I went to Tulsa, OK for the third straight year last week, and though this time I at least did not go to Brooklyn and Tulsa in back-to-back weeks like I did two years ago (there was one week in between), the fact that it was the second trip made me pretty tired. Throw in the fact that stuff happened at home that I needed to deal with, and I found myself often worn out even though the schedule was less packed than the one in New York. Nonetheless, it was still a blessing to go again, and I’m always impressed by the hospitality of the host church, Tulsa Chinese Christian Church. It was good time of trying to teach kids basic Bible truths while teaching heftier matters to the youth and college students.
In the summer of 2015, I went to a predominately Chinese area in Brooklyn, NY to help out at a VBS-like summer program called Summer Splash put on by Dorcas Ministries (which I wrote about here). Last April, I went back to the same place in Brooklyn, though the reason for that was to put on a “retreat” for the youth and college students (which I also wrote about). Last week, I went back again to do a bit of both: We had some more teaching sessions for the youth and college kids on Monday and Tuesday (July 4) but also did Summer Splash from Wednesday to Friday. It was a lot of work, but God had even more blessings in store for me and my team.
There is a lot I could write about, but I will attempt to be brief so that this is not unreasonably long.
Two years ago, I went to Brooklyn, NY to help out with a children’s summer program. We worked alongside high school youth and somewhat less so with older middle school youth, who were the primary workers for that seven-week period (a new outside team comes every week to help them out). Though most of our team was not able to spend as much time with the youth as we would have liked, we still enjoyed working with them and hanging out with them. That was the first time our church went to their “Summer Splash,” and our church sent another team last summer which I was not a part of. Our English pastor in particular has developed a bond with the youth there, so this year, we tried something new: A youth retreat of sorts.
Our church sent a team of four to run this conference/retreat which was primarily aimed at the youth, though there were a couple of kids who were younger. It is spring break for them, but spring break in Texas tends to be in March; it came at an awkward time because this is when school kind of picks up with papers and assignments (I had to do one while I was there). Still, it was a great blessing to come, teach, and get to know these youth more.
Like last year, I went to Tulsa, OK to help out at a church’s VBS, teach their youth and college, and train up members of the team that went. Also, like last year, I am morally obligated as a Longhorn to make jokes about Oklahoma:
“Why did Oklahoma raise the drinking age to 25? To keep alcohol out of their high schools.”
“How do Oklahoman brain cells die? Alone.”
“Why do Oklahomans have a hard time dialing 911? They can’t find the number 11 on phone.”
Now that I have fulfilled my obligation, I can say this: Tulsa was another great experience, even though I was very tired, because the people there were great, hospitable, and encouraging :).
A couple of people I know have started a blog where they tell stories about people they encounter. The website looks slick and they are both fine writers, and it is worth checking out. However, I jokingly said to one that I would not be a good contributor to such a project because I am… uh, different. She said she’d still like for me to write an article for the site, so allow me to demonstrate why this would be a bad idea and that they are better off without me ;). Behold, my experiences with these beings called “people.”
As a Texas Longhorn, I am obligated to make fun of the state of Oklahoma. By the way, do you know why Texas doesn’t just float off into the Gulf of Mexico? Because Oklahoma sucks.
Do you know why birds fly upside down over Oklahoma? Because there is nothing worth crapping on.
Do you know what you call an educated person in Oklahoma? A visitor.
Now that that is out of my system, let’s move on to the actual trip.
It’s been a few weeks, actually, since the trip, but I’m just now getting around to writing about it since it’s been pretty hectic moving to Fort Worth. In truth, my jesting about Oklahoma is all in good fun; I don’t have anything against the state, and the people there were a blessing to meet. I think God really used the trip to not only instill his Word into both children and youth kids but also to build relationships in our group as well as with the people there.
When I was considering seminaries to apply to, I started to whittle them down by not only location but also their seriousness about Scripture, even though I have a heavy interest in philosophy of religion. I have no desire to leave Texas right now, so that contributed to me stalling on applying to outside seminaries, which is why I missed Southeastern’s deadline. However, I was able to apply on time to Southern, which may sound odd to some because I am clearly a critic of Calvinism and Southern is about as Calvinistic as a Southern Baptist seminary can get. However, on my trip here to meet the faculty and take the entrance exam, all I will say is that I would recommend this seminary with confidence to someone who is looking for a seminary where the professors care about the Bible, scholarship, and the students.
Our church’s college group’s first ever spring retreat was held last weekend at Camp Copass in Denton/Lewisville, and it was both fun and tiring. We got back two days ago, and after spending most of yesterday catching up on sleep after a hectic week, I’ll jot down some reflections.
The college group started in the fall of 2010, and we had somewhere around 8-11 students coming regularly to our Wednesday college meetings. They were mostly all freshman, and I was brand new at the church too. Now, three and half years later, despite some leadership turnover, God has grown the college group such that it seemed like a good time to finally hold a college retreat. Some rough ideas started last summer and most of the planning started at the turn of the new year.
Our family has had at least one dog for over 20 years. Technically, our first dog was one we had for only a little while before his owner took him back, but the first dog we actually owned was a small dog named Whitey (you can guess what color he was), followed by a toy poodle named Benjie a couple of years later. In 2007, our family acquired a Siberian husky: Hercules, who was every bit as big and strong as his name suggests and quite a bit larger than the dogs we were used to. But we loved him, and when our other two dogs died of old age, Hercules became the baby of the family. He was not young but not super old and he was very healthy, which is why it was such a shocker on Saturday when I received a call that he had passed away just a few weeks before his ninth birthday. My sister, who was like Hercules’ mother, was crying so much that it was difficult to even hear her.
With this being my last year in seminary, I knew I wanted to keep going to school to study philosophy. I had two choices: Continue on at a seminary or go to a university to focus on philosophical studies. I did not feel quite ready to go to a Ph.D program at a university due to the fact that I’ve been out of that world for four years, so instead, I applied to the Ph.D program in philosophy here at Southwestern and also at the MA programs at the University of Dallas and the University of Houston, two schools who A) Even had an MA program and B) Had good ones, at least according to some research I did. I almost applied to Texas A&M but was too busy to meet the deadline… and it’s not like I wanted to go there anyway 😉 (Calm down, I know A&M is a good school). As I prayed about it during the semester, I felt that God was convicting me to stay around the area and devote at least another year at the college ministry at Arlington Chinese Church.