Monday, August 23, 2010

SPLICE - Week 3

I've been home for less than 48 hours and SPLICE seems as if it was a lifetime ago! I look at my pictures and my heart aches to see these special people God put in my life.

Week three started out just like the previous weeks...with worship. The first topic of the week was moral purity. My thought was "Having a relationship with a guy is about the last thing on my list about now." Only, I soon realized that the topic moral purity covers all areas of my I spend my time, how I handle my money, how I handle all relationships, what I do on the Internet, how I handle substances (is there any addictive behaviors in my life?) and more...
Grief and loss was an emotional topic to cover, not just for me, but for everyone. We searched Scripture to find out what is said about grieving. There are a lot of references dealing with grieving within community, crying out to God and lamenting. During this session, we were in the "Holy Place."

Of course, we met with our growth groups. One of our assignments was to "waste time together." My group went to the local coffee shop. It was nice just to hang out and talk without any other agenda.

As the class was "winding up" (or is it "winding down?", time was taken to pray around the world. We each showed what country we are going to and mentioned prayer requests. Then, we prayed aloud as we saw fit. Two prayers for me included, "When we get to the ends of the earth, there will be a sign saying, 'Sue - Three Miles.'"and, "God, help Sue kill her first chicken."
Later, we built an Ebenezer to remember all that God had done for us during our time at SPLICE. (For more info, read the post entitled An Ebenezer.)

All too soon, it was time to leave Mission Training International. Since we had learned all about healthy "Good Byes," it was a festive occasion, even with tears!

SPLICE may be over, but the lessons learned will continue forever...

Friday, August 20, 2010

An Ebenezer

Did you ever sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing? There is a line in it that says, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I'm come..." What is an Ebenezer anyway? Do you know? Do you even care? Or, are you like me & you have sung the song but never pursued the meaning of the word?

Well, yesterday, during our last full day of SPLICE we built an Ebenezer. That caused me to do some research. The term "Ebenezer" originally comes from the Bible (I am not surprised) in 1Samuel 7:12-14. It is formed by the two Hebrew words that mean "stone" and "help." So, an Ebenezer is a stone of help. It is a stone that is used as a reminder of God's real, holy presence and His divine aid.

That is what SLICE was all about - reaching out for, calling out for and leaning into God's divine help. As I learned more about myself, how I respond to situations, how I interact with people and especially as I look at the task set before me, I know that I can't do it on my own strength. All I can say is, "God Help!" I've said it many times in my life and many, many times these past three weeks. "God Help!"

And, God did help. He continues to help. Our Ebenezer is a testimony to "The Secret Work of God" that took place at Mission Training International in August 2010. I do raise my Ebenezer, God is my help! Without Him, I can do nothing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Avenue of Growth

I am still in Palmer Lake, CO at Mission Training International. When I saw this morning's topic I knew there was potential for all those feelings and emotions that I don't like to feel to surface. And, I was right. But, it didn't happen right away. We first searched the Scriptures to see what they have to say about grief. This is some of what they say:Weep with anguish of soul and bitter mourning; Weep and wail; Cry out; Wailing loudly and bitterly; Cry out to Me from their hearts;A lament they will chant; Teach your daughters how to wail; Teach one another a lament; compose laments...and on and on...

Our American culture teaches us that after a few days or a few weeks, all should be well. We need to "suck it up & get over it." It has been my experience that whatever "it" is, doesn't go away in a few days or a few weeks or even a few months. It takes quite awhile.

But, if I look to Scripture, it teaches us how to weep, how to mourn, how to grieve. And, many times it is done in community, with the body of Christ. Other than the obvious - during a funeral - I don't think I've ever seen that happen...

Until today. We grieved together. We wrote our laments to Father God. We spoke them aloud. We mourned together. We cried together. We called upon our Abba Daddy God and told Him how we felt about the various areas in our lives where we have experienced grief and loss. And, He was here. He heard each and every one of us. He held us close to His heart. He counted our tears and placed them in a bottle. He put His healing salve on our wounds.

We were on holy ground. It was a sacred time.

As the body of Christ in America, we need to grieve with one another as He teaches us so that we may grow in understanding, compassion and courage in the midst of our losses. We aren't being wimps, we are becoming more like Him.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

SPLICE - Week Two

Another week at Mission Training International has come and gone. It has been a very interesting and enlightening week...

Each day we start with worship. We worship as a community, so the children and youth worship with us. Of course, the only day they didn't join us was the day that songs were intentionally planned with them in mind. I think sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and God was showing us that we are never too old to have fun, even during worship times.

This week, our classes touched on some serious topics...conflict styles and how we can better deal with conflict...stress - what stresses us out, the signs of stress and how to deal with it. Then, the next day we participated in a very serious simulation of something that could happen to any of us while we are on the field. We needed a break after that, so...

The next day we talked about Sabbath rest. We participated in a day long guided retreat. It is amazing to see what Scripture says about observing the Sabbath! Check it out!

After our souls were refreshed and renewed, we talked about crossing the bridge from our home culture to our new culture along with all the uncertainties that go along with it. There will be differ values along with different language, food, etc., and, how does a person deal with that? The picture below was a great visual of this time in our lives.

Fridays, the singles get together for lunch and talk about issues that are very different for us than they are for married couples. During these times, no topic is banned...we cover everything from what couples expect from us to relationships and finances to how does our new culture view singles.
Then, it's the weekend again! We celebrated with Friday night at the movies outside. There was no problem with the kids movie. The second movie more for youth & adults was good, too, until the sprinkler system came on!

Today was a day to rest, relax, renew & shop! Tomorrow, church & lunch with friends. My time here will be coming to a close soon, but the lessons learned will stay for a long, long time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

SPLICE - Week One

It was obvious that SPLICE would be very different from PILAT right from the beginning. The week started with lights flashing and alarms sounding before 9 AM Monday morning. We all had to vacate the building. The fire department came in full gear and checked the building.It ended up to be a dirty sensor, but it also showed that we are flexible and ready to respond to a crisis.

Our training sessions can be very intense. PILAT was academic, lots of stuff to learn to pronounce, recognizing sounds, learning methods. SPLICE is very relational. It digs deep into who you are and why. It searches out how I respond to others, and how they respond to me. It challenges me to grow spiritually as well as in relationships. We have been assigned to Growth Groups and are urged to bring out the best in each other, and when necessary, to speak the truth to one another in love when conflicts arise.

The activity below was used as an example showing us how we work with others and, how we see we include them? How do we approach them? Are we really an example of Christ's love in action?

We have also been assigned a Coach with whom we meet once a week. This person is here to be someone to whom we can ask those tough questions, get advice, learn from their vast experience of living abroad.

So, our days are very busy with class, worship, Growth Groups, Bible study, living in community and learning about ourselves and those heart issues that can make or break us depending how we deal with them.

We also have tome to reflect, rest, renew and get to know each other while we spend our "free" time together. The person (well, not really a person) below wanted to rest among us in the available shade. She spent hours with us one day last week.

During the weekend, I spent time with new friends whom I've met here at SPLICE. Saturday, we took the Cog Railway up to Pike's Peak. While we were there, we saw awesome sights and ate the World's Most Famous Donuts. YUM!

After that, we visited Seven Falls. To get the best views, I had to climb 185 steps to the one lookout point and 224 steps to the top of the falls. Praise God! The knee replacement works quite well! (So do my lungs!) I took my time, imitating The Little Engine That Could..."I think I can, I think I can...I know I can...I know I can..."

Then, Sunday after church and staying into the evening, I went with a friend to The Garden of the Gods. I saw so much more than I did the last time. Again, God blessed us time and time again with little "gifts" showing us how much He loves us. The scenery was incredible!

Today, it was back to class. But, more about that next week!

Monday, August 2, 2010

PILAT - Week Two

The second week of PILAT was just as amazing as the first. Each morning started off with devotions. And, one morning we were blessed with several gifted musicians who led our worship time.
After devotions, it was back to work learning all about pitch, tone, intonations and reviewing phonetic drills.

I never knew that 5 vowels could make so many different and distinct sounds! It is incredible. What is even more amazing is that I could differentiate between the sounds! We had transcription practice daily to check our understanding of the sounds that we heard. At times, it was challenging, but it also taught us to have fine tuned ears...and how to watch, look, and listen as someone speaks!

Our class in which we practiced the methods we had learned was a lot of fun. Our language helper was so very patient with us. We each had several opportunities to lead the language acquisition activities. I know I feel a lot more confident about language learning after attending PILAT.

Later in the week, I had my one on one with one of the instructors to review my plans for language learning. Basically, it is up to me, how much I do or do not learn after I move to Ghana. PILAT gave me the tools, now it is up to me to take ownership of my language learning & put those tools to good use.
The weekend was an opportune time to walk on the New Santa Fe trail and check out the fresh bear tracks. It is a beautiful trail, and an easy one to travel if you have bad knees!

I walked into Palmer Lake to see the sights, but one of the best sights is the lake itself!

The last two Sundays, I worshipped at the Little Log Church in Palmer Lake. Again, it is close enough to walk, about a mile and a half or so. The people there are very welcoming and love the Lord.

All in all, PILAT has been a great experience and I know that everything I have learned will be put into good use. The people here are dedicated to equipping people to serve the Lord in every nation AND in every TONGUE.