Wednesday

hats off to Nomads

Be they Gypsy or Bedouin, I have new respect for those who live life on the go. Whew. Sorry (again) for not posting for near a fortnight. We're packing and trying to see people and sell a car and do official things before we leave the country for our home.

May I complain about the airlines?

I know that fuel prices are hammering everyone, especially those who own machines requiring hundreds of gallons of fuel to do their job. But we now only get one checked bag on American Airlines. Well, one free one. The 2nd checked bag is $25. So if you're flying AA after May 12th - pack light. Very light.

Sigh.

This would not be a problem if we did not have 2 small kids and an obscene amount of things to lug back to Guatemala.

The Gypsies must pack light.

Friday

So I don't listen very well...wait, what did you say?

My interpersonal tool box now has more tools. I learned that I don't listen real well. I'm a great conversationalist, like a tennis match, bouncing verbage and nounage back and forth. But just listening and not telling my own stories...I have learned that I need very much to hone that skill. And this week has been great for it.

On top of that we learned:
How to draw people out
Confrontation
Accepting confrontation
Managing margin
Managing stress
How to help people when they have a problem
Relationship killers
Helping others grieve
Building trust
Managing conflicts well
How to Encourage
Living in community
The Battle for Moral purity

Whew. All that in 5 days.

We head back to Dallas tomorrow and to Guatemala May 4th. Good grief. Instead of freaking out about all that we have to do (we learned to manage that, build trust, and encourage instead of freaking out - actually works better) I'll share some cool pics. Head to Jenny's blog to see Fun with Throwing a Toddler ----->

God is so amazing! I love Spring!

Thursday

effective teams and why I like them

Wouldn't that be a great title to an essay? I don't think it would be - but here's what I 've learned after out team training has finished:

There are a lot of teams out there - marriages, families, elder boards, mission boards, businesses, you name it. And most of them are ok. Some of them bad, some really bad, and a few of them are excellent, where the number of people in the team multiplies their effectiveness instead of just adding it. Where 2+2 = 6 or 8 or 10 or more instead of just 4. No Big Brother here, just the exponential power of TEAM! Haha. Just kidding. It was not a seminar by that tall guy with large teeth. But, as usual, I digress.

Teams are pretty much how we work together and most of the time that's frustrating. The Bible models teams for us. Christ models teams for us in the Body, how we interact and serve and live life together. When missionaries go out to do what they do, be that church planting or training and discipleship or building orphanages or whatever - we are more effective in ministry when we are working as an effective team. Not just a team, mind you, but an effective one.

And effective teams look a certain way, have certain characteristics. And none of them are perfect. We did an exercise where we got into groups of 5, were given a country, and then were told to figure out a plan for how to plant a church and then turn it over to the nationals. Jenny was on Team Ukraine, I was on Japan and another group of folks was on Italy. It was an awesome exercise! The point was not a flawless plan, but a functioning team. One team, because they had a German and an Iraqi, was multicultural and therefore complicated. Right before their presentation, one member was not passionate about it and said that he could not force his heart to get excited and he could not fake being excited. He was very apologetic, but could not do it. So the team chose, as a team, not to present. They chose the relationship of the team over the task.

I know what you're thinking. What is a team who doesn't complete the task? They failed! But they didn't! They considered another more important than themselves. Because in other cultures (every other culture except the US and a few other countries) people are more important than the task. A strange concept. And we're not supposed to not do anything, but only that we have to weigh both people and task equally.

And that's about 5% of what we learned. Invaluable.

Anyway - I have to write a paper on Followership - the concept of the importance of being a follower in a team. Fascinating.

Monday

There is no i in Team

At least that's true if you spell it in English. All bets are off otherwise.

We're in our 2nd week of Effective Teams and Team Leaders and we are really enjoying it. I should have blogged but didn't because - well - I had other things to do. Sorry about that. But most of those things are done so here it is. And it's early enough that I'm not awake enough to make to much sense so I hope things are at least coherent.

We live in an apartment right now on the campus of the training center. That makes it sound like its this huge facility. It's not - we live in a building with 9 other apartments and 14 other folks - missionaries from all over. Real missionaries (as Jenny and I like to joke) to places like Paupa New Guinea and Mali. We have made a bunch of new friends. A gal named Christie was in Senegal (West Africa - just google it) and is going to change and move to Mali. Mali is where the city of Timbuktu is. Wild, huh? And she is a paraplegic. Her legs do not work. She's a missionary. In Africa - in the bush - in a wheelchair.

!

And she's going back. I think its rough going through the airport with 5 checked bags and 2 kids. Whew.

We have also met a couple ministering in France. They are with GEM and know you, Robyn! She is an American and he is a Chaldean (an Iraqi born Catholic) who escaped to France and became a Christian. He speaks Aramaic. He watched The Passion of the Christ and didn't need subtitles. He grew up in Nineveh. Nineveh - as in where JONAH preached. Wild, huh? Now he and his wife train church leaders in Paris. I mean it's really cool. And the stories go on. I know missionaries are an odd lot but this group, odd or not, is a pretty cool bunch of people. And we are thrilled to spend time with them and get to know them.

I guess there can be an I in team but that makes for a pretty boring team. I'll talk a little bit more about what we are learning later. It is really, really useful education and we're looking forward to the 2nd half this week.

Enjoy this Monday and this week. Somewhere in it the Lord wants to teach us something about Himself and about the people He has serving Him. And the people who do not serve Him yet. I'd love to hear what he is teaching you.