This past year has been a very full year for me as I took on new responsibilities at the University where I teach. This has made my life busier than ever and I have had to take on new challenges, but I also am aware that this has offered me a chance to learn new skills and also, hopefully, to grow. My new responsibilities include working with the administrative staff on curriculum, on budget issues, and to deal with endless e-mails and paper work. But the best part has been that I have also had new opportunities to relate to both students and faculty. I feel my relationships have been enriched and for that I am thankful. I hope in my second year as “Department Window” (that is the literal English translation of my position), I can find some more personal time to recover at least a bit more balance in my life!
In other news, the “Bazaar Café”, the ministry which our Global Ministries supports, continues to be an active and relevant ministry. This year we have had an increase in the number of young people attending our monthly bible study. Most of the folks that attend are not Christian, but they appreciate hearing the teachings of Jesus, and the application to present day issues as well as to their personal lives.
Also at the Bazaar Café, we have started a series called “Care Café”. Each session starts with a guest speaker, who shares his/her life story. Then the participants are given a series of questions to discuss at their tables. The topics covered so far include, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, LGBT identity, addiction. Participants include social workers, health professionals, teachers, and college students. The purpose of this program is for people to hear the stories of those marginalized by society, as well as to meet people of different backgrounds and professions, to share and exchange ideas about how we might be able to make a more inclusive and caring community. It also offers an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own beliefs, their own limitations and perhaps even their own prejudices.
The Bazaar Café offers a place for encounters with people who often experience prejudice and discrimination. When we are able to hear their stories, we realize that they are not as different from us as we thought… and that we care about them as people, and hope the best for them. We can be their friend and together create a caring community.
Yours in Christ,
Martha serves at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan through the Council on Cooperative Mission. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.