Monday, December 19, 2011

"The way is slow, and we've so far to go--Keep Your Eyes on the Prize..."

I should have posted an update earlier, chalk it up to laziness or whatever you like.  I have a job.  I have been working as a temp worker for the past 3 months at the Genpact office in Danville doing data entry.  Although we received the news a few weeks ago that our entire department will be outsourced to India starting the 1st of the year, God is still at work and there is hope.  Tensions have been a little high around the office as people start to show signs of stress at not knowing how long their job will be preserved and where else to look for work, but I am grateful and humbled to watch God work this out in His timing.  I am in the process of interviewing at a local title loan company for the position of customer service rep.  It's not a definite yet, but the possibility is there, and somedays that has to be enough.  I also have been blessed with the purchase of a vehicle as of October 1st.  Bruiser entered our family as my first vehicle.  He's a 2000 Chevy Blazer, black and shiny, and very fun to roadtrip in (Northland and back twice now).

As far as progress goes for future plans, I am still planning on seminary and a survey trip in the near future.  Seminary is postponed slightly because of finances, and the survey trip to Turkey has been temporarily postponed also due to finances and partially in order to make sure that when I do go over, there is something for me to help with specifically in the work my contacts on the ground are involved in.  Progress is slow, and sometimes that can be discouraging, but remembering that my life runs on God's timetable, not my own, curbs the insatiable desire to just hop on a plane to anywhere and go NOW.  God wants me to go, but He wants me to be ready first, and He alone can decide when that should happen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update from Home


This post comes after a long silence since graduation. There is no earth-shattering news on this update. I am still looking for a job as I have been since the middle of May when I got home from Northland. I have some prospects, but nothing has panned out yet. There has been some development in the overall goal though. September 11, 2011 I will be officially received into membership at Edgewood Baptist Church. This decision has been over a year in the making and is very plainly what the Father would have me to do. I am excited at this new beginning and eager to see what comes next. 

Sorry this isn't one of the more exotic or mind-blowing posts, but this is a time to stop running, catch a breath, soak in knowledge and wisdom, spend time in the Word, get invested in the local work, and growing up. Ironically, the most difficult and challenging aspect of current events is something that is not happening. 

For the first time in my life since I can remember, I am not a student, and will not be returning to school this fall with my notebook and highlighters. At first thought, this leaves me breathing a sigh of relief, remembering the rush and stress of setting up a class schedule, moving my things into an already crowded dorm room with three other girls, buying textbooks, signing up for work hours, sitting through required orientation sessions that don't explain any practical details and yet manage to steal hours of our time, dorm meetings, work meetings, and countless other hassles of returning to school. 

However, after that brief moment of joyous relief at not going back, I then go on to remember meeting up with long-time dear friends who've been there through it all, meeting new freshmen and transfers whose lives I can touch, getting to crash in friends' rooms with a pizza and stories, getting free and numerous back-rubs from compassionate hands, meeting together with sisters-in-arms to pray to the point of tears, having dinner with friends, having lunch with friends, hearing messages that leave you walking out of chapel with the hair on the back of your neck standing on end, getting the first syllabus of the semester and planning out exactly how much time it'll take to get it all done early, and then barely finishing on time, meeting for coffee more for the good talks than the coffee, waving at people on the sidewalk, shamelessly hugging people on the sidewalk even when you see them three times a day, and last of all falling asleep each night in the safety of your very own mosquito net after a hard night of studying Greek. 

These thoughts, and others flash through my head as I type them on my computer sitting in the comfort of my own living room, with no immediate plans of packing up to go back. It's hard to see the end of an era and not look back with at least a few regrets, a lot of priceless memories, but primarily with longing. I long for the sweet feeling of "Oh yeah! I'm back." I long for the familiarity and comfort of the routine, the schedule, the daily habits, the same faces, the classes, the work. I long for what has very much become my home. But it's not. It is not my home, it was there for that time, and it was exactly what I needed it to be. 

I come away from Northland and college with a bigger picture of who my God is, and the realization that He is in charge, and I am not. I cannot verbalize the impact this has made on my spiritual walk, anymore than I can adequately describe the dark side of the moon. It will be a major adjustment to not return to a dorm room, but I trust that God will continue to develop the plans He has for my life, and they will continue to be amazing. :) This has been a rather long rambling monologue, but it was time to update the blog, even if not with exciting news of a job or starting seminary. All in good time. For now I will leave you with---

G and P to the Family around the world.
ktg

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beginning of a Journey through Philippians

May 5, 2011Read Philippians one time. Wow. So much truth in one tiny book. Who were these incredible people that would inspire so much deep truth and encouragement and reminder of joy without warranting at least a few major passages of correction and rebuke? The only instruction they seemed slow to get would be “Be joyful!” Paul seems to repeat that a lot, but he commends them for so much. I can only imagine reading for the very first time, the actual words Paul sent them: “For to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What would go through my head if he’d written that he would rather be in heaven, but for my sake he realized he needed to stay a little while longer. For my sake? The idea that anyone would love me enough to consciously desire to stay on earth not for his own sake but for mine, staggers my imagination. They get it. They understand Paul’s vision of the Gospel and ministry and they are part of that. They are his partners in the Gospel from the very first day right up to the time that he is writing. He prays for them like a caring older brother. He prays for their love to abound. He yearns for them with the affection of Christ Jesus. They are both partakers of the same grace. That is true unity. Gathering together in the name of Jesus can bring a unity that this world cannot comprehend. Knowing Christ intimately, and sharing that with a group of other believers, cannot be easily replaced. It is a prize to be treasured and guarded closely, clutched tightly against the chest and never given away. This unity, this bond in Christ, it’s not a Sunday afternoon picnic with fried chicken and potato salad. It’s not a “fellowship dinner” setup in a “fellowship hall” which includes primarily eating together and perhaps discussing favorite sports teams, family recipes, or the latest stories of what the kids are doing these days. This fellowship runs deep, as chosen, special children of the Almighty God. This is a blood relationship. We are all equally purchased by one blood. We are in one blood line. 
      We have been given a new citizenship, we can truly say that “To live is Christ…” because He is the only One worth devoting an entire life to. He is the ultimate satisfaction of a life well-spent. There is no higher pursuit and no deeper bond, than the unity of the body of Christ. To find our satisfaction and fulfillment in Him is the highest prize we can be given. Our lives should be all about Christ. That is the reason we put off heaven indefinitely. It is not so we can accumulate heavenly rewards for ourselves, or wait long enough to make a name for ourselves among the angels. We wait because while we are here…it is Christ. But we can also say “…to die is gain.” There is no fear of death, no dread of the grave. Ultimately there is no sting. To die is to gain heaven in the presence of our God, our Papa. To live is good, to live is to serve, to share, to go where the Gospel isn’t, but how much better the prize—to finally go where the Gospel IS…

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Back to Classes

I've been back on campus a week or two now, and it's been good to get back into a routine and try to figure out being a full-time student again.
I'm currently in 4 classes:
-Contemporary Theology
-The Christian and the Arts
-Systematic Theology 4
-Christian Family

I'm also sitting in on a Greek Exegesis class and the Biblical Hermeneutics class just for kicks. :) It's neat to see God using specific classes in my life and know that He picked them out for me before I even registered for them.

On campus things are getting geared up for M Conference next week. We're still having classes, but we're fitting in sessions around them. Tonight also starts the Spring Play (The Matchmaker). It runs tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday night.

Sunday I was able to go back to my extension church for the first time since Asia, and Wednesday I was even able to go back to the jail Bible study. There were 2 ladies signed up and it was quite the night. One was already a believer and is growing and reading her Bible regularly. The other was definitely searching for answers and desperately in need of the truth. It was neat to see that the first was helping me share the truth with the other. We had a great discussion Wednesday and even went over the allotted time for the Bible study. We were able to go through the Gospel at least twice, and it was so awesome to see the power of God at work in others' lives. I now have met a sister in Christ who is serving her time at the local jail and will hopefully be much better prepared to serve God when she gets out and goes back to her family. Also, we are hoping to see another sister added to the family before she gets out soon. Please pray for these two as they face each day in lockup together, trying to deal with guards, the other prisoners, and just life in a cell. Sometimes it takes amazingly drastic circumstances for us to see that we need God, but sometimes we just need a gentle reminder.

That might be a little disjointed, but I'm thinking through a lot of stuff and need to process it before putting it out there for others to read.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Home

I am safely back at Northland. I arrived last night. :) My bags caught up to me and were delivered this afternoon. I'm going to bed now, but I will try to update more later. :)

Goodnight all.

G&P

Friday, March 25, 2011

Long Trek Home


So, the never-ending night at Bangkok's charming airport is over, as well as the 5-6 hour flight from Bangkok to Tokyo. I'm sitting in the Tokyo Narita International Airport, where they have finally given in and given free wi-fi at certain spots (thankfully it's right across from my gate). My flight for Chicago is supposed to leave at 5:40pm local time here, and supposed to arrive about 3:15pm Central time in Chicago. I'll have a couple hours in Chicago to clear immigration and customs and security again, get my bags headed the right direction, and then I'm leaving for Green Bay at 5p, should arrive there at 5:50pm. That's the end of the immediate flight plan, I would like to stay at northland for a while and catch my breath before graduation. :) Thanks everyone who's been praying for this trip, things have gone ok so far, other than a hangup in Bangkok again. :P Since I flew in Domestic Thai Air and had to switch to International and get my boarding passes, I couldn't check in until 4am, but I arrived at the airport at 5pm so I had a good 11-12 hour wait outside the security check in which is not as comfortable or familiar or having free wi-fi and was pretty crowded for most of the night. So it involved a lot of walking around trying to stay awake and guard my stuff and not get mugged, while holding on to my sanity at the same time. But God was good, He protected me all night and things went smoothly after check in. I am still not a big fan of Bangkok, but I am grateful to have made it through with fewer issues than last year. :) I'll try to update when I land at my final destination, but until then, please keep praying and thank you again, it makes a huge difference.

G&P to the Family.

ktg

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last Night

Well, the end has finally come. I'm finishing packing up tonight (Wednesday night here). Tomorrow morning we are going to ride elephants and go on a boat ride down the river, then at 3:45pm local time (3:45am - Thursday Central Time) I will be flying from Chiang Rai to Bangkok. I'll stay there at the airport from 5pm to 7:15am the next morning when I'll fly to Tokyo, from there to Chicago, and then finally to Green Bay, where I arrive at 5:50pm local time Friday night. From there it's a quick 1.5 hr car ride to Northland, where I'll be taking block classes for the rest of the semester and graduating in May.

As far as summarizing thoughts for closing this part of the trip, I can't think of anything philosophic or brilliant to say about it. I can't even probably come up with something that hasn't been used before about other trips. It was difficult and frustrating at points, but so terribly beautiful in others. It was rough going for parts, and not rough at all in others. I think it goes without saying that I learned a lot on this trip, being on this team, working with these language projects, etc. However, is that really the purpose of this? Is the point of these trips really to improve my knowledge and understanding of culture? Am I really here to "learn a lot and have fun"? Is that it? Cause I'm sure there are easier ways to accomplish that. Cheaper ways too. So why am I really here? Why did I really come to the other side of the world and spend months working with different languages and training sessions? Why did I spend all this money?

I can tell you why. I'm not here for the thrills, the fun, the cultural education, or the fun people. I am here because of the grace that has been given to me. I am here because of all things in the world, to me the most powerful and most precious is the Absolute Word of God. I have seen the power of the Word in my own life, and the lives of others around me. There are people around the world who still haven't seen and still haven't heard, and many of them speak languages that don't yet have the Word in their mother tongue. That is why I'm here, and that is why I came. It was fun, and it was exciting, and it was growing and stretching for me, but beyond all of that, I know my Savior better than I did before, and more people will have access to the Word because of this trip. So how was this trip? Did you really expect me to come up with one word that summarizes everything? Sorry, it's not possible.

G&P as always to the Family at home and overseas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Literacy Slideshow



These pictures are older but I am finally getting a chance to post them. :) Enjoy. There are also more pictures on the link at the top called 2011 Trip Pics.

G&P

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Training in Thailand


Well, we've been doing training for a few days now here in Chiang Rai, Thailand. We're in the process of training a group of people to be a Read and Review Committee and Back Translators for the project that will most likely be forming here for the hill tribal group we're researching. The picture at the top is from church on Sunday. We sat in the front row, right in front of the tribal grandma section. :) They were really cute and smiled a lot at us. :)

So far in Chiang Rai we've been adapting to the culture in our own unique ways. For the twins this means trying to catch fish in the little pond outside the front steps of the hotel. For Connie it means eating peanut butter fudge and finding a new restaurant to eat at everyday within walking distance. For Uncle Ross it means preaching in his own style at the church, and for me it includes renting a motorbike and speeding all over town in a green helmet, trying to play a Thai wooden flute with the flute seller in the night bazaar, and learning some basic words in Thai like "Sawasdee ka" (Greeting/Farewell) and "Kap kun ka" (thank you).

There are some marked differences between Thai and Burmese culture that I've noticed in our short time here. It's only been a few days, but the atmosphere is completely different in Thailand. Even in the relatively rural area of Chiang Rai (about 60,000 total population) there are really nice pickup trucks. There are lots of motorcycles and scooters in traffic (like Kalay). Beyond that level though, the people themselves are very different. It's hard to put your finger on it exactly, but superficially at least, they seem to be less eager to practice their English. Compared with the English speakers in Mnmr (where even the beggar kids and peddlers know how to say "special discount" and "hello my friend!" "how much you pay?" and "very beautiful") the common level of English is a lot worse. We were told that even the English teachers here don't know how to speak it, it's all about writing and reading, so when we try to speak English people answer in Thai and try to avoid us. :) Thankfully our friends here speak good English and are not afraid to speak to us. I've made a friend here in our training sessions. One of the men here being trained brought his adopted daughter who's a 3rd year University student in Bangkok, and we've been having fun talking and sharing with someone in the same spot in life. :)

Some interesting language tidbits that we found so far...

"Man cannot live by candy alone..." (In their culture, rice is the staple food, not bread, so bread is like candy and in A__ language, the word for bread is the same word for candy).

"Are your garments spotless? Are they white as cotton?" (That's how they translated the song, since they don't have snow
here)

They have one word that is both evil spirits and ghosts.

Anyway, other than riding a scooter around town, going to the night bazaar, buying a "Thai" passport, and going to sessions, there's not much to report on at the moment. I'll be flying out of Chiang Rai on Thursday afternoon here. Landing in Bangkok about 5pm on Thursday here, then overnighting it in the Bangkok airport, flying out of Bangkok 7am local time, arriving in Green Bay hopefully around 7pm Friday night there. It equals out to about 36 hours of flying I think, but because of the time change, it mostly ends up in one day. :)

Well that's all for now.
G&P to the Family!

Chiang Rai Pics



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chiang Rai Arrival

Hello everyone! Sorry once again it's been a while since I updated, but it's nice to be in a country where I can actually access my blog page and don't have to post by email. We made it to Bangkok yesterday, spent the afternoon showing the girls a few places there, walked down the exact spot on the street where my passport was stolen last year, so I faced up to the nagging fear and distrust I had for that part of the city. We also went to the massive MBK and walked around and had dinner there. Last night we stayed in the Bangkok Christian Guesthouse, and half our group went back to the US this morning, while the rest of us flew to Chiang Rai for our training and research here. We have one day off tomorrow to get our feet under us, but we start meeting with our friends here on Friday around noon I think. I still don't really know what I'll be doing, but that hasn't stopped us so far. ;) Please keep praying, it's weird to be able to say that now, but I'm adjusting. :) Thanks for your prayers, it makes a huge difference.

Love and G&P to all the Family.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Primer Writing and My Favorite Oranges

Sorry guys, it's been a while since I had enough time and a decent internet connection to update the blog. :) The pic of the orange is actually back from our trip into the hills earlier, but I don't have any current postable pictures that are internet-safe. Sorry :(.

So, it's been a busy week, Kristy and I have been working with a language group here writing a primer to teach their people to read, so they will be able to read the most important Book. I have never been involved with writing a primer before, before this trip I'd barely even seen a primer taught, much less written one. This trip I've been able to help teach several different primers and a storybook, as well as getting to help with translation workshops and helping with one writer's handbook training. There has been something every week we've
been here, and there's never a dull moment.

Thanks again to those who are faithfully pr-ying for us. Monday I was not feeling well and was frustrated about a few things, but the day had a full schedule and we weren't free to stop moving until about 7:30 or 8pm that night. It was a rougher day, but it was made even worse by my attitude and the fact that I wasn't interested in serving others; I was interested in going back to bed. The next day I got up determined not to have a repeat of Monday. So, I started my day in John 6 and was grateful to have enough time to read the entire chapter and soak it in for a little while. All throughout the day I was rethinking the events in the chapter, how I would have felt to be there with the disciples watching J-sus feed 5,000+ people with basically nothing, watching Him walk to the boat on the water and hear His voice, "I am, don't be afraid." Seeing Him correct and condemn the Pharisees for their self-righteousness and their pride in being Jewish. I can't even imagine how indescribable it would be to be physically present at the conversation when He boldly claims, "I *am* the Bread of Life." They wanted to be fed, and He *was* the answer. They wanted to be satisfied, and He *was* their satisfaction. They wanted their needs met, and He *was* the answer. I face all of these same situations and needs and He *is* the answer to them all and so much more. I go to Him hoping desperately to get a few crumbs of comfort, and He laughs and reveals a full table spread with grace and strength and endurance and compassion and steadfast covenant love. Who could ask for more than that? I found myself like Peter towards the end of the chapter when Chr-st';s disciples en masse start walking away because His words are just too hard to listen to, and Chr-st turns to the 12 and says, "Will you leave also?" Peter, overwhelmed with desperation and full clarity in his mind of who he is and Who Chr-st is replies perfectly, "Where would we go? You (alone) have the words of life..." It echoes in my head still... will I leave this work, would I forsake what is truth...? Where would I go? Who else always knows and always understands and always cares and can always help? No one. Absolutely no one. The way is hard and sometimes pretty rough, but it is never impassable. It gets lonely, but it's never completely alone. We are called to be obedient, not necessarily successful, but sometimes G-d allows us to be both. Where could I go? He is my All.

These thoughts and others like them were ringing in my head yesterday (and even some today as I write this). Most of the situations swirling around have not changed, but G-d has been working through your pr-yers and my perspective on all of it, has changed drastically for the better. :) I am so grateful for John 6, and the rest of it too of course. To Him be all praise and worship and glory and honour forever and ever into the ages. Amen.

G&P&L to you all in the name of our Chr-st,
-ktg-
II Corinthians 4:7

Monday, February 21, 2011

Brief Rundown

Hello All, I'm sorry it's been a while since I updated this blog. Things on the trip have picked up quite a bit in the past week or so. After putting together a list of every word in the Greek NT (5,393 words total) I am now working on narrowing down the list to only the words we need for a project we'll be researching in Thailand over Spring Break. It took about 3 days to finish the list itself, and now it's been a few more days that I've been working on it along with planning for writer's training with Kristy, helping with meals and cleanup, doing grocery shopping, doing school for the first night on Sunday night this week, and just trying to help in whatever way
possible.

Uncle Ross hasn't been feeling well the past weekend, but he seems a little better today. Please pr-y for him, if you think of it. Also, the Dennison family was supposed to arrive last Friday, but because their daughter Rachel had a seizure in Bangkok, they are not sure who all will be coming, so Birch is going to BKK today to stay there with them a week while they get things figured out and work there so that week is not lost entirely. In general news, I can't think of a lot
going on, I'm learning some Burmese songs on the cd I purchased from the B college, and I'm slowly starting to actually do some school (now that some lectures have become accessible) but it's slow going, and G-d is using that to keep me focused on why we're here first and foremost. I am not here to just be a student or just work on word lists, or just to do dishes. I am here to know my Savior better and to serve Chr-st with my all. Sometimes it's easy to forget that in
the rush and busy-ness of the day/night, but it's crucial that we remember this on our team, and invest in each other as much as/if not more than we do in anybody else. Well, I should get back to the word list, but I wanted to give a brief update on what's going on and how things are going. Pr-y for the team as a whole, this week has definitely started showing stress and pressure building from all sides, but it';s good for us to know our Lord better and to see how much we really trust Him when things blow up in our faces. We are very obviously here only by His grace, and sustained the
same.

G&P to the Family.

--
-ktg-
II Corinthians 4:7

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trip up North and Back Again...

Well we're back from our 2 week training up north. We were able to conduct one Primer/Old Test. Storybook Training with one group the first week and then had a large class of almost 50 students for 2.5 days the second week, we also had a day of teacher training in a local English school run by some of our friends. That day was the biggest highlight to me of the entire two weeks, and it was the least planned and least expected. We were considering flying back to Yangon on Wednesday, but we ended up extending our training from Mon. to Wed. at lunch and then did the training at the school on Thursday and flew out Friday. Friday's flight took about all day to get there and though we were supposed to leave at 12 noon we ended up flying out at 4, flying to 2 hours, driving about an hour in the taxi and finally arriving "home" at 7pm that night. :) We'd been ready to go since about 9:30am so it was a long day of waiting, but it ended up being a good day of travel and I got to spend most of it talking with Kristy and our friends from here. God definitely didn't let my plans get in the way of His while we were away. Most days at least one or two, ranging up to possibly 10 things would go seemingly as far away from "according to plan" as possible, but it was always all right and we always got through. Two weeks of no hot water, limited electricity, stuffing ourselves with rice twice a day, and listening to drunk motorcyclists zooming past our hotel room each night until very late was great, but I must admit I am very glad to be back "home." We were glad to go, but very glad to return. As far as other news, this upcoming week will be New Test. checking with Uncle Ross, with a language group we weren't able to work with last time since there were some problems...so if you could remember to pr-y about that it would be helpful. The week after that isn't actually scheduled out for sure yet, it may be another storybook training at a college or we may be doing writer's training (first ever here). The week after that Kristy and I will be working on putting together a new literacy primer for another language group, and the week after that is our alternative week for the Writer's Training, we'll see how it goes. We just arrived back last night so we haven't quite regulated to the schedule/sleep/eating, etc. Thanks for all your pr-yers and please keep them coming. Because of our trip up north I am already 3 weeks behind in school and don't see catching up happening anytime soon. But He knows that too.

G&P to all the Family and Love to you all.

-ktg-

riding on a bicycle rickshaw to dinner...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Upcoming Week...

This upcoming week will be busy, I'll spend the first 3 days (M-W) with Uncle Ross doing NT revisions with F. After that I'll be tagging along with Kristy for Thurs. and Fri. to the B. College for F literacy. It will be busy again, but this week I'll be on cleanup crew T/TH/S/S so I won't be on supper prep at all until we get back from K. Jan. 31 we'll be flying to K for two weeks to do special training (both Connie's side of it and Kristy's) so that's what the next 3 weeks look like overall for us. The zoo was fun, the pagoda was heart-breaking, the hospital visit was like a pagoda visit only ten times stronger. The contrast between the brother in C we were going to see and the rest of the patients in the entire hospital was night and day. He was the only one who could smile, genuinely smile. It was such a raw view of harsh reality and the people out and about have nothing, but the people in the hospital have less than nothing. Nothing is free, they have to have relatives bring in food and buy their medicines to bring in, etc. Nothing is included. It's hard to look at the people's faces. They are less than hopeless. They are hopeless and hurting and there is nothing I can do directly to help them. It hurts to realize this again and again. You can't just walk through and be untouched by it all. Sitting on the balcony afterwards for a little while this evening i watched the sunset over the skyline of the city and was reminded of Jerusalem, when C wept over it because He wanted to embrace them as a mother hen, and yet they would not.

This whole country, He would love to embrace with the G-pel. Yet, so many of them will not...it is sad, but it renews the passion within me to see this work accomplished, to keep it going all over the globe. There is something exciting about seeing the power of the Word, and this is one of the frontlines... That's all for now, I am getting tired after our marathon Sunday. Thanks for your "thoughts" they mean so much in the heat of the daily battle. Please continue to think of our team, for rest, for energy, for mental clarity, and on a practical level, i have a nasty headache that has been growing all day, so please pr-y that it lessens to the extent that it won't disrupt any of the workshops i'll be involved with this week. i've never had one like this before. But anyway, minor detail. :)

G&P to the Family.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trips to the Pagoda and the Zoo

We took about 45 minutes on Thursday night to go to see the largest Pagoda in the world. It is always an overwhelming experience. Once you look past the glitter and glammer of gold-plated towers, it's just a crowded place full of empty people. The faces, the eyes, they are cold and hardened. It hurts to watch people worship and have no hope. It's a very harsh experience if you are looking for reality. If you just want to see shiny statues, then it's not so hard to walk through unscathed.

Another trip we made this week was to the local zoo. We had to wait outside for a little while as they grabbed tickets for foreigners from another stand, because they had run out. Once inside the zoo, we got to walk right up to the enclosure for hippos, which was not that high, and they were selling food you could feed to them. :) Interesting. We also saw otters (which you could feed as well), monkeys, birds, deer (which would not be included if this zoo were in Wisconsin), mython, elephants, tigers, and much more. I got my picture taken with a black bear, and ended up riding an elephant with Miss Christy #2, which was a blast. :) Neither of us had ever ridden an elephant before, and both of us are rather tiny, so we were swaying back and forth inside the little platform they have mounted on its back, hanging on for dear life. :) It was quite a riot, even the Asian tourists were pointing and smiling.

Those were the hype for the week. This week started out pretty busy, but ended up not so much. Tomorrow we'll be splitting up to go to different groupings of the Body and I think the language group i'm going to is Burmese. We're going to try learning some songs in the local language so we can sing them when we're asked to sing each week. This upcoming week I believe I'll be with Uncle Ross, working on the NT revision for F. It should be pretty interesting and hopefully an entra pair of eyes will be helpful. My "thoughts" are with Nland this week as we all start school again and my friends face the bitter cold weather with negative temps and even worse wind chill. If you remember, please "think" of me as my classes start, that the internet connection will be reliable when I need it to be, and that it won't be too overwhelming when added to the workshop schedules. Love you all!

G&P to the Family!

From the Pagoda

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Primer Training and End of the Week

Yesterday (Wednesday) since the Writer's Handbook training had ended early the day before, I was able to ride along with Kristy, Hope, and Mrs. Frost to the Primer training at another college. It has been a great week as far as the trainings go. Both groups were very receptive, good at learning, and excited to use these materials in their own work. This will be exciting to see in the future where they have taken it.

This afternoon a little bit later, we are planning to take all the first-timers on a trip to the largest Pagoda in the world. Schwe da gon Pagoda. We can actually see it from our windows even though it's all the way across town. It's massive and is a very impressive addition to the city skyline. Although some people treat it like a tourist attraction, if you can process what you're watching while you're there, it's enough to bring you to tears. I plan to take more pics this time because of all the trip pics last time, I think those were the most effective in getting a point across, and they were the hardest to tear your eyes away from.

In other details of life, I'm still on supper crew for this week, we alternate cleanup after meals, and the week you're on supper prep, you're not on cleanup, so it's nice to have a break after dinner. That's typically been when I grab Becky and go to the exercise room for about half hour. We've only been here a little over a week, but life has certainly started off busy. I bought a guitar to use when the team sings each week. We named it Antonio, it's dark green and black around the edges. It's a pretty skinny guitar, but the sound that comes out is very clear and distinct. We plan to leave it with some friends here to use once we leave, so we can use it while we're here, and they can have one when we're gone.

For those who would like to "think" of me for specific things, there have been some changes recently in my life that I could really use some direction and guidance from our Father for. Also, I am always appreciative of sleep, that is a good thing to "think" about. Also in the next few weeks, school will be starting up again and the schedule will become busier than it is now, plus we will be leaving for another location in the country the 2nd and 3rd week of school to do some special trainings. Please "think" that it doesn't disrupt school too badly for when we return, and more importantly that it is helpful to the people there and that it is clear and understandable. It's for their benefit that we go. Otherwise we could just do our work on a computer and forget about meeting with people, but the training is where reality meets theory, and they sometimes collide, but other times they coincide beautifully. We are hoping for the latter. :) Well, that is about all I can think of to update right now. I appreciate all of you who are "thinking" regularly and hope these updates are a help to you and an encouragement. There are big things being done in the world, this is just one of many...but every person who is supporting it through "thinking of it" or doing whatever they can to help, well they are just as much a part of it as we are over here on the ground. It's all about the Gpl. And don't forget, He always wins in the end.

G&P to the Family, special shoutout to Nland where school starts back up in less than a week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Writer's Handbook Training

We just finished up two days of intense Writer's Handbook training for my local language of choice. :) Connie taught all the Introductory material, phonology, and morphology, while I took most of the grammar sections. We went through a long first day on Monday, working right up to 5pm. This made for some interesting scheduling since Connie and I were both on cooking supper duty. We basically went straight from morphology into chopping vegetables, then to eating dinner, from which point I decided to give the exercise room a little visit. I tried out all the equipment (including the various weight machines) and settled into a little routine I'm hoping to continue while we're here. It feels good to exercise muscles after your brain has been strained all day. :) Trying to figure out adverbs that can change verb tense and act as helping verbs...It's quite the feat.

Anyway, today's teaching seemed to go very well. They enjoyed the game of charades we played with Adverbs. They also enjoyed Interjections, and playing Madlibs to review the parts of speech in F. Tomorrow, I'll be switching to the Primer training since the WH training finished up today. Kristy has been at a college the past day teaching it, and I get to help out with it tomorrow morning. I believe I'm teaching Bingo. :) Good way to teach the letters and spelling.

Random experience from the week: I go shopping in the market quite often, and typically since I stand out as a white foreigner, I (like any other white person) can easily get mobbed by little kids and peddlers trying to sell everything from fans, to painted cards, magnets, keychains, maps, etc. Usually it takes about 5 times of telling them in English "No, I don't want any," before they stop blocking your way and even then they follow you around until you give up and go back to the hotel, or they find another sucker. Well, my friend here has been teaching me a little Burmese to go with the Falam I'm learning, and she taught me the phrase "machai bu" which means "I don't want it." So, I was walking through the inside of the market (which is always crowded) and a little boy came up to sell me something, and without even thinking I said, "Machai bu." And he stopped and got a really puzzled look on his face, opened his mouth to talk, but then just walked away--stunned. :) And I only had to say it once if I said it in Burmese. I also learned to ask "na kong la?" which means "how are you?" It's amazing the difference it makes when you can speak even a little in the local language. If you say "Mingalaba" (basically 'hello') people smile and reply the same, but if you go a step further and ask how they are, they light up like you just offered them $100 US. Sometimes a simple "hello" just doesn't cut it... That's all for now, need some sleep before tomorrow.

G&P to the Family

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Sunday

Well, I can't guarantee I will post this frequently for the entire trip, but since school hasn't started yet, and our first training isn't until tomorrow (loads of time to prep) I figured I'd give a short update on life on the ground.

Sundays typically run at a slower pace than about every other day, excepting Saturdays which may or may not slow down. We go to a different c about every week, and usually one of our guys is asked to speak and the girls sing a song. Today one of our guys did speak, but we didn't end up singing. We were basically at the local version of Northland, which was encouraging and exciting to see people doing the same thing on the other side of the world and still having the same goals and ambitions that we do. That was really a neat chance to visit with students some. We usually go to a local c in a language we work with. Then we come home, eat leftovers or whatever's available, take some down time in the afternoon or go to the market on some errands we dont' have time to get around to during the week. In the evenings, we usually have some laidback supper together as a group, then have sharing time. It's a neat way for the entire team to get together at least twice a week (the other being our study on Wed. nights) and just share what's going on in our lives that week, something interesting we've seen, and possibly an idea of what our upcoming week will look like. It keeps us all mostly on the same page, and gives us tidbits from each other's activities that we weren't present for at the time. All in all, Sundays are fun, enjoyable, relaxing, and enlightening days over here. I am even contemplating adding in a trip to the exercise room somewhere in my weekend schedule... we shall see.

G&P to the Family.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Safely Here

I have arrived safely in SE Asia. We have been to the market, the grocery store, and on a major hunt for Pepsi :). School hasn't started yet, it should start up around Jan. 23 or 24th I believe, so I have another couple weeks to get the training schedule figured out before we add classwork to it. I am rooming with Kristy this trip, our apt view no longer includes the Pagoda as it did last time, so it's less draining to look outside everyday, although from this end of the hotel you can hear the call to prayer much more easily. Our work here has been sporadic the end of the week, but will start gearing up beginning on Monday.

Jetlag so far has been a bit more intense than last trip, but we are slowly recovering from that. I am attempting at this point to cram an entire section of grammar from one of our languages into my head so I can help with the training coming up, hopefully it'll work out better than english grammar typically does. :) Life overall is good, and we're all doing well, although a few of us could use some thoughts regarding their health. There seems to be a bug that's been going around the entire trip and has been difficult to shake. Birch and Aunt Cathy specifically haven't been feeling the greatest, but are trying to rest to catch up on energy.

I'm on dinner prep crew this week and next week, tonight it's hamburgers and potato chips (homemade). We sliced potatoes and prepped the burgers earlier this afternoon, after Hope and Becky and I took a quick trip to the store to get meat, buns, and potatoes.

Well that's about all for now, if you'd like to mention me to our Father, please remember the basics: rest, flexibility, love for our Father and the team, and time in the Word. (Not necessarily in this order, but you get the idea.)

G&P to the Family.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Bangkok - Transit times

We made it safely to Bangkok. Kristy and I are currently sitting in the airport terminal using free wi-fi from downstairs. :) Our flights were fine coming out, although long obviously. :) Our flight leg from Tokyo to Bangkok was pretty windy, the headwinds we flew into were about 117mph at one point. We are spending the night in the Bangkok airport, it's currently 1:28am on Wednesday, and we're flying out at 8am for SE Asia. We are grateful for your thoughts of us while we travel, and look forward to hopefully being able to continue updating from our final destination. Pictures may be forth-coming, although I have not yet taken any on the trip...I know, it's hard to believe.

G&P to the Family.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Packing and Getting Ready to Leave

I reached home last night after driving with Jon to Portland, flew from Portland, ME to Chicago, and then drove home from Chicago with my parents. The trip to Canada was AMAZING. :) I'm packing today and this weekend, then flying out on Monday from O'Hare at 1:16pm. I'll be meeting up with Kristy, Hope, and Becki at the airport and we'll be flying to SE Asia together.

Just a quick reminder, which I'll probably have to post on facebook too: Please remember that while I'm overseas all my internet will be fair game for gov't censorship and anything posted will be possibly and probably read by the gov. So, being aware of this, please refrain from posting any overly religious buzzwords. Within reason should be ok, but don't use words like "m-ss-nary" or "m-n-stry" or refer to any specifics going on in SE Asia. Please don't mention specific country names (except Thailand is ok). Anyway, just be aware that words we throw around in the US are not necessarily safe to use in some other parts of the world.