Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Orientation Week

Hi everyone we hope you have had a great start to the new year. We had a rather quiet evening with some new friends from South Africa on New Years but the 2009 has quickly picked up speed. From early December to mid-January Namibia pretty much takes a break and shuts down. But now as school is going back into session people are coming back from their holiday and picking up on things they didn't finish in November.

We started off the year by Jeremy going North to help with the first week of the Theological Training Program for the Diocese of Namibia. We have had the question from a few people about what it means to go "North" so hereis an explanation. North is the area of the country mostly populated by the Ovambo tribes. It was once known as Ovamboland. It is an 8 hour drive from where we live to the Anglican Center at Onekweya. It is a long drive with almost nothing to break up the drive. There are towns every 200 kilometers or so, but in between, nothing. So going North generally refers to that drive to historically Ovambo territory. The conference center is located about 10 kilometers into the bush off the main road.

As most of you know one of the main reasons we are in Namibia is to work on this theological training program for the diocese. We have been working really hard over the past six months to put the final touches on the framework or outline of how the program will run. This week from January 5-10 was our orientation. We had 49 students that showed up to begin this program. Each of them had gone through an interview process with the Diocesan Selection Committee and been recommended by their rector. There are 20 women and 29 men and 20 of the students are under the age of 25. These students will be using a curriculum from TEE South Africa. TEE stands for Theological Education by Extension. The difference in this program and other extension programs is that we wanted to give the students a sense of community and form a floating seminary. Each month students from each geographical area will gather to meet with a tutor, generally an archdeacon. Four times a year (January, May, August and October) they will come together as a large group in Seminars that will cover topics not included in the TEE program. In May we will begin our study of Anglican liturgy, music and the Prayer Book. It is an incredible group. Their commitment is already evident. Two of the students travelled over 1000kilometers to attend and most of the students slept on mattresses on the floor of old classrooms during the week. One student, Daniel came from over 70 kilometers in the bush from one of the parish outstations to attend. Only two of the students had cars so most either took a "taxi" or got a ride with someone in the program staff. I am amazed and inspired by them. I have posted a web album of photos from the orientation. Just click here to go and take a look.

There are so many things I could tell you about this week. One interesting statement came up when Lukas Katenda was talking about what it meant to be a shepherd. He asked the class how many of them had actually tended sheep or goats or cows at some point in their life. Every hand in the room went up. Each and every one of them had, at some point in time, tended animals. Scriptures speaking of Jesus as a shepherd will have a very different meaning to them than they do to most priests.

Another incredible find was to recover the Bill Yon library of books that were left at Etameko back in 1988. We had heard last year that the books had either been lost or destroyed but a little digging found them in a large room at Onekweya. They were probably 85% intact and just a little dirty. The room being cleaned in the photos is the library and almost all of the books you see were donated by Bill. The students were so excited to have their very own seminary library and we have committed to continue building this resource. Any priests that are looking for a way to clean out all those books from seminary? Put them in a box and mail them to: The Rev. Jeremy Lucas, Box 65 Windhoek, Namibia. A large box will probably cost you a couple of hundred dollars but there are much worse things you could spend your money on. Don't worry about duplicates we can organize several resource libraries around the diocese to house them. Any books about theology, liturgy, biblical studies, pastoral care or preaching. Classic books like City of God or any other standards. Just send them. They will do more good on the shelves here than on the shelves there.
Another find was a beautiful stained glass made by Bill while he was here. It is a cross laid over Africa with the words God Bless Africa across the bottom. This is part of the prayer for Africa;

God Bless Africa
guard her children
guide her leaders
and give her peace
for Jesus' Christ's sake. Amen

We rescued the window from the floor of the room we cleaned out and brought it to the deanery to preserve this piece of history.

We will continue telling stories about the Training Program and its students and I hope you will realize how much your support means to the Diocese and people of Namibia. Just as a reminder February 22 is World Mission Sunday. It would be a great time to ask people in your parishes to donate to Mission to Namibia. Mail checks to 521 North 20th Street, Birmingham, AL 35213. Memo the checks Mission to Namibia.

The month of February would also be a wonderful time to organize a webcast via Skype. Send us an email and we will set up the details. February 15 will be the only time we know we will be out of town in the North.
We hope you are having a blessed Epiphany. Peace, Jeremy and Penny

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