Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 3: "Spend yourself"

It's Waldemar's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HON. I make his card since I never get away alone. We've done our usual stroll through the drugstore the day before. I show him cards I would get him if he wanted to pay for them. He likes a few, and we're happy.

The morning sessions start at 9am.  By then it feels to us like half the day is gone. We're early risers. The sun's hot and the sprinklers on every lawn boost the humidity.

On campus, I run into a few fellows I know from seminary. Though I don't know many of our peers, I've met many of the leaders during studies. It's fun to see them outside the classroom.

We'll be divided by world regions for the rest of the week. The motto for our Asia Pacific group is, "Spend yourself!" Today we meet our area leaders and coworkers. Each area director gives us an overview of their area and who lives there. It's obvious that they love the people they work with. There's a lot of wise-cracking and laughter.

W and I make a lunchtime birthday dash for 1/2 of 1/2 Brand Names. I've purchased most of my clothes there since attending seminary. The chain of stores resells returns and sale-ends from Nordstrom and other major retailers. In the past, I've found my Italian boots ($10), a mother-of-the-groom dress ($40), and a Furla handbag ($10). Today I find PJs for $9 and Ralph Lauren sandals for $16. W finds a white Columbia travel shirt for $12.

We rush back after lunch to hear insights on handling stress and culture shock, and how to keep ourselves on track spiritually. The presenters are career missionaries who know firsthand how devastating and shocking it is to move far from home and become part of another people group.

As they run down the list of stressors, I can identify with each one. These are the reasons I've not yet felt the stir of "the great adventure." We learned about these during my PhD studies and I listened to members of my cohort talk about them. I'm not looking forward to experiencing them myself:
  • cultural adjustments in language, how needs are met, adapting to expectations, food, and lifestyles
  • human stressors, including leaving family behind and working with others
  • organizational adjustments, including job satisfaction, policies, differing leadership styles, and filling out reports
  • physical challenges of a new climate, illness, aging, and weariness
  • psychological stressors of depression, a sense of failure, boredom, or mid-life changes
  • support - raising funds, housing, retirement planning, and having to do many tasks that were handled by others at home
  • spiritual stressors
One team leader talks about the importance of loving God with all our hearts (Lk. 10:27), of guarding our hearts (Prov. 4:23), and deflecting the arrows that seek to destroy the heart (Ps. 91:1-5). We are encouraged to have a strong devotional life as the foundation for service to others. We're also told that we'll need friends to talk privately with because we'll be in full view.

"People will watch you over time. ... You're building your own reputation - good or bad."

W and I have supper with Paul and Sandy. Paul was in my cohort and is working on his dissertation. He administrates a big area, so he's had to put off the work time and again. I assure him there IS life after a doctorate. (But I remember what hard work it was, and what discipline and perseverance it took to finish the thing!) Paul's in the process. He and W hit it off and I love his wife Sandy, whom I've heard a lot about, but never met before today.

W and I scoot back to the campus for two hours of 3-minute presentations. Each unit (single or couple) has three minutes to tell the audience where they are going and why. One after another, we go on stage to present our dreams for the future.

W reads the script we worked on last night. At some point, I'll have to start speaking. Tonight, W does a good job while I stand beside him.

We're home by 9, in time to catch up on our writing before we get to sleep. These days are long but interesting. Tomorrow, breakfast, lunch, and supper are booked with friends and colleagues. I look forward to it. And a good night's rest.

Read more:
*Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT

*Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Psalm 111:1 NLT

*Teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Colossians 3:16 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Almighty Savior, you bless us with your infinite love. May we always sing your praises with our voices, minds, and hearts. Amen.

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