I am reading a book called “To be known as we are known” by Parker Palmer. It describes how we have taken the spiritual task of knowing and knowledge out of the learning process. We’ve turned it into facts and power rather than a journey of self-discovery and discovering the world around us. One quote really stuck with me
“The self creates the world by means of projection. Much of the world’s violence, for example, is an acting-out of the violence we find within ourselves, an effort to get rid of our inner demons by projecting them “out there.” We help create the outward enemy (be it russians or asians, blacks and WASPs) to distract us from the inward enemy who always threatens to overcome us.”
I find it so true. As a Chaplain, the more I learn about myself the more I am at peace with others. I think in today’s society because of vague spirituality and lack of community there is so much inner violence. The world needs community and resources to help us understand and confront our own inner demons.
Jesus for me is the source of strength and guidance in the journey. He dealt with temptation. He calls us to look inward and see the inner violence and how it affects the world around us. The Christian community although not perfect should strive for peace within ourselves so that we can give it to others. The heart of the Gospel is that God loves us. Much of our inner turmoil is from a self-hatred or low value of our place in the world. God values us and has a place in his kingdom. When we realize that we can share that awesome message to others.
So far this book is pretty good. I’ll keep you posted as a read more of it.
I have been selected to participate in a christian mission trip to Honduras with Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. We will be working along side the Honduran people, building, community organizing and providing a medical clinic. We will be working with Heifer International. I am hoping to raise around $2000 to help with the team’s expenses. We would appreciate your support and partnering with us. The dates for our trip will be Jan. 16th-26th, 2012. We are hoping to raise all our funds by December 20th, 2011 , so that we can purchase supplies and get ready for our trip. I would love the opportunity to share with you more about what we are doing.
I decided I wanted to be part of this particular mission team because it is an opportunity to travel as well as building relationships with the Honduran people. This more than a tourist trip it is an opportunity to serve. We will be living and working with Honduran people and I expect to learn a lot from them.The mission trip is also part of a class. The trip is led by our Professor of Ethics Dan Bell. Before and after the trip we will have a variety of discussions on what it means to serve the poor as a Christian both in the US and abroad. The trip is designed to help us engage in conversations with the Honduran people on the issue of poverty. I expect to share a lot with you about what it means to live out the Gospel both here and abroad especially related to poverty issues.
Our team will consist of about 12 people. It is made of up of mostly seminary students but there will be a doctor, pharmacist and nurse accompanying us as well as some local guides and translators. We will travel to Honduras which is the 2nd poorest country in Central America. The country is mostly mountainous and much of the population is rural. We will be working with Heifer International who has identified several rural villages that we will partner with to help on building projects and provide a medical clinical. We will be working with men, women and children in various capacities. Part of our mission will be joining the Honduran people in worship throughout the project. The villages where we are sent to, are some of the poorest and remote places. They have asked for assistance and we are there to provide for their needs. Your support will help us obtain a variety of supplies including medicines, building supplies and gifts for the Honduran people.
This project is only possible with your support. If you would like to me to speak to you more about our project or visit please let me know. We can use any support you are willing to give, especially prayer. If you would like to help financially please write a Check to Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS)and Write: Honduras Project on the memo line. Then mail to this address Mark Molter 4201 Main Street #243 Columbia, SC 29203 If you would like to help with a donation of supplies you can contact me via email email@example.com and I will give you a list of our needs. Thank you for your consideration and please keep our team in prayer.
As my time in Slovakia grows with every passing minute, I would like to share with you some of the things that are happening related to Culture Shock!!!
I am hoping to make this an ongoing series of entries. So I guess this would be “Culture Shock!!! Part 1”
Culture shock by definition “is the feeling of disorientation when someone is suddenly subjected to to unfamiliar culture, way of life or set if attitudes”- Oxford American Dictionary. Needless to say I am feeling a little disoriented. I have been in Slovakia for about 6 weeks. I am still getting used to the language and to life in a small village but, I am enjoying my time. There are of course times when I ask myself “Why am I here?” or “How much longer is this year going to last?”
When you are in a somewhat disorienting experience such as Culture Shock, you tend to cling to the things you are familiar and comfortable with. These for me have been Books and Television. I brought many books and several episodes of my favorite TV shows on my computer. These can be blessings when you use them occasionally and in moderation. For me though I have been finding myself going beyond moderation and into mild obsession. I don’t spend all my time reading or watching TV but, I am missing many opportunities. When I think about what I’m doing, I realize that I am not using my time to study the Slovak language or to spend time getting to know the people I am living with. I am escaping from my reality to be in a familiar one. So, I realize I have a problem. And the old saying, “The first step toward recovery is recognizing you have a problem.” is starting to ring clear in my head. It also helps that during ELCA missionary training they drove many of the culture shock symptoms into our heads.
In many ways I am distracting myself and refusing to answer the many question I have for myself. “What exactly is my mission?”, “How can I be more effective in demonstrating the Gospel when I am a fish of water?” The more I ask these questions, the more I am realize I am dependent upon God’s grace for any glimmer of an answer. I am challenged to receive the hope He gives and learn how to share it ways that seem foreign, frustrating, and without immediate results. And of course this reminds me of one of many words I am learning in Slovakia, “pomaly” or gentle/slow. Learning to do things slowly with patients and focus. What can be more true, God’s grace is an amazing gift, we sometimes distract ourselves from it because we just are not feeling it, or feel like we don’t understand it right away, or because God’s grace can seem so distant and foreign to us. We must learn to be gentle and patient in understanding God’s grace. It is something we must remind ourselves of and learn to how to live by everyday.
In the end and by God’s grace I can put down my books and turn off my computer to take the opportunities He has given.
In the words of Saint Francis “Always Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” It is hard to do that alone in your room.
On the brighter side of things. The more time I spend in Slovakia the more I see the similarities. I can drive down a road in the Slovak hillside and see cows in a field and it looks very similar to many fields I’ve seen in my home state of Virginia. I can teach and play with kids and realize they act the same way in any culture or language setting. It is a blessing to realize they God’s in control. Despite that fact that I’m in a different culture and far away from home God is in the details. He is in a laugh that sounds the same whether it in the US or Slovakia or in the green grass in Slovakia that looks so much look a hillside somewhere in Virginia.