Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preparing to go

As you may recall (though I have taken a week or to sabbatical from writing on this topic) is that I am trying out some things that I am learning now from my teammate’s teaching portion of the About Europe tour and some things that I have done in the past in other locations. Please remember that I am on this journey from the tangible aspect of ministry to a more intangible one.

One part of my intangible mission plunge into Basel each week is preparation. Are there some things that I can do that will help me as I go?Obviously I am assuming the role of prayer. Unfortunately I too often forget that we are promised the Holy Spirit. I also know that the Holy Spirit gives power, strategic direction, boldness and more as we go (Matthew 28, Acts 1:8)

In addition to prayer I can spend some valuable time preparing for my day or my parachute into the city. Here are some random thoughts on this. These are not sequential nor is it a prescription of what will work. Mostly it is some things that I have found myself doing in PREPARATION. It may have more to do about how I am wired up. It may not work for you. Sorry. I cannot offer guarantees. Smile.

· I always pick up brochures, local newspapers and read those after my trip and then write out what I should look into or follow up on for the next time. You can often find some good festivals, exhibits, concerts of local interest.

· I try to always take my moleskine and take notes. I might find a place of interest or find a place with a website to check out later. I did this with a place in Basel that does language exchange. It has taken me a couple of times to find this place but I finally did and was able from brochures that told me of something of great interest to me.

· I ALWAYS have a cup of coffee somewhere interesting (not always Starbucks for those who know me) and write some in my journal, I mean moleskine.

· Google is a very good friend of mine. I normally make some attempts a day or two before I go to try to find our something about the city, to find if there are certain places to eat, drink or gathering places. I will make a note of that and put down the address to go check it out.

· Connecting with people with knowledge. To me this one is critical. I believe that there are certain people whom God just gives connections to and enables them to connect you with other key people. This past week I had a coffee with a man who lives relatively close to my house here in Germany. We were talking about my journey into Basel. He has lived in this area for years and knows the people, history, culture and even movements of the church. After our coffee he sent me several people’s names that I could make a connection with later on. Hopefully on my next journey this week I will be able to follow up on this and give some insights on these connections but also describe a little better the direction that I think the Lord is leading me in with a people group here.

· Language Exchanges - In Spain it is quite popular to have language exchanges where a you talk talk 30 minutes in English and then you talk 30 minutes in Spanish. It is a great way to meet people and get to practice your language and learn about the city. It helps both people learn the language. There are even websites that can help you do this where you can set up the parameters for your language exchange search and then set up an account and meet people to practice Spanish. I have tried this in Switzerland and have not been able to find a person to practice with. I found one man who said he was interested in learning English but have not heard back. I guess he figured out that I did not do so well in English in High School and College. I also went to several language schools but came up empty in regards to trying to meet people interested in doing this type of language exchange. I have several options here. Since I know Spanish but could always improve it I can look for a Spanish speaking person. I also need to learn German so I can look for someone interested in that as well. I finally ran across an Advance Conversational Spanish class in Basel that I am currently checking out to see if that is a possibility.

· Writing out my path but in pencil. I try to map out where I want to go. I am a TOP FIVE type of guy and try to figure out what are the top five things I want to accomplish. I do this with almost everything. I usually have 1000 things to do in a day but what are the top five things that I HAVE to do. I do the same as I go in. I just pencil in my journal what I hope to accomplish. It really should be a top four list since having a good cup of cafĂ© is always on that list. I write it in pencil for I do not know that I will accomplish it all and it may change as I go. Part of my journey is really trying to let the Holy Spirit lead in this endeavor. The Holy Spirit may have some other directions for me so I try to be sensitive to this. This list is not that profound it looks like this: find a good map of the city, go back to the church where I visited the first time, find such and such language school, etc…

Essentially I am mapping out portions of the city one day at a time. One of my professors who was guest lecturer at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was a man by the name of Roger Greenway. He was a professor at Calvin Seminary for years and an urban missiologist. Greenway said something that has always stuck with me on this very topic. “The two pieces of leather that you need to wear out while learning about the city are your shoes and your bible”.
What are some things that you do that you have found helpful in preparation?

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