The Swing of Things

If I've been quiet as of late, it's because I'm "back in the swing of things." Have you ever thought about that phrase? Is it a baseball reference? Sometimes you whiff; sometimes you hear a satisfying crack and start your home run trot? Is it a playground equipment reference? Sometimes your feet are practically dragging on the ground; sometimes you feel like you're flying? In any case, here's a rundown of major projects that are somewhere on those spectra and have been keeping me busy thus far into the New Year. 

1. Missions Unpacked! Week 1 - Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) - of this 100% FREE, online introduction to LCMS International's global efforts starts TODAY. Registration will remain open through the conclusion of the event in mid-February, so it's never too late to sign up. You don't have to let me convince you, either; check out this gorgeous website the LCMS Communications team designed!

2. New short-term volunteer devotion books (pre-deployment, on-field, and post-trip): I've been part of a subcommittee compiling these since June. They're with the other volunteer coordinators for review as we speak, then comes Doctrinal Review, then editing & proofreading by LCMS Communications, then YOU (as soon as we can safely host in-person volunteers again, that is). 

3. English: Courtney & I continue teaching in both DRLM Lutheran schools. Staffing changes mean fewer students this go-round. Two weeks into Module 3, we've done nothing but much-needed review exercises, but (I think) smaller class sizes make for an enhanced learning environment. For me, every class period is a chance to improve as a teacher through observation; just today we had a revelation about how we can better cater to the prevailing Dominican learning style. 

I'm also going to start helping with English classes at the Lutheran church closest to my house, Pueblo Nuevo. I'm eager to see English truly being put to use as an outreach tool and to learn from the lead teacher - missionary wife, deaconess student, and trained Lutheran school teacher Clarion - in her element. We held an interest meeting back in December (pictured below) and were raring to start this past weekend, but curfew makes our preferred time slot impossible. Our students, undeterred, have convinced us to start via Zoom in the meantime. 

Finally, I'm on Unit 17 of my online ESL course. I have a bee in my bonnet to plow through the rest and get to the online teaching specialization portion. 

4. Brother's Brother Foundation shipment: Another ad hoc committee I've been meeting with routinely with since June is working furiously to get a container of donated medical equipment (hospital beds, wheelchairs, hygiene kits, and other items that will benefit our churches' disability ministries as well as two government facilities we have an "in" with) here from a Pittsburgh-based NGO. We're packing it to the gills with shelving and books for the seminary library, too, and are this close to putting it on a boat bound for the port in Santo Domingo. 

5. Alliance missionary orientation: Eight graduates from the Lutheran seminary in Brazil have been called to serve as foreign missionaries, four in LAC and four in Africa. Unlike Africa, LAC has a long history of such partnerships, so all eight men, with families in some instances, are coming to Santiago for an introduction to missiology, cultural adaptation, language acquisition, and relationship-building. It's essentially a monthlong short-term team, so Courtney and I are heading up transportation and meals. My main contribution thus far was adding SEVEN tabs to a master spreadsheet over the weekend.

6. Good News: I installed Adobe InDesign on my computer and will be doing some editorial work on the Spanish version of the magazine that's been called the region's most-loved Bible reference tool. More on its history and the particulars of my role soon. 

7. New missionaries: I saved the best "project" for last - helping welcome new members of the LAC family! When I pause to think about it, I'm in awe of how God continues to send workers into His harvest field in the middle of a pandemic. Courtney & I get to give a presentation entitled "Short-term Teams, Long Term Impact" during each orientation session. Additionally, I pitch in by doing grocery runs, hosting orientees for meals, AND making sure they all experience the wonders of the botanical garden. The Wildauers continue to await their deployment to Belize; pray that Belize team can find suitable housing in Belmopan for them soon. The Tapes (regional team - DR) and Pauls (Cayman Islands) arrived last week. It's been a particular joy to reunite with Erica Tape (below, left), whom I've known since 2015 when she came to work for CPH, and get to know her husband John and 5 mo. old daughter Sophie. 

...all of that while navigating a curfew that remains at 5 pm (8 pm) and 12 pm (3 pm) on weekdays and weekends, respectively!

Until next time, blessings!