Miller November Update 2022
The last time I was in Louisville, I was barely 19, I’d finished my first year of college and was about to run a crazy race for our soon-to-be all-American half-mile relay team. These days, my heartrate gets up to 165 just jogging half a mile, but I think my teenage self would be pretty happy with where the years have brought us. Back then, I had only been on three plane flights in my life. I’ve flown more just in the last week.
I would have been excited to think that my next trip to Louisville would be as a speaker at the Global Missions Health Conference, but I wouldn’t have been too surprised – I was very driven towards healthcare missions, and this would have been an ideal milestone after 12 more years of training and six years on the mission field. But if someone told me I’d be traveling and speaking with Greg all these years later, that would have shocked me. Half a lifetime ago, when I met him on the college track, I wrote him off as “one of the highest quality guys I’ve met, but definitely not my type.”
It’s still true – Greg and I are incredibly different. He’s a theologian, I’m a physician. I like to reflect and plan and stretch and exercise for hours in the morning, while Greg can roll out of bed and be ready in minutes. I’m usually the extrovert wanting to rush head-first into every opportunity, and he’s often the voice of reason holding me back so we aren’t running on fumes. I can pack an incredible amount into one carry-on suitcase, and he’s strong enough to lift that suitcase into the overhead space. Truly, this trip, 11 weeks and 7 states into a 14 week furlough, has been an eye-opener of our strengths and differences.
But my favorite part of this experience has been making an impact together with Greg. At the conference, when we gave our talk, it was the first time I haven’t been nervous about public speaking. Our friend Laura starts us off with some background, academic concepts of transformational development and community-driven interventions. Then Greg stands up and talks a bit about Malawi - about theology, and about how sharing mindset changes can make the difference in breaking cycles of poverty. It’s the easiest thing to stand up after him. I tell a couple stories, setting the stage and identifying priorities of communities we have worked with. I ask the attendees to participate and brainstorm how to identify leaders, how to work with assets. I share the ways we have seen communities transform over the last few years. I work them through a worksheet, I share about training opportunities and tools, and I answer any burning questions.
Then Greg is back up with me, telling another story, challenging the participants to think up potential solutions which could catalyze change. Later, we will take turns talking with participants, answering additional questions. People who know us will come up to us and laugh about how we work so well together, going back and forth, even though it is clear that we are such different personalities.
I was thankful for Greg at this conference. After a couple days of meeting people, reconnecting, and giving our talk, I was ready to stay in my hotel room, to read, rest, and reflect. But somehow Greg was still ready to go, meeting with people, reconnecting, even jogging back in the snow to help with packing up and moving on. It was a nice, affirming, and quick trip to a city I enjoyed exploring years ago. I wonder how long it will be before I pass through here again. But I now have an idea why I might be back, what I might be doing, and who I might be with, and that makes all the difference.