The Week That Was: March 17-25th, 2009

by Chris Kamalski

Nothing to do with this week, but pretty cool nonetheless.  Local train stop in Pretoria North.Nothing to do with this week, but pretty cool nonetheless. Local train stop in Pretoria North.

The Week That Was: Pretty much can be summed up in a hyphenated word: Grip-Birkman (or as we affectionately refer to it as ‘The Girkman’).  Hal Burke is a wonderfully kind man from Sarasota, Florida who has been staying with us the past week in order to lead us through a multi-faceted, quite complex, VERY illuminating training in the Grip-Birkman assessment tool.  Think a combination of the Myers-Briggs personality profile, the Strength Finder, spiritual gifts inventory, leadership styles/preferences, team styles/preferences, learning interests, academic abilities/preferences, jobs we ‘gravitate towards,’ all thrown together into the most detailed, comprehensive report I’ve ever seen on ‘who I am’ (at least, according to a series of tests).  My report is over 80 pages long!  Hal came out here to help walk us through these reports (and their implications for individual growth and our NCSA team) as a coach and guide who has been trained in this method, and let me say, it has been mind-blowing (and draining) for our community.  We’ve been looking long and hard at how we are wired, from every angle imaginable, this past week.  

I’ll post some stuff on personal things I’ve been wrestling with a bit later, but one aspect of this material that has been impressive to me is the sections on Unmet Needs, which turn into Stress Behaviors.  Essentially, there is a ‘Usual Style’ in which we operate in our lives, fueled by certain things that we need (Ex: I need time alone to process and recover, to let ideas stew within me.  Creativity flows from this sense of margin for me–when I lack margin, I dry up in every sense of the word (This week?)).  If our needs are unmet by ourselves or by those around us, we typically ‘move styles’ and begin to operate out of a place of deficit or need.  This is termed Stress Behaviors by The Girkman, and accurately describes why I am the way I am.  Profound, profound stuff.  Anyways, we have been chewing on this as individuals in coaching time with Hal, as well as in a 3-day training last week Wednesday-Friday.  Good, powerful, deep implications for us as individuals, us as a community, and outward in how we bless our neighbors around us.  Much to chew on.

Sunday was fun, and an unexpected blessing, as I headed out to a part of Soshanguve that I’ve never been to with Joe, Busi, Colletta, and Adrienne.  We went to check out some work that a new friend of ours, Maxie, did with a local church. Maxie is our contact with OneLife, a ‘future’ non-profit working to address the housing shortage in South Africa (a portion of the South African constitution states that no resident will be denied housing with the country, which is inspiring to me).  Likely an opportunity for ministry for me in a ‘project’ sense down the road.  Monday I finally sent out TONS of correspondence to donors, which felt great to do.  Look forward to chatting with you all as soon as you receive these!

On My To-Do List This Week: Finished up (long overdue) thanks to all my donors.  Look for sweet postcards in the mail from me in about 7 days, folks!  And write me back at: 106 Emily Hobhouse Pretoria North 0182 South Africa.  I’d love some package and letter love!  Quick shout out to the folks for sending me sweet Airwalk slippers, and to Shannon Cogswell for some Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie love!  Ok, to do: Hmm…Begin crafting monthly/every Learning posture Donor newsletter updates (to give y’all a more full picture of all we are experiencing here as a community), as our Listening Posture ends this coming week.  Catch up on reading Transforming Mission by Bosch as we have our second discussion group tomorrow and I’m not even CLOSE to being fully read (Is that a phrase?).  I suppose work on my budget, plan our off-week trip to Capetown in late May, and a few other things as well.

Procrastinating About: Reading Bosch.  Just can’t muster up the energy to tackle that beast right now (the book, not Bosch).

Books I’m In The Midst Of: Finishing up Spiritual Direction by Nouwen this week.  Want to get further into On Writing by Stephen King this week and next, and to begin more frequent writing as a result!  Just looked over at my book stack also, and it is intimidating as always!  MUST-READ-MORE…

On The Current iTunes Playlist: I can’t believe I’ve never fully listened through Achtung Baby by U2, but I am really grooving to this early 90’s classic right now.  I would have given anything to see the ZooTV Tour back in the day.  Speaking of U2, have you checked out the plans for their latest tour for No Line On The Horizon?  EPIC!  Here’s the link: 360 Degree Tour.  

I’m Thinking About: Nothing really.  Mind feels like mush right now.  I think I’ve been wearing my contacts too long this morning.

Next Trip: Two this week: In about 40 minutes we (the apprentices) leave for Johannesburg for an overnight at Curtis’ place.  Sweet stuff on tap: Happy Hour at his local pub with a bunch of his South African friends and hottie girlfriend Becky, late night jazz at a local restaurant/lounge, and then sleepover talk ’til late.  Tomorrow morning, Tom Smith picks me up and we head off to our Transforming Mission discussion, which will be mind-blowing like last time.  This weekend, we walk a block and a half down the road from Pangani to Lorraine’s place for our 48-hour retreat to end the Listening Posture.  Lorraine (who runs a local retreat center out of her property called Mohale) is a friend of NieuCommunities and will be guiding our retreat this weekend.  She’s also leading the Supervision Group of local spiritual directors that I checked out this past week.  Stoked on this!

How I’m Feeling About This Week: Excited to get off of our property and go explore Jo’Burg a bit more.  Ready for some quiet and process-time this weekend.  Feeling pretty low creatively at the moment, and in motivation in general.  One of those “I’d just rather watch movies” weeks.  Can you relate?

Prayer Request: Continued relational connection with our Apprentice crew.  I’ve told a few of you that since being here, I often feel like I’ve lost the ability to make friends (like I’m 5 years old again).  I know that growth comes in connection with others–and yet am putting pressure on myself.  Need to chill…