Posts Tagged With: training

Pilot Project

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Overlooking the village of Muyja with the new coffee plants in the foreground.

As I drove out to the small village of Muyja, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Federico had called me a couple days earlier and said the community would really like to invite me right away. I hadn’t visited this place in about six months and the urgency of the request made me nervous. We had been praying for this village especially since it was a a pilot program for growing coffee. We provided a business loan for this community and I thought they probably wanted to ask for an extension on the loan since the coffee trees would be too young yet to get a good harvest. In the Spring of 2016, we had planted coffee with them and helped them buy the fertilizer they needed.

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Alvina showing her coffee trees.

A K’ekchi’ woman named Alvina greeted Federico and me; she was eager to show us the coffee trees. I was amazed to see strong healthy trees with unblemished leaves shimmering in the sunlight. Not only did the trees look healthy, but they were also heavy with fruit. Even though it usually takes about 3 years to get to a full harvest, these trees that were seedlings a year ago were already producing coffee.

I work with Federico in the Red Paz organization. This organization works with several villages in Alta Verapaz each year. In the first year they teach peace and reconciliation from a Biblical standpoint, helping the people in the village learn to work together and resolve conflict. In the second year they teach health and nutrition. In this phase the community works together to grow an organic garden of vegetables that provides nutrients that are often lacking in the local diet. Following the success of accomplishing these together, the community is ready to begin working together in the business of coffee. I believe God called us here to help and encourage the K’ekchi’ people as they try to escape the trap of poverty.

Federico and I returned from our tour of the coffee trees to meet together in the house of Angustia. We sat together on wooden benches on a dirt floor with coffee in hand and waited for the others in the community to arrive. Not only was everyone ready to make the first payment that we all agreed on, but some paid their entire balance!

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Ted with Federico, Alvina, and Carlos.

We are planning to present the Global Disciples business training early next year. I received the materials and training myself this summer and I am looking forward to the tremendous impact I’m sure it will make with the people in the villages.

It is encouraging to see people who have felt the weight of oppression for so many years finally able to make a difference in their lives. Their excitement is contagious as we celebrate the literal fruit of our labor. Continue to pray for us as we seek God’s will for the K’ekchi’ people.

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World Missions Institute–a Kid’s Eye View

I really wish I would have thought to take some more pictures of the kids and all the things they did, but fortunately, the teachers for the older class did a very nice job of taking pictures during all the field trips. I was going to ask Daisy if she would do a guest post on this topic, but she is at camp all week, so this post may be updated in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a visual look at some of the fun they had.

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Keeping the heat at bay.

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Fun in the sun

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Visit to a dairy farm.

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A couple of balloon-heads and the morning worship time.

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An outing to the greens

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The whole crew times 3.

I’m so thankful for the wonderful child care they had. They also did some activities with the older kids on being “third-culture kids” and what that means and how to prepare to leave well.

The younger class had 8 kids including Chimp and Rosebud (3 of them under the age of one). They didn’t go on any field trips for obvious reasons, but the 3-4 year olds did get some sprinkler time and park outings several times.

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The End of the Beginning

Wow! The last week of training was an amazing week. It’s so hard to believe a whole month has gone by already. God worked in so many different ways throughout the week to show himself to us. The relationships that began just three weeks ago have deepened into true friendships that will carry on for years due to the bonds we have formed preparing together for our times of service. We have had many wonderful times fellowshipping, playing, singing worshipping, and praying together.  And the teachings have continued to inspire and challenge us.

The sessions this week moved from mostly theory to specific examples of how God has been at work around the world. It began with learning the general methods that have been successful in the “Jesus movement” in the last two millennia, then we heard from missionaries to different cultures and how they were able to reach those cultures with the message of Christ’s love. Contextualization was emphasized many times over as of great importance in introducing Christ without railroading over the current practices and behaviors of those being reached, and contextualization requires a good deal of language and culture knowledge. Tuesday evening we watched the movie EE-taow (more here), and Wednesday morning we were privileged to hear from Mark Zook himself.  Oh, to be used by God and see the results in such a joyous and life-changing way! Mark shared valuable information about how to introduce the Bible’s stories to animistic (tribal) cultures, much of which can be used anywhere, and some of which helped me to see parts of the Bible in a new light. No one was ready for his session to be over.

We also discussed how results are not always this immediate. Sometimes, missionaries can be on the field for decades and see very little return on their investment, but that does not mean God is not at work. One speaker shared that it can take 13-15 encounters for someone to actually accept the truth of Christ into their lives. If we are just one of those seeds for someone, we brought that person one step closer to Life!

Thursday and Friday we reviewed many of the tools we learned about during the month and were encouraged to continue to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit, and to remember that He is always there with us. One of the final speakers challenged us with these four way to have excellence in ministry:

  •  Care more than others think is wise.
  •  Risk more than others think is safe.
  •  Believe more than others think is possible
  •  Dream more than others think is practical.

Friday afternoon we had an amazing time of prayer for each couple/individual and the country they are going to. As we were praying, if anyone had a word of encouragement or Scripture for the person, they could write it on a post-it note and lay it aside. We now have a whole stack of notes as continuous reminders of God’s love for us through others!

Also, the very last day, God finally (in His perfect timing) revealed to us where he has called us to go! However, it is a rather long story and so will be a post of its own in the near future.

Despite the diversity of people and the variety of our destinations, we were greatly encouraged by everyone there. I spent more than one evening discussion homeschooling on and off the mission field with another mom of five headed for a very primitive culture in Guinea Bissau. It was amazing how much we had in common–especially with two of her kids so close in age and personality to Daisy and Cub. Ted organized a ping-pong tournament that came down to one very exciting game that went into mega-overtime the final night. We also enjoyed a late-night hymn sing and many games of Settlers of Catan, Albanian volleyball, and sand volleyball with everyone.

As I sit here trying to figure out how to capture the awesome love and bonding that there is in the body of Christ, I’m realizing it’s not really possible to do with just words–especially not the limited amount of words in a blog post. So I will simply close with a few photos:

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All of the missionaries and their families (along with a couple of EMM staff) the last day of training. We will miss these people greatly and wish them many blessings in their travels to come.

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Late-night hymn sing.

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A celebratory dance–Albanian-style–after our(!) team won the second trivia night.

An exciting game from the ping-pong tournament.

An exciting game from the ping-pong tournament.

The riveted spectators

The riveted spectators.

A cute picture of Rosebud...required for almost every post, right? ;-)


A cute picture of Rosebud…required for almost every post, right? 😉

Passports

What greeted us in our mailbox at home!

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WMI — Week 3

This has been quite a week. It started Sunday with Chimp and Rosebud being sick and all three of us missing the visit to the house church. Fortunately, the illness was short-lived and didn’t affect any more of us.
Classes started off with two days of academic talks on culture. Ted and I both enjoyed these very much. Although they were academic, they were also helpful in getting us to think about the different ways other people view things and allowing us to see our own lenses. We spent quite a bit of time taking about gift-giving and the related expectations. It was very interesting to note that, on that topic, there are similar beliefs and expectations the world around.
Monday night we had a “cultural experience.” None of us knew what to expect going into it, but it turned our to be a Swazi worship service. It was a very moving service and made us all appreciate what other cultures can contribute to the worship experience. Here are a couple of the songs we sang.

[audio http://audioboo.fm/boos/1476507-thank-you-jesus.mp3 ] [audio http://audioboo.fm/boos/1476505-siyahamba.mp3 ]

ImageWednesday and Thursday were a bit more challenging days. Wednesday we spent learning how to learn a language. Although I really enjoyed learning the skills and suggestions for how to work with a language helper (and that Daisy joined us for that part! see picture), it was a bit discouraging that he kept emphasizing that it takes 2+ years to really learn a language well. Since the biggest parts of evangelism is relationships, language is pretty important, and EMM rightly stresses it a great deal. I’m hoping we’ll be able to pick up enough wherever we go to be able to build some good relationships even in our short time. Being here with mostly long-term missionaries means some of what is taught doesn’t apply to us in quite the same way.
Thursday was challenging in an entirely different way. We talked about contingency plans and what to do in case of kidnapping, or illness, or political upheaval, etc. Although it was hard to think about the possibilities, especially with four young children, I’m glad EMM does think about them and have procedures in place. The most important sentence of the day? “The safest place to be is where God had called you to be!”

Friday was a breath of fresh air with some team-building exercises and a case study on decision-making in teams where we looked at a touchy situation we could encounter on the field.

We are continuing to discern where our destination will be. We have spent a good bit of time this week talking with people involved in both locations (Albania and Kenya). I’m sure we would enjoy either location, so we are continuing to seek God in the process.

One week left of training! It’ll be nice to be home again, though getting back into the real world with having to make our own meals and keep the kids busy all day could be challenging. 🙂 We’ll definitely miss all the new friends we have made here too. Many of them will be heading to various locations around the world in the next several months: Thailand, Kosovo, Guinea Bissau, Chile, Albania, Czech Republic, China, Tajikistan, Honduras, and Germany.

A few more pictures from this week:

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Daisy and the girls

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A pre-breakfast chess game

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A team-bulding exercise to build the tallest house of cards

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Rosebud!

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WMI — Week 2 in pictures

If I wait for the time to type everything up in words, it’ll never happen, so here are a few snapshots of from our second week of training:

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At church last Sunday. The service was led by the Ka-ren population and they greatly value Father’s Day (and Children’s Day) and so celebrated all the fathers with handmade yarn leis and had something for all the children as well.

It was interesting to experience church as foreigners in a way. Although they interpreted much of the service into English, there were a few things that were not translated.

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A fun evening of play: a pick-up game of kickball in the background with Rosebud in the foreground. We have class two evenings a week, but the other evenings are usually filled with outside games and fellowship (weather permitting).
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The church at Philippi initially consisted of Lydia (a Jewish businesswoman), a slave girl, and the jailor (Acts 16) — a rather non-homogeneous lot. James Krabill encouraged us to consider why Paul wrote Philippians as he did with this audience in mind.
 
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The kids’ class having fun times in the sprinkler!
 
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Friday afternoon we visited a local mosque to help us understand more about Islam. Many of the families here are going to countries with a high Muslim population and we have spent a good bit of time learning about that faith in the last couple of weeks. I have been surprised by the number of similarities to Christianity, although the differences are still very significant.
 
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More fun times: Friday night we had trivia contest, splitting up into three teams and trying to answer some pretty challenging questions. The bonus question that totally reversed the scores was “Name all the oceans in the world.” 10 points to the first commenter to name them all correctly…no smart phones or other internet browsing (or other reference materials) allowed!  We followed that with a wonderful fire and fellowship outside our house.
 
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The Middle East

No, that’s not where we’re going…that we know of. That is where we are currently staying…MCC’s The Welcoming Place in Akron, PA has four different guest houses that are designed and named after four different continents. We are in the Middle East/Europe house. They are very nicely setup so that our family has three rooms in one wing that we can close off when needed and have some private space.

Today was day one of our training at World Missions Institute, and it was a very good day. We started this morning by hearing about the history and present-day mission of EMM from the president himself, Nelson Okanya. I didn’t know much before about the history and it was quite interesting and inspiring. I also really appreciate how much EMM supports their workers–not only in the expected spiritual ways, but also that all around well-being is so important to them as to be listed as a core value. They have systems in place to help with missionaries’ emotional and mental health as well as their spiritual needs.

This afternoon we had a session discussing Spiritual Formation and Sabbath Rest. We talked about different methods of spiritual formation and how to continue them while on the field, away from the fellowship and community we are accustomed to. We also heard about Sabbath rest and how important it is to truly have some time apart from all the demands of ministry to recharge, refresh, and reflect. Although I knew many of these things before in principal, I learned some new ideas for implementing them and was inspired to work harder to accomplish them as it will become more important as we experience new cultures and other challenging situations.

The kids also did very well today. Although I was called twice to take care of Rosebud, I actually prefer that. I’d hate to think I’m really not that important to her. 🙂  The child care workers clearly care for the children and really respect the parents’ wishes. There are quite a few other kids of similar ages that Daisy and Cub have especially enjoyed getting to know better. Tonight we had a family fun night to get to know each other better and have some fun. Both goals were accomplished exceedingly well.

Ted and I also really enjoyed getting to know the other families here and learning the stories of where they’re going and how they got there. It feels a bit awkward to not be able to say where we’re going yet, but it is encouraging to here about others’ journeys and know we are not alone. The way God has brought each family to this point is awesome, there’s really no other word for it! There are some wonderful families, couples, and people God is sending throughout the world, and we are privileged to have a month to get to know them better.

 

A quick addendum: in one of the emails I had a chance to skim today was this quote from a book that feels quite true at the moment: 

“Fear camps out right next to whatever it is you’re most called to do. That means the closer you get to your calling, the louder fear sounds.”
~ You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, Chapter 5

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