Glo and I had arrived for the Hong Kong advance a day early to get on local time and rest up. This picture was taken on Tuesday evening, September 25th, during our first advance activity (a meet-and-greet at a restaurant within the Panda Hotel complex). Not wanting to be late (as always) we were some of the first ones to arrive. We were tired and exhausted. Glo is always sweet and gracious when she is tired; I am not. We desperately wanted to find someone to talk to who was friendly and kind. We met Chris Roush who was one of the faculty advisors (not knowing anyone, we initially thought she might be a fellow cohort participant). We immediately connected and became fast friends. Chris may never know how she helped launch this life-changing experience for us. Thank you, Lord, for Chris!
Everyone else seemed to be so at ease and so pleasantly engaged. I was so physically tired; I felt unable to marshal the emotional resources to extend myself toward others. I was so looking forward to meeting and greeting the faculty and the other members of my cohort whom I had previously met online in our Zoom meetings. Instead, I felt out of place and wondered if I would ever “fit in” with everyone else. Upon reflection, I am so amazed how our greatest challenge is often the misinformation our emotions feed into our thought processes. Thank you, Lord, for helping me to push through those initial feelings and realize such a rich and ongoing relationship with this cohort and this doctoral program.
I love this picture. This setting was on the roof-top terrace of our hotel outside our meeting room. It took place on Wednesday and our (LGP9’s) first day to spend time together and begin to hear each other’s story. We were on a coffee-break (I was shocked how good the coffee was, another misconception of mine) and I am on the far right learning about and hearing from John, who is a Friends leader in western Kenya. I was amazed by the stories of all my cohort siblings and also how each one of us had come together to learn how to lead better for such a time as this.
I don’t want this visual ethnography to be all about me. I was the last one to tell my story that day. I was so tired, my social filters were weakened, and I shared far more than I had intended. I just wanted to be safe and polite, and not at all go deep or warrant becoming the object of prayer ministry. Well, that plan went awry, I shared the pent-up hurt, anger, and frustration of some ten years of my current local ministry experience. I shared my passion to coach and assist other pastors and church planters so they would be spared my mistakes and my wounds. I was embarrassed to be prayed for and simply surrendered to my newfound local church community. I had no idea this picture was taken, but it has become my most poignant memento of the advance. True authentic diversity has become a growing interest and social need for this white German descendant. I am not sure why I am so taken that those closest to me, praying for me in this picture, are either women or people of color. I am not sure what that means, but it feels like a prophetic moment.
Our readings did not do justice to the beauty of Hong Kong. While a busy urban city of some 7.8 million residents spread across 8 thousand high-rise buildings and 1,064 square miles; it was a beautiful city surrounded by mountains, water, and populated by friendly people. An ancient Asian city that juxtaposes the old and the new well, Glo and I were so surprised how much we enjoyed Hong Kong and how much we want to go back and visit our new friends in our new favorite place. Among those new friends, was our young guide, Nana. Nana taught me so much about Hong Kong from a young Chinese female leader perspective. I am grateful for and pray for her often.
Well, the advance is over, and after debriefing, we have since returned to our respective homes and routines. I think my pose in this picture captures my pondering on where do I go from here. So since the advance, what have I learned and what am I practicing? We have processed through several texts and are in the process of assembling our research resources. Books like Adler and Doren’s How to Read a Book, Rowntree’s Learn How to Study, Paul and Elder’s Critical Thinking have helped me form patterns of thinking to process research candidates more swiftly. Pink’s Doing Visual Ethnography has been the primary source for this particular assignment. Elliott’s Contemporary Social Theory has forced me to ask many hard questions about the value and place of my research in my society. Our latest read, Nohria and Khurana’s Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, has excited me about making closer connections between our required readings and the preferred focus of my research. While I am struggling to keep up with the readings and the work, I am becoming increasingly excited about the possibility of engaging more fully in my research. I am excited that my research might have value for my cohort community and beyond. I am excited that the process of pursuing a DMIN in Leadership and Global Perspective may change far more lives than I ever dreamed.