This is really just to update people following our preperation to head to Africa. Though hopefully some of what got to us at the training will also touch you in reading about it.
Liz and I took a crazy circle of a trip around several parts of the United States. We left Tennessee on a Sunday afternoon and headed to New Carlise, Ohio just north of Dayton. We stayed with Donn and Linda Hellinger who head up the board of directors for the Angel House Orphanage. We also got to meet Holly who is recently back from 6 months at Angel House and will be going back at the same time we are going for the first time. We spent some time with the board and learned a lot about life at the orphanage and the long term goal of building a school on site at the new location. Next stop was New York City for training as Individual Volunteers in Missions (VIM). This was the reason for the trip. We also stopped in Durham, NC to vist old friends and hopefully some new ones. We then returned home. We drove 40 hours, 2,400 miles and through 11 states. It was amazing and I could write about several different things that happened. However, lets focus on the training.
At training we learned about visas, personal health care in developing nations, insurance, travel safety, and cross cultural interaction. We also talked about and discussed our theology of mission which I will talk about in greater detail in another post. This was all great and helpful information. However what we really experienced was the community of other Christians passionate about helping people in other cultures.
We would have a Bible study every morning that was rich in depth and diversity. We never all came away with the same thing, but we all came closer to God. We all contributed to discussion from a wide array of experiences in Christian missions and travel. Our experiences were all different, but all involved having seen God's work in the world. We are all going to different cultural locations with different needs and different goals, but we are all going to take part in work God is already doing and will continue to do through us.
There were people at the training younger than Liz and I...and older. There were people there that had traveled more than we had...and less. There were people there that hadn't started their careers...and people that were retired. There were people who want to transition into full time misison work...and people who were just changing focus on their lives, but planning on returning when they are done. Some are going to Latin America, Africa, France, Hatti, places in America...and some don't even know yet. The diversity of personality, experience, thought, goal, age, and gifts was so rich yet we were all united in God. It was a true church experience that we all had around one table.
I think the biggest thing I will keep from that time of training is not the facts and forms. The biggest thing I will keep is the feeling that, in the midst of wondering where the church had lost focus, I had found a church that I would love to be a part of and more importantly that I already am a part of. I experienced the universal church as it is and I think was meant to be. Nothing else could have prepared me better to head across an ocean to experience more of the universal church that is.