Showing posts from December, 2019

Pasha, Pasha, Pasha...Short-term Coordinators!

It seems like an odd time for a conference, but for missionaries that work with stateside volunteers, mid-December makes perfect sense. Nine of us gathered in Pisek, Czech Republic, last week for the inaugural Short-term Coordinators conference. Other participants, some of whom I had never met in person, came from the Czech Republic, Russia, Congo, Tanzania, Korea, and St. Louis. Between devotions led by a different one of us each morning and evening, we took turns facilitating presentations and work sessions on topics such as maintaining a Gospel focus, integrating the Bible into teaching English as a foreign language, relief vs. development, and safety & security. The missionary from Tanzania introduced us to a custom that fast became a tradition in lieu of applauding whomever had just finished addressing the group. We'd rub our hands together vigorously and repeat pasha (Swahili for "friction"), then shout the person's name while brushing one palm past th

Czeching it Out

Merry Christmas Eve! I went running earlier. Outside. Because it's in the mid 50s . Tomorrow, St. Louis may come close to breaking the record high for Christmas Day (71), set in 1889. After narrowly missing the first snowfall of the year the day I left, it was similarly mild in the Czech least compared to what I was mentally and otherwise - I packed my snow boots - prepared for. Hey, I'm not mad. Jet-lagged after a red-eye flight and with nonexistent Czech (it's been awhile since I felt the kind of vulnerability that comes with not being able to read the signage around me and needing to seek out English speakers for assistance of any kind), I successfully made my way from the Prague airport to the train station. I had plenty of time, so I walked the few blocks to Wenceslas (as in Good King...) Square.  The Hoffmanns, fellow members of my spring 2018 St. Louis orientation cohort, were waiting for me when I got off the train in Olomouc (pronounced wi

I’ll be in St. Louis for Christmas

I keep hearing the song "I'll be Home for Christmas," and wondering if I should be singing along or not.  Since I moved to the DR, I've been as conscientious as possible about referring to Santiago as home. Studying abroad in Spain taught me that home is more than a place, but both St. Louis and Santiago could make a case for the title. St. Louis is where I grew up, where my parents, siblings, most of my extended family, and many of my friends still live, and where my most treasured belongings are safely stored. Santiago is where I live and work now, where I'm surrounded by my missionary family as well as Dominican and expat friends, and where my house is outfitted with a mix of essential belongings I brought with me and things I've acquired as I've settled in over the past 16 months.  So the verdict's still out. Maybe I shouldn't be so strict about saying I'm going to be in "St. Louis" or "the States" for Christmas

Santa's here?! I know him!

I could have said the same thing as Will Ferrell in Elf  yesterday! St. Michael Lutheran Church in Ft. Myers, FL, has been fostering relationships in greater Santiago for the past 21 years. Their contacts were integral in the establishment of Concordia Lutheran School in Palmar Arriba, in eventually in planting a church alongside it, and now in seeking to establish a new preaching station in Moca, a community of 60,000 about 20 minutes southeast of Licey, where my church, Cordero de Dios, is located. (THIS THURSDAY is the first service of the Word in Villa Dura, a community about halfway to Moca!) St. Michael faithfully sends representatives to the DRLM's twice-yearly FORO partnership meetings but makes regular, unrelated visits as every first weekend in December. Yesterday, I was asked to interpret the sermon for a small St. Michael contingent that attended Cordero de Dios. It was the first time I had used the simultaneous interpretation system we purchased for las

Take a Hike

I did! An epic, 4-day, 3-night one that's far and away the most adventurous thing I've ever done. I've been subconsciously putting off this post since the most apt adjective to describe my Inca Trail trek is "indescribable." Each of the pictures I took fails to do the raw beauty of the Andes - from snow-capped glacial peaks to bromeliads the size of my pinky nail - justice. I also feel a bit like my 14 fellow trekkers and I belong to an exclusive, impenetrable brotherhood. Four days of not showering and sharing openly about "the bathroom situation" bonds you - we have a WhatsApp group! Picking up where my last post left off... We drove ~ an hour and 45 min from Cusco to Ollantaytambo for breakfast, and then another ~ 45 min. to the trail head at Km. 82, where we spent some time getting organized before setting off.  I couldn't get over the CACTI with a GLACIER in the background! Of the world's 34 climactic zones, Peru has 20. We