The end of our first term, a missions conference in Costa Rica, and a new tradition to honor the most-improved student in my class.

Dear Friends and Family,

It is rather surreal to say that our first semester at FUSBC is complete and that I have just finished grading the last of the students' term papers. But with the first small milestone comes a real sense of reassurance, specifically that what we are doing is working and worth it. For their final projects, half of the students in my Synoptic Gospels class gave detailed expository sermons, while the other half wrote rigorous exegesis papers of notoriously difficult passages in Matthew. There were some particularly inspired and impressive pieces of work returned, which consoled me that, in spite of my many linguistic shortcomings, they are learning a great deal. 

As the term has wound down I have also begun an advanced Greek reading group for some of the seminary's most talented linguists. The students have been extremely enthusiastic for this opportunity (even though they get no academic credit for it) and our seminar room is typically filled with raucous laughter (in part because we're reading some saucier bits of extra-biblical literature).  

This month the whole family got on a plane again and flew to Costa Rica for UWM's regional missions conference. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know other UWM missionaries serving in different ministries all around Central and South America. But the sweetest thing, for us, was being able to reconnect with old friends from Scotland. The Tarrer and the Wheaton families are also UWM missionaries in the Theological Education Initiative, and we all knew each other from our time doing doctoral studies in St Andrews. It was lovely to see these families that we trained with years ago now serving Latin American pastors in Argentina and Costa Rica. 

Now I'd better take advantage of this post-term lull, and get some writing done, since the next semester begins soon!

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

As we walked home from school the other day Asher told me, "Mom, sometimes I wish I could live in a new city that would be a mix of all the things I loved about Oxford and all of the things I love about Medellin. My Oxford friends would magically know how to speak Spanish and they would play in football matches with me and my Medellin friends. We would ride bikes to a pub that would serve us Colombian fruits." That same morning Judah recounted a dream about his Colombian friends being involved in a daring car chase in Bogota, all with the goal of rescuing of one of his Oxford friends from some danger. Both of these little chats with the boys seemed to bring into perspective some of my own feelings about how we are slowing letting go of our old life in Oxford, and as it fades a bit, we are able to become more present in our current community in Medellin. We are hitting several mile-markers in terms of our transition (Chris' first semester ending, the 6-month mark, and in a couple of weeks the boys will have made it halfway through their first school year here). All in all, I am pleased and thankful at how God has gently led us through this time of transition - and mindful of the fact that we couldn't have done it without your continued support and prayers!   
Zoe with the playdough cake she made for Michelle's birthday.
Faculty and students spent the last chapel service of the semester praising God together for how He has worked in all of our lives this term.

Praise God!

  • For the completion of our first academic term (see photo of Chris' Synoptic Gospels class above), and the survival of the steepest part of the academic learning curve.
  • For safe travel to and from our missions conference in Costa Rica, and for an especially encouraging time with two other dear missionary families, the Wheatons and Tarrers.
  • For some impressive academic performance on the part of my students.

Please Pray

  • For me to use the time between terms in an optimal fashion. I have writing commitments that I am keen to honor, and I also want to reflect productively on how to learn from this past term's experiences in preparing for my next class.
  • Asher and Christopher are taking their first father-son trip (to Bogota, where we'll be renewing Asher's passport). Please pray for safe travels (June 23-25) and that this will be a special time for us.

Student Profile

I have decided to imitate my mentor, Gene Green, and offer a small prize (a book) to the student in each class whose academic work improves the most over the course of the semester. This term that student was Isaías Sangregorio Montes.
Born in the hot hot coastal city of Cartagena, Isaías can often be seen wearing long sleeves and gloves in weather that has me sweating. He's the second of four boys and apparently, with their dad, the Sangregorios have a mean microfútbol team!
Isaías says he came to the seminary because, "Ever since I was little I wanted to learn more about the Bible and to know God more deeply. Further, I have a burden for the youth of Colombia, and it's my desire to shift their perception of the Word, so that they can incarnate the Scriptures."
Isaías is one of my youngest students and is regularly in my office, turning in work early in order to get me to give him extra feedback and advice, or just dropping by to struggle with some especially vexing theological concepts. Because of his inspiring diligence and persistence, Isaías has absolutely flourished over the course of the past few months, and not just intellectually, but also personally, as he has been spurred on and encouraged by the seminary's impressive community of teachers and students. 
Copyright © 2014 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.
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