Phase 1: “The First Step”

I remember feeling burdened when I first learned about the project we had to do. The burden was not because of the work that it involved, but because of the many social issues we had that needed awareness. I had a hard time deciding what to do. I wanted to just extend my hand to everything and be involved in the movement for change. At first, I remember that I wanted to address the problematic increase of bullying at schools. I was heart-broken when I found out many students were committing suicide due to this problem. I was also aware that my younger brother was getting bullied at school and there was no one reaching out to help him. There were just too many problems. I felt lost.

That is when I realized that I could do something about Ebenezer Mission Church. This was a community centered on God and a community with hearts that reached out to the world. As a Christian, I found that Christianity offered more than just a purpose to life. That it reached into every aspect of my life and as it is written in Psalm 139: 1-4:

“O Lord, you have searched me/ and you know me./ You know when I sit and when I rise;/  you perceive my thoughts from afar./ You discern my going out and my lying/ down;/ you are familiar with all my ways./ Before a word is on my tongue/ you know it completely, O Lord.”

I have found that there is someone who knows me inside and out – someone who cares enough to understand who I am and someone who has compassion and sees the struggles in my life…and that someone was Jesus. So this was the first step to the beginning of my project; to break the boundaries and predisposed notion of who God is, of what Christianity is, and of whom we, as Christians are.

Phase 2: “Gathering Information”

“The word has soul as well as body…it is a living thing of blood and fire, capable of infinite beauty and power…the most potent instrument known to man.”

–Salvador P. Lopez, “Literature and Society”

As I embarked on this journey with eagerness and determination, there were many concerns that tumbled around in my mind. Would I be able to portray God or Christianity rightfully? Would I be able to capture the essence of Ebenezer Mission Church, of the community? So I prayed and I have found the way to approach the project. (Yep! It was that simple.)

Pastor Jae stated:

“The whole purpose of church, the way Jesus first instructed his disciples, was to go into the world and be the salt and light. That means we’re called to go into the community and make a difference and help people in the community. We as a church want to reach out to the people in the community who are suffering.”

So I have found that this was what I was looking for and that EMC as a community was the central part of my project. I will document Ebenezer Mission Church as a community (for some reason, I haven’t viewed churches as a community until now). I will document and redefine and discover the truth behind the words “Christians,” “church,” and “Jesus Christ.” I will also show the community from an angle not often seen, such as people who may be your neighbor, a classmate, a friend, or the person sitting next to you, like you or me, but with a purpose in a community called church, as Christians.

During my process of documenting EMC, I have learned and rediscovered that literature is truly powerful. And as Lopez stated, it is “the most potent instrument known to man.” I have seen how much it has affected us, and how much it has taken root in us. For Christianity, we have the Bible, which speaks truth and reveals to us more of whom God is. And through the Bible, through the Word, people are moved and changed. Bible Study teacher, JP declares:

“I find a lot of purpose and meaning not only for my life but I see it and I try and communicate it to the youth here because a lot of them are very misguided and live life on their own not knowing where or who to turn to and here, we’re like mentors, brothers, sisters, and family and we’re friends…”

In the process of documenting my fellow friends and colleagues, I have learned the impact of words and of the steps it takes for social change. I was able to see that though there are many issues, that with patience and with hearts for others, we are slowly making a change and a movement.

Phase 3: “Reflection and Conclusion”

When I looked back at how I worked on the project, I felt I have gone through a journey. Some obstacles I faced involved rightfully portraying the community and also, the method to which I go about doing this. And a strategy I developed was to document the community as they were. So in my head, I had a fancy studio camera with the wheels that I could use to record smoothly when I moved around, a cool newsboy hat, and a moustache with curled ends drawn on with a black marker to emphasize my director-ness, while in reality, I ran around with a small pink digital camera. 😀

After creating my documentary, I realized a flaw in it. While I proclaimed it was a multi-ethnic community, I have failed to interview different ethnicities. I realized that the interviewees were all Asian (but not of the same ethnicity. They were Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese, though I doubt it would have been noticeable). And I also regretted that I was not able to record the Spanish Congregation or interview them. What I would do differently is interview more people from different ethnic backgrounds, and include them all speaking in the clip.

Another thing I wish I could have done was to put in more pictures and videos of events and fundraisers we did for our missions and our causes. There was so much we did, but for some reason, I was not able to find them. I think it would have shown and better clarified what the interviewees were speaking about.

Often times, I feel that people view Christians as hypocrites, liars, unintelligible people, and those who are weak (I also speak from personal experience as I was verbally attacked by a classmate who claimed that there is no God and rudely declared that I didn’t know what I was talking about). And it frustrates me to have to encounter this sometimes when I bring up that I am Christian to people. There is also that predisposed notion of who Christians are and should be and I found it unfair. So I guess another thing I wanted to do for the project was to show that we are also human and have flaws and make mistakes, but we are not unintelligible people who follow things blindly. There are so many layers for this aspect though, and I guess this was another obstacle to which I found no solution.

However, I would say I am proud of taking a step to show who we, as Christians, are. I was happy I could show that we are a community that cares for each other, whether they were a part or outside of the community. I was also happy that I could share a wonderful part of my life that made such a huge difference.

If there were others who were interested in my area of experience and expertise, I would invite them to experience the community itself as to telling them what it’s about and how to go about understanding it. I would invite them to become a part of the family. And with departing words, I leave you with these messages:

“We are very mission driven, which means that we go out there to share the love of God and to impact people and make a difference in people’s lives” – Joan H.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

John 1:1-4

Bibliography

H., Joan. “Ebenezer Mission Church Documentary.” Ebenezer Mission Church. Oakland Gardens, NY. 6 December 2010.

L., Pastor Jae. “Ebenezer Mission Church Documentary.” Ebenezer Mission Church. Oakland Gardens, NY. 6 December 2010.

Lopez, Salvador Ponce. “Literature and Society.” Manila, Philippines: University Publishing Co., Inc., 1941. Print.

New International Version Bible. Seoul: Word of Life Press, 2004.

Y., JP. “Ebenezer Mission Church Documentary.” Ebenezer Mission Church. Oakland Gardens, NY. 6 December 2010.

This is the ad for makeup. Yayy!

Right now, my goals are to survive the finals week.

AHHHH!

But after that, I’m planning on taking a winter course (it’s so expensive :[ ) and reading over our short short winter break. There are so many books I want to read, but have yet the chance to sit down and enjoy any of the books.
Here’s the complete list:
1. Read lots and lots of great books on my “Must Read” list,
2. Survive finals week and the cold winter,
3. Stay warm,
4. Donate winter coats
5. Go on APPA Homeless Mission! WOOO! (APPA: Action for Peace through Prayer and Aid)
I’m taking further steps and beyond for the project I did this semester. ;D Here’s the link for more info on APPA: http://www.iamappa.org/zb/zboard.php?id=appa_news_en&page=1&sn1=&divpage=1&sn=off&ss=on&sc=on&select_arrange=headnum&desc=asc&no=1

And that is all I can think of right now in my state of panic. (I shall be posting up blog #7 and #9 later!)

I hope everyone stays warm this winter season!

The weeks went by so much faster than I had anticipated and I find myself to be in a big jumble. As I thought more about the project, I realized the very big and giant task I have set out for myself. I have been unable to officially document or start any interviews.
I find myself to be reevaluating what I can accomplish and what information I should gather at this checkpoint. I still am focused on the youth and the leadership and incentives that are available to them. However, it is rather vague. So as I pursue to find a ground in understanding the vastness of this issue of youth influences and role models, I am also trying to take into consideration what Professor Lee has mentioned in my Topic Proposal. Though these questions are not specifically what he stated, they were brought up: Would the approach to raising and guiding the youth become something similar to that of the colonizer (the “right” way)? Would creating an incentive and specific programs adhere to certain social standards and perspectives, such as what art is, what good music would be, etc?

I am trying to narrow down a lot of things at this point, but I am finding, as I continue to think about the different aspects of society, such as religion, traditions, and cultures, that there are many factors to what guides the youth. I am rethinking the angle I shall approach it in.

The newspaper was limp in his calloused hands. His hollow eyes have long lost the interest of the wanted ads and they peered over the newspaper, lingering over the waffles, milk, and honey on the table. He licked his cracked lips, but his mouth was parched and it did not have much effect. A sudden gust of autumn wind brought Mr. Tairatelorp’s attention back to the paper before him. He shivered. The words before his eyes blurred and danced under his straining eyes. He squinted harder.

His lips fumbled with the foreign words, “H…Ha..halp…wu..wo..wont..wonted.”

“Halp.. wonted.” He licked his lips again. The words felt funny in his mouth. He looked up again to the diner across the street. The plate of food was now being devoured by a man dressed in a dark blue suit, white collar shirt, and red tie. His hair was slicked back and he had a gold ring around his right ring finger. His steely eyes remained within the range of his food, his possessions (a leather wallet, car keys, and gold watch, which he took off), and the table. They looked no further.

Feeling defeated, Mr. Tairatelorp folded his paper and sighed. He leaned forward and rested his arms on his legs. His once strong broad back now looked misshapen and beat upon. The dreary light that was tossed down upon his figure caught the sharp angles of his face and the shadows deepened more. He was lost to his own world. He shifted and reached into the pocket of his tattered coat. He pulled out an embroidered gold pocket watch. It was the only thing he had left. It was 2 o’clock.

Mr. Tairatelorp put the watch carefully back in his pocket. He got up and started to walk aimlessly down the street. He was looking down when someone suddenly slammed into his shoulder, causing him to stumble, and swivel around in shock. Steely eyes glanced at Mr. Tairatelorp for a brief second. It was the man from the diner. No words passed between them. Then it was over. The man briskly walked to a waiting black car and stooped down into the car and they pulled away.

Mr. Tairatelorp did not know why, but instinctually, his hand reached down into his pocket and felt his fingers grasp emptiness.

The J(esus)-Walk

I am across the street,
You are on the other side.
We walk side by side, this street
between
Us, is so wide.
Cars fly with you, your path so straight and neat,
Planned and made with your hands.
Vehicles roll against me, my path rough and unkempt,
My life, is in His hands, and I follow.
They, you, cry out Religion!
We, us, I say Christianity.
There’s a difference that you cannot see. There is
more, that you cannot feel. You cannot see. You
are not able.
Who seeks whom?

The lights change, I carry mine.
It’s dark out there, I cross the street.
We walk side by side, this space
between
Us, is not so wide.
Your hands are rough from struggling to hold
this, yours, our frail world together,
faces are tear-stained,
Your heart is torn and you wonder why
you’re so alone. Wonder why,
you felt that moment in the dark,
the time you felt you died to yourself,
Were you born? Were we alive?
How wretched and cold we stood,
we laid, on that starless night
We exhaled, and felt strength and
the sane in us leave,
Inhale, we’re back, we shudder
in bodies so intricately formed.
There is a warmth, a greater brilliance,
radiance we have yet to see,
And yet we know there’s more.
We know that this, us, we are not lifeless
But there’s purpose,
We both seek. Something in us calls.
Something echoes in the emptiness
of us, our chambers
We search for the truth,
so let us cross the street and
J-walk.

How often have we watched the news to discover a tragic event that had occurred which involved a youth? And how often have we thought, “If that kid had good parents, someone who cared, or a mentor, he or she wouldn’t be in that predicament”? A growing issue amongst the youth is the lack of leadership or guidance in their lives. As technology advances, and as children are taught at an increasingly younger age how to use computers, the youth are looking to the Internet and to online games for their social interactions and role models.

This troubling aspect of our society and future leaders leads me to my topic proposal and my desire to do something. As I researched ways to reach out to the youth and to get them involved, I have found a couple of programs I would like to partake in and interview: 1. Big Brothers Big Sisters NY, 2. Ebenezer Mission Church, 3. Youth At Risk, and 4. Office of Children and Family Services. By becoming involved in these programs, I will learn what is most effective in reaching out to the youth and what else can be done to help them in any situation.

Some steps I need to take in order to have this project realized are to get personally involved in these programs. First, I will need to gather information on the programs they offer and what promotions or awareness they are raising in the community. Afterwards, I will become a volunteer in one of these programs, and get a firsthand experience and raise awareness within the community. Some changes I hope that will take in effect are an understanding and recognition of the needs of the youth, a realization and compassion from parents and guardians for the youth, and although it is difficult, perhaps a bridging between the generation gap of parents and their children.

However, I wonder if the quest for the outreach of the youth may be hindered by certain factors. Will the school encourage or hinder growth? What else can be done? What needs to be addressed? How can we, as a community, raise up future leaders? How can we, as a community, provide an incentive for the youth to grow? Can we and are we willing to provide for this cause?

Within the past year, I have grown to love and to appreciate the heart and the mind that has gone into resistance literature. Despite the stark truth that is so often overlooked, it becomes very evident in our daily lives that we live in the wave of colonialism and in the trampled voices of the colonized. I have come to find that the quiet yet forthright, and the angry and impassioned voices have captured the horrors of colonialism or of any historic event that have caused the people to rise up and cry out.
Some examples of resistance literature that I have come across are Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon,
Discourse on Colonialism by Aimé Césaire, Caliban and Other Essays by Roberto Fernandez Retamar, and America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan. In these texts, it was the voice that unveiled and dug deep into the history of what America was founded upon. The voice that called for justice, for awareness, and remembrance instilled in me the need to find out more — a need to remain unclouded by propaganda and lies.
I am not sure which genre is best for resistance literature because each being casts a light from different angles. Perhaps the bildungsroman genre or slave narrative will be most effective. How one writes resistance literature all depends on the person’s experience and knowledge of the matter, ranging from Fanon’s passionate anger for justice to Bulosan’s soft yet powerful testimony of his life in the USA. However, the most effective resistance literature would leave the reader restless, impacted, and yearning for whole truth in its quake.

The Oriental Lady

Her feet skims the surface
For her legs can only, stretch, so far
Small, sharp, and somber
Pools of inky light, quiver as, they see
Her lips pressed neatly, part, only to eat
The air thick with moon dreams that
chase,
chase,
chase,
The sun and its beams

Marisol Blackburn leaned closer to the mirror as she started to apply mascara on her eyelashes while her lips involuntarily formed an ‘o.’ Her beloved gold bracelet decorated with diamonds and sapphire, given to her as a gift from her mother, slid down her arm as she raised her hand to tuck a blonde strand of hair behind her ear. Having finished applying her make up, Marisol stepped back and smiled at herself in the full-length mirror.

She smoothed out her ivory silk dress (her mother always did say ivory looked good on her) and hummed the catchy little song that she loved so much, “Sun’s up, a little after twelve, make breakfast for myself. Leave the work for someone else. People say, they say that it’s just a phase. They tell me to act my age, well I am!” At the age of 25, Marisol’s voice was fully developed and she held each note she sung with strong conviction. It was this exact passion and strength of her voice (which her mother so commended) that made her one of the top singers in the U.S.A. It was also her status that led her to tonight’s event: a date with the world renown sociologist and activist, Clay Woods.

Marisol thought they were a rather odd couple: a pop star and a sociologist. She sat in her chair and swiveled around to face the mirror. Her hazel eyes shined with blinding happiness, to which many of her fans have been captivated by the colors. Marisol usually had rose-colored eye shadow (which her mother had recommended) to compliment her eyes and tonight, they seemed so bright. After all, Marisol mused while fixing her hair, he did appear on the New Yorker, as well as the Times magazine. She giggled as she recalled his shy yet charming smile, his warm green eyes, and tousled brown hair. In Marisol’s mind, there was no doubt they looked good together and that was all that mattered.

The doorbell rang and Marisol jumped up from her chair in excitement.

“Maria!” she called, as she hurried to her room to get her bag. “I need my coat!”

The housekeeper appeared in the doorway of Marisol’s room with her coat and a frown.

“My name is Aroha,” she said with annoyance. “I have told you before – ”

“What was that?” Marisol asked, turning around with a smile. She took the coat from Aroha’s aged hands and quickly walked towards the door. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours, dearie.”

When Marisol Blackburn opened the door, everything became a perfect dream for her. Clay Woods stood before her with red poppy flowers and a smile.

“These reminded me of you,” he said, giving her the flowers. “They’re beautiful. Just like you.”

Marisol blushed and took the flowers. She thanked him and took his arm. They walked down the path that led to his car. Marisol looked back and smiled at Aroha, who stood behind the little window of the big white house. Marisol turned away and got into the car when Clay opened the door for her. She smiled and looked down at the flowers. Her mother had taught her the meaning of flowers, but she could not remember what the poppy flowers meant.

Marisol had a charming time during the drive until Clay Woods mentioned the charity event they were attending tonight.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to be involved and to be a part of a movement. What do you think, Miss Blackburn? You have a great amount of influence world-wide!”

Marisol froze. Her mother always did say if she does not understand, to smile and to move on. Marisol bat her lashes and smiled at Clay Woods.

“I think it’s a beautiful night. Let’s have a walk after the event.”

Clay Woods’ smile faltered and he shifted his gaze towards the road ahead.

“I suppose.”

In embarrassment, Marisol looked out the window. She caught her reflection in the side mirror. Her eyes suddenly looked dull and to her dismay, she remembered that poppy flowers meant oblivion.

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