Friday, September 28, 2007

MTI Training: Week One

Well, the first week of my training here at MTI in Palmer Lake, Colorado has been completed and I have to tell you that my head just HURTS. This first week has produced some amazing self-evaluation. I have felt nervous, rushed, excited, unsure, happy, vulnerable, anxious and scared. (I know…what a roller coaster of emotions) But it is all for a purpose because I already have a better understanding of who I am, and because of this I know that I will be able to tackle my new environment in La Paz with much greater success.

It is so true…you really need to know WHERE you are as an individual before you can begin to change anything or head in another direction. In my case, I really need to know what the values are that I hold so dear. And I need to know the values of my new culture in La Paz. I need to know this BEFORE I go so that I will be aware of where the disconnects are…what are the very important values that I hold dear that maybe the people of La Paz do NOT hold dear. Trying to figure all those out was a big part of this week.

The week ended and continues next week with a huge focus on conflict management. I cannot avoid this issue. Trials are inevitable for me in La Paz and conflict will already be waiting for me at the bottom of the steps as I exit the plane. They actually told us that conflict management is a make or break issue for missionaries. And 70-80% of missionaries do not return to their initial field of service after their first term because of this very issue – conflict with other missionaries or team members.

This is a huge issue for me because those of you who know me very well know that I am someone who avoids conflict whenever possible. But I am about to walk into situations where conflict will find me whether I like it or not. And my reaction and response to that conflict is going to make or break me in Bolivia.

So overall it has been a great week of self-evaluation and learning. Not to mention that the location, facilities, food and staff here are all absolutely amazing. I know that I am going to be thanking God for many many years to come for the amazing blessing and opportunity He has given me to be here.

And here are a few photos of my home for the next few weeks…

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Mile High City

Denver welcomes the International Association of Women Police, September 23-27.

That is what the sign reads right in front of me while I sit in the Denver airport. Cool. I didn’t even know that there was an International Association of Women Police. Maybe there are International Associations of pretty much everything and I just need to get out more.

“Getting Out More” seems to be my life now. I am sitting in the Denver airport waiting for three hours until my shuttle to the MTI training center arrives. And I just paid $8 to access the internet. There was NO WAY I could just sit here and read for three hours.

This is my first trip to Denver and for you readers who don’t know…the reason I am here is that I am attending a three week training program at Mission Training International in Palmer Lake. Palmer Lake is between Denver and Colorado Springs.

I am looking over the MTI brochure right now and their mission statement reads: Our passion is to see cross-cultural messengers of God’s grace and their families experience effectiveness, longevity and a deep sense of satisfaction in their calling.

I am not sure exactly how to implement that yet but hopefully at the end of these three weeks I will be able to tell you. I am honestly not sure what these next three weeks hold in store for me. Hopefully, whatever I learn in these weeks will help me transition to my new culture in La Paz more effectively. That is my hope. I know that there are pitfalls out there that missionaries fall in when they go to serve in another culture and I hope I can avoid some of those.

Hopefully, whatever God calls me to do in La Paz will be more fruitful because of the weeks I spend here in Palmer Lake. Also, the opportunity to spend some time with other “crazies” like me who are leaving the U.S. to become missionaries is exciting to me.

I should be able to post regularly during these weeks with updates for you.

A few other tidbits:

When I opened my backpack I found a birthday card that my mom had snuck in there. It reads “Open on Oct. 9, 2007”. Yes – I will celebrate my birthday while I am here in Colorado and YES it is my 30th birthday. More on that in a few weeks…

And last but not least, I love to watch people greet other people at the airport. I am sitting here watching people run to each other and kiss each other and it just makes me realize how I want someone to run and greet ME at the airport. (And I am referring to people who run to greet CURT not DALE JR.) Ok, and I admit that it would be nice if it was a really cute girl that ran up and greeted me…but you know what I mean. There is something about time apart that somehow brings people closer together. Something about absence and the heart…

Maybe I am moving to Bolivia because I know that my “having someone run up and greet me at the airport” probability will be higher.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Curtain Call

When actors come out on stage after a show to take their bows it is called a curtain call.

Well…last Friday, September 14th I enjoyed my own curtain call at the Alliance Theatre. My Final Bow if you will. It was a very emotional experience on my last day at the theatre. And I must admit that it was more emotional for me than I had anticipated.

I knew I would be sad. But you never know sometimes how much something means to you until you have to say goodbye. I think there is more of this in my future so I guess I better brace up for it.

My farewell at the theatre was not just the normal goodbye party on Friday only to start a brand new job with better pay the following Monday morning. This was a real chapter of my life closing. For the last seven years, marketing the performing arts in Atlanta has been my life. And it is kinda hard to imagine my life without it to be totally honest with you. It was the perfect job for me. With my marketing background and my love for the arts I was able to find a job in marketing at Atlanta Ballet right after school. I don’t know how often people find their dream entry job right after school…I think it is pretty rare. But I did, and I loved it.

I was given an amazing opportunity to join the Alliance Theatre a year and a half out of school and for the last five and a half years I have not looked back. My time at the Alliance has made me into the professional that I am today. I was given amazing opportunities to grow professionally at the Alliance. One thing you don’t realize when you take a job in the arts is the fact that you meet so many different people. And during my time at the Alliance I was given the chance to present to executives on our board of directors that it would have taken me years to present to if I had taken the corporate path.

But the majority of the opportunities that I was blessed with at the Alliance were possible because of the support of my boss, Virginia Vann. God blessed me with the best boss in the world, someone who not only challenged me to grow professionally but someone who I am just plain proud to call my friend.

I made so many wonderful friendships at the Alliance and I will definitely miss my co-workers. The people you work alongside everyday make all the difference in the world.

Marketing the arts has been my dream job for a long time. It was all that I ever wanted to do. But since we can always see the past with 20/20 vision, I can now see that through all of my time in the Atlanta arts scene God was preparing me for a job that I NEVER dreamed of until about a year ago. A job of serving the abandoned, abused, forgotten, invisible, neglected children living in La Paz, Bolivia.

It’s funny how God works. Who knows? Maybe one day some kids and I in La Paz will put on a play. You never know.

But what I DO know is that I love my family at the Alliance Theatre and I will miss them more than they will ever know.

Goodbye ya’ll. Break a leg.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

“You don’t know me but…”

Once again, God just amazes me. I know…big surprise. Get used to it I guess blog readers because I am sure the trend of me writing about the amazing things God does is only going to gain momentum when I actually live in Bolivia. I think that is the point of this blog…maybe I will rename it “The amazing things God does.”

Anyway, it is just plain overwhelming sometimes and this past weekend was another example.

As the whole missionary fundraising process continues on it is so cool to watch God work in the area of finances. And it is great to watch Him work in the lives of people that I don’t even know and have never met before. This weekend it happened again.

I was attending a Sunday school class and after the class a lady came up to me and said, “You don’t know me but I have been following your story and I know that you are heading to Bolivia soon to be a missionary.” She said, “God spoke to my heart a few weeks ago and told me that I needed to support you.” Then she told me that, “Well, God woke me up from a dream this past week and told me AGAIN that I needed to support you and I felt like this time I needed to be obedient. So this is for you.”

She handed me a check. Amazing. She had this check with her and we happened to attend the same Sunday school class which was a class that I attend fairly regularly but I have never seen her attend.

It is just cool to watch God at work during this process. I think that if I don’t share these stories and testimonies with you I am not truly honoring God. And I believe that part of the reason that God has called me to missionary service is to share my experience and testimony with you.

I love the front row seat that I have. Pass the popcorn and the gummi bears will ya?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Storm before the Calm

These first two weeks in September are very busy for me. Next Friday, September 14th, is my last day at the Alliance Theatre and Denise Cox, the Associate Director of the South American Missionary Society, is in town this weekend visiting the church and some of my family,friends & supporters.

I feel super busy. This last week at the Alliance is going to be crazy, I have to pack my stuff to move out of the condo next weekend and I am hosting Denise from SAMS this weekend. Also, I leave for my training in Colorado in a few weeks so I am prepping for that as well. While at the same time continuing to finalize details to move to Bolivia later this year.

I feel like my current schedule/to do list is in real need of a Blackberry.

But…I really feel like this past week and this next week are really the storm before the calm, because in about a week I will be a little thing that I like to call…unemployed. And although momentum will be building for my move to Bolivia over the next few months, I will not have a full-time job during the week to think about. It is going to be a weird feeling for me that’s for sure.

So, I feel like the busyness of last week and the week ahead are really temporary. And I see some calm days in my future and you know...I’m ok with that.

Denise’s visit this weekend is going well. We had some great meetings earlier today and she got to spend some quality time this afternoon with some of my family and friends. I feel like we took another step today toward my upcoming move to Bolivia. Having Denise visit was a key part of the whole process. Tomorrow after church we will be having lunch with my pastor prior to her heading back to the airport.

I kinda see this as God just moving me another step closer to His ultimate plan for my move to Bolivia. And I am looking forward to being able to completely focus my attention on Bolivia.

For one more week it is a part-time job, but come September 17th my FULL-TIME focus will be preparing for long-term missionary service in La Paz, Bolivia.