Monday, October 13, 2014

Back to School

I am 54 years old now. I guess that is about as 'Fifty-Something' as I can get. And I am starting many new things. Probably one of the most exciting is going back to college!

I graduated from high school with a full scholarship to Cal State. My scholarship was in engineering. I had taken mechanical drafting all through school and then architectural drafting in my senior year. I was in the 'Honor Society', which meant at least 3.5 GPA. Mine was 4.0 until I joined a rock band in my Junior year. I wrote an essay about my qualification and need on the last day the scholarships took application. But I didn't really want to be an engineer.  I enrolled near my home at Cal State San Bernardino to stay close to my girl Jodi Nance.

Once in school I realized I did not care for math. I could do it, but did not enjoy it. What I loved was philosophy and music. My philosophy professor promised me a graduate scholarship for a Masters degree at Edinburgh Scotland. Wow! I sang in a Performance Choir directed by Vincent Persichetti, head of the Juilliard School of Music in NY City. I asked my scholarship provider if I could change majors and keep the scholarship. Nope.

So I left college after completing my freshman year, giving up a scholarship to perform in a rock band being paid for by my good friend David, whose dad is a gastrointestinal doctor at Stanford. He had setup a 'Life Fund' of $250,000 for his son to seek out what he loved as a career when he turned 21. Much of that paid for drugs, sadly. But hey $250k is a good deal.

When I left college I was determined to: 1. Learn something new every day. 2. Never stop reading and learning. 3. Follow my heart - learn what really interested me. I have followed that 'education plan' for 25 years now. It has paid in big ways. I was talking at a formal dinner one evening in Saigon. The chairman of UNESCO Vietnam, Dr. Pham Nguyen took me aside and asked me for a lift to his hotel. We talked for several hours more! He was sure, after hearing me talk at dinner, that I must have a degree in Vietnamese History! No, but I had read close to 300 volumes on Vietnam!! He became my 'cultural mentor' and took me places a foreign visitor could never go, to Ho Chi Minh's cave near the Chinese border! I loved him.

So in 1989 we were asked to lead SEARCH - the Southeast Asia Research Center. A guy with a high school diploma ran a research center whose two previous leaders were working on Missions Doctorates at Oxford, England. Why, because I loved research. Not the kind with big words that make us sound good. No, I love research that provides great ideas for moving the Kingdom of God forward, serving mission-focused folks who practice so involved, that they don't have time for research. We are doing that again.

So I have enrolled in EdX, a free online college being offered by Harvard and MIT. The long term goal is to have the entire curriculum of both schools online, free, for anyone with English and internet can get a Harvard-qualified degree certificate! I am enrolled in 'Ancient Chinese Thought'. I am putting together a tailored degree plan, perfect for a missions research director. I will take one 8 week course at a time.

Check out EdX - if nothing else have fun studying with a very real Harvard or MIT professor. Cool!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting Busy in Ministry

Good Day Friends!

This week has been very exciting. For ten years Jodi and I were part of Peninsular Asia, a group of about 60 missionaries (and our families) working in five pretty tough countries.

This week we have been in touch with two leaders from PenAsia asking us to begin serving much as we did with Southeast Asia Research Center (SEARCH). That is very exciting to us, as we were called and began our overseas ministry in Vietnam.

We are beginning with:

•an Interview Sheet for collecting data and thoughts about what is most important to people. It will also help our workers find best ways to share the Gospel with folks.

•a monthly prayer tool

•a database filled with data on particular projects around the world reaching different UPG's. This database will allow our team members to check for places and people like where they are, with project possibilities to be adapted and used. We were planning to build this anyway as part of our reach the unreached plans.

•Research Sheets for countries, regions, cities, people groups etc. where we have gathered excellent link collections for a worker who wants to dig in to research the area where they plan to work.

•prayer sheets on specific people groups we are reaching or hope to reach on the website:

We are also working on fundraising and getting our office and meetings going! So, Jodi and I are each working about 20 hours each week. I am not allowed to work more than that, so reading fills in much of my time.

We are just excited to have our first client be the team in the place that we love!

Thank You Jesus!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Never Too Late To Make Things Right

Robert Atherton, a 67-year-old engineer from Phoenix, was reliving the glory of the summer of 1964 when he and two high school buddies bought Vespas and cruised across Italy. Going through his old suitcase, though, Atherton discovered an old injustice: An unpaid parking ticket he got in the Italian village of Lerici. The Los Angeles Times reports Atherton found the ticket when went looking for a journal he kept of his Italian adventure as a 17-year-old. Being no ugly American, Atherton adjusted the $1.50 fine for inflation and sent $50 and an apology letter to town officials. Marco Caluri, the current mayor of Lerici was surprised to receive the payment and in another twist of fate, Caluri is actually the son of the police officer who wrote the original ticket. The story has taken on a life of its own in the town with Atherton receiving many notes of gratitude and appreciation from residents.