Finding Joy in Mexico City

(This post was adapted from a similar posting on my personal blog. Click on pictures to enlarge)

Artwork from inside the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City --------->

I was told recently that my personality type doesn't jive well with the North American ideal, and that I would be better suited in a Latin/South American context. Don't worry, I still plan to stick around these parts - but those were truly wise words.

So I went to Mexico City to be trained on how to lead a Global Partnership in the future (interesting notion, considering I’ve never been on one before), and these were some of the key criteria touched upon that a good director should be pursuing:

Finding the Teachable Moments; Planning for the Future; Inspiring Character Development; Building Effective Teams; Developing Cross-Cultural Competency.

Each of these areas were discussed at length, and the most exciting part (at least for me), was visioning around what the implications of a vibrant and growing field of Global Partnership means for the future of our ministry. Seriously, it was way too much fun dreaming about the future. All of the content was serious gold, and I’m really excited what this means for the students coming on a GP with me, and for future exec teams at U of T.

The views from my rooftop room.

We were based out of the Gran Texas Hotel and the Casa de Los Amigos for the five days we were there. My room was on the fourth floor of the hotel, and I had to actually exit the building and walk on the rooftop patio to get to my room (great!). The view was pretty fun too as I looked out on the rough-around-the-edges-but-beautiful neighbourhood. And as always, the people were pretty fun too. Seriously, I love IVCF folks. It’s near-impossible for me to spend a week with 25 Canadian staff and not have an enjoyable time. I think there’s a sense of deep understanding and respect we all share – a common commitment to the gospel – that allows us to all get along famously. It’s like going on an adventure with your best friends (both old and new).

I get to hang out with these people this August in East Asia! Even the Luchador!

I feel like I’m in a season of joy right now. I am so thankful for many of the experiences I’ve had as of late, and have seen nothing but good things happen on campus since returning (which is especially meaningful given the ups and downs of the year thus far). So Mexico = Awesome; Returning home = Awesome; Awesome + Awesome = Joy!

Another reason for my joyful attitude these days stems from this process I seem to be finding myself in where I’m seeing the many formerly-divided parts of myself being reintegrated and contributing to a feeling of wholeness. Consider this: For years I have had three competing desires that never reconciled with each other. 1) the desire to influence and shape lives [which led me to want to be a high school teacher]; 2) the desire to travel and see the world [which almost led me to drop out of university; and 3) the desire to write, film, and create [which still pulls at my attention]. Now, all three of these things are being brought together in my job.

On Sundays, major streets are shut down so cyclists can ride. Also, this Roman Catholic Cathedral seems to be a hub of activity on a daily basis.

I get to mentor and disciple university students on a daily basis, invite them to travel with me and engage foreign cultures in a way that is far more invested than mere tourism, and I ‘hopefully’ get to document my upcoming summer GP with a camera and microphone. So basically I get to be a Cross-Cultural-Documentary-Filmmaker-Campus-Minister. And I get to be trained in places like Mexico City. I seriously love my job!

There are many, many, MANY more anecdotes to share from this trip that are better shared over a cup of coffee and conversation, so if this post intrigues you, track me down.

A mere fraction of the city - while departing. Until next time...

Leaders Take Risks

I had a brief conversation with someone during Urbana who said that most students enter an Inter-Varsity campus fellowship and believe that what they experience is how it has always been and always will be. This, unfortunately, is a dangerous trap to fall into as it limits what the Spirit is able to call people to at specific times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen excitement from experiences in scripture squashed when students try to fit a new thing into an old model. This is why I am extremely excited and proud of our students these days.

Last night we had our first, and last, Large Group of 2010! Both students on our exec team, and active members of the community, felt like God was compelling us to try something different out of a desire to live an invitational and relational life. We had a mini “State of the Union” address, and here’s the vision for the future of the ministry that was unfolded:

-A decision has been made to have weekly community meals together on Monday nights that students can invite friends to (what student can say no to free food?). There will hopefully be informal faith discussions that naturally come out of spending time together. INTERESTING FACT: This started last term, and an average of 4-5 people came out. So far this term, the average is 15 people.

-For those who are intrigued by discussion on Monday nights, and want to dig deeper, we will be consolidating our small group bible studies into one group that continues to study parables and experiences with Jesus in Luke on Tuesday nights. This will take place in the residence dorm of one of our student leaders (and NOT tucked away into corners of campus that are hard to find).

-Allison and I will be encouraging and training every student who went to Urbana to lead an investigative bible study with friends, roommates, classmates. There is a real excitement to share what God did at Urbana with those on campus!

This is a GAME CHANGER, and I will keep you posted as to how things go!