Easter greetings from the Philippines!
We are praying that all of you are well, in body, mind and spirit, by God's grace. We are heartened to know that many of you are continuing to serve your communities with calm, compassion, and courage.
Thankfully, our family is still healthy. We have been at home for about 6 weeks under “enhanced community quarantine.” Later today, Thursday, April 23, we should hear updates about next steps – since the quarantine was supposed to last until April 30.
Powerlessness and Privilege
At times, it has been tempting to feel somewhat powerless -- even though we live with so many privileges, such as our health, clean water, medicine, and one another. It feels like we’re not doing enough. Although we wished that we could join our colleagues who are preparing and distributing relief goods for vulnerable communities. Sadly, more than covid-19, many are suffering from malnutrition and hunger and may die from those conditions. So, we join them by providing the funds to buy foods. We join them with our prayers for their efforts and these communities. And sometimes we share whatever ways we can, starting right where we live with our neighbors.
Our colleagues from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) national office and a local UCCP church live in our same “barangay” (loosely translated as neighborhood but with elected leadership) -- less than 10 minutes away. Although we have stayed in touch through a Facebook chat group and informal texts, we do not know about their specific needs. They would not tell us – but we can also guess. Only recently have we reached out to share blessings.
Recently the barangay leadership has provided relief goods such as rice, canned goods, and snacks, to all households. While we appreciated the extra food, thankfully we already have access and means to food. We guessed that our colleagues might not have those same means, since there are more people living at the parsonage and staff house. Twice now, we have received relief goods, and twice now, we have shared those goods with our colleagues. (Many of you would have done the same – we are not sharing this story to boast, but rather to promote the same spirit of neighborliness is found everywhere).
Korean Food Surprises
Our neighbor friend Francis has been our family’s go-to driver for several months now. Even before the pandemic, he took us safely back and forth to the airport, without haggling and hassle, especially when I have had to travel in the wee hours of the morning or during rush hour. His daughter Mae is Aurelie's best friend. In a previous family video, Aurelie asked you to pray for her and her cough, and thankfully now she is healthy. Her whole family is healthy.
One evening during my brainless scrolling through Facebook, I learned that a few Korean grocery stores re-opened after the Easter holiday weekend. Seeking comfort food and a break from staying at home, and stealing some nerves, I put together a list of items -- although I still needed a driver. Francis is no longer working as a Grab driver, and thus no income, so Juan suggested that we ask him. As excited as I was to get out of the house and shop, you should have seen how much of a nervous wreck I was. Maybe it was because of the sermon that I was writing and preparing to preach – but it was also because I have not left the house often enough, since we have been under quarantine. Juan is the primary shopper.
This grocery run should be in the record books – since what normally should be a fun and carefree errand, was the shortest run from car to dashing through store aisles and back to the car to return home. I tried to focus my anxiety on getting the right food items for us and Francis' family. Sadly, mostly for Juan and Aurelie, my nerves got the better of me because I left a bag of long-awaited and hyped-up ice cream and popsicles, near the cashier. I did not want to go back to the store either. (I know that was a long story about groceries, but I thought maybe some of you could relate to my nerves around errands – and laugh with me too).
Sermonizing and Preaching
When we are not leaving sweet treats at stores and sharing blessings, we are still trying to work by cultivating meaningful connections with you and with one another. Last Sunday, the First Presbyterian Church of Michigan City, Indiana, asked me to be their guest preacher. This opportunity was already being discussed before stay-at-home orders. I was grateful for the opportunity for them to open and welcome me into their church in this way. For that Sunday worship service including the sermon and a Benediction from our family, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRq9cW5mOw
**A special shout-out to friends and colleagues who are preaching weekly or on a regular basis: Thank you for proclaiming the Word in these unprecedented times. I know it must be draining and exhausting, as well as exhilarating and life-giving for others, or a mix of all of the above. (I only preached once -- and led a book club once since we've been under quarantine, and after both, I was spent and wrestled with more self-doubt than usual.) Please be gentle and gracious with your own precious minds, bodies and spirits, now and going forward.
Writing and More
In early March, I had been working with Filipino and international colleagues to create a prayer and devotional guide for us to remember migrants and their families. This guide was shared electronically and hopefully in other ways. About this time is when I first heard about Filipino seafarers who were working as crew members on cruise ships. I have been holding onto this story for several weeks - through prayers mostly. Thanks to the ongoing relationships with Filipino colleagues here and in northern California, we wrote this article: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/covid-19-impacts-overseas-filipino-workers/
A few days after this article was posted on the PC(USA) website, I heard from some folks in Houston who serve international seafarers. They wrote directly to the Senior Communications Director of PCUSA, who in turn reached out to the Presbyterian World Mission Communications Director, who then shared their email. We are now trying to find ways to connect – and hopefully something can happen to assist our stranded seafarers.
Assistance with birthday greetings
Our daughter Aurelie will turn 8, on Friday, May 1. Like some of you, you have already been celebrating life’s milestones in creative ways. We still hope to celebrate with greetings from around the world. Since our future steps with quarantine are uncertain, we ask for your assistance.
Please do not send anything since our Philippine mail service is only prioritizing essential services for medical equipment and other related items. (If you have already send something, thank you for taking the time. We will most likely receive these items sometime in the unknown future).
Instead maybe you could send a meme, write, or draw something, make a video, or something else creative. I will collect all of your greetings, if you send them here – or through Facebook messenger. **In a recent FB post, I also mentioned if you could specify from where you are sending greetings. It would be fun to trace the greetings on map with her.
Thank you for prayerfully reading along with us about our family’s whereabouts. Yes, we’re at home, like many of you – and yes, we’re trying to stay connected. Please drop us a line if you have a free moment: we would love to hear from you and pray specifically for you. We are grateful for the ways that we are connected in God’s mission, especially during these times.
Cathy, Juan and Aurelie
Rev. Cathy Chang
Regional Facilitator for Addressing Migration & Human Trafficking
Presbyterian Church (USA) World Mission
From Kate Thoreson, via the Faith Communities Coalition for Foster Care newsletter
During this time of universal crisis, may the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt inspire us to find that something we can do to promote the well-being of others and all of Creation:
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home-so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood they live in; the school or college they attend; the factory, farm or office where they work. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
-Eleanor Roosevelt, United Nations, March 1958.
Agencies reported on current needs of the children and youth they serve. Please consider contacting them directly to contribute to their children in need-now, more than ever:
Mentors-especially males (asking for a 1 year commitment) includes outings, help with homework, phone calls
Foster and Adoptive Families; Mentors; Items that are necessary for families to be licensed (Carbon monoxide detector, Lock boxes for medications, Smoke detectors, Car seats, Beds and linens).
WAYNE COUNTY MEDIATION:
Support and advocacy for special education services and IEPs
RUTH ELLIS CENTER:
Foster families for youth with LGBQT identities
THE NEW FOSTER CARE:
Support for the Transition to Independence Program (Resources, Treatment support, Legal services)
FOR THE SEVENTH GENERATION:
Goal is to connect those with a need with the resource to fill the need such as Clothing, Housewares, Furniture, Appliances, Professional Service
Jeans of all sizes; Birthday boxes
OAKLAND FAMILY SERVICES:
Foster and Adoptive Families; Child care for training sessions
The TIG Service Day was cancelled, and TIG also decided to cancel the National Day of Prayer. The Troy Community Coaltion cancelled their Prayer Breakfast, which prompted TIG to follow suit.
The April meeting is an invitation to attend Easter worship services at Central Woodward. That has not yet been cancelled, but we will keep you apprised in Northminster Notes, as well as any other changes to the calendar of events.
A message from Chris Kondak, Stewardship & Finance Committee Chairperson
It seems we will likely be continuing the "Shelter in place" for some time, so I want to address the financial aspect of this to the church.
Most of the expenses the church incurs, remain, even when the building is mostly empty. Lower utility usage for sure, but the fixed expenses such as staff salary remain. These are the highest portion of our expenses.
At the same time, we recognize that our members are financially affected both directly and indirectly by this pandemic. Some of our members have been laid off, or significantly reduced in their earnings. Many of us are simply worried about the future, and possible coming unknowns.
For those who can, we ask that you continue to support the church as you have, or even more if possible. Making your offering at a similar cadence to your practices before this situation arose can help to bring a level of normalcy. For some, that could mean writing out a check at the close of online worship and getting it ready to mail to the church on Monday.
A always, we step out in faith when we give our offerings to the church. Times such as these may affect us in many ways, but we can be assured that our God, in whom we put our faith, is the same today as before all of this, and will be the same in the future.
The church does not yet have a simple method for online payment of offering, but we are working on a plan that would allow that.
In the meantime, most banks do offer an online “bill pay” method to request a check that is sent directly from your bank to a payee and do not charge for the check or the stamp. You can add Northminster as a payee (see our address on the back of this newsletter). Please be free to reach out to myself or Treasurer Sarah Leight if you have questions or a unique situation you'd like to discuss.
Similarly, the Raise the Roof pledge drive to repay the loan to repair our roof is still active. Members do continue to submit payments to meet the amount pledged, as well as some who have generously donated above and beyond their pledge.
We received a large number of Hilka Brown's paintings, drawings, and prints from her estate. Hilka and Harold's children asked that we sell the artwork, with the proceeds directly supporting the Raise the Roof fund. I am grateful for this wonderful donation, and we will be working to find opportunities to sell the works as far and wide as we can. Look for more news about the mechanics of this as we proceed forward.
The Baby Basics distribution on March 18 was held as scheduled.
Our buyer, Sarah Leight, took on the huge task of buying & bundling for one whole month (with her children’s help). Thank you, thank you.
We informed the parents of the supply they would receive, and then followed CDC guidelines of sanitization, distancing, etc. We wanted to ensure that our families didn’t have the added stress of stretching budgets to buy diapers, and our volunteers came through-- thank you to them as well! We hope to be able to distribute using the same precautions April 15th.!
Northminster Presbyterian Church
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