Work

“God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation that is.” – Martin Luther

Summer Camp

This summer we got to be a part of the summer camp that was being hosted by the international School. There were over 100 kids who came the camp from the district where the school is located. We took the kids on a road trip through the US. Jacquelyn and I taught the kids about the Northeast.

Jeremy Camp

It really was alot of fun. It actually made of remember our early days in China when we were teaching children about this same age English.

Because the grade levels were quite different, the English levels also varied quite a bit. But we had fun with the children.

Camp-group

We’re hoping that the relationship with these kids will continue on!

Learning to Coach

Coaching Dance

Did you know a coach doesn’t give advice? The coach is simply there to help the coachee discover answers in his/her own heart and mind. In fact, the coach should operate under the mindset that…

This is what I learned at the coaching seminar recently attended. It was really a great seminar and really helped to correct some misconceptions that I was holding on to about what coaching is. I have to say it was a bit hard to change the paradigm I had going on to in my head.

When first presented with the idea that I wasn’t supposed to give a advice, I asked, “Then, what’s the point? Why are we coaching, then?” What I actually had going on in my mind was “counseling”, not coaching.

But the more I participated in the exercises, the more I saw just how powerful coaching can be. Wherever a person is, he or she has the ability, and if they are believers, the Spirit, to answers their own questions. Often times, it just takes a focused time of reflecting on what the real problem is and action steps moving forward.

End of Year Celebrations and Goodbyes

Though we’ve only been here about 3 months, we’re already celebrating the end of the year. Each year, our office takes out the department we’re responsible for. In addition to the Team Director Staff, we also oversee the Chinese teachers to the staff.

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In addition to celebrating a great year, we also are saying goodbye to people that we’ve already grown to enjoy. One person in particular is going to be a big loss for our company. Bruce and Grace have been apart of the work here for quite awhile and have made a great impact on our staff.

Since they’re leaving us, they got to pick the restaurant and they picked their favorite Malaysian restaurant. It was great! In my mind, it seems like it’s the best foods of all of Asia. Curries, rices, marinated meats, etc.

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Affirmation Cookout

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We know what it’s like to leave and know what it’s like to be left. Whether it’s your friend moving to a different town (or country), a loved one dying, or packing up for a new job, this is the reality that everyone in the world faces at some point or another. And it’s something that people living overseas are all too familiar with as a regular part of life. It doesn’t matter if you are leaving or if you are the one being left, honestly, it just plain sucks. The comfort and love you feel to the people your are departing with is suddenly gone and you are left scrambling to replace it.

Your life is turned upside down.

You feel abandoned.

It’s chaos.

It’s reality.

The natural inclination is to run away from this. But that’s not the right thing to do. The right thing to do is embrace the tears and give praise where praise is due.

That’s why every year we hold an “Affirmation Cookout” to do just that. It’s an opportunity to affirm those who are leaving in a public place. Being that we live in such close community with these people – we work, we play, we grow together – it would be a disservice to all involved if there wasn’t a time to share a bit about what we all mean to each other.

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Jumping in Head First

Well, it wasn’t exactly the plan, but I was thrown in to leading several important events and situations over the last couple of weeks. I was eventually going to get to do these things anyway, but it wasn’t supposed to be for another 3 months. The person who is training me had an emergency that sent him back to the States for 2 weeks. There were quite a few things that happened during those two weeks, not the least of which was organizing our team meeting.

The team meeting is a chance for all the team to get together for the purpose of unity and/or sharing vision. I was really thankful to everyone who helped me pull the meeting together.

Leading a Team Meeting

(Sorry, we didn’t get a better shot.)
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Eloise playing before the team meeting.

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Another huge event was a seminar that we hold annually to help prepare the staff who will be moving back to their home countries in the coming year. This is such an important conference. We know firsthand what’s it’s like to move back from living overseas and how you can really feel like a fish out of water. The biggest part of this conference for me was the logistics and coordination of the day. Thankfully, there were a ton of people who were able to help out and the day went off great.

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Some other unexpected things happened as well during the week, including three different staff children being rushed to the hospital for different reasons: a seizure, a scary fall, and a dog bite to the face requiring stitches. My role here is to be able to help out in crisis situations like these whether through emotional support or coordinating medical attention/transportation or an evacuation from the country if needed. In these cases, the children were rushed to a nearby hospital and I provided support and followup.

This past month has been a reaffirming month for us. We feel confident that He has led us here to be a support to this wonderful team who are doing doing great things.

WP-content to Excerpt Plugin

A friend of mine was looking for a bit help with his website. Quite simply, he wanted to show excerpts instead of the entire post for his blog.

Now, the way to do this in WordPress is to properly set up the theme when you build it. But that’s not really useful. He’s not going to switch the theme that he otherwise likes because of this one issue. And, to go into the theme files and change the wp-content to wp-excerpt is a bit of a stretch for non-developer.

So, I did some internet searching and found a function and filter, made a few tweaks and then bundled it up into a little plugin and now my friend can simply upload this plugin to his site and it’s done. If he decides later he doesn’t want it, he can just deactivate it.

Here’s the description:
Changes wp-content to show an excerpt on all archives (blog listings) and search listings. It also strips out any pictures or shortcodes in the listing view. This plugin allows you to change your website to show excerpts without having to change the functions.php file or any other php file in WordPress. There are no settings with this plugin. Simply activate to show excerpts or deactivate to show the entire post. This plugin is based on the contributions of http://justintadlock.com/archives/2008/08/24/replacing-wordpress-content-with-an-excerpt-without-editing-theme-files.

Here’s the file:
jnc-contenttoexcerpt.zip

Hope it works for you. Let me know if it doesn’t.

Getting to Know the Team

Coming in late to a working environment that is based entirely on the school calendar means we have a lot of making up to do. One of the ways that I’ve been trying to do this make-up work is by creating some flashcards to study.

Flashcards almost never let you down. They’ve worked well for me for learning Chinese. So, why not give them a try with people’s names and faces?

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One of the harder things about the process was compiling all the names into a format that would be easy to print off and cut up. I actually tried before we came to TJ, but I had a really hard time with the meet the staff website page loading and the copying and pasting of the names and pictures.

But upon my arrival, I was given a printed directory of all the staff, which I promptly cut up into flash cards. With over 200 staff, that sure made my life easier!

But now comes the hard part…actually learning all the names!

Videoing a Local Farmer Segment

A few weeks ago the owner of the company asked me to go on location to a local apple cider producer for our store and put together an interview-style video of the process of making apple cider. I have to say, I was a bit intimated by the idea of it. Up to now all of these types of videos have been made by an award-winning videographer who does incredible work for us. But after I set some expectations for everyone, I was excited to do this project.

Scouting it out.

The first step for any project like this is to scout it out. It’s important to get an idea of the following things:

  • Location & Facility. Where will the filming take place? What different angles can be imagined? What are the limitations of the location? How many different operations need to be captured?
  • Interviewees. Are they talkative? Do your questions need to be general or more specific to spur up the conversation? How many people should do the talking on camera? Are they flexible enough to go with the flow? Or are they annoyed that you’re there in the first place?
  • The process. What is the basic process that you’re going to be capturing? How many steps does it take to make the product?

Filming the interview.

Even with scouting out all of the above, I still didn’t quite have a complete picture of how everything was going to mesh together. I knew I wanted to grab the interview first so it could guide me in how the process worked. Plus, I wanted to get out of the owner’s hair as soon as possible so he could get back to work.

I filmed with my Cannon Rebel T1i using a zoom lens close in on the face of the person speaking while my colleague used the camcorder mentioned in this post, to get the fuller body shots. His camera also captured the audio parts.

My choice for the location was just ok. I really liked that we captured the apple trees and the house in the background. I thought the house just screamed “local”. If I were to do it again, though, two things I would do differently are:

  1. Get a light reflector. It was a nice sunny day, but I really needed to get some light on their faces. The shadows really hurt the quality.
  2. Keep the cameras closer together. Really, I think the cameras should be from almost exactly the same spot so the person speaking is looking right into the camera. On this one I went with more of a side view with the zoom so the speaker was not looking directly into the camera. It still turned out ok, but I think it could be better.

Filming the process and facilities.

I really messed up here. I completely underestimated the amount of different footage I would need of the process and facilities. What I realized was that I was going to be really bored just watching a guy talk to a camera about a process. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it until I went back to the office to start editing it. When I went back I watched some of the videos produced by professional guy mentioned earlier and was simply amazed by how seldom we saw the person being interviewed. In his cuts, when the person being interviewed was on screen, it was literally for 1 second. Then we switched to something else – usually exactly what he is describing with words.

So, I called and asked to come back and get some more footage. Thankfully, the owner was gracious and let me come back for another half day the following week.

Editing

I’m still only using iMovie for these edits. That’s fine. I like iMovie. But I’m really starting to want something more advanced. I bet I’d be able to do alot more with a more professional software.

Like in my previous experience, the most difficult part was cutting. My 1st cut was almost 4 minutes. That’s just too long for the typical viewer. So, I started clipping out scenes. I was able to get it down to 2 minutes. I’m still keeping in mind that a commercial on the TV is only 30 seconds. I’m not sure how in the world I could get it down to that.

I’m happy with the way this came out. I think it accurately shows the process in an interesting way and genuinely helps both the vendor and our store.