It’s lovely to be able to sit down at the end of the week and sift through all of the wonderful things that I’ve experienced recently. The basic beginning training has finished, and so now we’re able to get our feet wet. We were each tasked to practice what we had learned: how to conduct a Bible dialogue. So naturally, I had no idea who to practice with, and that was the fun part. After a couple of days of prayer and contemplation, a friend popped into my head. Over the years, he’s given me the impression of being agnostic or simply not one to care about spiritual things, and as we were talking, I realized that he knew all the Sunday school answers and totally understood what the text was saying! We ended up going through that whole first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, and he ended up excited about reading God’s story, not to mention, that he prayed for the first time in years! To say that I was humbled to be facilitating that would be an understatement.
Another important thing that we’ve been focusing on out here is cultural immersion. I think you’ve noticed by now that I’m not in Kansas anymore, and this place is still quite new to me even though I’m getting more and more used to it each day. One thing I learned is that out here people pay eight dollars to go around on a big spinning circle three times. Was it worth an hour’s wages after taxes? Sure, it was, if only for the bonding experience with the other apprentices. When in Rome, right? Perhaps “When in Irvine?” would be more fitting. Here’s a picture I took of the three of us at the top of the Irvine Wheel.
I had a blast in that part of town, I promise. The sun was incredibly bright and kind of hot in January. Grace, Erik, and I also went and got great Japanese food and walked around UC Irvine, which is a different but still massive college in Orange County. I remember my head swimming while trying subconsciously to compare it to Barclay and be able to find common ground with students from a completely different perspective from my own. However, I smirked as I crossed a bridge and saw a gentle reminder that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
While I’m talking about our immersion trips, I think it’d be a shame to leave out the trip to Fashion Island and Balboa Island/Newport Beach. I rode across to the beach while being surrounded by expensive yachts and very expensive houses. I felt out of place, but it was a total blast. The most meaningful thing that I learned from these immersion trips so far has been that as dauntingly different as I am from the people around me, it’s not hard at all to be missional and hold conversations with the people around me. I know that’s absolutely true for all of us, and I’m so grateful to be able to share that with all of you.
The last thing that I’d like to share is what it’s been like to go on to campus at Cal State Fullerton. I just used Google and found out that there are 40,738 students enrolled there. That’s almost four times the population of the three different counties put together! More people go to that school than live in Hutchinson, so I’m still reeling a bit from the culture shock, but I’m adapting. After a couple of times primarily observing, I feel much more comfortable approaching people who might be open to the Gospel. We spent a lot of time at an event called Discoverfest where different clubs and Greek life options have tables and present who they are. I spent hours talking to different people: Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, LGBT+, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Central Americans, Native Americans, gamers, larpers, and political activists, oh my! There were people I stood there and talked with for long amounts of time, and I’d like to think that if several of them saw me on campus, they’d smile and say hello. Through conversation, they asked what I was doing in California, and it was a lot easier to tell them that I’m a missionary than I thought. I can’t express how refreshing I found it to be able to have good and wholesome dialogue without any conflict. I hope that you feel encouraged when you read that since in this day and age, we see how polarized everything has become. Lastly, I wanted to thank all of you. I couldn’t do any of this without the support that you’ve given me, and for that, I am so very grateful.
By the Light,
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