The Adventure Continues

Our Church Council granted me a sabbatical for three months during the summer of 2010. My intention was to learn Latin American Spanish and to explore Latin American cultures here and abroad. Now that I have had some opportunities to lead mission trips to Yuscaran, Honduras, and to visit Mexico three times, the adventure continues.

Seeking New Horizons

Seeking New Horizons

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thinking Too Small

We have become accustomed to hearing that some corporations are "too big to fail." Perhaps we also need to begin thinking about being too small to succeed. I have been thinking about this since Doreen and I went to a Thrivent dinner last Thursday. The meal was great, and the speaker was excellent. He is John Busaker and he was talking about his book "8 Questions God Can't Answer." He posed to his audience the proposition that we may often think too small. We may focus on the little things and miss the big opportunities, in our lives and in our churches. On Saturday, we went to the dedication of the two homes in Bedford that have been built by Habitat for Humanity. (The work of Trinity in these homes was prominent among several other churches.) The director of Habitat's local chapter thanked everyone there for the five houses we built together last year. It was a record! He then announced his goal for next year as being ten houses! That is thinking big. Where would we each like to direct our lives? Where would we like to see our churches be in the next few years? I wonder if we are thinking big enough. I wonder what growing churches expect of themselves.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grupa de Espaniol

Our group of Spanish beginners has met twice now, and it is fun. We read some simple passage and then discuss it, all in Spanish. We each use different resources to look up words and grammar, but the fact that we are having fun doing it is very helpful.
My visit to the Hispanic church in Meriden, CT was quite interesting. It showed me once again that reading Spanish is much easier for me than hearing and speaking it. After the service I had that once again dreaded experience of introducing myself to a nice young man. After he told me his name, I said, "Encontado de conocerlo." He replied, "It's nice to meet you, too."
Today, Sunday, we are going back to Waterbury to visit Joshua. He is safely back from Africa and has pictures of his trip with Kendra.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Busman's Holiday

Our son is in Africa this week visiting our daughter. It is a wonderful and much needed break for both of them. He was unable to find a local supply preacher in Connecticut, so I will be preaching at his church on Sunday.
After the service, I plan to visit a Lutheran Church in Meridan where there is a service in Spanish. Perhaps I will be able to follow some of the worship. Doreen and I did that once in Sweden where the service made sense because the titles were all in Latin, like Kyrie, Gloria, Nunc Dimmittis, etc. So I am off this morning to visit my brother for the day, and to stay overnight.

Speaking Spanish

I have found that on the Rosetta Stone program, writing has been the most difficult exercise. However, as I work with it, I am finding the speaking to be more difficult. I went back to the restaurant on Monday and tried to get more complicated in what I ordered. Unfortunately the first three items I ordered were not available, so I resorted to English. The waiter does both languages, so I did not go hungry. I was thinking that it is hard for New Englanders to strike up a conversation with strangers in English. It is even harder to try to do it in Spanish.
Then we had a phone message from Carol at Shepherd of the Valley. She had heard from one of the other Lutheran pastors about my desire to learn Spanish. She has been learning for several years, but she needs practice. Sometimes she to talks to her dog in Spanish, which, fortunately, is not a German Shepherd. So we had breakfast and talked Spanish. I guess I am doing pretty well because she said it was more fun to talk to me than to talk to the dog. Aahh, more encouragement!
So next Wednesday we are forming a little group of her, Doreen, her friend, and me to talk Spanish. If anyone else is interested, please let me know. We will be talking sslloowwllyy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday Worship (Church in Cyperspace)

On my first Sunday on sabbatical, I visited two Lutheran churches on the cutting edge of using the internet for spreading the Gospel. Pastor Keith Anderson at Redeemer in Woburn and Pastor Mark Huber in Marshfield are the new cyperspace gurus for the New England Synod. They both did workshops at the New England Synod Assembly on the uses of electronic social media in the church. I worshiped in Woburn in the morning in what I regard as a traditional kind of service, very well done. However, the church website expresses much about the use of the internet and is well worth a visit.
At 5:30, I had a light dinner at a home in Marshfield where an emerging church is growing. The service was very untraditional with the "bulletin" being on a television screen where we also viewed the words to the hymns and watched parts of the sermon. Other parts of the sermon were in the form of a small group discussion, this time on the big "E" word: "Evangelism." Any form of the word seems to scare away people in our culture because we have so many bad examples of people doing it. However, it simply means to share good news! I came away pondering two questions: What is the Good News we have to share? What kind of Good News are people looking for? I'm looking for some answers this summer.
You may visit both of these sites by clicking on the links at the left side of the blog.

Lowell Sun Article

Debbie Havanasian is a wonderful interviewer and writer for the Lowell Sun religion page. I really like the article she did about me on Saturday, June 12. She incorporated some research to go along with the interview. Thank you to whomever put the article on my bulletin board at church, even before Doreen arrived with our copy.

Signed Up for Mexico

On Saturday night we made our final initial preparations for the trip to Mexico. That means that we are signed up and have our airline reservations. We still need to complete the placement exam, but I am waiting until I study a bit more and review the things I realize I have forgotten. The Mexico course is done in cooperation with the ELCA, and is based in part on the principle that one cannot learn language apart from learning culture, so the two are taught together in an immersion program. You can read more about it by clicking on CETLALIC on the left side of the blog page.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ways of Studying

As the school year is coming to a close, Doreen has a bit more time for studying Spanish. She likes to do it with the textbook we both bought when we took a Spanish course at the College of the US Virgin Islands. She likes the grammar and the conjugations. I like the computer program. Together we have some interesting and fun discussions about what we're learning. We're able to fill in the gaps in each other's learning. I'm better at the pronunciations, and she knows how to explain the why of what we are trying to say. For example, I have not yet come across the plural of "uno," which means "one." The plural would literally be "ones," but the word is best translated as "some." She has also found some short stories in the book about which I had forgotten. Reading them will help me to supplement the free Spanish newspaper I found at lunch on Monday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday, June 9

I woke up with two goals in mind today. First, to plant a garden before it rains, and second, to create a blog. It is raining now, and the garden is planted. If you are reading this, then I have also created a blog. Thank you Greg S. for your help. Your blog is pretty cool!

Tuesday, June 8

Lunch today was in English with the pastors from the Northeast Massachusetts conference. What a wonderful group of Lutheran pastors we have! We had lots of things to share about our ministries.
In the evening I began the placement exam for the CETLALIC program in Mexico. The questions are all in English and German, but the answers must be in Spanish. I was pleased to be able to answer many of the questions, but I was also disappointed to see how many words I have aleady forgotten. I'm going to review my lessons before I submit the exam. This is so much fun.

The First Day

As usual, I began the day with some study of Spanish. The Rosetta Stone program makes it really fun, but I don't know how I will do if I talk to a real person rather than to the computer.
My next stop was at St. Francis Church in Dracut where I was interviewed by Debbie Hovanasian, the religion reporter for the Lowell Sun. She asks really good questions and the conversation helped me to clarify some things in my own mind. I think that a vacation is a time to go away from the normal routine. A sabbatical also has this aspect, but it also has the added dimension about coming back. So I am open to finding out how I will change in this experience of learning Spanish and visiting some Hispanic cultures. I am also open to seeing how Trinity will change this summer.
I had lunch in Lowell at the "La Differencia Restaurant" across the street from the Lowell Transitional Housing Center. I ordered my meal in Spanish and I read a Spanish newspaper. I received what I thought I had ordered, pollo con arroz and jugo de naranja, and no one said, "why don't you just speak English!" I take that as a success!