And I would drive 2,205 miles…

First off, you are welcome for getting that song stuck in your head. If a song didn’t get stuck in your had, what if I say, “and I would walk 500 more?”

On a completely different note, yesterday (Sunday the 14th) I left Toledo to start my big trip of my HMA. As this is posted I am in Nashville visiting a guy who I had the privilege of leading in a small group during his time at Black Forest Academy in Germany. It was originally going to be two guys and they were going to be spending their Fall break hanging out together. For some reason they want their “old man” leader to come hang out with them. I have never been to Nashville, so that will be fun to explore a new city and get to hang out with him.

After Nashville I will be heading to Charleston, SC, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, Alexandria, VA and good old Waldorf, MD. At each of these locations I am going to be connecting with friends and ministry partners who live in the area.

If you live anywhere near those locations and want to connect please reach out to me.

I do have a couple times I know of in which I will be speaking at churches, so if you happen to be near California, MD on November 4th I’ll be at Bridgeway Church, or White Pains, MD on November 11th I’ll be at South Potomac Church. I hope you come because I’d love to see you!

It’s Been a While

Every couple of weeks or so I thought to myself, “You should write a blog sharing whats going on in your world right now.” I’d immediately file that in the good idea folder and then promptly forget about it for another couple of weeks when I’d think to myself…you get the picture. When I logged on today to start actually writing this blog I realized I hadn’t published one since November. Holy goodness a lot has changed since then, so this post is going to be a brief update and immediately after I write this I will be planning and working on the next few posts so I can schedule them to release on a somewhat regular basis. I hope to do at least two posts a month; one about my ministry and one on a random topic which could include whatever pops into my head that month.

Ok, so here is a brief run down of what’s been going on since November:

  • Helped host ICCM (International Conference on Computing and Missions) as my last major event with eDOT where I spoke multiple times and in several different capacities including leading sessions called: “No More Faking Fine,” “40 Days of Decrease,” and another one on different styles of prayer. Be on the lookout as those will probably be jumping off points for my next few blogs.
  • Switched to Euroteam TEFL from eDOT. After 5 years with eDOT in Germany I felt it was time to move on to a different group that was more suited to my skills including curricula development and working with kids in English camps.
  • Helped lead a short-term team at an English camp in Korropi, Greece as my first team officially with Euroteam.
  • Moved out of my apartment in Riedlingen Germany and moved to Perrysburg, OH for my mandatory year in the US.
  • Since I’ve been back in the US my time has been filled with ministry partners, friends and family. I have made many memories already and am looking forward to making more throughout the rest of my time here.

That is the briefest run through of what I’ve been up to as of late. My next post will follow this one closely as I dive a bit more into what is going on with Euroteam TEFL and my role on the team, especially while I am working from the US.

Ok, but what do you actually do?

In the last post on what instructional design is and the 30,000 foot view of what instructional designers do, this post will bring it all down to the ground level and look specifically at the design of one activity.

For our Narnia curriculum we wanted a fun activity that had the students using the vocabulary from that day’s theme, which was clothing. We wanted the activity to be engaging to the point where the students almost forgot that they were “reviewing” their vocabulary.

Our plan was to play a game, but we were struggling to come up with a game that was fun. One of the major tools in an instructional designer’s tool belt is taking something that already exists and changing it to fit their needs. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do as a designer.

My colleague suggested taking a game called 6 Nimmt Junior and adapting it to clothing. The basics of 6 Nimmt Junior is that there are four rows of “stables” and the players are trying to get all six animals into a row, allowing them to take the cards. Each card can have between one and three different animals. If an animal on the card does not appear in a row already the player has to put it in that row, but if all of the animals are already in every row then they get to choose in which row to put the card.

The game is pretty simple and lent itself very well to adaptation. If you are familiar with the first Chronicles of Narnia movie (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) then you know the children go through a wardrobe to get to Narnia. Well, what goes in a wardrobe? Clothes, that’s what. Essentially all that needed to happen was a change of theme of the game. Instead of putting animals into a stable, the students will now be putting clothing into a wardrobe. Simple.

But that is not all that it takes to make an activity for a TEFL curriculum so the next step was changing the rules to provide reasons for the students to use their new vocabulary (the items of clothing). Instead of just playing a card like in the original game, in our game the students have to say what they are putting into the wardrobe. So if the card has a shirt, pants and a hat on it, then the students would say “I am putting a shirt, pants and a hat into wardrobe #3.” By the end of the game they should be pretty used to all of the types of clothing in the game and using them in a simple sentence.

This adaptation was pretty simple and not all adaptations can be created as easily, but sometimes they are.

Wait…what do you do?

I’m an instructional designer, which means I essentially, wait for it…design instruction. Even though that statement seems pretty ridiculous, I have said that more often than I can count (not literally, I can count pretty high). Instead of trying to say the same thing over and over again, I thought I would share with you all what it means to design instruction, the process behind designing instruction and maybe a few other tidbits of information here and there in relation to my work, here in Germany.

I won’t do this all in one post though, so don’t worry. This post will mostly serve as a basic introduction to what it is that instructional designers do.

If you noticed the picture for this blog, it will serve as an analogy for how the process of instructional design begins. No matter who the client is, they typically come to you and present their need, or their felt-need in order to get the project started. Typically though, their idea is either too fleshed out by someone not trained in instructional design or it is a view from 3,000 feet. The first meeting is important for both sides of the project, because the client needs to understand what will work, and the designer needs to understand what the goals of the instruction are to be.

Herein lies the analogy, when the project first starts it is hidden in the clouds of possibility. In order to understand the whole project, the designer must know that they are looking at a forest while the client must recognize that the designer can best guide people to that base of the trees. If either part of this is not understood then the designer might lead to the wrong destination and the whole project could be a waste of time.

Hopefully that sheds a bit of light into what it is that I do. Next post I will be using a specific example of how instruction can be crafted from non-curriculum based sources before going into detail on how the design of a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) curriculum based on the Chronicles of Narnia movies has and is continuing to work.

The Paperless Gospel

I’m going to cheat a little today on my blog post because I think this story is awesome and it happened to one of the people I will be working with in Germany so I took this story from GEM’s story page. You should check out the stories they post there on a regular basis!

Here is the story:

One of our workers serving in Germany tells the story of an opportunity that he had to explain the Gospel to an Irishman in Amsterdam. It’s a great example of being ready and watchful for open doors!


I was sitting in a conference room in Amsterdam waiting for some specialized training on smartphone app development to begin when I heard a familiar accent. I’d been to Dublin several times and I recognized that familiar Irish lilt coming from a man nearby.  I quickly introduced myself to this other native English speaker amidst the Dutch, German, and French speakers surrounding us.

C2CDisobeyHis name was “Alan” [not his actual name]. Over the two days of the conference, we hung out together at breaks and lunches talking about all sorts of things. His fiancé and my wife. The iPhone 5 release. Irish tea. Guinness. What we do for a living, etc.

The subject came around to an app I am developing and I wanted to use the opportunity to steer the conversation toward spiritual things. The app is called “C2C Story” and it’s based on an evangelism tool that we use in our Discipleship Multiplication Training whereby we explain the story of God, from creation to the resurrection of Christ. The app provides a series of pictures that you can flip through on your device as you explain the story.

As I was describing the technical aspects of the app with Alan, it also gave me the opportunity to tell him the actual “Creation to Christ” story. Alan listened and had some questions about both the app and the story. He gave some solid suggestions for improving the app and told me that he would like to talk more about the story.

My hope and prayer for Alan is that his story might intersect with God’s story so that he will be forever transformed and then inspired to invite others into the redemptive story of God’s love.C2CMiracles

[Have a look at the app’s website by CLICKING HERE. It’s currently only available for Android devices, but the pictures can be used on Apple/iOS devices by using the web app version on the website or downloading the PDF images into iBook, Kindle, or other PDF applications.]

 

 

Laptops to skills to trades in Ukraine

My supervisor in Germany recently sent me an e-mail with some pretty cool news about something that eDOT had a had in years ago that is still being used today and now is playing an even bigger role than originally thought. I want to share with you the awesome things God is doing through that project

Unlike here where most people my age and under grew up with a computer, in some areas few people even have access to a computer let alone have their own at their house. A few years back eDOT went to  Zaporozhye, Ukraine and set up what is known as a Mobile Outreach Center. The MOC, a group of laptops used for teaching basic computer classes, was installed at a community center that was an outreach of a church plant in Zaporozhye. Originally the MOC was used primarily for computer training so people were better prepared for more jobs and while they were getting the training they are building relationships with those working there and hearing about/seeing God’s love lived out. That in and of itself is awesome, but this MOC was also being used to help orphans who have “graduated” from the local orphanage.

Recently though there has been plans for a trade school to begin as another outreach to orphans and others needing job training. They were having difficulty getting the school accredited but when they found out that the school would be offering computer classes, the doors were opened. The computer course has been accredited now which makes it easier to get future courses accredited and then eventually the whole program.

What began as a way for people to be surrounded by God’s love while learning basic computer skills has morphed into something well beyond what was originally thought. God’s plan is certainly better than ours and I love when he reminds us of that!

My supervisor sums it up pretty well and so I will leave with a quote from the e-mail he sent.

“We’re finding that technology isn’t always what “it’s about” but many times its the door way for other opportunities to follow.”

The other side of my ministry

First off let me apologize for not posting every day like I promised. This past week has been pretty rough. I was so exhausted most days that as soon as i sat down I was asleep. Add that to the fact that I injured my leg and couldn’t run and my frustration level was pretty high.

Anyway, at the beginning of the month I asked for suggestions for blog topics and my friend Dustin gave me two. I addressed one of them earlier and today I will address the other one today.

Dustin said: I see that you and GEM both put a high emphasis on personal relationships when spreading the gospel. I love this. Why do you think this is important and biblical? Do you have any ideas yet about how you might carry it out in Germany?

Dustin is correct in saying that GEM and I are very purposeful about being relational with people and then having that lead to conversations about God. GEM’s mission statement addresses this very thing when they say “Disciple all peoples of Europe through rapidly reproducing churches.” You can’t disciple without a relationship. Jesus didn’t call His closest followers disciples for nothing.

GEM is huge on this and honestly that is why I will be in Germany creating online courses as opposed to doing them here, which technically I could do. GEM wants me to be in Germany so I can help spread the Gospel to my neighbors. There are a lot of people in Germany who do not truly know Jesus and I can help bring a Christian influence to my apartment complex, my town and my region of Germany.

Beyond the fact that GEM is all about relationships so is God. If you look in the Bible it shows many times that relationships are important, whether they be with God, with people you know or people you are yet to know.  I mean God is jealous of His relationship with us (Exodus 34:14), we are called fools if we do not have a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:21). Then of course there is the great commission (Matt 28:16-20) where we are told to go and make disciples. How can we make disciples without forming relationships? All of these relationships are supposed to be about getting each person involved to a right relationship with God.

So how am I planning on doing this? Well, I have some ideas on what I might do, but since I have not lived in Germany I am also keeping an open mind to possibilities that I have not thought of yet.

One of my ideas for my initially year in Germany while I am taking language courses all day, every day is to find a cafe/coffee shop where I can start conversations with the regular customers or employees and ask for their help with my German and i will help them with their English if need be. I also want to have a German Bible so I can ask them to translate some phrases as well.

Another idea is developing relationships through a garden plot. I have never really gardened before in my life, but some apartments come with them so if the apartment I get does I will try to find a neighbor to help me learn how to garden.

I also want to get involved in the community in general. I have heard that they have hobby groups that meet somewhat regularly. I love photography, running, hiking, traveling and would love to get with a group of locals and explore. I will probably have to know Germany pretty well by then so I might not join a group immediately.

Lastly, and this one might seem a bit obvious, I will join a local church and become involved with whatever ministries in which they are currently involved.

I can’t wait to use the skills God has given me in technology and education, but I am also ecstatic about getting to know Germans and living life side-by-side with them.