Thursday, June 22, 2017

TeachBeyond Pre-field Orientation

Over the last 6 days, Marc and I (and the kids) have been in Wheaton, Illinois, attending a pre-field orientation for our new sending mission, TeachBeyond.

The vision of TeachBeyond is " serve our Father's world, to love Jesus Christ, and to see individuals and societies transformed by His Spirit through education" 

While we are so thrilled to be joining in the work of TeachBeyond, let me be honest and say, we were only sort-of looking forward to this training. We have less than 2 months in the USA, and our schedule is quite full, so 'giving up' a week of this precious time was difficult. Marc landed Friday evening at 5:30pm and we had less than 24 hours before we began the training, so after two weeks of him being apart from the family, we haven't really had any time to reconnect. We also had to be careful about our pride. Yes, we know we've only been on the field for 4 years, but we have had many experiences, read many books/blogs, and have already attended a different orientation/training four years ago. We absolutely realize we have SO much to learn, but we just weren't sure how much of this training would be geared towards those never having gone before, and how much would apply to those of us with even a little bit of experience. The other aspect of this training is that, until yesterday, we were not actually officially employed by Teach Beyond! (We are now, HORRAY!) We're a bit late in the game as far as switching missions, so we feel about 6 months behind most other people in our comprehension of everything we need to do and accomplish yet.

We've been humbled and surprised throughout this week with excellent training, comprehensive support services,  a deeper and renewed sense of calling and many new friendships. 

Here are a few of the highlights from these past 6 days: 

* We feel EMPOWERED to maintain our ministry partner relationships - we have a communications schedule, a website that does an amazing job of tracking pledges/support and a team of people helping us figure out our budget. This has been such an area of stress for us for the last four years, and we recognize that we haven't always done a good job in this area. Now, we are anxious to begin meeting with churches and individuals to build and maintain relationships with our ministry partners!

* We feel EQUIPPED to minister to MK's and TCK's, including our own children. We've had some amazing training on the characteristics of this people group and specifically how to minister to them. It's been interesting and sometimes amusing coming back to the US after living abroad for 4 years. We have watched as our kids try to navigate and learn/re-learn things about life here - how to flush a toilet, what certain things are (dishwasher, dryer, hair-dryer, garage, bike racks, automatic hand-dryers, etc), how to cross a street, trying 'new' foods...the list could go on and on.

We have third culture kids.

When we came to the US two years ago, it wasn't as apparent as it is now, and to have some additional training on this subject has been invaluable.

* We feel EXCITED about embarking on a new adventure which will entail language learning, cultural adaptation, new school culture and roles and just a lot of transition. Adjusting to a whole new environment is a lot of hard work, for us individually, as a married couple and as a family unit. We've been doing it for four years. Now, we're picking up and starting over, which is daunting in many ways. Through some of our training here though, we feel like we have better tools in place for this transition and are excited about it, rather than dreading it.

* We feel RENEWED in our sense of calling, specifically identifying that God is calling BOTH Marc and I to Transformational Education. I have been searching for my place in the missionary world for the past four years. This past year specifically, I dove into part-time ministry/work through Karama, which I am continuing in Rwanda and which I LOVE and am passionate about (If you don't know what I do with Karama, that's a post that will come in the next few weeks). However, I am being called into teaching preschool at KICS, and while I am still feeling apprehensive about my readiness for this task, I feel affirmed in this calling for this time. We long to see students transformed by the Holy Spirit, and we know the relationships we build in and outside the classroom give us opportunities to share the love of Jesus with our students.

* We feel CONNECTED to other missionary teachers. One of the distinctive characteristics that we love about TeachBeyond is the focus on educators on the missions field. We are leaving an amazing community behind in Tanzania. We know there is an equally incredible community at KICS, but it is wonderful to connect with other missionary teachers that are heading out all over the world: Germany, Senegal, Hungary, Nicaragua, Tanzania, China, and many, many more! This week, we were able to meet the NEW HOPAC chaplain! We've also met and gotten to know another couple who is heading to the same school as us in Rwanda!

* We feel PREPARED for the next 5 weeks in the US and beyond. We have an enormous to-do list, including a humanly impossible amount of funds to raise, reports to write, book studies and 'homework' for TeachBeyond we have yet to complete, church presentations, child safety trainings, open houses, meetings with supporters, a class to take (for Marc), missions committee meetings, doctors appointments, web pages to create for online giving, prayer cards to create, prayer letters to write and hopefully in all of this a lot of fun as well! It's overwhelming to come on 'home assignment'. It is not vacation. Let me say that again: IT IS NOT VACATION. We actually have a week of camping built into our 8 weeks in the US so we do actually take time to rest a bit while we are here, because otherwise we have multiple obligations each and every day. Despite all the busyness and stress of what's to come, we feel much more prepared to accomplish it because of the amazing support services of TeachBeyond. We know the people behind the names and emails now and have gotten a sense of their heart to help us succeed!

We are so thankful for this time of training with TeachBeyond and are looking forward to our new relationship with them! Feel free to ask questions about our new sending mission if you have any- we would love to share!
On campus at Wheaton College for our orientation with TeachBeyond.