Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ethnography Training

Well, what I said has come true: The opportunity to spend this week in the training room with people learning how to do ethnography - while it keeps me away from 'normal life' in the office - has been a joy!

So, I still have a lot to think about - what does the future hold with work, ministry, marriage? How do I feel about those things? What red flags might be there? How do I pursue these things, on what kind of timeline? How are things beyond my control going to open and close these doors? To whom should I turn for advice? How am I going to find the time and energy to really process the advice I'm getting and explore the options and avenues?

In smaller matters, I feel the burden of many little tasks to follow up on, things that have been piling up in recent weeks. I also want to stay in touch with the many people who have sent letters or emails over the holidays, as well as new friends and contacts I've made lately. I want to get out a newsletter. I want to clean out my inbox, answer phone calls, and show respect to the people I'm supposed to be close to by keeping them posted about what's going on.

Well, having a blog does relieve some of that stress. Would it be too rude just to tell people, "Read my blog!"?

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I go from shock to sadness, frustration, anger, to acceptance and hope and back again with the situation at Initiative360. We've already said goodbye to three staff members this month (Tom, Seana, and Luke) and two more resignations, effectively immediately, were submitted and accepted yesterday (from Gwen and Ken). Four or five members of our board of directors have also resigned. We're also preparing to consolidate office space to cut down on rent.

I still don't know what Greg and Nancy's status will be but for now it's sabbatical. If the organization is able to make it through our current economic crisis they will be able to continue getting an income and benefits - as will the rest of us. But the future is quite uncertain.

I'm not OK with this. And I'm still out of the office. Will I come back from one of these trips and find I have no office to return to? It's a very real possibility.

My first response to crisis is often excitement, but with policies and personnel constantly changing I'm just weary - and need to fight giving in to the melodrama and self-pity.

We have a major training event immediately after I return to the office - training 10 people in ethnographic research techniques. It will last all week. Maybe that's good. It's work I love and very involving, will take up most of my attention until the end of the month.

Yesterday I said goodbye to Tom after 24 days of being together every day. It's possible I'll go see him in London in just a few weeks; his kids will be on holiday and there's a place for me to stay at the YWAM base. Would be great to meet the kids - it's a crucial step. But all this travel is taking a toll even as it spares me other stresses. And the cost of the plane ticket would come out of savings at this point.

If I don't make the trip to London it may be a while before I see my love again - and will probably mean going to Central Asia: an important thing to do as well. But in some ways a much bigger deal. Looking out from this time of grief and confusion I'm not sure how much I am up for the challenge, and if I make a plan, how I will feel when the time comes to follow it.

On the other hand, this is all just an unavoidable tension in a cross-cultural, cross-continental relationship. I LOVE being with Tom, and would not trade this. What a gift!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Washington D.C.

Writing today from the nation's capital, where the Aussie mate 'n I are spending most of a week. It dawns on both of us as the sun is going down late this afternoon that we only have two more full days together - he flies back to (or toward) Kazakhstan early Friday morning. While my goal of hanging out here was to spend time with folks who know Tom well and thus get a more complete picture of this man I'm considering spending my life with has not been fully realized, I've sure enjoyed the extra vacation time and time together.

Saturday we arrived and got our rental car, then found our way to Columbia, where my family lived until Meg and I were 7. Went and saw the old house, the school, the pool where I learned to swim the path through the wooded valley behind our house. Saw seven deer grazing by the creek and barely visible in the fading light.

We had a nice dinner out and then went to the Columbia mall and bought a ring. No, not an engagement ring, but kind of a let's-go-steady ring. It's really pretty. And you would be proud; I turned down the fancy sapphire-and-diamond ones the jewelers had and picked out a sterling silver number with a cubic zircona from a mall kiosk. I like it better, really - for something to wear every day!

Sunday we went to the Washington International Church - what a cool place. We're getting together with the pastor tomorrow to chat about church planting. He's been involved in assisting several international churches in cities around the world, and Tom hopes to bring him out to Kaz. Don't know if that will work but should at least be able to glean some insights for getting something started in Tom's city.

Went to the National Cathedral - just happened upon it and right in time for an excellent tour - another serendipitous event. They seem to be following us everywhere. This relationship is like magic. Keep wondering if I'm going to wake up or something. Monday got to spend some time at the Smithsonian and visited the Lincoln Memorial. Three dinners and a lunch with various people so far and several appointments yet to come. Wonder if I'll get any work done this week?

Nice to have a laptop and cell phone though. They certainly make a lot of things possible! Must see if I can get some writing and study done tomorrow.

No more news from the turmoil in the office. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I should not put off much longer the task of sending a newsletter to my whole network about all this, but here is a preview, if anyone is watching!

Caleb Project/Initiative360, the mission organization I’ve been working for since 1995, is in an extremely vulnerable position in terms of finances and leadership. Several staff resigned in December. Right before Christmas the Board of Directors released our founder and CEO; they are looking for a replacement. This may be for the best but was handled in a way that left morale very low and and confusion quite high. I am expecting more resignations from frustrated staff. A bit more information, but not much, is posted on the front page of each of our web sites.

My team is still intact and our plans and dreams still have a bright future. The organization continues to support the things I came here to do. So I will not leave unless the whole thing goes down or there is nothing left to stay for, though the changes are hard.

At the same time, I’m wondering if God is moving me on in some significant ways.

I’ve met and fallen in love with a wonderful man who lives on the other side of the world. His name is Tom and he lives in Kazakhstan. It may or may not be possible or wise for me to stay on staff with my agency, if it survives, and still join Tom in Central Asia - though it might! I expect to explore a couple of scenarios.

But I suppose some of you are more interested in the relationship than how it affects my career... !

The doors have opened for us to spend several weeks together here in the States and we are about two-thirds of the way through that period. If we still feel we have a green light at the end of it I will try to arrange some time to visit Tom in Kazakhstan as well as to meet his kids.

Here’s a bit more about Tom, if you are interested:

1. We met in November through an online matchmaking service, although we’ve discovered quite a few friends and acquaintances in common and might have just as easily met at missions events in years past.

2. He is Australian and while he hasn’t lived there in a long time, has deep roots on the family farm he inherited from his father and grandfather in New South Wales.

3. He is 12 years older than me and was previously married. The marriage fell apart six years ago. The two great kids who live with their (British) mother and her new husband in England. Genevieve is 14 and Josiah is 9.

4. He has traveled 'heaps,' including three trips to the US in 2006 alone. Only recently has he returned to the city in Kazakhstan where he lived for five years in the 1990s. But he does have a three-year contract with his company there and expects to spend at least the next five years there and help catalyze ministry efforts throughout the region.

6. Tom has been praying and looking for a ministry partner with whom to set up a home and have a family. Yes, in Kazakhstan.

7. He adores me and thinks I’m beautiful and loves my heart and mind. I’m thrilled by his passion and vision and delight. We are different in significant ways and also have a lot in common. Still exploring…We only met face-to-face about two weeks ago.

So, in all this, I’d appreciate your prayers!

Friday, January 05, 2007

John 11:25-26

Jesus said to [Martha], "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

"Do you believe this?"