Sunday, April 27, 2008

I haven't slept in days...

And it's because I was making this video. They're playing it during offering at church today. I finished it about an hour ago. I hope it helps to get people involved. I've only had about three or four people so far give me their e-mail address and ask to receive updates while I'm in Ecuador.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I have more goals (non-music related) but this post is long enough

Well, my plane ticket has been purchased, and a bank account opened. Those are the big things that have been accomplished so far along with lots and lots of little things (like purchasing enough sunblock for 6 months of UV ray protection and buying tapes for my video camera and scouring the shelves at multiple bookstores to find just the right resources I might need for teaching some English and leading a study of the book of James in Spanish). One of the preparations I have made so far has been to put together a set of goals that I have for this mission trip. I realize that it's not in the nature of a trip like this to go just exactly as I hope or plan that it will...but isn't it better to go with goals and have to change them around a bit than to go with nothing? (the answer is yes)

Anyway, the point is, I have goals, and I'd like to share them with you so that you have a better idea of what we are going to try to accomplish in Ecuador. just to give you a little background, last year when I was invited to return for an extended stay in Ecuador, I was asked to focus my attention specifically on the worship/music ministry there in the church. Currently there are around 15-20 youth who serve in the music ministry in El Recreo. They have no established leader(s) and responsibility is shared among them. As a result, there is not much organization and their functionality as a group seems limited. They don't meet weekly to choose a worship set, practice songs, etc. and it seems the only way they learn new worship songs at all is when a mission team comes through and teaches a new song. So, the following goals reflect a focus on the music ministry in its current state:

I hope to establish a weekly band practice.

A weekly practice would help organize the worship, songs would be chosen ahead of time and rehearsed, any doubts about the order of service would be clarified during this time. A mid-week practice with only band-members present would encourage new youth to get involved without the fear of having to “perform” right away during a worship service. A weekly practice would also help teach commitment as it would be a couple hours during which these band members would have to “give up” whatever they would normally do during that time. This will help reinforce a commitment to God and the church, and it will help to communicate that serving involves responsibility and leadership.

I hope to begin a weekly Bible study with the worship team.

It has been my experience that studying the Bible together as a group brings an element of clarity to the word of God, it helps one build relationships with other people, and it adds more depth to the dynamic of the group itself. Studying the Bible will bring spiritual growth and Biblical knowledge which is important for any believer and especially important for those believers who are considered leaders. Studying the Bible together as a band will not only help the youth to grow spiritually, interestingly, it will even help them to grow musically as a band. I believe that studying together and praying together increases the level of trust among the members of the group, and when there is more trust involved, there is more willingness to follow a leader without hesitation during the course of an actual song which makes the songs flow better and makes the energy higher (it’s actually very neat to experience this).

I hope to teach the band two new songs per month.

Part of growing as a band includes increasing the repertoire of songs the group knows as a whole. This is especially important in a culture that places a large emphasis on music during a worship service. As the band adds more variety to its inventory of songs, they will have an easier time choosing specific songs for a worship service. This will also help the more advanced musicians in the group to challenge themselves and each other and grow musically. Plus, it will help make the services themselves more interesting because the worship will be more frequently fresh and new.

So, there you go. What I'd like to know is this: what advice do you have for me, those of you who have ever led a band, worked with a band, led a Bible study, taught in a foreign language, organized music for a worship service, organized anything at all, worked with a group of musicians, a group of youth, etc. All helpful comments are welcome and appreciated.

Friday, April 18, 2008

i can't stop sneezing.

it's weird how when you want time to speed up it refuses to do anything but drag on and on. and then in those moments when you just wish it'd stand still for a second so that, if nothing else, you could find your bearings deal. it's like time's got some kind of grudge.

so, it's april already and before i know it it will be june 26th (because this is one of those moments when i wish time would drag). i guess i feel almost completely ready to leave and not nearly ready enough to be there. i've made just about as many plans as i can make and i think i'm as prepared as anyone ever really is for something like this...but just in the last week a whole new set of doubts and fears has arisen in me, and hit me hard. and i have no idea what i'm doing.