Season’s Greetings from Cathy Chang
Cathy Chang, PC (USA) Mission Co-Worker in The Philippines visited Grace Presbytery in June 2017.
Christmas and New Year’s Greetings
Since we are a family who celebrates the twelve days of Christmas (that is, through Epiphany), we are happy to share our extended Christmas and New Year’s greetings to you! When we still lived in Michigan, we always bought our Christmas tree around this time (mid-December), instead of right after Thanksgiving. Many of you might know that Filipinos celebrate with the longest Christmas preparations that start as early as September.
Earlier this year, in June 2017, I (Cathy) met many members of the Grace Presbytery through a 3-week long visit. Some of you might have witnessed our brief family video at the May Presbytery meeting. It was the first time meeting many of you, but as I quickly learned from the Presbytery leadership, it’s not the first time that you’ve been supporting mission, locally, nationally and internationally. We are the second international mission co-workers to benefit from a generous gift, from the Presbytery. We’re writing to share some updates about our ministry here in the Philippines and throughout Asia.
2017 marked our family’s first full calendar year in the Philippines. Although we moved here in March 2016, somehow our time here has seemed already much fuller than the nearly two years that have already passed. While Juan and Aurelie have enjoyed a pretty stable routine with school and taekwondo and playing with friends, my routine has been anything but ecumenical forums to learn more about human trafficking and migration; travel around the Philippines as well as Hong Kong, Indonesia and Myanmar, speaking, preaching and writing articles and liturgies. Breaking from our familiar routine, Juan preached for the first time ever in English, at our home church, 3 days before our wedding anniversary.
While our calendars seem to be full of opportunities, we are aware that it’s the first time that we had to decline invitations and to discuss the uncertain future. Not because we want to, but because of the warnings for the U.S. citizens in Mindanao, where martial law was declared in late May, extended until this December, and just recently extended for the entire year of 2018. We share these events and circumstances not to alarm you, but rather to share our prayer concerns for the Philippine people. Due to the siege of Marawi from late May, in the southern part of the Philippines, there has been increasing violence between the government and so-called terrorists. At first these were identified as the Muslim insurgents whose demands are rooted in historical conflict. Now the government has used this same label for the armed members of leftist groups, many of whom have been trying to address the dire social circumstances in the Philippines. Still church leaders are Lumad (indigenous people) leaders are targeted in this cross-fire and have already been harassed, imprisoned, and even perished due to the crackdown.
Looking forward to 2018, I will be working more closely with my two main partners, Migrante International and Churches Witnessing with Migrants (CWWM), on some exciting projects. Thanks to the generosity of international partners like the United Church of Christ-USA and United Church of Canada, we will continue our work in addressing emergency assistance for families of OFWs, as well as a Philippine nationwide consultation about labor trafficking. I will also traveling to some newer locations such as Sri Lanka (January), United Arab Emirates (February), and Nepal (April). Sri Lanka and Nepal will introduce me to existing PCUSA global partners who work with tea plantations, garment industry, and human trafficking. In the United Arab Emirates, there is a newer UCCP-UAE “fellowship” (worshipping community) that consists of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and some of their families. UCCP General Secretary Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza and I will travel together.
Starting this June, as a family we will be traveling to the U.S. for our long-term interpretation assignment (IA). Our tentative plan is to stay in Michigan and focus on the Midwest, with some additional visits in other parts. We also plan to participate at General Assembly and Presbyterian Women Churchwide Gathering. We look forward to sharing more in person, catching up, and enjoying our time with you! Please contact us directly if you desire us to visit your church, your PW group, or another group, via email at email@example.com.
By way of reminder, here are some additional ways to stay in touch:
*Friend me on Facebook (Catherine Chang)
*Follow our blog at eveniftheskyfalls.wordpress.com
*Receive semi-monthly email updates (send request at firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Read Nov/Dec 2017 and Jan/Feb 2018 Presbyterian Women Horizons magazines (author of two articles)
As “Team Chang Lopez,” we thank you again for your ongoing support through your prayers, letters, care packages, and financial support, for our family and for our work throughout Asia.
Cathy, Juan & Aurelie