Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New Beginnings in Myanmar

During the end of February, I had the opportunity to be a part of the opening of the Mission To Seafarers Yangon Seamen's Center in Myanmar.  A dedication service was held at the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral followed by a celebratory lunch and a visit to the center. This was a very exciting time for all involved because all of the dedication, time, and hard work that went into this project was finally celebrated. My boss and the MTS East Asia Regional Director the Rev Stephen Miller invited me to join in the opening of the Seamen's Center and although I wasn't directly involved in the opening, it was incredible to see the Mission to Seafarers expand to a country that will truly benefit from the services we provide.

During my regular ship visits, I often meet many Myanmar seafarers and I am constantly blown away by their friendly smiles and warm hospitality. We often banter about football and I constantly tease them about the decline of Manchester United, whom they all seem to blindly support. All jokes aside, recently I have been informing seafarers about the opening of the Mission to Seafarers Yangon. The center is located near the Department of Marine Administration in Yangon, which will make it easy for seafarers to access our facility and services. The MTS Yangon plans to start a program to visit seafarers on board vessels, the main goal of the new Seamen's Center is to create a family network to provide services to Seafarers' families while they are away at sea. The seafarers I regularly talk with are very excited to visit and learn more about what the new center will offer when they return home from sea.

My visit to Myanmar has reminded me just how far god's work can stretch. Although the political and economic nature of Myanmar is still uncertain with it's new transition to democracy, I am excited to see how the mission expands in the future.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Old Post - Christmas and New year in HK!

Just a little disclaimer- I've been sitting on this post for a while and although the content in this post is old, I hope you all still enjoy reading about my time with family over the Christmas holiday.

Hey Guys! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. With the New Year comes new resolutions to (hopefully) follow and work towards throughout the coming months. While I didn't make any particular New Year's resolution, I think that we can all agree that my absence in blogging could be improved. Anyways, I wanted to update you all on what I have been up to this past month or so.

Since living in Hong Kong for almost 5 months now (wow time sure does fly!), I know how tough it can be being away from friends and family. I was very fortunate to have my family visit me in Hong Kong for a week and a half during the Christmas holiday! It was so nice to see familiar faces that I had missed so much during a time when it is most important to be with family. I got to play tourist with them and take them to some of my favorite places in HK as well as explore some new territory. We went hiking, sailing, explored small villages, and ate all of the food. A trip to Hong Kong is not a true experience unless you plan your itinerary around your next meal.

Cameron Christmas Vacation

Although we didn't follow our typical family Christmas traditions, we made the most of what we had and were reminded what is most important, each others' company. Instead of visiting family friends and eating a Christmas ham and peppermint cake on Christmas Eve, we ordered Chinese take out and ate fried rice and spring rolls. Instead of arriving at Church knowing where we would have a seat, we waited 2 hours in a line hoping we would get tickets to the Cathedral Christmas Eve service. Instead of spending Christmas day with our immediate family, we had dinner with my new friends and their families from all around the world. I think people can get really worked up around how they expect Christmas to be in their mind, but if you take away those expectations and focus on what's important- finding Christmas joy with the ones you love most wherever you are.

While I was blessed to have my family travel across the world to spend Christmas with me, I was reminded that others are not as fortunate. The holiday season can be especially lonely for those who do not get to spend it with their loved ones. Seafarers work for months without holiday leave and are unable to be with their loved ones to celebrate Christmas. Here at the mission, we tried our best to bring the joy of Christmas to every ship we visited. Leading up to Christmas we worked diligently wrapping, packing, and giving over 6,000 Christmas presents to seafarers. While this gesture seems small, it brought smiles to every seafarer we visited. Some seafarers do not practice the Christian traditions of Christmas, but we were still able to share the joy of Christmas with every seafarer that anchored in Hong Kong.

I still don't know what the year 2016 has in store for me, but my final chapters of 2015 reminded me how fortunate I am to have such an incredible experience to live and work in Hong Kong and to have such an amazing family to share that experience with. It hasn't always been easy for me in Hong Kong and it can sometimes be very tough not to think of my life ahead when I return to the US, but I hope to take every new experience 2016 offers me and run with them.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. I've been trying to decide the voice I want to take with this blog and how I want to share my experiences in Hong Kong with you all. I intend to focus on the different aspects of seafaring and my work here in future posts, but for now I just want let you know what the life of Andy Cameron has been like over the past 3 months in Hong Kong. Wow I've almost been here for a quarter of a year!

Well besides working with the Mission to Seafarers, I've tried to do things in Hong Kong to make it feel more like home. I've joined the local YMCA and play pick-up football ("soccer" for all of you Patriots who still believe American Football is the center of the sporting world, but that's a blog post for a different time) at least once a week to stay active and fit. On the weekends I try and explore the city or visit the beaches on the outskirts of the island. Being able to take a quick trip out of the city and enjoy the beautiful landscapes that the rest of Hong Kong offers has been a breath of fresh air. I love the city, but it can be very loud, busy, and sometimes overwhelming.

While working with the Mission to Seafarers takes up a lot of my time during the day, I have also tried to find other ways to serve and use my time practically as a missionary. A women who attends St John's Cathedral has asked MG and I to help with an After-School English Program. Twice a month MG and I help facilitate a course intended to strengthen the student's conversational English skills. The kids are middle-school aged and its hilarious to see them interact and become more comfortable with their language abilities. I've also began a bible study with a few friends. The reality is my christian community in Hong Kong is quite small and I have to be intentional to remind myself why I am here. I hope this bible study can become that reminder and also have some awesome conversations about spirituality with some of my close friends.

I've also began reading more and listening to podcasts (I know i'm so post-grad). Its pretty awesome to be able to read for pleasure and not have to think critically and annotate books like I did during my under-grad. Some podcasts that have kept me busy are You Made it Weird by Pete Holmes and Men in Blazers.  I highly suggest You Made it Weird. The comedian Pete Holmes interviews other comics and talks about their lives, relationships, and spirituality. Its equally hilarious and insightful. Men in Blazers is a weekly podcast that raps up the British Premier League weekend fixtures. If you're into football and British banter then I'd definitely recommend it. If there are any books or podcasts that you think I'd enjoy please let me know, I'm always up for new material!

Anyways, as I mentioned earlier, the purpose of this blog post is to give you a better perspective of what I've been up to recently. I've been in Hong Kong long enough to have a daily routine and it feels more like home every day. I know its been a while since my last post, but expect to here more from me soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Photo Gallery: Hong Kong and Seoul

I apologize for the lack of photos in my last blogpost. Here's a photo gallery of what I have done over the past month. 
Hong Kong: Real Concrete Jungle
Shek O Beach

The view from Victoria Peak

Victoria Harbor in all its Glory  
Having some fun on Holiday on Lama Island *spoiler* there were no Lamas :/
Central Skyline lit up at night 
With some friends we made at St Johns Cathedral  
An example of the Container Ships I visit everyday
visiting a Myanmar crew aboard a Container Ship

Me and Reverend Ferry from Myanmar aboard a Container Ship

A Cruise Vessel getting repairs on the dry dock

Kwai Tsing Container Terminal

The Dayspring: Our launch ship we take out every day 

Another view of Victoria Harbor 

Lanturns at the Mid Autumn Festival

Some friends at the Mid Autumn Festival


This picture gives you a good perspective of how large the ships are I visit

The First Anglican Church in South Korea 

A cool view of Seoul

Seoul's take on the Mid Autumn Festival

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Since moving to Hong Kong 2 weeks ago, I've been thinking a lot about connection. How we live in a society that allows constant connection and how it is often taken for granted. My YASC placement is different from other YASCers' placements around the world because of the ease of connection in Hong Kong. Many YASCers are placed in remote areas where wifi is a luxury. The second day I arrived, I popped a new sim card into my phone and was able to connect with friends and family on the other side of the world.

Hong Kong is a city that prides itself on it's strong connection. The MTR, or Mass Transit Railway, is one of the most sophisticated underground railways. It has made getting around and learning the city a breeze. Also the complex underground passageways that connect the city are flushed with cell phone reception. Even the parks have free public wifi! These systems, which seem like luxuries in other parts of the world, are expected to (and do) run seamlessly.

While these strong connections help run the city, they also create a sense of disconnection. Everywhere you go, you see locals glued to their cell phones. While exploring the city, I've been run into many times by people not looking where they are going because they were texting. When you go to restaurants, people are not engaged in conversations, but instead are busy on their cell phones. I've grown up knowing that if I were to look at my cell phone during family dinners, there would be consequences. This has been a big adjustment for me, and makes me wonder why we allow our smart phones to run our lives?

A big part of my job with the Mission to Seafarers is to build connections with seafarers by visiting their ships at anchor. These seafarers are out at sea for many months, and often do not have enough time to leave the ship when they arrive in Hong Kong. Our job is to support these seafarers by bringing them local news, selling them phone cards so they can call their loved ones, or by just sitting down and having a conversation. Seafarers are desperate to connect with others because they are so isolated when they are out at sea. They do not have access to the internet and calls home can be scarce.

I think there is something we can learn from the seafarers. By allowing ourselves to be so connected all the time, we are in fact disconnecting ourselves. Maybe we should all be more patient for that text we expected hours earlier. Or maybe we should put down our phones and have a genuine conversation instead of playing candy crunch at lunch. Thats what I've enjoyed most about working with the Mission to Seafarers, connecting face to face a seafarer and sharing our stories.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

See you soon Hong Kong

I still can't believe my departure date is so soon! After graduation, during the beginning of the summer months, leaving for Hong Kong still felt like ages away. However, as summer comes to a close, so does my time in the US. I will be leaving for Hong Kong on August 25th!!!

The strange reality of my trip is that I will not arrive in HK until August 27th. Where did the 26th go? Im glad you asked! Here's my itinerary so you can better understand:

Depart: Reagan National (5:05pm) -> Arrive: LAX (7:49pm)
           You might be thinking "oh thats a really short flight!"
           But in reality its duration =  5 hours 44 mins 
           Timezones are funny and confusing and they are about to get even weirder!
            Layover: 3 hours 50 mins

Depart: LAX (11:30) (11:30pm) -> Arrive: Korea (4:15am) on 8/27????
           Duration = 12 hours 45 mins
           So the way time works (I think), I gain hours traveling west from DC to LA, but when  
           traveling from LA to Korea I pass a line that flips the time difference. So I gain hours and
           then loose a whole day flying from LA to Korea. 13 hour flight + 12 hour time difference=
           goodbye 8/26
           Layover: 4 hours

Depart: Korea (8:10am) -> Arrive: Hong Kong (10:55 am)
          Duration = 3 hours 45 mins 
          I know more time travel, but by this time Im going to be all sorts of messed up and will just
          be happy to be in HK!

Total Travel Time:
          flying time:    22 hours 15 mins
          layover time:   7 hours  50 mins
          Total:              30 hours 5 mins!!!

          Total miles flown = 9,563 miles

So as you can see my trip is going to be very long and most likely very stressful. Luckily I will be traveling with another YASCer, MG Benhase, who will also be working in HK! I consider myself a well experienced and patient traveler, but this trip will definitely stretch me. I was actually thinking of learning Cantonese during all of the travel time. 30 hours should be enough time to become fluent right?

I want to take the time to thank everyone who has supported me and my mission in Hong Kong. I don't think I would be able to take such a big leap across the world without all of your love and support. I will definitely be thinking of all of you as I begin packing physically and mentally for HK


Friday, June 12, 2015

Be a part of my journey!

A large part of being in the Young Adult Service Corp (YASC) is discovering what gifts god has given you to share with others around the world. Peter writes in his gospel, “ as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” While not everyone is suited to travel halfway across the world to serve, all of our gifts are equally important. One way you can become part of my journey is by financially supporting me! 

The biggest part of preparing for my year of service with YASC is to raise $10,000. This is about half of the cost of being a YASC missionary. $10,000 seems like a very large number but when you break it down by days, weeks, or months the amounts are very reasonable. Please faithfully consider donating to my mission! 

To help reach my goal please consider sponsoring:

  • one day ($30)
  • one week ($210)
  • one month (840)
All contributions you are able to make are greatly appreciated and they are also tax deductible!
Unfortunately I don't have a go-fund-me account or webpage so you will have to pull out your check book and stamps! 

please send contributions to:
The Diocese of Virginia
110 W Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23220
Make Checks Payable: The Diocese of Virginia
Memo Line: Andrew Cameron – YASC

You might be wondering what your donation is going towards. Your financial support will cover:
  • Monthly Stipend
  • Roundtrip Airfare
  • Visas
  • Comprehensive Health and Dental Insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Evacuation Insurance
  • Language Learning
  • Administrative Support
  • Discernment Weekend, Orientation and Debriefing
  • $1,000 Repatriation Allowance