My Coordinator of International Student affairs job AND my Mekong Mission Assistant Coordinator job is a lot of fun... except when it's not.
The not fun parts include excel spread sheets.
I'm terrible at them.
Last week I was preparing in a frenzy for my first ever meeting with the Mekong Area "Network Implementation Committee" people who were flying in from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and... Germany this week. My duties included counting the number of Mekong area students at the seminary (28!), and reimbursing everybody for their airline tickets.
So I was running around calculating exchange rates, converting Thai baht, Euros, and Hong Kong dollars into US dollars, ever so carefully counting out those greenbacks ... reminded me of my first job as a grocery store check out clerk. Hmmmm. Some things don't change as much as one might have hoped....
Part of my nervousness is that I'm dealing with a whole host of expectations and different cultures in this job. (For Saturday I was in charge of dealing with everything from giving reports on the academic presentations of faculty members who went to Myanmar to deciding what size bananas should be served for the afternoon snack- seriously, I got a phone call on Friday afternoon from the seminary President's secretary asking me about the bananas!!!!! Big ones or small ones?????....!!!!!!!! There is NOT a tradition of delegating decisions around here.)
But then I get to sit down with the students. I talk with Rodion from Indonesia who's the first pastor getting a doctorate in something like thirty years. I talk with Sondang, also from Indonesia, dressed in a gorgeous beadwork dress. Last week her church in Indonesia celebrated its 150th anniversary.... and over 100,000 people showed up for the event!
And then there's Mnai from Myanmar who has nine daughters to support at home. Nine. Daughters. Today one of the scholarship donors asked me if it was all right to give him a small extra gift for Christmas, because of his nine daughters. Yes, I said. By all means.
And there's the bishop from Thailand who was the first in his family to become a Christian. And he told the story of a witch doctor in the hill country of the Mekong, who is at the brink of converting. And if he converts, then there are 300 of his tribes people who will be converting, too. And the bishop and his Church are scrambling to come up with some catechesis for these folks. (This is a novel challenge for the Lutheran Church to face... it's not the Lutheran Church as we usually know it from Germany, Scandinavia, or the USA!)
So it's amazing. And maddening (when I'm dealing with those Excel spread sheets). Occasionally, for a moment here and there, wonderful.
|Wayne with a group from Myanmar. Can you spot the American?|
|Stripes, zigzags, smiles|
|Can you tell where he's from?|
|A future student... homegrown in Hong Kong!|
I survived Saturday's meeting, by the way. But I'm still not totally finished with the accounting for it...