So the final installment of this epic journey is hard to write.
I am back in the relative lap of luxury, eating fast food, watching shallow TV and soaking in the cleanness and safety that is the universe of North America. It is nice.
It is also a bit hard to relate to. I am glad to be back but do now wish to become numbed by the ease of the west. People who have been exposed to cultures and worlds of poverty, upheaval, insecurity and stress all have the same syndrome. I have heard this perspective from missionaries my whole life. I am sure it has a name but I am not aware that it has been tagged yet.
One good thing to mention as I reflect back on the last few months is that all my students passed their exams. Some of them passed because they actually understood the material and some others passed because they were able to memorize enough of the notes to guess at more than half the answers right. I am overjoyed with the former and mildly relieved with the latter. I was rather uncertain that some of them would be progressing to the next year without do-overs.
The other thing to mention is the heat. Did I complain before about the weather? I repent in sackcloth and ashes. Part of the strain of 40 degree heat is fighting the temptation to just sit around complaining about it to people who do not want to be suffering both the heat AND your annoying whining.
There was a rule in the house where I took my meals. No one could use any term referring in any way to heat. A fine was associated to the topic and the penalty jar was soon stuffed. I discovered that one can always find something to complain about if you put your mind to it.
When I left the city of Kolkata it was the usual smoldering, baking, mind warping temperature and one begins to dream of snow and cold. It is hard to imagine that these things exist anywhere so when I left for home I was wearing a light short sleeve shirt, light pants and sandals. Arriving to early spring weather in the northwestern part of the continent, standing out in the rain and wind, waiting for my ride, and once again I am prone to bitter complaints.
I do have a clearer idea of what I will be doing next winter which is good news for me. I will be headed back to India in October to train two sets of experienced pastors who will then be supporting literally hundreds of other pastors and church planters out in the field. I will be working with four pastors each time. The plan is to develop a curriculum using these pastors to take the concepts that will be developed and turn them into something that is appropriate for the India context. This will involve asking the pastors to use Indian idioms, concepts, and teaching patterns in their own language. These will then be turned into video lectures to be made available to the hundreds of churches that will be visited and supported.
I am both frightened and excited by the prospect of doing this. Because of the financial situation that these pastoral leaders find themselves in I have taken the responsibility to pay for all the expenses of these pastors during this training period. This means one month of training and curriculum development and two weeks of practicum. Travel, food, lodging will need to be covered. This will add about $4,000 to my own personal expenses.
I would also like to provide used laptop computers to these pastors so that the training can continue once they start to travel and work with the churches. If this sounds like something that you can get behind and feel like supporting this effort then your help is very much needed. Look at the website (www.brucespinney.com) and you will find a number of ways of donating either the funds or the laptops.
I have enjoyed this path. I hope those of you who have followed this process have felt like you have been dragged along with me. So many people have been encouraging and supportive and I want to thank all of you. Please keep me in mind over the next number of months as I prepare to go back.
Bruce Spinney is a preacher, a teacher and a truck driver. He returned to BC a few weeks ago, but is wimping it out in Vancouver until the snow that buried his car over the winter is gone.