Tuesday, March 2, 2010

International connections at Long Bay - 2010 ramblings

The last International Connections meeting on 27th Feb was the most relaxing I have ever attended.

I think it is due to my not having any official duties and the fact that we have become much better in organizing and delegating! Also the numbers were much smaller - making it both a good and not so good thing.

Good because small makes it easier to chat with others ... not so good because we have less contact with new migrants (who do not have stable community support) or more intimate contact with new refugees. Sure miss a great American couple who have returned to the USA. They were involved full time in refugee work and so had the time and energy, the expertise, contacts and most important of all the passion and compassion for refugees. Without them, we have less intimate contact with new refugees.

But then again, it is great to know that many who needed help in the past have strong support groups and do not need such events anymore to help them better adapt to life in NZ. In a real way, the International connections fellowship / partnership has achieved many of its primary goals and reason for being.

Some of us are wondering aloud ... is it time to move on to focus on other ministries? Core members are now so busy with other ministry matters, and the person I see as the cornerstone of this fellowship / partnership taking care of so many refugees in a more intimate level and will need all his energy to develop this stage of the ministry. So who is left with the energy and vision to carry on this ministry? Lots of questions (good ones I believe). What is the next step in the "evolution" of this wonderful ministry? Is it time to change direction?

I could not help but be in a praise and thanksgiving mode to see how many Burmese young people were at the gathering - and how active they were. All children of resettled refugees or themselves former refugees, their enthusiasm for life, friendliness etc was such a refreshing experience. It made me wonder whether one thing that we need to do is to pray and consider if international connections needs to be more focused on supporting the Burmese church in NZ. Perhaps raise funds to sponsor such outreach / fun / friendship events for them and let them do most of the planning and execution? They are refugees and many are poor but what is amazing is their generous spirit. They share what they have willingly and save and send back to their homeland to help others in need. I think if the NZ church needs to catch more of their generosity and compassion.

Anyway, some of the activities - a simple sausage sizzle, and later fruits and tidbits to share. Kayaking (new item), beach soccer (very popular), four way tug o war (now an Int Connections beach time tradition), treasure hunt and volleyball (also traditions), and "sepak takraw"! The Burmese youth have a different name for the game and they are really good. (I took a picture of two older guys playing - one a Malaysian and the other a missionary to Burma :-)

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