Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Philippines countdown

Sixteen days and counting. This means that Vic and I have fourteen and a half days before we think about packing. We have done the responsible thing and talked about dress codes, etc., so we don't get caught in the wrong kind of pants. Duh. But we're not going to have to think about things too much between now and then. Vic will be working, which he does admirably. I will be teaching a class in Canada most of that time.

But upstairs at my house right now (I, coward, am hiding in the basement) are the three women from our flight crew -- two Julies and a Sharon -- who are discussing in detail every garment, accessory, voltage converter, hair dryer, and so on. At the same time (women are admirable multi-taskers) they are consuming a prodigious quantity of gluten free crackers, Cabot extra sharp cheddar, brie with jalapeno jelly, and smoked salmon. It's a packing party.

I'm not sexist. I think there are gifts God has given to each gender in its own right. Vic and I will, frankly, not worry much about our hair (what hair?), and very little about our clothes. (I spent fifteen minutes the other day setting aside the clothes I'm planning to bring. I'm set.) We will also not party together very much before leaving for the Philippines. The ladies, on the other hand, will have spent many hours agonizing about which pair of capris, one skirt or two, how to accessorize the various outfits, and how on earth it's all going to fit in one small carry-on bag. Don't get me wrong -- they are not packing a ton of stuff. If they were, I suspect this process would be easier. They're paring it down and planning carefully to pack light. At the same time, they are having, by the sound of it, a great time socializing together upstairs.

Moral of the story? If you want to leave in half an hour, bring guys along. If you want to make sure you look good and enjoy each others' company, women are indispensable.

In other news (before I get in any more trouble) we are rapidly getting to the last few details that need to be taken care of before we leave. We ordered Alpha resource books today so that seminar participants in the Philippines will be able to have the books they need that will allow them to lead Alpha courses after we're long gone. We had hoped to have resource materials supplied in the Philippines or by the Alpha Asia / Pacific people, but they don't have the materials on hand, so we've been looking for alternative solutions. Between our Twin Cities Alpha coordinator and a friend of his in the Alpha USA office, we're getting a pretty good collection of Alpha resources that we'll pack in a checked bag and bring along. The goal is for each person at the three different seminars to have an Alpha Guest Manual that they can take home, as well as other resources that they can purchase. Anything that's leftover we'll set up in a resource center -- one in each area where the seminars have been conducted -- so that people can make use of the resources and prepare Alpha courses in the months to come.

We also have one major fundraiser coming up. If you're in the Elk River area, you won't want to miss Monday evening, March 12th, at the Pizza Ranch restaurant. Several members of the team (both ground crew and flight crew) will be there to bus your dishes, to share information about the trip, and to accept tips from anyone willing to donate. (They might promote Alpha along the way as well!) A percentage of the proceeds from your meal, plus any tips, plus up to $500 matching funds from Thrivent, will go to the Philippines trip. So come and enjoy!

If you are praying for us (thank you!) you can continue to pray for good health -- pray with much rejoicing on this score, as we're all doing pretty well in spite of a couple nagging sinus infections. Pray for our preparation as we each rehearse the talks we'll be delivering at the three different seminars. Pray for the seminar participants, that God would create a hunger in them to do Alpha as a way to reach out to their neighbors. Pray with much rejoicing for the ongoing generosity of many on our ground crew who have been providing resources that allow us to be more effective in bringing Alpha to the central Philippines! Pray for the fundraiser at Pizza Ranch on March 12, that it would be successful in three ways: First, as a fundraiser. Second, as a way to inform people about what we're doing in the Philippines. Third, as a way to promote Alpha within the Elk River area!

Thanks as always for your partnership, your prayers, and your amazing support for this adventure!

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