United and Ignited!

United and Ignited!

Toastmaster International is truly a respected world-wide institution helping people in many countries to become inspiring communicators and leaders.  In any city, town, or village near you, there are organized clubs offering the chance for individuals to use their voice.  I often tell people “Toastmasters is like going to a local fitness center to train and perfect your voice.”

 

Active club members stay united by demonstrating their willingness to attend each scheduled meeting and participate in various roles offered to them.  At South Cobb Toastmasters in Mableton, Georgia, we recently celebrated our club’s 15th year and as a group, we wanted to band together and take an excursion to Kenya, Africa.  To ensure everyone had time to save money, receive time off from work and prepare our families for this experience, we spent two years planning for the journey.

 

Over the past 15 years, I’ve traveled to the “Motherland” many times escorting others in doing humanitarian work in remote and less traveled places.  It was an honor to invite my fellow Toastmasters into the professional work that I love most.  A quote from a travel journalist, book author and photographer named Jeff Greenwald reminds me of this special travel invitation: “Sharing a bit of yourself, opening a window into your own world, is a Good Place to Begin.”

 

In the two years of planning, there were new lessons for all:

 

  • This adventure drew us closer – some had the fear of flying for long periods of time; some had never been to another continent; some didn’t know much about the culture of where we were going. As we intimately and openly shared these concerns, others would edify or support one another – chiseling off the stress of international travel.

 

  • This adventure opened our senses of the world – too often we can easily open up our computers/laptops and thoroughly read details of a country, its people and culture. That may be a great thing to do, BUT it doesn’t give real justice.  An adventurer need to feel and embrace the untimely breeze of a different place; an adventurer need to unexpectedly slip into the distinct aromas of new surroundings; an adventurer will need to become a food connoisseur and appreciate unexplainable tastes of a place; and an adventurer opens kindship conversations in new places.

 

  • This adventure improves our global understandings – the world becomes much smaller when you explore other cultures and places. A person who often visits and spends time in other places will see the world in multiple perspectives.  A person will also reflect upon their position in a global society.  Our group experienced a great deal of engaging with the beautiful people of Kenya.

 

Of our leisure travel experience in Kenya, we took time to attend a Toastmaster club meeting!  The Nairobi Toastmaster Club held its bi-weekly meeting the same week we were enjoying the downtown sites of Nairobi.  Under the leadership of Margaret Njoroge, Club President, she and her members graciously welcomed us.  Prior to the start of the club meeting, we and their members happily united in true fashion to serve in various meeting roles!

 

The club meeting experience in Kenya ignited our ability to share and learn ways to build comraderies and new friendships.  As we were impressed with the professional meeting culture, they were impressed with our enthusiasm to be there!  This made long-lasting memories that everyone will never forget.

 

From delightful hotel staff members, people we met throughout the city, tour drivers, to young walking tour guides and friendly street vendors, the created synergy of global connectedness stirred our hearts and minds.  Every minute on the ground, each person within our group beautifully blossomed in their own way; discovering a new sense of themselves and who they are – a new sparkle of life emerged.

 

After our extraordinary travels of Kenya, South Cobb Toastmaster members were ignited and eager to share their journeys through prepared speeches back at home in the United States.  Will we take another global group adventure in the near future?  I do hope so!

Let get out there people and do some good!

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Stretching Your View

In our daily world, most of us have become use to seeing the same ole visual images caped in different clothing:

 

  • The same tribal office work colleagues in dressed different apparel
  • The same neighborhood that transitions in different seasons of the year
  • The same apparel of clothing we have in our closet, but we mix and match them according to the weather
  • The same usual routes we drive around our neighborhoods, yet we may drive different streets when road construction impedes our way
  • The same summer visits with family and friends
  • The same summer vacation destinations

 

Yet very few of us will desire frequent changes in life.  I heard a church sermon some years ago and the topic was “Do You want to be a Pioneer or a Settler?”  Here are some key highlights I remember from this sermon:

 

  • Pioneers are pacesetters; they pave the way for others and find themselves often exploring new territories
  • Settlers’ mission are to reach a point and stay at the place forever

 

Early in my adult life, I once had the belief that I would “settle down” and: (1) earn a formal education; (2) become satisfied with a level of wealth; (3) get married and have children; (4) work a traditional 8 to 5 job with benefits and meager vacation days.  I accomplished at least three of the above four ‘settled’ objectives.

 

But later in my life, I always wanted something much better.  I didn’t know exactly what it was specifically, but I always attempted to stretch my view….my mental view that is.

 

Stretching your mental view causes you to:

 

  • Think harder
  • React faster/often to issues stirring in your heart
  • Question or Challenge the Status Quo
  • Pray even more
  • Question the law of humanity
  • Have a sense of understanding the world a little bit better

 

Traveling around the world excites me, especially when wanting to meet new people!  Having simple conversations with others allow me to become better as a listener.  The sound waves and pitch patterns of various human voices echoing through my ear canal creates a hunger for knowledge and understanding.

 

I believe the opposite of ‘not’ wanting to stretch your mental view can lead to:

 

  • Stagnation
  • An unwillingness to learn, which can close your mind to an ever changing world
  • Isolation
  • Being Argumentative

 

Because I have such a passion for making a different in my world, I found several ways to “Stretch My View”

Local View

Global View

  Take in a new ethnic restaurant

See an independent film

Take a foreign language class

Help at a refugee crisis center

Study world history/cultures

  Travel to a different vacation spot each year

Have dinner in a home of locals

Sign up for global affairs events

Go on a short-term mission trip!

Let’s go people and do some good!

Pressing On!

It’s not unusual to find yourself in a conversation with someone who spends much of their time talking about past issues and then concludes the talk by say “I’m just going to press on!”  When you happened to meet that same person again, they will resurface the same ole past issue.  And as they continue to mouth off their frustration with no ending in sight, your brain neutrons are scampering to form the question – “I thought you said you’re pressing on?”

In these situations, it may be hard to resolve the ‘past’ issues before you can press on.  It is those past issues that will:

  • Prevent you from truly ‘moving forward’
  • Eventually resurface into a larger problem
  • Delay any progress in fulfilling your passion in life

How can one deal with ‘past issues?’  The answer is simple: ANSWER IT!  There is usually a word that typifies the issue.  For example, let’s say you were involved in a bad relationship and you don’t know how to get past the issue.  The goal is to remove yourself from the situation and ‘press on.’  You might say, we’ll just leave the relationship – most will do that.

However, the odds at keeping a positive new relationship will falter because of dealing with similar issues that may be that of past relationships.

I discovered a way to deal with ‘past’ issues properly, first:

  • Identify the problem within the relationship
  • Come to (self) terms of the problem
  • Learn and discover why the problem persisted
  • Embrace and utilize tools to heal from the problem
  • Develop a plan to “press on”

Identifying the problem and addressing them may take some time to complete.  But the process is one that give you satisfaction and redirection to fulfill your passion.

Your passion to help others may be found in the example of your past!

His Overflowing Passion

This month, I had the privilege of attending a religious conference in Richmond, Virginia  Well over 7,000 conference attendees swarmed the city for a 3-day course of learning and networking.  Exhibitors of the conference represented some 285 mission related world-wide organizations all vying for the attention of conference goers.

As I gazed from a glass room on the second floor above the massive exhibit hall, it looked like a typical convention.  I couldn’t help but to notice hundreds of two legged creatures moving about the exhibit corridors carrying stuffed plastic bags full of literature, books, conference tchotchkes, and plenty of unnecessary sugary treats.  Don’t forget the colorful/creative booth space designs also appealing to your attention.

But this particular conference is quite different from the hundreds I’ve attended over the past 15 years.  These 285 exhibitors primarily represented outreach ministries stationed in some 145 countries world-wide!  From US based ministries like Christian Appalachian Project of Kentucky to Bach Christian Hospital of Pakistan, all present to attract mission minded candidates for short or long term mission opportunities.

Many prospect candidates attending this conference are college bound youth looking to plunge into some kind of spiritual global trek adventure.  Adults like myself, look forward to networking and collaborating.  I believe the core of the three day recruitment tangle between mission candidates and outreach ministries is to channel our focus on Kingdom building.  God has uniquely given ‘us’ people passion – to help those who aren’t capable to help themselves.

Beyond the exchange of brochures, business cards, books, confectionary candies, and gawking at international artwork and crafts comes the real work.  It is the stories of people throughout the world who some tonight may face starvation, illness, sudden death, religious persecution, or the quickening to leave their home because of tribal warfare.

It’s not new to us that the world is besieged by strife and trials.  The question is often ask…Who shall go to help? Who will advocate and confront these terrible issues?

The notion of being surrounded by 7,000 conference goers and 250,000 US missionaries currently serving around the world, a level of confidence is obvious that ‘someone’ is doing ‘something’.

Unfortunately, the 80/20 rule may apply…after the convention, some conventioneers may go back to their busy lives, responding to Twitter, Facebook, occupying a work cubical Monday thru Friday for several hours, and playing the day care shuttle.

Others may view and pour over the free literature once they go back home and pray to ‘fit’ a mission schedule into their personal calendar for next year.

Only a few will answer the call; leaving the comforts of home for the sake of giving comfort to those who haven’t had a fair chance to live in dignity.

The “few” possess God’s overflowing passion to take that risk, defy the odds, and ignore the criticism of family members and friends.  It is that overflowing passion that keep them up in the wee hours of the night.  It is that overflowing passion that encourages them to hear successful stories of other missionaries overcoming challenges in unreachable communities.  It is that overflowing passion where God is speaking and providing the next steps for kingdom assignments.  It is that same overflowing passion that caused me to buck the trend of what people my age aren’t doing yet.

What is that God overflowing passion that possesses you – yet you decided not to have a ‘coming-out’ party?  Is it causing you to change?  Is it causing you to breakout yet?  Go for it!  Don’t be scared…do it today.

G.P.S. – God’s Passionate Servant

It’s been several months since I last wrote on my blog.  The temporary absence was due in part that I was blessed to lead mission teams into two Caribbean destinations.  The training and planning for these summer journeys consumed much of my time – including the opportunity to write on occasionally on my blog.  Never-the-less, the time and dedication to serve the teams were worth the brief hiatus.  I came away from this experience knowing that each team member was able to passionately serve the people of Jamaica and Haiti!

Jamaica Mission Team

In July this mission group, tagged as “NavySeals10,” truly exuded a raw sense of passion for the people of Jamaica.  Team members were eager to go out each morning to engage the people on the downtown streets of Montego Bay.  And every afternoon on the hillside of the country, the team would spend quality time with inquisitive, yet excited children of Jamaica.

No one exhibited a tepid attitude nor did they become recluse to any of our day-to-day assignment.  These passionate mission servants were willing to do whatever, give to whomever, and go wherever.

Haiti Mission Team

In August this mission group, tagged as the “Fantastic5,” demonstrated qualities of a servant:

  1. They made themselves available to serve.
  2. They paid attention to the needs of others.
  3. They did their best with what they had
  4. They were committed to every task and gave it 100%
  5. They remained faith to the ministry (even after arriving back to the US)

We spent most of our time in an orphanage one hour south of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Every gentle hug, every smile displayed, every positive affirmation given, and every cheerful expression was intended to speak directly into the heart of our Haitian children.  These passionate mission servants were willing to provide hope and comfort in God.

We are now preparing for next year’s collection of uniquely designed mission travels with an expectation of training and sending 95 passionate missionaries throughout the world.  Do you have a passion for serving others?  Visit my ministry’s website at www.lifewalkmission.org and discover the wonderful opportunities to become a G.P.S.!

A Proposed Plan that may lead to Your Destiny in Mission

As the cool invisible mountain breeze of East Africa rolls over the last glowing sunset of my April stay here, I imagine what the Prophet Elijah must’ve felt while resting in the wilderness after the Jewish princess Jezebel threaten to kill him. With its lush green views from the lanai of my guest room at Lake Nakuru Resort, I felt well rested after a long, but successful mission journey here in Kenya.

God used me mightily at every turn, trekking some distance of about 16,400 miles in total! Every encounter with people young and old was a humbling experience. Despite the human casualty of 149 university students killed in the town of Garrisa three weeks ago, the Kenyan people are resilient and strong. They are determined to face new obstacles and bury old colonial-ruled lifestyle patterns. Its people will sound a new trumpet of Zion; awakening every living creature that roams and breaths on their rich fertile lands.

I can’t wait to reschedule my spring visit next year and continue the work of sharing God’s message, instilling hope, and encouraging the discouraged.

By looking out onto this beautiful quiet sunset evening, I can’t help but to listen to the blowing wind mixing with the whistling chirping of birds and the call of insects boldly declaring their presence to the world. Was this temporary image supposed to give me the feeling of the Garden of Eden? Think about it, no arguments of fussing, no sounds of honking cars, no slaughter of animals….yet! And most of all, no stress! Can you imagine….

By the time you read this, I’ll be back into the grind of everyday life back in the United States, but (God willing) the next mission adventure will be in Jamaica W.I. this summer.

My prayer for the country of Kenya is that God does a new thing for its people. His plan will bring a cool fresh breeze on its people to become more unified thanWorn Socks ever before. His blowing clear wind will remove the tainted attitudes and His gentle hand will be open to welcome those who will surrender to Him.

My personal prayer is that you’ll join me in 2016. Newly scheduled international mission trips will be posted on our website starting this week (June 5)! To view each destination, please visit: www.lifewalkmission.org. Perhaps next year while sitting on the lanai, I’ll look to the left or right of me and see you too, wearing worn socks and writing your mission journey in Kenya!

Passionfully!

Was there ever a time in your life when you got out of bed with a defiant thought to accomplish something BIG that day? You probably felt that neurological venom flowing through your brain charging the rest of your body to ‘make-it-happen.’

By the end of that day, you accomplished what you needed to do – and then something occurs…you want to do it again the next day! And then repeat it in the coming days. That’s when you know you a Full of Passion.

Some people go on to build on that level of Passion while many will succumb to distractions. You can find many people in the entertainment business chanting how they struggled in the early stages of their career. One person in this business comes to mind – Sean Combs. This forty-five year old mogul (American rapper, record producer, actor and entrepreneur) shares intimate details on how he had to work hard in the early days of his pursuit to become famous. One story is the time when he sold his own music out of his trunk!

I confess that I don’t follow the rap genre that must. And nor am I a big fan of his music; yet I respect the diligence and passion he must’ve felt day after day, week after week…

It’s that unique energy one must have to stir the heart and mind. Even on days when the body isn’t strong enough to execute – the heart beats for more!

It is people like Mr. Combs who will be remembered or studied for years to come. It is also people in your neighborhood who overcame great challenges – they too will be remembered. The passion they had is profound. What about your passion levels? Are they boiling over, simmering or just room temperature? The challenge is to assess where you are today, build a plan and take baby steps toward your passionate endeavors!

Let’s go people and do some good!