Being Between People

As most of you know, during the past six months, Melissa and I sold our stuff, attended orientation for new Presbyterian mission co-workers, and began traveling, visiting churches and other groups, doing our sending interpretive assignment.  We left our home, our church and our old friends, setting out to share our work with individuals, groups and churches.  We’ve been working our tails off, raising support.  And we’ve been making lots of new friends.

One of our stops along the way was in Union Mills, North Carolina, during the last two weeks of January, where we attended a Second Language Acquisition course.

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Our new friends and classmates at our Second Language Acquisition course

One topic we read about and discussed, was the assertion that missionaries are between people.  One of the assigned readings for our course was Am I Still Me?  Changing the Core Self to Fit a New Cultural Context, by Lois A. Dodds and Lawrence E. Dodds, who served over 20 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics, before founding Heartstream Ministries, which serves the needs of missionaries and other cross-cultural workers, worldwide.  Looking back to their first day of linguistic training, the authors wrote, On our first day of linguistic training, Dr. Cal Rensch of SIL told us, “Starting today you will never fully belong to the people you are going to work with or belong fully to the people you are leaving.  You will be people between”.  During orientation, we also touched on this subject, although I’m not sure I understood the implications until we began living out of our suitcases for several months, staying in a different place every night at times.

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Speaking to new friends at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Winston Salem, NC

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“Road Warrior Lunch” – Sy Hughes, new friend from PCUSA World Mission Fund Development

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With longtime (not old) friend, Rev. Debbie Parsons, following our presentation at Leesburg Presbyterian Church

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Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, following a meeting with our new friend, Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick, Associate Pastor for Mission

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Our map of Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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With our new friend, Jean Jules, a student at PTS

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With PTS students and new friends, during our presentation there.

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Nate Stucky, Farminary Director, and wife Janel

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Enjoying a potluck dinner with students at PTS

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We made new friends at The Valley Forge Presbyterian Church in King of Prussia, PA

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With old friends, Rev. Francois and Cyndi Lacroix, and new friend, Margaret McCaughin Kjelgaard at Wallingford Presbyterian Church

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With our new friend, Dr. Sally Smith, at First Presbyterian Church of Tyler

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With new friends, Rev. Jan DeVries, and Rev. Princeton Abaraoha, following our presentation at Grace Presbytery

We will rely on our many friendships, both old and new, as we grapple with our new identity and home.  We know it won’t be easy, but we’ve got each other, and we have you.  Please pray for us as we navigate these changes in our lives.

3 thoughts on “Being Between People

  1. I can readily see this, Charles. If you will pardon the expression, you are neither fish nor fowl. You will encounter experiences that I can never really wrap my hands around, but I can wrap my hands around our friendship and understanding. And from that point of view, I can learn more about the world through your eyes.

    Keep on truckin’, my friend! 👍🏼

  2. Blessings as you get started in your new home and work. You are welcome to visit Malawi (Nkhoma) when you get your feet on the ground!

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