So the last two weeks has all been about language learning. I came in with the erroneous thought that I would be learning German and instead I learned some Jeh and Russian and bent my mouth to make sounds I never even knew existed. The past two weeks have taxed my brain and mouth and I hear the next three weeks will tax my heart. Today’s post will be a quick one, but I want to share with you all a video my friend made that will kind of show you what it is I have been doing for the past two weeks.
In just over 3 hours I am leaving Toledo with my mom, step-dad, brother and sister-in-law to go to Detroit airport and head to Maryland. I’ll be in Maryland for three days and then leave the US for Germany for the longest continuous stretch of time that I have ever been away from home.
Recently people have been asking me how I feel about the whole moving thing and my honest answer has consistently been, “depends on when you ask me.” It seems as though my brain is not even able to comprehend what it is thinking. My heart (not literal one of course) is so confused that very little emotion is shown on my face at some points.
At training we were introduced to the idea of a pair of ducks (yeah and yuck ducks) as an illustration of the paradox that we are going through as missionaries leaving and that our friends and family will be going through as well. I thought I would give you some of my yeah and yuck ducks as I prepare to leave:
This time in my life is one of the most exciting times in my life – yeah
I’m leaving my mom, who is my main support, my exercise partner and cooks some good food! – yuck
I’m moving to Germany – yeah
I’m leaving my brother whom I have become better friends with in the past year and a half than ever before – yuck
I’m going to be able to use the skills God has given me to help Europeans and Missionary kids – yeah
I’m leaving the only country I have ever lived in – yuck
I’m going to be fluent in another language within a year (hopefully) – yeah
I’m going to miss holidays with family – yuck
I’m going to be able to travel to places I never would have been able to normally – yeah
I’m leaving friends both in Ohio and Maryland (and some other places too!) – yuck
As you can see these are just some of the things that are going through my mind at any given time. It will be hard to say goodbye to my family today, but knowing that God will use me is worth it. It will be difficult, but God will provide my family, friends and I with the strength to remain close even when we are so far away.
As part of the recent training (SPLICE) I went through they asked us to write our joys and thanksgivings everyday (which as a side note, I highly recommend) and during that time God placed an observation on my heart. I wrote the following in my journal:
Before SPLICE I would say that I have an addictive behavior. I would say that my addictions were caused by something inside of me that I cannot control. I could not do anything about them because my genetics determined that I get addicted easily. My addiction to food was because of genetics; my later addiction to exercise was because of genetics; all of my addictions were because of genetics and not because of anything else. I didn’t want to admit that it could be anything else. During SPLICE God opened my eyes. Through godly insight from others I have come to realize that it has nothing to do with genetics and it has everything to do with idolatry. I grab onto the thought of marriage or the taste of food or even exercise to fulfill me since I don’t always love myself. I need to shift my focus to God and search for love there and love myself because he first loved me. I have never loved myself fully and I have been searching for love from people and things and no matter how great people or the things make me feel for a short time they never can make me feel loved until I love myself.
Whenever I would read the commandment about not having any other idols before God, I always felt pretty good about myself in that sense. I never had a wooden idol or image of another god that I would bow down and worship. Man, was I wrong. I was worshiping so many things and Satan was hiding it so well from me that I never really had a clue. I never realized that I was idolizing marriage, or the way food or exercise made me feel.
I was clueless, but no more. It is my full intention to seek for love from God alone. When I do anything for myself or for others, I will look at motives and if they include the word I at all, then I will pause, pray and ask God for the right motives. Not only will this allow me to live a more healthy life, but also a life that will have more of an impact on others for His sake, not mine.
If I recognize His love for me, then I can love myself and if I love myself then I can truly love others.
As some of you know I just got back from Colorado after 5 weeks of the most intense training I have ever been a part of. My time in Colorado was amazing to say the least, but it was also very draining.
The training was filled with information, laughter, tears and fun. I met over 60 people from all over the US and one from Northern Ireland who will be going to all ends of the Earth. It was very easy to see how the Great Commission was being (partially) fulfilled through that amazing group of people. We literally had people in our group going to every continent other than Australia and Antarctica. Isn’t that awesome!
In the evenings and on the weekends we had free time (even though there were “blizzards” on two of the four weekends) and so I was able to see some of gorgeous Colorado.
The first two weeks of training was all about learning how to learn a language. I didn’t actually learn any German, but I learned some Russian. While learning Russian I was introduced to some techniques that I am planning on utilizing as soon as I get to Germany and find a German or two who would be willing to help me. The techniques are fun and work very quickly to help people learn not only words, but sentences and sentence form as well.
The next three weeks were called SPLICE (Spiritual, Personal, Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Culture and Endurance/Enjoyment). These three weeks were very emotionally draining. I seriously haven’t cried that much in almost ten years. It was ridiculous! It was all about helping each one of us adjust to whatever culture we are going to and preparing us spiritually, emotionally and habitually for leaving our culture and entering another culture.
If I had to have only one take away from my time in Colorado it would be my new found passion for helping Missionary kids (MK’s) become devoted followers of Christ and preparing them for their next stage in life which is most likely college in the US. Black Forest Academy is a MK boarding school in Kandern, where I will be living and working. I really feel God has given me this desire to help them in any way that I can. My goals are to disciple some of the MK’s and also be someone who will be there to attend things that they are involved in through their school.
In life we all go through transition. We all have times that we are dealing with changes in our lives. Adjusting to a new job. A new home. A new relationship. No matter what, we are going to have periods of transition. When you go through periods of transition you go from settled, to unsettled, to chaos, to resettling, and then to a new settled. The picture we were given was like crossing a bridge from solid land to solid land.
How each person interprets each stage of the bridge crossing is vital to the way they cross the bridge. This is how my bridge broke down, one word for the strongest feeling for me a that stage.
Settled – Contentment
Unsettled – Progress (My current stage)
Chaos – Busy
Resettling – overlooking (I meant it’s easy to ignore the minor difficulties here because they pale in comparison to the chaos you just went through)
New Settled – Relief
How would you describe each stage for you? What stage are you currently in?
While learning about this we watched/participated in a demonstration. There were four chairs, three bosu balls, and then four more chairs on our “transition bridge.” The first two chairs were normal, the second two had blocks underneath that made them wobbly and then the last four chairs were the same as the first four. The people traversing the “transition bridge” were members of a team, two singles (one leading and one in the rear) and a family all tethered together with “relationship ropes.” Everyone lining the the sides were the support, the ministry partners, the headquarters staff and anyone else who is willing to provide some help while this team is dealing with change.
Here is a link to the video.
Everyone reading this blog is my bridge support. I will need some of you more than you know. I want to thank you in advance, because without this team I would not be able to do any of this. We are a team, hand-picked by God and together we can do amazing things!
These last two weeks at MTI have been amazing. God has been working on me so much that it is pretty ridiculous. I do plan on sharing more details of that, but not today. While there is a blizzard going on in Monument, CO (yet again) I figured I would share how a couple of the guys at the training with me spent a day last weekend.
One of the things we have been learning about during SPLICE is our conflict style. You can be a lion, a teddy bear, a turtle, a fox or an owl. Check out this video and see if you can figure out what conflict style you are.
What conflict style are you?
What conflict style do you think I am?
So obviously I have been a wee bit absent on my blog the last couple weeks, but it’s for good reason I promise. As most of you know I had a fundraiser on February 2nd and then left just a week later for training in Colorado for this past week and four more weeks to come. I wanted to provide everyone with an update on both things and then hopefully next week I will be able to get back on at least a somewhat regular schedule of 2-3 blogs/week.
After a ridiculous amount of preparation by myself and so many other people the fundraiser day finally came. When I woke up I saw the snow falling and I h ave to admit, I was doubtful that many people would come. It was coming down pretty hard and the roads were terrible, but my hope was in God, so no matter the turn out I was confident the event would be a success. Before the event even started I knew God was blessing me, my ministry and the fundraiser. There were over a dozen people who came just to help me set up, and boy did I need them. As the event continued, all but 2 of the chili’s showed up, but there were still 10 very good offerings available. All of the chili’s were awesome and we even had some rice and beans there too! The winner was my Uncle Mike and it wasn’t even close. His chili was my favorite as it was most people’s. Throughout the event Chris McConaughy and two of his amazing friends played music, we had items for raffle, a corn-hole tournament and a whole bunch of silent auction items. Over 70 people came and helped make the event a fun and encouraging event for me. Financially it was a success too, and it raised a total of around 12% of my launch fund bringing me to about 85% of my launch fund and 85% of my monthly support as well. With just a little more, I could be in Germany soon and this event was a huge part of that.
Thank you to all of those that helped, attended and otherwise made that day so awesome.
This past Monday I left Ohio for Palmer Lake, CO to attend training at Mission Training International (MTI). The first two weeks of training is all about language learning and the last three weeks will be about the culture. All of my previous thoughts about what this training would encapsulate were apparently wrong. I thought I would be learning how to specifically learn sounds that are in German that are not in English and maybe then learn some German too. Boy was I wrong, but it is so much better than what I had ever thought it might be. I haven’t learned any more German than I knew before i came here, but I have learned some about phonics, some Russian and some Jeh (a tribal language in Vietnam). When I told my mom about this, she asked me why I would be learning a tribal language from Vietnam and Russian. I, at first, had wondered the same thing, but MTI has told us many times that what we are donig is learning techniques and tools to help us with our language learning. What better way to do this than with a language that few, if any, of us will ever use (Jeh). The fact that we can understand some Jeh after only a small amount of time of it being introduced to us that lets me know I can learn German!
I’ve got so much to do this weekend so I’m going to leave it at that for today, but I will try to be more regular updating my blog next week.