.

The most difficult logistical issue we had was figuring out whether or not kids that came through the gate weren’t trying to sneak back in for a second serving of food. If a kid managed to slip through and eat two meals, that meant that a kid would not be able to go through and eat at all. It was a very difficult situation, so our plan was to mark every kid’s thumb near the cuticle and side with a sharpie marker (so that it would be difficult to wash out).

Unfortunately, we didn’t take into consideration how dirty and damaged all of the kid’s fingers were. My job was the marker, and I have never held so many little hand in my own in my entire lifetime combined…and by the time the second round of 140 children came in, I purposefully tried to get lost into the chaos, to merely smile and mark the kids, because my heart was falling apart every single time I saw a child with a shattered nail, a sore on their finger, a cut, covered in dirt and grime…

I wanted to stop the food line, take each child to the nearest sink, and clean their hands. Maybe even put a band-aid on the ones that needed one…

All I could think about was that if this was MY child, their hands would be clean, if injured, bandaged, if bruised, kissed…I didn’t know what to do with all those hands.

It was chaos. I would go into more detail, but it was what it was. By the time the last bowl was gone, and we had to shut the gates on more children waiting outside, we all looked as though we had lost our will to keep going.

Later that night, when we discussed what happened, all of us broke down into tears, men and women alike. Because despite the defeat, we saw Jesus working in what had happened. Whether it was the child that looked at Abe and said in English, “Thank You, Jesus” before he ate, or the boy that turned around to sidle up to me before running out the gates and give me a hug for the food, or how each round of children that came in said the Lord’s Prayer before eating with enthusiasm that transcended their hunger…we saw hope in the little bit of work we did today.

After feeding them, none of us were hungry and forced down mouthfuls of food before driving out to see Bishop Jeune’s newly purchased land in Haiti.

While there, we felt more hope build up again, as we saw the rich expanse of land with cattle, pigs, chickens, goats, and other livestock meandering through, and the large hole in the ground that was being constructed as the village bathroom. To our joy, and honor, Metro is funding that bathroom for the people of the village to use, instead of having little kids wander into the bush to go.

On our way back to Grace International, we had an hour or so to kill, so we decided to go and play with the kids, while some of the guys played soccer with the older men in the village (Metro got schooled by people who didn’t even play with shoes).

As the sun set on us, we began to feel hope rise up again. I had to, at one point, hide my camera, as the kids were doing anything they could to get a moment of my attention and were grabbing the camera to get a picture taken of them.

A little girl sat herself in my lap as I “drew” with little pebbles. A crowd of kids came to watch, and with every object I drew, they shouted out what it was in Creole. They were sad to see us go, and some held our hands and walked with us all the way up to the security gate before we said our good-byes.

Tomorrow is a new day. We have more preparation and experience now, and with a different set of expectations. We will smile more, take a little bit more time to help feed the smallest of the children who need help, and commit ourselves to not be so worried about logistics. We will do our best to just love like Jesus did.

We will be coming back to the States earlier than expected due to the impending hurricane. But though we may be leaving early, we all want to come back, with a bigger force of people and volunteers and supplies. We know the situation now, and the need is as great as ever. If you find it in your heart and calling to come with us next time, or to donate supplies and money, please let me know and I will make sure it happens.

 

Sorry, I was unable to update yesterday! If you checked the church blog, you would see that we had lots going on!

I think yesterday was the best day I’d had in a long time. My roommate and I accidentally woke up and hour earlier (her cell phone was still set in EST) that required, and were sitting waiting at the breakfast table for several minutes before we realized our mistake.

Fortunately, it gave us a fantastic opportunity to have coffee (Haitian coffee is DELICIOUS), quiet time and an opportunity to share with each other how God was moving in us. Once the rest of the group joined us, we had a delicious meal before heading out to the boys’ orphanage at Grace International.

At the complex, we learned that the first job they had for us was to construct a fence to separate the living quarters of the boys’ orphanage with the rest of the church. Which, if you had all the materials and tools in the world, should be no problem for someone like me (with an architecture background) and a civil engineering background (which Greg had) to figure out how to construct.

Well, with a large stick, no concrete for foundation, a rubble-filled terrain to build on top of, one shovel, one pickaxe, and no hammers…

…let’s just say, Thank God we had local Haitian volunteers around the corner, eager to help and with a practical knowledge of how to build something out of nothing.

While Greg and his wife Steph headed out to help purchase lumber, the rest of the team waited on site to standby. We were standing around, wondering how to kill time when suddenly a group of 4-10 year-old-boys poked their heads around the corner to wave at us (later I found out from our Grace International Rep Johnette, that we were the first Asian people they have ever seen in their lives).

Thinking back, I don’t even know how it happened, but our entire group had suddenly erupted into a show of the guys showing magic tricks with cards (to the delight of the little kids), a little dance party to the music that came out of Danny’s phone, the kids schooling us in Korean jacks (if I’m not mistaken, either they have a game just like it in Haiti, or they’re just really really good…or we’re really really bad), and pretend martial arts fighting (I know, I’m furthering their stereotype of Asians, but they enjoyed it so much, haha!)

At first, they were very cautious of warming up to us, but before we knew it, they were teaching us new card games, showing us their dance moves, and we were all laughing and smiling and playing effortlessly…

I think that’s what the word of the day is…effortless. Everything was so natural, because everyone was genuinely in love with one another. My mom “warned” me that I would experience a little bit of heaven here, and I did.

Almost too soon, the materials had arrived and we set forth to build.

Unfortunately, at first, the girls didn’t have anything to do, as the limited number of tools available were being handled by the boys. But during that time, God didn’t give us a single minute before he provided an opportunity for us to “work” in a different way. Local tent community children had joined us, having heard all of the laughter coming through the gate of the complex. The group included little girls that I sidled next to, and in my limited Creole, chatted with. They were shy, but like the boys, quickly warmed up to us. Before we knew it, each of us had a child holding our hands, playing games, or even just sitting quietly with.

In particular, a little girl named Clemen had captured my heart. As a preface, if you know me like my family does, you would know that I have a hard time relating or hanging out with little kids. But she made the first move, slipping her hand in mind and leaning her head on my shoulder. Before I knew it, my head was on hers, and together, we looked through the Haitian Creole/English book I had brought with me, as she gently corrected my pronunciations and laughed at the sillier phrases in the textbook. She even taught me a hand-clap game~ But when it was time to “shoo” away the little kids (as construction was getting dangerous), she hung around for an extra 20 minutes, just watching me and waving every time I caught her eye. It broke my heart.

When the girls finally had a physical task to perform (lugging water back and forth from a well in buckets to help create a cement-like mixture to set the vertical wooden posts into the ground), we did it with the help of a boy named Wilkins. The pre-teen boy was the biggest practical joker I had ever met, scaring us, tapping us on the shoulder and pretending that he didn’t, and falling on the group laughing as Koo tried to pronounce the world “dlo (water).” But he was the hardest worker I had ever met, too. Working joyfully and diligently amidst the pranks and laughter, all of the girls fell in love with him.

Today was hard and long work…but it was effortless, thank You, Jesus. Whether it was bonding on our van rides with our security guards (one in particular FINALLY opened up to us when we asked her in Creole if she had any children, which she proudly does), talking with Chris (a tri-lingual pastor in training that served as a fellow worker and translator) and teaching him Korean, playing with the kids (who were the highlights of our day), or completing the structural framework of our humble fence (I felt more pride and accomplishment at making this fence than I had working on casinos, restaurants, and hotels combined)…

…I don’t think I have ever been so happy the past 24 hours than I have been back home in the States.

I had purpose, drive, passion, and love shown to me and exuded from me today, and I experienced a taste of heaven on earth.

A Cartoon Stuck in a Real Girl’s Body

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