Why Serve 2010: A Place From Which to Serve
June 15, 2010
Ernesto Pasalo, or JaR, is a student in the Diocese of Hawaii.
“But now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him” Romans 16:26
As we sat in the van on the way to our conference for “people of color” I noticed our group was culturally diverse. Native Hawaiian, Native American, Cuban, Mexican, African American, and Filipino were represented in the van. Though we were all different we were all there for the same reason. We were there to discern God’s call in our lives.
Having gone to the previous Does It Fit? conference I felt secure with where I was heading with my discernment. I attended Why Serve to better acquaint myself with the seminary and my peers. I was not ready for what God had in store for me. God got me questioning, who am I? How do I identify myself? What culture do I identify myself with? These questions were difficult but were necessary as I started to discern.
I know that I am Filipino and I was born and raised in Hawaii. That is where it gets tricky. Being raised in Hawaii, you are always around different cultures. When sugar became a huge commodity for Hawaii in the mid 1800’s, plantations needed more laborers to assist the Hawaiians and Caucasians already working in the cane fields. Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and Europeans where hired to work in the fields. They all had to learn to work together, communicate with each other despite the language barrier, and be able to live alongside each other. This is where Hawaii’s “local” culture started.
The local culture is a blend of all of the cultures that the plantations brought in. The local culture also adapted its own language, Pdgin, incorporating the native languages of plantation laborers.
So how do I identify myself and my culture? How does knowing my identity help with my understanding of God’s Call and my ministry? Am I culturally Filipino or a Hawaii Local? Which culture is more beneficial for me to serve? These questions cannot be simply answered. I am glad that Why Serve gave me the opportunity to seek the answers to these questions. One thing I will take away from the conference is the importance of culture when doing ministry, whether it be the culture from your native land or the culture you’ve come to relate yourself with.
Filed under: Why Serve