Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Vacation and Conference week

Our team submitted its final report on the 21st, and I was on the bus for Boston on the 21st.

I spent some time resting in Lowell, visited Cambridge and a bit of Boston, chilled out more before the New England Churches Conference in Worcester. I needed those vacation real good, and here is a report.

Pictures to come.

So I took the 23:30 bus to Boston... and can tell you to not do the same silly mistake I've done! We did not cross the border before ~1:00, and then I didn't sleep all that well in the rest of the trip. Of course, the fact that the driver calls the stops on the intercom won't help, even with earplugs.
Nevertheless, I arrived at 6:30 in South Station, Boston, took the metro to North Station, then took the train to Lowell. A brother was waiting for me there.
We spent some time together, chilling at his place. I asked him to show me the big deal about World of Warcraft,and then we gave ourselves a short LAN game of Starcraft. I never managed to go through his protoss line of defense :'(
I then took some time to rest, before showering and joining the rest of the singles' ministry for their midweek time. We split the brothers and siters and we studied 1 Thessalonians for directions in how to have a working discipling group.
One sister gave me a welcoming gift: a photo album. I don't have an excuse not to have one now :D
I then moved to my "permanent" hosting place, two brothers in Lowell.
On Thursday morning, I'm meeting the same sister who gave me this gift, and we end up on the side of the highway, trying to salvage a cellphone and its sim card (long story I won't detail). Suffice to say that this gets close in adventureness to me begging for change for my metro ticket in Milan! Afterwards, we meet another brother and go eat breakfast together.
Afterwards, I'm in the train and I'm going to Cambridge. I spent most of my day visting the campus of Harvard University. I then saw the LongFellow historical site's garden, the Cambridge City Hall, and the MIT Museum.
In the bus and train, I had the chance to read a book my roomate in Switzerland gave me, Homo Faber, by Max Frisch. Of course, not the German original, but a French translation. This book is disturbing, in a sense. First, there is the sense of fate and closing, about how the book starts and ends on a stomach pain (read it and you'll get what I mean), and how it feels like Fate put the strings of events together to bring closure to the past.
In short, the main character is an engineer for UNESCO who's totally blasé. On one routine trip, an accident happens, and he's stuck in the desert for days, and he builds a frienship with a German dude... who's the brother of a college-day friend. Then starts a chain of events where all his past is revisited, and gets to a pinnacle point of meeting a beautiful young woman in the boat, to finally discover she is his own daughter.
The emotional disconnect of this man is striking and painful, in a sense. When facing anything, he turns to statistics... someone is sick? Why worry, your chances of going through that are 9 in 10! He is the kind of man who live in Paris for years and never saw the Louvre, never went to the Opera, etc.
How he ever seduced a woman is a mystery.
It is an interesting read for any engineer or scientist, a reminder of how we don't want to turn out.
On the evening, I met a sister of the Campus ministry there, and we shopped near Government Center.
On Friday, I chilled out. I spent some time watching the first half of Upside Down, this musical on the Acts of the Apostles. I then spent time with a brother and we visited Lowell. We went to the tourist office, then to the Revolving Museum, that does outsider art of the community. I saw a very *dark* bedroom that sreamed out loud "I'm a goth and I need God!".
Afterwards, it was more hang out time, and some shopping as well. Finding a gift for my dad is soooo hard. Maybe I could make a name for myself in the world of mathematics by proving that a perfect gift for my dad does not exist. I guess I'm lacking faith on that one.
We ended up on the river side, in a park, just talking.
In the evening, we went for the conference. We had a lot of performance, and an initial teaching on faith. Summary: we receive in the measure of our faith. It is the parable of a man on a frozen like: with little faith, he'll tiptoe his way out, with a lot of faith, he'll put skates on and have a lot of fun!
On saturday, I'm blessed to spend more time with a close friend of mine, who's leading the church in Geneva. I love him very much, and distance always impacts a friendship. So our time together was particularly sweet. There were three class sessions, and I picked one on leadership, sexuality (from a Biblical perspective, worry not), and the spiritual gifts.
I still have to digest my notes before putting a summary of my learning. In short, however, here is the biggest point
. Leadership: people-pleasing is a big risk for the congreation. One must move beyond that fear in order to lead effectively
. Sexuality: human sexuality is a reminder for our soul's desire for God. Also, lust and love cannot coexist in a dating couple.
. Gifts: gifts are from the Spirit and, as such, we are commissionned to use them for the benefit of the Church, period. There is no need to wait for any external approval, simply we must identify them and put them in practice.
In the evening, I ate lunch with a few brothers and we went to the singles' event. The performers were good (we had a room with guitar and song, and another for the dance floor), and I went from one to another. One sister actually got into my dance style (very martial arts) and it was funny: for a song we had a sister playing referee, and that other sister and I were "dueling" over the music. It was AWESOME.
On sunday, we arrived super late in the morning (still on time), because we were all so sleep deprived. I deepened my relationship with one of the brothers hosting me. We had the service, then a lot of fellowship. One more meal at the 99 to escape the blazing sun, and we went with a few bros to Boston and hanged out with them.
I had a good chat with someone who fled the world of politics because he felt too much pressure to conform to the system.
In the evening, in the train, we invited a guy for a Bible study, and invited one more in the train station afterwards. I promised myself I'd bring the gospel to people in my trip, and I did it, albeit just a little bit. :)
In the evening, I finished watching Upside Down. There are quite a few lines of added romance in the musical, but nothing that deviates too clearly from the book of Acts. I was touched at times by the courage of these early men of faith.
On monday, it was time to go back. I took the express bus at 9AM from South Station. We had a stop at White River Junction and I felt inspired to talk to some girl about my faith. Turns out that she had just wrote in her note book "the reasons why God doesn't exist"... what a timing! Followed were at least a full hour (if not 2) of apolegetics. Suffice to say that I got home emotionally, physically and intellectually drained with all that together.
It was a great vacation. I hope to do that again.

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