While I drove by the Hmongtown Marketplace at least twice a week this past semester, for some reason it had never caught my eye until a few weeks ago. It should have though. St. Paul is home to the largest urban population of Hmong in the world. More than 60,000 people who are Hmong live in Minnesota and at least half of those people live in St. Paul (http://visualstpaul.blogspot.com/2009/01/hmong-in-minnesota.html).
Last week I was going on a run and as I was running past the familiar sign for the Hmongtown Marketplace I thought to myself, “why don’t I take a look inside?”. I just looked around briefly the first time I went, but I decided to go back earlier today with a friend because I really wanted to immerse myself more in the Hmong-American culture/life. As I walked through the marketplace filled with rows of vendors selling everything from delicious, aromatic foods I had never heard of before (native to the Hmong people’s land of origin in Laos) to every possible kind of ointment anyone could ever need in a medical emergency, I became regretful that I had not spent more time this past year immersing myself in the Hmong culture.
While I can’t go back in time, today reminded me how truly difficult it is to live an intentional lifestyle. Being “intentional” how one spends his/her time, money, etc. requires not only the desire to make a change in daily routines, but the entire “re-landscaping” of one’s life. “Re-landscaping” means not just going to a different coffeeshop or store than you usually do once in awhile, but consistently going to those places–even if it’s uncomfortable at first.
This past year living in the neighborhood of Frogtown, in St. Paul has continued to challenge me to think of how I want to live my life and what I can do to “re-landscape” the way I live. I’ve tried to be more consistent about spending my money at local restaurants, coffeshops and farmer’s market, but as I’ve been learning it’s much more difficult than it seems. Convenience is always a temptation that is easy to give into, especially with the privilege I have. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m taking it day by day and praying that God will continue to give me guidance along the way…hey, that rhymed!:)
So, if you live in St. Paul I encourage you to check out the Hmongtown Marketplace. It’s a great way to support the local Hmong-American businesses, immerse yourself into a new culture, have some great convos, and of course eat some awesome food 🙂
Peace, Joy & Love to you all,