An Island Emerging

Looking On

Generations.  That one word embodies a wealth of power.  One generation can change the way the world thinks, operates and advances forward into the future.  One generation can hold the key to a better life for all.  Some generations have been nearly swept away by disease and war – the civil war in America claimed almost an entire generation, leaving us with a void, taking with it any ideas, creations and leaders that it may have offered.  When I think about Ebeye, I think mostly about its children.  Half of the island population is comprised of children.  Precious generational changers.

I remember reading about Ebeye when I first decided to commit to a year of teaching there.  I  remember thinking that so many good things were happening in the way of communications and technology for a small island that was struggling under the weight of many economic, social and political problems.  But of all that I was reading, I wondered…what do the Marshallese people want? While so many technological advances were being made, what weighed on their hearts in importance?

Well, I didn’t take a formal poll or interview anyone, though it was something I had hoped to do.  It just didn’t materialize.  But through the course of two years, I learned a lot about a culture that is straining to break free of the past outdated traditions while holding onto their heritage as a people.  And where you have 17,000 people, you have just as many opinions, perspectives and solutions to the problems.  There are those who would not change, and those who desperately strain for it.  There is an old mindset and a new one – each with their own advantages and failures.  It is an island of people emerging.  And along with the people spring forth the ideas and….ideologies.

There are many on Ebeye who are left without hope.  And there are those who hold tightly to it.  Hope for a better future than the past has offered.  There are those who dream of being a self-sustaining island again, which is novel but by all practical purposes now impossible.  Developing small islands into towns is too expensive and time consuming to warrant the effort, much less maintain the upkeep of such developments.  And economically speaking there is not much in the way of exports to support the society.  You might think fishing, but there are no commercial seafaring vessels that belong to the Marshalls.  They instead lease out their waters to foreign fisheries who cultivate the profits instead.

Many put hope in their upcoming generation to exact a change and begin to turn things for good. I found that there is an energy among the youth that could set many good things into motion for the small island.  I hope to see it. I hope to see some of my own children rise up and be leaders, changing the scope of the future.  But they would have to decide if they want to advance or stay rooted in tradition.  Are they going to look backwards or forwards?  To new ideas or only historical redundancy? It is a delicate line to walk, but the course of time changes many things including turning over generations and their ideologies, allowing for the next generation to step up and be counted.

Practically speaking, the island is very fragile, in many aspects. There is no one answer that will solve all the difficulties they are now facing.  But the people are not as active or engaged politically as we are here – they have a history of King-People mentality which is only natural to them.  The forces that be are quite confusing, even for me to sort out how things should be done: there are kings, queens, governments, land owners (who have much power), national governments and many other rules and regulations.  But I believe this course will change as the children learn and grow into this mile-long world they call Ebeye. I believe in my heart change is coming. I have to believe it…

I believe in God and the plan He has for all the Marshallese and their islands.  I pray the very best for the Marshallese, my families in the islands and my friends. I will see you again by the grace of God.  And I will be watching to see what good things are happening in your part of the world, praying earnestly for you all.

The Jesus Revolution 1971

Okay, so my friend Amy has this magazine from ’71 and I got a huge kick out of the advertisements.  Not to mention the whole magazine was focused on the rising Jesus Movement (or Revolution) of that generation.  I find old pics fascinating to look at and study.  Enjoy!

Wow, is this guy serious?  He looks like a Clark Kent that didn’t quite morph all the way into Superman.

One of my favorites.  I love #23.  It should have been a BIG SIGN TO YOU: if you’re not a mechanic, do not purchase!  And no wonder it’s under $1800, there’s no mention of Power Steering!

Look out baby, it’s the PINTO comin’ atcha!  Hilarious how they keep selling the ‘do-it-yourself’ tool kits with these ’70s cars…

And last but not least…a little 8-track “tape” action…remember the ‘I’d like to buy the world a coke’ song?  Well, The New Seekers created that tune…

The Jesus Revolution, as it was called, ushered in the Charismatic movement along with freedom of worship and even worship style.  Mainline churches were totally snobbish and even persecuted the movement claiming it was only a fad of the youth in that day.  I tend to believe that many of the church ‘clergy’ were frightened of it.  Nobody likes change, especially if it means a change in the fatness of their wallets.  Mainline Christianity and those caught up in it find it hard to grasp anything that might change the structure of how things have been executed in the church for over 1500 years because “church has to remain stuffy, on strict schedules, and meet in dignified ways on Sunday mornings” or else it couldn’t possibly meet the stringent requirements of Jesus Christ.  So interesting isn’t it?  The perspectives we build around our own personal perceptions of how we think Jesus Christ would run His church…

Below is an excerpt from the article.  You can get the entire cover story by clicking here: The Jesus Revolution.

“If it is a fad,” says Evangelist Billy Graham, “I welcome it.”

There are signs that the movement is something quite a bit larger than a theological Hula-Hoop, something more lasting than a religious Woodstock. It cuts across nearly all the social dividing lines, from crew cut to long hair, right to left, rich to poor. It shows considerable staying power: many who were in its faint beginnings in 1967 are still leading it. It has been powerful enough to divert many young people from serious drug addiction. Its appeal is ecumenical, attracting Roman Catholics and Jews, Protestants of every persuasion and many with no religion at all. Catholics visit Protestant churches with a new empathy, and Protestants find themselves chatting with nuns and openly enjoying Mass. “We are all brothers in the body of Christ,” says a California Catholic lay leader, and he adds: “We are on the threshold of the greatest spiritual revival the U.S. has ever experienced.”

<end>

Eventually, the movement spilled back into the church stream and changed its DNA permanently.  Even some of the Catholic churches did not remain untouched by the new infusion of freedom and love of God that this movement embodied.  The book, ‘The Cross and the Switchblade” also lent a hand in advancing the spiritual temperature of the times.  It was an exciting time to watch (and I’m sure take part in) but the Lord is moving again in some strange, out of the ordinary way in this generation, right now.

A Look Ahead

Yokwe aolep!  (Hello everyone!)  I wanted to bring to your attention a few inspired changes.  First, which you’ve probably already noticed, the layout/graphics of the blog have changed.  I hope you find it easier to navigate the site and interact with the content.  I’ve had a few people asking about how to leave comments so hopefully this layout will be a bit more intuitive.  Also, the Lord is refining the scope of the blog so this will undoubtedly be reflected within the content of the posts.

We’re going into the trenches so-to-speak.  I’ll still be relaying all the events that are happening with the school and church.  But afterall, when you’ve seen one Memorial Day, you’ve seen them all, right?  I like variety.  God is perfect for that! :)

Some ideas: I haven’t written much on the social interworkings and influences of the Marshallese culture (not that I’m any expert by far) or on the spiritual dynamics of so many different religions.  Maybe I’ll include personal interviews of the people to get their individual perspectives on their community, education and the future progression and hope of Ebeye. So expect a different slant starting soon.  What would you like to know?  Are you curious about anything in particular?  Let us hear from you.  Maybe we can find out some info to pass along.

It’s coming up on Summer break, woo-hoo! I will likely post during this time but maybe not as frequently (though God always seems to have plans) so we could be surprised.  I have a few other ideas for some extra content on the site but we’ll see how much time I have this summer before I get too ambitious!

If you have hit this site and plan to come to Ebeye next year or if you are trying to decide, feel free to leave a comment – I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.  If I don’t know the answer, I may be able to find out or lead you in the right direction.

Thanks to everyone who, throughout this year, supported me with kind words, thoughtful emails, letters, gifts, care packages; to those who kept me on my spiritual toes, prayed for me, hoped in me and were by my side even 7000 miles away…I love you.  I thank God for your support this past year and pray that He enrich your life as you have enriched mine.

Have a wonderful Summer and I look forward to seeing everyone when I get back!

Missions Retreat 2010: Forging Unity through the Power of Diversity (Part Three)

It’s profound.  Who could take millions of individual humans, with their individual tastes for worship, their own desires, their complex personalities and preferences, perspectives and pursuits and forge them into one body, one working organism, with one heart and one mind?  Taking on the very appearance of God Himself as He willed in His word would happen; who but the living God could do this?  And the question remains, has it yet been done?

There is freedom here somewhere, between the lines our denominations draw in the sand, which send a perpetual message of, don’t cross if you don’t intend to believe like we do.

But there is no question, it will happen, it is only a matter of time.  This fragmented Church will reconnect and function as one unit.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free [Catholic or Methodist, Presbyterian or Charismatic, etc. are implied because ‘Jews, Greeks, slaves and free’ all encompass the latter] and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”  1 Corth 12:12  (words in brackets are my own.)

A few of us convening during breakfast. Clockwise from noon: Lenka, Nyasha, Trecie, me, Justine, Malte.

Day 2: After a light breakfast Sunday morning, we headed off to the Micronesian and Marshallese Cultural Shop – wow, we were there for nearly an hour in these tiny stores simply because it had been so long since we’d had the privilege to ‘shop’.  And since it was my birthday, I got a little present from my missionary friends :) A silver fish ring.  Thanks Gem Ministry Team! You are such a blessing.

We headed back for church and I snapped a pic of this beautiful stained glass window at the back of the chapel.

Here’s an excerpt from the brochure about the chapel:

“This Island Memorial Chapel is one of four American buildings that have survived since WWII.  This chapel was built in late 1944.  It was built by volunteers from the garrison with surplus materials.  Although the chapel’s sanctuary retains its original profile, (it is completely open-air) the building has been enlarged and renovated several times since 1944.  The memorial stained glass window was installed as part of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Kwajalein.”

The church has a long, sloping roof.  Other than that, it is open which is good because it really gets hot down here when there is no wind.

From left: Helga from Germany, Lenka and me.

After service, the ladies spread out a huge buffet for us.  It was soooo delicious!  I also got a surprise Happy Birthday song from everyone…God is good.  We then headed out to tour the sharks, sea turtles and eventually, Subway!

Sharkfest Viewers. From left, Lily, Love and Michael, Trecie, Pauley and Peter.

The Kwajalein lagoon is infested with these things because the Marshallese do not fish them.  I think I’m going to start praying about that…I’ve heard more shark stories in two days on Kwaj than I’ve heard all 8 months on Ebeye.  I think Americans are obsessed with Jaws!

Sea Turtles :)

A pic on the bridge over the turtle pond. From left; Lenka, Jonas, Love, Michael, Lily and James.

What a blessing this retreat has been for all of us.  It was refreshing and God opened my eyes to a lot a beautiful things.  My next post will be the ‘part 4’ conclusion to this series.  I hope I will have gotten at least some of what was on my heart across to you.  I’m excited for the church in the coming decade!