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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reflections of the Sun

Crossing the border back into Canada, my mind was racing as fast as my car, trying to remember all that has happened in the past three weeks.  This orange ball was floating in the sky behind my car, as I travelled east to Toronto.  Trooper music was coming through the system,
"We're here for a good time
Not a long time
So have a good time
The sun can't shine everyday"

But the sun was definitely shining on this day... the orange caught in my driver's side and rearview mirrors, blinding me briefly until the sun sunk a little lower and told stories of pinks and purples on the clouds.  Watching the sunset behind me I continued on in my journey.  Car lights were slowly being turned on as darkness deepened.  For the first part of my post-border escapade, there were not many cars - as it was a rural area, but when I started getting towards London, Kitchener, and Toronto - three lanes of traffic filled up with head lights.  Large lamps directing the roads and city lights cheering up the skies.

All I could think about was how Jesus is the Son of God, and how God's Word is a Light unto my path.  During the past few weeks of Missions Training I felt like I was alive during that intense moment of a sunset.  God is real!  His work and Word inspiring!  And being surrounded by saints who also follow the Son was a glorious time.   Slowly I leave the tight fellowship of complete communion and feel alone.  Soon I remember the few friends who journey with me - through prayer and encouragment, serving the Son wherever they are.  Snapping out of the darker moments, I recognize that there are many believers who are zooming through life - trying to let their little lights shine for Jesus.  Just like the street lamps, there are those faithful candles who stand beside me - firmly planted in the Rock, gently encouraging me to move forward.  Even the flashing lights of the airplanes caused my hairs to rise as I thought of the angels also reflecting the love and light of Christ.  They are fighting battles around me when I'm not even looking - just paying attention to my our journey.  Signs in the cities were more frequent, reminding me too that it is easier to follow God and His ways when I stay focused on HIM. 

No matter how dark the road may be sometimes, I will carry the Light of Jesus with me and someday (soon I pray) arrive safely home! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Training Schedule

Here's what is keeping me busy:

Week One:
Monday - Devotions and Prayer, Old Testament History, ITeams Vision, Mission and Values, Cross-cultural communications, Testimony presentations.
Tuesday - Devotions and Prayer, Old Testament History, ITeams Vision, Mission and Values, Cross-cultural communications, Orientation to Mobilization, Facilities, and Insurance.
Wednesday - Devotions and Prayer, Old Testament History, Team Dynamics, Cross Cultural communications, Worldwide ministry of ITeams, and Orientation to Information systems.
Thursday - Devotions and Prayer, New Testament, Worldwide Ministry of ITeams, Human Resources, Cross-Cultural exercises, Finance.
Friday - Devotions and Prayer, New Testament, Church in Missions, Mobilizing the church, Cross-cultural communications, and COMMUNION!

Week Two:
Monday - The Word and Prayer, Life Maps: Personal Strengths, Spiritual Gifts, Team Planning, Involving Partners in Your Ministry, and Understandind our Personality.
Tuesday - Word and Prayer, Life Map: Spiritual Gifts, Life Experiences, Preparation for personal interviews, Consultations
Wednesday - Word and Prayer, Life Map homework, Chapel, Finances, Toboganning.
Thursday - Word and Prayer, Supernatural Realities, Islam and the Gospel, and a video called "A Time for Burning"
Friday - An ethnic experience in downtown Chicago, visiting a bookstore, eating in Little India and attending a prayer service at the Mosque.
Saturday - a day off.

Week Three:
Sunday - a seminar on racial issues and attended an inner-city church... afterwards ate at a delicious Mexican restaurant called Nuevo Leon. Superbowl party!
Monday - Word and Prayer, Working in Teams, Hinduism and the Gospel, and a trip to a beautiful Mandir.
Tuesday - Word and Prayer, Human Trafficking and Slavery, Finances, Soul Care
Wednesday - Word and Prayer, Oral Communications, CHAPEL, Marriage and Singleness.
Thursday - Word and Prayer, Leadership practices, Financial planning, Roman Catholicism and the Gospel,
Friday - Word and Prayer, Personal Relationships, Communion (Chapel)

Seriously intense!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chicago Highlights

Four days after the huge snow storm, cars are still blocked in on the side streets.  Searching for a vacant parking spot, I slowly drive down a narrow one-way street in Chicago.  Finding a spot that has been shovelled just enough to pull a vehicle out of, I manoeuvre my car into that spot.  Proud of my left hand parallel parking job, I bundle up and find some old friends that recently moved into a new condo.  I didn't have an apartment number, or their phone number, but after a quick prayer and a push to a button that had no description, my friend Esther answered the door. 
 I was quickly introduced to her husband Josiah and he offered to take us out for lunch.  Tucked inconspicuously on a street near Lincoln Park was a restaurant called Orange.  What a treat!!  I ordered
Chai Tea French Toast: Baked, chai tea-infused French toast, stuffed with Ricotta cheese, served over a chai tea latte reduction and topped with honey and caramelized apples. 8.99
Finishing our scrumptious meals around 2 pm, we paraded down a few streets until we came to the Lincoln Park Zoo.  A free experience for the day.

This dwarf crocodile got upset when my flash went off.
Africa follows me everywhere!
Reaching for the unreachable
Sheer beauty!
  Zooming over tollways, I arrived back at International Teams in time to fellowship with my fellow trainees before tucking in to bed.  A great day of rest.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowy Days in Illinois

Last week, classes were overwhelming.  This week, variety has joined our schedule.  Prayer times, testimony sharing, theology discussions and art work fill our days.  Art work you might ask - yes, we were each given a specific size sheet of paper and told to make a symbolic paper of our lives.
 This was our apartment last night - during craft hour.  A huge snow storm hit the Chicago area - as you can see the snow building up on the outside door - so we all knew our training would be cancelled for the next day.  We stayed up late to complete our projects.
 The snow and wind were thick and powerful.
Here is my finished project - I was able to spend an hour today with International Teams staff, sharing my story.  I will take this symbolic picture with me to Uganda, so that I can share who I am with my team.
This morning I woke up to see the snow had nicely settled - but super thick and deep.  Without any teachers around, all of us in missionary training gathered together at 8 am to study a lesson on Forgiveness.  Then we had a one hour finance workshop.  At 10:30 am we moved over to the chapel for an incredible (and spontaneous) time of worship and prayer. 

A bunch of us spent the afternoon digging out cars, sledding and just having a blast.  It was good to have a long break and get some fresh hour.  Being a perpetual student is no longer easy.