I’ve recently been writing a long-due and much-needed newsletter sharing all that I was up to in the year 2012. As I’ve been remembering everything that happened, it has once again brought to mind things that I learned and processed over that period of time.
One of these topics is human dignity and the power of words.
When talking with people about some of my experiences interacting with extreme poverty, as I had some opportunity to do in Thailand, I have used the word “slums” in order to provide a clear picture of the conditions these people were living in. However, as I was working alongside longterm missionaries in Bangkok, I loved how they referred to these places they were working in.
These missionaries understood the power of words—the power in names. Rather than using the word “slums”, which calls to mind destitution and hopelessness, when speaking to the residents they simply called these places “communities”—a place people call “home”, a place where life and hope may be found.
It is amazing how much this simple word choice can uphold and even increase the dignity of the people living there. After all, regardless of the conditions they are living in, they are people just like the rest of us, and these places are their homes where they live full lives. No, these places where they live, these communities are far from ideal. Yes, they have very few things of monetary value. Yes, they have great need. Yes, we seek and are commanded to help them. But that does not devalue who they are as a person and their innate gifts.
As people created by God, they have dignity and they are invaluable. God has given them strengths and resources within themselves. Their lives are important. Slums are not their identity, nor their lot in life. And if they remember this, they may have hope.
These are not completed thoughts, but they are something I have been processing this past year, and again recently.
Because of all the studying I’ve been doing, my websites have been sadly neglected of late. Currently working on changing that! I’ve updated both my main website and this blog, bringing them back into working order and freshening up their design. Though, I hope to not end with just this! I’m dreaming of finally getting back into blogging regularly… possibly just occasional anecdotal type writings, possibly more.
On a side note, it isn’t just my websites that have been undergoing remodeling. My parent’s home is also currently being freshened up as well, which has contributed a bit to the current craziness of our lives. But it’s worth it. It’s nice seeing the house with fresh new, bright and cheery paint on the walls. Looking forward to new flooring too!
Ever read Numbers 19? At first glance, it seems like a bunch of mystical, religious formalities. Even as a Christian, I at least always saw it as such… and thanked God that I am no longer under the Law. Praise Jesus! But actually, this is a a recipe for soap. Thank you, God—I think I’ll keep this one!
I recently completed my Advanced Principles of Communication course, in which we studied a great deal about the different spheres within society. One aspect we covered that I was particularly struck by was how God’s Word—Old Testament and New Testament alike—has a lot to say regarding each one. For example, did you know how much God cares about Science & Technology? As touched on above, I found the level to which He details health issues and sanitation mind-blowing! I was also fascinated to realise how all the spheres capture and reflect aspects of God’s character.
Another piece I have learned is how each sphere was created by God, and how He values and works within all of them alike—not one of them may be considered “more holy” than another. As Colossians 1:16 says so aptly, “…all things were created through Him and for Him.” (ESV) Therefore, I have learned that we as Christians have been called to be involved within all the domains and to bring glory to God within them! This has encouraged me as I continue to pursue my degree within the spheres of Communication and the Arts, confident that my work within these spheres is just as valuable to God as work within the sphere of Church (or any other).
Life here in Switzerland has been crazy busy and time is flying! Schools in the University of the Nations are very intensive and I have very little free time outside of class work. However, I am so grateful to recieve training in how I can develop and use the skills God has given me to make a difference! Since I last wrote you, I have completed two more schools and am now in the midst of my 4th since coming to Burtigny.
School of Digital Communications
I was in the middle of this school when I wrote in February. It trained me in using the Adobe Suite, the series of programmes which are used by the top designers of the world. Wow, they were complicated! I learned to create designs for both print and web-related work, as well as how to edit videos and make 3D animations. As part of my final project, I created an online portfolio where you may see everything I made! Visit my Portfolio.
School of Communication Foundations
This school was amazing!!! We were trained in all facets of communication: public speaking, research & story writing, non-verbal communication, interpersonal conversation, relationship with God… the list goes on! I grew so much in my confidence around other people and more comfortable with who God has made me to be. It was stressful, but I survived and did quite well, actually. The main project in the school was a 15 page research paper seeking to learn more about and understand a specific people group. It was such a rewarding assignment to understand and appreciate people different from ourselves. I researched the American Deaf Community and am quite proud of my result. If you are interested, let me know and I would be happy to send you a PDF copy. 🙂
School of Humanities & Science
This school combined with the worldview school at a neighbouring YWAM base in the German side of Switzerland due to lack of students. The merge resulted in a very multinational school: out of 20 (11 students, 9 staff), we represend 14 different countries. This is one thing I love so much about YWAM! You get to meet people from all over the globe and all different cultures and upbringings, yet all united in our love for God and our desire to bless those in need around us! Through this school, I have been learning to ask questions and examine the messages that are continually being thrown at us, in order to determine whether or not they line up with God’s truth. The way we view the world has such an effect on how we live. I want be able to help people learn the truth that all are created in God’s image for His good purpose! Next week our class will be learning how to make a difference in a practical way, through using water technology to provide clean drinking water for those who do not otherwise have access. There are only five more weeks to this school—I can’t believe it! I am excited to move on, but it is hard to say goodbye to friends.
There is still a bit more to do before I come home to Alaska in April 2012. As part of my degree programme, I am required to apply the design skills I learned in my School of Digital Communications through an internship. I have the exciting opportunity to take part in redesigning the University of the Nations website. This makes me rather nervous because it is such a big project, but I am grateful and blessed to gain the experience!
In January I will be heading to Bangkok, Thailand, where I will be taking an advanced-level critical thinking and communications course (Advanced Principles of Communication, or for brevity’s sake, APC). I am anticipating how I will learn and grow through this school, as well as looking forward to experiencing Thai culture… if I don’t die in the heat! 🙂
I still have many more schools to take in order to complete my degree, however I am looking forward to coming home! I miss my family and friends, and I miss Alaska. In April, I’ll be back to reconnect, and to work as I raise more funds to continue in my education.
I am excited to see how God leads me to use my degree; although, if I am completely honest, it is a bit frustrating right now not knowing exactly where this is all heading! I wish I could say that I am learning design in order to join some specific ministry effort, but I just don’t know. God has been telling me to be patient and complete this degree… though I do feel that whatever I do will be missions-related. Please pray that I will be faithful in the small and learn whatever I need to learn for the future. Please also pray for my stamina as I take these intensive courses, and that I do not lose my focus on Christ in the midst of the busy schedule.
Thank you all so much for your love and support, and please keep me know how you are, as well! May God bless you richly!