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Richard and Debbie are back in Spokane after a whirlwind mission co-worker orientation tour in Pittsburg, New Wilmington, and Louisville. We’ve learned so much during this time and we’re still processing everything. Not only from orientation, we’re also recovering from the whiplash of shifting from our predictable and stable ‘normal’ American lives: nice home, great jobs, wonderful friends and coworkers, and an exciting and creative church family, into a new and unknown life as mission co-workers for the Presbyterian Church USA, assigned to work alongside the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala.
As new mission co-workers, our orientation experience gave us a unique and privileged view into the amazing team our denomination employs to prepare and support their mission workers in the field. Though we still are leaving with what we call a ‘healthy sense of awe and anxiousness’, many of our questions about life and work in another culture, practical aspects of life, finances, safety and support were addressed by a knowledgeable and professional team of dedicated servants of the church. Many (though not all J) of our fears have been laid to rest.
Not only were we encouraged by the team behind us, orientation also gave us the chance to meet, and really get to know the 23 or so other mission workers who were either (like us) preparing for their first mission assignment, or preparing for a new role in World Mission. The three weeks we spent together in orientation built and cemented relationships that we feel will last a lifetime. It’s good to know that there are people out there who are at least as crazy as we are! We do apologize for not posting some photos from orientation, but many of our new friends are serving in countries where their association with the Christian church, if made public, could jeopardize their work and their partners. It gives us pause to think of what so many risk to serve Christ and the Church. We promise to post photos in the future.
Another gift of orientation was a clearer understanding of the schedule ahead of us for the next few weeks. Based on conversations and e-mails, we know many of our friends and family members are wondering about this too. Sometime early in November, we will depart for Guatemala to take Spanish language training, and to seek out a place to live and get settled. Until then, we’ll be making preparations for the journey, as well as traveling to places around the Northwest and other parts of the U.S. to share about the work we will be doing and build support for World Missions.
This “Interpretation Assignment” is an important component of the role of a mission co-worker. Face to face relationships with mission workers out on the field is important to many congregations in our denomination, and we are excited about the prospect of sharing about our work. We will be connecting with faith communities from our early youth, those with whom we’ve shared a heart for Guatemala missions, as well as those with a passion for improving educational opportunities for our sisters and brothers around the world. We are truly thankful to be working for a mission organization that understands and celebrates the vital connection between our congregations and the mission workers on the field. We’re looking forward to building and strengthening those connections as we prepare for our upcoming assignment in Guatemala.
Richard and Debbie