Immediate steps

Now that we have some long term vision, it’s time to start moving in that direction.  After a long drive back from Pennsylvania, it has been good to celebrate Christmas with family.  January will be spent communicating and preparing, and at the end of the month, we’ll get on a plane.

First, we’ll be heading to Rwanda.  We’ll be there for 6 weeks.  We’re really looking forward to seeing our people there again – it has been far too long.  We have a few goals to accomplish while there, but the overarching one is to close out our time there well.  When we were there last year, we were pretty sure that we were finished living and working there full time, but didn’t want to make any rash decisions.  We did our best to put things into a holding pattern.  As we have continued to talk over the year, we have decided that, while we may return, it is time to move on from that season.

“On our way” back to Canada, we’re going to make a stop in the Philippines.  In YWAMese, we would call it a “pastoral visit.”  So I have been trying to figure out how to define that in a way that makes it make sense for us to go all the way to the Philippines for 2 weeks, for a visit.  We have some wonderful friends who have been working there for, I think, 7 or 8 years.  It is difficult to describe the slow, cumulative toll that is exacted by cross-cultural living, by repeatedly witnessing trauma, and by the constant weight of responsibility.  It sneaks up on us.  It is hard to pinpoint because it manifests as depression, an inability to stop and take a rest, irritability, severe criticism of a culture (either home culture or host culture), physical illness, or a hundred other things that don’t really seem related.  It is also difficult to describe because it is often perceived as complaint – when most of us joyfully undertake these difficulties…  it is just that they are difficult.

The good news is that one of the best aids in the difficulty is not being alone.  Having people enter in, listen, encourage, and occasionally bring a broader perspective has been our biggest support over our years in Rwanda.  As we have been discussing with our beloved friend, we realized we have the time to go – so at the end of March, we’ll make a side trip on our way back to Canada.

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Announcements, Announcements, Annou-ouncements

One of the things I have had to learn over the years is how to communicate information effectively to groups of people in various distracting circumstances (in a market, in an airport, during a meal).  Information people need (we’ll be eating supper at 6, we have to be ready to go to the airport by 4 am…), but that isn’t necessarily interesting.  Standing on a chair and yelling, “Everyone SHUT-UP!” is somewhat effective in stopping conversations, but it tends to create a hostile audience.  So my favourite way is to start the announcement song – about how boring announcements are – and usually by the end people have joined in and are prepared.

So – pretend I’m singing (or don’t, it’s painful to listen to), and that you are joining in… and…  I’ll do my best to make it interesting.

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While in Pennsylvania, we were hoping to answer some questions:  Now, what do we do with the rest of our lives?  Where do we want to be in the next 5/10/20 years?  What steps can we take now to start to move it in that direction?

Our vision hasn’t changed.  We are still passionate about and feel called to work in a missions context, with a strong focus on discipleship.  But the ways in which we see ourselves pursuing it have changed.

Returning to North America after 5 years in Rwanda, we have seen our home culture with new eyes.  We have been evaluating the ways our normal modes of living contribute to injustice across the world, ecological destruction, and increasing experiences of anxiety and depression.

We can’t believe that this is a good way to live; we believe we follow a God who has some better ideas than this.  So: long-term, we want to experiment with some ways of living that are more just and ecologically sound.

We appreciate many things about the Discipleship Training School.  It is a model we are familiar with, and want to incorporate into what we are doing as a way of teaching what we have learned about God’s Kingdom, (in)justice, mental & emotional health, and missions.

Lest you think this is all ideas with no substance, we DO have some concrete ideas about how/where we will do this.  We are also planning our next steps with our current capabilities and long-term goals in mind.  You can look for more concrete “announcements” of this in our next few posts.