Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Joy of Teaching

My friend Corinne tells me that I am delinquent in my blog entries. So here I am. Can you believe it is well into November already? The weather has been getting colder and yesterday morning there was even a dusting of snow. I am holding off on wearing winter coat and boots until it is truly, officially cold. My niece in northern British Columbia tells me that already they have lots of snow there. But here the leaves are still on the trees, although the colours have changed.

Recently I have been enjoying the opportunities that are mine to do some teaching within our training programs. I have one group of Moldovan young people whom I am leading in an inductive Bible study of 2 Timothy. This is a challenging assignment because it is being done completely in Romanian. There are a couple Russian-speaking members of the group so the only translation that is happening is from Russian to Romanian.(No, I don't speak or understand Russian - one of the girls translates into Russian for the others.) I look forward to the time when I can do this kind of interaction without having to use my English Bible at all. The group is very patient with me and gracious in not laughing at my many Romanian language mistakes.

** Moldova trivia quiz: What is the purpose of the blue bucket-shaped object in the picture?

I also had opportunity to teach a Bible lesson to the level 1 mission training program, with a translator beside me. The topic was 'The Father Heart of God'. I know that it is very possible, even likely, that some or most of these students have had absentee, abusive or alcoholic parents. Understanding the true nature of their heavenly Father as having a character of love, patience, compassion, tenderness and forgiveness is essential for their spiritual growth and development. As they did last week, in the coming weeks these young people will be involved in outreaches into the villages of Moldova. There they will share the love of God the Father with their words and through their deeds.

Another group I am involved with is the small group of foreigners who are enrolled in our mission training program. Participants from US, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland are bravely taking on the challenge - over the course of 10 weeks - of being immersed in another culture, with minimal language training and many challenges in terms of living conditions and relationships with nationals. The cross-cultural international nature of the course is in itself a huge learning curve for all involved. Part of the challenge for us as leaders is ensuring that not only the foreigners, but also the nationals have some degree of cross-cultural training and sensitivity. Even such small things as common health remedies can become an issue of contention when the views from various cultures are diametrically opposite. For example, will sleeping with the windows open keep you healthy or make you sick?

Tomorrow evening I will have this small group over to my house for supper and an evening of relaxing away from the stress of trying to communicate in another language. They are a fun group and I'm hoping I can come up with a good idea of what to cook for supper. This evening I made chocolate chip cookies. I might just go with spaghetti and meat sauce for the main course - we'll see.

My other teaching challenge this fall is the course for Viorica, who is planning to go to Angola as a missionary. In her course thus far we have covered the biblical basis of missions and now we are supposed to be working on the history of missions. This is more of a challenge for me and I am stumbling in how and what to include in our lessons and discussions. Soon we will spend a fair bit of time looking at cross-cultural issues and cultural adaptation. At the same time we are beginning to obtain more and more information on all that is required in order for her to even get to Angola. Visa applications for 3 different countries, vaccinations, work permits, communication with her sending church, is a huge challenge but also very exciting. We are learning about Angola and as we do, I am reminded once more of what a thrill and joy it is for me to be here - to be part of what God is doing in the lives of individual believers as well as what He is doing in the world. And I pray that my heart will constantly be open to what He wants to do in me.

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