Friday, July 17, 2009

A photo with FAITH!!!!!!

Here Faith is smiling. This is the first photo we have received from the Mission Society with Faith in it. Looking at the background it is very different than I had expected. So few trees. It does look like a steep hill!

Be blessed and Faith values your prayers. Faith's Mom, aka Ruth
"Hello Family and Friends!

The Internet continues to limp along here, but hopefully I can get this update out. It’s Thursday morning and we’re already in session (I’m multi-tasking – listening as I type. J ) Since the last writing, most of the time has been spent in sessions. The bulk of the teaching has been related to challenges of cross-cultural ministry. We spent quite a bit of time on “culture shock” – that period of disorientation and eventual adaptation that is very common for someone’s first year living in a different culture. While it is common, understanding it and living on certain principles can help the person go through it and come out the other side in good shape. The current topic is on understanding culture and how it is connected with religious understanding. We’ve also had teaching on missionary lifestyle and world religions.

Tuesday we headed to the local communities near where our training facilities are. It was another chance to practice observation in a new setting. This time the trainees were encouraged to speak with individuals in the community, learning from them about the community – its strengths and its challenges. This gives them experience in entering a place in a learning posture rather than coming in with preconceived solutions in mind.

Everyone is hanging in there – we’ve had some motion sickness on the windy roads to the communities and there is a cold bug that seems to be circulating, but in general everyone is doing well. It is a lot of information, but we have some free time every afternoon and the weather has cooperated wonderfully, giving us sunny skies and temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s.

Today we are planning an American-style hamburger grill picnic. Afterwards we’ll continue what has been a tradition at these events – bottle rockets. The kids (and adults) have fixed up 2-liter soda bottles, we’ll put some water in them, pump them full of air on a launcher, and let ‘em fly. They go up about 100-150 feet. Lots of fun.

Grace and Peace,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Hi Again,

I figured since I mentioned our plans to visit the favelas of Rio, I probably should send a follow-up note so you’d all know that we all got back safely. It was a very rich experience. Many of the Brazilians were impacted by these communities that are part of their culture, but areas they had always avoided or been unaware of. I think we Americans can quickly acknowledge that there are many similar situations in our own country – I could certainly point to several in our home of metro Atlanta! Part of the purpose of this training is to give us different eyes – eyes that see places and people that were invisible before. Eyes that don’t just see poverty and despair, but that see hope and possibility.

Our debrief last night was long and emotional. People had the chance to share what they had observed, how they had felt, and what they thought God was saying to them through the experience. Most of us had opportunities to pray with various people – from a woman affected with AIDS to the drug lords who run the community. The experience really pushed us well out of our comfort zones – bringing the trainees face-to-face with many of the issues they will face as missionaries. Many of the groups had the chance to see excellent examples of people who are working in these communities, identifying with the people, loving them, and finding appropriate ways to make a difference. It was a graphic reminder that solutions won’t be found by “drive by missions,” but by entering into the lives of the people to be served.

Today (Sunday) we’re in session in the morning. We have the whole afternoon off, then will worship in local churches this evening.

Grace and Peace,Jim"