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["the chatter of a missionary sysadmin"]
2003-04-25 7:53 AM
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Fri Apr 25 19:53:52 EDT 2003
Approximate mid-point, roughly (if RedHat's sendmail weren't so slow to start, perhaps this would've been written nearer noon, when I tried). Some scattered reflections.
After a long, and more especially, EARLY-starting trip, which was beautiful for going through the mountains and hills of PA, West Virginia, Virginia, and NC, we arrived among the throngs of other Episcopalians late in the afternoon for registration. We did meet and greet, frazzled from lack of sleep and a long day of driving, along the line for room assignments, amused somewhat by the family-/class-reunion character of seeing so many professors and former classmates or other alums. Eventually, the mundane matters were taken in hand, and after dinner, we entered a great voyage of missionary Episcopalianism...
So there are two great things which have impressed me so far:
First, the witness of the persecuted and martyred. One evening's presentation was simply by a British woman whose ministry is documenting and witnessing, and aiding where possible, the situation of those suffering for Jesus. Along with the horrors of torture, massacre, deprivations she has seen and told of, those in Sudan, Burma, Nigeria, Indonesia are united in one thing: joy in Christ. Although I knew this with my head and even a little in my heart, it had faded until I heard the stories and saw the faces again.
Second, and less cosmically, but also very personally, I find it hard not to want to follow almost every speaker, every guest of honor, back to the home, to their field, and do what they're doing! What I want to do next is whatever that guy just told me about... Go to Pakistan, go to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Singapore, work on microenterprise development, do education, witnessing, relief work -- God is active, I want to be there... Occasionally, I brake myself, remember these folks worked long and hard to build on the Foundation to see the house built to see it adorned.
More fundamentally, piscis has pointed out how fruitless, and how inactive we are right here in our own culture, let alone attempting to do something in an alien place and culture which we can't even manage here. And, it seems clear, the guidance God's been giving us to create small groups at Grace seems to be strongly indicated for what ails us. That, and the notion of exploring spritual gifts with the Edgeworth folk. I'm on the lineup card to teach a bit on the Church Fathers for Summer, but that's likely to be a short one-shot. Had better think what I can do as a long-term group.
Heh, "long-term." In cross-cultural missionary terms, "short-term" usually mean up to three years. You spend the first year learning how to speak and behave as well as a kindergartner, and figuring out how to make your own rice. Maybe the next year, you get to know people a bit and show you're not just on vacation. third year, third year people really take you seriously and you can tell them something revolutionary, something radical about the Passion of God. 'Course, they still think of you as a foreigner, and you know all the crazy things foreigners say -- but maybe there's something to it.
Then again, at home we're still not really not at home -- we think and act as transients, as much as I want to adopt that little city of steel, rusted, concrete chipped, pride humbled but not subdued, miniature grandeur, place where empire was built on the backs of everyman, and every man knew it. A year and some in place, and we've just now got to know people from approximately 3 neighboring households (mostly piscis' work, not mine). And here we all speak English... What kind of fool sends a hermit to do a fool's errand?
Fortunately, strength is made perfect in weakness by God, and we've been told again and again these two days that this is most certainly true. It is very interesting to me to re-read Koyama this week, and see him talk about the importance of 'neighborology', of seeing people and not ideas, as our speakers and leaders model it and discuss it, though not in Koyama's terms. (And, apparently, when I first read Koyama, way way back when I can't even remember when, he was my first encounter with his very own teacher, Kitamori -- solving that mystery of how I was familiar with his ideas without having seen his book until the last year or so.)
So, now, I sit here with my little xterm spewing into vi, and being pleasantly surprised that my RH8 system can out-o-the-box play the Kevin Max cd which my lady cleverly brought along for just such emergencies, and eye the little stack o' literature on the tale next to me; it's got ministries of various sorts, and a few duplicates, to pass along to various people, or where both of us spotted something. I even have cooling coffee of good quality, where piscis retrieved it for me from the onsite coffee shop. I talk to my text file, twitching to the music, trying To Figure It All Out, knowing how futile that is, knowing I have to try anyway, wondering if I wonder too much, savoring the good things of life, knowing I should savor what many cannot have, knowing that true peace is even more than good widgets, wondering how to combine all these things, to be a communicator and not abstract to communica-tion, praising:
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