We're been learning how to learn languages. Phoenetics drills. Who knew the mouth could make so many sounds? Lots of using the brain. SPLICE (the previous program) was more emotionally exhausting. PILAT (Program In Language Aquisition Techniques) is brain exhausting! We napped a lot on Saturday and played spoons. Our brains needed the rest. But it is fantastic at filling our language-learning tool box to the brim. In learning both Spanish and Mam (the Mayan language) we will exhaust our newly stocked box...but we will be equipped as we never thought to learn. Fantastic.
Ok. Now onto another topic.
A few weeks ago I posted about a scenario where we went through a mock guerilla hostage situation. Peope were "killed" in the drill although we later came to find out that they had been spared and only used as a bluff to the government. The purpose of the drill was to awaken us to the reality of severe trauma on the mission field and to test how we would respond to it; how we commnicated, who would step up and lead, how would we make life-and-death decisions with no time to ponder them. I hope it didn't seem like we just waltzed out the door singing "Amazing Grace" while people shot us. We attempted to "fight" but in reality weren't going to clock our instructor in the face with our flashlight and steal his cap-gun. When we resisted they grabbed someone and before we knew what to do they were shot. It was scary and it was supposed to be. It was designed to teach us to prepare. But it brings up some good questions:
Do you fight back? How? How does your calling as a missionary change what you do? Were I single, the answers are easy. But with a wife a baby, well, that's another story. What does trusting the Lord really look like? Is it trusting Him to shoot another person in that situation? Is it trusting Him not to? When Paul says that, "To live is Christ and to die is gain", what does he really mean? That verse gets tossed around in the US so we can wear our badge of humility and say, "I would die for Jesus." Peter said that too and then under pressure he denied he even knew Him. Who do you really trust and how does that pan out in reality? Tough questions. Any thoughts?
He was laying on the bed and sort of on his side sucking his thumb just taking it easy. But he was sick and I knew it and he didn't. I mean he didn't know what a fever or an immune system is. He couldn't tell me how he feels and I could tell him but he doesn't understand fully what I'm saying. I could comfort him and he understands that. I thought of all the billions of people on planet earth and at that moment Deacon had 2 who were responsible for caring for him. Men aren't natural nurturers. At least we're not as good as moms. But in that moment of realization I loved my son more than ever.
I just stroked his round little head and rubbed his little back. My hand covers his whole back, you know. That won't last long. I hummed and sang as best I could and thanked the Lord Jesus for that little boy who laughs and giggles and jumps but right then wanted only to feel better. So I prayed for him and we put him to bed and now he's ok. But he's our ok, and loving him is one of the best things we have ever done together.
It's good to be a dad.
Oh, I said he was "taking it easy". Well...
My father’s hands have scars.
They have been there forever. Tendons dance with bulging veins as he builds. Pipe smoke flavors his presence. Grease marks his fingernails as my car is fixed. He rubs soap into dry, blackened, dirty hands, works it in, lather thick and gooey. Then water washes the filth away.
I want to build a chess table. My father’s hands know how. We build out of walnut. Its grain catches the light in molasses and honey ripples. I love those hands. They cut, form, sand, and shape. I watch, learn, explore, and create. We talk life and I listen to his gruff kindness, his too present cough. He calls my mothers name. His coffee grows a caramel blanket as it cools. The table is ready to finish. I caress our work. It is beautiful like the hands. I watch the hands apply the finish. Brush strokes glide. Velvet finish reflects his ice blue eyes. His grin holds the puffing pipe.
My wife and I are moving. The table falls off the pick-up. It is shattered. I take it to my father’s hands.
“We can fix it.”
Hands are what we build life with.
I look to my own hands. They have scars. They are few. I hope they will be many.
We're taking two courses here:
SPLICE - a cultural/interpersonal/spiritual course. It's 3 weeks long and ends Friday.
PILAT - a linguistics training course designed to give us tools to learn language. We start it Monday
SPLICE (that's an acronym) has given us some good tools in our tool box. Mostly it has given us emotional, rather than intellectual tools. Things like dealing with conflict, loss and grief. Saying goodbye well and just working through the difficulties of cross-cultural ministry. A big part of it was also how to enter a culture with the posture of a learner. All in all it has been magnificent. We have been a part of a Christian community that we have not quite ever experienced. We lived with about 40 adults and their kids under one roof ( a very big roof) for the entire time. Ate every meal together, experienced every trial together. We hang out and love each other. A dozen or more people took care of our son when we could not. That may be the most amazing aspect of our experience here: people who love Jesus loving one another. If people really do that, no mater how much training or seminary, no matter how difficult the culture or circumstance or context - then the Lord's work is getting done. May it be.
Or so the doctor called it. Also known as the tummy bug. Friday night Jenny and I were VERY ill. I'll spare you the details, but we were in bed all day Saturday. No solid food until Sunday. Other people here at MTI took care of Deacon. No kidding. We experienced Christian community and were loved while totally helpless. Awesome, and I don't use that word lightly.
Today the kids put on a circus complete with nickle popcorn, high-flying playground equipment acrobatics, and toddlers playing lions and bears. Absolutely magical. Magical in the Narnia sense of the word. It's amazing what the minds of children can conjure up.
There are about 40 adults here (plus kids) from as many denominations and sending agencies going to every continent but Austrailia and Antartica. God is so huge. And surprising. One thing that I got from seminary was a better appreciation of the grandeur of God, His majesty and the utter weight of His glory. He is so beyond me. Yet here we are, going to do His work. Whew. Looking forward to what else He has to teach us.
Oh, and these were taken just outside our room:
Not a bad place, Colorado.
Here's what it was:
A rebel group is attacking the capital city where our mission compound is. Our children have been evacuated to a safe place. We were rushed out of our meeting room and into the basement where 18 of us were crammed into a 6'x6'x4' room. There are war sounds blaring. We have one small flashlight. We did not know where our spouses were or the rest of our group. We must remain quiet when we think that rebels are near.
After 10 minutes we are told that a plane has been found and we must select 5 people to get flown out. We chose the mom's with little kids. I have no idea where Jenny is or how she is doing.
2 nationals who are belivers and 3 nationals we don't know are found while one of our group is getting water. We decide to take them in.
15 minutes later we are told that the rest of our group is in a hospital across the compound. We must now select only 3 to go on the plane. We are given a small radio and can communicate with the group in short bursts as the communication is being monitored.
10 min - We are found and become hostages held for ransom.
10 min - The rebels are not getting their demands and tell us we must choose 2 people for execution. 4 volunteer, singles, two married men with no kids. We cast lots. 2 went.
We can hear the other group singing "Amazing Grace" and we join them,
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."
They come to take them and we resist. They grab instead a father of 5 and a mother of 2 young children, take them outside and shoot them.
"Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved..."
They come in again. Two more are taken. They are ripped from our hands and brought outside.
"Through many dangers toils and snares we have already come..."
Everyone is crying.
"...Twas grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home."
End of scenario.
Here's the question:
What is the single most stressful thing missionaries endure on the mission field?
Conflict with other missionaries.
Not learning another language or culture shock or financial strain or bugs or sickness or how to eat grubs.
Surprised? We were. And we started learning today how we handle conflict. And Jenny and I handle it differently. Her motto: "Just do it". Mine: "It will work itself out." Haha. Of course we knew that about each other, but what we hadn't spent much time thinking about is how we will handle conflict when we hit it in Guatemala where we will be under the strain of another culture, two foreign languages and having some tummy bug make us spend more than the average time in the bathroom.
Our homework for today:
Ask 3 people, "How do I come across in terms of conflict and how does that impact you?"
Should be fun,