The one part of our work that I [Chris] have positively loved the most since entering our ministry life, is our co-workers. I’ve been amazed at some of their stories and have made some of the best friendships of my life in these last five years. This past weekend, I had a reaffirmation of just how much I love the people I work with.
I went to Dallas for the Evangelical Missiological Society conference. The event was held at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, where we studied in 2012 in preparation for the field. I had been asked to present during the conference and I also volunteered running sound and doing some photography at the conference. It was a full visit in more ways than one.
In part, it was full because I was busy. I was all around the conference taking photos whenever I wasn’t checking on projectors in the different presentation rooms. I also ran the sound board a few times for some sessions. In the middle of it all, I presented during a thirty-minute session. I don’t think I did a very good job on my session, but so be it. I like these things to marinate in my mind and I didn’t really have my topic fully “tenderized” in my head, so it was a little rough around the edges.
Even before the conference began, having arrived a day and a half early, I visited with two different longtime friends from Virginia that have relocated to Texas, in addition to seeing my sister and her family that live around the DFW area. Also, when the conference ended, I was able to visit briefly with the church that we called home during our time of training in 2012. Those visits were all fantastic and relationally rewarding.
But, with apologies to all, the greatest fullness from the weekend was from being “with my tribe…” my ethnoarts family. I was able to spend at least a little bit of time with more than 15 of my ethnoarts colleagues during four days at the campus in Dallas and it was straight up joy.
For those of you that at some point in your life have been in love, do you remember the butterflies you got in your stomach when you were about to ring the doorbell to pick up your date? The anticipation of the moment that you finally get to be with that someone special? That’s the feeling I get whenever I’m about to be with my tribe. I know it sounds silly, and maybe even foolish to describe it in those terms…but that’s the type of feelings I have when I’m with these folks. They are just awesome to be around and I can’t get enough of their company.
One thing that has been really difficult to describe in our last few months of furlough is the closeness I have with my ethnoarts family and how it can be a bit taxing emotionally that some of us have such deep connections but are scattered far and wide around the world. I have colleagues from different domains that I love very much and that work right beside me in Cameroon…but it’s just not quite like being with my tribe.
So now it’s back to Virginia, where there is only one of my ethnoarts family nearby instead of more than a dozen. But be assured, my mind is always wandering to the big calendar in my head, thinking how long it is until the next time that I get to be with a large segment of the tribe…and the next time…and the next…even looking forward almost two years to various meetings and events where I will be enjoying some here and some there. I truly work with the best and most fun people in the world. You could say it’s bittersweet, but I don’t think that’s quite right: they’re so good, so sweet, that they outclass the bitter. Sweetbitter…that’s what we'll call it.
|With mentors and colleagues Frank Fortunato, Robin Harris, and Brian Schrag.|