Photo by Tony Cece

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Monday 7/30

A new adventure ensued today as we began our two day conference, presented to approximately 105 pastors from communities surrounding Into Abba’s Arms (IAA). Beginning right on time...Kenya time, introductions went long as asking 105 pastors to introduce themselves quickly simply isn't possible!
Presentations included topics such as Attending Behaviors, Conflict Resolution, Addictions, Compassion Fatigue and Relaxation Techniques. The pastors were eager to learn and expressed strong intentions to bring this "much needed" information back to their communities in an effort to not only help their communities and congregations spiritually but mentally and physically also.
Beginning with Attending Behaviors, our presenters described and modeled listening skills, reflecting skills, paraphrasing, mirroring, posturing, and non-attention strategies that allow clients to feel more at ease whereby creating an environment where the client is likely to establish trust and open up. These attending behaviors were further demonstrated through a very comical skit performed by two of our team members. There was much laughter, and the skit set the tone for the rest of the day as the pastors began to relax and participate within the discussions.
Kenya tea time gave way to the opportunity to mingle and further get to know some of the local pastors and some of the struggles they face on a more personal level. What we found was more of the same; rampant struggles with physical and sexual abuse, child abuse, drug and alcohol problems and how these problems are kept silent within the community and church.
Following, team members presented on Conflict Resolution in which they addressed preconceived ideas about conflict such as, "If you ignore/deny conflict, it will go away on its own," ways to identify, manage and avoid negative conflict. The pastors were roused with excitement as they identified with ways in which this information could help not only their clients and congregations; but as one pastor said, "oh how I wish I would have known this last and my wife...BIG bang!" We all laughed; but the moment was somber as he continued to tell us of his own marital struggles and how trapped he felt at the inability to talk confidentially with another. As the afternoon progressed, discussions on addiction and led to some hard-hitting and intimate group sessions with our pastors in which team members helped process stories of mean drunkenness leading to "beatings of the women," severely abusive marriages and an increasing drug and alcohol problem now spreading like "epidemic" to the young boys. Issues that arose from their pastoral perspective revolved mostly around ways to "fix it all" and fatigue. These two issues were the focus of our last two sessions and extremely well  received.  
Pastors were relieved to know that the stress, anxiety and even anger they sometimes felt, had a name; Compassion Fatigue. By a show of hands nearly all of the pastors felt symptoms of Compassion Fatigue and were eager to know and practice some stress relieving strategies to help avoid further fatigue. All in all it was a long and successful day, yet as a team, our thoughts were now focussed on the topics to come tomorrow and our hearts had been blessed by their eagerness to learn and willingness to allow us to hear their stories and share in their struggles.

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