Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Zambia - Part III

After our 12-day stay at bush camp, we were paired off for our homestays with a local Zambian family. Jeff and I were assigned to the Benson Phiri family in town, where we spent three days & nights with pastor Benson, his wife, Agnes, and their children.

Jeff and I had no idea what to expect when Kevin Rodgers dropped us off at the Phiri’s home Friday morning. As we pulled up to the small brick home, several kids appeared, seemingly excited about their guests for the weekend. Kevin introduced us to pastor Benson who showed us inside and to our bedroom.

The Phiri’s were kind enough to give up their bedroom for us while they slept in their living room. As we entered the house, the air felt 20 degrees warmer than outside. Pastor Benson had built their home but has not had the funds to install windows so the window openings were bricked up to keep the house secure. In doing so, however, there was little ventilation so the heat was nearly unbearable to us.

Jeff and I went into our small bedroom and looked at each other. We instantly read each other’s minds. “How are we going to make it this weekend?” It was hot. The room was small. Our “shower” was nothing more than a small stall with a wash basin and a drain. The only toilet was outside, which was another stall with a hole in the ground. This was sure to be an experience.

We unpacked our things, decided we had to make the most of it and have faith that we could endure whatever discomforts may come. We sat down with Pastor Benson and visited for a bit and were served hot tea with bread and butter before we went into town.

All weekend we rarely spent anytime with the Phiri family as a whole. In traditional African culture, women are still considered second-rate people. Agnes stayed in the small kitchen with the girls much of the time; I even caught a glimpse of her lying on the concrete floor taking a nap as the breeze coming through the house flapped the sheets hanging in the doorway.

She prepared our meals and the girls often served us in the living room but never joined us for a meal or tea time. African women are strong; some of the strongest in the world and can endure some of the harshest circumstances imaginable. Coupled with this resilient strength, though, is oppression unknown to most.
I have more to share from the weekend stay at the Phiri’s, such as the traditional African wedding celebration we attended. That will be a post all its own. Until then…

Jeff with neighboring kids at our homestay

Me with neighboring kids at the homestay

The Phiri's home

The Phiri's church in the village

Jeff and I with some of the kids after church

Living room in the Phiri's home

Jeff and I with the Phiri family

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zambia - Part II

So maybe blogging isn’t one of my strengths but I’m determined to do better. Picking up where I left off…

After our time in Lusaka, we headed for bush camp in Petauke, a good six or seven hours drive from the city. For any who know me, you are well aware that I’m not a camper and have never actually been camping, which may be strange to some considering I’ve lived in Arkansas since birth. Surprisingly enough, my time at bush camp were the best days of 40/40.

We stayed in tents where at night, we could hear bats chirping and bush babies peeping among the trees overhead. Bathing was a bit of a chore as we first walked to the well to hand-pump our shower water, then carry the bucket to the showers where we lowered another bucket to pour the water in, then raised the shower bucket with a pulley. My first experience with the bucket shower was a memorable one as I didn’t properly tie the rope for the pulley (this is when previous camping experience would have been helpful) and my bucket, full of water, came crashing down on my head, then bounced off my shoulder (go ahead, I give my blessing to laugh).

Our DFA’s were similar to those in Lusaka but the topic of marriage and child birth is when I learned how traditional beliefs hold African people in a bondage of fear. We visited with several families in the villages, asking about special rituals or steps taken when a couple wants to marry and when a child is born. One family shared, in graphic detail, about the husband and wife’s relationship after a baby is born. Without going into much detail, they told us about traditional medicines that are taken and rituals performed on the baby before the couple may come together again. If these acts are not taken seriously and followed through with, they believe the newborn baby will die immediately by its body being separated within at the waist.

As they shared these beliefs, I questioned them on the validity of their rituals and asked if they had ever seen a baby die is such a gruesome way due to its parents not following the customs. While they could not say they had witnessed it themselves, they simply repeated “it has happened.”

As we left the village, God reminded me of the bondage of animistic and ritual beliefs that have a stronghold on many people in Africa, especially those in rural villages.

In my next post, I’ll share about mine and Jeff’s homestay with the Phiri family. Until then…

My tent at bush camp

Visiting in the village

Jeff and I visiting with kids in the village

Pumping water for my shower

Guy's shower

Shower stall with bucket shower

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Zambia - Part I

For anyone reading this blog, my apologies for being slack in updating.

I’ve been back in Joburg for a week now, getting adjusted and settling in to life here in the big city. Driving a stick shift on the left side of the road is a bit tricky….okay, a lot tricky but I’m gaining confidence every day. This week, my goal is to make it to the Greenstone Mall which isn’t far from my apartment but there’s lots of traffic between here and there.

Allow me to catch up to speed on my month in Zambia. I left South Africa Oct. 22 for Lusaka, Zambia, to participate in 40/40, an on-field training to better acclimate us to African culture and help us be effective ministers in our assignments. One of the best parts of 40/40 was reuniting with our FPO group from Virginia. It was wonderful reconnecting with everyone and catching up on the past three weeks since we left ILC and our lives in the US.

During our 12-day stay in Lusaka, we were housed at the Baptist Seminary and visited surrounding townships, or compounds as they are known there, for our Daily Field Assignments. Each day, we were given a different topic to visit with the locals about, including healthcare, life cycles and spiritual beliefs.

One day, Evan and I, along with our Zambian partner Mangani, went to visit Moses, an older man suffering from tuberculosis. Moses lives in the Bauleni compound in a small, mud and brick house with a tin roof. His house, barely bigger than a bedroom, contained only a single-size mattress, a small table, a couple of chairs and a few random knick-knacks. Upon entering the house, thoughts of TB being an airborne disease ran through my head but then I saw Moses and his frail, weak body, sitting on the side of his bed, waiting for our arrival.

The Holy Spirit quickly reminded me not to fear such things but only to love this sick and seemingly helpless man. Moses told us he was on medication to treat the TB but he was very weak. He shared with us how he had lived a reckless life, abusing alcohol and other drugs, and how he deeply regretted the poor choices he made in the past.

Evan began sharing about the love of Christ and the redeeming power of God’s grace on our lives, despite the sin in our past and present. He told Moses that our Lord would rescue him from sin and change his life. Moses seemed to understand the good news and believed he could be saved in the name of Jesus. We prayed with Moses and he received Christ as his Lord and Savior.

I have much to share about Zambia so I’ll write more in additional posts. Until then…

Evan & Moses

Jeff, Evan & I at lunch in Lusaka

The lady in this picture told us she's HIV-Positive

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Off to Zambia

I'll be in Zambia Oct. 22 - Nov. 21 without internet access so I'll update the blog as soon as I can when I get back to Jo'burg. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm an American-African

Thursday morning I left Little Rock, after a tearful but loving goodbye with my parents, on my way to South Africa. As I've shared before, those last couple of weeks saying countless goodbyes drained me emotionally and physically...I don't think I could have handled another day of it. After that two-week emotional roller coaster, my spirits received a big boost when I met up with the Warren's in Atlanta. It was great to reconnect with friends from FPO and know that we were about to board an 18-hour flight to South Africa to begin this incredible journey serving our Father on the field.

We also got a brief visit with Jeff, one of my closest friends from FPO, as his plane to Tanzania was leaving shortly after ours. The first leg of our marathon flight was 8 and 1/2 hours to Dakar, Senegal, on the west coast of Africa. It went by surprisingly fast, considering I didn't sleep a wink. We were only to be on the ground, but not off the plane, in Dakar for just over an hour. As we prepared to depart for Jo'burg for the second 8-hour leg, there was a mechanical problem that kept us on the ground, and the plane, for about 2 and 1/2 hours.

We finally got off and, thanks to some generic Dramamine, I was able to get a few hours sleep before we got to South Africa. As we approached Jo'burg, the pilot informed us there was rough weather between us and the airport that may cause some problems and turbulence...that was an understatement. We began our decent and I thought we were on a roller coaster...our big Boeing 767 was being tossed around the air like a toy while we could see lighting strikes all over the dark clouds around us. The pilot attempted an initial approach but quickly had to lift back up because the weather was so bad. He made a loop and tried again but still couldn't get in safely so we made a larger loop around the city to give it a try from a different direction. This apparently worked, although it was still a bit chaotic until we got under the clouds. The Lord is so good as we finally made a safe landing at the airport in Jo'burg. Praise the Lord for hearing and answering our prayers during those intense moments!

I was greeted at the airport by some fellow M's here in Jo'burg and enjoyed a tasty mexican dinner at Darrell & Elaine's flat. I love mexican food and thought I wouldn't eat another enchilada until I go back to the States so I this was a great surprise! We visited for a while then I went over to Stan & Nancy's to call home. After that, I was ready for bed but with a seven-hour time difference and jet lag, I was wide awake at 4 a.m. UGH. But the day has been good, I had breakfast at Greenstone Mall (very nice) with Barry & Linda and Alvin & Jane, then picked up a few groceries for the next few days while I'm staying at the BIMS guest house. It's been a relaxing afternoon, which was much needed, catching up on some rest and watching a movie on my laptop.

God is so good and has placed some great people here to take care of me and make me feel welcome. Praise the Lord, may His name be great and exalted in South Africa!

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!..." - Rev. 19:6 - 7

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A few more days

In less than a week, I'll be moved into my Joburg apartment in South Africa, trying to adjust to the seven-hour time difference and getting over the jet lag of being on one airplane for 18 hours.

These final days at home, or rather, visiting friends and family have been tough. I knew it would be hard but I never expected it to be as emotionally challenging as it has been. These days are all about transitions and change, something I need to get used to if God has plans for me on the mission field more than a couple of years.

The toughest goodbye so far came Tuesday morning. My best friend in the world, Nick Dorsey, moved to Louisville, KY, in August to start seminary at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Thanks to some banked frequent flier miles, I flew to Louisville last Saturday to hang out with Nick for a few days while he's on fall break. Nick and I met each other in 2003 through a student ministry and have been best friends ever since. We have literally travelled the world together on mission trips and vacations. We've shared more adventures, seen more places and experienced more things in the past five years than most people experience in a lifetime.

We have grown together spiritually, worked together, gone to school together, served at church together...the list goes on and on. But now, God has chosen our paths to split for a time. He has led Nick to Southern for seminary and is leading me to South Africa to serve there. What is so great about this is that, while we are on two different continents, we are still working together for the glory of God and sharing the same greater goal of reaching the world for our Savior.

I've never had a closer, better and more faithful brother and friend in my life than Nick. Nick was an answered prayer of several years that God put in my life at the most perfect time, for both of us. The few days we got to hang out in Louisville this week were sweet and I'm grateful for that time God gave us as we set off in different directions for this one common goal.

Things will and are changing and it's one of the toughest things I'm going through right now but I'm confident the Lord will keep my best friend and I closely connected over the next couple of years. There is no one in this world who I admire, respect and love more in the ministry than Nick. He is one of a kind and I'm richly blessed to have him in my life. I look forward to many more adventures God has planned for us in this world. Nick, you're the best. Thank you for being my best friend.

"Jonathan said to David, 'Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, 'The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.' Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city."
- 1 Samuel 20:42

Sunday, October 5, 2008


FPO ended Wednesday afternoon with a great time of fellowship, prayer and worship in our commissioning service. It was all bittersweet as our time at ILC came to an end and we bid farewell to each other.

Over the past couple of days, I've reflected on FPO and how God changed me. One thing I realized is how I took that time for granted and was far to eager for it to be over and be on our way. I never expected the goodbyes to be so tough, after all, most of us only knew each other a couple of months. But during those couple of months, something really special happened. God brought all 363 of us to ILC at the same time for us to walk together on this humbling journey and blessed us with a special bond that we'll never have with anybody else.

I absolutely love my FPO family and consider my friends there some of the best I'll ever know. They are some of my favorite people in the world (literally) and I miss them terribly but I know the Lord will always keep us connected in our hearts, prayers and the work He is sending us to do.

Even though I miss them, I'm enjoying my time with family and friends at home. We had an early Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house Friday night and it was such a special time with my family. Saturday morning, I flew to Louisville (where I'll be through Tuesday) to see my best friend, Nick, who is in seminary here. It's a blessing to see how God has helped Nick get adjusted here and surrounded him with great friends at Southern.

Pray for me and my FPO friends as we continue saying our goodbyes these next couple of weeks that we'll be able to show our family and friends how much we love them.

"Ask and I'll give the nations to You, O Lord,
That's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see Your Light
As it rises on us"
- "You Said"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So long Rockville

After nine and a half weeks in Rockville, VA, for FPO, this chapter of my journey to South Africa comes to an end tomorrow. I say it all the time but I can't believe it's come and gone and two weeks from Thursday, I'll be on a plane to Joburg.

So many times I thought FPO would never end. When your in the middle of it, sitting in sessions for hours, time can pass slowly. We've all gotten settled and comfortable here but it's time to pack up and move through another transition.

This experience would not have been the same without the people here and especially the ones who God blessed me with the privilege of building close friendships with. I stand amazed at the work of God and his provision during this time and the brothers he gave me to journey through FPO. I could never say enough what these guys mean to me and I pray our Lord will keep us connected on the field.

No doubt tears will be shed tomorrow and Thursday as we leave ILC. But I'm ready to see my family and friends at home who I love so much. I'm especially looking forward to my trip to Kentucky to hang out with my boy Nick.

These next couple of weeks will be exhausting for me, physically and emotionally. Let's hope the exhaustion will catch up with me Oct. 16 and I'll be able to sleep much of the 24 hours of flying I have before me.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice."
Psalm 105:1-3

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last full week of FPO

So almost two months ago I arrived here in Rockville, VA, ready to begin one of the first major transitions of going to the mission field. At the time, nine weeks seemed like a long time but now that it's almost over, I wonder where the time went.

But here I am, these final days at ILC for FPO with the IMB for my ISC term (gotta love those acronyms - wait, is correct?) finishing up last-minute details and attempting to finish my seminary assignments before the weekend so I can enjoy those final precious days with some of the most incredible people in the world. Going in to FPO, I heard from previous missionaries the friendships made here are the best part and what they remembered most. I was a bit skeptical but not anymore. Sure, it's tough living in an isolated place with more than 300 people, spending all day together, eating most meals together and socializing together. But if it wasn't for these close quarters and walking this journey together, we wouldn't have built the close relationships we have.

One thing I'm finding comfort in when I leave next week is I'll be reconnecting with most of my friends going to Central Eastern & Southern Africa about three weeks later. Actually, after I've said my goodbyes at home (which I'm also not looking forward to) October 16, I'll meet up with my buddy Jeff (who has been a God-send at FPO) and one of my new extended families, the Warren's, in Atlanta. The Warren's and I will be making the 18-hour flight to Jo'burg together (praise the Lord we're on the same flight!) and Jeff will be boarding his plane to Tanzania just after us. Less than a week later, most of us will be back together for another month in Zambia for 40/40 on-field training.

I am ready to see my parents (happy birthday, dad!), grandparents, Keilani & John, aunts and uncles, three beautiful and incredible nieces (Beth, Kati & Holly) and of course, my incredible friends who I've missed so much.

Here are some pictures below from my latest trip to DC and a special African meal we prepared last week. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Me & Chris (Shay)

Jeff, Jessie, Me & Matthew outside Nando's in DC

Our DC team - Jeff, Me and the Warren's

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Cooking team at the Allen's - Me, Jeff, Roxie & Eric

Making something African, but I forget what

Stirring ugali

Ugali (after nearly an hour of stirring)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Three more weeks

My time here in Virginia is quickly wrapping up. Three weeks from tomorrow, I'll be saying goodbyes to new friends and going back to Arkansas to start packing, say more goodbyes and get ready to move to South Africa.

These past couple of weeks at FPO have been draining. The next three days aren't going to be any better as my group starts Security Contigency Training. We haven't been told much about it, other than to relax and not worry. All I know is we will be taught, through role-playing, how to deal with various "security threat" situations we could encounter on the field. These days are sure to be long and intense but once over, the last couple of weeks of training will be over before I know it.

Despite my ADD and lack of energy, God is teaching me and drawing me closer to Him daily. I love my Jesus because He loved me so much that He gave His life for me and died a horrifically brutal death because of sin. But death couldn't hold Him down. He defeated sin. He defeated death. And He walks with me daily, even when I am selfish and don't think about it.

I praise the Lord for rescuing me from my sin and depravity. I praise the Lord for dying for me. I praise the Lord for choosing me. I praise the Lord for His grace and mercy. I praise the Lord for calling me to Africa. I praise the Lord for giving me strength to overcome. I praise the Lord for holding me when I'm weak. I praise the Lord for my incredible family. I praise the Lord for my friends from home who have been some of the greatest blessings in my life. I praise the Lord for my friends here at FPO, especially those who I'm not sure I would make it through without them here. Father, may your name be great among the nations as you send us out in this world. I love you. Amen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We are officially at the half-way point of FPO and over the weekend, I was definitely feeling it. Over the last few days, I've really been anxious and ready to get to Africa. I've enjoyed the time here in Virginia at FPO but sitting in sessions all day, although the information is great, can be draining and my ADD doesn't help matters. Thankfully, God has blessed me with some incredible friends here to sympathize with and to encourage when I have my down moments. I'm so grateful for that (thanks, Tank).

Tomorrow, Tom Elliff, a vice president with the IMB, will be here conducting sessions on doctrine. I'm especially excited about Tom being here as his brother, Bill, is my pastor at The Summit Church in Maumelle, Ark. When I first began the application process with the IMB, Bill got me in touch with Tom, who served several years in Zimbabwe. Tom and I emailed each other a few times throughout the process as I was discerning God's call to serve through the IMB and specifically in Africa. I'm looking forward to meeting Tom and hoping that Elliff humor and wit will show up.

Tonight at dinner, I got to visit with this sweet lady from Missouri named Luella who is here at ILC with a team from her church, prayer walking the campus all week, praying for each one of us. She is 80 years old and still active in missions! She and her husband served an ISC term with the IMB in Taipei, Taiwan, from 2001 - 2003. Luella shared with us that her husband was a pastor and she was a school teacher. They promised the Lord when He was ready for them to retire, they would commit the rest of their lives to serve as volunteer missionaries and she is definitely keeping her promise! She and her team are not finished with their mission once they leave here. They're going up to colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown to prayer walk that historic area of our country. What a blessing Luella and her team is to us! By the way, during our visit we discovered that I'm staying in the same apartment (22C) here at ILC that Luella and her husband lived in back in 2001 when they went through FPO!

So six weeks from this moment, I'll be on an 18-hour plane ride to Johannesburg, South Africa. It's getting so close and I get more excited every day! I know these next few weeks will fly by, I just pray I'll enjoy every second of it and not just count down the day until I'm off to Jo'burg. God is good...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

FPO week 3

I've officially been in Virginia for four weeks now...time flies! FPO has been going strong for three weeks, with only five and half weeks to go, meaning I move to South Africa in just over seven weeks.

This week, we had sessions on Church Planting Movements (CPM) and the book of Acts...good stuff, although I do have a hard time staying focused at times. We also got our bank accounts set up and had our first round of immunizations. I only had two this week, polio and hep A. The shots and bank stuff gave us a couple of afternoons off which was much-needed.

I have just about everything ready for my Visa application after just finding out about it last week. I got a good report back on my chest x-ray (no TB) so that was definitely an answered prayer.

As I've said before, FPO gets a little crazy sometimes with all we have going on here but this last week, God has really opened my eyes and heart to an opportunity while I'm here. I've had some time to reflect on various roles in ministry over the years and of course, college and student ministry has been a staple in my life for a while now. I love discipling people and I feel like God is allowing me to do that here with some awesome people getting ready to go to the mission field. Just in the last couple of weeks, I've enjoyed getting to know some truly incredible guys who share my passion for reaching the nations. It's been a great blessing to hear their stories, how God brought them to this point and just hanging out. In the end, I'm confident I'll have learned much more from them than vise-versa and I'm grateful for these friendships God is building.

"Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdom's cause"

lyrics from "Hosanna"
Hillsong United

Saturday, August 16, 2008

FPO week 2

It's been a great week at FPO, lots going on, a bit overwhelming at times, but God is good. We started the week with Dr. Jerry Rankin, IMB President, who presented three days of sessions on spiritual warfare. Jerry and his wife, Bobbye, spent many years on the field and no doubt have countless stories of praise, hardships, and funny moments that only missionaries find themselves in. They are down-to-earth and just great people.
One night this week our regional leaders, Bob & Linda, had all 30 plus CESA members over for dinner. It was such a good night of fellowship with our extended family and I think we were all happy to get off campus to hang out and visit with each other.

Thursday night, I had my first official class meeting for my second seminary course, Principles and Practices of Missions. We had some good discussions but after being in sessions all day and then having class until 8 p.m., it's a bit tiring but good nonetheless.

Today, we had some short sessions and were done by 2 p.m. so it was really nice to have the afternoon off.

So a couple of months ago, I received my travel information to go to South Africa and didn't have any instructions about getting a Visa, other than it would all be taken care of once I arrive on the field. After talking to some other people going to South Africa, I discovered I had not received some additional information regarding some furthur medical documentation and state background checks needed to apply for my Visa. Needless to say, I've had a couple of stressful days sorting that out. I have to get a physical, a chest x-ray for tuberculosis and a criminal background check from the state of Arkansas.

One of the many great things here at ILC is the medical clinic. I stopped in this afternoon and found out what I need to do to get this stuff taken care of and hopefully, Lord willing, I'll be good to go soon. And thanks, Melissa, for helping me out with the background check, all the way back in Bryant! God is so good!

Last Saturday, me and some friends from FPO went to Washington, DC for the day (this was my second trip). My friend, Jeff, has a friend at the White House who gave us a little special treatment. Jeff's friend, Grant, gave us a nice tour on the grounds of the White House and gave us a little history about the place. Grant gives tours inside the White House but he can only take a few people and only had one spot open so Jeff got an awesome tour inside. The coolest part for him though was getting to walk the Bush's dog, Barney. So check out the picture below of Jeff and Barney Bush!
I also posted a picture of my bulletin board, which now has pictures on it thanks to my mom and some artwork by my niece, Beth.

Sarah, Jeff, Susan, Me & Josh in front of the White House

Jeff holding Barney Bush, the president's dog

My newly decorated bulletin board in my quad

Monday, August 4, 2008

DC trip & my quad

I rode the Amtrak up to DC this weekend and met up with my friend, Courtney McKeown, who just moved to Philadelphia to work for CityTeam Ministries. A cool part about being in the northeast is that all the big cities are fairly close to each other, DC was only about a two hour train ride.

We walked all over the city Saturday afternoon and saw most of the big stuff...Ford Theater, Capitol Hill, The White House, Washington & Lincoln Monuments, National Archives, etc. Saturday night, we scored some great tickets for only 25 bucks to a Washington Nationals/Cincinnati Reds baseball game. Our seats were by first base, just a few rows behind the dugout. Sunday, we ate lunch at Union Station and Courtney headed back to Philly and I took a train back down to Virginia (thanks, Heath, for getting me to/from the train station).

I was able to move into my quad this afternoon at ILC. This is where I'll be staying throughout FPO. I'm in quad 22, part of the "Africa Village." All the quads have four or five small "apartments" in them. Each apartment has a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, then we all share the greatroom.

I would appreciate your prayers this week as FPO begins Wednesday morning and I'll also be taking my final from my class last week, plus beginning my next seminary class in conjuction with FPO.

Here are some pics from DC and my quad:

Quad 22

Our greatroom

My kitchen

My back door

My laundry room

Ashland, VA train station

The National Archives - Washington, DC

Me and Courtney on the National Mall - Washington, DC

WWII Memorial - Washington, DC

Washington Monument - Washington, DC

Capitol Building/Capitol Hill - Washington, DC

Lincoln Memorial & Reflection Pool - Washington, DC

The White House - Washington, DC

Washington Nationals baseball park

Nationals/Reds game - Washington, DC

Nationals scoreboard

Courtney & I in our awesome seats - about four rows behind the first base dugout

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First class and some pics

I had my first day of seminary today...8 a.m. - 5 p.m. It really went by fast, our professor is good and we took frequent breaks. Southern Baptists have an interesting history but I'm looking forward to the more recent events of the convention. My professor, Dr. Greg Wills, from Southern Seminary, is from Arkansas and knows my pastor, Bill Elliff. It's always funny when I meet somebody in a random place and we have mutual friends.

I also got to talk to Nick on Skype tonight. That was cool. I have a high-speed internet connection in my room today so that's been really nice, hopefully it will stay considering it wasn't working yesterday and most of today.

So here are some pictures of ILC where I'm staying. Very cool place, nice and quiet and secluded from the rest of the crazy world.

Habakkuk 3:2

The pond

Gazebo and pond

Africa Village quads

World fountain outside international center

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back at ILC

This is my first attempt at blogging so let's hope I'll stick with it. So I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning to catch a 7 a.m. flight to Cincinnati, then on to Richmond, VA. I got to Richmond just before noon and made it out to the International Learning Center (ILC) in Rockville shortly at 1 p.m. I got checked into my room in the Europe House and unpacked all my stuff. It's really nice out here on the "farm" out in the middle of the Virginia countryside. Very quiet and secluded. I've been hanging out in my room all afternoon, reading and got in a short nap but dinner is at 5 p.m. and after that, I'll probably go for a run and maybe take some pictures to post.

Tomorrow I start my first seminary class through the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY) as part of the Master of Arts in Theological Studies - Intercultural Leadership (MATSIL) program I'm doing. The first class, which I've already done a lot of reading for and taken some online quizzes, is Southern Baptist Heritage. The reading has been pretty interesting, especially the missions part, so I think the class will be good. My second class will be Principles and Practices of Missions and I'll do that over the course of my Field Personnel Orientation (FPO). I'm currently registered for another class, Survey of Systematic Theology, that meets the week after FPO, but I'm thinking about dropping it and taking it online a bit later. If so, I'll be back in Arkansas a few days longer before I go to South Africa.

As for my timeline from here on out, I'll be in Virginia until October 8, or sooner if I drop the other class. I'll get to spend some time back in Arkansas before I depart for Johannesburg, South Africa, October 14. I've committed to a two-year assignment with the International Mission Board (IMB), serving with a team in Jo'burg but have the option to be there three years if the Lord so chooses. After I serve my term in Jo'burg, I'll go to Louisville, KY, to complete the MATSIL on campus at Southern. After that, I'll go where the Lord wants me.

Habakkuk 1:5