Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Preparing to leave and PFO notes

Some of the bags.

As we get ready to leave, on our last full day in the States we are packing feverishly, doing our best not to forget anything.  We have already shipped boxes of items to Vienna.  Mostly my books but other odds and ends, imagine reducing everything you own to 16 boxes and 12-15 suitcases.  It has been a good process actually but a growing one.  I am a natural pack rat.  I am not good at throwing things away, all of the ‘organized’ types look at me as if I’m a sub life form but I do try.  God seemed to see fit to bless me with other gifts, there apparently wasn‘t room for organization so the last 6 months of preparation were challenging.  Still, that which doesn’t kill me only serves to make me stronger. 

Dan Egeler speaking at one of the sessions.
In my last post I said I would post a blog on the content of our PFO (Pre-Field Orientation).  I would say the entirety of PFO could be broken up into three categories (had to be three)

1 - Know Thyself:  Nosce te ipsum
This is as simple as it sounds.  The first few days amidst program overview lectures we reviewed Myers Briggs results and other various self evaluation tests.  Amusingly on the Myers Briggs I ended up being an INTP.  I suspect there will be some that doubt the ‘I’ part but I feel pretty good about the result.
In another aspect of understanding yourself, there were sessions on keeping your head on straight during your time abroad.  A significant emphasis was on moral purity, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls along the way.  In my opinion the best and most valuable material was related to keeping your Christian faith strong.  Good stuff.

2 - Understand Others:
I would say the vast majority of the time spent at PFO was spent learning to understand others.  An emphasis here focused on Third Culture Kids (TCK’s), mostly as we will be teaching TCK’s.  TCK’s by definition are children from one culture that are transplanted into another culture.  They end up with a point of view that doesn’t naturally fit in either culture.  The term applies to the third combination culture and how to relate to students that fit in this scenario.
Other than learning about TCK’s, a primary focus for the conference was how to better understand others and how to have a better understanding of what living in other cultures is like and how to adapt to function well within that culture.

3 - Application
Time was given to reviewing different applications for what we studied.  To me, the most interesting and possibly valuable was a morning long simulation.  In this simulation we were placed in a scenario where a Christian school in another country was being attacked by anti government rebels.  The participants were placed in rooms, roughly 25/room and isolated from the rest of the group.  We were each given roles by the facilitator who was not allowed to give any instructions besides what was on the instruction sheet.  From that point on we were not allowed to leave the room or receive additional instruction.  One of the roles, the head of the school, was conducted by a staff member.  Other assigned roles were assistant principal, various teaching roles, a limited number of students, a person who was assigned to be a national citizen and other non American participants.
The simulation details went as follows;  There has been rebel activity in the city where the school is located.  The school was across town from the activity and due to perceived lack of threat it continued operation as normal.  At a recorded point in the morning a ‘Code Red’ was called over the school intercom.  The school Code Red procedure mandates that anyone in the school proceed immediately to a classroom, lock down the classroom and hide.  The instructions did not indicate if the lock down classrooms were predetermined or random.
From this point the instructions from the moderator were sporadic.  Usually indicating an event was taking place.  In one instance the facilitator indicated gunfire was heard and later the principal came over the intercom and told everyone that rebels made it into a class room and there were casualties.  No more could be determined at that time.  Various other updates were given though out the morning.  The head of the school also came and gave updates in person a few times but would not stay to answer questions.
In all the simulation lasted 2-3 hours.  Efforts were made to protect the students and if the classroom was breached by rebels the teachers were to attempt to delay the rebels to provide the best opportunity for the students to escape.  At each update, even though we knew it was only a scenario, we found the tension rising in the room.  Participants began to assume the personality of the character they were assigned, at least in some capacity.  At the conclusion of the simulation the principal entered and gave an update.  The American military was sending special forces to evacuate American Citizens from the compound.  Citizens of other countries, including national citizens were told they must stay behind and wait for assistance from their passport countries.  This was found to be difficult for those who were the American citizens.  It was very difficult to leave friends, colleagues and students behind, not knowing their fate. One of the most interesting aspects of the simulation was even though we knew it was a simulation, as the morning wore on the participants began to get into their roles.  By the end of the simulation, choices that had to be made related to evacuation were difficult and in some cases emotional for participants. 

Well, back to packing.  We are getting close.  Please keep us in your prayers, much is going on over the next several day.  I would like to thank those that have chosen to support us prayerfully and also those who have chosen to do so financially.  We could not do it without you.  If you are considering supporting us financially and have not done so yet, you can find links in the upper left column on our blog page making it easy to contribute online.  We are not to our support level yet and would greatly appreciate any support great or small.

Blessing, Billy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Philippians 3:20 - For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

What a roller-coaster ride we are on!!  Our house is packed, cleaned, and sold!!  We are so grateful to our parents, family, and friends who helped us pack, load, clean, and  unload.  It was neat to see how God provided fresh help each day!  On Monday we closed on the house and headed to Quincy with the moving truck.  It took us about three days to get the truck packed and the house completely cleaned out and then only 2 hours to unload the truck and get everything put away.  What a blessing to have wonderful family and friends, their continued support and encouragement has helped us get through this difficult phase of transitioning.  

On Saturday several sweet friends gave me a going away party.  It was such a nice respite to get away and visit with ladies from church before we depart.  In addition, Sunday we were commissioned by our home church, First Baptist Church of Middleburg.  We are so blessed to be loved and supported by our pastor and church family.

We will be spending a few days in Quincy and then head back to Jacksonville to be with Billy's family. The "good-byes" continue to be the hardest part.  It's hard to believe that this time next week we will be heading to Atlanta to fly to Vienna.

Always grateful for your love and prayers,
Ada (aka "Miss" Clair)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Loading the Truck

Proverbs 16:9 - The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

We start loading the moving truck today!!  Things are a little crazy around our house right now!  Tuesday was Billy's last day at work! (woohoo!!!)  Our Moms have been helping us pack and decide how and what to pack.  Our friends have helped pack and move most of our furniture already!  So blessed by our family and friends.  Once we close on the house Monday, we will be staying with our parents until we leave on August 1st!  That's only 13 days from today!  Yes things are moving fast, but God continues to take care of all the details!

Sunday we will be commissioned by our church and will enjoy the annual "Day at the Beach"!  It will be a bittersweet time over the next few days as we spend time with friends and family!  The "good-byes"  are the hardest part.  As we say "good-bye", we are grateful for the ICSV family waiting to welcome us to Vienna!

Thank you again for all your support and prayers! God is good all the time!!
Well I best get to packing, the truck will be here soon!

Love you all,
Ada (aka "Miss" Clair)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thank you Lord!

Psalms 7:17 - I will give thanks to the
 Lord according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

We are praising God today!!!  We have a contract on our home with the closing scheduled for July 23rd!!  Yes in just a few short days!  Needless to say this will be brief because we have lots of packing to do.

We are also thankful for the wonderful surprise going away party held at Billy's company today!  He had no idea it was planned and was speechless especially when he saw the children and I were there.  

We are also thankful for PFO and new friends!!  Mitchell and Lydia had a wonderful time!  We all feel better prepared to transition to Vienna.

Well I best get back to packing!  Thank you for your words of encouragement and prayers!  

Ada (aka "Miss" Clair)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homeward bound.

Picture of the Niagara Falls from the bridge into Canada.

We are on our final day of driving as we return from our Pre-Field Training (PFO) and I have a moment to reflect.  PFO was held on the campus of Houghton College in NY.  We were in training for two weeks and they had us going for the entire two weeks save the Sunday afternoon between the weeks.  We took a group trip to Niagara Falls for a much needed get away.  Niagara Falls was on my personal bucket list and I was glad to get the opportunity to visit such a historic landmark.  For those that haven’t been it is worth the trip, an amazing example of the beauty God created in our world.

I have been asked a number of times what is PFO?  I will post on the content of PFO separately in the next blog.  The PFO program is under the direction of The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).  The leader in charge of the program is Dr. Dan Egeler.  Occasionally in life you run into a humble follower of Christ that gets it.  I mean really gets it, Dan Egeler is one of those people.  He spoke a number of times during the two weeks, Ada and I learned a lot.  Thanks Dan, perhaps the next time you’re in Vienna we can go to dinner.

PFO Team Vienna.

The most notable aspect of PFO next to the content of the lectures is the community formed during the training.  Ada and I met lifelong friends during the two weeks.  People that are like minded that you know as soon as you meet them you like them and relate to them.  I am as thankful for this blessing as any other at PFO. 

Thanks to all who have helped us so far in making it to the mission field.  My understanding of how active God is in the world has gone up tenfold.  There are many Christian schools all over the word investing in lives of young people for eternity.  I will end by quoting a Chinese proverb related to these schools:

If you are planting for a year, plant grain.
If you are planting for a decade, plant trees.
If you are planting for a century, plant people.