Sunday, October 19, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The real answer is that the majority of our time is spent living in guest houses while out with teams :) But when we are “home” we live in a house in Phnom Penh on the same property where some of our other staff lives and where our offices are located. Google maps Cambodia (which I thought I had just invented but actually exists) shows that we are located exactly 30 minutes from everywhere, including the Training Center (which is also where we attend church when home), the airport, the river front, post office, and most importantly The Pizza Company.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The conference brought in attendees from Taiwan, Australia, Paupua New Guinea, Thailand, Japan, the US, Sri Lanka, and the list goes on. Josh commented at one point what an amazing opportunity it is (and a glimpse of what's to come) to be able to worship with people from around the world. Jonathan Hall (FMI Director of Missions) emphasized during his talk the fact that we are a global family.
We had a time devoted to slide shows from each nation and the work being done there. It was both encouraging to see all that the Lord is doing (churches are growing, medical needs are being met, people are being educated and trained), and it was also sobering to see the oppression of people and the great need that still exists (an estimated 1.85 billion unreached people as of the end of 2007, est. 344 million of them in India alone).
Glenn Burris commented that hope means believing there is a future and I think this is what everyone walked away with at the end of the conference. There is hope.
Isaiah 49:1-3 "The Lord called me before my birth. From within the womb He called me by name."
We have no idea of the power of the Lord. (Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself on this).
John 14:12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."
Zech 4:6 "Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord."
2 Tim 3:16 "Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.
On a different note, Josh and I have found that due to our newfound internet fame (with our monkey videos and what not) traveling under an alias will serve us well for international security reasons.
We are known now in 7 countries as, "The Fugerson's." Nice to meet you.
The last night of the ECFC conference was "Cultural Night" where everyone dressed in the traditional clothing of their country and Kris, Emily, Josh and I fulfilled one of our lifelong dreams....
The opportunity to dance onstage with our Cambodian friends.
The 2 minute lesson we had prior to going onstage really afforded us that extra measure of professionalism and agility we had all hoped for. A little known fact is that Josh was originally recruited here at FCOP to start up the dance team.
Or so the rumor goes..
Perhaps one of the biggest non-spiritual, non-dance-related highlights of the week in Indonesia for me (and Kris and Emily) was the close proximity of a Starbucks.
After nearly 5 and a half months of not being able to spend exorbitant amounts of money on coffee, I joyfully savored an iced grande caramel machiatto on the first day of the conference. I took a small poll and found that it was in fact that best iced grande caramel machiatto ever created.
Thank you Indonesia.
I may have enjoyed a variety of different Starbucks beverages throughout the week and chronicled each memory in pictures.
And I may spare you the entirety of my collection on this blog.
On Thursday of the conference the majority of conference attendees boarded approximately 87 large busses and cruised around what appeared to be hundreds of one way streets for the afternoon "City Tour." We saw the typical things you might imagine on a city tour, things like giant Durian fruit sculptures (It is the "king of the fruits" they say, though I can't imagine that the sculpture could taste much worse than the actual fruit..with apologies to Durian fans).
We were also teased by driving next to this McDonalds multiple times on the tour yet not getting to go in. I sadly had not had the immense pleasure of consuming over 1,200 calories in one sitting for over 5 months (at least not in the manner I would hope for).
Our afternoon tour ended with a 2 hour stop at the local 6 story Sun Plaza mall.
In keeping with our international security requirements, we were accompanied to the mall by a small armed (they were wearing heels) female team of police officers (polisi). And yes, they will even follow you into the bathroom.
I am pleased to say that I also finally got to consume the 7,000 calorie meal I had been anticipating since we left Phnom Penh. Fortunately for me I have kind co-workers who were willing to indulge my healthy tendencies.I was also fortunate enough to meet up with this oversized, uniquely shaped, unnamed McDonalds character who appeared to be a pilot of some sort. I burned approximately 8 of my newly acquired calories while briskly escaping from it.
After the ECFC conference finished on Friday, our Cambodian contingency flew back to Phnom Penh and 6 of us stayed in Medan for a Missionary retreat hosted by George and Joyce Butron. We all had a wonderful time of being refreshed by great teaching, getting to connect with other missionaries, and having rich times of prayer both privately and for one another.
An added exciting aspect to all of this was that our accommodations for the retreat (and the retreat itself) took place in a 5 Star hotel! It may be the only time I get to revel in such luxury and I did my best to make the most of it :)
During the retreat we heard from Jonathan Hall, Bill Page a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and had two sessions with a woman named Beth Barone.
Bill challenged us to pray like Samuel. He gave the reminder that our situation does not change who God is. And he wisely offered "If God is calling you to speak to the rock, don't smack it," citing Numbers 20:10-12.
Beth Barone spoke about the importance of unity. She talked about the unity of the trinity and how the concept tends to elude us. She suggested 3 areas of our lives that were designed to work in this same unified fashion; our intellect, emotions, and will. So often our intellect receives a revelation but there's no real agreement with our emotions and as a result there is a distinct disconnect. Why else would any of us who serve the Lord be prone to truly worry that He will not follow through? Our job is agreement with God, not convincing Him to agree with us.
Beth offered two great illustrations that I wanted to summarize here.
She said we are so quick to tell people where they are going and yet if someone called you and asked for directions, instead of immediately telling them where they're going, you would first find out where they are at. She pointed out that Jesus did this with people He encountered in the Bible. He interacted with them according to the level of revelation they were operating on, whether an observer, new believer, or someone who had known Him for some time.
"I believe God is looking for ways to get people in, not keep them out."
The second illustration involved the question of if the room was to become dark would you attempt to pull the darkness out or would you bring in the light? She talked about the way our faith can become performance based and we immediately size people up, determining their value to us within minutes of meeting them. And as a result of our own behavior we become consumed with the value others may be attaching to us. The way to allieviate this? Purpose to stop being the one to ascribe value. It's not our job (thankfully). Seemingly simple yet quite freeing.
We flew back to Phnom Penh yesterday after an evening layover in Kuala Lumpur. We enjoyed dinner at our newfound favorite Indian restaurant (worth the plane fare and 8 lanes of traffic you have to cross in order to get there), had Roti for dessert, and arrived home tired but grateful for our time in Indonesia.
And, as Emily pointed out today, we only have a little under 2 months until we get to enjoy our next Starbucks beverage :) Egg Nog Lattes call to me...