Skip to content

Training: Week One

July 17, 2011

Our journey to Africa is full of steps and right now we are completing a very important step…training.  We have spent the last week in Nampa, Idaho, just outside Boise, and will be here until the 28th.  This training is generic “how to be a missionary” training that we thought would be a lovely experience.  It has been so much more than that!  Mission Aviation Fellowship is the most organized and thorough organization we’ve ever encountered and we’re glad to be working with them.  The training thus far has been invaluable.  I wish I would’ve had the energy to blog about each day, but the days have been so full and my super-pregnant body has not the energy by the end to do anything but sleep.  So, I will try to give a summary of what we’ve learned and encountered each day to give you an idea about the life of a missionary from a new perspective.  It is so much more complex than I’ve ever known.

Sunday: We flew in very late Sunday night, arriving in Boise just before 11pm.  So, we didn’t get to our temporary home until nearly midnight.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful one bedroom apartment, fully furnished with every detail covered.  Everything from baby supplies (even baby hangers in the closet), dishes, food in the cupboards, washer/dryer, and some basic necessities.  Even a flat panel TV above the fire place.  It feels like a home.  Maybe it’s not so important for us, only staying two and a half weeks, but for missionaries home on furlough or for others in our class who are here as career missionaries and will be staying nearly six weeks, the feeling of home is so much more important.  We are so grateful for the warm welcome after such a late night.  On the table was a binder full of information about the class, our names on the front, and a detailed schedule first-thing on the inside.  We reviewed it as best we could and fell promptly asleep.

Monday: Class begins at 8am each day and today started with the customary “what to expect” and logistics of the next few weeks.  Each day has been broken up with different speakers and topics so as to make the days not only more informative, but also more interesting.  There is nothing worse than “training” simply being an 8 hour lecture that you tune out within the first five minutes.

Oh, perhaps you are wondering about Levi?  Well, we were provided with sitters.  Two sisters (well, there are three and they take turns in pairs each day) come to our apartment just as we are leaving and hang out with him.  He is having a great time with them and the other kids here at the apartments.

Anyway, back to training…we played a game to get to know the other nine couples in our class.  Like I said, most are here because they’ve been led to be missionaries for their career.  Most are pilots and have already completed technical evaluations.  Next week they will each learn where they are headed to serve.  As one of the ladies put it to me: “Next week, I learn where I will raise my children.”  Isn’t that amazing?  I have such respect for each of our classmates and the dedication of their lives.  They are all about our age, most have children younger than Levi, so it’s a fun bunch of people for us to be around.

The CEO of MAF, John Boyd, came in to tell us about his vision for MAF and the mission statement.  I could write a whole paragraph on this amazing guy.  He did not become a Christian until he was 38 and here he is!  Amazing story…you can ask us about it.  We learned about the history of MAF through a great video, and then about the organization itself, the structure, strategy, and philosophy of their ministry.

The last part of the day was spent with the head of the Africa program, via Skype, who is on furlough in Michigan.  I suppose you could technically think of him as our “boss” somewhere in the chain.  He talked about each of the regions on Africa where MAF serves and what each place is doing.

Tuesday: We started with another Skype session, this time with the direction of the Eurasia program.  Since this program works in the Middle East, most of what we got to hear was incredible…and highly sensitive.  So, sadly, I cannot share it.  But trust me, it’s incredible and could use lots of prayer.  We did find it humorous that the Skype connection from the Middle East was better than with Michigan.  We heard from the director of the Indonesian program, who happened to be in Nampa for business.  Although he is currently the program director for MAF’s biggest program, he started out as a Base Maintainer there – the same job Matthew will be doing!

We learned about MAF’s other focus – technology.  Specifically in using appropriate technology in third world countries to spread the gospel where it is not welcome.  Again, I could write an entire blog post on this topic…but some of it is sensitive and this post is long enough already.

Wednesday: Each Wednesday MAF has company-wide chapel.  Our class will have the privilege (I think that’s how we look at it) of “hosting” the chapel this coming week…I’ll let you know how it goes.  We learned more about the direction MAF is taking as the world changes and globalizes.  We heard from the program directors in Latin America (via Skype from Ecuador) and Haiti (again, via Skype).  While the career candidates did their interviews in the afternoon, we other three families took a class on spiritual warfare in the mission field.  I do not look forward to encountering that.

Thursday: Thursday morning brought our first of three, hour-long, French lessons while the career candidates continued with interviews.  Our “teacher” is an MAF employee who is French born and raised.  Very exciting!  Matthew has experience with French, but I do not.  And, wow…it’s not going to be pretty.  While French is the official language in the DRC, Lingala is the most commonly spoken language by the nationals.

We took a class on conflict resolution, and discussed what travel planning looked like with the travel coordinator.  Passports, visas, shot records, plane tickets…that process will give each of us a headache, I think!

That afternoon we heard from a native Indonesian, who worked with MAF and now does consulting work out of California (MAF’s old home base).  He taught us all about crossing cultures.  Obviously, this is a huge topic for foreign missionaries.  He blended humor, Biblical truths, and his own experiences from around the world to tell us what to expect and how to deal with differences.  I am excited and prayerful about the culture clashes we will experience in the DRC.  I will post on the major cultural differences at another time.

Friday: Yay Friday!  The days are so full and mentally exhausting that by now, we are tired.  We began the morning with a Bible study that we will do each morning the rest of this coming week.  We heard more about their IT programs, disaster relief program (the story of MAF’s involvement after Haiti’s earthquake last year is at least one long blog post – they provided tower support for the air force and satellite connection for the UN, just to scratch the surface), and member care – the process MAF uses to take care of their missionaries.

Normally lunch is an hour break back at the apartment (across the parking lot) with Levi.  This particular lunch was for all of the MAF staff in the building to get to know us, Levi included.

That afternoon we met again with our French tutor to go over lists we had made of words we wanted to be able to use.  Matthew listed many words for fixing things: tools, parts, materials, while I listed household words that I use commonly throughout my day.  She explained that instead of trying to speak French…sentences, grammar, etc…we should be more like two-year-olds.  Using single words and pointing.  It gets our point across and is less stressful.  I like her philosophy!

We ended the week by meeting with a couple who both work for the home office now, but spent 18 years in the DRC, including during a few wars and when the country went from Zaire to the DRC.  We had spent a little time with them when we were here in January, but this time we grilled them with questions and they told us stories as well as about some major cultural differences.

On our own time, we had dinner Monday with the other families to celebrate a birthday.  Tuesday we had pizza with friends who lived in Fairbanks and moved to Boise in 2008.  Wednesday we celebrated Levi’s 2nd birthday by having some fries and cake at Applebee’s.  Thursday and Friday I think we were too tired to think about going anywhere.

Yesterday we had dinner with a family who just left Kinshasa and will be here in Nampa for a year working on an IT project for MAF.  It was fun to get yet another perspective on life there.  They were wonderfully honest and told us about the specific challenges ahead, but it really only encouraged us and made us even more anxious to get there and start work!

Today we attended a reformed church a few blocks away that was very friendly.  If you’re one of our friends from our church, Faith Pres, in Tacoma – the pastor did his undergrad at Covenant College.  What a small world!

This week promises just as much learning and mental exhaustion as well as a few surprises.  I look forward most to finding out where the career staff will be living.  I feel their excitement as if it were my own.

I will hopefully do a few posts expounding on a few of the topics that we heard about and what we’ve learned specifically about Kinshasa.  I also promise pictures soon too.  Now to get my sweet two-year-old to bed!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2011 0829

    whew! sounds intense, but in a good way 🙂 I think that way of “learning” French is great! can’t wait for more posts!

  2. July 18, 2011 0829

    I’m not sure that I knew the DRCs language was French. Interesting! Glad that you’re lodgings are so home-y, and that the other couples there are your age with kids … that has to make things easier to slide in to.

  3. tifken permalink
    August 4, 2011 0829

    So the first update was great and I know you’ve updated on face book—but for the few of us w/out it’d be great to hear how you all are!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: