Monday, July 1, 2013

Return from Wheaton

I have just returned home from what has turned out to be a tremendous time of personal growth, learning, and preparation for moving overseas. Yes, I know that I was only gone a week, but the friendships that have begun as well as the learning that I have acquired will definitely go a long way in helping me prepare to move to Germany!

These girls will all be serving with me at BFA this coming August!
I arrived in Chicago early on Sunday morning. Since I didn’t have to be in Wheaton until the afternoon, I decided to spend the extra time exploring the city with my new friend and fellow TeachBeyond member, Leslee. After we finally managed to find each other (it turns out we were both waiting at different Dunkin’ Donuts shops!) we headed out to see the city sights. The highlight of our adventure was most definitely a ride on the Water Taxi. Such a beautiful way to explore Chicago! 

Take a ride on the Water Taxi!

After a fun time in Chicago, it was on to the MetraRail and off to Wheaton College!

One of the most meaningful experiences of my week at Wheaton was the opportunity to build relationships. It was inspiring to meet so many other staff members whose hearts share the same passion as mine—a passion to reach out, encourage, and love young people through teaching, mentoring, and coaching. I was inspired by so many men and women from all over North America who have given up jobs, homes, comfort, and family in order to follow God’s call in their lives.

TeachBeyond president, George Durance, spoke to the candidates during our very first meeting on Monday morning. He shared his vision of transformational education, a vision to bring hope, knowledge, and new life in Christ to thousands around the world through the medium of Christian education. It was inspiring to realize that I have the opportunity to be a part of this vision.

During orientation, we had lots of opportunities to talk with those who have already spent time teaching and serving overseas. The majority of these veterans were from BFA in Germany, but there was also a number from schools in Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and South America. These global teachers shared the stories of their lives with us. They told us about their joys and struggles, their battles and triumphs, and their laughter and tears. Most importantly, they shared how God has continued to be faithful though it all—changing them day by day to be more like Christ.

One session that I particularly enjoyed was an in-depth study into the benefits and challenges of growing up as a TCK (third culture kid). As you probably remember from my previous blog posts, this unique cultural group will represent the vast majority of my future students at the Black Forest Academy. Since there were eight TCKs joining staff with TeachBeyond this year at orientation (including two BFA alumni!) we were able to have a live TCK Q&A session. I found this extremely helpful as I was able to get an insider’s perspective on the best way to reach TCKs in the classroom.

On our afternoon off, we spent some time exploring the Wheaton campus and downtown area. I had the privilege of exploring the Marion E. Wade Center and taking a glance into the very wardrobe that inspired C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia series. The wardrobe was crafted by Lewis’ grandfather some time in the 1800s. True to the image described in the first book of the Narnia series (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), the wardrobe was filled with a wide selection of old-fashioned brown, gray, and black fur coats—just like the ones that Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy might have found. However, one major difference that I’m quite certain was not there when Lucy first wandered into Narnia was a small warning label posted on the bottom corner of the wardrobe door. It read: “Warning! Enter at your own risk. The Wade Center assumes no responsibility for persons who disappear or are lost in the wardrobe." Though I looked diligently for the passage into Narnia, I suppose Aslan will be taking me to my Narnia (i.e. the Black Forest) by plane and not through a magical portal…but one can never be too sure!

About to enter the wardrobe! 

  The final evening of orientation, we had a commissioning service at a local church near the Wheaton campus. After reciting a pledge to uphold the values of the organization and to be faithful to the call of God in our lives, we made our way to the front of the church for prayer and communion. Current staff members and leaders then prayed with all of the new candidates for God’s guidance, grace, and blessing for the years ahead on the mission field. It was such an encouragement and such a sweet confirmation of God’s call in my life. We concluded the evening with a trip to downtown Wheaton for ice cream! :)

TeachBeyond Commissioning Service

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