Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In May of 2007 after a congregational vote approving the possibility, I sent an application to the Lily Endowment for a sabbatical grant.  The Lily Endowment provides up to $45000 to help pastors step away for a time of no less than three months, but no more than four.  The question they ask of the pastors making application is simple: what will make your heart sing?

For the last three years I have been going to Malawi, Africa.  The first trip was to inaugurate a school project; the second trip was a fact finding mission regarding malaria; and the third was to secure the visas for a youth choir who came to the US last summer.  Although the trips were never more than three weeks the impact of the time in Malawi linger far longer.

When I applied to the Lily Foundation I tried to convey that this impact was so significant it was becoming a challenge to interpret it to my family.  They watched me throw out most of my clothes, vow to never buy shoes again, and take to grunting when asked a question.  I have worked through most of these odd moments with a some grace.  (I am wearing a new pair of shoes and plan to recycle my old ones.)  Yet I came to feel I couldn't keep going with these experiences unless they were shared.

Fortunately for me the Lily Foundation said: here is a lot of money to take your family to Africa.  We don't all go at the same time, and one of our children has opted out, and a niece has jumped in, and it will mean different things to each one, but the hope is that it will be something I can share with them instead of describe to them.

What I ask 

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