Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Haji Ali's Lesson

A couple of weeks ago I was handed this quote on a xeroxed page by one of our church members. It floated around my desk unread, until this morning. I was hurriedly trying to get to the bottom of the pile so I could feel I had accomplished something and was madly throwing things from publishing houses and the vacant pleas for money that come to a pastor from every direction, usually under the cover "Current Occupant..."

The quote is from the book Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson (c. 2007, Penguin Press). The book jacket reads, in part, "The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban's backyard. Anyone who despairs of the individual's power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan's treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school."

Boy, did I feel convicted that I didn't read it before now! Listen to what Mortenson says:

"Haji Ali spoke. ‘If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways," Haji Ali said, blowing on his bowl. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die," he said, laying his hand warmly on Mortenson's own. "Doctor Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time."

"That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my life," Mortenson says. "We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills. Our leaders thought their 'shock and awe' campaign could end the war in Iraq before it even started. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them."

My great thanks to the person who gave me this. All of you can continue the dialog merely by replying to this post. Click on "comment".


Graham said...

Thanks for sharing this Jon, sounds like a great read. I have added this to our website "bookshelf" as suggested reading.


Cathy S. said...

Hi Jon,

Good to see you back online. "Three Cups of Tea" is one of Bill's favorite books (and you know Bill, he reads about one book every 10 years: it's saying a lot that he finished it within a month of getting it.) Although Greg is not a Christian, it taught Bill a LOT that he found useful for his projects in Tanzania: First you might have to build a bridge, you can't tell where funding can will come from...and have to take time to sit back and really get to know the folks you are working for/with.

Bill leaves for Tanzania again on Saturday morning for two and a half weeks. This year's emphasis is upgrading the solar power for the computer cafe at the bible college and visiting churches that have recently received funds for roofs! He has a new web-site where talks about a couple of the projects he has been working on and which includes a blog he will be posting to while "in-country":


Cathy Schrull