Josh and I left Tomsk a couple days ago bound for St.Petersburg here in Russia.
We had such a great time in Siberia. The people are wonderful and I believe the time there was fruitful and worth the extra miles.
We went to Siberia on the train which took days, and since we could only afford to fly one way, we flew back. You’re always more tired at the end of an outreach. We’re looking to see a few sights here and catch a little R&R before leaving Moscow the 16th. I can’t really remember what we’re looking for, but I’m sure we’ll find something. Russian people are amazing. All you have to do is mention you’ll be coming and they’ll roll out the red carpet, find lodging, send someone to pick you up, and show you around. The people from the last town give you packages to deliver to people in the next town because the post office can’t be trusted. So right when we got here, we made contact with an asian guy I’d never met to give him his package. We met at a train stop in the city near a MacDonalds, so it was good to get that checked off the list.
At the end of any outreach like this, you do a little debrief. You think about what you did, what the goals were, how it went, asking questions like, “What could I have done better as a leader?”, “Did we do enough teaching?” “Should we bring teams here in the future?” etc.
Since that got me in the mood to think about evaluations, I decided to look at some journal entries from last year for personal reasons. I have it all on this computer and journal pretty much every day. I go back and read them from time to time to see what I was thinking about and how things are different now-the same, better or worse, and what did I do to keep the good and toss the bad? After all, wasn’t it Socrates who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I picked the entry from December 8, 2012. I’d just returned from Armenia, been back to Montana for debrief, and was on a plane for Kona, Hawaii. My buddy, Donavan, hooked up the flight. Of course I was optimistic about going to the islands, but one thing I went on a big rant about was taking a break from Facebook. FB vacillates between an asset and a liability for me. Funny thing is, I’ve been thinking the exact same thing this year before I read the entry from last year. It was a little depressing to read that I was thinking about logging off for a while to clear my head, but never did it. I love communication and knowing what people are doing, posting pictures, and all of it, and for that, FB is a great communication tool. The down-side for me is what it does to my attention span and some of my relationships. I have it as an app on my phone and there is fast, 4G internet in most countries for much cheaper than in the US, so I’m dialed in all the time. Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me. Why do I leave it like that? I’ve never been much of a reader, but the availability of instant social media makes it a huge feat now to even read a book. As for the relationships, it’s great with family, and most friends, but I run into trouble with the girls. It’s far too easy to crank things up to a level way too high, way too quick. I could go on a whole tangent about intimacy and how FB allows a level of communication that mimics and seems like something it’s not.
Listening to a preacher named Colin Smith talk about fasting “legitimate pleasures” presented me with an idea I hadn’t thought of before. He was going on about cultivating a hunger for righteousness. He said that I would be surprised at the benefits of going without something I’m used to having just to make room for God to work. There’s something appealing about simplifying life in whatever way possible. I often wonder why I am drawn to some of the wrong things. Well, according to him, appetite can be changed over time. In the program of Alcoholic’s Anonymous they call it, “Acting your way into right thinking.”
As believers, we are challenged by God periodically. We can do what we want with it. He calls us higher with some message that may or may not make sense. We say, “I’ll moderate it instead, Lord.” People will always back a plan of moderation.
I’m just throwing it out there to increase the chance of follow-through this time. Merry Christmas!