Showing Posts from: Family


My Newest Dream: To Fly My Family Around the World in My Airplane

Years ago, I dreamed that I would one day have a happy, healthy marriage and family, that I would own my own home, become a pilot, own an airplane, help a lot of people, and earn my PhD.  All but one of those dreams have come true.

Now I'm dreaming again. Usually, I only share my dreams AFTER I have already achieved them. Well, I'm going out on a limb with this one.  

Here it is: It is my dream to fly my family around the world in a spacious, capable twin-engine airplane, learning about several of the world's wonderful cultures, being a blessing to people everywhere we go, and inspiring underprivileged youth all over the world to dream BIG!

I shared this dream with my family, and they are excited! Who knows how this will affect the development of all of us, especially our children? I'm excited to see how my children will be affected by the beauty and poverty and diversity of the worlds they (we) will see and experience.

Normally, when I have a dream, I write it down, and then I take some kind of action, like putting together a draft plan to transform that dream into reality. This time, I'm telling others- you- about it. While I know there will be some naysayers who doubt that this will happen, I believe there are a lot more people in the world who will cheer us on. No, this is not where I put in a gofundme link.  This is just me externalizing my dream.  

I have already completed the first draft of our itinerary (see picture). So far, it will take 135 flights, 307 hours of flight time, 10,731 gallons of fuel, in order to fly 61,322 miles from Atlanta to Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America (and maybe Antarctica), and back. Along the way, we will be stopping to experience each city's culture, and to somehow  be a blessing to a local group either through a service project or through speaking/preaching to one or more of their groups.

The trip will take at least one year to complete.  Maybe longer.  

Between now and then, a WHOLE LOT has to happen. With God's help and a whole lot of focused work, I plan on finishing my PhD in December of 2018. Then I plan on taking the beginning of 2019 to finalize the details of this trip. Before my wife and I backpacked through Europe for six weeks in 2003, we ate grilled cheese sandwiches and saved all our pennies to make that trip possible.  To afford this trip, we are probably going to have to start eating cake mix or something! lol! In any case, I believe in sacrificing for my dreams, making them a reality.

All I ask is that you please pray with me and my family that everything comes together for this dream to come true. That's it.  I'll share more as I know more. 

Thank you.

Manny

Today, I Celebrate 15 Years of Marriage to My Best Friend

When all I had was nothing but small pockets and big dreams, she was there, believing in me.

When I lost college football and a huge part of my identity, and was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, she was there, walking with me through that rough transition.

When, late one night, on a walk through our college campus, I read my story out loud for the first time ever, with tears in my eyes, she was there, as my first and only audience member.

When I walked across the stages in Berkeley and Deerfield to receive my degrees, she was there, cheering for me.

When I gave my first speech, “Right Here, Right Now,” she was there, supporting me.

When I sensed God calling me to the ministry on a clear starry night at a California campfire, surrounded by foster kids, she was there, praying with me.

When I preached my first Sunday-morning sermon, “A Strange Response to Trials,” she was there, praising God with me.

When I stood on stages all over the world to try to be a voice for the voiceless, she was there, standing with me.

When people I thought I could trust betrayed me, and took advantage of me, and it hurt me in ways unimaginable, she was there, as a trustworthy friend to me.

When I wasn’t making any money, and I didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills, she found a job and supported us, FOR TWO YEARS, and NEVER, EVER made me feel like less of a man because of it- she was there, supporting me.

When I’ve been helplessly sick, bed-bound and burdened, she’s been there, never complaining, while nursing me back to health.

When, after giving my all to audiences, I’ve been empty and exhausted, unpleasant and unavailable, she’s been there, EVERY, SINGLE, TIME, praying for me, singing to me, loving me back to life.

So…after all the crowds are gone and the applause has faded and people have forgotten my name, as long as she’s by my side, I’ll be more than fine;

And, after my kids are grown and gone, and their lovely, joyous laughter that once filled our home lives only in my memories, one of the only comforts that will help me make it through the pain of their absence is the pleasure of her presence.


Yes, after all my hair is grey or gone, and my vision has blurred, and my last breath draws near, I’ll smile one last time, and give thanks to God, because my wonderful Alice was there, with me, for me, by me, and sometimes despite me, through it all.

Happy 15th Anniversary, Alice Scott, the woman who is, and ever shall be, more dear to me than my own heart's blood.

How Does the Scott Family Say Goodbye?

So, following a tradition that we learned from the Johnson Family (my wife's original clan), this is how the Scott family usually says goodbye when someone we love is leaving.  How do you or your family say goodbye? 

 

 

A Much-Needed Vacation But Always an Opportunity to Learn

Japan: Bowing and Language

First, we went to Japan, where we visited Mt. Fuji, Shibuya Crossing, Shinjuku, Shinto shrines, and so many other places. There are so many things about Japan and Japanese culture that are outstanding. They have fewer trash cans than any place I've been, but it is the cleanest place I've been. They don't generally accept tips, but offer some of the best customer service we've ever had. Their service—wow!

Shibuya Crossing, Mount Fuji, Electric Town, and Sumo in Tokyo

One thing that really stood out to me about their service was the way they bowed. After they loaded us on our bus, they stood on the curb, and bowed as we departed. When they entered the workplace, they bowed. When they exited work, they bowed. After they served you, they bowed. That ritual contained so many layers to it. In some ways, serving you is an honor, and bowing is a sign, or a symbol, of respect and gratitude. 

Then there was their language. When they accidentally bump into you, they say, “sumimasen;” when they greet you as you walk into their store, they say, “sumimasen;” and, when they do not have something, like a fork or spoon, for example, they say, “sumimasen.” In three different contexts, sumimasen means three different things. In the first, it mean, excuse me. In the second, it was kind of like, “welcome” or “how may I help you?” In the last case, since they do not really have a way of saying “no,” sumimasen is an indirect way of saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

There are so many more examples of this, but I must move on to China.

China: Umbrellas and Personal Space

In Shanghai, the most populated city in the world, we visited an ancient water town, ancient gardens, and a plethora of other places. But there was one experience that really blew my mind. When I was jogging through a park, I saw hundreds—maybe thousands—of opened umbrellas on the ground. So I sat down to try to figure out what was going on. Come to find out, it was a marriage market. What is that? Well, every Saturday and Sunday in Shanghai (at People's Park, in People's Square), parents and grandparents of unmarried adults fill the park to trade information about their children, hoping to find a spouse for them. They arrive early in the morning to claim their spots with umbrellas, and attach little biographies (advertisements) to the umbrellas that include things like height, weight, hobbies, jobs, and the monthly incomes of their unmarried offspring. I've never seen anything quite like it! An umbrella, in my mind, was merely a tool to protect you from the rain (or maybe a weapon in a dark alley). But I never thought that it could function as an advertisement for marriage. Because of that, I will never look at an open umbrella the same.

Marriage Market in Shanghai

There was another thing in China that made my family somewhat uncomfortable. In China, I lost count of how many people stopped, stared at, took pictures of, or tried to touch my daughter’s hair without asking. When we asked one of our guides about it, she told us that many people from China's countryside have never seen foreigners (especially black people, or black children), and, as such, their touching of my daughter’s hair was, for many of them, a gesture of endearment. For the most part, we were okay (if at times uncomfortable) with the staring and the pictures. We were not quite yet comfortable, however, with random strangers touching our daughter or children without our (or our childrens') permission. So Alice and I politely blocked (or gently pushed away) countless hands during our time in China.

Ancient water town in China. My son said, “Dad, this is like a Chinese Venice!”

Australia: Buddy and No Worries

In the “Land Down Under,” we had a marvelous time in Sydney and Melbourne. We stopped by the Opera House, a couple zoos, Manly Beach, and whole host of other places. Speaking of culture, there were a couple things that I’d like to mention about culture. During my encounters with several Australian men, they kept calling me “buddy,” as in, “No worries, buddy,” or “Hey, buddy. Good to see you.” Being called “buddy” was, at first, a bit bothersome. Where I am from, the only people I refer to as buddy are kids, like, “Hey little buddy.” However, to call a grown man, “buddy,” where I’m from would be considered condescending at least. After people kept calling me buddy, I began to gather that referring to someone as “buddy” in their culture is just another way of saying, “Hey, man,” or “what’s up, dude” or “hey, boss."  Also, when I said, "thank you," they did not resond with, "you're welcome." Instead, they said, "no worries."  Language is so fascinating to me.

Sydney, Australia

All the above experiences are about culture, and, from my studies, I have learned that navigating different cultures requires awareness of one's own cultural frame of reference; knowledge of the host culture's values, symbols (especially language), and rituals; and, skill at respecting and using, as best as one can, those values, symbols, and rituals in context-appropriate ways. Still, that is much easier said than done. The fact is understanding people from different cultures is not easy. Learning about their symbols, heroes, and rituals requires you to revert to the mental state of an infant, in which the simplest things must be learned over again. This often leads to feelings of distress, of helplessness, and of hostility toward the new environment.

To try to reduce some of the cultural shock that I knew we would experience as a family, we took Japanese and Mandarin language lessons before our trip. The basic introductions to both languages and cultures prepared us greatly, and really came in handy throughout the trip. We learned how to greet people, ask for directions, express our gratitude, and a few other things. We even learned the proper way to enter a Shinto shrine. However, there was still so much that we did not understand about those cultures. We still had so many questions, and at times, we were just plain lost.

What might this have to do with you? When it comes to serving others, even people who are from your own country, new leaders, especially new teachers, often experience culture shock. They feel anxiety, and at times, feel very lost. One of the best ways to overcome culture shock is to try to learn the language of the people with whom you would like to work/serve. It is nearly impossible to become bicultural without first becoming bilingual. Words are vehicles of culture transfer. 

Let me explain. A symbol is an object, sound, action, or idea to which people arbitrarily assign meaning, and there is no necessary relationship between the symbol and its meaning. Language, then, as a collections of sounds, is a symbol; and the meaning of a symbol—a word—is only recognized by those who share the same culture. That is why symbols, such as language, on their surface, are enigmatical. They are puzzles meant to be solved. Text that is meant to be read.

Once human behavior is seen as symbolic action—action that signifies, like phonation in speech, pigment in painting, line in writing, or sonance in music—the thing to ask is, “what is getting said?” By seeing people, and their words, their gestures, articles, and clothes—every aspect of their lives—as symbols that have a deeper meaning, people’s lives become like ink on a page, or words in a manuscript, or like an acted document which ought to be carefully read. If you are eery going to understand the people you serve, you must first seek to read their symbols.  

You and I are not going to get it right a lot of the times, but that's okay. Clifford Geertz, an anthropologist who helped define what anthropology is ultimately about, and who has been tremendously helpful to me during my own journey of understanding culture, says, “Cultural analysis is (or should be) guessing at meanings, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions from the better guess, not discovering the Continent of Meaning and mapping out its bodiless landscape.” In other words, when you encounter a different culture, you do not need to understand everything about that culture; rather, you ought to simply try to understand something. In the same way, when serving others, we ought to do our best to “fix” as accurately the meaning of what we have seen and heard, and humbly admit that what we have “fixed” may not be accurate. It is not necessary to know everything in order to understand something. In our quest to serve others, then, our job is to keep guessing at meanings in order to understand something.

Indeed, in your own work, what are some symbols, heroes, behaviors or rituals that are unfamiliar or strange? Ask questions, and guess at meanings. Try to figure out how those things might function in that culture, or what those things might mean to those who use them. Guess at meanings, and keep guessing at meanings, until you begin to get a better understanding of the people you feel called to serve. If you will do that, I believe you will be one step closer to being a more competent servant-leader. 

Thanks for reading, buddy. =)

Love,
Manny