I keep saying that, thinking that it will become more real to me the more I say it... but I know that it won't hit me until I'm on the plane. Or perhaps even until I land!
Last fall I was asked to be the 2011 speaker for Faith Academy's annual "Spiritual Enrichment Week" (SEW). I knew I had to say yes, even though I really had no idea what I would be getting into.
Unexpectedly, I found that one of my colleagues at Providence Hall actually graduated from Faith Academy, so when he heard I was this year's SEW speaker, he excitedly filled me in on his own memories of SEW from twenty years ago.
At the end of 2010 I asked the chaplains for Faith Academy to connect me with a student or two to help me start getting a feel for the campus, and was given one students' email address. I wrote him with a few basic questions about life at the school, the backgrounds of the students, their spiritual life, etc. Then I invited him to pass on the questions to a friend or two if he felt like it.
So far, I have heard from thirty students! I find their raw honesty and insights a great example of why I have loved working with teenagers; their prayer requests range from asking for revival to wishing there was kimchee in the cafeteria... and their comments about daily life actually don't sound that different from the students I work with here. I'll be speaking to 280 high school students each day, though they will also still be in school in a regular schedule. I'm sure I will be surprised daily.
Here is my speaking schedule (so far -- every other day or so I receive another email inviting me to do something else!) I've learned that Philippines is 16 hours ahead of USA:
- Monday Jan 24: 1:15-1:55pm
- Tues Jan 25: 1:15-1:55pm
- Wed Jan 26: 12:20-1:25; I will also meet with the jr high at some point (130 students) and with a youth group at night
- Thurs Jan 27: 7:15-8:40am
- Fri Jan 28: open day. The students have asked that I stay in an office on campus and be available for students to come meet with me. Pray for special wisdom for this day.
Over the years I have spoken to military kids in Germany, and at camps throughout the country, but I've never done anything quite like this. The student body is about 50% US citizenship, 40% Korean citizenship, 10% miscellaneous. More importantly, they are "MK's" (missionary kids), with very unique upbringings. I am humbled by this opportunity, and grateful that after all these years there are still so many things to learn.
I am praying for divine wisdom as to how to best encourage and challenge these students. I covet your prayers. I have energy and feel rested as I prepare to leave, but also imagine it will really stretch me.
Here's a prayer from the Common Prayer devotional book I am reading these days ~ it feels so appropriate:
Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, O Lord, so we may not only see and receive your mercy but also notice the places in our world where you call us to extend mercy. Amen.