Friday, April 25, 2014

Meet our new friend, Ethan.

Ethan is a hero, through choice and dedication and long-term blood, sweat, and tears.  Ethan is a missionary who works with street kids in a gang neighborhood in Honduras.  Almost none of these kids have an engaged father.  Many of them don't know who their father is, and a few of them are orphans.  Ethan is the only father many of them will know.  He's the disciplinarian and the source of reward.  He teaches them how to behave, how to live without stealing, how to love.  Eight of the kids call him "Dad."  He has even taken one of them in, and spends much of his support money paying for the kids' school and clothing.  

Ethan works in a tough neighborhood.  When he drives in, if he doesn't give the proper signal, he finds a gun to his head, held by a gang member.  It has happened several times already.  Ethan has been tied up inside his own apartment and robbed, again at gunpoint.  He has delivered a eulogy for an 11-year-old kid, one of his Sunday School kids, who died due to violence.

Often we think of a hero as a guy running into a burning building to rescue someone.  That's a perfectly acceptable definition of hero.  But the "burning building" hero is finished with his deed in a few minutes and (hopefully) goes home.  Ethan is a more profound hero.   Ethan has been risking his life for years to save the lives of these otherwise hopeless kids.  He is currently back in the States, raising support to return to his work saving kids.  

Oh, by the way, Ethan is 23 years old.

Some young people are dissatisfied with the trajectory of their lives, dominated by electronics, and making little difference in others' lives.  Those folks would do well to ask the Lord for a job.  Perhaps He would give them a chance to be a hero, like Ethan.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Studying Hard at MTI

We're in our final week at Missions Training International.  It has been a highly fruitful time of superb training.  During the first two weeks, we concentrated on methods of language learning.  They showed us how to make our tongues and mouths create the most bizarre sounds.  Here are a couple of photos and videos of the training materials and drills.

The pronunciation drills were fun, but the language-learning games and processes were better.  Here's Martha following directions from world language-learning expert Dwight Gradin in the Vietnamese tribal language of Jeh.  
Dwight was one of a small team of missionaries who developed a system of writing for that language.  He is a master teacher.
During the last two weeks, we have been concentrating on cultural integration.  We have been involved in role-playing, simulations, and other imaginative means of teaching us how to thrive in our new home.  Here's a bridge-crossing exercise that may look sort of "summer camp-ish" but was actually packed with profound insights.  

 All of our instructors are former missionaries with extensive experience.  This has been a stellar month.  Helen and Meredith and James have been learning all day, too, in 'tracks' that are sometimes separate, sometimes included with Martha and I.  We are looking forward to putting our new training into practice in Kenya.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Training for New Servants at the Grand Household

We’ve arrived for our final training in the US prior to departure for Kenya.  Our destination for this trip is Mission Training International, in Palmer Lake, Colorado.  We are most excited. 
The COMPASS Course at MTI is universally praised as marvelous preparation for the Field.  The course lasts four weeks.  All of our interactions so far with the MTI folks have been wonderful and professional and gracious.  If I remember correctly, all of the instructors are former missionaries.  They will teach us how to integrate well with our new culture, how to learn language more effectively, and how to deal with some important situations. 
And, of course, it’s in Colorado.  None of our kids have ever seen the Rockies.  Martha and I will enjoy showing them the splendor of that part of God’s creation.  We will have some weekend time open, and hope to spend much of that time outdoors. 
When thinking about the preparatory training, I imagine that we’re like new servants, freshly hired to work in a fine 19th century manor house.  We’re elated to have been hired.  We know we’re not worthy to work there, but we so desperately want to do well to please the Master.  We know He is a wonderful Master, gracious and grand, and we want Him to find us obedient and diligent.  We need to be taught where to stand and how to dress and how He likes his pheasant prepared and how to treat His guests.  We know that He values integrity and honesty and courage and industry.  We know that we’re imperfect in those characteristics, but we’ll try so very hard.  And so we are overwhelmingly grateful for the training, so that we might have a better opportunity to succeed.

After MTI, we will spend the next two weeks in the “Grandparent farewell tour,” returning home on May 10th or so.  The next month will be our final push to pack up, close down the house, and be sure the older kids are tucked in.

Because we have a departure date!  The tickets are bought!  We fly out on June 11th and arrive in Nairobi the next day. We start work in the Master’s house soon afterward.  We are thrilled with anticipation and a bit apprehensive, hoping that we will be ready and able for our place in the Household.  We would be most grateful for your prayers to that end.  Onward, Upward!