Resolving to Learn

As a couple this year, we resolve to learn.

We have hopes and dreams for the future, as well as a sense of to what (and where) God is calling us. So, in 2013, we focus on learning and preparing intentionally for this calling. This is a snapshot of our future plans and what 2013 will look like.

What are we preparing for?

Katie and I are part of a team that has formed to do church planting and community development in southern Peru. In 2014, our team plans to join the McKinzie and Smith families who form Team Arequipa, and transition into a sort of “Team Arequipa 2.0.” I have been thinking about Peru since 2006. Katie and I have been thinking about South American missions since we spent a month in Peru and Bolivia the summer we got married (2009). God has since provided a vision and a team and so, in the last year and a half, our plans and timeline have taken on more tangibility. Our team’s timeline and details of what this transition to Arequipa might look like continue to develop.

How are we preparing?

I said our focus was to prepare intentionally. Well, this morning we’re getting on a plane and flying to Peru to live in Arequipa for two months. Katie and I will both do two months of intensive language school with individual instructors for 20 hours a week. The rest of our time we will be practicing Spanish (i.e. doing our homework) and spending time with the McKinzies, Smiths, and Peruvian Christians who are part of the work in Arequipa. We’ll also be doing some research (which might better fit the traditional understanding of a “survey trip”) hoping to learn answers to some of the questions we have for 2014 and beyond.

We’ll be back in the US on February 28; my first day of class for the semester at HST is March 1. The rest of 2013 is dedicated to learning through formal education for me (hoping finish the last 36 hours of my degree by May 2014) and learning through working as a PA for Katie. We hope to move back to the Memphis area in early March and are prayerful that Katie will find the perfect job for this sort of working preparation.

Why learn?

A final question to think about as we start off the year. Is the task of learning a worthy one? Some say that at some point you need to stop “learning" and start "doing" something. I disagree. A follower of Jesus, a child of God, a "global Christian," whatever you want to call yourself, must have the posture of a learner. Humans, understood as creatures in the image of their Creator, are by definition part of something bigger, and so they have something to learn. As we do stuff, we try to learn, knowing that we’ll be better at what we do because of it.

The wisest teacher who ever lived (of Ecclesiastes fame) offers a helpful perspective on learning:

  • I’ll never know it all
  • I commit myself to learning what I can

The Teacher got it right. He recognizes human mortality (which isn’t pessimism or fatalism; it’s realism) and acknowledges a bigger story. He tries to make the most of his life within the context of God’s story.

And so we find ourselves dedicating 2013 to the timeless task of learning, although I have a feeling it’s a lifelong endeavor.

Always learners,

Jeremy and Katie

PS - The two points from the Teacher above come from Ecclesiastes 8:16-17. John Fortner calls the Teacher’s attitude throughout Ecclesiastes one of “epistemological humility” (i.e. being humble about what you know and how you came to know it). His 2009 HU Lectureship keynote is well worth a listen (start a few minutes in if you want to miss the songs and announcements).