The frequency and timeliness of the posts to our blog are inversely related to the number of Master’s courses we are working on. Right now Steve has three and I have two on the go so we have plenty of writing projects underway and deadlines to meet eery three to four days. Needless to say, the blog is suffering. This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to be part of a full day workshop with our Singapore team. My dear creative friend and mentor, Dr Su Min Lim, with a little help from myself, took us through some fun and very visual discussions to bring the team to a more wholistic understanding of the work they are called to do. We started the day by dividing into three teams, randomly picked by Su Min who did not know any of the participants. Using picture cards as cues each one talked about the passions that drive them and then the teams looked at their common passions to come up with a team name, a logo and, of course, a poster. The next sessions looked at the concepts around wholism and what defines “good health” for ourselves, our homes and our teams. We had a great lunch together at a little boutique type restaurant and a chance to visit so Dr. Su Min could get to know the team better. The afternoon sessions looked at potential areas of conflict for a team and a process for identifying the root causes that need to be addressed in order for a team to move forward, using the visual of a Tree of Despair and a Tree of Hope. In order to do some vision casting, each team created a front page for the New Straits Times for Oct 3 2024 and it was really exciting to see their visions drawn out on paper. The final session was geared towards identifying the steps that would need to be taken to reach these goals. The Singapore team has heard about the CHE approach that the teams in Cambodia and Philippines are using for a few years but this was their initial exposure to this oral, graphic and participatory type of learning. The first time they were asked to draw their response they were a bit taken aback but by the time the first posters were up they were all into it and we had a great time sharing. I am so looking forward to meeting with them again soon to see how they envision using this strategy to make their own lives and work more wholistic.
October 13, 2014
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September 28, 2014
We feel very privileged that we live in a world in which it is possible to take a Master’s level course through a seminary in the States from the other side of the world. And not just any seminary either. Fuller Theological Seminary is a leader in missiology and social justice, the two areas of greatest interest and impact in our ministries. The online format requires that we engage in dialogue with others in forum discussions. Believe it or not, you can actually get a pretty good discussion going this way. But we do miss the chance to meet people face to face and work through ideas as they are developing. Alpha Omega International College is a Bible College in KL at which we can take courses in residence which can then be accepted for credit transfer to Fuller. Last week we finished out third course at AOIC.
We like to keep an eye out for visiting professors who come with a great deal of knowledge and broad experience with their topic. Last year we were fortunate to take a course with world renowned author and Christian leader Ajith Fernando. This past two weeks we took another course with an Australian, Amanda Jackson, who is the Head of Advocacy for the Micah Challenge; a global coalition of Christians holding governments to account for their pledge to halve extreme poverty by 2015 in compliance with the Millennium Development Goals. She is not only a very experienced communicator in church life and advocacy campaigns, but is a wife, mother, grandmother, pastor and a very gracious woman. She was also a great teacher and just plain fun to be around.
The course looked at what the Bible has to say about injustice and our mission as Christians to overcome it. As the course progressed, we learned even more fully that as Christians we need to be the voice for justice both locally and globally and become catalysts for change at every level of influence. In one text, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes You Just, Timothy Keller asserts: “If a person has grasped the meaning of God’s grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn’t live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God’s grace, but in his heart he is far from Him. If he doesn’t care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn’t understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just.” Food for thought for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ.
September 8, 2014
While our family and friends in Canada celebrate the last long weekend of the summer, we also had a three day weekend to mark the 57th anniversary of our adopted country. We opted to use the time to revive our very old scanner which is capable of scanning our family’s slides. It stretched the limits of our technical knowledge to convert thirty year old slides to digital format using a ten year old scanner and new computer platforms. But with the help of Steve’s now out of date Windows XP on his work computer we were able to upload the necessary software and the CanoScan 4200F was soon up and running again.
With the technical details behind us, we were soon absorbed in the wonder of seeing long forgotten images. Once we got over the shock of how much we had aged and shrunk, we were caught up in the wonder of the memories that cascaded over us. The sheer volume of those collected experiences began to sink in, and we were overwhelmed by the depth of God’s blessings on our family in our adventures with these three wonderful children through their growing up years.
With our water babies – all of them – we spent many happy hours on the beach in Port Stanley or at the cottage in Barrow Bay on the Bruce Peninsula. They loved their routines and yet were all very flexible, adventurous and could roll with the punches effortlessly. You could pretty much toss them their blanket and they would curl up and sleep wherever they happened to be. Throw in some sand on a sunny beach and they would entertain themselves for the entire day.
Their fearless and accepting attitude to whatever came their way gave us the courage to pack them up for an amazing adventure that found us living for a year in a quite remote hospital station in the southern panhandle of Bangladesh. There we served alongside some faithful servants of God and made life long friends while our kids learned much about independence as they explored the compound with their buddies. As we made our way home, we had the joy of visiting Kathmandu and driving out into the Himalayas to watch the sun rise over Mt Everest. From there we flew to Amsterdam where we picked up a camper van and had an amazing three weeks exploring some of Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland enroute to visit with our TWR missionary friends Steve and Barb in Monte Carlo.
Seven years on, we again packed up and headed off for a year at Black Forest Academy in southern Germany and were again touring the countryside in a camper van. It wasn’t a very fancy set of wheels but it took us on several trips to England, enabling us to spend time with Steve’s Dad just a week before he passed away. We made many trips that year through France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. There were great experiences skiing in the Alps, swimming in the beautiful lakes of Italy and the beaches of the Adriatic, amazing European campgrounds, and city tours of Rome, Venice, Florence, Zurich, Bern, Paris and Frankfurt. We grew to love the beauty of Interlaken, Alsace Lorraine and the Black Forest.
But babies grow up, teenagers move out and young adults establish their own lives. Grandchildren are born and their own parents take photos of their little ones. Before you know it babies are taking “selfies” on their tablet and grandkids are making their own videos. We don’t know what technology will be available when our own children look back on their family experiences, but we pray that they will have made the type of wonderful memories we were delighted to revisit.
August 24, 2014
Thirteen years ago on the last weekend in August. the 25th to be exact, we were overjoyed to see our son Jon marry Nicole, the love of his life just a few weeks after their 21st birthdays. Exactly ten years later on the last weekend of August, the 27th Liz and Greg followed suit. It has been so delightful to watch their marriages blossom, each of the four of them mature as individuals and to have our family so enriched by the birth of each of our grandchildren.
Happy 13th Anniversary Jon and Nic and Happy 3rd Anniversary Greg and Liz!
Each year of your marriage is unique, bringing incredible joys, the need for perseverance through myriads of daily challenges and at times unthinkable pain and loss. Anniversaries are the opportunity to celebrate the love that brought you together and makes your marriages strong. Few are so blessed to find a friend, a lover and a partner for life and you need to celebrate the precious gift that is to each of you.
We pray that the bonds of your marriages will grow everyday; become stronger with each victory and each trial and that your friendships will remain a source of fun, encouragement and stay unblemished throughout your lives. May you fall in love with each other over and over again. It is said that a successful marriage is an edifice that needs to be rebuilt everyday and we have certainly found that to be true.
We are so proud of you all and stand in awe as we watch you pour out your lives into your kids and grow into your responsibilities as parents. We want you to know that we love you all and we will always be there for you and would do anything we can to help you.
August 17, 2014
A month or so ago I was asked to undertake a ministry among the international students that attend our little church in Subang Jaya. I listened to that ‘still small voice’ within and found myself saying I would. It is not much of a ministry, to be honest. We meet once a week for ninety minutes or so. I basically run it like I would an English 3U class with lots of time for interaction with the written material and dialogue and only occasional direction from me on particularly troublesome points of the language.
I have been getting between eight and a dozen students each week and they are a real cross-section of cultures and countries. I have quite a few from South America, several from Africa, one from Russia and real sweetie from Mongolia. Today I met another, Kutasha Kasongo from Zambia after the morning service. He arrived just a few days ago with his very nervous parents, Richard and Janet who have come to see him settle in KL so he can further his education. Richard did his M.A. in Civil Engineering in England before returning to Zambia where he is now a consultant. Janet is a high school teacher and a history major with an emphasis on African pre-colonial history.
Their nervousness springs from the fact that their son is just 17, and this is the first time he has been away from home. As any good parents might be, they are anxious about their son’s welfare, and wanted to see him connected to a church that had an outreach to college students. They came to the right place, for our church has a heart for such kids and he will be well looked after. But imagine you are Richard and Janet. In faith you travel nearly half-way around the world for the good of your son so he can get a good start in life. You pray that you will find people who understand and care for your son when you can’t. And the Lord does exactly that. Wouldn’t that be a joy?
It was a joy to have all three of them in our little apartment for the evening. Pam did her usual wonderful meal. Janet was particularly delighted to find something she could actually eat, as the Chinese food hadn’t been sitting on her too well. And Richard was greatly relieved to see that his faith in the Lord’s provision and protection hadn’t been misplaced. As for us, we are happy that the Lord is able to use what we have to be an encouragement to others, no matter where in the world they call home. Scripture says, “Do not be forgetful to entertain strangers: for by this some have entertained angels unawares.” (Heb. 13:2). Or at the very least, had a very pleasant evening with lovely guests!
August 15, 2014
A year or so ago, I met with a group of young Malaysians who were studying at Sabah Theological Seminary, ten of whom had gone to Cambodia to attend a CHE TOT1 facilitated by our TWR Cambodia staff. One young lady, Zahara, has now graduated and returned to her home village to await her assignment with the Anglican church. Zahara is an orang asli (native people)young lady with a passion to serve her own people and sees CHE as the ideal way to move her communities forward.
I decided to venture out on my own to meet up with Zahara and found myself a local bus heading north to Teluk Intan. We met up with no problem at the bus station and drove out to her village about a half hour away. This is the first time that I have been able to experience the close family connections, gracious hospitality and acceptance of the rural communities of Malaysia. We had to stop several times on our way in to Zahara’s house to meet, greet or share a drink with other village members. The community consists of two small villages just a few minutes walk apart, with a total of about fifty families. It is largely Christian, with four established churches but there are also a few Muslim families living peacefully amongst them.
Since I was in the village, Zahara quickly arranged a church service for that evening and over thirty adults and many children arrived to hear me speak, which of course I was totally unprepared to do. With Zahara translating, I facilitated a CHE lesson called What is Good Health. As virtually always happens in this part of the world, at mess of food appeared for all to share after the service. I had the opportunity to meet and pray with a number of the women before we retired to Zahara’s home which she shares with her Mom, niece and nephew. Lots of family members, sisters, brothers, aunt, uncles and nieces and nephews and cute little kids dropped by to visit before bed.
In the morning we met with a village lady with a burden to reach the young people in the village who refused to attend church or even go to school so we did some planning on ways to engage the youth in the village. From there we went to the kindergarten and shared some CHE resources for children with the young lady who teaches around a dozen little cuties and her friend who works in the children’s ministry. I am so grateful for the thousands of CHE lessons that I have so often relied upon in sharing with others.
Zahara cooked us a very flavourful lunch, including some turtle, and by the time I left to catch my bus back to KL, I was sad to be leaving this close knit group of brothers and sisters. I am looking forward to hearing where Zahara’s placement will be and figuring out how we will work together. I also have standing invitations to bring Steve to meet the folks and stay any time. Oh and a wonderful group of friends to spend Christmas with.