Saturday, October 19, 2013

Getting Ready to Travel To...

Hi everyone! First of all, thank you for praying for us during some busy days of speaking engagements and meetings. Here were a few highlights:
  • I (Alison) met two girls, one a senior in high school at a youth group and the other around 13 at a church, who are very interested in becoming missionaries. I remember being their ages and feeling that same stirring in my heart. What a joy to look in their eyes and encourage them to follow the Lord and see what He has in store for their lives! (I also realized how much I miss teenage girls...)

  • We met with a pastor who implements the same program at his church as what is being used at the Garifuna seminary. It was motivating to hear how the Lord saved him and called him to train leaders and develop church planting teams. He was excited to hear about how the Garifuna church is growing, and we look forward to being in touch with him.

  • A big "THANK YOU!" to:
    • The Grace Community Church missions team and our small group for helping put together a luncheon where we and another GCC missionary could share about our work. We continue to be reminded of the gift of a supportive, enthusiastic church family who cares about us and our Garifuna family in Honduras.
    • A friend of mine who connected us with her church to share and prepared a beautiful reception for everyone afterward, and a couple who organized a dessert night at their home. Once again we thank God for those who go the extra mile and demonstrate Christ's love in practical ways.
Of course, we could share more, but suffice to say we have been busy and are thankful for each opportunity to share with groups, as well as catch up with friends for coffee or in their homes.

This coming Thursday we will fly to Minnesota, where we will share with several churches, groups, and individuals about our work (more about that in an upcoming post!). The following week, I will return to Washington, and Fernando will go to Iowa for the annual conference for the program that has been implemented in the Garifuna Bible school. This will be a great opportunity for him to connect with those involved in theological training around the world and consider how to further develop what is going on in Honduras.

Here are a few prayer points for our time in Minnesota:
  • For safe travels, good health, and stamina in the midst of meeting many people. I'd especially appreciate prayer for good sleep and for pregnancy symptoms to be minimal (particularly stomach aches and joint pain).
  • For fruitful interaction with people and the Holy Spirit to clearly lead those He would have join our ministry support team.
  • For God to encourage and bless the special people who have organized this trip and invited us to come.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and each one who has shown us the Lord's love in many ways (you know who you are!).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Third Culture Kids: A Book Review

I just finished reading Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Polluck and Ruth E. Van Reken (click here to find it on Amazon). The term "third culture kid" (TCK) refers to "children who spend a significant period of their developmental years in a culture outside their parents' passport culture(s)" (p. 13). As we look forward to welcoming our baby, who will be biracial, bicultural, and (hopefully) multilingual, I decided to read this book little by little during the past few months. Here is a brief summary and some of my thoughts. I welcome your comments, as well.

The authors divide the book into three sections:

1. Understanding the World of TCKs
These chapters flesh out the definition of a TCK and also discuss Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs). The latter are those who have lived in and/or interacted with two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time (this is probably a more accurate description for us). These children and teenagers can be "military brats," those whose parents are diplomats or international business workers, or "missionary kids" (MKs). They usually experience two key issues: (A) cross-cultural living and (B) high mobility.

2. The TCK Profile
This section describes a variety of traits, skills, and patterns that tend to characterize TCKs. Polluck and Van Reken emphasize how the concept of paradox underlies these areas, creating benefits as well as challenges unique to these children's identities, life stories, and abilities. One example of this paradox is that TCKs often develop an "expanded worldview," enabling them to appreciate and interact with a wide variety of people in many different contexts, but experience "confused loyalties," which means they may not feel fully part of any one location or group (pp. 88-90).

3. Maximizing the Benefits
This final part of the book outlines practical suggestions, based on research with TCKs, of how families, friends, and organizations can help make the most of the advantages TCKs are offered while addressing their struggles and needs in a healthy way. For example, parents can create special family traditions that their children enjoy and that bring relational cohesion, cultivating stability their children can find comforting regardless of which country or culture they are in.

As I read the book, several recurring ideas stood out to me:
  • My experience is markedly different from TCKs' experiences:
    • I grew up in a monolingual, monocultural environment, felt called to move to Latin America, and prepared as best I could based on my own initiative. I have chosen to embrace this lifestyle, I have had to learn adaptability as an adult, and I know what it's like to return "home" to where I grew up.
    • TCKs usually have no choice in growing up in different cultural contexts with frequent transitions. They often learn to ways to cope and adapt, and they might not have a clear answer as to where "home" is.
  • Being intentional can make all the difference.
    • By educating ourselves as parents, we can more easily understand how our child might think, feel, and act.
    • If we foster healthy habits from a young age, it is more likely that our child can cope with difficulty and enjoy enriching benefits as he grows up.
  • As our world becomes more culturally intertwined and mobile, TCK and CCK life is becoming more common and better understood. This is encouraging!
  • The internet provides access to abundant resources about this topic and connection to others in similar situations.

What I most like about "Third Culture Kids" is:
  • It's very well-organized, research-based, and balanced.
  • Many examples of TCKs illuminate concepts and poignantly show the real, personal aspect of the topic.
  • It invites thoughtful dialogue, not superficial formulae.
  • The tone is positive and there is even an entire chapter called "Enjoying the Journey," which was very inspiring!
  • It is the kind of resource I can refer to in the future, not only as a parent, but also as a friend to other missionary parents and TCKs.

I would love to read your thoughts if you have read the book or other literature about TCKs. For example:
  • What has your journey been like as a...
    • TCK/CCK?
    • Parent of a TCK?
    • Friend of missionary families, both parents and kids?
  • What are some of the best parts, and how did you make the most of them?
  • What would you do differently?

Feel free to leave a comment below, email me, or contact me through Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Happenings

Hello, friends! Here's an update on what we've been up to and answers to your prayers:

Ministry Activities
  • Thank you for praying for Fernando when he gave the sermon at the Hispanic congregation of our church, Grace Community in Auburn. It went very well; several people told Fernando how God spoke to them through it. Praise God for this growing church family and for how they have blessed us!

  • One of our supporters invited me (Alison) to share with some of her Bible study friends during lunch at her house. Thank you for praying for this time!
  • This past Sunday we shared at the church of some good friends and supporters in Bellingham. The pastor and his wife served as missionaries in Latin America in the past and have a big heart for what God is doing around the world. We appreciated the opportunity to meet more people who would like to follow our ministry and pray for the Garifunas.

Friends, Family, and a Happy Arrival
  • Thank you for praying for our times connecting with people individually. We continue to meet with friends and supporters to hear about their lives and share in greater depth about how their partnership has made a difference in Honduras. I reconnected with a childhood friend I hadn't seen in about 15 years! It was also good to see a friend from high school I got back in touch with last year.
  • My aunt took us to a Sounders game (the rainiest one of the year!). We had a fun time together, a special highlight from our time here so far.
  • We visited the Garifuna church in Seattle, where a pastor and his wife were visiting from New York. This brother in Christ has played a key role in the development of the Garifuna church both in Central America and in the U.S. A musician, he wrote some of the first worship songs in Garifuna, and he also was part of the Garifuna Bible translation team. It's exciting to see Garifuna believers serving the Lord in this country!

  • A very dear friend of mine had her first baby earlier this month, and I was so excited to meet him. It's a special gift from God that his arrival coincided with our time in Washington, and that my friend and I can share the experience of raising sons just a few months apart.

Plans and Prayer Requests

Here are some upcoming speaking engagements you can pray about as the Lord leads:
  • Tomorrow we will share with a youth group in Enumclaw.
  • This Sunday we will have a table display at my home church, Grace Community, to talk to people who might be interested in our ministry. We will also give a presentation at a missions luncheon afterward.
  • This Sunday evening we will visit a church in Puyallup.
  • Monday morning we will meet with a pastor in Burien and in the afternoon with another pastor in Kent.
  • On Tuesday of next week we will speak at a dessert night hosted by a couple at our church.
We are looking forward to how God will work at each of these meetings. Thank you for joining with us through prayer! You are in our thoughts and prayers, as well.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Good News from Honduras (written by Fernando)

"Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave." Exodus 18:20

"What are you doing?"

Moses thought that Jethro simply wanted to know what he was doing. So he proceeded to describe his work, his unending responsibilities, and all of the activity that revolved around him. Actually, Jethro had already observed these things and instead wanted to communicate this message to Moses: "The way you are working is harming yourself and these people."

Then Jethro told Moses how to improve for his own good and also for the good of the people. What he most needed was to "teach, train, educate, and instruct" so that the people themselves would know how to act and what to do, instead of depending solely on him.

Several weeks ago I (Fernando) had the joy of seeing pictures of Garifuna seminary students, our brothers and sisters, graduating after completing their first level of theological training. It was also encouraging to hear how much this event meant to their lives. Some shared that they cried for joy, and others told us they had never graduated from anything before in their lives, and it was truly a great blessing to be a part of that experience. I am convinced that these small steps ("Studying the First Principles" series) will help the Garifuna church leaders "show [others] the way they are to live and how they are to behave."
I do not completely agree with graduations in theological studies; I am convinced that theological training should be an ongoing and lifelong process. However, reaching this point is good for reflecting on the journey thus far and for recognizing once again that God has been faithful. My brothers and sisters went through countless difficulties: family conflicts, illnesses, ministry conflicts, and more. But they have persevered, and praise God because He never leaves us to walk alone, and He has shown His faithfulness to these students, His children and servants.

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them." Psalm 126:5-6