Squeaky floors, contaminated tap water, a constant stream of noise from the windows we couldn't close because of the heat and an pervasive sense that we were inhabiting a very different setting than we were used to. One block to the west was the ever expanding affluence of downtown Vancouver. One block to the east was the famous "Downtown Eastside" (DTES), one of the poorest postal codes in Canada and our home for the two weeks of Vancouver Urban Partnership. My major project for this summer, I helped 13 staff and students do a full on immersion into this neighborhood and into God's heart for peace and justice.

Our days began with breakfast, morning prayers and Bible study. We spent a lot of time poring over Scripture and discovering that concern for the poor and seeking justice are not isolated or minor themes but rather essential aspects of God's character and His Kingdom.

After lunch (usually at the Carnegie Center where you can get a great meal for under $2), we heard from many of the voices of people living, working and serving in the Downtown Eastside. Pictured above is a DTES resident giving us a very in-depth and helpful tour and history of the neighborhood.

After very full days, we would spend the evenings either joining a local community for dinner and conversation or creating space for our team to unpack the day.

There is so much to say about the trip but I can say with confidence that every participant was significantly challenged and inspired through the experience of living and learning in the Downtown Eastside, myself included. The looming task before us, however, is learning how to integrate what we've experienced and learned into our local context at home, namely the university campuses we work and serve at. As one our participants, the IV USA Director of Urban Projects challenged us, what would it look like for us to "seek the shalom of the city or campus we are curently in?"

Here is what one student wrote upon her arrival back at home: "Re-entering my community/lifestyle has been a pretty big challenge for me. Definitely felt some intense culture shock and jet lag the first few days back (i.e. walking around slightly dazed, forgetting to shower, leaving the house looking disheveled or "like a crazy person", according to my mom). It's not as bad anymore... but still trying to cope with the contrast between living in community in the DTES and being back at home, where the elderly retire and families with young children abound. I feel rather torn. It's as if I'd left a piece of my heart back in the DTES and long to be back..."

This statement captures the tension we were hoping all our participants would experience. A disorienting experience that forces us to re-evaluate our familiar surroundings and ask that dangerous question, "Jesus, how are you loving this place and how can I participate with you?" The two-week pilot project is over but the task of thinking of how a longer and more extensive program that continues to challenge and deepen our campus ministry can happen next summer begins. Thank you for your prayers and support!

what's next:

* New School Year - I am excited to begin this new school year with three new staff: Justin Yuen and Barron Crawford will be the new staff team at SFU and Leslie Lai will be joining Jacqueline Brower at UBC. Please pray for these new staff as they work to be fully funded and ready to go on September 1st!

* Sept 28-30 - Western Ministry Director Meetings - One of my joys is meeting with the other Ministry Directors in Western Canada -- through scripture, prayer, planning and lots of good conversation, much of the ministry in our field is shaped and influenced by the relationship we enjoy on this team.

* Oct 1-3 - Metro Vancouver Fall Retreat

* Oct 20-31 - Trip to Turkey and Greece - Min Cha and I are thrilled to be taking our vacation this fall in the Eastern Mediterranean. For 12 days we will be immersing ourselves in a part of the world that interests us very much. We're looking forward to good food, lots of nerdy historical sites to check out and good quality time together. Can you believe we're already on our 3rd year of marriage together!?

current fundraising situation:
The good news -- I got a raise! Well, technically I'm closer to what someone in my position is supposed to be paid -- but of course the reality is that I need to raise more support as a result.

Here's a breakdown: Previous Goal: $52,656 (annual) / $4,388 (monthly) Total Donations 2009-10: $47,062 (annual) / $3,921 (monthly) New Goal: $59,308 (annual) / $4,942 (monthly)

How my fundraising works:
Of the total $4,942 I have to raise each month, my actual take home salary is $2400. The other $2542 goes toward taxes, benefits, ministry expenses and overhead (20%).

inter-varsity's core purpose and values:
Being shaped by God’s word and led by the Holy Spirit, the purpose of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada is the transformation of youth, students and graduates in all their ethnic diversity into fully committed followers of Jesus Christ.

how to get involved:
* your prayers: I do not take this lightly – the only reason I feel like I can go forth with this work is because I know I am covered in prayer
* financial support: this kind of support allows me to have the freedom to spend time on campus with students – you can make monthly donations or a one-time donation – big or small, it all counts -- to donate online, click here.

Leave a Reply