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Trips

Liberia Spring 2013

Undisclosed Location April 19-28, 2013

This is a Christian Liberal Arts college that offers degrees in several disciplines, including a theology and pastoral studies track. The school can use up to 5-7 teachers, 4 hrs. in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon. We teach three courses in the morning and three in the afternoon. The students come from Liberia and surrounding countries, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Liberia Spring 2013

Apr  24th,  2013African Traditional Religion

We have gone beyond the half-way mark--Wednesday is now behind us and there are only two days left to teach. That is also a problem--ONLY two days left!! We need more days.

Today, I was teaching, among other things, on African Traditional Religion. This was a very interesting discussion. I asked my students to describe ATR (as it is called) to me. I told them that we are changing roles--they are the teacher and I am the student. They all thought that was funny! But it really opened up discussion. I drew diagrams on the board as they talked to design some of the basic tenets of ATR. I have found in my journeys around Africa that ATR has been brought into Christianity (or the other way around--Christianity into ATR) watering it down and "syncretizing" the Gospel. I had some good illustrations about contaminating the Gospel with falsehood and false teaching. We focused on what the pure Gospel is and the uniquesness of Christianity. The students brought up questions of "what to do" concening certain ceremonies, certain holidays, etc. It was very informative for me.

The other teachers are doing well, but they are also feeling the crunch of time. With only two days left we are now looking at what we need to change to get to a completion point. I am well pleased with the team and we are doing well. It got a little chaotic today at one poiint but we got through that.

Thanksf or praying.

 

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Apr  23rd,  2013Teaching in a Language Not Our Own - English

We have completed our second day of teaching. It is going VERY well. The students are very receptive and as I have been sitting in on the other classes a bit, there is quite a bit of interaction and engagement. Two of the classes have grown by a few new students. The interest here is very high and we are amazed with the level of the students. We were anticipating a lower level.

One of the things we have encountered here is the language barrier. Although they speak English, it is not an English we are used to. Conversely they are not used to our accents either. But it is more than accents. What we have noticed is that they prounce the slightly different, but the real problem for us is that they do not pronounce the ending consonents. Try to pronounce 'house' or 'Bible' without saying the last consonant. Add on poor acoustics (it is like being in a very large room where there are echos everywhere.) Add outside noise, generators, construction noise, it gets to be a bit of a challenge. Although I ask them to repeat their question at least 2-3 times (sometimes more, and sometimes I don't understand at all and another student has to reword it or break it down for me) they are gracious with me. But we are making good progress.

 I have caught up in my class to beyond where I wanted to be, which will allow me to teach some things I thought I might not be able to. This has been a great time.

I am the only one who has a computer that works to send emails. etc. One teacher didn't bring one, another forgot his charger, and the third just can't make the uplink work. So I alone am able to send out reports, pretty much. Philemon gets to text often.

 

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Apr  21st,  2013Preaching in the Heat

Today was Sunday and we went to church. Typical 3 hour service with a 30 minute everyone-come-to-the-front-and-drop-your-offering-in-the-basket type of service. They had two offerings and all toll, one could give to 4 different funds--youth/children, church fund, and two other projects that I didn't understand. It was quite the experience.

They had asked me to preach and I was willing to do that. We were already sweating at 8 am at breakfast, so by the time we headed off to church at 10:30 it was already cooking. In typical African tradition, the preacher has to wear a coat and tie. By the time they got me up to preach (12:30) sweat was pouring off my forehead and my shirt was drenched. I started out by reading Rom. 10:13-17 which says that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, but how can they hear without a preacher and how can he preach if he is not sent? Then I asked them to ponder this theological question: Does a preacher have to wear a coat to preach and can the people hear from a preacher if he doesn't wear a coat? They said a preacher does not have to wear a coat. So I took my off and they all laughed. That was a little cooler. By the end of my half hour sermon, I was completely exhausted, dehydrated, and soaking wet. That shirt was a one-use only shirt!!

We start teaching tomorrow. We had a little problem with sheduling (like the executive VP incharge of the school was only expecting 3 teachers???? And there were four of us sitting there!!! But we worked that out.) Tomorrow the real excitement begins. So pray for us as we have a lot of assessing of the situation to do and adapting.

Thanks for praying and your words of encouragement.

Blessings,

Howard

 

 

 

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Apr  20th,  2013We Made It

We made it to LICC (Liberia International Christian College) safe and sound. The 6 1/2 hour trip from Monrovia is long and dusty, but fortunately we had air conditioning. Debi and I went on this road last year. It hasn't changed much with the exception that most of the potholes are deeper and that they are begining to repair parts of the road. What that means is that they have bulldozed a road alongside the old road and it is just dirt and no better than the old road. But at least they are beginning to fix parts of it.

They have put up two high tension towers for the electricity in Ganta. Now all they have to do is run the wires. They said it should be here by June or July. That should be interesting.

I preach at church tomorrow, pray for me that I would be clear and understandable.

Internet is slow but it works. Thanks for praying. You guys are the power we need while here. I appreciate it immensely.

Blessings, 

Howard

 

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