I have been deeply encouraged the last several weeks. I have been to three conferences during this time. The first was the ISUM summit in Kuala Lumpur. ISUM stands for International Society for Urban Missions. This is a group of scholar activists who are drawn together on the basis of believing that we need to emphasize ministry in the urban centers of the world, especially among the urban poor. I presented a paper on AIDS, Poverty, and Justice. The two plenary speakers were Jayukumar Christian and John Perkins, who did a great job. We got to go to different ministries in the city, and we also hardworking groups on a variety of topics.
The second conference was the NACC, the North American Christian Convention. We heard great sermons. From people like Tim Harlow and Ben Merold. I had little to do, just facilitating two breakfasts which focused on short-term mission trips. I serve on the continuation committee for this convention.
Week three was in Ft. Collins, Colorado for the annual Globalscope Celebration. Globalscope is the name of CMF’s international campus ministry efforts, now at work in seven countries. We have plans to begin five new ministries in the next four years. Roy Lawson, my roommate for the conference, was one of the main speakers, as was Jim Bergman from the Flat Irons church, now numbering 17,000 after just 8.5 years.
What’s next? Some time with my parents and sisters in Oregon. Robyn will be there with me for five days. It will be a good family time, with a day for salmon fishing highly anticipated.
Then a week later it is the four conference, the WiNeMa Week of Missions on the Oregon coast. This is amissions-oriented family camp where I have attended and spoken over the years. Five missionaries and one Bible lecturer. Looking forward to this. Four of the five missionary speakers are women, and my friend Ash Barker is theBible lecturer. Another good friend who helps put the conference together is Stephen Burris.
Yes, I will be glad to be home after this’s summer of conferences!
Everybody who has traveled by air across numerous time zones exhibits some sign of what is called jetlag. Jetlag is a feeling of discomfort, not being able to stay asleep for normal periods, waking up at 2:00 in the morning after three hours of sleep but not being able to fall back to sleep. A common rule is that for every time zone you cross, it takes one day to recover. So, since I have recently flown from Indianapolis to Singapore (about as far as you can go without starting to come back), it should take me twelve days to be fully acclimatized and over jetlag. The problem is, I head back to the States after only a week or so, so it means more jetlag on the other end.
It seems as though everybody has their own remedy for jetlag. Really, these remedies are a dime a dozen, and everybody swears by their own routine, and they are more than happy to advise on how you can get past jetlag. Ho hum.
So here is my top ten list of cures for jetlag; some of which I agree with, and some of which I have experienced as a waste of time.
10. Take a nutritional supplement, like melatonin. (There is a reason I rate this as number ten).
9. Begin changing your sleeping habits so that by the time you arrive in the country you will be ready to go to bed in the evening just like at home. (Of course if you are going half way around the world that would mean you need to be awake in the nighttime and asleep in the daytime in your own country — not very possible if you have a normal job).
8. Drink plenty of liquids on the airplane. Realize however that some liquids should not be taken in large amounts on a flight, like coffee, tea, alcohol because they dry you out rather than keeping you hydrated.
7. When you get to where you are going, get in lots of exercise. I agree with this, but sometimes you feel so bad you need sleep, not exercise, and other times your flight gets in at midnight which is not a good time to be out and about on a walk.
6. Believe that jetlag is simply a figment of your imagination. One guy told me this who had recently arrived in Kenya from the US and who had driven out to our area (a 5 hour drive). I asked how he was doing with his jetlag and he told me he did not believe in jetlag. The funny thing was in ten minutes of visiting he totally fell asleep in the middle of a conversation.
5. This is one technique I refuse to comment on.
4. Force yourself upon arrival to stay up till the normal bedtime, even though it kills you. They say it will help your body to adjust. This seems to be the most commonly practiced technique.
3. Don’t fight it. If you feel tired, take a nap, but be sure that a 2 hour nap does not turn into a full night’s sleep or you will wake up at midnight or later and then be raring to go, but with no place to go. When I wake up in America at 4 in the morning, I just go into the office and work till about noon, then I go home and take a nap.
2. At bedtime take something like Tylenol PM or drowsiness pills, like antihistamine. These do not necessarily help you go to sleep, because you don’t need something to go to sleep. Rather they are to help you stay asleep rather than waking up two hours later according to your circadian rhythms.
1. Lay in bed at nighttime with your earphones on your head until you go to sleep listening to your favorite music. If you have had a relaxation aid, all the better.
There you have it.
Each year hosts and international Board meeting for our Board of Directors. In years past we have met in Beijing, Mexico City, and Nairobi. Our meetings are in areas where we have personnel working, They are occasions of hearing reports on the country, learning from national leaders and colleagues, meeting with our personnel, and then following the meeting, making personal visits to nearby areas where we work.
The meeting in Indonesia was held in Yogyakarta. We heard reports from local leaders who highlighted that shape of the church in this country. Our own family of churches work, it was reported by these leaders, equals 10-11,000 followers. We have been involved in much of this work over the years, and a major role has been played by the training institution that has been in existence since the 1980s.
Post meeting trips involved visits to Sulawezi, Bali, and Central Java.
I was able to be here a day early, after a visit to see many of my long-time friends in Singapore where our family lived in 1990-1995. On that spare day we had hired a bird guide who took us to a national park at Mt. Merapi. I was able to record 14 lifers that day, to be added to the several I had gotten in Singapore, and since that day have seen an additional two, including the beautiful Javan kingfisher.
In the next two days we will be visiting half a dozen villages in an around the areas of two volcanic mountains. I will of course have my binoculars with me in the chance that we might see something along the road or as we walk. I realize how privileged I am to be involved in the work I do!
I’ve been recuperating from knee-replacement surgery. Most every day now I walk a mile, so things are going well. I do try to keep my leg elevated because sitting at the desk and then standing up is still pretty painful, which my doctor says is inflammation around the IT band. About a week and a half ago we walked 2.6 miles, and it was a little too much. So I am also trying to be patient. But enough of the knee. What else has been happening during this time?
I’ve been on a couple of short trips, one to Florida and New York (contributing editors of Christian Standard and a short family time), and then a driving trip to Columbus, OH for a planning meeting for the 2014 International Conference on Missions. Other things I’ve been doing:
- preparing three talked to give at Emmanuel Christian Seminary in early April on the subject of short-term missions
- writing an article on salavation for Christian Standard
- meeeting with the CMF leadership team on some things requiring our attention as we move into the future
- collecting (today!) the fifth volume in the Tippett series for which I serve as series editor
- gathering a group to head to Kenya in September
- driving nine miles only (!) to see a lifer for me, the snow bunting
- reading. Presently reading a book I am to review for Missiology
- putting together a new charcoal burner for grilling
- early on in my recovery working on my stamp collection
What’s coming up in the next few weeks?
- the mission agency ceo’s annual retreat with 7 friends and leaders of missions agencies
- the lectures at Emmanuel
- a trip to Maryland to meet with a church about partnering in possible new work in Myanmar
- a trip to Singapore and Indonesia for an international Board meeting (yes, I’ll have my binoculars for the occasional free minute
- a trip to Philadelphia for our daughter Nicole’s graduation with her Ph.D. in English literature, focusing on the post-colonial period
That takes us up till mid-May, and that is enough for now!
Habits from the past can be such a blessing. Back in 1976 I was going to as many used bookstores as I could to build my library in the areas of Bible, theology, missions, Africa, and anthropology. I was particularly interested in missions and anthropology. I came across a book edited by Joseph Casagrande titled In the Company of Man. This was a book with chapters by anthropologists telling their experiences with their informants. In the table of contents I checked about half of the chapters, meaning, I thought those chapters were good.
Now, several decades later, I find myself preparing a course on anthropological research methods. My idea for the course is to have the students read excerpts from anthropologists regarding research methods: prior to going to the field, while on the field, and when returning from the field. Obviously one area of study for the course is working with informants. So I dug out from my library the Casagrande book and am rereading the chapters I thought were good to see which ones might be applicable for reading assignments.
The point of this is to suggest that you write in the books you read, because you may come back to it, years later, to good benefit!
Example number two. When we went to Singapore, our girls Nicole and Andrea, were young. I thought it would be a good idea to get some good literary books for them to read while they were there. Since I would be making a trip to the States, I determined to solicit appropriate titles from Marilyn Works, a great English teacher. I did so; then I went to the local book store and returned to Singapore with 4 or 5 of her suggestions. I recall two of them: The Trumpeter of Krakow and Johnny Tremaine. I strongly suggested that the girls read these books.
As any parent can imagine, my suggestions were met with some laughter, some rolling of the eyes, some “gag me” looks, and etc. To this day I do not know whether they read those books or not. But I will say, with some pride, that both of those girls graduated with their Bachelor’s degree in English; and one of them in the same with her Master’s degree and her PhD degree.
Here is the funny part. I had knee replacement surgery this past month, and one day in the mail from one of my daughters was a package to help me get through the recovery period. The package contained two books, and one of the books was The Trumpeter of Krakow. What goes around comes around.
And yes, though I have never read The Trumpeter of Krakow, I am doing so now. After all, it won an award for children’s literature.
Having been on the road a lot this past quarter, Roobyn and I decided not to travel out to Philadelphia to share thanksgiving with our daughters, their husbands, their cousin, and the dog. Instead we spent much of Thursday at our church to serve meals and prepare food for those in need. Over the next couple of days, leading up to today, I took it easy, trying to get in the right mind for my knee replacement surgery on Monday. I got out my stamp collection as my brother-in-law Gordan and I are going to begin trading stamps. He sent me out with several dozen to include in my collection. We’ve been over the Scott Catalogue letting each other know the ones we could use, providing we have duplicates.
Then there were the football games. Glad that Oregon prevailed (by a point) over OSU in a closely fought and hugely entertaining game. Can say the same about Ohio St. and Auburn as well (I mean, who isn’t happy when the #1 team is defeated — we Americans always pull for the underdog; it is a part of our psyche). Indeed, after church this morning (happy to be in the presence of my family and Our Savior), it is home to watch the Colts and then the Pacers. I am so wasting my time!
But I also found time to do my normal round of work related emails, and also to read a couple of hundred pages in a collection of articles about short-term missions, a current study project. Then, I have also begun deciding what clothes to take to the hospital, to clear out anything on the floor that could (literally) trip me up, and to make sure I have the means to charge my electronic items that will be bedside after I return home from the hospital. And, I cooked a couple of meals, for which Robyn was thankful.
Today begins Advent month, and thanks to Frank Loyd and the church in Astoria, Oregon, I have an advent thought for each day of the month.
Well, that’s about it. Headed to the hospital in just under 24 hours.
Robyn told me that the past few months have seen me away from home more than she can remember during our eighteen years in Indianapolis. A part of the reason for all of the travel is that I knew I would be having knee replacement surgery on December 2, so I wanted to get a lot in before being laid up for some time. My travels over the past three months included stops in Hawaii (hooray for Kaimuki Christian Church and Global Health Network International), Melbourne and Sydney (great times with Urban Neighbors of Hope directors and also the Tippett Symposium), Kenya (with ministers from E 91st St. Christian Church), Springfield, IL (child sponsorship emphasis at West Side Christian Church), Louisville (North American Christian Convention meeting), Siloam Springs, Arkansas (missions emphasis week-end; thanks Wendel and Bettie), Colorado Springs (Academy Christian Church missions emphasis) and Eugene, OR (stops at Northwest Christian University and Trent Church of Christ’s 100th anniversary). Whew! Almost a Pauline sentence there.
On the way back to Indianapolis as I pen these words; a couple of days at the office, a thanksgiving service where we will be helping our church feed some 250 people and delivering meals to another 250), then it is a couple of days as I finish prep for surgery.
Another event of the past three months was our semi-annual CMF Board meeting. We commissioned five people for field service, heard reports from furloughing missionaries, enjoyed thinking about the intricacies of partnership with our guest speaker Daniel Rickett (check out his books on amazon.com).
Do you get the feeling that I am blessed to be involved in this ministry? I certainly feel so.
Back in 1989 I was invited to present the “Mission of the Church Lectures” at Emmanuel School of Religion (now Emmanuel Christian Seminary). The material I used came from my dissertation work on the Maasai. Since I had already participated in that lectureship, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to do it again in 2014. This time they have asked me to focus on short-term missions, so I am heavily involved in reading up on the subject.
There is plenty of literature on the subject, though most of it is practical and promotional. In the last ten years, however, there has been some academic research on short-term missions, so I will be able to draw from both bodies of literature.
One statistic I recall from the International Bulletin (I think) was that for every 1 long term (i.e. two years or more) missionary sent, there are 60 short-term missionaries sent. And of course over the years the typical mission’s budget in a church reserves a higher percentage for short-term trips. What are the implications of this for the decades ahead?
Twenty years ago I was making the prediction that short-term missions would likely be a short-lived phenomena. I said that because the economics would likely not allow for this to continue, not to mention that once one had been on a trip, they would likely not desire to go on another (been there, done that). Well, that prediction could not have been more wrong!
One of the key statements for me is that mission trips can be done very well, and they can be done very badly. There is even a website where the “best practices” in short-term missions are listed. Lots to learn!
This past month I had a trip to Hawaii and also to Australia, areas I have never visited. We had a wonderful welcome from the Kaimuki Christian Church in Honolulu where I was able to spend some good time with a CMF Board member, the pastoral staff, and the missions committee. This great church has been involved with CMF personnel in Africa and Asia for many years, and has recently assisted with the Big Dent microfinance program in Kenya.
While in Hawaii we also visited with the directors of Global Hope Network International, an agency with whom we have partnered in Asia. What wonderful hosts Hal and Lana were. They may live in one of the highest (elevation) residences on the Big Island, and their home is only ten minutes from the Volcano National Park.
Following the week in Hawaii (Robyn was with me) I then went on to Australia. We partner with Urban Neighbors of Hope and I was glad to spend a bit of time with a couple of the board members from this quality organization. They were wonderful hosts and even joined me in some birding. After the few days in Melbourne, I journeyed up to Sydney where I was able to participate in the Alan R. Tippett Symposium on Mission and Cross Cultural Ministry. It has been 25 years since Dr. Tippett’s passing, and the symposium presented the 50 attendees an opportunity to “rediscover” the missiology of Tippett. My dissertation mentor and his wife, Charles and Meg Kraft, were there. We all presented papers and memories. Our hosts were Kevin and Glenys Hovey, who were great to be with. Kevin was the convenor of the symposium. One of my presentations was academic, and the other was personal.
As you would expect, yes, I was able to do some birding in both Hawaii and Australia. All together I saw 118 trip birds, of which 85 were lifers. I’d say the top Hawaii bird for me was the white-tailed tropic bird which was flying over the steaming cauldron at the volcano park, and the top Australia birds were the king parrot couple and the sulphur crested cockatoos (very noisy).
Actually, my trip did not end in Australia, but Kenya. That is for another post, however.
Robyn and I spent a week in Texas a couple of months ago, and we recorded 116 bird species that we saw. I thought I would share the list for those who follow such things. The ones with the asteriks were lifers for me. We were in Brownsville, McAllen, and up to Falcon Dam. Flew in an out of San Antonio and rented a car. Here is the list in the order seen. Should have started my own big year.
Olive sparrow **
Great blue heron
American golden plover
Black and white warbler
Blac-throated green warbler
Black-bellied whistling duck
Yellow-crowned night heron
Ferruginous hawk **
Chihuahuan raven **
Common ground dove
Northern rough-winged sw
Tropical kingbird **
Black-crowned night heron
Green kingfisher **
Northern beardless tyrannyulet **
Cason’s sparrow **