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.

Looking Back at January and February

A good friend of mine did something that often, too often probably, we don’t do. He looked me straight in the face and said, “How are your resolutions going?” Sadly, my answer was…I honestly don’t know. I couldn’t even remember what I said I wanted to do this year, so I thought, today I would take the time (and plan on doing this again every two months) to check back in and see how I’m doing. So here we go!

Physical

  • Lose weight – I don’t want to specify a number because I don’t know what number to specify. I have a good amount to lose and I want to continue losing until I reach a weight where I am comfortable. Since the beginning of the year I have lost 15 lbs which is just under 2 lbs a week, so that’s pretty good!
  • Run at least one triathlon and beat my previous time – I ran my first triathlon last year with my mom and brother and I really enjoyed it. There is one coming up in May not too far from me and I hope to be ready enough to beat my previous time. I haven’t registered for the May triathlon, but I have been training. 10 weeks to go!

Spiritual

  • Pray – I pray, but not nearly as much as I desire to pray. I want my prayer life to be as vital to me as anything else and making a conscious effort to pray more is the first step. Prayer has been happening more than it used to, but I long for more and deeper prayers.
  • Disciple and be discipled – Until recently I have never really had a mentor, but the last few months have been nice meeting with someone weekly to discuss life. I want to be that for someone as well, but I’m not sure where that person will come from. To be honest I forgot about this one, but God didn’t because he put one of my small group boys on my heart. We have just started to meet for breakfast weekly.

Mental

  • Counseling – I am a big proponent of counseling. I think just about everyone should get counseling at some point. I started counseling again last October and I am really enjoying it. The next step is to truly take what I am learning and make an effort to institute it into my daily life. I’m still struggling with this one. I hear what my counselor is saying and I believe it, but putting it into action is difficult.
  • Read more for fun – I used to read a lot and really enjoyed it. Now it seems I read for 10-15 minutes and then I get bored, fall asleep or move onto something else. I want to get back into reading for pleasure because when I do that I am in a better place. I started reading the Lord of the Rings for the first time. While I don’t read every day, I have found myself reading much more and seeking time to sit down and enjoy reading again.

Missional

  • Increase my skills – Seeing as I am doing a lot of work in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) I want to get certified to teach TEFL. Doing that will allow me to be better at creating curriculum in general, but especially for TEFL projects. I still haven’t figured out how this is going to happen.
  • Communicate consistently, clearly and more often- That says it all, I wouldn’t be here without my ministry partners, so I need to do a better job at sharing about my work here and letting them know how much they mean to me. I am communicating more and trying to be clear and consistent. Is it working?

Family

  • Love on them – I’ve got an amazing family and they deserve so much love. I could do more to remind them of how awesome they are! Working on this…I’ve got some ideas though.
  • My adopted families – Over here I’ve got several families who have essentially adopted me in as a brother and an uncle. Again, I want to show them how awesome they are too! I have been able to cook a couple meals for friends and one adopted family. I also get to help with homework when I go over. I love being able to take on that role when I am there.

Overall, I am pretty happy with my progress on my resolutions, but this isn’t about me. The point of my resolutions in the first place was to become a better person. To work on the things I felt God laying on my heart. God is definitely working through others to help me become a better person/brother/son/friend and for that I am thankful!

Guessing Strategically – DMT Curriculum

In March I went to a training called Discipleship Multiplication Training (DMT) in Lisbon. I wrote a little bit about it after the training was done. During that time I really felt God pushing on my heart telling me that I was going to do something with this curriculum. I thought it was going to be specifically with the curriculum that was used during our training, but God had other plans.

Within a few weeks we were discussing the possibility of eDOT playing a major role in the creation of a new DMT curriculum targeted towards reaching immigrants. The other two guys in the office never saw that coming…but I did!

The DMT trainings were already being planned and a grant for the curriculum/training was already obtained, all that was left to do was the curriculum itself. The grant requires that a certain number of trainings are completed within just under a year and a half. Our first training is planned for October and in order to get a curriculum written in time for it to be used at that training, we have a lot of work to do.

In the next month we will be reading a lot of material in preparation for beginning the curriculum. Neither of us, that are working on the project, are subject matter experts so next month I will be taking a trip to Chicago (and Toledo of course!) to sit down and have a very packed four days of meetings with a content expert. During those four days we will discuss anything and everything that we can, tied to the curriculum, and what he invisions for the trainings. The nice thing, that this trip will allow for, is time to ask questions and get answers immediately. E-mail is great, but when you are working on a curriculum, a lot of questions come up and will need answering sooner rather than later.

This curriculum will definitely stretch my skills and abilities to the max, but I am very excited to be able to develop something from the ground up. During the project we will be posting short articles about the instructional design process and I invite you to check out eDOT’s website to watch as we progress along in this project.

Guessing Strategically – Narnia curriculum

For the third post of the outcomes of our strategic guessing, I wanted to highlight one of the two curricula that I will be helping to design.

I have been working on an ESL (English as a second language) curriculum, based on the 3rd movie in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. As of right now there is no technology involved in this project, so I have been secunded to EuroTeam to help.

The idea for the curriculum is to be used at a camp for teenagers who want to learn English. We are designing it to be used at a specific camp in Germany, but ideally it could be used in any number of locations and situations. Basically once this curriculum is finished it will be available to any partners who would like an ESL curriculum.

This is the first project that I have been able to work on that uses the unique skills with which God has blessed me. Instructional design is an often misunderstood process that is often overlooked as well. It’s not that you need special training in order to do instructional design, but you do need an understanding for how people learn and in what ways you can craft a lesson to reach as many people as possible.

It has been a great experience so far and I am learning a lot while doing this project. I am looking forward to finishing this project and getting to see it in action later this year. Hopefully it will be used throughout the world so that while learning English these teenagers can learn about God in a non-threatening way.

Guessing Strategically – Networking

On Monday I started a series of blogs highlighting some of the projects that I will be a part of stemming from our strategic guessing last week. Monday was all about getting grants for projects and today is about networking.

Now some people may wonder how networking is a project on which someone can work, so let me explain. Here are some of our goals (I say some, because we are starting this from the ground up and haven’t established everything yet.):

  • Create a network of universities in the US (and maybe other countries as well) that will partner with us for the following:
    • Interns
    • Speaking opportunities
  • Attend conferences to establish partner relationships with other ministries for the following:
    • New projects
    • Help in current and future projects
    • Resources

Why is this a project we are working on?

That is a very good question, to which I can hopefully give an understandable answer. Let me look at the university network first. As a part of our strategic guessing we came up with a list of over 40 projects on which we are currently working or see ourselves starting within the next year. There are 4 full-time and two part-time staff on eDOT so that is a huge list. Some of the projects are relatively short, but others will take a large chunk of time.

That is where the interns could work out well for us. As with most of our partnerships we want it to be a reciprocal relationship and interns are just that. We would offer them first-hand technology or instructional design experience and they would help us finish projects.

Beyond that we would also love to increase our full-time team, but people with the skills we need don’t always know this opportunity even exists (including myself just a few years ago). If we can speak to the education and computer science students and show them how they can increase God’s Kingdom with their skills, I think we can accomplish just that.

Attending conferences is similar in that the more we attend, participate and get the word out about what eDOT does, the more projects and partnerships we will have. This also allows us to concentrate on what we do well and refer others to one of our partners who excel in an area we do not.

How is that going to work?

This is a trickier question to answer because, quite frankly, we do not know. We have attended conferences before so that isn’t hard to do (I will have to be extra-extroverted though for sure), but we need to find some and hopefully speak at some, therefore supplementing our future attendance.

Again, the university network is the trickier part. Right now we are putting together a list of the universities to which each of us has a connection and then we will proceed with connecting with the university and discussing requirements, possibilities, etc.

Like I said we are building this from the ground up, so if you have any connections to conferences or universities and want to share, please let me know. we would be very happy to connect with anyone who might be able to help us maximize our ability to change the world for Christ!

Guessing Strategically – Getting grants

Last week eDOT all got together in Kandern and started a time we were calling strategic guessing. I wrote a blog about why we called it that, so if you want to check that out go ahead and come back here when you are done.

Our goals were to discuss the past year and look forward to the next trying to see where God is leading us and what possible projects He has been placing on our hearts. All of us came out of the week with our own action plan. Mine included a few projects and I would like to take a couple blogs to share what those projects will be. The first project I will be working on is getting grants for eDOT and the other projects we are working on.

Being a technology mission we have many reasons why keeping up to date with the current technology is important. Do we need to own every new piece of technology? No, not really, but sometimes we do need to upgrade our equipment. Do we need to attend every conference or take courses to continue learning about current technologies and techniques? Also no, but again, we do need to be keeping up to date so we aren’t using something way out of date like someone using an abacus to do math in college right now. Money is needed and grants are a great way for us to get some assistance with specific projects.

My job in this project will be to research some grants that fit our current or potential projects and then pass it off to the people skilled at writing the grants.

Here is where I could use some help. Anyone have any resources or connections that could help us find some grants?

I wasn’t ready, but I’m getting there!

Before training if you had asked me if I was ready to leave for Germany I would have said yes, without a doubt. No matter what aspect of my life you were meaning I would have answered yes. I thought I was ready to go immediately, I wanted to leave shortly after training was over (even faster than the 5 weeks I have now), I didn’t need to do anything else.

I was wrong….so wrong it’s pretty ridiculous. I’m not talking about the packing aspect of my move, or getting forms filled out, visas applied for and all of that other stuff. I’m talking about me and every aspect of me. The spiritual, physical, emotional and mental aspects of me.

We had a session in training about stressors and I went through a list and checked the boxes of the things that stress me out, like not having a plan, or people being late, and several other things. Then we started talking about the possible stressors of my new home and all of a sudden there was a much larger list. Things that aren’t stressful her are going to be stressful there like going to the grocery store or eating out, figuring out what size I am in German clothes and shoes, etc. Not to mention the fact that until I learn the language talking will be stressful and you all know how much I love to talk We also talked about saying healthy goodbyes to people and places we love (got to get that last good Mexican and Chinese meal still).

But the biggest thing I took away from those conversations is that I can’t wait to get to Germany before I start making habits. I need to develop the habits of daily devotionals and prayer, regular exercise, healthy eating, strong communication with loved ones, etc.

What I realized was I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready in pretty much any aspect of my life. I was doing ok in most areas, but they weren’t habits. How could I expect to start new habits while I am trying to adjust to all of the new things in my life. The two and a half weeks since training and for the next two and a half weeks, I am working on my habits (please ask me how I’m doing!). I am getting closer and I now realize God didn’t send me yet, because I wasn’t ready to be sent.

The day I realized part of this was a day of Sabbath rest for us. I went for a walk and while on the walk I started to pray. I didn’t have a specific plan for the prayer but this is what came out.

Lord I give you my plans

Do with them what you will

Lord I give you my desire to be married

Do with me what you will

Lord I give you Germany

Do with me what you will

Lord I give you my life

Do with it what you will

Lord I give you my desire for safety

Do with me what you will

Lord I give you my skills

Do with them what you will

Lord I give you my desire to be successful

Do with me what you will

Lord I give you my passions

Do with them what you will