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 the other with a clap (3x). Maybe you had to be there...

The Silesian koinonea (deaconess) group joined us at this lodge owned by the Silesian church. 

We spent most of our time in this 3rd floor room, surprisingly with the windows open!

I appreciated how interactive our sessions were; some even included activities. Each Post-It is something that needs to be taken care of prior to, during, or after a team comes to serve. 

Alyssa made a great easel :)

We ventured out one evening to a Christmas market and Poland! The border is about a 30 minute drive from the lodge and has no checkpoint whatsoever. I was skeptical about not bringing my passport just in case but wasn't going to be THAT person who doesn't trust those who know better!

Bigos, a traditional Polish stew of sauerkraut and sausage. 

Anne & I in two countries at once. 

Sharing my wisdom on the long-term impact of short-term teams. 

Face-time with fellow missionaries is always a blessing. We get each other in a way that few people would understand and can learn much from each other despite vastly different fields of service. Candid discussions revealed that our doubts and challenges are universal. Getting away allowed much-needed - but surprisingly elusive - time and space for creative thinking. I'm excited to see how the scribbled notes and nebulous ideas we came away with will take shape in the coming weeks and months to yield streamlined internal processes, an improved short-term volunteer experience, and new resources for the Church at large. If our WhatsApp group, The Amputated Snowman (Telestrations...'nuff said), is any indication, the tenure of our monthly Zoom meetings is going to be much different from here on a good way. 

Until next time, blessings!


Larry said…
Looks a bit cold there. Never thought of that. Thought you were in a warm humid area of the country. Be safe, and keep up the good work.