Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas: parts A, B, C, and D

Our Christmas is quite split up this year, into parts A - E.

Part A, as you saw from the slideshow I previously posted, was last Tuesday at home. We had planned to do it Saturday morning, then we were going to do it Friday morning. Then, I thought we'd do it Wednesday since Rodgers would be home all day (he ended up having to cover for one of his coworkers who called in sick). Thursday was out because we were going out of town. Anyway, Tuesday I asked Rodgers how long we had to wait to exchange gifts with each other. We'd been done shopping for weeks. The anticipation was killing me. He told me that we'd do it whenever I wanted, so I said, "Right now!!"

Part B was Thursday. We went down to Bastrop to visit my paternal grandparents. My aunt and uncle, who are missionaries in Asia, happened to be there, as well as my cousin, their daughter, who lives right down the road from us, but we never manage to see each other up here. We figured it would be the only time Rodgers would see my grandparents since he was working all weekend.

Nate has had bouts of separation anxiety over the past few months, none of them very long or intense. But Thursday started another one. Come the weekend, he was a complete mess. He did let Mimi hold him for a few minutes and was content with that, as long as he had a Cheeto in hand (and mouth).


Part C. Nate and I drove down to my sister's house (she wasn't home, it just happened to be a more central location for those involved in Part C) on Friday afternoon. He screamed about half of the trip down.

A couple hours after we got to my sister's house, my parents and maternal grandma arrived. Nate fought bedtime hard, then was up from 1:30-4 am. So, Nate, Grandpa, Gigi, and I got to sit in the floor in my nephew's room and play, while my grandmother slept soundly on the other side of the house. It was a unique Christmas Eve/early Christmas morning. I slept less than 5 hours, in 3 spurts, that night. Felt like I had a newborn again.

Rodgers came Saturday morning and stayed until he had to leave for work. Nate only let Rodgers or me hold him, and he screamed a lot, and he had a hard time going to bed for naps. We were just there a week earlier, and he went down for a nap in my nephew's room with no fuss at all.



Part D involved my parents, maternal grandma, and all of my dad's siblings and their spouses and kids, with the exception of Rodgers and my siblings & co. Again, Nate didn't let anyone hold him but me. One aunt didn't care, and she took him from me while he screamed, and they chased one of the dogs around the house. Nate didn't mind her holding him as long as he was playing with the dog. Nate got to open some fun Christmas presents, and the grown ups had a Yankee swap kind of exchange, which was also fun! Nate slept the whole way home, which was the most peaceful part of the weekend.



Parts A - D of Christmas were fun, but the weekend was hard for me because Nate was so intensely clingy and fussy and screamy. No one else could hold him. I couldn't walk out of the room without him screaming. I couldn't even walk to the other side of the room if someone else would be standing in between us. I was disappointed that he wasn't his usual charming, people-loving self. He is almost 12 months, which seems to be about time for some hardcore separation anxiety. Maybe next time we see family he'll be back to being a people-person. He is also starting to show signs of teething again, which may be the cause of some of this, or may be amplifying it. The next teeth on his to-do list are 1 year molars.

Part E is coming up in less than 2 weeks when we will see my siblings and their families! This is a lot of Christmas! I put the Christmas decorations up way early. I usually take them down around the first of January. However, we'll be having Part E at our apartment in the second week of January. I think I'll be leaving the decorations up longer this year. Yay!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

cross-cultural marriage: mix and match

One of the things that my reading about cross-cultural relationships taught me is that in order to mesh cultures together, you need to understand your own culture and what's important to you. If you know what you value, then it will be easier for you to communicate that to your spouse. There will be things about your cultures that are in conflict. There will be things that are very important to your spouse culturally which to you seem weird, awkward, or even unacceptable. You will have to give up some things for them and they for you. This is true of any marriage, but perhaps the differences are more obvious in a cross-cultural one. Here are some examples of Rodgers and me each yielding to the other's culture.




Babies
In Kenya, when a woman has a baby, only women are present. Men aren't allowed in the room or even in the house. It's not that the men say, "I'm not going in there!" The women say, "It's time for you to leave." Men don't have anything to do with birthing, neither do they seem to have much to do with taking care of the babies before they are weaned.

In the US, men are increasingly expected to be present for labor and delivery and do their part in childcare from birth. I expected no less from Rodgers. Fortunately, he seemed excited to be the only Kenyan man he knows who has been present for the birth of a baby. I think he would have liked to actually watch the gross part, but there were so many doctors and nurses in the way that he couldn't see. Plus, I needed him to hold my head and shoulders.

I didn't sleep the last few months of pregnancy. Once Nate was out, the insomnia was gone, so Rodgers often got up with Nate during the night. I was taking a lot of Rx pain killers those days, too, so it was difficult for me to wake up. After a couple of weeks, we split the night - he would get up if Nate woke up the first half, I would do the second half. He still enjoys having an equal role in taking care of Nate. This is unusual for a Kenyan.

Family 
In the US, we value independence, especially financial independence. You should make enough money to support yourself, but you are not expected to support anyone other than yourself, your spouse (if any), and your children (if any). In Kenya, you are expected to support your parents and even your siblings if you are better off than they.

It seems kind of tacky to talk about the money we send to Kenya. Let's just say that we have sent, do send, and will continue sending money to my mother-in-law and siblings-in-law. They use it for real necessities.

If I wanted to stick to my Americanness, I would tell Rodgers that Nate and I are his family now, and he should let his mom and siblings take care of themselves. However, I know it's important to Rodgers that we do this. Sure, we could use that money ourselves. We could use it for good things, too, things that don't seem frivolous to most of my peers. I think I should feel a conflict of culture about supporting Rodgers' family this way, especially when we have a car that we want to replace, we rent an apartment, and our home is furnished with mis-matched hand-me-downs (well, we did get a few pieces new). But I don't feel any conflict about it. It's the right thing to do.



People have often commented to me that they are impressed by the way Rodgers and I mesh our very different cultures. I tend to think it's easier for us because 1) we are anticipating having differences, 2) our differences tend to be obvious, and 3) we both intentionally take on a culture, if you will, of following Jesus before our national cultures. I think that in same-culture marriages, people expect to have the same values, the same reactions to conflict, the same priorities, etc. But, of course, they are different.

Rodgers and I, forming our "Christian culture," meshing in bits of American and bits of Kenyan, have decided that we are inventing a whole new culture just for our family. It works well for us!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 in pictures

I like writing Christmas letters to put with our Christmas cards to let people know what we're up to. Last year, we sent a letter, but I also did a year-in-pictures review here. What would be in the letter is essentially a summary of our year, which the pictures accomplish as well, in a much more interesting way. So this year, no Christmas letter from us, it's all in here:

January
Halfway through January, Nate was born. What more can I say?

February
 In February, there was snow. The first time Rodgers experienced snow, he was newly arrived from Kenya, and it was entirely too cold for him to enjoy. This time, he was used to the cold and played in the snow like a child. Nate, on the other hand, did not enjoy the snow.

March

Our first wedding anniversary was in March. After a weekend on the coast (with my parents babysitting our almost-2-month-old baby overnight), we stopped by Pam's house to introduce her to Nate.

April
We spent Easter at Camp Tejas with my extended family on my dad's side. Here we are with my siblings, sibs-in-law, niece, nephew, and parents.

May
My first Mother's Day as a mother! Rodgers and Nate gave me a super soft, cozy, pink robe, to replace my no longer super one that is very old.

June
In June, we began introducing Nate to various kinds of food. He's eating peas in this picture. I love how he's looking at Rodgers. He loved every food that he tried! Rodgers thought it was easier to feed him while holding him. He wasn't sitting up very well back then and usually ended up sort of lounging in Rodgers' lap.

July
Nate's first 4th of July was on the beach! It was past bedtime, and he was already in his pjs (and sunhat before the sun went down), but he watched fireworks. He wasn't afraid of the big noise. We thought we were watching a real fireworks show, but as the evening went on, we realized that what we were seeing down the beach were many beachgoers setting off their own fireworks.

Nate and I went to England the last week of July for Cat's wedding, before heading down to Kenya to join Rodgers for a quick trip to see his family the first week of August. 

August
Nate met Nyanya (that's Esther or Mama Esther to you and me) in August. She can't wait to see him again, but it will probably be about a year before we get to go back. 

September
We spent Labor Day Saturday in Bastrop. Nate and James were interacting more than when they were younger. In this picture, they both have lipstick on their cheeks from Gigi's kisses. I always think that Nate's skin is quite pale, until I see him with James. 

October
With the cooler weather in October, and my days of free time (since I lost my job Oct 1), we started taking Nate to the park. He loved the swing! Towards the end of the month his cousin Lauren came to visit us (with her parents, of course). It was a really sunny day, so no pictures turned out well, but they had fun swinging together.
There's no pictorial representation of it, but Rodgers started a new job in October, working with troubled teenage girls. It sounds like a nightmare to many people, but it's a great place for him. He's very good at his job, and he enjoys it, too!

November
Thanksgiving!!! It was a short two days that we spent with my family, but it was a good time. I really loved watching the cousins play together (i.e. next to each other).

December
2010 was a very fun, and very fast, year. God has definitely blessed us abundantly. 
We are anticipating big things in 2011, including, but not limited to, Nate's first birthday, Nate learning to walk and speak, and me becoming employed again! Click on the Nathanael tab at the top of the page to find out what Nate's been up to lately.
I failed to mention that Rodgers was in Kenya in July with our church on a mission trip. We are looking forward to seeing more missionaries come out of this body of believers. We are also looking forward to starting a shiny, new children's ministry in February. Big, new, amazing, fun things are happening at this church. God's doing some work here, and we are trying to stay right in the middle of it.

advent - day 25

Merry Christmas!!!

Today, I want for us to focus on our local ministries. Pray for your church, your pastor, the local food bank, homeless shelter, pregnancy help center, and any other local ministries you know of. Pray that they will be united in ministry to meet both physical and spiritual needs of the people in your town or city.

As an example, one of the local ministries I'll be praying for is Helping Hands in Belton.

Friday, December 24, 2010

advent - day 24

Perhaps best known for Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan's Purse is what we're focusing on today. They have a handful of other ministries and are at work in many countries throughout the world. Their other ministries are Relief and Development, Children's Heart Project, HIV/AIDS Prescription for Hope, and World Medical Missions. If you click on "where we work" on the home page, a map will pop up which will show you where these ministries, as well as where OCC, are active.

Currently, one of their most urgent needs is for medical personnel who are willing to go to Haiti to fight the cholera outbreak. Let's pray that doctors and nurses will be called to go to Haiti.

Now is the time of year that shoe boxes full of gifts are being delivered to needy children in some 100 countries through Operation Christmas Child. If you packed and sent a box (or more), pray specifically for the child(ren) who will receive the box you packed. If you didn't send a box, choose a country or region and pray for the children there. Pray that they will be encouraged by the gifts. Pray that their lives may be made better through their connection with Samaritan's Purse. Most importantly, pray that they may come to know Christ.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

advent - day 23

I wasn't sure what missions organization to pray for today. I have one for tomorrow and something special for Christmas Day, but I exhausted my knowledge of missions organizations. So I googled "pray for missions." The second hit was for Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

Formerly China Inland Missions, OMF is a missions organization that focuses on reaching people in East Asia. They have over 1600 workers from over 30 countries. Flipping through their website, I noticed that every page has a different prayer point on the banner at the top. This is an organization with a strong emphasis on prayer. I like that! Their December prayer requests are listed here. You'll have to scroll down to the 23rd.

Nate's first Christmas

Christmas has started for us, but it's not over yet! Nate is not walking yet, not even trying to walk. We got him a ride-on train (with buttons and lights and music, of course) for Christmas. The backrest also works well as a handle for walking behind the train. Nate suddenly likes practice walking. Take a look:



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

advent - day 22

ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries) was born in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. This video explains more history. Their ministry has expanded to include seven other eastern African countries.
ALARM’s passion is to help the African church serve as an agent of change, fostering transformation that goes deeper than superficial, nominal Christianity. In addition to regular conferences for pastors, ALARM trains men and women for church leadership in a variety of venues.
As western missionaries are more and more desiring to hand over church leadership to locals, there is a great need for training. ALARM recognizes that need, and they have conferences and training programs for pastors and church leaders. They also recognize that women have especially suffered as a result of the violence that takes place in Africa. Thus, they have special training programs for women. They also (and this is particularly close to my heart) train kids. They have schools as well as vocational training and discipleship. The vocational training is key for these children to have a more prosperous life than that which they were born into. The discipleship ensures that the next generation will have effective church leaders.

Let's pray that ALARM will be well supported financially in the coming year. Pray that many would be willing to go to conferences and go through training in order to become more than nominal Christians. Pray that this ministry would catalyze the change that is needed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

advent - day 21

TEAM is an organization I learned about while compiling this advent list. They are affiliated with more than one of the other organizations we have prayed for. They have over 600 missionaries serving full-time, who are joined but 150-200 short termers each year. They are working in 39 countries around the world, mostly doing church planting:
Church planting is our focus. We are involved extensively in related ministries that include community development, ESL, counseling, sports, technology, healthcare, business, linguistics, music, and education.
Here is their prayer journal for December. http://www.teamworld.org/pray/187-prayer-journal-december-2010.html Scroll down to the 21st.

Monday, December 20, 2010

advent - day 20

Rodgers loves jail ministry, so I knew I needed to include Prison Fellowship. You may be familiar with Angel Tree, which is a program to provide gifts for children of prison inmates. It is a program of Prison Fellowship. They do a lot more than Angel Tree, though. Here is their mission statement:
To seek the transformation of prisoners and their reconciliation to God, family, and community through the power and truth of Jesus Christ.
Here is a link to their various programs. Let's pray especially for Angel Tree, and thank God that so many families have been blessed by this ministry. Check out the prayer request list for a brief Bible reading and two prayer requests:

http://www.prisonfellowship.org/get-involved-with-prison-fellowship/prison-fellowship-pray/prayer-requests


Sunday, December 19, 2010

advent - day 19

Africa Inland Mission International (AIM)
Rodgers and I had a chance to sit down and talk with the Africa Inland Mission recruiting representative for this region of the US a year or so ago. Since Rodgers had been granted a green card, and could be employed and sent by an American missions organization, this rep was encouraging us to join AIM. He told us that AIM's focus is on working with local churches across Africa. When AIM starts something new, it's because a church in African has asked them to start something. I thought this approach was very unique. Rather than assessing the need from their own western mindset, they work with local churches and let the churches tell them where the major needs are in their areas. We eventually decided that AIM wasn't right for us,* but we still love their work.

There are a couple of resources for praying for AIM. One, they have a ministry called Pray Africa, which has new posts every day. Two, there is a "Fuel for Prayer" (I love that phrase) section on the AIM website, with a short paragraph posted each day.

*No hard feelings. We really want to work in Kenya, but AIM doesn't send Kenyans to be missionaries in Kenya. He would send us anywhere other than the countries we were born in. Also, our desire is to start, run, or otherwise work with an orphanage/home for street kids, but AIM relies on local churches to dictate what ministry opportunities they will pursue, and churches rarely request ministry to street kids.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

advent - day 18

One of the most amazing experiences I've had was the time I spent aboard the MV Doulos, one of the OM Ships, which is part of Operation Mobilization, which we prayed for previously. (Doulos was decommissioned last year and is currently under renovations to be opened as a convention center, but will not sail anymore. If you want to know more about Doulos, check out the Doulos Phos Facebook page. This post is really about OM Ships.) The current OM Ship is called Logos Hope. The motto of OM Ships is "bringing knowledge, help, and hope." The knowledge is in the form of the books they carry and sell. The help is typically relief work. And the hope, of course, is the Gospel.

During my time on board, I taught English classes, represented the United States/Texas/the "Old West"/cowboys, spoke in churches ranging in membership from about 20 to several thousand, preached on street corners, acted in skits for school children, became a clown and a face painter, and had many other adventures in missions. I also worked 5 days a week on the ship. I had one day off each week, during which I explored the world as much as possible. I believe most OM Ships missionaries have similar experiences.

OM Ships' prayer page is here: http://www.omships.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142&Itemid=335&lang=en

cross-cultural marriage: I can't hear you!

I've heard people say that kids who grow up out in the countryside in Africa can hear cars coming miles away. There's not a lot of noise out there. They haven't had stereos and TVs and headphones ruining their hearing. So Rodgers almost definitely has better hearing than me.

If you leave America, you will find that we Americans have quite a reputation for being loud and obnoxious in public. We aren't the only nationality that's loud in public, but we are the most stereotyped one. (We're stereotyped for other things, too, by the way.) Kenyans are not loud in public.

If you know Rodgers, you know he can be loud. He has a big voice. When he's talking to me in public, though, he talks very quietly.

I discovered this early in our romantic relationship. When we started "dating" (which wasn't technically dating because we didn't go on dates, but what else do you call it? courting? sounds lame), it started with a phone call. Rodgers had to repeat everything he said to me at least once. Phone calls remained a big part of our relationship until we got engaged because it was a long distance relationship for 2 years and 8 months, then short distance for the 4 months we were engaged. Eventually I got used to him enough that he didn't have to repeat everything, but he still had to repeat himself sometimes.

In the US, until we got married, he was always living with someone else. If this person (or these people) weren't home, I could usually hear everything he said to me. But, if they were home, I would have the volume on my phone turned up to max and be pressing it into my ear as far as I could, holding my breath so I could hear Rodgers the third time he repeated himself. He would say that he didn't want everyone in the house to hear him. I would respond that if the person he's talking to can't hear him, what's the point in saying anything at all? He would say that I just need to listen. THEN, we would finally be together for a day, and he'd get a phone call from someone else. He would talk to whoever it was in a very loud voice. I would tell him, "That's how you need to talk to me on the phone!" But he never did.

It happens in restaurants, too. Sometimes the waiter can't hear him ordering. Usually, he asks me to say both of our orders, and I don't know if this is because he feels like I'm taking care of him if I order for him or if it's because waiters understand me. Whatever it is, I don't mind ordering for him, or even choosing what he's going to eat. (Besides the volume, he doesn't have the accent people expect, so sometimes they hear but can't understand him.)

Even though I know his voice well, I still have a hard time tuning in to it over a noisy restaurant. I have often found myself standing up in my chair, leaning over the table to hear him. We've gotten so that we only go to restaurants we know are quiet because I get so frustrated in noisy ones because he won't speak up! It doesn't seem to bother him very much to have to repeat himself. I guess that's good because he's determined to speak quietly in public.

The one perk that it has is that we look very romantic when we're talking in public because we have to be so close together. Maybe it's not a culture thing at all. Maybe Rodgers just couldn't figure out how to get me to snuggle up with him in the beginning of our relationship so he started talking quietly, and now it's a habit...

Friday, December 17, 2010

advent - day 17

One of the people I was in Wycliffe training with had gotten started in Bible translation through Lutheran Bible Translators. LBT published one New Testament this year, and they are working on many more.
Almost 80 LBT missionaries are serving in 19 countries on 4 continents. They are involved in 80 Bible translation, Scripture Engagement, Vernacular Media and language projects.
Their Christmas newsletter pdf is available on their website here, but for easy access, I've copied and pasted the prayer and praise section below.

Botswana
Give thanks for Carl and Melody Knight, who are retiring at the end of 2010 after 25 years of Scripture engagement ministry.


Cameroon
Pray that Kory and Cara Fay will be able to begin their first field assignment to the Nizaa people of Cameroon in February.

Ecuador
Praise God that the entire Bible in the CaƱar Quichua language will be available sometime next year.

Ghana
Pray for Rev. Nathan and Sarah Esala and family, who have returned to Ghana and resumed their translation ministry to the Komba people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

advent - day 16

Buckner International is a ministry that seeks to make life better for orphans, vulnerable children and families around the world. They have published a beautiful advent devotional guide. You may download an electronic copy: http://www.buckner.org/downloads/2010advent.pdf.

December 16 is on page 32. It isn't a prayer guide, but this is an important message about love. What strikes me most as I think about orphans, street kids, abused/neglected/abandoned children is that they have no one to love them. Of course they need safe places to live, clean water, good nutrition, clothes, and education, too.

My first prayer for them is always that someone would find them and love them. I was born into a loving family. I grew up always knowing that I was loved. This is definitely something I took for granted because I never knew any different. What would my life have been like without parents who loved and took care of me?

My second prayer is: what do I need to do to show love to these children? What steps of faith should I take?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

advent - day 15

Today I'm praying the daily posting of the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project. This is an effort of Wycliffe (I know we keep coming back to that one; did I mention they are my favorite?). Prayer partners of BPPP are given a specific Bibleless people group to pray for. They receive prayer requests for that people group as well as an annual update. This not only infuses Bibleless people groups and translation progress with prayer, but also gives partners a stake and a vested interest in Bible translation. It is not unusual for BPPP prayer partners to eventually join Wycliffe. On the BPPP website, they also share a prayer request for a different people group every day. Go here to find out what people group we're praying for today: http://www.wycliffe.org/Pray/BiblelessPeoplesPrayerProject.aspx

*Note: I still have 1 slot left to fill, if you have a group/agency/organization you'd like for us to pray for, let me know!*

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

play house

We had this big box that Nate's carseat came in. We kept it for him to play with. He liked trying to knock it over, but wouldn't crawl inside it or anything. I decided to make it a little more appealing. I spent about 20 minutes the other night giving it a little makeover.

First, I turned it inside out and taped it up, so that the outside would be plain brown box instead of carseat pictures. Theoretically, I could cover it with white paper and/or paint. I wanted to make it look like a spaceship. I haven't done anything like that yet. I used a big book, a smaller box, and Nate's Bumbo to draw shapes on the box. I cut them out with a knife (this is really good for your kitchen knives (not really)). I thought about cutting them out completely, but then I remembered that Nate loves LOVES opening and closing things. So I left each one attached on one side.



The biggest one, I cut out as a door. The Bumbo shape opposite the door is low enough to the ground that it can also be a door. The next day, we introduced Nate to the play house/space ship/box with holes cut in it. He was a little less than impressed at first, but I think he likes it. He really likes it when I peek at him through the flaps. He didn't get it the first few times. Rather than looking through the box at me, he would crawl around the box to find me. He caught on eventually. Peek-a-boo remains one of his favorite games.





It would really look cute if I covered it in white butcher paper, then outlined the flaps and holes with colored tape. Then, I could draw stuff on the paper. I don't really think that would make a big difference to the kid, though.


advent - day 14

Bible Translation and Literacy Kenya combines two of my loves: Bible translation and Kenya! BTL partners with other translation organizations, such as Wycliffe and The Seed Company. Their first goal is Bible translation, but they also publish educational booklets, especially booklets about health. The literacy side is as important as the translation side. What good is it to have the Bible in your own language if you can't read? My own mother-in-law grew up in an era when girls didn't go to school. She is illiterate.
Currently, BTL is working with fourteen language groups: Aweer (Boni), Borana, Daasanach, Digo, Ilchamus, Ilwana (Malakote), Giryama, Marakwet (Endo), Orma, Pokomo, Sabaot, Samburu, Suba and Tharaka.
BTL doesn't have a prayer page on their website, so I suggest we pray for one or more of their projects. I have chosen Giryama, as that is Rodgers' native language. BTL published a Giryama New Testament in 2004. According to the map on their website, they have ongoing work on the Old Testament. They have completed and published the book of Genesis and the stories of Elijah and Elisha. Here is the Giryama page. You'll see the other languages listed to the left.

I pray that Giryama people will have a burning desire for God's Word. I pray that they will be able to get their hands on that which is already translated, and that it will come alive for them. I pray that God will use the portions of scripture in Giryama to draw people to Christ and to call ministers. I also pray that literacy classes will be available for those who can't read, and that they will take advantage of them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

advent - day 13

When I talk about the year I spent as a missionary on a ship, everyone, and I mean everyone, asks me if it was one of the Mercy Ships. No, it was not. But today, that's who we're praying for.
Mercy Ships is a global charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the forgotten poor by mobilizing people and resources worldwide, and serving all people without regard for race, gender, or religion.
On the Mercy Ships website, there is a prayer page, where you can type in and upload a prayer. I believe the purpose is both to be an encouragement for the Mercy Ships crew, as well as to encourage website visitors to pray for them.

The Ship's Watchmen is a video aimed at Mercy Ships' prayer partners. December's edition is here. It's about five and a half minutes long.

Also, you may want to check out their blog: http://www.mercyships.org/blog.

cross-cultural marriage intro: a new series?

I think this will be a good series, if I can think of enough things to write about. Surely there are many things to write about. The problem is that cross-cultural marriage is all I have personal experience with, so I may think something is normal when it is not. Conversely, I may think something is cross-cultural, when in reality it is just the differences between a man and a woman.

Cross-cultural marriage is weird. Let's just get that out of the way right off the bat. It's unusual. Cross-cultural friendships are weird, too. Relating to someone of a different culture can be both enlightening and frustrating. Communication is ridiculous. I think cross-cultural communication may be my first, and most recurring, topic in the series. (Then again, communication between a man and a woman is ridiculous regardless of culture.)

As I see it, there are 4 areas in which a relationship may be cross-cultural.
  1. Continent of birth
  2. First language
  3. Race/ethnicity/color/whatever you want to call it
  4. Religion
So for instance, I wouldn't consider a white, protestant, first language English Canadian marrying a white, protestant, first language English American to be cross cultural. But, if either of those were British, or atheist, or of Asian decent, then yes. Or if it were a French Canadian. Or a first-generation-born-in-America who only spoke Polish at home. You get the picture.

Rodgers was born in Africa; I was born in North America. Rodgers' first language was Giryama; mine was English. Rodgers is black; I am white. We are both Christian! However, Rodgers grew up worshiping the spirits of his ancestors in wooden statues before he received Christ, and I was a Baptist pastor's kid. That adds a bit more spice to the mix. I'd say we're 3.5 out of 4 for cross-cultural-ness because our current religion is the same, but our birth religions were different.

Once Rodgers and I committed to getting married (this was before the proposal and official engagement), I wanted to prepare myself for what kind of issues we may face as a mixed culture marriage. I wanted to prepare myself for how I may respond towards negativism about marrying a black man and having mixed babies (mostly, I just stare in shock with my mouth gaping - I'm very eloquent). I wanted to see what made some cross-cultural relationships strong while others fall apart (keeping God at the center is key, of course, but beyond that???). I read several books before we got married. (I just finished the last one last week. The final section was something like But What About the Children? and I saved it to read after we had kids.) Here's my bibliography:
  • Mixed Matches by Joel Crohn, Ph.D. (the most academic of the four, with guides to help assess your relationship)
  • Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls by Dugan Romano (discusses the 19 most common issues)
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner by Brenda Lane Richardson (real-life stories, some happily ever after, some not)
  • Just Don't Marry One by George A Yancey (collection of essays from different points of view - spouse, child, parent, friend - about interracial relationships)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

advent - day 12

The International Mission Board is the sending organization of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is the international version of NAMB, which we prayed for on the 6th.

Here's a video from the IMB's Christmas 2010 promotion.


Their daily prayer requests can be found here: http://www.imb.org/main/pray/prayerrequests/todaysprayer.asp
They also have an advent prayer request, located here: http://www.imb.org/main/pray/default.asp

Saturday, December 11, 2010

advent - day 11

I worked with The Seed Company for one wonderful year, as a graphic designer at their HQ in Arlington, TX. The Seed Company is not, as the name may seem to suggest, in the agricultural industry. They are a Bible translation organization. They have a unique angle which allows for accelerated Bible translation. The Seed Company trains native speakers of Bibleless languages (i.e. a language which the Bible has not yet been translated into) to translate the Bible. Where there are related languages, The Seed Company sets up workshops for the translators to learn and translate together. I don't have the stats, but I know that they have been responsible for a large percentage of the translation projects started and completed in the past 17 years. Their daily prayer focus is here: http://www.theseedcompany.org/prayerfocus.

[As an aside, I just want to point out that there is still need for western translators. The Seed Company's method, which is highly effective, only works for people groups in which believers already exist.]

EDIT: I just realized that The Seed Company's prayer guide runs Monday through Friday, and today is Saturday. I'm going to pray for yesterday's (Dec 10) people group.