My wife, Nelma, and I both completed a graduate level program offered through the Missional Wisdom Foundation called the Launch & Lead. Dr. Bret Wells, along with Rev. Elaine Heath and Rev. Larry Duggins, pioneered this program with a focus on establishing missional communities. During this program, we learned that missional communities can take many shapes. Some of them are centered around a certain issue such as helping the homeless. Some are centered around worshiping the Creator. And some communities consist of people who have chosen to live together under one roof or in one area. There are about a half dozen homes in the Dallas area where people are formally living in community together, sharing their lives and reaching out to their neighbors in an effort to share the Creator's love however they can.
While working for Schlumberger, I traveled to Tokyo for training, including a soldering class. I thought I was not too good at much of anything except for sowing dissension on Facebook...but I've now learned that I am a very good solderer of printed circuit boards. One of the tasks we were required to do was to desolder a large capacitor from a PC board. As we all began this task at our individual soldering stations, none of us could heat up the solder joint enough to break the capacitor free from the board. One of us—and sadly, it wasn't me—turned to his neighbor and said, "Hey, give me a hand. Put your soldering iron on this joint on the backside of the board while I heat up the joint on the front side." This strategy worked and we all adopted this approach with success.
Our Japanese instructor was wise. He understood our culture better than we did, that Americans are hesitant to ask for help and our abilities to cooperate—to function in community—are not well developed. Maybe it has something to do with our problem establishing personal boundaries and being able to assert them appropriately. Mainly, I think we've been taught that you're a failure if you have to ask someone for help.
A creative, passionate, inspired woman in our town, Jennifer Waller, understood this dynamic and with the help of many others, she's established Freedom House here in Soldotna. It's a faith-based community of women who have decided that they want to face life head on, clean and sober, and at this time, they need the support of others who are on this journey, too. Most important, they understand that the problem is bigger than they are and they will need to lean on our Creator for strength and direction. It is our hope that Jennifer (or maybe others) can someday expand her program by establishing a similar community for men and if this is something you have a heart for, please message me because I am very interested in seeing this happen. This is a long-term goal that we can work on with wisdom and deliberation.
Nelma and I learned that our need for community is deep—a basic human need. We have tried to continually apply the principles that we learned in Launch & Lead in ways that make sense for us. For over a year, we hosted two wonderful young men in our home while they attended our local high school—they slept on two couches in our living room because my aunt, who has memory issues, is occupying our only spare bedroom. And, we only have one bathroom so we had to cooperate with one another so we could put on our make up and so we wouldn't wet our pants!
We've also shared our property in Nikiski in order to grow a community of family and friends. Our pastor and her husband own a yurt on their three acres, our friends Talakai and Ofa Finau hope to build a home on their four acres, and our son Jason Treider is living on a three acre plot. We hope our daughters Laura Treider and Cayla Stutsman will someday occupy the neighboring three-acre plots with their families.
I guess the whole point of these thoughts is that we have a deep need to live in community. We need to be part of a tribe of some kind, and many of us don't recognize this need or we deny it. Think about pouring more of yourself into the lives of others. Take some risks! After thinking about your life goals, your needs, your resources and talents, open your doors—perhaps literally—to those around you who you might want to begin sharing your lives with. If you do this in a thoughtful, well-considered manner and if you establish healthy boundaries, this can be a positive, life-changing experience for everyone involved!