A quick stop on the way

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May 15th 2007
Published: May 15th 2007
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I expected to be lying on the airport floor trying to catch up on my sleep this morning. But a few hours of decent sleep on the plane from Montreal to Paris last night and the bright sunshine this morning combined to give me more energy than expected, and so I caught the train into St. Michel this morning. I may pay for this later today when the lack of sleep catches up with me, but for now I’m enjoying a coffee and croissant breakfast at an outdoor café as I watch the people of Paris go about their daily rounds. It’s a happening place, and it’s a beautiful sunny morning.

Just getting on the airplane and having this stopover in Paris is a strange mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar for me. On the one hand, I’ve done this many times before. My work in the international telecom and aviation business had me traveling all over the world, and I’ve had dozens of stopovers in Paris on the way to countries in Africa. Memories of the travel routine and my previous business trips come flooding back. But this time, the purpose of my trip is, at least on the surface, completely different.

So what you might ask, is the purpose of my trip to the Seychelles? Good question. I’ve been asking that myself. In the first instance, of course, I am going to the Seychelles to do a student internship with the church there. So as a theology student training for ordained ministry, it seemed obvious to me at first that the main purpose of my trip was to learn. However in order to prepare for my trip I was sent to a missions orientation conference in January. The conference was a great experience, but I found myself protesting that I wasn’t a missionary going to another country but rather a student doing an international internship. You might think that, I was told, but many people both here and there will think of you as a missionary, so you better get used to all the baggage and history, both good and bad that goes along with that.

But another purpose of my trip quickly became apparent when I met with Clementina and Jill at the national church office. “Send us lots of updates,” they told us, “and if there is something you ¬don’t want published, let us know.” Even before I left, some parishes have been lining me up to give a presentation when I get back. And so I’ve learned that one of the purposes of my internship is to embody in some small way the relationship that exists between the Anglican Church of Canada and the global Anglican community, and specifically in my case, the Church of the Seychelles. One of the strengths (and challenges) of the Anglican Church is that it is a global communion - but relationships can’t exist in the abstract, they need to be embodied in people, and the international internships are one way in which this is done.

And finally, the Bishop in the Seychelles, Santosh Marray, has asked me to prepare and deliver two courses this summer as part of his program to train lay people for ministry. Like many other places, including the Diocese of Ottawa, the Seychelles has remote and sparsely populated areas for which it is difficult to provide ordained ministers. The Anglican Church is responding to this need by developing a non-stipendiary program for worker clergy, and so I will be providing training in Biblical Studies and Theology. So guess what I was doing on the plane last night? Trying to put together some sort of program to use when I get there.

It’s quite remarkable that I’ve been asked to teach while in the Seychelles. I’ve been doing a fair bit of teaching so the assignment is a good fit for me, but the Bishop had no knowledge of my teaching background when he made the request!

Coincidence? Synchronicity? Providence? Take your pick!


16th May 2007

Mark, This is going to be fascinating following your progress. It will allow us to share somewhat in an unbelivable opportunity and experience as you describe it. Thanks for taking the time to allow us a glimpse into your journey. My vote is for sychronicity and providence! (More comments when I return from Greece.) May your journey be blessed in all aspects!! Kathy
16th May 2007

We're on our way!
I've been in Belize since May 4, and Nick arrived on the 14th. He is staying at my boarding house for three days, for an orientation here in Belize City with the Bishop. I am assigned to a church in Belize City, where I assist with all services, teach a bible study, a confirmation class, preach, give the address at school worship and am acting in a chaplaincy role at the nearby hospital. So far it has been a wonderful experience. Looking forward to your updates! Janice

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