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).

Twenty Twelve

What a beautiful year this has been.

It began as all years were meant to begin…on the slopes of Colorado. This was the 7th year in a row that Jeremy and I had been able to snowboard together and it was even better having my parents and Chris to ski with as well. 

January 8th Jeremy celebrates another birthday in Colorado, but my family had to fly back to Decatur as we found out that Emo (my dad’s mom) died.

From Colorado, I flew to Chicago to attend a review course for my PANCE, and Jeremy drove back to Memphis to board a flight for Milan. I spent the next 4 days sitting in classes while Jeremy ate pizza and Italian food in Milan (and did research for the 2012 Harding Art program). 

We met back in Memphis to get settled in our new apartment on the HST campus; but the next day, with wet laundry in tow, we made a last minute decision to go to Decatur for me to take the PANCE. Nine days later we found out that I passed and became a PA-C. 

We spent the spring semester figuring out life in Memphis, meeting new friends, and Jeremy taking a full load of classes at HST. Jeremy was also able to teach some classes  for the HIZ students in Searcy.

May brought weddings and nieces. Jeremy performed his first wedding for his sister and Jared. We spent several days with our HIZ group out at HUT, learning names and faces, preparing for the fall semester. At the end of May, we went to Decatur to welcome Emma Gunter Copeland into the world. She was 7 lbs of perfection.

For 7 weeks of the summer I worked with middle schoolers at the YMCA day camp. While I was busy with camp, Jeremy took two classes, preached at Iglesia, and continued to train for hiking Mt. Rainier. 

I worked for 1 month in Knoxville in a temporary PA position there, before we began our 5 month stint of living out of suit cases. 

After 9 months of training, the time finally came to climb Mt. Rainier. We summited 14,410 ft at 6:50 a.m. on August 5, and this summer then became known as “The Summer we Summited Mt. Rainier.”

After quick visits to Decatur and Searcy to see family for one last time, we departed for HUT on Aug. 17 with our HIZ group and then flew out of Memphis on Aug. 20 landing in Zambia on the next day. 

For the next 3 months we lived in Zambia directing the overseas program for 26 college students. It was a dream job and we loved every minute of it. At the end of our time in Zambia we traveled 21 days through Tanzania and Uganda before returning to Searcy on November 27. 

We caught up with family in Searcy then Decatur before beginning our road trip up to New York. On our drive we stopped to see Anna in Rome, GA, then the Curtis Family in South Carolina, then Caitlin in Virginia, then sightseeing in D.C. finally arriving in the Bronx, NY to stay with Seth and Rebekah for Christmas. While visiting the city we were able to see Phantom of the Opera and celebrate Christmas with the whole Daggett family on Christmas day in New Jersey. 

We drove straight back to Decatur a few days later to spend the end of the year here.

What an adventure God carried us on this year. And as a new year begins, so does a new adventure. 

Here We Go Again

We have been married now for 1,185 days. And in those wonderful 1,185 days
it seems as though we haven’t stopped going. And here we go again.

It has almost been as if, just as we are getting settled into our life, God
provides an opportunity for us to go again.

We have been stretched and pushed and stressed, but at the same time we
have experienced love and grace and growth and peace. And this is where our
hope rests. In a God that provides strength through his love and very Being.

We have a God who is at work in this world to make His name known so His
glory and honor can fill the earth. He is on a mission, and has been since
the beginning of time, to bring His creation, humanity, from every nation
and tribe and language into His presence and into relationship with Him.
And since we believe this, how could our mission not be the same?

For the next 99 days we will be leading a group of 27 college students on
their study abroad semester in Zambia. Jeremy will be teaching Missionary
Anthropology and Communication in Culture. I will be teaching a
conditioning class. We both will be the on-site directors for the program,
planning and organizing the semester class schedule and trips, responsible
for returning all 27 students home safely on November 26. We’re honored to
have this opportunity and so excited to live and learn and work in Zambia
with this incredible group.

There may be times that we will be uncomfortable. We will be pressed, and
challenged, and tested, but we take joy in the fact that God has filled us
with his Holy Spirit, that will guide and direct us. We go humbly as
learners and servants to let God’s glory shine and His name to be known.

So here we go. Never to be so comfortable in this life that we forget to
live for the One who gave it to us.