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.