Visit to First Friends Indy

I arrived early, about 8:25, and walked out to the meditation area in the woods east of the meetinghouse.  After doing a little meandering, I arrived at the area where the benches were and another man was already there.  He smiled and I sat down and settled into worship.  Pretty soon he smiled again and walked away and then it was only me and the mosquitoes.

Just before 9:00, I went to find the Quakerism class, an adult class that is continuing through the summer. They were studying the chapter on peace in Phil Gulley’s “Living the Quaker Way.”  What made it special is that they did not all agree with Phil or with each other, but were able to disagree in a welcoming and loving way.  Of course the class was led by Ruthie, so what else would you expect?

Meeting for worship was, well, worshipful.  I was grateful for the chance to explain the purpose of my year in Belize and to give a small introduction to my understanding of Belize and the possibilities there.  Friends were invited to support the ministry by filling out a commitment form and dropping it in the basket in the lobby. During open worship a couple of friends spoke in support and at the end Ruthie stood with her arm locked in mine and offered a prayer of blessing for this effort.  That was pretty special.

Fellowship/coffee time after meeting gave me a chance to visit with Larry and Sue Mills (Larry is Sylvia’s brother) and several other Friends before they needed to go to monthly meeting for business.  It was a special morning.

 

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Staff retreat

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I arrived on Wednesday evening after teaching my last class at the jail. The others had arrived on Tuesday morning, I think. Anyway, I arrived at Doug Haags for the evening barbecue before the rest of the staff, but as soon as they arrived they made me feel welcome, greeting me like a long lost friend, for which I was very grateful. We had an American cookout with hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, and potato salad.

The fun part of the evening was teaching the Kenyans to play corn-hole.  Of course we didn’t know what the real rules were, so we made up our own scoring.  But, hey, why not? We were pretty much equally horrible at the game, so it was great fun.

Our devotional time was spent on the verses in John about the true vine and the branches. I guess that on Wednesday they had centered on the word abide. What does it mean to abide?  On Thursday we centered on the thought of pruning and what that meant. Unprogrammed worship was deep and refreshing with several of us speaking out of the silence.

Each of us had been assigned a book to read and review.  All of them were about how we do missions.  Some were quite critical and engendered lively discussion.  I had read a book on short term mission projects called Serving With Eyes Wide Open.  The author was fairly critical of short term mission projects, mostly because we North Americans show up thinking we have all the answers.  This is a valid criticism, I think.

The group had done with no internet for two days and were going through withdrawl, but Doug loaded us a hotspot. and folks got a chance to get caught up.  We teased ourselves a good bit about it but we all got caught up on our emails and other communications.

I felt like I got to know the other staff a good bit better.  I knew Muhanji already and am looking forward to him being at my home Tuesday and Wednesday; we will take him to the airport on Wednesday. Robert Wafula will make a good principal for the theological college, Sammy is a kind and generous soul, and Getry is simply amazing. I have never met anyone who can be as logical and creative at the same time.  In the photo above, Getry is on the right, and Robert is second from left.  Sammy is out of the picture to the left.

I had known who Lon Fendall, on he left, was but had never really had a chance to really meet him. And I was pleased to learn that Ann Riggs will be teaching at Loyola and attending 57th Street meeting in Chicago, which is a dual member of Illinois Yearly Meeting and Western Yearly Meeting.  It will be good to have her in Western. The time we spent of Friday morning praying for each other was memorable, very memorable.

I came home feeling like I had a stake in the ministry of each of these other folks and that they had a stake in mine. It was good.

Triennial Sessions

Well, we’ve been home from triennials what, a week?  Yet, parts of the triennial sessions are as fresh as if they happened yesterday.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Lloyd Stangland, Sammi Akifuma, and Alvin Wentz in planning for Quaker Men International.  Lloyd is doing a great job as vice-president.  The banquet was outstanding, and I will remember the remarks by James Bryan Smith for some time to come.  I’m wondering if the apprenticeship series is something that would be usable in Belize. That is worth investigating…

I attended the workshop on church planting by the Kenyans.  It was fun to hear about the churches that have been planted by Friends International Center on Ngong road in Nairobi. The presentations really gave me some things to think about in Belize–mostly the idea that the leadership of a church plant is most effective if it comes from the local people. Hmmm.

Richard Foster’s address was thought provoking and worth considering some more, but the highlight of the evening for me was the prayer offered by Ruthie Tippen.  It was the most eloquent, spirit lead, public prayer I have ever heard. Thank you Ruthie.

Especially gratifying was the encouragement I received from lots of folks about the upcoming ministry in Belize.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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2014 Belize Friends School Class

At the school board meeting on Friday, Frank Tench, board member and local weatherman, predicted “hot and rainy” for graduation day, Sunday, June 1. Thank goodness he got it partially wrong. It rained all night Saturday night but only sprinkled a bit on Sunday and the temperature stayed below 90.

We arrived about 1:20 for the 2:00 ceremony and several students were already there.  Ms Candi was trying to tie Leroy’s tie while facing him, never a good idea.  I boldly volunteered to help, took the tie, tied it on myself and returned it.  Leroy and I were ready to go.

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The boys hanging out in the office before the ceremony begins.

Mr Sam, Ms Becky, Jim Burmeister and I busied ourselves for a bit making sure everything was ready while Ms Candi met the students and made sure they were ready as well.  Parents arrived bit by bit and by 2:00 the room was full.  Pomp and circumstance played on the small cd player and we were underway.

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Valedictory address by Kingsley Pinto

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Chelsey giving the salutatory address

Following the procession we sang the National Anthem, something Dale is going to need to learn right away, and said the national prayer, which is used only on special occasions, this being one of them.  Ms Brandyu Frazer gave the invocation (you will hear more about her later) Mr Kinglsey  Pinto, the winner of our outstanding academics award, gave the valedictory address followed by Chelsey Garnett presenting the salutatory address.

Becky gave a most kind introduction and I gave my Guest Speaker address.  I’m pretty sure it lasted less than the ten minutes Sam had mentioned earlier.  The key points of my address were, “It’s not going to be easy, and you will not do it alone, but yes, you can do it.”  I mentioned the help available from God and from the people who love you.  You can see from the photo how enamored the students were with my speech.

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Students sit with rapt attention listening to Dale’s remarks

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Leroy gives the “Vote of Thanks” address.

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Certificate presented to Stephan Bowen

Leroy, with his nice looking tie, thanked the parents, and school staff for their roles in helping the students get this far and then the three awards were presented: Outstanding Academics to Kingsley, Most Improved to Stefan Bowen, and Most Inspirational to Shemar Pattnett. Shemar will be a returning student in the fall, he missed a good bit of the year with H1N1, but that is a whole different story which will need to be told at another time.  Following the recognition of awards, the certificates were presented to the students.

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Sam Barber addresses the assembly

Mr Sam gave the principal’s address that included an update of the school year and the announcement that the Barbers will not be returning as Principals in the fall. He also included the information that I will be taking their place, which is close enough for this occasion.

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Brandy is the scholarship winner

Mr Sam remained at the podium to announce the scholarship winner.  Each year the school sponsors one student scholarship to high school.  This award is for $800 Bz ($400 US) and is paid to the school that the student will attend. It is renewable for four years, on the condition that the student presents his or her passing grades to the Friends school at the end of each year. This year that student was Brandy Frazer.

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Sam going over the scholarship paperwork with Brandy and her mom.

The benediction was given by Johanna Reyes, who struggled a bit with her shyness, but did fine once she got started. The recessional was again “Pomp and Circumstance” but took much less time than the processional, as is the case with all graduation ceremonies.

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This is a better view of the full classroom. Latticia Bevans is giving the welcome.

Sam went up to the office immediately after the ceremony to ‘do the paperwork’ with Brandy and her mother for the scholarship while proud moms and dads and aunts and uncles hung around a good while taking pictures.

It was a very good day.

 

(photos by Ms. Cristy Barber, photographer extrordinaire)