Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mission Training International - Are we actually missionaries now?!

This last month feels like a dream. A wonderful, crazy, hard, incredible, educational, relational, beyond-words dream!

We left July 31st to spend 4 weeks just outside Colorado Springs, CO at MTI - Mission Training International. MTI explains their program like this:

Mission Training International’s vision is to see cross-cultural messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ experience effectiveness, endurance and personal vitality. MTI accomplishes this through two main programs: COMPASS and DAR.
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Doing cross-cultural ministry is difficult and requires more than a sense of calling. It requires a broad set of skills and a healthy approach to life and ministry. A large majority of cross-cultural workers aren’t adequately prepared for their calling, which leads to frustration, burn-out, or more destructive patterns.  This is where MTI can help.  For 60 years, MTI has been providing relevant, practical, in-residence training on the make-or-break issues that help make cross-cultural messengers of the Gospel more effective.

We attended the COMPASS (pre-field) training. We had two weeks of language training and two weeks of culture and assimilation training. Nothing was specific to St Kitts, but rather tools to learn HOW to do these things.


The language learning process was a struggle for us at first. We were the only ones who are moving to what is, technically, an English-speaking country. We knew that the accents are different and that there were some local words we would have to learn, but two weeks of "how to learn a language" seemed like a lot of energy into something we didn't plan to do. As we sat through classes and went to phonetics drills and prepared to work with language helpers, we decided to listen to a song we love called Love St Kitts Bad - by Infamus. When we really listened, it became apparent that we did not understand MANY of the words we heard. The more exploring we did, the more about the language in St Kitts we discovered! In particular, we learned that while St Kitts speaks Standard English in formal settings, informally they speak their version of Caribbean Creole English - a mix of European languages and West African languages. While learning Creole wont be structured or formal, we are excited to add these words to our vocabulary and to learn to speak in the heart-language of the Kittitian people. 

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The first week we were there, roughly half of the participants came down with a horribly violent stomach virus. Only Addalyn had it in our family, but it was pretty terrible for her. I think that being without wifi was almost worse than being sick for her ;) 

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The second half of our training was focused on transitions, understanding culture differences, learning how to assimilate well, conflict, and managing stress. All for the sake of the gospel. All so that we might "win some for Christ." 

We learned about the process of transition

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We learned about Exiting our world to Enter their world
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We learned how to take our assumptions we make and our values that get confronted and figure out whats really going on and how to handle those situations and even how to change the ways we react.
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We learned about conflict styles, how we handle stress, and how to survive and be healthy under long-term unrelenting stress.

We learned how to grieve the things we have lost and will loose. We learned how to say "goodbye" in healthy ways.

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We had the privilege of hearing from Dwight and Barbara who have worked for MTI for over 40 years! Before that they served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. They blessed us with their immense knowledge and their incredible stories about their work with the Jeh people. This was Barbara's last session because she has other endeavors that God is calling her to. I hope writing about their story is one of those things!

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We made friendships with our classmates that will last a lifetime! It was God-ordained that we got to be at MTI during THIS session with THESE people. We spent many evenings playing games and talking about life. We had girls nights and soccer matches, play ground play-dates and ice cream runs. The community we experienced there was described by a class mate as heaven-like community. Being with this group of like-minded (reach the nations) believers who understand the processes and changes we are going through and who love God with everything and loved us well too was such an incredible blessing to launch us into our next phase!

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We had some other special interactions while we were in CO. We got to spend time with two of our favorites - Kevin and Isabel Simcoe! It was awesome to see them and catch up on their lives. They made us dinner more than once and gave us a little piece of home while we were away.
We also got to see the Pickering Family <3 We starting to become close friends right as they found out they were moving to Utah. UTAH! It's so far away! They drove 9 hours to CO so they could spend the weekend with us before we head off even farther away. We love them and their precious kiddos so much!
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When we returned to Knoxville on August 27th we were greeted by our precious family, who made us signs and showered us with love! We missed them like crazy.

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Now our full time jobs are support raising missionaries! We can't move until we reach 100% on our monthly support (we are at just about 40%) being given, and 100% of our moving cost raised (we are at about 37%). We would love for YOU to be a part of that!

You can:
Schedule a time to meet with us and hear about our ministry
Set up for us to come speak to your small group/Sunday school class/church
Give! You can set up a one-time OR re-occuring donation Through Shepherd's Staff (tax deductable and all that jazz)

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PLEASE HELP US GET TO ST KITTS : )

We love you all!

The Comers

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Saying Goodbye Pt 1 (and new adventures)

I can NOT believe that it is August 1 already! Since my last post we have had the honor and privilege of celebrating this new chapter with so many of the people that we love ❤️ 

My (Katelyn) co-workers from Lox gave me a surprise going-away brunch 😊

My group of friends from high school, two of our small group leaders, and our families celebrated our new adventure as well as the marriage of one of our other friends 


Aaron's boss and co-workers took him out to lunch

Our small group had a pool party to celebrate with us 

Our families had dinner with us the night before we left

My parents dropped us off at the airport at 4:40am Sunday morning

And all of a sudden, but also not suddenly at all, we were no longer an employed couple with kids living comfortably in East TN. We are, well, Dean said it best this morning when he looked up with a big smile and said "I'm a missionary now!"

As we checked in to MTI this afternoon and started chatting with the other attendees, we realized what a unique environment we are in. We don't have to explain ourselves here. There is no compulsion to defend our calling to a tropical island, no need to describe how missions support works and just how much we really need it to come through, there is no expectation that our kids or that we are excited, but instead there is understanding. We don't mind the questions, the sharing, or even the misunderstandings. We like talking about St Kitts and our own story and we can handle discussing our needs because it brings us closer to what God is doing. It is just nice to have this month, these next 26 days, to be surrounded by the kind of understanding that brings rest. 

Please be praying for our family this month as we embark on this journey here to learn and become better prepared. Pray for the relationships we will develope, for the friendships our kids are starting. Pray that we stay connected to God and connected to each other as we process everything this month. 

Also, please pray for the extended family of the Pals family. This family of 5 was supposed to be a part of this group here. On the way to MTI their mini van was hit by a tractor trailer and all 5 Pals went home to meet Jesus instead. It was a heavy way to start the month, and our heart breaks for their friends and family left behind. We know that they are having a HUGE new adventure as citizen and residents of Heaven! 

We love you all,
The Comers