Love and Learning

Today is day six of our two-week Pre-Field Orientation (PFO) training in Houghton, NY and so far it has been quite exhausting but also very enriching.  We and about 150 other individuals and families came here to prepare to serve at international schools all over the globe. In addition to the seven of us here who will be serving together in Ecuador, there are families moving to Germany, Hungary, China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Kenya – 11 different countries in all!   We’ve heard some amazing stories about how God has called people to this work, and we’re humbled to be among them.  It’s been so fun to start getting to know some of the other staff that will be starting in the fall at AAI with us – there’s something about the shared experience of moving overseas that can spark some wonderful friendships.  We’re in a small group with two other couples for Bible study and advising sessions (pictured in the photo above), and have really enjoyed our times together.

The lanyards we get to where everyday we're at orientation!

I’ve also gotten to meet several other Third Culture Kids (TCKs) like me who grew up in various countries overseas and got to share my own thoughts and experiences on a TCK panel.  It was pretty amazing to hear the other’s stories, watch all our faces come alive as we talked, and feel that unique bond between TCKs that is strong and familiar – even when we’ve just met!  Amazingly, we discovered that four of us on the panel had lived in Nairobi, Kenya at about the same time, but had each attended a different school – we’d never met, but must have been at the same high school soccer games rooting against each other’s teams!  Small world, as they say.

Since we’ve been at PFO, we’ve attended classes that covered a pretty huge amount of information about things like the stages of overseas transition, developing a theology of risk, strategies for ministering to diverse student populations, and identifying personality types and communication styles – and we’re barely halfway through the program!  I tested once again as a tried and true INFJ on the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, but Doug’s type is less clear – ISTP? ISTJ?  Whatever he is, I sure like him.

Arriving at the only restaurant in town.

It’s been two years and three days since I got to marry my most treasured friend – happy anniversary, my love! : ) Celebrating our second anniversary in the tiny “town” of Houghton in the midst of PFO will be added to the host of memorable experiences we’ve shared together.  At the suggestion of another couple, we skipped out on the dining hall dinner and went to eat at a little Chinese restaurant nearby – well, really the only restaurant there is as far as we can tell!  Over heaping Styrofoam plates of broccoli & beef and sweet-and-sour chicken, we savored some moments alone (really – we were the only ones in the restaurant!) and felt truly blessed by our marriage and the journey that lies ahead.  We never could have imagined where we would end up, yet it is so clearly exactly where we are supposed to be.  I’m so thankful for where God is leading us and for the incredible man I get to journey with there.

A nice quiet anniversary dinner all by ourselves.

We are so thankful to the people who have been praying for us and asking about how we’re doing – it makes all the difference to have supportive relationships to anchor and lift us up.  Please continue to pray for us as we forge through the chaos of transition, that our hearts would remain rooted in Christ, that we would find times of rest and rejuvenation, and that we would be open to hearing whatever God has to teach us here each day.  It all feels exhausting sometimes, and yet we’re so encouraged by what lies ahead!

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angela June 29, 2012 United States