April 30 Newsletter
Greetings to all,
I hope you all are finding some joy in this time of quarantine. In Baguio, we are not really allowed to do much of anything unless one is involved in a very limited list of essential roles. That has placed us in a bit of hiatus. Celia and I have joined an online training for Missionary Member Care. It is basically a 15-hour course spread over 30 days. We just finished day #4 and it has been good so far. In 2012 we went to a 2-week intensive training program in Chiang Mai, Thailand. That training was in missionary member care counseling. This one is more about being a Member Care facilitator. Our pastoral counseling center here in Baguio does provide Missionary Member Care services. We do counseling (such as defusing and debriefing) and training for Asian missionaries serving in Asia. But we can do more in these areas… and there are many other areas that we could be involved in. We have looked into doing refreshment retreats for pastors or missionaries. Up to this point we haven’t really gotten that to work out. To do it right costs a fair bit of money and most years we don’t have the resources. Also in the 3 or 4 times we partnered with others, the activity often moved from refreshment and therapy to having a schedule fully packed with meetings and seminars.tended. I think a lot of us in ministry tend to FEEL like this is the most important.
Story #1. I still remember years ago when Celia and I were on the ministry staff of a church here in Baguio. I was the Director of Missions, and Celia was on the church council. The pastor decided to hold a staff/council meeting and retreat. So we left Baguio at 5pm Friday night to go to a beautiful little resort in Asin. We got there and ate dinner. Immediately after we started our meeting. Our meeting lasted from 7pm until 1am. We went to bed at 1am and got up at 5am. We ate breakfast at 6am. We then continued our meeting from 7am until 9am. Immediately, we packed and went back to Baguio. There was no refreshment, no bonding, and we barely saw the resort and certainly did not enjoy it. Nothing much more than 8-hour meeting and 4 hours of sleep.
This Member Care Facilitator course hopefully will help us expand our vision in this area of Pastor and Missionary Care support.
Story #2. We have been talking with a couple of faculty members here at the seminary off and on for the last few months about doing a proper refreshment retreat later this year. We worked with them on such a thing three or four years ago for pastors and wives. Again, the primary driver of the activity (not us) turned it into a 24-hour intensive Sunday School for pastors.
Hopefully, we and our seminary partners can learn from that and do better this time. Learning is important, but we need balance.
Celia and I still work with our church from a distance. Celia works to choose appropriate music for services, and I videotape my sermon. I have preached three times by video. Two Sundays ago the topic was Jesus as the giver of Living Water. Last Sunday was Jesus as the Bread of Life. Next Sunday will be Jesus as the Light of the World. I am slowly
getting more comfortable with being on video. I suppose that is a good thing. We are likely to be doing more online training. We are looking into doing online training in Clinical Pastoral Education. We tried it this Summer with our group, but because the group is only 4 people, we ended up shifting to gathering together for training. Next Monday the Seminary will have a faculty meeting. At that meeting, we will look at the school schedule and the options for online training. I have never been a big fan of online training, but I am slowly coming around to the idea.
I have been working on updating our CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) Handbook. Back in 2010 our handbook was an inch-thick stack of xeroxes stapled together. In 2012 we first developed a structured handbook and each year we make modest improvements. In 2019 we decided to make major changes and this break has allowed us to start implementing these changes including Removing forms that we don’t use, consolidating the special readings, adding Syllabi as a new Appendix, and creating an optional appendix for supervisors. We hope the result will be a great improvement for the good of our trainees, as well as supervisors.
Becky and Esther have been working on their baking skills. Recently they made cinnamon rolls. Two days ago they made elephant ears. Early this morning, they created some homemade tortillas and then used them to make spicy quesadillas. These are good skills. Actually, Becky has one more year of college to complete because of her health problems We have suggested she may want to try to expand her baking skills and maybe even work, for a while…at least while finishing her education… in a bakery. She tends to have a backward sleep schedule being wide awake at night. Her sleep schedule may well work better for bakery work than most other jobs. Time will tell:
Of course that reminds all of us, I think, that we need to find things to make our quarantine more valuable, or at least interesting. The following is a list of possible things I could do. (This list should not be taken too seriously.)
- With my hair getting longer. I am still a few months away from being at its longest (in 1981 my hair was curling back upwards as it was approaching my collar). Maybe it is time to explore new hairstyles— maybe Cornrows?
- Perhaps I can join a Covid Conspiracy group online. I am not much of a conspiracy buff myself, but these people appear to be having so much fun, maybe I can pretend to be a part of that subculture. Roleplay does have the word “play” in it after all. I can always jump out when society approaches its “new normal.” I suppose I could join a political conspiracy group, but most of them appear to be angry pretty much ALL the time. If I want to be angry, I can simply direct my anger on my clothes that have chosen the pandemic as the time to suddenly become 1 size smaller.
- I can work on talking more to myself. I often talk to myself. I am a pretty good listener and I often know a lot of pretty clever things to talk about. Some people believe that talking to oneself is unhealthy, and even more so arguing with oneself. I have discussed this with myself at length, and I now agree with myself that they are wrong. I believe that these times of enforced solitude may change their attitudes. And if that is true, perhaps it is time to embrace this skill. Why be a talking-to-myself hobbyist when I can become an expert. I can get ahead of the curve, while others are -flattening the curve.
- <More seriously> Maybe I can focus on being a human being more than a human doing. Perhaps I can become better at valuing others as loved creations of God rather than seeing them first as members of nations, partisan groups, or belief systems. Perhaps I can take my prayer life more seriously… not just talking to God, but taking more time to listen. Maybe I can focus more on people-development over program-development or project-development. ….. Maybe.
Always happy to hear from you all. Keep safe. Sincerely,
Bob and Celia