Monday, July 14, 2008

“No. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

So, the past weeks have seen Annie and me divest ourselves of all worldly goods*, make our auf wiedersehens with friends and family as time permitted, and make the drive from Westmont, NJ to Park Ridge, IL into a circuitous, 900+ mile tour of Albright/Swift stomping grounds, state welcome areas and Amish country. All caught up? Good.

Last week's ELCA orientation went very well; good material with just enough interactivity to keep everyone engaged, without devolving into residence life/mandatory fun territory. I'm feeling close to my fellow travellers and better prepared for the journey. It gives me a lot of confidence in the folks in charge of Global Mission. Which is reassuring, as, at times, I'm relying solely on their judgement that I'm qualified for the coming year. Yikes.

Highlights? Given the month's activities, it would have been easy to interpret Christ's command to the apostles to “take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff” as just an endorsement of ascetic life and giving without price. Steve Nelson made a compelling argument on the implication that travellers must rely on each of their hosts, to be adequately vulnerable to the bonds of community.

Robert Smith, who's in charge of the Europe and Middle East desk, seems like the kind of guy I hung out with in college, except competent and mature. (In their defense, the guys I hung out with in college seem competent and mature themselves now.) He spent his time with us in free conversation over lunch. Gave us the kind of overly detailed account of his life that usually embarrasses me, but I got his purpose. He had four hours to begin to gain the trust of a dozen people he would be scattering across Europe and the Middle East, and it would only work if we knew he was totally open to us. More vulnerability.

This week begins the ecumenical group orientation. I have been convinced, twice, to volunteer to attempt to tame play the flute again. I shall report back on the preliminary results tomorrow evening, God willing.

Well, I've met the one-week backlog maximum on Slovakia-blogging I imposed on myself, uh, today, which is a good start. Look for more in this space in the days to come. Annie and I should also start feeling out podcasting soon. First rule of podcasting learned Monday morning: the audio recorder isn't recording until it's recording. Check it. Really.

*All save 10-12 boxes of precious or otherwise indispensable items which our parents are graciously storing. Thanks again!

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