Monday, August 13, 2018

8th Grade Culture Learning

The Ember Cast facilitated one of our culture service learning experiences this past weekend with a group of 8th grade girls - we loved every moment working with them. This came about from a request from one of their small group leaders and they desired an exposure to global issues, an opportunity for this group to serve in a community and hearing from someone doing some pretty neat things. Elements included:
+ team building.
+ serving at The Well in Curtis Bay, which included some organizing and cleaning in both the Hope Chest [their clothing closet] and the CEO's office, strategy with a social enterprise they are launching in September, and being in the neighborhood making friends.
+ a culture navigation walk.
+ dinner in Fells Point.
+ In every apple, there is an orchard.

The Well in Curtis Bay is one of our best partners and we are constantly inspired by them. Curtis Bay has the whole package of urban fun and the environment was maybe a tad edgy for these girls but we wholly trust the team at The Well and knew it would work out fine. Middle school kids are not too young to learn about big global systemic issues and Curtis Bay was the perfect context for this weekend. Special thanks to 3 Ember ProtoGuides for helping guide most of these activities for a successful weekend.

Last big project for the 2017-2018 school year. My sabbatical starts as soon as you read this - see you in September.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Burn

::: The Table of Disruptive Technologies
Link


::: Decades in Which Each Country Reaches Peak Population
Link


::: The Power Law of Dunbar's Number
Link


::: If you don't go, you don't grow. - Greg St Cyr

Thursday, August 09, 2018

If There Was No 40 Day Rule

+ Book a ticket back to Greece for the Fall.
+ Drop ship a load of supplies to them to the Greece team - face paint, athletic balls, sidewalk chalk, masking tape.
+ Start an ongoing conversation with DH from the Italy team - his master's degree work was based on innovation and entrepreneurship in faith based organizations. What are better practices of organizations that have this as part of their DNA?
+ Recruit pair of college aged students to spend a semester working and learning from BA and his family with a focus on church planting and church multiplication. Italy = the graveyard of missionaries.

Instead, I will have the self control to wait for 40 days or longer. In fact, my Ember sabbatical starts next week so none of this will get touched until October. The 40 days timeline is designed to temper emotions and if after 40 days, the passion is still there, well then let's do something with it.

Monday, August 06, 2018

IG Wrap

Loved the IG experience. So much fun and the privilege of seeing what the Lord is doing around the world is always stunning. Here are a few of the highlights - I'm writing a report with more details, ping if interested. Also note that locations of travel are not posted online.

:::Italy
The long term team and their work keeps growing and flourishing and it is really fun to be a part of. They have had tremendous momentum since 2016 and this year is no different. Like last summer, they had a strong group of college aged interns there all summer. The interns started a weekly football game at one of the local parks and that grew into a consistent thing. There is a community center that was recently acquired that used to be a government building and that now serves as a gathering location, weekly soccer and the location of the community garden. There are at least a few other social enterprises that are in flight. The city remains strategic to the refugee and migrant global issue and this team is a good model of serving and befriending that community. This team is also modeling the concept of Disciple Making Movements. Some of the most interesting principles include replication - 'who will you share this right after this?' and 'the Scriptures teach themselves.'

::: Greece
The context for the work in Greece was one of the most dense and culturally diverse neighborhoods in Europe, maybe the world, which makes for an incredible place. Walk out of your apartment and run into the nations. The leader of the org that we worked with, P, is one of the most catalytic leaders I have ever met. He has a style that empowers, a focus on identifying and developing leaders and a strategy to build the community and having these young people help him. The work looks like efforts with media, arts, music, English classes and street festivals along with a partnership with a refugee drop in center, where we served for one morning. Two of P's team were our Greek guides all through the city for 5 days and these guys modeled what they do and why and how they do it. I trusted them wholly with our team and they were 16 years old. We did lots of street festival type of stuff in the square, many nights until very late. The Greeks don't really sleep. Special thanks to Andrew Jones for connecting us.

::: Decompress
We decompressed on the Aegean Sea for two days. There was a lot of attention spent on this phase, including doing it at a neutral location, 4 sessions of retrospective questions with journals, and a relaxed schedule. Most leaders just want to go home by the time their team gets to this phase, trust me I know. But if you are a missions team leader that has ignored decompression, I would fire you. Ignore helping your students process this and it will be like the experience never happened. I also had the privilege of baptizing most of our team. We had some team drama.

::: Misc
+ Every trip, we host a missionary roundtable discussion, inviting partners and long term workers to a discussion where they share some wisdom. This year was no different - some incredible pieces of wisdom.
+ We had a few issues with smartphones and social media and before the trip, I believed that we could/should model the right way to handle these powerful tools. I'm not sure now that it is anything less than a total disconnection - just about all of us are addicted and much of it is for the wrong reasons. There was some mindless scrolling at the cost of real life engagement.
+ Three people lost bags and never got them back until we returned to the US. We are glad they got all their stuff back but not having all their stuff was super frustrating for all of them. There were also a number of people that were sick here and there. I spent more energy on those things than usual.
+ We overspent a bit by probably around $1500, still landing on finances.

More pictures here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

IG team home

Team arrived home late this evening, even the 3 missing bags. Fantastic experience but this is a personal favorite.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Decompression


We started our decompression phase last night with worship near the water, one of our team leading a devotional and the first of a series specific questions related to processing our experience.
The statistics prove this out: if you don't debrief a cross cultural experience, it will be as if you never went.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Ember Sunday

Lots of the ministry here is centered on something similar to a street festival with kids in the community square. Lots of games, crafts, football, etc. This has been our agenda almost every evening while here and it feels like a different time zone. The square is busy until 1 or 2 am every night.

We have been led by two amazing volunteers who are here with us almost 24x7. They are 16 years old and have led us all through the city, run a good portion of the evening activities and teach vital concepts of how they do what they do. A vital picture of how to invest and grow young people.

We woke up early for the sunrise this morning to catch it over the city, going to the highest point. We then visited two churches, a Greek orthodox church and a small church plant, both right within this community. Tonight, more fun in the square.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Ember Friday


Team landed in Greece on Wednesday and were greeted by our hosts. The host ministry is situated in one of the most dense and diverse communities on all of Europe. Dreamed and executed by young people, they run some very creative  ventures in order to help their commumity flourish. Most of our time with them so far has been right in their city square running soccer games and craft stations. The square is as vibrant as anything I have seen.
This morning we also served at a refugee center which is one of their partners - about 60 kids today for English classes.
Communion and worship as a team on Mars Hill, directly from Acts 17. For in Him we live and move and have our being.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ember Tuesday

Time in the community center again this morning. There was supposed to be some soccer and games this am but no one showed. There was also a small gardening class going on - the garden is one of the micro businesses that is designed to provide skills training and an alternative income for refugees. I saw the proposal for it about 9 months ago and besides being an incredibly well put together proposal, this garden is one of the coolest things.

We were out and about in the city for the late afternoon and then at one of the cities largest parks for soccer tonight, where there were 3 games and about 90 people all together. There has been a team of interns here all summer and this is a testament to their work here, they started soccer on Monday nights at the beginning of the summer.

Our team is starting to dream about how the future might look different because of their time on this experience. The efforts of building a team, raising support, learning together, travel, losing luggage, learning ministry skills - all of that is the hard work that cultivates the real harvest: dreaming about impacting the future.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Ember Monday - Roundtable

One of the best things we do on short term experiences is a roundtable discussion with people that live in another culture. Some of the sample topics include talking about calling, current challenges, why what you are doing is strategic and advice for a young person thinking about this kind of future. This year's roundtable was this past evening and did not disappoint.

+ Panel included three different teams all serving in the greater area, some been here for 5 years, some just landed 3 months ago. Range from adults to 15 year old; parents, families, single.
+ On calling: came through divine and rational ideas; captivated by movement thinking; 250K towns without some Gospel presence in Italy; 100 years from Italy being a huge missions sending to almost no sending; 25 years from call to execution
+ Biggest challenge: not having teammates but this has freed up to know lots of people; take care of family first since they just landed; there are never ending opportunities here - knowing the best from the good; being patient, flexible, guilt based religion here; power distance.
+ Advice for a young person: find a mentor in this kind of work; be fanatical - do not give in to American culture; struggle well and persevere; date the right person; build on character then your gifting and then stick with it.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Ember Sunday

Day out for the team:
+ Church - a local church here that has given new energy and passion to church planting, discipleship and caring for refugees.
+ Mt Etna [left]
+ Taormina

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ember Saturday

Light day today. Some people are recovering from a few ailments but all doing okay.
+ Rest in the morning.
+ The long term team has a pretty mature internship program in the summers and we've been involved with some of the interns for the past few days. 4 of them did a little Q&A with us this afternoon.
+ On the streets in the late afternoon. Super hot in Southern Italy right now.
+ Dinner - Indian food.
+ Hanging with glow sticks in one of the city squares in late evening.
+ No sign of lost luggage.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ember Friday

+ Part of the team, 3 people, still don't have their suitcases. So we took those 3 to do some light shopping this morning.
+ The rest of the team spent some time at a community center and played football and water games with some new friends.
+ This community center also hosts a community garden space, which is meant to be a social enterprise teaching some marketable skills. One of the most interesting things like this I have seen recently.
+ Afternoon and early evening spent in city center - lots of football in one of the largest parks in the city.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Ember 2018 IG Travel Reading

When teams travel with me, I give them reading for the plane. When else do you have a captive audience for 12 hours like this? Here is this year's team reading.

People that Must - Alex McManus

The Psychology of Packing - Jan Chipchase

Advice to New Grads: Scale or Bail

[PS - Hopefully our team has landed by now]