Ship Life

Living on a sailboat has its own rhythm. Though it can change with the direction of the wind or the destination of the day, this rhythm is the regular ebb and flow life on the Encounter. For those of you wondering what living on a sailboat it like, not much is different on this trip than my previous visit. Reading some of my blog posts from this time will give you a good sense of what it is like. 

For this post then I’ll give you a quick rundown on this daily rhythm of life. 

8:30-9:00 – Breakfast (Hardboiled eggs, yogurt, cereal, coffee, tea, toast

9:45-10:30- Session 1 (This is where I teach) 

10:45 – 11:30 – Session 2 (More teaching) 

12:00 – 12:45 – Session 3 (Finish teaching for the day) 

1:15 – 2:00 – Lunch

1:00 – ?  – Sailing and Free time(Depends on the Wind and destination) 

7:30 – 8:30 – Dinner (The food here is amazing.)

8:30 – 9:15 – Reflection Session / Bible Studies / Life Stories (Students have the chance to reflect and practice what they’ve learned as well as share their life stories) 

10:30 – Curfew

Coming back, the rhythm is familiar, yet since my role as a teacher is different than that of a student, I am experiencing life here a little differently this time around. 

 Thus far sessions have gone fairly well. I am still finding my method and voice as a teacher but these students have been patient as I’ve stumbled through some of the material. They are starting to open up in asking more questions and having more dialogue amongst each other which makes my job easier and enriches their experience of the class. 

To those of you praying for me, thank you. I sense the provision of God in the interactions with my students as well as in their engagement with his Word. 

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Aboard

After a long walk through the streets of Athens and a train ride to the city of Chalkida, I returned to the Encounter. 

Being here again is surreal. Living on a sailboat seemed like it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a couple years ago and now I find myself not only back but here to teach. 

My first few sessions went well. I covered some basics of Bible Study which if you have ever heard Dave Helm teach on this,  you know much of the content that I covered. (I told my students that I wasn’t old enough to have original content yet.) We discussed the importance of proximity to Christian community as well as the journey of bblical interpretation of traveling from the world of the text to the world of today. 

I will continue with teaching through the book of 1 Corinthians over the next week. There is a lot of ground to cover, including a number of particularly difficult yet contemporary issues. The first hurdle of learning their names and building some rapport is over, the next hurdle will be keeping the forest for the trees as we walk through the thorny issues of the church at Corinth. There is much to get bogged down by, but by God’s grace we will be able to finish the book and more importantly be changed again by the message of the Gospel. 

Leaving and Landed

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I confess this blog is used primarily for leaving and landing. That is to say I get the urge to write in it when I travel.

As many of you know, I am traveling. More than any other trip to day I feel opportunity. Which is only to say that I have the trip sketched out with places and people, but much of it remains unplanned.

There is a purpose for this trip other than pure experiential capital. No, I am here to teach, and see where God might lead me to teach in the future. So I will visit places and people and see sights but with the prayer that people in these places or perhaps others will come to know the love of God through His calling on my life.

So 16 hours after leaving, I’ve landed in Athens, and I’ll be headed next to Chalcis (or Chalkida) to meet up with the Encounter to start my week of teaching first thing tomorrow.

ΚΑΛΗΝΥΧΤΑ!

Arriving in the New Year

This has been the longest New Year’s Eve of my life. No, I do not mean that figuratively. I mean it quite literally. I left Great Falls, Montana at 7:30 am (MST), and crossed three time zones to arrive on Kauai island. 8 hours of travel across 2,792 miles through 3 time zones brought myself, my sister, my mother, and stepfather to this rugged beauty of an island for an adventure.

An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered – G.K. Chesterton

 Upon landing in Lihue, we promptly collected a bag from the baggage area, and promptly made our way to rent a car. While waiting quite some time for the car to be turned over to us, I made use of the time by studying a map of Kauai. Anyone studying a map of Kauai for the first time will notice two things. First, much of the inner land of the island is uninhabited. Only around the coast are their towns connected by one highway that does not quite encircle the island. Second, most of the town names were foreign yet familiar. As I travel, I want to know more about the culture here, and learning about the language is a rich way to learn about culture so I intend to do so. Fun Fact: Hawaiian is similar to Hebrew in that it places the verb prior to the subject in its syntax.

Kauai Map

Our first stop after picking up the rental car was to Walmart of all places. Having to go there first thing after landing crushed my soul a little but it was on the way to where we are staying. Eventually I got over it by seeing it as equipping us to invest the rest of our time exploring the island. A seemingly long 45 minute drive around the island got us to our home for the week. I didn’t mind taking in the scenery of course.

We have 9 days here in Hawaii. At this point, I do not know what those 9 days hold. My family does vacations a little like Jazz improvisation. We have a good idea at what might happen, but we’ll be creating it as we go.

Perhaps then because it is New Year’s Eve, I am particularly attuned to the role of time on this trip. Indeed, of all the days of the year, time gets the most attention on New Year’s Eve. The very holiday marks the passing of years, a birthday of sorts for Earth. As well, people often celebrate it by counting down the hours, minutes, and even seconds to the midnight hour when one year becomes the next. Just like the year 2016, I know this trip will end but as I write this I am still within it, still observing the moments as they are given.

One of my friends in the Theology major at Moody wrote his senior paper on a philosophical theology of time. He argued in it that time is essentially opportunity and from this idea I penned an earlier post on this blog to mark the beginning of another trip to a similar locale. Time is opportunity, a gift given by God for our lives to inhabit a particular space with particular people, at a particular moment. How we experience time will in part depend on how we respond within it to the opportunities He presents. Each day and each moment is an opportunity to pick up our cross and follow Jesus as servants of those around us. This is why each morning when I first stand up out of bed, I whisper to myself, “I am a servant.”

Right now, I want to soak in every moment of this time to rest with my family, to soak in the preeminent beauty of this creative work of a holy immanent Creator, and to render a vacation as worship in serving my family as my first neighbors that their time here may be well spent as well. I can already anticipate not wanting it to end, but it will.

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This desire points me back to the church calendar of which this day is the 7th day of Christmas. The Incarnation, wonder of wonders, had a beginning and an end. But what sets apart the Incarnation from my vacation is that from Jesus’ incarnate’ “beginning” to his gruesome “end”  there is now the new beginning of an enduring reality with no end. The resurrection for the Christ follower relativizes all endings. For if death, the most final ending known to man, is defeated then truly the eternal has broken into finite human history to be with us, without end.

This is the audacious hope of the Christian faith, the hope that puts all other hopes to shame. It is the hope that no Good will ever truly end but will be purified, refashioned, clothed and remade to serve the glory of the living God in a world without end.

There is a manger in Bethlehem and a cross in Jerusalem that still testify to the beginning of all new beginnings and the end of all ends.

If you are not a Christian but are willing to at least listen to this testimony and want to read through one of Gospels with me, please let me know. I’d love to do it with you in the new year.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

 Happy New Year. 

 

Life on a Boat:Sailing

We came on this boat to sail.

Of course we came on this boat for many other reasons: Cultural exposure, relaxation and reflection, the beauty of the Greek landscape, and the chance to take college classes in this unique setting. Yet all of these can be done on a typical study abroad program. What was so unique about this trip was that we spent it on a sailboat.

Sailing is all but dead. In fact, as we traveled and moored in coves and ports, I learned from the constant sight of sailboats that sailing is an active means of transportation even today. It may no longer be the transportation workhorse that it was prior to the Industrial Revolution, but it lives on as a recreational activity, and in our case an eEncounterLabeledducational and spiritual one.

Sailing in principle is quite simple. Wind on sails produce force which propels a boat through the water. In practice, the wind is never determined by one’s intended route. So one must adapt. The Encounter’s means of adaptation to the wind consisted of four sails which we, the crew, were tasked with manipulating to get us where we needed to go. To the right, you’ll see the breakdown of these sails. Typically after class was over we would eat lunch, pull up the anchor, and raise the sails.

Having two masts and a gaff pulley system, the Encounter is considered a gaff-rigged schooner. The top of the main sail and the fore sail is rigged with a top and bottom boom and a pulley system. To raise the sails, two people on each of the two halyards (ropes used to raise the sails) work together to raise the top boom. One of the halyards raises the “throat” which is the part of the boom closest to the mast keeping the sail on the mast, while the other halyards bears the brunt of the rest of the boom known as the “peak”. Once the throat of the boom reaches the top of the mast, the peak is raised further to give the sails their characteristic trapezoidal shape. To lower the sails two people would lower the boom in tandem, while the other two on the team would work along the bottom boom to fold the sails neatly, or at times as neatly as possible.

Typically the main sail would be raised first, followed closely behind by the fore sail. Once both of these were raised by their respective teams, the head sail team would raise the staysail, followed by the jib. Both of these sails were raised on a simple pulley system, but the staysail was rigged on a loose boom that allowed it to switch sides of the boat when we changed our direction to the wind.   The head sail team  would raise and lower both sails which entailed climbing up on the wires and ropes of the bowsprit with the water below.. Being on head sails was the most involved task during sailing requiring the most attention and work, but was quite exhilarating nonetheless.

Once the sails were up and if the wind was right, Theo would turn off the motor and we would sail. This is the moment that is hard to capture in words. Motors have expanded drastically the reach of mankind to travel and create. Mankind has harnessed the potential energy of fuels to help us do everything from visit Grandma, to make a smoothie. Motors surround us, providing convenience and access. Yet there are times that we don’t desire convenience, and we’re okay with limited access. These are the moments of a long walk to enjoy a sunset, or a bike ride along the lake for exercise. These are moments that motors do not give us access to. Turning off the Encounter’s motor and letting the wind propel us was one of these moments. It was a moment which was laced with a quiet confidence that speed and efficiency do not have a monopoly on what is ideal.

When the motor turned off, we were sailing.

Life on a Boat:Class[room] At Sea

Classrooms are unique spaces.

They serve no essential human need. Food is not made in them. They are not for sleeping though are often used as such. Many of them even have furniture ill-suited for sitting for long periods of time. Yet, people all over the world spend billions of dollars a year to spend great portions of their lives in these rooms.
Some might argue, however, that classrooms serve an essential human purpose. The desire to learn and then to cultivate that learning into a particular product and skill is age old having begun from parents passing their trade onto their children. In this regard, classrooms are a rather new innovation having inherited this fundamental purpose from this generational education and developed out of the necessity to adapt to rapid expansion of knowledge in the modern era.
Despite their popularity, however, classrooms are poor boxes to contain all that entails education. Education is a fundamental human capacity that God granted in a unique way to mankind. Learning, of course, is not unique to humans as any student who has trained baby chicks in their Biology class[room] knows. Yet, education, the communication of human knowledge and creativity, distinguishes mankind from the animals, making us persons rather than beasts. Its basis is revelation, and its power is creativity, both graciously given by God uniquely to man as the responsibility to represent God in the created order. Education happens wherever humans speak and act both for benefit and for loss. Education happens from the earliest days of life, and hopefully continues to the end of our exploring. Education happens in conversations, through imitation, and from failure. Education happens in lecture halls, dorm room floors, and sometimes on a boat in Greece.
If you’ve read about this trip, you know that its purpose is education. Also you know that the education on this trip is focused around gaining a global perspective on theology, and studying the book of Acts. As you can imagine, a boat is a unique classroom. There are no desks, no lectern, and no guarantee of a stable room. Classes were held primarily in the main cabin. My peers and I would sit on the couch area around the tables, while our teacher would either sit across from us or stand in the small walkway that led to the kitchen area and mid-ship cabins. Class would start at 9:45 following our chores and typically go until 1:30 with a break in the middle for tea and cookies.
For Global Theology much of the class was a typical lecture format, aided by a Powerpoint that was displayed on a small flatscreen television mounted on the wall. Each day we would cover a particular region or highlight particular theologians from a region who represent how theology is being done in their context. Often times our reading for that class would be primary readings from particular theologians combined with dictionary articles from the Global Dictionary of Theology (which is an excellent resource for this sort of study). On a couple days we did presentations on particular issues that arose in our class such a theology of the poor/poverty which came up in context of Liberation Theology from Latin America. On these days instead of meeting in the cabin we did class up on deck, enjoying not only the beautiful weather, but the particularly unique classroom environment. Despite the unique environment, Global Theology taught me much about the global church giving exposure to its life from house churches in China to Pentecostal megachurches in Brazil.
For Acts, much of the class was more of a seminar/bible study format. Each day we spent some time journaling over a particular chapter of the book and discussing it in class. As issues and observations were raised we work together through them as a group, bringing insights from one another that would have been lacking in individual study.
Throughout the trip, we’ve had opportunities to visit some of the sites mentioned in Acts. At the beginning of the trip we visited Athens including where the Apostle Paul preached on Mars Hill (Aeropagus), not far from the Parthenon (Acts 17). Once on the ship we rented cars in port and went to Philippi visiting the traditional site where Paul was imprisoned there (Acts 16). Finally near the end of our time on the boat, we drove to Corinth where Paul spent nearly 2 years ministering (Acts 18). Seeing these sites in the context of studying Acts makes many of these narratives come alive as I’ve seen the surrounding geography and the ruins of what were vibrant and prosperous cities in the first century.
Greece has been a unique space for education, giving me cultural insights, historical contexts, and a broader view on the church of God both as it was and as it is today. Though the trip is not over yet, I am hopeful that it will play a significant role in my education and ministry.

Both inside the classroom, and out.

The end of all of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know the place for the first time.
~T.S. Elliot

Ship Shape

This is a series of posts about life aboard the sailboat, the Encounter. Learn more about the trip here and read the Introduction here.
#1 – Mornings 

What shape does the ship have to be in for the ship to be ship shape?

Clean.

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The Encounter

The ship must remain clean. Which means after breakfast we have chores to do. Now the way that responsibilities are structured on the boat is that each person is assigned to a watch team. There are three watch teams of 3-4 people who are on call around the clock at various times throughout the day. Watch changes every 3 hours from team to the other, and rotates each day to provide variety to our responsibilities. For example team one (“da Bow Spirits”) is on watch from 9-12am meaning that when breakfast was over with they are responsible for doing the dishes. During this time, team two (“The Dumb Sailors”) has a break from chores, and can use this time to get ready for the day or catch up on reading before class. Finally thought, team three (“Prairie-Dog Pirates”) is responsible for what needed to be done on deck. Then throughout the day, if a job arises that needs a team of people such as mooring the boat to a rock or dock the watch team on call is responsible for that job.
Morning chores consists first of washing and putting away the dishes from breakfast. However, in order to conserve water, washing dishes has a specific process. First, any leftover food on plates or bowls are rinsed with salt water using a foot pump. Then they are washed in a tub of fresh water with soap, dried, and put away. Since our teams have 4 people, while three of us are washing dishes, one cleans the bathrooms in the main cabin area and vacuums the floors.

During this time, another team is on deck making sure the it is clean. This entails cleaning “the whites” and the rails. “The whites” are essentially all the white surfaces around the boat: the edges of the boat as well as the surfaces of the hatches, and on-deck storage compartments. Metal railings on the boat also need to be rinsed down to prevent rust, and deck swept to keep it clean. Occasionally the deck is dirty enough to warrant a scrubbing so one person pulls water from off the side and splashes it on deck while the other scrubs with a brush to remove any leftover dirt. Finally one of guys on that team is responsible for cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming the carpet. Altogether chores typically take about 30 minutes.

Now, chores have long been associated with unreasonable parents and the invasion of responsibility on the otherwise respectable chaos of childhood fun. Yet, as most parents know, unreasonable chores make respectable children. They involve children in the life and responsibility of the home. For us, having chores on the boat does much the same, involving us in the life of the boat and the upkeep necessary to keep the ship,

Ship Shape.