Faculty Fellowship at our seminary

From Rev. Dr. Eric Trozzo’s newsletter – snapshots of life and work as a seminary professor:

The faculty here at Sabah Theological Seminary has to work closely together.  There are about 25 of us to cover courses for ten degree programs in three different languages.  Plus it is not like a large university that has a full complement of administrators.  All administrative functions are fulfilled by faculty members.  There are support staff to help, but each faculty member has an administrative role on top of our teaching load.  Most of us also preach in congregations regularly, with some serving as pastors of congregations.  Because of this, even though most of us live on campus in the same building, we actually do not have a great deal of time to spend together much of the year.

Because of this, the end of May and beginning of June has become a time that many of the faculty members make a special effort to spend time together. It falls between the first and second semesters of the academic year here, and so we have about five weeks at a slower pace than usual.  During that time we have a faculty retreat.  This year we went to a retreat center near Mount Kinabalu, a few hours’ drive from the seminary.  We had some work to attend to, but we also made a point of playing games, getting to know each other better, and generally having some fun together.  In the weeks since, we have had some informal pot luck lunches and have started a weekly time for playing badminton together.  It has been a very welcome time to build up a sense of being a team working together in common purpose.  Wendolyn has taken to giving “badminton names,” including “Robena the Relentless” and “Rak-sa-sa” for our neighbour, Francis.  It means “monster” and he has a monster smash stroke!  I am sure as the new semester begins these activities will cut back, but the sense of teamwork that comes out of these slower times is important for sustaining us through the busier times.sts blue sky

I’mMigration

I grew up as a majority citizen… white, suburban, Christian, sporty enough, bookish enough… I was a woman but surrounded by women who proved that opportunities were open to me.  I grew up thinking, “Can I do this? I can try!” instead of facing obstacles of “-ism”s.

I live now as an immigrant: a minority in race, citizenship, religion, education, and so many other categories.  To be sure, I am an expat, which means that I am an immigrant by choice, that I have a nation I could easily return to, and that I have a safety net of resources (savings, health insurance, and a fabulous sending agency that has already thought of every contingency).

So many immigrants lack those assurances.  The realities they face are amplified by their lack of choices.  The lost, last, and least – leaving their own country to migrate, or worse, flee; and they arrive in other countries where they again face lack of opportunity, where they are forced again to be the lost, last, and least.

A friend of mine once told me about immigrating to Italy from the USA.  When her family got there, her husband was working.  She was encouraged to learn Italian – in fact, her community had free language classes with free childcare, because the community understood that it would be otherwise impossible for her to learn Italian.  The USA, on the other hand, demands that people learn English (a wretchedly hard language to master) while working 100 hours a week as single parents, expecting people to organize and fund their own classes and to take that time away from their families.

I’ve learned some of the language here, but it’s remarkably difficult.  Because it’s the national language, there are actually fewer resources for learning the language, becuase it’s assumed that you already know it.  I want to honor this place and its people by learning the language… even with passion and hope, it’s not happening anytime soon.

We are in limbo with visas as well, not allowed to do anything that appears to be taking a job from a local person, and under suspicion because of living at the Seminary, which is clearly Christian.  Christians in Sabah aren’t under threat of violence; but a minority faith is enough to put many roadblocks to visa approval.  Like many immigrants around the world, we are doing our best to follow our host nation’s policies.  But those policies are shifting, and we are not lawyers; it’s hard to know if we’re doing things the right way.  We have to trust our advisers here and have a back up plan.  That’s a difficult, stressful way to live.

Being an immigrant has reminded me to care for other immigrants.  Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service does amazing work within the USA, helping immigrants live better lives and contribute more quickly to their communities.  (And the contributions immigrants make are significant!)

I would ask that you pray for all immigrants: for those who go to a new place to serve, or for more opportunity; for refugees who flee with only the hope of staying alive, then find themselves in a new place with no resources; for missionaries like us who are finding immigration documents to be very challenging.  Notice the immigrants in your community and make room for them.  Pray for greater international responsibility and cooperation.  Pray, and pray, and pray.  It is often in prayer that God directs us to the concrete things we can do to care for others in our midst and around the world.

Workaround # 8 … worked!

Click here:   Borneo Briefings April 2017

Above is the link to our April/May family newsletter.  We hope to send out our June newsletter within a week or so.  So much has happened!  Hosting multi-lingual conferences, teaching in a variety of places, ages, and formats, new roles and programs, progress in visasa, and then the joy that today is Dante’s 12th birthday.  We’ve been busy!  Now to wrangle the pictures off of our phones to share with you…  soon.  Peace!

On not blogging…

Sigh.  Perhaps you have things to sigh about, too.  So let’s all take a deep breath in, pause, and blow it out as hard as you can.  That’s a quote from a sleep meditation that I have on my Kindle.  I’ve downloaded it so I can use it off-line, but ironically, Kindle keeps deleting my off-line files, assuming that I have 24-hour fast internet.

Today I had allotted 3 hours to clear out my email inbox.  But in my inbox I found a file that I needed to post to a blog that I created for local pastors.  I had a 9-page PDF document that should have been posted weeks ago, but our neighborhood’s internet cable had been stolen, and after a week I forgot about posting it.  Today, though, I had the document file, I had 3 hours, and the internet said it was working.  Hooray!

So I tried to upload a file from home.  No go.  That’s ok, I thought, I’ll take the laptop closer to the router, and I can even use the wired-in computers in my husband’s office.  I have THREE ways that this can work.

But the internet in the office did the worst thing it can do:  it KIND-OF worked.  I could load emails, about one every 5 minutes, if I clicked the mouse while the internet was functioning.  But about 3 of every 5 minutes, it was out, but it didn’t say it was out, it just didn’t load any pages.  If I knew it wasn’t working, I’d go do something non-computer.  But it seemed to be working. And this blog is at the top of my urgent and necessary list.

So I sat there, for 2 hours, clicking, hoping, gambling that a file would upload.  They’re tiny files – 9 separate PDF images.  It’s a terrible feeling, either “I should be getting this done” or “I should give up and do something else.”  Because they’re both true, and they both induce stress or guilt or a sense of powerlessness.

The key word for living in a developing nation is “WorkAround.”  Always have several back-up plans.  Right now I’m using my phone’s data hotspot to try to upload the files.  It should absolutely work.  It is not working.  Wait, now that I’ve checked again, it uploaded … twice.  Using double the data.  And it uploaded them as documents, not images, so they’re useless.  Wow.  Sigh!  Deep breath in…

At any rate, this blog as snapshots of our life, gives you one more snapshot.  My son shouted at the laptop the other day, “Darn this computer!” … and I told him, that’s the first of 10,000 times you will say that.

We are blessed.  I keep reminding myself of that.  But it is hard to feel faithful when simple things go undone.  It is rough to carry around the constant sense that “maybe NOW the internet is up…”  It just stinks.  This post, though, is just words … cut and paste and I bet it’ll post.  No fancy images this time.  Thank you for reading and receiving my venting!

Family newsletter – March 2017

Click here to read the PDF version:  borneo-briefings-march-2017

Lent Photo-a-Day devotional

I invite you to join in.  Take a picture for yourself, or take a picture to share on Facebook page – Flung Forth Anew.  You can find my photos on my Facebook page or on http://www.facebook.com/FlungForthAnew.

May you be blessed by open eyes and an open heart.

(To copy the picture, right click on it, choose “save as” and decide where on your computer you want to keep it.  That way you can refer back to it each day to find the daily word.)

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Here is my picture for day 1 – “connection” – because connections can bring us energy.  But we also need to take care that others’ energy does not overrun us and fry our wires!

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Christmas Songs: too much for our internet

Hello friends,

sadly, I am giving up on daily December posts… our internet cable was stolen *again* and tomorrow we leave for 9 days in Cambodia.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed encountering some new music and catching some glimpses of our life here.  I wish you peace, hope, and joy in coming weeks.

I leave you with one more Christmas song…Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas/Sarajevo 12-24.”

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Songs Day #8

Internet cable stolen for 8th time since July – not just a little bit, we’re talking hundreds of meters of cable each time.  About a week to fix.  We have learned to upgrade our data plans for our phones, so we can hotspot and use internet on our laptops.  But of our 3 laptops, one can’t receive wifi, one stopped turning on at all, and the one I’m using has no sound (the drivers were lost when we reformatted the laptop in order to salvage it.)  So … I’m sharing this song via YouTube, and hoping that the music is what I am expecting!  (and I’m hoping that I’m not duplicating Day #8…)

This is the 2nd Peter Mayer song so far, and there will probably be more off his album Midwinter.  The song is – click here – God Is A River.  It doesn’t mention Christmas exactly, but it recognizes how we need to let go and let God, and the holidays are  a good time to practice it.

“In the ever-shifting water of the river of this life
I was swimming, seeking comfort; I was wrestling waves to find
A boulder I could cling to, a stone to hold me fast
Where I might let the fretful water of this river ‘round me pass

And so I found an anchor, a blessed resting place
A trusty rock I called my savior, for there I would be safe
From the river and its dangers, and I proclaimed my rock divine
And I prayed to it “protect me” and the rock replied

CHORUS:
God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal
God is the river, swimmer
So let go…”

Purchase his album, listen to sample tracks, find lyrics here...

Christmas Song Day #7 “Hey Moon”

The Sidewalk Prophets are a Christian group that sings Dante’s favorite song… if you want a song to encourage someone in your life, share this with them – “The Words I Would Say.”

But today you need a Christmas tune, so here’s a heartfelt song from a star to the moon.

“Hey, hey moon
Do you ever get a tear in your eye
When you think about
the time that God came down
I couldn’t help myself
I had to shine so bright
I remember the new born baby
And the wise men that traveled so far
That’s when I knew
I was made for a reason
I feel like the luckiest star”
with a riff on Silent Night to make it that much more lovely.

Click on the blue to enjoy!

Christmas song Day #6 Toy Packaging (comic relief)

Christmas 2007 070.JPG

Today’s song is comic relief.  Does it bring back memories?  (Good or bad?  Hopefully no E.R. visits!)

It’s another one by Sara Groves – click here to sing along with the catchy tune
“Toy Packaging.”