Serengeti Wilderness Camp

I don’t know how to describe where we are staying in Serengeti National Park-kind of like a lodge that serves 3 meals and kind of like camping. This is a temporary camp, currently at S02 25.02 E034 53.59, that moves around every few months (think M*A*S*H) in order to minimize environmental impact and to stay out of the way of migrating animals.  Our tent is large, with a queen sized bed and other furnishings.  It has a bathroom complete with wash basin, toilet, and shower, despite the fact that there is no running water here.  It’s the closest thing to a normal bathroom you can have in a tent that moves every few months.There is no electricity, per se, but we do have solar and battery-powered LED lights-essentially flashlights. We also have a charging station in the bar. Yes, there is a bar here, with couches and coffee tables, serving chilled drinks.  We were served dinner with normal plates and flatware, and yet there was a campfire tonight.

One of the staff came by our tent this evening and said there was a buffalo nearby behind the tent, so we shouldn’t walk around back there.  Meanwhile, a staff person put warm water in a bag hanging behind the tent that fed my evening’s shower.  Apparently concern about the buffalo didn’t extend to concern for staff safety.

The weather continues to be overcast with temps in the mid-to-upper 60s, warming to mid 80s during the day.  The clouds did break up a bit tonight, providing partial visibility of the stars. Then later there was a light rain shower, the first precipitation more than mist we have experienced in Tanzania since we arrived almost 2 weeks ago.

Laura, Clif, Beth, and Rob’s Excellent Adventure – Part 2

In Part 1, I explained how Erasto’s persistence and confidence in God’s providence led to the sabbatical trip we’re taking.  But, of course, there is more to the story.

Laura started Living Water Christian Church in April 2004.  Two years ago she began to discuss the idea of her taking sabbatical somewhere around the seven-year mark.  She didn’t know then exactly when the sabbatical would be or what she would do; she mainly wanted the church to establish the practice of providing a sabbatical approximately every seven years.

Last year Laura decided to apply for a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Endowment.  This is an awesome program that provides up to $50,000 for pastors to take a once-in-a-lifetime sabbatical.  The program encourages pastors to not only travel and study, but also rest and play, using their funding for all sabbatical-related costs including the cost of providing a substitute pastor for the church.

Laura thought that the only financially practical way she would ever be able to accept Erasto’s invitation would be to use grant funding for the travel.  So the main idea was to plan a trip to Tanzania to meet Erasto and spend some time ministering with the people of Beroya Revival Temple.

I began to study up on Tanzania’s geography, air travel routes to get there, and costs.  I discovered that the most common ways to get to Tanzania from the US are through Europe.  In fact, if you draw a great circle route from Kansas City to Dodoma, it passes just south of Spain.  So naturally, that led to the idea of going first to Germany to meet Niko’s extended family and see his town (Braunfels) and at least some of his country.  Our son, Rob, was already dreaming about a trip to Germany.  So we decided to include him and our world-traveller daughter, Beth, in that part of the trip.

Finally, Laura knew from the grant application that the Lilly people want to see recreation in the pastor’s sabbatical plan, so she decided to go for it.  If you’ve gone to the cost and trouble of traveling to Tanzania, wouldn’t it make sense to go on a safari while you’re there?

Knowing how competitive the grant is, and knowing the odds were against receiving it, we planned, budgeted, and submitted a proposal for a trip we hoped they might fund.  Not that I’m complaining, but if someone said to Laura and me, “I’ll give you money to take a trip anywhere in the world,” Germany might have been part of it but certainly Tanzania would not have been.  Yet God steered our plans in this direction.

And so the basic outline of the trip was in place: spend a week in Dodoma with Beroya church; spend a week in Germany on the way there; and spend a week on safari before returning home.  When you add in the air travel days, the whole trip is just two days short of 4 weeks.

We’re now more than halfway through our Germany week.  I’ll fill in more details on my next post.

Caption contest

At the worship planning retreat this evening we were asked to take a walk and collect metaphors – something that could be used as a sermon illustration.  My method of collection was to take pictures.  Do you have any suggestions for captions for these photos that would point out a sermonic metaphor?

Metaphor hunt at worship planning retreat

Metaphor hunt at worship planning retreat

Metaphor hunt at worship planning retreat

Metaphor hunt at worship planning retreat

Metaphor hunt at worship planning retreat

Metaphor hunt at worship planning retreat

Internet Campus Project Team homework #1

This post is homework for the Internet Campus Strategic Project Team at Resurrection.  Those of you not on our project team, feel free to learn along with us.

1. Read/view the following blog posts and videos and be prepared to share your reactions at our next meeting.

Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton’s eNote of August 24, 2007 in which he first mentioned the idea of Internet Campus

Church Online: Resurrection Internet Campus? – post by Andrew, read the comments too

A Vision of Students Today – video from K-State’s Digital Ethnography program

A Screen that Ships without a Mouse Ships Broken – presentation by Clay Shirky

2. Attend one service of one of the following churches with Internet Campuses:

Take notes about your experience.  What did you like?  What would you do differently?  What can we learn?  Be prepared to share your thoughts at our next meeting.

Congress on Evangelism 2009 presentation

I’ve been at the Methodist Congress on Evangelism this week with Chuck Russell. This is the annual national evangelism conference for the United Methodist denomination.  Chuck and I were asked to present on the role of a congregation’s website in evangelism.  Chuck covered the basics and I talked about sermon content delivery, social networking and social media, and Internet Campus.

For fun, I used EVDO on my cell phone and a web cam to live stream our presentation via the Clif Guy Cam on uStream.  When I verified that my EVDO signal was strong enough to support the live stream, I tweeted and within minutes we had 10 people watching. The third time we gave the presentation, I recorded it.  You can watch it here.  Sure, the video production values are so non-existent it’s comical.  Despite that, the video gives a pretty good sense of the presentation.

Web sites/products mentioned in the presentation: