Returned yesterday afternoon from my Kalmykia short-term mission trip; it was perhaps the smoothest short-term mission trip in history, to my knowledge (sans the car we were riding in breaking down). Tho’ this was my first overseas missions trip, compared to stories I hear about being abroad, ours went off without bumps at all. Even passport checks and customs went through so quickly, we were just so amazed. The prayer coverage from our supporters thorough and trememdous- it had to be the prayer coverage, because our preparations were not particularly the best- as this was our first home-church lauched trip (many short-term trips are often organized by a missions agency). What did I learn? Teamwork and communication are absoutely essential, and that is a vital part of working cross-culturally (or even with different people, for that matter). Life is life, and people are people. Missions work is simply ministry in a different location. With the shrinking of the global community (because of the widening availability of the Internet, technology, communication, and travel), missions work is easier in the modern/postmodern age. The challenges of crossing cultures is still there, but with more accompanying tools, it doesn’t have to be that hard (ministry is hard enough as it is, we don’t need to make it harder). Pictures are on the web, thanks to digital camera technology, at http://www.zing.com/album/?id=4294318229, and stories are soon to be presented and published.. [Zing photos has since become defunct]
About 12 hours from now, I’ll be outbound on a plane headed for Russia. Our long anticipated short term mission trip to Kalmykia has arrived…
Perhaps this is a preview of coming attractions (tho’ we probably won’t see an Orthodox service in person This Philip Yancey excerpt is from http://www.christianityonline.com/ct/current/0207/0207d.html
“Traveling gives me glimpses of a variety of church styles. I remember my first Russian Orthodox service, designed to express mystery and majesty. The service goes on three to four hours, with worshipers entering and leaving at will. No one invites congregants to “pass the peace” or “greet the folks around you with a smile.” They stand–there are no pews–and watch the professionals, who are very professional indeed.
I did not understand a word of the service, but then I learned that none of the other congregants did either: Russian services are conducted in Old Slavonic, which only the priests understand. In Egypt I attended a service conducted in a Coptic language that none but the priests could speak. Whereas publishers in the U.S. bring out a new version of the Bible every six months or so, in much of the world worshipers can?t understand a single word read to them from the pulpit.”
the day is drawing near for the first time I’ll be in Europe and Russia; our plane departs from Dulles Airport this Thursday afternoon, and two of my fellow teammates from my church will be going with me.. this is a first time for all of us, to do this thing called a short term mission trip.. our church commissioned us this past Sunday, and it was a formal time of prayer, and a lot of people were in attendance.. we will be going to teach computer software and meet people from a different culture, and hope to have some good personal interaction, and possibly to share about our hope in Christ.. my pressing thoughts are not so much the ‘excitement’ of it all, for me, it’s a new adventure, but that’s not what I ‘thrive on’ or get ‘excited about’ per se, but it is a great opportunity, and I go with a learning and serving attitude.. and pray that God will be with us, and work in and through us.. i’ve already processed it in the “worst case scenario” sense of the matter, and my web sites will be a testament to my God and my heart for people (thus fulfilling the Great Commandment).. the missionary spirit that I’ve been thinking on is being friendly and being flexbile.. it’s about working with people who think and live differently, yet with empathy, understanding, friendship, and teamwork
On April 29th, I did the YWCA Race Against Racism 5k with a couple of teammates, who are going with me to Kalmykia next week. See if you can find me in the race results. [link obsolete] Things have been busy , as usual, or as we like to say around the office here, NON STOP. We’re holding up well, and I’m recovering from strep throat. We were bummed out for the past week, particularly last weekend, when we had planned to celebrate our 5th anniverary, but both of us were bed-ridden and sick — me with strep throat and her with common cold and allergies. Thus we fulfilled the ‘in sickness’ part of our vows for our special occasion that went uncelebrated.