Dear Friends and Family,
We've been in Colombia for one month now. It's been hectic, as we've crisscrossed the city trying to get our national ID cards, furnish our apartment, and occasionally do something fun with the kids to show them the upsides of their new home. But as the New Year approaches, the biggest tasks have been accomplished and the prospect of developing a routine seems not too far distant.
It's hard to imagine a more kind and accommodating community than the one here at the seminary (FUSBC). As a former missionary professor of mine often quipped, "We have watches, but the Latin Americans have time." And the availability of my colleagues, their willingness to take me to hardware stores and explain cultural minutiae, has been a wonderful aid. Faculty members have had us to meals, those with kids make a point of reaching out to our children, and the boys are having a blast with their new handful of Colombian and TCK (Third Culture Kid) friends. It's hard to imagine an transition to Latin America going much more smoothly.
I'd be lying if I said that there weren't challenging pieces too. I get frustrated at the limits of my vocabulary and I very much miss having a regular schedule (I have always craved routine). I still miss life in England, especially so on Christmas day, as life in South America is ever so noisy. (The entire month of December is plagued with fireworks and parties with loud music that go all through the night and into the next morning.) And of course the realities of being a rich person in a poor world--long familiar to me in statistical form--are being pressed upon my consciousness in new ways, especially at Christmas time. Colombia seems to be every inch as materialistic as the US and Europe, but people are not nearly so capable of gratifying their desires. I felt self-conscious throwing out the boxes and bags of wrapping paper on Christmas afternoon, and while I feel pretty comfortable with the way we allotted our funds this Christmas, I was also very aware that a few hours later people had rifled through my trash bags to see if my rubbish might have a place in their home.
Next week I will turn my attention to developing the new semester's coursework. I'm teaching on the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). And while I know the material pretty well, I feel a bit daunted as I seek to reflect on how these portraits of Jesus could be best taught to students of whose lives I have such a limited understanding. So please pray for me to have sensitivity, creativity, and a listening heart as I develop my syllabus in the coming weeks, and as I have my first encounters with students. We've been preparing for this work for a long time, and now that we've arrived, we want very much to be found faithful.
By the way, I'd be remiss not to say that there is still time to make a 2013 tax-deductible donation to our ministry at the UWM website
! Thanks everyone for your wonderful and generous support.
Peace be with you all, and may God bless you in the coming year,
Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays