By far the most frequent question I was asked over the last 6 months was, “What will you be doing in the Solomon Islands?” A seemingly straight-forward question turned out to be much more difficult for me to answer than I expected. There were several factors in my particular situation that led to this difficulty.
Practical factors such as communication, instability, and financial resources were influential.
Communication between me and the Hicks (Jonathan and Tess – missionaries with SAMS-USA and CMS-New Zealand who I will be working with) was limited. It seems that Malaita—the island I will be living on in the Solomon Islands—has, thus far, kept clear of the entangling web of high-speed, reliable, accessible, and ubiquitous internet. Over the seven months of planning, I was able to exchange a few emails and have one Skype call with Jonathan.
Instability was an ingredient in both my inability to plan and the Hicks’. Up until June, I was not sure if the dates I hoped to be in the Solomon Islands would work for me, or for the Hicks. Jonathan’s own role working with the Anglican Church of Melanesia was potentially shifting. He and Tess were also planning some time outside of the country. In danger of stating the obvious, I find it difficult to plan what a team can/should do together when the players are not sure when they will all be in the same place!
The ambiguity associated with raising financial support (not to mention visa applications!) was a factor in my own instability. The length of my stay and the date of my departure were both dependent upon how much was in the piggy bank, so to speak. Also, what I would end up doing was probably linked to how much money I would have available to me.
On the whole, I did not find it too difficult to explain to most people the practical factors limiting my ability to plan what I would be doing. What I soon discovered, however, was that it was difficult to answer, “what will you be doing?” because I was not thinking about six months in the Solomon Islands in those terms. I was certainly imagining what daily life could be like on an isolated island in the Pacific. What I was realizing, however, in six months of struggling to answer this simple question is that, from my perspective, what I will do is different than why I am going.
Why I am going is easier for me to answer.
- I am going because I want to learn what it is like to live in another place, among people who engage the world differently than we do in the United States.
- I am going to get a taste of living internationally because Kyria and I are considering long-term international Christian life and work.
- I am going to learn what it is like to be a Christian on the Island of Malaita and to see the ways in which it is similar and dissimilar to being a Christian in the United States.
- I am going in order to see if I have an aptitude and an affinity to longer term life and work in another culture.
How I will accomplish the “why I am going” is the answer to “what I will do,” but much of it will be, frankly, quite banal. It will be the nitty-gritty of daily life, for the most part. I will be eating and drinking foreign foods, and sleeping in a foreign place. I will be learning to speak in a foreign language. I will be acclimating to a foreign climate, hearing unfamiliar sounds, and seeing unfamiliar colors. I will be taking care of basic hygiene. I will be employed to some (hopefully useful and meaningful) capacity. I will be doing a lot of observing and writing, taking ravenous notes in multiple (pen and ink) notebooks. I will be taking pictures and recording sounds and conversations. I will be forming relationships with people. I will be attending/participating in local (Christian) worship services, and learning to worship according to the local (Christian) custom.
There is more that can be said. Like poetry and prose or the WHY and the WHAT, maybe being and doing shouldn’t be separated too tidily.
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Last week Lynn and I authorized the purchase of my plane tickets to and from the Solomon Islands! I am humbled and grateful for the financial support that has come in from individuals and churches. Support raising did not always seem plausible/possible, but God has certainly been good! Opportunities for me to share about my upcoming work in the Solomon Islands continue to arise and support continues to come in. The opportunities to preach, teach, share and connect with people have been encouraging to me.
During the six months I am in the Solomons I will have limited (possibly no) reliable access to the internet. I am a millennial, but I am also a semi-Luddite, so I am not too worried about this. On the other hand, it is important for me to keep folks at home updated. If you would like to sign up for my email newsletter, please click here and fill out the form. I’ll be working with some folks back home to send out periodic updates.
It is hard to believe it is mid-June! Much has transpired since my last post. Since graduating last month from Trinity School for Ministry I have been focusing my energy on raising for support for 6-months of Bridger service in the Solomon Islands with Jonathan and Tess Hicks. Every month I have been humbled and encouraged by the support I have receiving. I currently have four churches representing four unique denominations supporting me, as well as numerous individuals. I still have a ways to go to be fully funded, but trust that God will continue to provide.
In the next couple weeks I will be purchasing my plane ticket to the Solomons for the first week in August! Please continue to hold the Hicks and me in your prayers.
In the next few weeks I am specifically looking for at least 20 people to contribute one-time gifts of $100. These gifts will help purchase a plane ticket in early July. I plan to leave August 2, 2017, so I need these gifts ASAP.
Will you consider being one of those 20 people? Checks can be mailed to: SAMS USA PO BOX 399 Ambridge, PA 15003. Or give online at:
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I consider it an honor to have been invited to serve as SAMS’ first Bridger to the Solomon Islands. For me, the 6-8 month internship as a SAMS Missionary Bridger is another piece in a life-long discernment process as I, along with the Church, consider a long-term call to missionary work.
I grew up in Cato, NY where my family and I attended the Oswego Christian and Missionary Alliance Church (C&MA). From a very young age I was drawn to the idea of cross-cultural ministry. In 2004, I matriculated at Toccoa Falls College, North of Atlanta, in order to begin preparations for future ministry. I graduated in May 2008 with a BA in English and a minor in Biblical Studies.
After graduating from Toccoa, I lived in Aliquppa, PA for several years during which I gained practical experience working in a diversity of community-focused, faith-based, grass-roots organizations. Among these organizations was Uncommon Grounds Café, a coffee house ministry of Church Army USA. Under the tutelage of John Stanley, a Church Army missionary from Australia, I gained practical, spiritual, and theoretical foundations for Christian ministry and evangelism. While in Aliquippa I was introduced to, and touched by, the Episcopal/Anglican Church and theology.
For the last several years, I have continued to learn a diversity of practical and theoretical skills from a diversity of experiences. As final preparation for this internship, I am completing a MA in Religion from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA.
Work in the Solomon Islands excites me for several reasons. The primary purpose for this time is get a taste of what longer term missionary service might be like, and to discern with my missionary-mentors, Jonathan and Tess Hicks, along with the Church in Melanesia and my sending churches if God is calling me to longer-term cross-cultural ministry.
I am intrigued by the Solomon Islands in particular because of their geography and culture. The Solomons are some of the least developed (by Western standards) places on the planet. A significant portion of the population continue to work as subsistence farmers. Growing up, in some ways, on a “hobby farm,” I am intrigued to add to learn to grow food sustainably in another climate. Many of the plants that are grown in the Solomons resemble or are identical to plants that were grown while I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii. In fact, anthropologists often draw links linguistically/culturally/agriculturally between Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and Hawaii.
As of now, I hope to serve from July/August 2017 until January/February 2018. Jonathan and I are in contact as we begin to line up what my internship will look like. Possibilities include teaching, farming, supporting the local Church of Melanesia in whatever capacity I can, but most importantly, traveling with the posture of a learner. Over the next several months, I will continue to update this blog as I prepare for the 6-8 months I will serve in the Solomon Islands.
Would you prayerfully consider supporting me?