WebFast, Field Fair and "Not-Enoughness"

November 20, 2016

Man, so much has happened here at the MTC since we last sent out an update. In fact, Laura and I just wrapped up our first class preparing us to adapt to and acquire a new culture (i.e. Culture Introduction). We took a look at how we will record our observations of culture, and then how we will index those observations (e.g. documents, pictures, audio/video) in a proprietary software called CLAware. And we spent quite a bit of the class looking at case studies of cultural conundrums for which there really is no perfect answer. It was frustrating at times to learn how people in other countries think so vastly different. For example, in Papua New Guinea, what do you think the cultural norm is, if you hit and kill a pedestrian with your vehicle? I'll just say the correct answer is not to stop immediately to take ownership of your crime. This was just one case study, by the way. However, this is just the beginning as we will later delve further into Culture and Language Acquisition (CLA).

Well, I hope you wondered what WebFast is (in the title). I think many of you actually were aware of this, but for those who weren't, WebFast is exactly what it sounds like. Over a month ago now, we finished a worldviews class. During the last few classes, we looked at our own worldview and saw how much technology and entertainment impacts it. The final assignment of the class was to start, for the following four weeks, depriving ourselves of nearly all internet related activities, as well as some other forms of media and technology (e.g. movies, texting, etc.). All except our school's intranet and email were off limits.

So how did the WebFast turn out? I think Laura and I both realized that even though we didn't spend exorbitant amounts of time on our computers, it was definitely something that still greatly affects us, just in different ways. For example, Google is one of our best friends. If there's something I'm ignorant of, no worries; I can just Google that, and within a minute I can start tracking with you. Of course, not having the internet for about a month did actually teach us some things, like: what do I do with the little bit of extra down time I have? For us, that meant spending time with more people, which has been one of the major things we've been encouraged to do during our time here. We may not feel less ignorant in a conversation with someone we're eating dinner with for the first time, but we are seeing God work in all of our lives as we share our challenges and encourage each other with our testimonies of God's faithfulness. I guess the WebFast was a give-and-take, but we mostly felt like we were taking.

Field Fair is the MTC's version of a science fair, but instead of science projects, missionaries represent the fields they're from. It's a 2 1/2 day event that exposes the students to the different countries that New Tribes Mission is active in, and how each of those countries function in light of their cultural context and the abilities of their support base. This year, we were able to hear from representatives from Indonesia, New Guinea, Philippines, West Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Alaska. It was surprising to learn that unreached people groups exist as close as Mexico and even Alaska! Apparently, the Catholic church used to have a presence among the unreached in Alaska, but ruined the testimony of the gospel by awful acts of violence and immorality. We were told that the people were so traumatized by the white Catholics, that it is hard for them to hear from any white person now. Laura is practically allergic to the cold, but hearing the representative recommend his field to students of another race was enough for us to mark Alaska off our list. So, as of now, we're still heading to Papua New Guinea.

Aside from all of the practical things we've been taught over the last fourteen weeks (yes, I'm counting), we've also been learning over and over again how inadequate we will be to accomplish the mission of tribal church planting. One teacher refers to this inadequacy as "not-enoughness." We're learning how "not-enough" we will be by learning how "not-enough" we are. Of course, the teachers aren't necessarily the ones revealing that to us, but the Holy Spirit. The past many weeks I have been learning to wake up early to spend time in God's Word and praying. I have always had a difficult time waking up early unless it's something I absolutely have to do. Unfortunately, yet fortunately, I'm just now learning that I absolutely have to have this time with God early in the morning. Like my pastor said to me earlier this year, there is just no way this ministry ahead of us could be accomplished without an all-out dependence on Jesus Christ. Even if it could be "accomplished," it would be done in pure vanity. For me, this all-out dependence begins by developing a strong habit that will be set in stone before we find ourselves in the thick of mission work and the overwhelming stresses it carries. The reason I'm stuck on the need to do this in the morning is because once the day starts (7:15 AM currently), I really struggle to balance my time in God's Word with life's demands. Waking up a couple hours before this gives me time to focus and reflect without distractions. I know this applies to every believer, but I think I feel the weight of it more while considering what we're headed towards.

In other, shorter words, none of us are enough, and God is tearing down our walls of self-reliance to teach us this.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Nate and Laura