July 22nd, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
It’s been a few days now since getting back from Mission, and now that I’ve had some more time to absorb and reflect on this fantastic experience, I’ll write one last blog post.
I think the number one thing this trip was for me, was a total culture immersion. If the culture differences between America and Europe are like comparing apples and oranges, then the difference between American and Asia is more like comparing apples and pandas. They’re just so extraordinarily different in so many ways. It was fascinating for me to realize the diversity of humanity through this.
See, the East and the West developed cultures, writing, language systems, stories, recipes, religions, artwork, all from the ground up, separate and isolated from one another for the most part. It’s like a great big global science experiment. While for most my life I’ve only experienced what humanity came up with in the West, now I got to experience what humanity came up with in the East! Similar in some ways, radically different in others, but both very beautiful in their own right. I mean, there’s nothing that says we have to read from left to right. Chinese does it from right to left. And their characters are a syllable each. And their language is tonal. It’s just beautiful to see the creative things mankind comes up with, showing our innate drive for imagination and creation, which of course are a reflection of the Creator’s.
And even within Asian cultures, there are certainly significant differences. In going to both Taiwan and Korea, we were fortunate to experience a taste of both of these unique cultures, and the gifts each had to offer.
On an even deeper level, I was very affected by the people we met and the lives we crossed paths with. It’s just wild how much someone you may never see again can have a deep impact on the course of your life. From the Filipino migrant workers, to a Maryknoll priest who has faithfully served Korea for 50 years, to a newly ordained priest I never met – and so many more. In big ways and small, God has used their lives to lend clarity to my own, and to move me closer to being the best version of myself.
Every person on this trip, those I traveled with and those I met there, have helped remind me of one of the most important truths we can ever take to heart: people are gifts!
Each person is a unique, irreplaceable gift! Both to himself, as well as to every one around him. Because each human person has what no plant or animal will ever have: a body and soul made in the image of God! If every one on our dear planet took this to heart, I don’t think we would need to put up a shelter for abused immigrants. I don’t think we would need to help a woman heal from sexual abuse. Or march every January for the rights of unborn children. Or help families deal with the aftereffects of war. Because people would respect each other’s dignity from the get-go.
But unfortunately, we live in a fallen world. Even those of us with the best intentions have found ourselves neglecting another’s personhood at one time or another. We reject the gift of our brothers and sisters, and instead tear down their personhood in small ways. We gossip. We stare at a screen rather than at the person sitting across from us. We treat the waitress like she exists solely to serve us. We play Angry Birds rather than spend time with our siblings. We don’t look the cashier in the eye. We slander, cheat, and find ways to use others for our own ends.
Sometimes it’s bigger. We look at porn. We steal. We cheat on our wives. We tell someone “I’ll love you forever” when we really just mean tonight, in bed. Or ’til I feel like leaving.
The point is, that is humanity’s sin. We don’t respect the gift of each other, and instead seek out our own pleasures, our own glories, our own riches, our own fame. Even if it means stepping on a few heads to get there.
And this is why Jesus Christ came to save humanity! In the very act of sacrificing himself to redeem us of this sinfulness, he also showed us the very point of our existences: self-gift! Christ gave us every last drop of himself when he offered himself up. His gift held nothing back.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Eph. 5:25
And this is why I think Mission is so important! The world needs to hear these Gospel truths! That in giving yourself, you find yourself. That in dying, you find life. And in learning from Christ how to give ourselves in gift to one another, we not only find freedom for ourselves, but also contribute toward a peaceful humanity in which we live harmoniously with one another. Free to experience and enjoy the gift that each of us is to each other. We go on Mission to spread this great news!
And of course, as became so clear during the past two weeks, Mission is also about caring for the physical, emotional, psychological needs of our neighbor. Because this is a fallen world, and we do still harm one another. Even as we work towards the heart of the matter, we must work faithfully to “clean up the mess” that already exists. Maryknoll has helped me see how great this need still is across the globe. Without them, many Filipino workers abused by their employers would have nowhere to turn. Without them, many women would still be living on the streets of Taichung. Without them, many of the abused Vietnamese migrants would never find healing, and would probably end up turning their anger onto someone else. Maryknoll has recognized their personhood where many have failed to.
“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
I saw this quote in a movie recently (The Human Experience) and it is all the more relevant to me now. It was the “thing” called money that caused an employer and a broker to neglect the rights of a Filipino worker. It was the “thing” called pleasure that caused another employer to rape a Vietnamese woman. If each of us is not careful, we too can begin letting “things” overshadow the people around us.
Just some stuff that’s been on my mind recently.
Before I sign off, I want to give a huge thank you to all the Maryknoll team for taking me on this trip and helping me to grow in so many ways. Thank you to everyone who touched us with your overwhelming hospitality and generosity. Fr. Alphonso, Father Jerry, Father Joyalito, and everyone else. Father Dennis, Danielle, Francisco, and Karen for being fantastic and fun people to travel with. And for everyone who worked behind the scenes to put this trip together. I learned a lot about Mission, about Maryknoll’s work, and what it means to evangelize. I am filled with gratitude for the amazing gifts that God has given me in this trip.
July 21st, 2011
The past two weeks I have been posting about my mission trip to Asia with the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers. I am now back home in Pennsylvania and can not be more thankful about what I learned and experienced on this trip. The different experiences in Taiwan and South Korea that I have been privileged to experience have touched me and transformed me into a better person. I feel more aware of issues in the world I had no clue about otherwise. I got to experience and absorb cultures completely different from my own.
The Maryknoll religious I have met along the way have inspired me to keep learning and keep sharing my experiences with others. I can not say how much I admire and respect each of them. They dedicated their entire lives to serving others. Some of them even risk their lives doing what they think is right. I’ll never forget the passion and love I saw in their faces when they interacted with the people they minister too. They serve as a solid foundation their people can rely on. I heard countless times from the people they serve how much they love and respect the Maryknoll religious who help them.
The people who have touched me the most on this journey are the people who the Maryknoll religious serve. Each group of people was from a different culture and background and faced many problems in their quest for a better life. These people put their families first and will do whatever it takes to make a living for them even if it means they risk getting mentally, emotionally and physically harmed at work. I’ve been inspired by the Filipino and Vietnamese migrant workers because even though they are going through so much pain and suffering they have smiles on their faces and an unshakable hope that things will get better. Even while they are suffering they still think about their families and are more determined then ever to accomplish their life goals and dreams. I can not stop thinking about these people and I am eternally grateful for what they taught me.
This trip has showed me that a little faith and prayer goes a long way. I have heard through some of the migrant workers I have been in touch with through social media that a few have received job interviews and two are starting new jobs next week with better employers. I am very proud of them and even more inspired that they did not give up. I hope that I can continue to stay in touch with them.
Because of my time in these foreign countries I have a feeling that is hard for me to describe. It is almost like a feeling of fulfillment. I have learned so much and seen so much that my faith is stronger and I have more hope. I have hope that each of the migrant workers will accomplish their dream and be able to move back home to the families they care so much about. I have hope that South and North Korea will one day have some sort of unification or peaceful coexistence.
One of the last things I want to mention is how thankful I am to have traveled with an amazing group of people. Joseph, Father Dennis, Karen, and Francisco were the best people to share this experience with. Most of the time, we had similar feelings about what we saw or what we learned and were always open to discussion with one another. It really helped solidify what we were experiencing together. I hope to stay in touch with them since they also had an impact on me.
I am blessed to have had this journey and I look forward to traveling again in the future to keep learning and cultivating knowledge about the world we live in.
God Bless and Thank You Maryknoll for this wonderful opportunity!! It truely changed my life.
July 19th, 2011
I am filled with gratitude as I reflect upon our 2011 Explore My Mission trip to Asia! We visited the countries of Taiwan and Korea, but in Maryknoll style, we experienced so many other Asian cultures as well! Our layovers were in Tokyo, Japan, so we even got a taste of that culture by enjoying the delicious Ramen Noodle dishes in the airport! Since our Maryknollers work with excluded and oppressed peoples who live on the margins of society, we were blessed to get to know both the Filipino and Vietnamese Migrants working in those countries. So actually we experienced in some small way five different Asian cultures, which shows the great diversity of the continent of Asia. For me, diversity is a key when talking about mission. A missioner learns very quickly that God speaks many languages and in many different forms to people who are so different, but deep down so very much the same.
I would like to express my gratitude to all of the many Maryknollers who shared with us their mission commitmentes and those we met more casually and shared with us some of their lives. Special thanks to Fr. Alfonso Kim, the Maryknoll Regional Superior of Asia, who welcomed us and set up our trip and accompanied us through much of it! Another special thanks to Maryknollers in Taiwan, Fr. Joyalito Tajonera, Fr. Cuong Nguyen, Sr. Marvie Misolas and Fr. Paul Duffy who introduced us to their friends and partners in mission. We are grateful especially to the Maryknollers in Korea who welcomed us so warmly! A special word of thanks to Fr. Gerry Hammond and Fr. Rich Augustin who traveled with us and accompanied us to the DMZ and many other places of importance throughout Korea!
I would like to thank my travel companions as well! First, Danielle and Joseph, the 2011 winners of Maryknoll’s Explore My Mission Contest, your open and sincere hearts and willingness to tough it out in mission were so inspiring to me! It gives me great comfort to know that the future of mission will be left in the hands of young people such as yourselves! I was blessed by getting to know you and spending this time together in mission! A special word of thanks to Karen Cooper and Francisco Suarez from Maryknoll Media Productions, who work so hard behind the scenes to make these contests a success! Thank you Francisco and Karen for being such special friends and colleagues over these past three years of Explore My Mission! You are a joy to work with and such fun travel companions! Thanks to all of the unsung heroes and heroines, the Maryknoll Employees and Maryknollers who work behind the scenes to make Explore My Mission a success! Thank you for your prayers, work and support!
The great mystic Meister Eckhart says, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Eucharist means “thank you” in Greek. This great sacrament of Eucharist is called the source and summit of our faith. And so, if we forget everything else we learned on this trip, let’s remember the five phrases for thank you we learned from the peoples we met:
Xie Xie! (Mandarin Chinese)
Salamat Po! (Tagalog)
Cám Ón! (Vietnamese)
Domo Arigato! (Japanese)
Most of all, THANK YOU GOD FOR THE GIFT OF MISSION!!!
Happy 100 Year Birthday Maryknoll!
May God continue to bless you as you commit to the mission of Jesus Christ in the future!
Fr. Dennis Moorman, MM
July 17th, 2011
Today was my last full day in Seoul and last full day of this mission trip.
We had an amazing experience this morning and that was going to a Korean mass said by a newly ordained priest. He was just ordained last week and this was his very first mass. We sat near his family who were over flowing with joy at the mass. The mass of course was said in Korean but it is amazing how even though it is a different language you can understand what is going on and all the meaning.
This mass was just as alive as the Filipino mass we attended last week. The Koreans have a very strong faith in God and you can see it and feel it at the mass as almost every one of them participated by either singing or reciting the responses. Also, most of the women covered their heads with a veil. The church was packed with people and I was told it is packed every week and not just this time because of the special occasion.
After the mass was a short ceremony for the newly ordained priest where he was presented with gifts and flowers. He thanked the congregation by sinking into a deep bow on the floor which is a sign of great respect in Korea. This priest is going to be a missionary in Mozambique.
After the ceremony, the priest was carried out on a small throne adorned with flowers. I never saw anything like it. It’s a very cool custum that I am very grateful to have witnessed. We were then invited to a special lunch with the priest and his family and friends. The luncheon almost reminded me of what a family would have after a Baptism or a First Holy Communion. The food was all traditional Korean food which, by the way, is amazing. There isn’t one Korean food that I have tasted here that I can say I did not like.
The women who were helping with the buffet and helping at mass were dressed in a very traditional Korean dress. The dresses are beautiful and I loved the many different colors of blue, red, pink, yellow, etc.
The main thing that touched me the most was how welcome I felt at the mass and ceremony. These people just met us for the first time and they were extremely friendly and very grateful for our visit. I felt very humbled. The pastor of the parish came to our table to personally thank us for coming and he gave us three small Korean religious paintings and a beautiful Korean tile painting. Then, the newly ordained priest gave us each a first blessing.
I will never forget how amazing and kind the Korean people are and their strong faith in God. I can not believe how many people have touched me on this journey. These people come from many different cultures/countries but they all had the same generosity and kindness towards us when we visited either their country or mission.
This evening we had a community prayer and dinner with the Maryknoll priests who live in Seoul. They expressed to us how grateful they were that we came to visit. I will miss each one of them. They say here that we will meet again in our prayers and I honestly believe that.
We have a very early flight to Tokyo tomorrow where we will meet our connecting flight back to New York City. I will post again once I arrive home to close out everything I have learned and experienced while in Asia.
- Danielle Alio
July 17th, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
It’s what they call Korea. Irrelevant fact, but it makes for a good blog post title.
So I have absolutely been loving my time here in Korea. The priests we’re staying with are fantastic, the food is my favorite Asian food so far, and the culture here is just really cool.
Yesterday I went to North Korea. I should clarify though… I only set foot there for like 2 minutes. I had no idea before now, but it turns out South Korea has turned the DMZ into quite the tourist experience, as we were certainly not the only bus tour to go in. The DMZ for those who aren’t aware, is the De-Militarized Zone, a 4 km wide buffer zone padding the offical border line between North and South Korea, which roughly follows the 38th parallel. It’s also now considered a great wildlife reserve of sorts, because of the fact that it’s been”left alone” for all these years. For these tours of the DMZ though, you have to like book a month in advance and send in copies of your passport, etc.
The most intense part of the tour comes when you enter the JSA (Joint Security Area), an enclosed complex which sits on both sides of the border and serves as a meeting place between North and South officials. We got to enter the building where they originally signed the armistice agreement in 1953, putting at least a temporary end to the Korean War hostilities. Turns out the border runs right through the middle of this room, so technically I was in North Korea for a minute. I even got to take my picture there with a solemn faced ROK soldier (South Korea).
It was kind of wild to be there. I still can’t quite believe that I was standing right there, staring at a North Korean soldier right across the border. I mean, I visited the Auschwitz concentration camp last year and that was super intense, but it was also something that had happened in the past. The Korean conflict is a political situation going on today. People in North Korea are not free to leave. And while the two countries are currently coexisting relatively peacefully, the Korean War technically never ended. Alot of sentiment here in the South (at least on our tour) seems to really be looking forward to a hopeful reunification of the two someday into the one nation it originally was. (Don’t ask me about the sentiments of the north, because I didn’t talk with them.) But overall, during our whole stay here, I’ve just been learning so much about the country’s history and everything.
One of the most fascinating (and friendly) people I’ve met in Asia so far is Fr. Jerry Hammond, a Maryknoll father residing here in Seoul. He came from the U.S. to Korea on a boat something like 50 years ago, and has been stationed here ever since! Originally the fathers had missions all throughout Korea. After the division, they were forced to move out of North Korea, and start anew in the south. However, Fr. Jerry is one of a few outsiders who still gets to visit North Korea. This is because about 3 times a year, he travels with the Eugene Bell foundation to give medical relief to the North Korean civilians suffering of tuberculosis. (Which is like 10% of the population!) I had the pleasure of chatting with him on the bus ride back from the DMZ. Listening to his stories is fascinating and it’s amazing to hear how much good he has done for the Church in Korea.
Today we got to attend a local Korean parish for Sunday Mass, where a brand new priest (a young man ordained Thursday) was celebrating his first Mass! Even though the 2 hour service was all in Korean and I couldn’t understand anything… it didn’t matter. The language of the Eucharist goes beyond borders. The parish there was fantastic, and it was so inspiring to see a man’s decision to enter the priesthood treated with such enthusiasm and celebration. The church was packed to standing room, they carried him off at the end on a highly decorated throne of sorts, and there was great feasting after. I learned that Korea actually has one of the highest “priest production” rates in the country, and they currently have like 1,400 seminarians.
The whole thing just made me realize how awesome and special a priest’s calling is. Once they are ordained, their hands can do what ours cannot: transform simple bread into Jesus Christ himself. The miracle of the Eucharist is something we can so easily take for granted.. but this “source and summit of our Faith”, as the Church calls it, can only come to us through the hands of a priest. So much power lies with them, and we owe so much respect to them for the sacrifices they have made to serve us.
At the end of the Mass, the new priest was thanking many people. When he thanked the parish for all of their support in becoming a priest, he surprised the parish by getting on his knees and lowering his face to the floor towards them, a Korean sign of only the utmost respect and gratitude. But in a way, we all ought to be thanking him with that much respect and reverence. For he is giving his life in total service to the Church…which is us.
Anyway, today officially marks my last full day in Asia. Tomorrow (Monday) we begin the journey home.
July 16th, 2011
Day six and seven of my mission trip with Maryknoll to Asia was traveling to Seoul, Korea, meeting the wonderful Maryknoll priests who live at the house and doing some site seeing.
Today was a very interesting and a once in a life time experience. We took a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Seoul is only a little more then an hour away from the DMZ so it did not take long to get there. We learned that Seoul is within artilary range of the North which gave me a chilling feeling that I would continue to get as the day progressed.
First, we needed to be in a proper dress code such as business casual, nothing revealing, closed-toed shoes, etc. Someone made the comment on the bus to the DMZ checkpoint that the reason you can’t wear flipflops or sandals is because you will need to take off running if there was a sudden outburst of gun fire. Hearing this, eventhough some in the bus were giggling, made me feel very uneasy and wonder why we are allowed to go to this place if such danger could happen at any moment.
There is a lof of tension between the North and South and the DMZ is a sacred place full of Korean history that led to the armistice agreement signed in 1953. The agreement ended the battles of the Korean War but peace seems to be far away and possible unification even further.
The first place we visited is known as the 3rd Tunnel. The tunnel (dug under the DMZ) was discovered on October 17, 1978 and it is located about 52km from Seoul. It is said there are a number of tunnels that were built with the goal of using them as a way to start an invasion. The tunnel wasn’t very large but 10,000 soldiers could move through it in an hour. It was a very eerie feeling being in the tunnel especially because there are explosives. Luckily, half of it was colapsed so it really can’t be used by anyone.
The other stops on the tour included Imjingak Park, the Dora Observatory, and Dorasan Station. At Imjingak, we were able to walk the Freedom Bridge which was built to free over 12,000 POWs in 1953. From the Dora Observatory we were able to see parts of South and North Korea such as each of their flags, a propaganda village, the third largest city in North Korea (Geaseong) , and of course the line of demarkation (the border). The Dorasan station is what hopes to be the future for Korea whether the countries are unified or they both form good relations with one another. Built in 2002, it is the last train station in the south before you enter the north. It is hoped that one day it will be able to be used as good, peaceful transportation between the north and the south.
Then came in my opinion, the scariest part of the tour, our visit to Panmunjeom. After passing check a few checkpoints and being breifed about the area, we were walked to joint security area (JSA) where the UN and North Korea patrol. The border line between the North and the South is represented by a small cement strip right there in front of us. It is amazing to see. Both sides used to be able to cross the border freely in the JSA area and interact but because of the axe murder incident of 1976 which resulted in a few deaths, neither side can cross to the other.
We were able to enter a small building in the JSA for exactly two minutes. This building is where the armistice agreement was signed in 1953. The borderline between the North and the South is visible on a wooden table where both sides met. Believe it or not, at that moment inside the small room we were allowed to cross the border into North Korea. North Koreans, who take DMZ tours on their side are allowed to cross in the small room as well but neither side can be in the room at the same time.
I could not believe I was standing in a small part of North Korea. It seemed unreal and it’s still sinking in. I felt nervous because one never knows what may happen. The real chills came when we left the small room and stood on a set of steps facing the North for another two minutes. Miliary from the North were watching us from afar with binoculars. I felt uneasy and very nervous at this moment and still couldn’t believe I was standing there. There I was between two different countries who were once one nation. I couldn’t help but think of all of the history this place holds for both sides, their citizens and the world in general.
After our time was up, we drove past what is called the Bridge of No Return which was another place right on the north and south border where POWs were exchanged after the armistice. Once one crossed the bridge, it was for good and no turning back. It was shut down in 1976.
It’s so hard to describe what I felt at the DMZ. There were so many feelings running through me and it all happened very fast. I’m just really starting to process this trip in my mind. It is a place you visit once and more then likely never again. The one thing I think is hoped for by many is a peaceful unification of the north and south. If unification can not happen, then many pray that the two countries will start to coexist with one another in total peace.
July 15th, 2011
Post by Karen Cooper
For the last three years, as part of the Explore My Mission team, I have been privileged to visit Maryknoll’s missions overseas. Each country has been special in its own way and the people there are amazing. The 2011 Explore My Mission contest is taking place this time in Taiwan and Korea. Once more we have been able to be an insider and witness how Maryknollers work for human rights and social justice.
This trip is coming to an end and as I reflect on this experience the projects that impacted me the most were the Filipino Migrant Ministry of Father Joyalito Tajonera and the Human Trafficking Ministry of Father Cuong Nguyen. I feel humble for the opportunity to share and spend time with the lovely Filipino and Vietnamese community they serve. Being with them made me realized that immigrants, regardless of where they emigrate from, have one thing in common and is that they are all striving for a better future.
A lot of the immigrants have struggled to make a living in their country of origin and it is with great effort that they leave everything behind for new horizons and opportunities. No one should face the hard decision being away from their family in order to make a decent living. In a way it is like the government in their homeland has failed them not providing the basics a political system should: education, safety and jobs opportunities.
During the pursuit of happiness unfortunately many immigrants become prey of unscrupulous people determine to cash in on the immigrants’ dreams. For me it is hard to comprehend how a human being can take advantage of another human being, forgetting that all men have been created equal by God and are neighbor to one another.
An immigrant can be a victim of different forms of abuse, but for me the most cruel way a person can be abused is when they are forced in to human trafficking. Above all the world’s urgent need and global issues, human trafficking touches me deeply because this illegal practice attacks the human dignity, the integrity as human beings, attacks the person’s essence on its core and the sacredness of life. Human trafficking is the ultimate form of degradation a human being can be put through.
I have always heard stories of human trafficking victims, but I never thought that one day I was gonna be told the stories by the victims themselves. At that moment the issue became alive to me, not just a story anymore. Human trafficking is real happening 24/7. If we can only understand how serious it is when we hear that many people are exploited in different types of activities such as housekeeping, factory labor, care giving, clothes confection and sex labor. Human trafficking doesn’t take place in remote areas; it surrounds us and unwittingly we
take part in it. The cost of the comfort we enjoy by the electronics we use, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive has been paid with the hard and forced labor of a human trafficking victim.
The things a victim has to endure are heartbreaking. It’s true when we hear that the victims have to pay a fee to their abusers. It’s true that they end up doing more work and working longer hours than what they were originally contracted for. It’s true when we hear that their bathroom
breaks are numbered and lunch has to be eaten in the blink of an eye. It’s true when we hear that they are insulted and beaten when their perpetrators are not pleased with their job. It’s true because I saw it on the self-spoken marks and wounds of the victims.
In 1 Timothy 6:10 the Apostle Paul said it well: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. Human trafficking is a money/economic issue. Thanks God there are organizations and Ministries like Father Joy’s and Father Cuong’s fighting against human trafficking. But this social justice and human rights fight is not only for non-profit groups, we are all called to do our part. In Proverbs 31:8-9 the Bible commands us to: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the
rights of the poor and needy”. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus says: ³Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
We all can join the fight against human trafficking by starting doing these simple things: pray about the issue and for the victims, talk about human trafficking among family and friends to raise awareness and motivate one another to join the cause, support organizations that are making a difference, consume products made by survivors, volunteer and be part of the efforts to make corporations accountable.
As sad as human trafficking stories can be not all is lost. In spite of the victims ordeal there is something in the spirit of some of them that remains intact and will carry them until the season change. Some of them are able to manage to keep faith and hope, and with faith in God they certainly have hope and a future. A new day for them depends on us; after all we are God’s body. Would you give a hand to make a difference in somebody’s life and put an end to this modern form of slavery?
July 15th, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
After several emotionally heavy days, the last two have been much lighter. On our last days in Taiwan, we visited several of their famous monuments, and got to experience some Taiwanese cuisine.
The subway systems in Asia are fantastic! So clean, so technologically cutting edge, easy to navigate, plus there are miles of little shopping malls down there too. At one of them, we had the opportunity to experience some Asian knife massage called Dang Liau(?) or something like that. After drinking the hot tea, you lie on your stomach on the table and they wrap a thin yellow blanket over you. After they rub some kind ointment that feels like icy-hot all over your neck, arms, and feet, they proceed to drum away at your entire body with dull knives for 20 minutes. How does it feel? “I’ll tell you tomorrow,” as Karen aptly put it.
We arrived in Korea last night, to a warm welcome by the Maryknoll fathers here in Seoul. There’s about 8-10 fathers I think living here, and they’re all a great bunch of guys. Let it not be said that Maryknollers don’t have a good sense of humor. Fr. Alfonso Kim is actually originally from Korea and he’s been our guide here, through some of Taiwan and now into Korea. He’s a big joker, so you can never tell when he’s being serious or not :P
Today we got to see the Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine here in the city, which is dedicated to a bunch of Korean Catholics who were martyred on that site. The shrine is on a hill over the river, and back when the martyrs were beheaded, they were thrown off the cliff into the water. It was really powerful to be able to pray on the site where they passed the ultimate test, where they gave the ultimate testament to Love. And showed their total committment to Christ.
What’s fascinating about Korea is it is the only country in the world that brought Christianity to itself before missionaries brought Christianity to it. In the 1600s, Korea would make annual tributary trips to the Chinese emperor in Beijing, and during one of these trips the sojourning Koreans discovered the writings of Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci (in Chinese). The writings included Catholic teachings, along with other cultural and scientific information from the West. They took these new thoughts back with them to Korea, and the Faith spread here and there. It wasn’t until 1785 that a priest entered Korea (Jesuit Father Peter Grammont), and there he found a Catholic lay community already formed.
Later however, as the governing powers in Korea shifted, the nation underwent severe persecution of Catholics. The persecutions came in waves between the years of 1791 – 1873. Believers were tortured and killed, because the rulers saw the Christian thoughts as a threat to Confucianism.
Speaking of which, later in the afternoon we actually got to visit another Buddhist temple, and this one looked a little more like I would have imagined. Three enormous statues of buddha (I presume) lined the inside, and though the temple was in the middle of the busy city, it retained an atmosphere of prayer and solemnity.
Visiting these different temples has been quite an experience. In discovering more about these different philosophies and religions (Buddhism, Taosim, Confucianism — and through conversation even Sikhism) I’ve come to see a lot of good in what they have to offer. For example, Buddhism’s eightfold path: Right understanding, Right Intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right meditation. Some of it is really parallel to the life of a Christian pursuing holiness. I think sometimes many differences between eastern and western religions comes down to the terms used. Some of their ideas may actually be closer to ours than we think.. it’s just the way they see things, and the way they say it, that is different from ours.
Of course, this can’t be said for all teachings. Christians don’t believe in reincarnation. We know there are not many gods, but one. There are certainly many such differences between Catholicism and eastern religions, and they can’t be counted as insignificant details. Jesus Christ revealed to us that He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Not a way, a truth, and a life. I believe the full answers lie in Jesus Christ, and that he is what these religions are seeking for, but they just don’t know it. He is the way we will truly achieve enlightenment and self-knowledge, as the East puts it.
I think interreligious dialogue is very important, because without listening first to where these people are coming from, how will you be able to properly share the truth of Christ with them? Evangelization is personal. It’s a case by case engagement; there is no “one mold fits all” when it comes to the “how.” After all, we don’t evangelize to numbers – we evangelize to persons. Immortal souls who will live eternally in one of two places. And in addition to knowing their perspective better, dialogue is also good because you can learn a thing or two from them! Despite the truth of Christianity, worldviews like Buddhism and Confucianism do also have a lot of wisdom to offer. As I believe one of our popes put it, there is a measure of truth in every religion, as they are all searching for God. At the end of the day though, we just need to remember that Christ came to us to reveal to us the fullness of truth about God.
In A.D. 30, the world already knew there was a god, as is evidenced by the multitude of religions. But Christ came to tell us exactly who that God is. And not only that, but he came and actually made a way for us to get to this Father, and showed us the way to get there: Himself.
This is this truth that the Korean martyrs died for! This is what drove them to accept their legs being broken, their skin being whipped, their bodies mutilated. And this is the truth that I hope I, too, by the grace of God, hold so fast that even torture and death could not take it from me.
July 15th, 2011
Maryknoll Fr. Dennis Moorman with Francisco Suarez and Karen Cooper (Maryknoll Media Productions) This is our third year of working with Maryknoll’s Explore My Mission Contest together.
July 13th, 2011
Today we got the opportunity to tour Taipei with Father Joyalito and visit important landmarks in Taiwan’s history. Two memorials we visited were the the Sun Yat Sen Memorial and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.
Both of these memorials have Honor Guards present 24/7 who are specially selected from the military. What I mean by specially selected is that they all must look as identical (weight, height, skin color, etc.) as possible because they march in perfect formation. Both of these memorials look very similar to the US Lincol Memorial in that they are huge statue of each man sitting on a chair.
After we visited the memorial, we went to a restaurant to try Peking Duck. One of the foods I tried there was a rice cake filled with a certain type of red bean and then rolled in seaseme seeds. It is viewed as a dessert because it is very sweet. We then went to visit the Taipei 101 building (one of the tallest in the world).
We also got to experience the underground subway and underground subway malls. It is amazing how clean everything looks and how efficient the underground system (trains and the stores) seem to run. Yesterday, we actually had the opportunity to try a knife massage in the underground of the main trainstation. It lasted about 20 minutes and looked like the masseuse was preparing the customer to be cooked (pictures coming soon). I was scared to try it at first but eventually did it. It actually felt good and it was a great way to experience a famous Asian massage.
In the evening we attended a mass said by Father Paul and it was said in Mandarin. I think this was my first time attending a mass in another language but it is amazing how one can still understand what is going on. It was a great experience and we felt very welcomed by the congregation.
For the past few nights we got to experience the night markets in Taipei. They are very crowded with all kinds of stores, massage places, food stands, etc. The walk ways were crowded with both people and mopeds trying to zoom by. We all got foot massages at the market which felt amazing after walking so much. We also visited snake ally where people can buy snakes to eat. It is said to be good for you but that wan’t enough for me to try it.
We are now finished with our time in Taiwan and we are on our way to Seoul, Korea. Taiwan is amazing and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to meet some really great people who now have a special place in my heart. ♥
July 13th, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
So as you can read in Danielle’s post, we went to Fr. Cuong’s ministry for the Vietnamese migrant workers on Tuesday. He helps take care of Vietnamese workers here in Taiwan who have been abused in some way, and especially those who have had physical injuries in the workplace and received no compensation from their employer.
There was one woman though who shared with us her heartbreaking story of sexual abuse. She originally came from Vietnam to Taiwan to get a good job and start a better life. However, it was not long before being here that her employer took advantage of her vulnerable position and demanded her to sleep with him. As it turned out, she was locked on the second floor in this man’s house for quite some time, forced to live as a sex slave, before finally making an escape.
It’s one thing to hear about human trafficking. Sexual abuse. Human rights violations. It’s another whole thing to sit across from a beautiful woman as she tells you her story, ashamed, shy, talking in a shallow voice to the translator as she looks at the floor. The terrible things some pig did to this woman very visibly broke her, and I’m sure the road to healing will be long. As a man, my heart just wanted to apologize on behalf of all male-kind for everything that was done to her, for all the pain and memories she will endure for years. Because she has dignity and deserves so much better than this.
“Whatever you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If only our world heard and fully understood these Gospel messages! 2000 years ago God became man to show us that there is a better way to live than this! And how often is this message of love and truth mocked by our media, ignored by the masses, or hypocritically violated by those who claim to be religious. This is why Mission is so important! This is why Jesus commissioned his Disciples to go preach the good news, and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If Christ’s followers do not spread the truth of his teaching, then who will?
“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The radical and profound truth found in Jesus Christ is for all nations and for all centuries. As missioners to foreign lands, we “become all things to all men,” just like St. Paul the evangelist, engaging each culture where it is at, and embracing what is good in each. But at the same time we do not compromise the truth we have found in Jesus Christ, because to compromise what we know to be true does no favors to anyone. The Gospel is good news! People deserve to hear this stuff! Deep down, I think people really want to hear this stuff.
And so for me I think, Mission is a two-pronged approach. Being a witness through loving and caring for our neighbor, and then naturally using that as an opportunity to transmit the Gospel truth, in a gentle, non-aggressive manner. The more I see on this trip, the more I see that social justice is so extremely important. To care for the physical needs of our neighbor, whether that be feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, or fighting for the rights of immigrants. But of course it doesn’t stop there, because as humans our needs go deeper than the physical, into the spiritual. And as Jesus showed us, he is the one thing that every heart is yearning for. He is the one true God, who created us and knows us by name. His teachings shows us what it means to be truly human, and how to live our lives within the human family.
The two prongs of course, work together, because evangelization is in a sense social justice. If more people come to know Jesus and his teachings of love and self-gift, then perhaps there will be less sexual abuse, less hostility toward foreigners, fewer people hungry. If people truly know and live the Gospel, then fortunately, there will be less of a need for social justice measures. And women like the one we spoke with, will hopefully never have to deal with abuse at all. If we can reach people with the truth of Christ, then we will strike at the heart of the matter, rather than just cleaning up after the mess. And I don’t think Mission is an either-or. It’s a both-and.
July 12th, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
Our last full day in Taiwan is today, as we leave for Korea tomorrow morning. Here’s a few things I’ve learned about the country while I was here.
1. There are a ton of mopeds on the roads here, probably more than there are cars.
2. 7-11 is everywhere here. There’s also of course Starbucks, McDonalds, and even Coldstone and Burger King.
3. The Confucist and Buddhist temples we visited were a lot less solemn and a lot more touristy than I had originally imagined.
4. Taiwan has a corrupt broker system which does not properly care for the needs and rights of migrant workers
5. You can get an Asian knife massage here (yes, I did)
6. I’ve learned a bit about reflexology and Eastern traditional medical science. The belief, for example, that having different areas of your feet massaged can affect the organs in your whole body, such as the heart, ears, gallbladder… you name it.
7. Mandarin Chinese has 4 different tones for each sound in its language, with each tone able to carry a whole different meaning.
8. Asia was Maryknoll’s first mission field, and they continue to have a strong presence in 14 different countries here, including Taiwan, Korea, and the Phillipines.
9. There are a lot more than just one culture in Taiwan. You’ve got several different alphabets and languages, including the aboriginal language, taiwanese, and mandarin chinese. In addition to that are the migrant communities, such as those we met from the Phillipines and Vietnam.
10. How to say “thank you” in 3 new languages:
- Mandarin: xie xie (pronounced kind of like shyeay-shyea)
- Tagalog: salamat
- Vietnamese: cám ơn (kind of like cohmm-ohn)
- Joseph Houde
July 12th, 2011
Today we visited Father Cuong and his center for the Vietnamese migrant workers just outside of Taipei. It is a shelter that is geared towards helping injured Vietnamese workers win their case against their employers for the compensation they deserve. The Vietnamese like the Filipinos go through the broker system to get work but the Vietnamese pay a much higher fee. Their fee can run as high as $8,000 USD. They, like the Filipinos, also get poor treatment in the work place such as abuse, injury, or sexual harrasment. When they get injured or escape from their job, most try to run away and hide from the brokers because of the high debts.
The center is available to help the Vietnamese receive justice for the wrong doings done to them. Father Cuong himself is from Vietnam but has been black listed since 2005 because his work is viewed as interfering with the system. He has not seen his family since because he can not go back to Vietnam. We were introduced to the Vietnamese who are currently at the shelter and got to hear some of their stories. Their injuries are wide spread but they all have suffered emotional and mental trauma because of their work experiences. It is heart breaking because the main goal of the Vietnamese workers is to eventually go back to Vietnam to be with their families and perhaps start their own businesses with the money made from working in Taiwan.
One man that we met was only working for a few months when one day his employer forced him to do extra work on the roof of the factory. This man, not trained in any of the employer’s work, fell from the roof and did a great deal of damage to his body especially his internal organs and his head. He lost most of his memory and is just starting to walk again. He told us that he feels guilty because his parents sacrificed a lot for his education growing up. He studied English and Russian and now can not remember any of his schooling. Father Cuong is doing an amazing job helping this man. He has set up physical therapy exercises at the center and he pushes him to walk without the use of canes. The relationships that Father Cuong has with the Vietnamese workers is built on a trust and gratitude that are indescribable.
Another man that we met lost his arm and another injured his hand and lost all mobility. These young men (only in their early 20s) are having a hard time dealing with the fact that they can no longer work. The Vietnamese culture is very family oriented and it is the job of the children to eventually work and support their parents and families of their own. They feel as though they are now worthless because they can no longer contribute. It is very heart breaking to see that a human being views him or herself as worthless.
There was one woman we met at the shelter who was sexually enslaved by her employer. One day she finally escaped and found the center. It was amazing how she was able to open up to us and share her story despite what she went through. It was clear that she had been raped repeatedly and treated as an object by her employer.
I was amazed at how the Vietnamese trusted us almost right away. Despite what they went through they are full of hope for their cases and are determined to return to their country and make better lives for themselves and their families. The Vietnamese and the Filipinos who I have met along this journey are some of the friendliest people I know. They are going through many hardships in life but they continue to stay positive and welcoming to all. They are an inspiration to me and everyone whose lives they touch.
July 11th, 2011
Today we visited Maryknoll’s Sister Marvie at her Good Samaritan Shelter for homeless women in Taichung. She and the others who work with her travel around the city to find where the homeless women are staying in order to reach out a helping hand. The women can come to the shelter to sleep over night. The shelter provides food and assits in finding medical treatment. There are also employed social workers at the shelter. The shelter is very welcoming and has the feeling of a home. The shelter has been in existance now for eight years.
We learned the many reasons why a woman would be homeless and they are much like the reasons there are homeless in the USA. The women could be homeless because of alcoholism, mental illness, and lack of jobs and money. Many do not want the help of the shelter but Sister Marvie continues to check up on them and they start to trust her. Eventually, some of the women will enter the shelter. The shelter is an amazing place because it is dedicated to helping get the women’s lives back on track and even reuniting them with family if they are willing. Some of the women have been neglected by family in the past because they have a mental illness such as depression and the family does not understand why the woman acts in such a way leaving her homeless.
We were introduced to some of the women that the shelter has helped and they still come back to visit and help out. They are now either working or living with family members that they reunited with. You can see that the women are very grateful for the shelter and all that Sister Marvie has done.
There is a similar shelter not too far away from the women but it is for homeless men. We went to visit that shelter as well while Sister was taking us around the city showing us where the homeless are found sleeping at night. One homeless man we met in a park is dying from cancer and does not want help. His wife has passed away and he lives on the streets. He told us he is just waiting for his time to pass on because they doctors said their is nothing they can do for him.
This visit and tour really struck me because homelessness is a problem everywhere. It is a rough situation and it’s a shame that human beings have to live like that because they are sick, suffering from addiction, or without money and family. It is a wonderful thing that these two shelters are in Taichung because it means that help is right around the corner for these people if they are willing to seek help.
While touring Taichung with Sister Marvie and some of the women who work at the shelter, we stopped for popcicles from a stand that is set up to raise money to help the homeless. It is another sign that people in the city care and are willing to help in any way they can.
While touring, Joseph and I had the opportunity to ride with Sister on the back of mopeds. I have never riden on a motorcycle before so it was a cool thing for me to do. I was nervous at first but got more comfortable as we went along. It was very cool to experience a very common form of transportation used in Asia. The women at the shelter also prepared us a wonderful buffet of Taiwanese food that was very delicious and very filling. I can not express how gratful I am to them for their kindness.
We are now back in Taipei and tomorow we are going to learn about the Vietnamese who live in Taiwan.
July 11th, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
Wow, so alot has gone on since I last posted. I won’t repeat exactly what we did each day since Danielle already covered some of that, but I’ll just tell you about a few highlights for me.
So Saturday and Sunday we got to hang out a little with a Filipino community in Taichung. It was really great to see Fr. Joyalito’s ministry there and how much good it is going for the migrants. Saturday we went to a Filipino BBQ they cooked for us, and we got to hear some stories from the young adults in Fr. Joy’s shelter.
The shelter is there for migrants who find themselves being abused in their workplace: sexually, verbally, physically, or other. Mary told us her story, which forms the same basic outline of the others’ there: Mary is from the Phillipines, she is the youngest child of 8, and her father died of cancer when she was 6 years old. She is now 20, and a few months ago, in order for her to make more money for her family, she took a risk and moved to Taiwan. Unfortunately, in order for migrants to find work in Taiwan, they virtually always need to go through the corrupt “broker” system. Mary took out a loan for say, $2,000-$3,000, in order to pay her broker the fee, and in turn the broker found an employer for her. However, after a short while in this job, Mary began to be abused by her boss. She made a request to her broker to be placed with a different employer, but unfortunately the bosses and brokers often care only for each others’ interests, and not for those of the migrants. After all, the brokers can make a lot more money placing new migrants with fresh payments into the job vacancies… Finding new jobs for their old “customers” isn’t their top priority.
Mary refused to put up with the abuse and left that job. So Mary, like many others at the shelter, is waiting to be placed into a new job, and eagerly searching on her own in the meantime. She still faces the large loan from before, and as the months stack up, so does the interest. And throughout this whole time, she misses her family very much.
What was amazing about Mary is how hopeful and strong she is. I felt so discouraged listening to her story, and the largest of my financial problems paled in comparison to hers. But despite the financial pit and the unemployment, she continues to be joyful and trusts totally in God, that He has a plan for her.
Mary and the other migrants living at Fr. Joy’s shelter are just one part of the larger Filipino community in the area. On Sunday we got to attend their parish, a lively, joyful congregation packed to the back with standing room only. They greeted us so warmly and treated us as guests of honor, which seems to be the trend here. (You know, in traveling around the world, I’ve come to realize how poor hospitality can be in the United States.) It’s kind of wierd though, I definitely don’t feel like I deserve to be treated so highly.. but you can’t do much but to accept their overwhelming graciousness.
Today we got to see Sister Marvie’s ministry to the homeless in Taichung. I was shocked to hear that her ministry is virtually the only one of its kind in Taichung to help the homeless, which made me realize how vital her ministry is. Oftentimes, as she told us, the homeless do not come to you – you have to go to the homeless. And that’s what she does, goes out to the parks and streets offering help. It took some women 2 years before agreeing to accept help from Sister. After discussing her ministry with Sister Marvie, we drove around to various places in the city to visit the homeless. Danielle and I got to ride on the back of mo-peds through the busy streets which was kind of fun. One thing about Taiwan is that there are a TON of motor bikes on the streets… as much as there are cars, if not more. Weaving in and out of traffic all the time.. it’s amazing there aren’t more accidents here.
After we got back they treated us to a Taiwanese feast! Some of the foods definitely would take some getting used to, but it was overall very delicious!
This evening we took the bullet train back north to Taipei, where we’ll spend the next couple days. The bullet train is so smooth and fast. Europe and America don’t even come close when it comes to trains.
Alright this post has gotten kind of long, so I’ll stop now. Until next time, xie xie!
July 10th, 2011
Today we got to celebrate mass with the Filipino migrant workers we met last night at the dinner and Father Joyalito. In addition to those we met there were many more migrant workers in attendance for mass. The church was packed so much so that there were many people who had to stand. I would say that there was about 200 people.
The mass was so interesting to be a part of. The choir sounded great and everyone in attendance participated by singing and reciting all of the prayers. I don’t think I ever saw a mass with this much participation. Father Joyalito has an amazing connection with the migrant workers that is very visable at mass. They listened to everything he said and they all responded to him when he spoke to them during the homily. You can definitely see that faith in God is what keeps the people strong.
We were introduced at the mass and then afterward we ate with some of the people in the back of the church. I can not describe how friendly these people are and how welcomed I felt. They were very kind and I was really touched. What impacted me the most was when one of the migrant workers approached Joseph and I because she wanted to tell her story. She just came to us on her own and asked if we wanted to hear what she has been through. I listened to every word she said and was deeply moved.
She is only 20 years old and has been trying to take care of her family since the age of about 5 or 6 when her father passed away from cancer. Many of her other family members were not in good health so she decided that she must migrate to find work. She arrived in Taiwan 3 months ago and was placed at a job in a factory making spare auto parts for the vehicles we drive. She was paid very little and was expected to do extra work outside of her contract for no pay. She was constantly called things like “stupid” and treated as less then a human being. She showed us scars left on her hands from this factory job because everything is manually put together and there are no machines to help.
This young woman is extremely intelligent. She knew her rights by the law from day one and stood up for herself. She was not going to be undermined because she wanted the respect she as a human being deserves. She is now at the shelter because she left her job which means it is up to her to now find a job on her own (a very diffuicult task without a broker). She told us that she misses her family very much but she will not give up on her goal to earn money for her family. She has a very strong faith in God that is her rock and her ultimate support. Her hope is that other women will be inspired by her and fight for their rights as well. She is the perfect example of a very strong independant woman who is already a role model to many.
Later in the afternoon, we drove with Father Alfonso to a small town near the ocean where we visited a confucius temple. There were many people walking in and out to pray and worship. It was very interesting to watch others worship in a very different way to a power greater then ourselves. They offered incense and burned fake money because it is said that the more money you offer the quicker you will get to heaven. There are many temples around the area where we were and they are open for worship anytime. Alot of the ones we passed were small and even inside of gift shops or on a street corner. I am very excited to visit other temples on our journey.
After visiting the temple we met up with a few sisters who are stationed in this town for a mission. They took us to a small Taiwanese restaurant for our first taste of Taiwanese food. I have to say it was delicious. What I didn’t know about Asian food (in particular Chinese, Filipino, Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese, etc.) is that a lot of it is spicey. So far I am really enjoying trying this new food.
More updates to come as we continue this wonderful journey!
July 10th, 2011
July 10th, 2011
Maryknoll Father Alfonso Kim gave an orientation of the history of Taiwan to Joseph and Danielle
July 9th, 2011
Finally made it!! I just had my first full day in Asia. We left Maryknoll on July 7th at around 10:00 am (EST) and caught our 13 hour flight to Narita airport in Tokyo, Japan at 1:55pm. The flight was very long and tiring but I could not keep from looking out the window as we flew and finally landed in Japan. The airport was very nice and I had my first taste of Asian food. Our next flight was to Taipei, Taiwan and the layover was about two hours. When on the plane to Taipei the flight lasted about three hours. Just before landing in Taipei (the time was about 8:00 pm on July 8). We could see small lights coming from fishing boats out in the ocean. They looked like small stars. It was very pretty to see because there were so many of them.
After landing in Taipei, we met with Father Joyalito and Father Alfonso and took a bus and then a cab to the Maryknoll house in Taipei. Finally arriving in Taipei made the whole trip total about 18 hours.
Today, we got on the high speed train in Taipei and left for Taichung which is in the center of Taiwan. The train ride was about an hour. Upon arriving in Taichung we had a Taiwanese lunch and I got to use chopsticks for the first time. I’m still trying to work on how to eat rice with chopsticks.
Our main activity for today was visiting a Maryknoll priest’s mission in Taichung. Father Joyalito has a shelter for Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan. I learned about how the migrant workers are oppressed and the struggles they face much like the migrants in the United States I have learned about in school. The Filipinos have to go through a broker system in order to get job placement in Taiwan. They have to pay their broker an extremely large amount of money (about $3,000) to be placed at a factory job and the employers pay a very low salary (about $400 a month). Plus, the migrants have to pay room and board. I met and spoke with the migrant workers at a little barbecue they held for us. They were so friendly and their stories were very interesting to hear.
These workers have gotten physically hurt at work, some have been physically abused and sexually abused by employers. If they file complaints they can get placed at a different job but it takes a long time because their brokers only care about the new migrant workers who are going to pay for the first job placement. If they go back to the Philippines and come back they will have to pay again for a broker. At least at the shelter they can stay there to wait for work or renew their visas which are good for three years while with an employer.
Much like the migrants in the United States, the Filipino workers do not get to see their children. Most of the people at this shelter were women and they can only contact their families by phone. I am still processing all that I learned and saw today. Tomorrow, we are going to go to mass with Father Joyalito and see more of the migrant workers who will be just getting off of the night shifts since they take the work that no one wants. It really struck me when Father Joyalito said that these people are the ones who make the parts in the electronics we use and they get nothing for it. Thankfully they have a shelter like this to help them. I’m excited to see them again tomorrow. I am really enjoying my time here in Asia.
July 9th, 2011
Karen Cooper from Maryknoll Media Productions with our guides, Rower and Niño from the Filipino Migrant Ministry.
July 9th, 2011
Joseph, Danielle and Fr. Dennis on the hi-speed train which travels 299 km/hr from Taipei to Taichung in less than one hour!
July 9th, 2011
Posted by Joseph Houde
Ramen noodle soup in the Tokyo airport
Friends and family:
Well, we’re here in Asia! I’m kind of still getting used to that fact. So far everything has gone very well. We flew straight from JFK to Tokyo airport (12 hours?), for a brief layover before connecting to Taipei. While in the Tokyo Narita airport, we got some Ramen noodle soup, my first taste of true Asian cuisine. Don’t be deceived.. this was not college dorm food, it was the legit stuff. Before now I thought the Ramen you bought on Walmart shelves was the only Ramen that existed. Just the beginning of many learning experiences I’m sure.
Right now there’s like a 12 hour difference, so what is now 5:00 PM for me, should feel like 5:00 AM. But it’s not that bad.. we all got to have a great rest last night and I feel fine. At least for now.
All the Maryknoll fathers are great, and their hospitality has been very kind! The team I’m traveling with is a lot of fun too. Along with the other winner Danielle, there is Fr. Dennis Moorman, and then Karen Cooper and Francisco Suarez, who are doing the film and photography for the trip.
Hopefully I’ll be able to give several more updates throughout the trip. Tonight we’re going to a Filipino barbecue dinner in town.. should be good!
- Joseph Houde
July 9th, 2011
Taiwanese friend, Shu Li, with Maryknoll Father Paul Duffy, who baptized her 32 years ago.
July 9th, 2011
This is the 747 that brought us to Tokyo from NY on a 14 hour flight. We took another one like this from Tokyo to Taipei for another three hours after a two hour layover.
July 9th, 2011
Joseph and Danielle are sent off from the Rotunda at Maryknoll Headquarter standing in the circle where it is inscribed in Latin: “Peace to those who enter and health to those who leave.” May we have a peaceful and healthy journey!
July 9th, 2011
Anthony Ma, 2009 Winner of Explore My Mission, visits Danielle and Joseph at Maryknoll to wish them well!
July 9th, 2011
After a two hour layover in Tokyo, Japan, we arrived in Taipei, Taiwan last night, Friday July 8th at around 10:00 pm. This would have been about 10:00 am NY time on Friday morning July 8th since Taiwan is twelve hours ahead of NY time. You might want to take this time difference into account when you are reading our blog. We were met at the airport by Maryknoll Fr. Alfonso Kim (the Maryknoll Superior of the Asia Region) and Fr. Joyalito Tajonera, both of whom live and work in Taiwan. Both Frs. Alfonso and Joyalito are of Asian descent so we couldn’t have better guides in understanding the cultural differences. (Fr. Alfonso was born in South Korea and Fr. Joyalito was born in the Philippines.) When we arrived in the Maryknoll house in Taipei the space shuttle Atlantis was just blasting off at about 11:30 pm our time. When we arrived here, we met Maryknoll Fr. Paul Duffy who has lived and worked for many years in Taiwan. The weather here is quite hot and very humid, but we are enjoying the air conditioning in our rooms. We were surprised to notice that even the subways in Taipei are air conditioned!
We slept in this morning and took the high speed train from Taipei to Taichung, where we will spend the next few days before returning to Taipei. This afternoon we are invited to a barbeque with the Filipino community at the Migrant Ministry of Fr. Joyalito. Two lay volunteers from the Migrant Ministry, Niño and Rower, helped us navigate the public transport in traveling from Taipei to Taichung. We are looking forward to meeting more of the Filipino migrant workers this evening and then joining them for Mass with Fr. Joyalito tomorrow morning! May God bless Fr. Joyalito and all of the lay volunteers who devote themselves in this important ministry outreach!
July 5th, 2011
Joseph Houde and Danielle Alio standing with Maryknoll Mission Sending Bell which was acquired in 1918 from Japan by co-founder, James Anthony Walsh, and has been rung each year since when new missioners are sent out to the mission field.
June 6th, 2011
The winners of Maryknoll’s 2011 Explore My Mission Contest, Danielle Alio and Joseph Houde will be arriving at Maryknoll Headquarters in Ossining, NY on July 05, 2011 to prepare for their journey to Taiwan and South Korea where they will experience Maryknoll’s missions firsthand in Asia!
June 6th, 2011
Congratulations to our 2011 Winners of Maryknoll’s Explore My Mission contest, Danielle Alio from Pennsylvania and Joseph Houde from Maine!
We are looking forward to sharing with you our experiences to some of Maryknoll’s mission commitments in Taiwan and South Korea! We will be leaving Maryknoll Headquarters in New York on July 7, 2011 and fly to Taipei, Taiwan. Help us celebrate Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Centennial and check in with us each day and follow our exciting experiences as we discover Maryknoll Engaged in Mision in Asia!