Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 Post Summer Media

The morning services last Sunday at Grace highlighted most of the summer teams - SPACE and a few of the adult teams.

Embedded below [rss readers may need to click through] is a summary video that the media team put together as well audio from the message, including interviews with some of the team leaders, including yours truly. Like most "wrap up" messages, there was lots more to tell...

[Related: End of summer media from 2006. I must have missed 2007.]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday RocketFuel

::: World poverty more widespread than earlier thought
- 1.4 billion people live in poverty, more than its earlier estimate of 985 million people living in poverty in 2004.
- The poverty rate in China has plummeted from 85% to 15.9%, with the biggest part of that drop coming in the past 15 years, when China opened up to Western investment and its coastal regions boomed.
- The new figures still suggest that the world will reach its millennium development goal of halving the 1990 level of poverty by 2015.
- Poverty has fallen by about 1% per year since 1981
Link via Morning Brief

::: danah boyd on the Amethyst Initiative
How would her recommendations change the behavior of American youth workers and youth groups? [

::: The dollar at six month high against the Euro

::: History's Greatest Journeys
Gare de L'est in Paris was the Western terminus for the Orient Express.
Link via

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Sorry for the lack of posting of late, the Sheng's have had their hands full with some non-SPACE stuff, believe it or not. And that's kind of the point - we've had some serious conversations about priorities and boundaries. It hasn't been easy.

Certainly, this summer was more than we could have hoped for. 100 leaders and students, six strong teams, tangible impact both in the present contexts as well as the future. Deeper partnerships with some great friends serving around the world that really admire and seek to bless what SPACE is doing. More and more momentum from students, families and mission geeks.

Unfortunately, the flip side to this means some things not taking as high as a priority as they should have for me as a husband and father. That calls for change.

More on this whole topic later.

Friday, August 22, 2008

To The Class of 2008

Congrats on starting your first year of college. Remember as you get used to your new surroundings that context and culture are important, just like when you traveled to some of these places with SPACE: Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC; New York City; Londrina Brasil; Liverpool, England; Yaounde, Cameroon; Vienna, Austria; Sopron, Hungary; Paris, France.

But, the places aren't so important as what you did there. And what you did there isn't quite as important as what you are going to do now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2008 Hungary Tweets

Just so I don't forget... the updates I sent via Twitter when we were traveling with the 2008 Hungary team...
Home exhausted but so proud of what hungary team did 09:02 PM August 04, 2008
Hungary team landed 03:29 PM August 04, 2008 from txt
Delayed at the gate ah united 06:36 AM August 04, 2008 from txt
On packed train to cdg would have been terrible with 40 bags 03:17 AM August 04, 2008 from txt
cam team and luggage shuttle just departed - hungary departs at 830 - looking forward to being home 01:18 AM August 04, 2008 from web
Amazing day in paris both teams depart early tomm 05:43 PM August 03, 2008 from txt
Split with the fam going up the arc de triumph 285 steps 07:53 AM August 03, 2008 from txt
Cam team here wow this is nuts 06:48 AM August 03, 2008 from txt
Juggling : dr, cam team, shuttle, decompress 04:00 AM August 03, 2008 from txt
Waiting to hear back for shuttle on mon can't do subway like that again pray for that and michelle and keely 02:43 AM August 03, 2008 from txt
In paris prob worst subway exp so far but everyone is here 03:36 PM August 02, 2008 from txt
Checking out then on to paris. Cam team meets us there tomm 02:41 AM August 02, 2008 from txt
Last day of conf words can't describe the fire this team made 03:47 AM August 01, 2008 from txt
my career with SPACE could be complete after tonight. 05:19 PM July 28, 2008 from web
Sometimes fluid things spill 11:59 AM July 26, 2008 from txt
I just met alan hirsch 08:28 AM July 26, 2008 from txt
On the way to sopron hungary all shuttles worked out fabulously preconf starts after dinner 06:30 AM July 25, 2008 from txt
Exercise in urban navigation in vienna 01:51 PM July 24, 2008 from txt
Made it to vienna despite delays and a more than healthy dose of turbulence 08:00 AM July 23, 2008 from txt
Never mind not taking off just give us cash back 07:17 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
Taking off I think no saki 06:50 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
John timmns wants saki 06:30 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
I'm thinking that united airlines and SPACE don't mix 06:22 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
Flight delayed sitting on runway 06:00 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
Getting ready to board with the rest of the cattle I think team ldr should fly first class 04:50 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
On the space shuttle at iad 03:19 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
Let the departure festivities begin and I do mean festivities 12:19 PM July 22, 2008 from txt
We are in good shape departing soon 11:49 AM July 22, 2008 from txt

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hungary 2008 Random Stories

Some random stories from Hungary...

There is a CA plant in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. The team leaders have been there for a little less than 2 years and are working side by side with a Czech family. The dad in this family has been working on a new Bible translation in Czech since 1991. Although there already exists two translations in Czech, they are not the best.
See the video.
"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Evening program nights were all theme nights, including Pirates and Princess, Campfire and PJs and Wacky Tacky. These actually might have been the most culturally relevant experiences of our structure - we underestimated how much the CA kids would have loved this stuff and how there is little opportunity for them to do this together. For Pirates and Princess night, just about every kid dressed up and some of the costumes were incredibly elaborate. For Wacky Tacky night, and I know most of us won't forget this, one of the most energetic boys at the whole conference wore his little sisters dress. Every night was like the movie Groundhog Day, except we were stuck on Halloween.

Our original connection with CA was from some friends of ours from GCC that served with CA in Florence, Italy. After a few years that were not easy [other team members couldn't get there because of visa issues, having two children on the field, extended family illnesses] these friends of ours wisely decided to leave the field to get some more education. In Sopron, we met M and T, who are serving in ... Florence. The community they serve was birthed out of relationships that were started by our friends - and we are talking 3-5 years ago. It doesn't always happen and it doesn't always happen right away.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Leading In and Out

There are things that you should definitely lead on and things that you should definitely not lead on.

Here is what I farmed out leadership-wise on the recent 2008 Hungary team:
+ kids program development details - all went to students
+ producing, directing, editing all the intro videos used in the program - Lindsey/Michelle/etc. [Videos]
+ small group guide - Deanna
+ small group activity book - Deanna
+ all activities for the 9-11 year olds - Kevin and Keely
+ 9-11 year olds and their teaching/skit segment for the daily Bible story - Keely
+ debriefing and decompression activities and discussions, except for one - Tricia and Elly
+ music for the program - Kevin
+ specifics for Theme Nights - team
+ people scoping out best cost options for food in Vienna and Paris - Leslie and Emilie
+ overall team navigation in Vienna and Paris - Leslie and Emilie
+ twice a day daily team devotions based on "Makers of Fire" theme, morning and evening - Emilie and Rachel
+ crafts - purchasing, planning and implementing - Erin and Deanna
+ anything to do with the baby room - Deanna and Leslie
+ empowering our leader team to catalyze these students in any and every way and shape possible.

Here is what I did not farm out, meaning that these were things I directly led.
+ anything to do with budget - nobody spends money like I do.
+ overall direction for spiritual development for our team.
+ connecting and inviting speakers from CA to invest in our team.
+ travel logistics, including airlines, ground transport and nonconference lodging locations - [Deanna and I did this together]
+ a leader breakfast mid conference - mid week checkpoint with our leaders.
+ rotations so our team could attend at least one conference session - basic scheduling for coverage.
+ decompression discussion on "My New Idea of Church."
+ baptism.
+ liaison role with CA.
+ follow up with each one of our leaders - post trip.

I will be the first to admit that not doing everything yourself is difficult, healthy and the way it should be.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

2008 Cam team is home

I just got a call a few minutes ago, the team arrived safe and sound. Initial reports indicate that it was a great experience - similar to all the other teams this summer. That's fun and a big relief.

For those of you keeping track, that is 100 students and leaders who have gone out, served and blessed and now returned home this summer. Amazing and you blog readers have been a part of it - reading about, supporting and praying for our students and leaders. This should make you proud too.

It's not quite over yet though - financial closeout [yikes] and some intentional decompressing work with our team leaders will finish out this summer's teams.

It Burns From My Eyes

The Return
by Geneen Marie Haugen
Some day, if you are lucky,
you'll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.

Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces

of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.

Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.

If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,

you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language

to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies

and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings
will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they–like you–must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings.
via Ben Saunders.
This should required reading for when we come home...

Friday, August 15, 2008

"SPACE changed my life..."

Well, I coerced her into saying that....

This week, I had lunch with a college student who was involved with SPACE in high school. This summer, she had the awesome privilege of doing an internship with Christ Church Link and being involved in the start up of a Day Resource Center for the underprivileged.

What she really did say was that this experience [3 years ago] awakened a passion and need that she is willing to devote her life to. Since then, she has done a lot of experiential thinking about living in suburbia, serving the homeless and analysis of the systemic issues surrounding poverty, urban environments and context. This year, she's on the lead team for her IV chapter at her school, has made plans to introduce new freshmen to the intersection of dumpster diving and materialism, and will continue to listen to God as He speaks to her about her passion and the world's great needs.

SPACE exists to produce these types of people - willing to initiate after understanding the realities of the world and what the Gospel means in their lives.

PS - Look at some of our other favorite peeps when they were kidz.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SPACE finance update

I'm hesitant to even post this... but... If you were inclined to pray with us that God would provide the balance... or if you felt inclined to give.... that would make this post... well... worth it...

Finances as of August 8:
Baltimore - $3553/$3000 - 118%
NOLA - $12853/$10590 - 121%
England - $18049/$24700 - 73%
Cameroon - $17110/$34800 - 49%
Hungary - $55061/$62260 - 88%
Cam + Hungary - $10235/$22000 - 46%

Here is the GCC online giving page. Your prayers and support are so vital - thanks for being a part!

2008 England is home

Safe and sound - they arrived home on Monday afternoon. Well, except for one passport. Remember, that's the singular thing you cannot deal without.... More on this team soon...

Cameroon team flies home Saturday afternoon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

SPACE 2008 Field Update

The England team lands today. The Cameroon team, our last team in the field, is still gone until Saturday. For those of you keeping track at home, if all goes according to plan A after today, 16% will be out in the field, while 84% of our teams have gone out and come back home safely.

Friday, August 08, 2008

2008 Hungary Reflections

[For more details, see all the 2008Hungary posts and the 2008Hungary photoset.]

::: Kids Program
The kids program we put on was pretty awesome. Here are some rough notes on the framework we used. And to give praise again where it is due - the vast majority of this program was created by high school students, not adults. We did have a few advantages though. First, we had two educators on the team and our students had a lot of experience with kids. Secondly, we were a returning team, so we knew what it could look like. But still - these kids hit a home run with this one.

+ 56 kids - ages from 0 to 12.
+ Coverage for 11 sessions - ranging from 90 minutes to 3 hours.
+ Must be culturally relevant - target audience are third culture kids who come together once a year for a conference where they get to see their friends, many of whom are the only ones that can relate to each other. An American-bought VBS curriculum was not an option.
+ Program must be divided by age groups so that we can serve kids appropriately.
+ Breakdown by ages: 0-2: 13 || 3-4: 8 || 5-6: 4 || 7-8: 16 || 9-12: 15
+ Overall theme was "Running the Good Race", coinciding with the 2008 Olympics.
+ Program days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Morning program segments were centered around the Olympics while evening sessions were "theme" nights.
+ Theme nights: Monday - Pirates and Princesses, Tuesday - Campfire and PJs, Wednesday - Wacky Tacky, Friday - Olympic Closing Ceremonies.
Also, see D's post about this subject. Also, if you are trying something like this, our program sheets might help. Leave a comment and I will get those to you.

::: Path to Cross Cultural Service
This original element was intended to have certain people share their experience on the mission field - ie: what would you tell students that are interested in a future in missions.

However, this element certainly blossomed - every person that came and spoke to our team were amazing people and I truly appreciated their authenticity, honesty and optimism. They believe, like I do, that the future is ready to be forged and that these students have the power of change in their hands and their hearts. By the end of the week, I had people from CA asking me when they would get their chance to talk to our team. Just based on that, I wished we had another two or three days. Instead of just sharing with our team, it became serious investments into our students, stoking their passion, imagination and dreams.

The quick list speaker list:
Alan and Deb Hirsch - what makes a church, the power of youth, don't be domesticated.
SSeevers - tangible paths to serving with CA, internships, short term, long term, etc.
M and T Rapp - how God called them, details of cross cultural service you don't think about, God guiding every step of the way even when it was really bad, why Europe.
PGraf - God redeeming your life, Europe being the most difficult because it's so expensive and that people here are comfortable.

Along with this, there was a real synergy with CA this year. Our team really felt like an integral part of the tribe and that along with so many of them blessing us was humbling and exciting. I'm predicting that there are even more opportunities with CA in the future.

::: Baptism
At the beginning of the trip, AR approached me saying that he was interested in getting baptized. Rats, I forgot my fake professional Christian card. We made him talk it through with his parents, since they weren't going to be there. But definitely one of the personal highlights of both this trip and SPACE.

::: Logistics
Logistics just about killed me at times. 26 people were on this team and it wouldn't have been so bad had it not been for our travels in and through Paris lugging all of our luggage - consider that an excellent mistake [like Dan Pink says.] The original plan had been to check our big luggage all the way back to DC, but that didn't work. Despite luggage, traversing a major urban center with a group that large is infeasible - take my word for it. We broke into smaller groups for almost all of this kind of travel but even still, it was a lot to manage. Add to that any kind of unexpected issue - people that get sick, trying to hire alternative transport, awaiting another team to arrive - and there were a few times when I found myself completely unable to make any kind of decision. Worse than decision paralysis, I didn't know the complete status of how my team was doing at these particular instances. If you lead at any level, ambiguity about the health of your team is completely unacceptable.

There are a few operating principles we will use from now on:
+ Planning based on optimal team sizes - not just on how many it will take to be successful for a specific project.
+ Teams will more sensitive to the combination of city centers, public transport and large amounts of gear. We need to be smarter about deciding where to stay if we have to haul a lot of stuff.

A few locations and resources that we used - no complaints about any of these, they were awesome:
Vienna City Hostel - Clean, great part of the city, easy to get to, very affordable, friendly and awesome service.
All Seasons Paris Gare de l'Est Ch√Ęteau Landon - two minute walk from a Paris subway stop and a five minute walk to a subway stop that was a hub. Clean, safe, affordable for Paris, great service especially when we did team worship in the lobby. And it was the only place that would accommodate a group of 38.
Limores - we used a shuttle service in Vienna to and from the airport and also hired a luggage truck in Paris at the last minute. They were absolutely great about it - drivers were on time, friendly and totally accommodating. The NYC-based staff also went way out of their way getting in touch with Paris services on a Sunday trying to get me service for luggage. And... the Vienna shuttle was for $10 a person. You read that right....

::: Budget
The overall budget looks something like this, per person breakdown:
$1361 - airfare
$1060 - conference costs [8 nights and all food, including transfer to/from airport]
$20 - child ministry supplies
$25 - coach service - Vienna [two directions, airport and back]
$90 - lodging costs - Vienna [2 nights]
~$8 - food, grocery store for lunch and pizza for dinner - Vienna
$7 - subway - Vienna
$200 - lodging costs - Paris [2 nights]
~$5 - food, pizza one night for dinner - Paris
$30 - coach service - Paris [one way, to airport]
~ $2806 [26 people - although two kids had discounts for airfare and conference costs.] Mission in Europe is expensive. At the time of this posting, we are close but not 100%. [I'll have a financial update posting early next week.]

::: The Team
I know I say this every year, but I think this team was one of the best that I have helped lead. All of them were so willing to serve, to be stretched, and to own pieces of the trip. To watch each of them come alongside a missionary kid or baby, hold their hand, dress wacky tacky with them, or lead a small group about running the good race, those are the why-we-do-this moments. Not only that, but each one of them was so open to learning and growing, whether it was from our leaders or from CA people, they are learners and have adopted a learning posture to life. I'm excited about their future as well as expecting them to do amazing things.

The leader team was also one of the strongest I have worked with. The principle of "everything based on leadership" was executed well on this team - each one of them had cross cultural experience, had experience with youth culture and understood deeply what are trying to do with SPACE. This leader team represents some fruit that you and I - and others - are starting to see in our leadership investment. Keep in mind that it took greater than four years. And once again, most of the leaders and students are going to continue on well past SPACE and do things we can't even begin to imagine yet.

Keep watching, investing and praying - the impact this team made is going to take SPACE ... well, I don't know.

Photos: Pirate night; Closing ceremonies in swim caps; the baptism; PGraf investing in our team; Parliament in Vienna; our team in Sopron.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hungary - Running the Good Race Videos

This is the final program day's video and all of these videos were put together by our students. See how much fun they are having - imagine traveling through Europe with them....

See all the videos at the 2008Hungary playlist.

2 Connect Videos

Two videos below from Jenelle, who works with CA but is also originally from Maryland and GCC. The official conference blog is here - if you are interested in hearing some of the sessions, there are media files that you can download there.

You will enjoy these, some of our team is on there and there is at least one person talking about the fun our team had with the kids.

Connect - Friday Highlights from Jenelle D'Alessandro on Vimeo.

Connect - Wednesday Highlights from Jenelle D'Alessandro on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Deb and Alan Hirsch

This is Deb Hirsch along with D and I. If you've been around the blog for a while, you know that one of SPACE's influences was the book, The Shaping of Things to Come, co-written by Deb's husband Alan.

When I found out that the Hirschs were going to be at Connect, I emailed Alan to see if they might be able to spare just a bit of time to talk to our team. Both Alan and Deb came in one evening and interacted with our team for about an hour, talking about responsibility, the future and what makes a church. On another evening, some of our team hung out with Deb while she shared how she became a Christ follower. And other students got to have a meal with them. And some found them on the playground. And on and on.

They loved sharing their lives with our team. And despite writing a few huge books, speaking all over the world and being one of the most creative and innovative thinkers about mission, Church and culture today, they are real people who love helping others live life.

[Related: TheForgottenWays and A Taste for Each Other]

And Neither Of Us Drowned

Andrew getting baptized - July 30, 2008.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Me and MikeD

This is Mike Dauphinee and I and my ice cream cone. Mike is one of the missional consultants on retainer with Christian Associates. His role is to assist and coach church plant teams with regard to leadership development, team dynamics and overall effectiveness. Mike is also a Myers Briggs and StrengthsFinder swami. Mike was one of the many, many people at the conference that went out of their way to invest in our team.

Hungary team is home

We rolled in late yesterday afternoon and everyone was safe and healthy. It was a great experience and I'm still astounded and amazingly proud at what this team was able to accomplish.

We had a whirlwind of a day in Paris, which included a few decompression sessions, meeting up with the Cam team [who had flown all night and had to drag their bags through the subway too] and seeing the sights. It was worth it though. Two of my favorite memories include climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe with my family [285 steps], and both teams worshipping in the hotel lobby.

Of course, I have a bit more to tell you, once I recover a tad.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hungary - Monday

The Cam team arrived here yesterday morning. After a whirlwind day in Paris, both teams depart for their destinations today.

Actually, the Cam team just left along with the shuttle we hired for luggage and two of our team. Hungary leaves a 0830 this morning. All teams did the sights in Paris yesterday which was a lot of fun. We then did a send off for the Cam team and did a final decompression session with the Hungary team. It was good to get our minds off of the Hungary experience for a little while. But even looking back on it now, it was pretty incredible what this team accomplished.

Back to DC this afternoon, if plan A works out.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Hungary - Saturday night

We have arrived in Paris, after a grueling subway journey with all of our luggage. Not fun. In fact, probably my worst subway experience ever, but a good learning experience.

KeelyN and MichelleK are a bit under the weather - appreciate your prayers for them.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hungary - Friday afternoon

This is Megan and Teal. They have served in the south of France for just over two years and came in to talk to our team about the realities of serving cross culturally. They touched on topics like how hard it is for your kids to adjust at first, how God called and continued to encourage them and why they do what they do.

Last program meeting is tonight - our Closing Ceremonies. We depart for Paris tomorrow afternoon.

Friday am

Last day of program pray for keely a bit under the weather - so much
appreciation from ca staff