International Ministries

F2F or On-Line? Both Rock!

August 21, 2016 Journal
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Cara a Cara (Face to Face) in Costa Rica

At the end of July all the Latino International Ministries’ missionaries gathered in San Jose, Costa Rica, to meet our new Executive Director Sharon Koh and to also immerse ourselves in the next step of strategic planning with the Responding to the Call Document.  As Sharon begins her new role it was important for her to meet all the missionaries face to face.  And to be honest, any chance to come together with some of our missionary colleagues is a joy-filled opportunity!  Our first impressions of Sharon?  Energetic, passionate, empathetic, a heart for missions & missionaries, organized, visionary, skilled listener, and a willingness to be vulnerable.  She will bring a fresh perspective and vitality to IM’s future.

As part of our new role in Spiritual Formation & Renewal, we’ve also been asked to focus on how to encourage our colleagues in Spiritual care practices.  We had the opportunity to talk with many of our missionary colleagues face-to-face as well as in several small group settings.  Like many of you who serve in leadership positions, they are weary at a soul level.  We talked about ways to address that weariness, how to build self-care into our routines, and how to encourage each other on the journey.  We’re also trying to conceive how to hold regional missionary gatherings more often.  Everyone agreed that coming together every 2-3 years would be a valuable part of missionary self-care.

F2F vs. On-Line Education

As part of our training to teach Spiritual Formation on-line, we’ve had to research some of the pros and cons of Face to Face (F2F) vs. on-line education. Perhaps you’ve wondered about the benefits of taking an on-line class?  Let us share some of the things we’ve discovered!

I (Joyce) grew up with face to face education.  I appreciated its creative and collaborative environment as well as interacting personally with my teacher and the other students.  However, technology grows by leaps and bounds every year, and has obviously impacted education in a myriad of ways—online education being one of them.  Having lived in Mexico where secondary education is not accessible to every person (mostly due to lack of finances), or where higher education isn’t possible (again finances but also geographic distances), I am thrilled that online education is gaining ground.  It allows education to cut across geographical, social, economic, gender, religious and ethnic barriers and become a basic human right for everyone.  It provides convenience and flexibility so that students can engage when their schedules permit, and also when they feel most highly motivated. 
I love that you can review material by watching videos or power points multiple times so that you not only grasp the material fully but also can be better prepared for a quiz or test.  Discussion forums allow for students to interact in a vibrant and engaging manner. A downside can be the technical issues that arise because inevitably they will.  But members of the class seem to assist each other in answering these types of questions.  An interactive learning environment can be nurtured and cultivated in online education that is just as effective and impactful as face to face.

SFRM510 Formación Espiritual

Palmer Theological Seminary joined forces with International Ministries to provide an on-line Masters of Theology degree for Latinos.  The classes are designed and taught in Spanish.  Spiritual Formation is the first class and we’re teaching it!  The first group of students is from Mexico City and the surrounding areas.  Module 1 is a residency in Mexico City which is happening this week!  David is there along with Missionary Mercy Barnes who will be teaching Church History, and Rev. Jose Norat who will be teaching Biblical Theology.  Other Palmer administration are represented too.  After the residency, the remaining 7 weeks will be taught on-line.  For our class there will be weekly discussion forums, a weekly journal, Spirituality & the Arts project, the development of a Personal Spiritual Formation Plan, and a Final Paper.  As soon as the first 8-week cohort ends, the second one begins!  There will be a short break over Christmas, and then a 3rd cohort starts.  Needless to say, from September through March our lives will be revolving around teaching this class!  We’ll keep you updated as the months go by.

Joyce’s Health

Joyce had a second colonoscopy at the beginning of July.  There was some minimal improvement since the first one.  The doctor says she is still presenting like Crohn’s Disease.  Because she has no classic symptoms, she is going to continue with a special diet and nutritional supplements and have a third colonoscopy in November.  If there is not marked improvement by then, she will need to consider surgery to remove that section of her colon, or more aggressive drug treatments.  She is appreciative of all the suggestions many of you have sent her for homeopathic treatments.  She has implemented many of them, and researched all of them.  Your prayers for continued healing sustain her!  God does not always heal us in the ways that we pray for, but we know that God hears every prayer and healing happens according to God’s directive.  We are learning a lot of about letting go.

Joyce’s Mom

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Joyce’s mom, Mary, since her house fire in February.  She decided not to rebuild.  She had the remains of her house removed and put the property up for sale in June.  Several weeks ago, it sold!  She is tying up loose ends here in PA and plans to relocate to her mobile home in FL this fall.

Family Vacation

We’re wrapping up the summer with a family vacation!  Our kids are joining us for ten days in a location where none of us live to have some R&R.  Afterwards, if you hear that we were in your area but didn’t come to see you, please don’t be upset!  We’re being protective of our family time and are looking forward to just the four of us hanging out, laughing, and enjoying God’s creation.

David & Joyce
7013 McCallum St., Apt A
Philadelphia, PA 19119