Starry Night

31Oct11

So last night I was out late (oh no!) having fun (yikes!!) with others who are attending this training.  After a rousing game of fishbowl (Snarky turtle avenges the past!), we were driving back to the mothership and noticing the AMAZING stars.  Somehow being at elevation (7200′) with winter around the corner makes things sparkle…  Anyway, since the five of us in the car are all, to some extent, photography junkies (I think there are six or seven cameras between the five of us – and all but one are SLRs) we decided to have some fun.  Here are the results…

Took this one by putting my camera on the ground, just pointed to the sky.  30 second exposure at f3.5, ISO 1600.

Same settings, different angle.  No, that’s NOT haze.  That’s the Milky Way Galaxy!!!

A freight train going through.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Decided I’m not ever going to let 25-degree weather ruin a good photo op…  Guess what I’m going to be doing tonight?!!


Made My Day…

29Oct11

On Thursday I got a large white envelope in the mail.  It totally made my day!  Inside were notes from “my” fifth graders at church – the kids I’ve watched grow up from Pre-K!

Most of them were the heartfelt, “I loved having you as my teacher and hope you’re learning a lot,” type of notes.  My favorite is definitely the one that said, “Miss you.  Watch out.  I’m coming.”  (He was serious, by the way – I know I can expect a surprise body-slam when I get back to church!).  Seriously cannot believe these kids are in fifth grade!!!!  Where did the time go?!

I can’t wait to see what they’ll do in the Kingdom…

(Thanks, Mom, for putting that surprise together!)


So I can’t believe I’ve been in Colorado almost four weeks…  That seems crazy!  We got another 6″ or so of snow yesterday, so here’s how the world looked from my window at sunrise this morning…

Several of us watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Tuesday night as it was beginning to snow – and then on Wednesday, I had Christmas with my growth group!  (Baked cookies, drank hot cocoa, listened to Christmas music, opened “stockings,” and sat around the fireplace and talked – we did a good job wasting time together!)

Last weekend I got to spend some time off-campus with others who are attending this training… we visited the Air Force Academy and Focus on the Family on Saturday.

The Chapel at the Air Force Academy

"Whit" from Adventures in Odyssey - in the floor tiles in the REAL Odyssey at Focus on the Family's Headquarters!

I’ve done my fair share of sledding, cross fit, and sliding down 3-story slides as I spend time with the kids here (grown-up and otherwise).  And I’ve growled myself hoarse playing lion, run around with a passenger on my back as a horse, and just generally had some good fun. :-)  More pics, as always, can be found on Picasa!

But not everything here is fun and games; I’m doing some serious learning, too.  We’ve been looking at conflict (I’m a turtle), stress, the process of crossing cultures (settled-unsettling-chaos-resettling-new settled), and tomorrow we’ll be spending time on the concept of Sabbath.  Today our entire morning was devoted to “Who You Are Under Stress,” which is code for a simulation.  I survived intact, in case you were wondering…  (Though with some good things to ponder.)

Thanks for your continued prayers as I get ready to wrap up this training!  I’m excited to see what November holds…


The Gist of It

20Oct11

Since Monday, I’ve been learning a lot about assumptions and how not to make a King James donkey out of myself when I get overseas. :-)  That is, of course, what these three weeks are about – my culture, their culture, and how I integrate the two for God’s glory.  So part of today included this wonderful, thought-provoking adaptation of a very familiar passage of Scripture…

If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.

If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love endures long hours of language study and is kind to those who mock his accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt his home culture; love is not proud of his national reputation.

Love does not boast about the way we do it back home, does not seek his own way, is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country, does not think evil about this culture.

Love bears all criticism about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, and endures all inconveniences.

Love never fails.  But where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization, it will cease; where there is linguistic study, it will vanish.

For we know only part of the culture and we minister to only part.

But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.

When I was in America, I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American; but when I left America, I became a learner of a new culture!

Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but He will live in it intimately; now I speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart.

And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

(I Corinthians 13, Cultural-Adaptation Style)


So out here in glorious Colorado we’re back in the swing of classes after a terrific weekend.  Last Friday the language-acquisition portion of my five weeks here wrapped up, and on Monday we began the cultural adaptation part (a.k.a. the gut-spilling part).  There were only 14 of us here over the weekend, and we got to feeling quite like family (and missing all the awesome people that were here for the first two weeks).  Anyway, here are my favorite parts of the weekend. :-)

First off, without using Google, can you identify these quotes?  (And a new world for me!!!)  (I doubt you’ll need hints…)

“Very dangerous over short distances!”

“Certainty of death, small chance of success… what are we waiting for?!”

And then here are some spectacular aspens and views of Pike’s Peak…

On our 19-mile dirt-road drive through the mountains... GLORIOUS!

Under the aspens...

Pike's Peak! (From another summit)

LOVE the colors. And Pike's Peak isn't bad looking, either!

We’ll see what the rest of my time here brings – but I know one thing.  I’m going to miss Colorado when I leave…