Archive for October, 2005

Origen, and Mongolian Horses

I posted this just for fun. This is a Mongol felt burn. Since Mongolia is only 6 hrs south from here, I thought it could pass as relevant. Mongolians like horse milk more than milk from cows. Did you know that? 🙂

Today, we met and studied Acts and pr together. The fellowship encouraged us all. After lunch, we planned the next Coffee Club evening. Our theme will be friendship, and we expect a ton of people to come. After that meeting, Maya went visiting (to invite a girl to the Coffee Club) which left me a few hours of quiet study time while the children napped.

I am studying Ch history and worked through some of Origen’s sermons. All the bad things that folks write about poor old Origen are not completely warranted, at least in my opinion. Yes, he employed the silly allegorical method; however, he does not deserve to be credited as its inventor: the supposed Father of Allegory. In reality, allegory was the fad in those days, especially among the Alexandrians. Origen, in his genius, merely carried the bad practice to a new level of perfection and perhaps popularized it.

Most forget that he also contributed something to homiletics that most of us would say is quite helpful: expositional structure. Before Origen, (excluding the first generation ch) the sermon was a random discourse about general truths and moral inferences from the Word. He brought order to the house and structured a sermon around a biblical text with an interpretation (and his straight interpretations were usually good). That method influenced homiletics long after the allegorical treatment lost its popularity; and it remains widely practiced today.

Check back tomorrow for a post about my family (just in case the history lesson frightened you away).


Clay Pots & Coffee

We enjoyed an outstanding evening at the Coffee Club (college group). Four new students joined and we played games and discussed their likes and dislikes about this city.

Most importantly, they want to start coming regularly!

Near the end of the night we played a rather cool game: pictionary with clay: maybe Claytionary?? Anyway, the basic idea is to form an object with clay that your teammate can guess. If he does, you get a point.

My friend, Mark, remembered Paul’s illustration that we ourselves are clay pots, filled with a treasure that is out of this world; or, better, the Treasure that is not of this world. Ironic, here we are, a bunch of clay pots, playing with clay so that these young people might one day be clay pots as well, filled with the everlasting Treasure. (2cor.4:7)

This morning, we met with Mark & Ayuna to plan Tuesday’s group with the young married couples. Now, Maya and David are shopping for new winter items (we finally had snow last night: time to get prepared) and Hannah is asleep. In two hours our first Altai lesson begins. Maybe our neighbor will visit us this evening.

Thank you for holding the ropes for us during this crucial phase.

For we are His poiema…

Although Maya did not take any photos (actually, I forgot to ask her to), the Women’s Group went really well last night. They named their group, “Poiema”, which is a Greek word that sometimes means ‘poem’, but also can mean ‘masterpiece’ or ‘craftsmanship’ and is used with deep meaning and implications in some very important Greek literature (eg. Eph 2:10). Name in place, they made invitations and have several in mind to invite. We think we have made headway with those who currently attend. Please continue to hold the ropes for this group.

I spent this morning buried in project correspondence, and, after lunch, I plan to run around and try to solve some remaining registration issues.

Later this evening the fourth Coffee Club (university student’s group) meeting starts at 6pm (GMT+6). Several new people have said they would come, which is great news. Please keep this group in your prs. as well.

Russian, Women’s Club, Pirate Night & More

(Even though this picture is almost completely unrelated to the theme, I thought my parents and people who like little babies would enjoy it. I took this picture of Hannah yesterday, three minutes after she woke up.)

This morning, after breakfast, I went with great enthusiasm to my office (about 30 minutes away, by bus). I hit the books this morning to start language study. Yippee (I am trying to convince myself that this is exciting stuff). While language study is admittedly a tad dreary, I see the value in maintaining Russian (and progressing!) because, if I do not, it will degrade quickly. Our leaders suggest that I find 10 hours a week to do that. It is very difficult to find that many free hours (not to mention the motivation). I have to keep it before me that this time is important preparation for the B study (where I will be the main teacher) which starts right after New Years.

There is an added twist in that, while I continue to study Russian, Maya and I are starting a new language, Altaic (the heart language of most Altai people, though most speak Russian as well). We have a teacher and I may have found a good language helper: a person named Ermen. I met him at the group for married couples.

Tonight, the fourth “Woman’s Club” meeting begins at 5pm (GMT+6). Please keep this in your pr-rs. The group has room to grow, so pr. that more would be interested. The focus is completely on relationship building at this point. We believe that after a relationship is established a B study will be much more valuable and interesting to them. I will try to get Maya to take some pictures that I can post tomorrow.

My privilege this evening (and I do count it a privilege) is to stay at home and hang out with David and Hannah while Maya plays a crucial role at the Women’s Club. David, Hannah and I will probably build a ‘fort’ out of blankets and dress up like pirates, watch Vegitales and eat instant food. I can hardly wait!

Young Married’s Group Kick-off

Tonight, the group for married couples got off to a wonderful start. We are so thankful. The group seems eager to meet on Tuesday evenings. Two Altai couples plus another couple from the team came: so in the end we had four couples including Maya and me. Because of the size of our living room, the group can only grow by one or two couples. The advantage of a small group is a warm atmosphere and so, we might invite only one additional couple. We would like to build solid relationships with these young families and invite them to the B study that starts around New Years.

Tonight, we went without a theme and enjoyed playing get-to-know you games and good plain fellowship (the picture shows a riveting game Jenga in action). For the next several weeks, we will teach themes like principals of marriage, love, child-rearing, etc. They showed strong interest in studying those topics.

Thank you for keeping this in your pr-s. We feel like this particular group is important.

Family Day, Sort Of

We try to use Mondays as our family day. This is the only day when we avoid the phones, email, receiving guests and meetings, etc to enjoy exclusively family-oriented stuff. This morning, however, it did not work out. Our registration saga continues and I had to do some running around. We will take a half day this week, though both of us view that as less than the ideal.

This week, we have a full load of meetings and home groups. Two new items get added this week: tomorrow, our married couple’s group starts and on Saturday, the Altai language group begins. That should round out our schedules nicely.

Please pr. for all these groups and for the relationships that we are trying to establish and build!

It is rainy today and warm: crazy weather for late October in Siberia. This cannot last. I expect that winter will come suddenly and with fury.

Constrained a Debtor

This morning the team (pitured above, minus our David and the ones on home assignment: L-R Mark, Ayuna, Tanya, Tahirih, Hannah, Maya and me) came over and we spent time together in pr. and w—ship. On Sundays we study Acts together, which helps us tremendously as a team to keep our focus sharp and to stay the correct course.

From the morning devos: Romans blows me away! Today I continued in chapter five and got stuck on verses 6-8. The hymnist sums up my response to such powerful and humbling truths:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it—
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart—O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.