Archive for November 19th, 2012

November 19, 2012

ACDP Conference

Last weekend I attended eMi’s ACDP Conference 2012 (Association of Christian Design Professionals).  When I found out that the conference was being held in Grand Rapids, I knew that I had to go because there would be no reason not to.  I knew that it would be a good opportunity to network with other Christian architects and engineers, to stay connected with eMi, and also to reconnect with colleagues that I worked with in Uganda.  I only had one problem and that was of how to get there.  I thought that I would be able to take the bus, but soon realized that it would be even more inconvenient than usual.  What would only be a six hour drive from Toronto would be a ten hour bus ride and a twelve hour return, not to mention a lengthy transfer in Detroit of all places!  I also couldn’t take my parents’ van, and I was beginning to consider the option of renting a vehicle.  Then I thought to myself; “this is eMi we’re talking about!  Why don’t I just ask if there is anyone coming from Toronto?!”.  That’s exactly what I did, and the Lord answered my prayer.  With only one day before the conference, I got connected with a guy coming to the conference from London.  We simply arranged that I bus to London, and we headed off from there.  It turned out he was a civil engineering student from UWO and a really nice guy!

 
The conference itself was excellent and I was very blessed to have gone.  We arrived Thursday at around dinner time and that evening had an introduction to a Distaster Response course that I signed up and came a day early for.  What it is essentially is a group of responsible design professionals who have agreed to be ‘on call’ so to speak, ready with only a week’s notice to come to the aid of a ministry with technical assistance in the event of a natural disaster.  The whole day Thursday was the Disaster Response training where we learned about the DR ministry, and also took the State of California’s ‘Post-Disaster Safety Assessment Program’ (SAP).  The purpose of the program is to train evaluators to learn how to assess buildings after the event of a disaster to determine if they are safe or unsafe to occupy (there is also an option for restricted entry).  The main goal of the program is to get as many people safely back into their homes as possible after an earthquake.  It is often the case that people will remain outside their homes, even though they are often safe.  We learned the telltale signs of structural failure, as well as the places to find them, and even went through some case studies.  The course was enlightening, however difficult to totally comprehend the destruction that results from these disasters.

Thursday evening was the beginning to the actual conference, and all day Friday there were a series of larger talks, worship times, and smaller break-out sessions.  Because I was already familiar with eMi, I went to more of the technical and detail-focused break-out sessions.  In the morning I went to one seminar about how to treat water in the developing world context, and another about the cholera epidemics that recently occurred in Haiti and Seirra Leone, how ‘Cholera Treatment Centers’ are designed and function, and how a few eMi volunteers assisted in relief work in both places.  Here is a cool video that was produced by the ‘Global Health Media Project’ that shows the story of cholera in a very clear way.

In the afternoon I went to a break-out about how master plan design is approached in the developing world (with examples of eMi master planning projects – the project I worked on in the DRC included), and one last one about Biodigesters which are a technology used to capture and harness the methane gas from human, animal, and other organic waste.  The gas can be used for cooking, heating, lighting, or running a generator.  I later discovered that even Toronto  has many initiatives underway using anaerobic digesters, including the Toronto Zoo.

On Sunday morning we headed back home.  Not only did I learn a lot about some very interesting topics, I got to reconnect with some absolutely amazing people (you guys ;) know who you are and it was so great to see you again!), and I was also spiritually filled.  I was again reminded that I want to use my abilities for God’s overall purpose, even though I’m not sure yet where my place or role is to best do that.  Here are some great words that I got from the weekend.

 
“Prayer is surrender – surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.” – Eli E. Stanley Jones

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing of finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”  – Isaiah 58:9-12

“It’s not rocket surgery!” – Rose McPherson concerning all things related to civil engineering :D