‘Time and sand’ – in the sense of God’s people on the long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land – was my watchword the last time I wrote, in December. Now I’m excited to tell you that if I haven’t quite yet entered the land God has prepared for me, I think I can just about see it from here. Lots of conversation back and forth right now between me, World Outreach (the missions arm of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, EPC), Fuller Seminary, and Serge (formerly World Harvest Mission) with whom I’m exploring the possibility of serving as a mobile theological educator, based overseas developing connections with and teaching in their partner institutions. No decisions yet but more details soon, I hope. Meanwhile please do pray for God to continue to lead the way and give everyone wisdom as we consider options and form plans. After two years of recovery and rest I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be moving forward again.
At the same time I’m grateful that God has already been moving, even while he’s had me holding (relatively… like, for me, sort of...) still. Here’s a recap of highlights in 2015:
In January I went before the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to transfer my ordination from the Presbyterian Church USA into the EPC. After hours and hours of examination in committee and in the general meeting I’m now the first woman ‘teaching elder’ (minister) in the EPC’s Mid-Atlantic Presbytery, which spans the Virginias and Carolinas. Whoa. But I have to say those guys have been really nice to me.
In February I headed to Orlando, Florida, to help Caroline with wedding plans. Happy mom! Just ten days ago, on May 23rd, we celebrated Caroline’s marriage to Will Swartz – himself a missionary kid born in the Philippines and raised in Slovakia. A few wedding pics below, thank you for asking! In July Caroline will complete her two-year internship with Cru as a globe-trotting pastor to missionary kids. She and Will are both middle-school teachers and their plans include a couple of years in Orlando teaching and enjoying life as newlyweds before exploring opportunities to teach overseas.
In March I picked up a couple of new clients in the (very) part-time English tutoring I do here in Charlottesville, VA. These are faculty members at the University of Virginia who are non-native speakers of English, one from Korea, one from Jordan. I'm helping them with their academic writing: anything from research articles to emails to end-of-year reports to course syllabi. It gives me practical experience for the MA in Teaching English for Academic Purposes (the higher ed specialization in ESL) I’m working on through the University of Nottingham, helps pay the bills, and keeps this global nomad happily engaged with internationals in my local community. I also continue to connect as host family for my two Chinese women grad students at UVA, one at the law school and another doing a PhD in education.
In April I began teaching my first ‘hybrid’ course for Fuller Theological Seminary. We're just now wrapping up ten weeks of ‘Introduction to the New Testament’: nine weeks online and one intensive face-to-face week at Fuller’s campus in Pasadena, California, the first week in May. Don’t want to tell you just how much fun that Pasadena trip was…
After that to Orlando for the wedding, and now I’m home in Virginia catching my breath before leaving on June 24 for China to spend the summer teaching English with English Language Institute/China (ELIC, elic.org). It’s practical experience in teaching English overseas, a wonderful opportunity to share life with these Chinese students, and a vision trip for me to learn about life and work in East Asia. After a week of orientation and training in Beijing, I’ll be part of an ELIC team in Tianjin, China, at the Tianjin Institute of Software Engineering. Thank you so much to all of you who are participating in this as my sending partners. I’m very happy and grateful to tell you that all the financial support I need is in!!
I’ll be back in early August in time for my niece Jessica’s wedding, then in September I hope to have meetings with EPC World Outreach and Serge (we’re exploring a co-operative arrangement between the two agencies). In October and November I’ll be back in Bangalore, India, at the South Asian Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS). In October I’ll teach the same four-week hermeneutics course I taught last summer, and in November a new-to-me course on Greek exegesis of Mark’s Gospel. A big thank you to the church I grew up in, Kempsville EPC in Virginia Beach, for making this India trip possible!
And in December? Who knows. What I’m really hoping is that by then God will have revealed what this is all adding up to, what the longer-term plan might look like. Wherever he wants me to end up, I confess that the sand in my shoes is making me a bit itchy to get there...
So grateful to God for protecting me, Caroline, and everyone else involved, four days before the wedding. But oh my poor car.
(Also grateful for good insurance)
Now just three weeks until I leave for China to take part in ELIC's 'LinkU' English language program, and then back to India in late September to be reunited with these students and meet a whole new batch