Monday, May 30, 2011

And Three Weeks Later...

A few scenes from our "Amazing Race" (click to biggie-size it)
The past 3 weeks were jam-packed with stress, purposefulness, urgent needs and incredible moments. In our prior blog post we asked for prayer and it was humbling and a good reminder for me to see how clearly that made a difference. There were lots of times this weekend that God showed His presence. I think more than any time in the last few years.

Regarding those 3 milestones that we told you about, here's what happened:
  1. Both Annette and I finished teaching our trimester courses (we had students from 7 countries) 
  2. With help from staff members, we've nearly finished all the interviews of potential new students 
  3. The "Amazing Race/Survivor" sort of retreat was even better than last years (for more details, read below)

It is an incredibly difficult weekend where we put the students thru a battery of "challenges" similar to the "Amazing Race". We get them out of their comfort zone in as many areas as possible. The goal is to create genuine community in a short period of time and accelerated personal growth.
In last place at the moment, this teams has just been told they
have  to walk another 4 miles even though it's nearly 1 a.m.
Crossing the finish line with their team spirit intact
The event is as challenging for the staff/organizers as it is for the students! There is a ton of work and logistics and it is painful for me to see these students we love go thru all that they go thru. But I'm learning to trust the process because in the end (after celebration and debriefing) they really appreciate the experience and the unity among the teams is amazing.
This is how I looked after 3 days of the "Challenge"
with no bath and very little sleep
At the end of the "challenges" part of the weekend - they had barely slept, had walked around12 miles thru the night, slept on the ground with no tents, eaten weird food and done awkward things in public places all while carrying a big processional ark - they walked into the retreat center tired, some limping, smelly and exhausted and we had them sit down in comfortable couches and served them hot drinks (it's autumn here and crisply cool), and then we washed their feet with warm water, bath salts and sponges while our academic director read about Jesus doing the same thing with his disciples at the last supper.
Using 2 bamboo poles and rope, they had to carry all their belongings
What most moved Annette and me was how the students from last year, who this year helped run the event, requested to do the foot washing. As we stood back and watched them lovingly wash and dry the feet of these newer students - doing it as if it were an honor, not perfunctorily but with kindness and dignity - I realized we'd accomplish what we had come to do. We'd passed on the DNA which had been passed on to us. I took a pic with my cell phone and uploaded it to Facebook with the caption "Success!"
Thru your prayers, notes and support, you were part of that success.

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