When disaster strikes the news lights up with information and aid relief rushes in. These first responders are critical because after a large natural disaster people are often operating without the basic necessities: clean water, food and shelter. But slowly as the danger subsides, the basic relief is handled and time goes on, the aid workers leave taking the money and their expertise somewhere else. The people are left to rebuild on their own. Of course this is somewhat of a hyperbole but it rings true because it’s the reality of disaster relief. It’s relief but not rebuilding.
Because of this I am happy to share two updates from groups in Nepal who have vested interests, relationships with people on the ground and people who are staying in Nepal or going to Nepal to help the local communities assess and plan for the future.
MTW is responding by sending a team to assess the needs (physical and spiritual) of the local church and national partners. The picture above is one of the church buildings that was damaged. Since the churches in Nepal worship on Saturdays, 17 people were killed while gathered during the earthquake. If interested you can read more on MTWs News Board about the impact of the earthquake on these churches.
MTW is asking people to respond in three ways. First of all please pray (more specific prayer requests listed below). Second, consider giving financially (online donations). MTWs disaster response will be coordinated directly with the local church which means that all donations will have a direct impact on the partner communities. And also there is a bulletin insert and slide ready to be used to bring awareness during church services. They can be found HERE.
My friend who I wrote about a week ago (The Earthquake in Nepal- How to Pray) also sent an update. Since she works specifically with health care she writes they are meeting to discuss how they “can contribute in the sector of mental health and psycho-social counseling as well as specific nutritional needs of mothers and newborns”. She also sent another great prayer list. Thank you for praying for Nepal.
- Please pray Psalm 46 for the assurance of God’s continued presence and protection in the face of continuing widespread anxiety.
- Please pray for those who have lost loved ones and those who have lost their shelter either temporarily or permanently.
- Please pray for those living outside, for stable weather and protection from disease.
- Please pray that the water supply will be sufficient and clean.
- Please pray for those in remote rural areas that they will receive the support needed for recovery in a timely way.
- Please pray for the helicopter pilots, truck drivers and porters bringing needed supplies into rural areas.
- Please pray for our UMN staff, especially those with significant personal loss, as we implement our emergency response plan and that we will be able to help.
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and what better way to celebrate the beginning of the church than to see what God is doing all over the world in the global church. Christ Presbyterian in Santa Barbara supports and has relationships with ministries all over the world so they transformed the sanctuary and set up a world tour. Ryan and I participated in the Asia/Pacific region with a booth for both Papua New Guinea and Australia.
The countries represented not only had displays with information about the ministry but they also provided food from the region. There was Egyptian baklava, Chilean empanadas, Australian vegemite, German beer, Costa Rican coffee and much much more.
It was really fun for me to see some of the places I’ve worked and visited also represented. Kazakhstan has such a sweet place in my heart. Can you find my picture on the board? That’s from when I visited in college. They still do English camps with students every summer. This is a great, practical way to show the love of Christ. Want to visit Kazakhstan? Ask me for more information and maybe you can go next summer.
There was also a photo gallery and one of my pictures from Berlin made it onto the wall. This is street art in Kreuzberg near a former checkpoint between East and West Berlin. I snapped the picture while on a walk one day just because I thought it was interesting. Notice the rolex watches chained together? It’s quite the statement.
Thanks to everyone who put time and energy into this great event. It’s wonderful to be able to bring a little bit of the global church in to remind the local church that we are part of a greater community.
Meanwhile in Papua New Guinea… the plans are actually happening. The old literacy office, which was literally falling apart, is now being replaced. The wood has been cut, materials bought and transported, the workmen are in place and Beverly is out in the village overseeing the progress.
This project has a dear place in my heart for a few reasons. #1- Literacy for the Onobasulu was my world for a few years and I love the idea that this office will help that work to continue. #2- The kiddos. Adult literacy is important but keeping the schools running with the right materials and having the sweet Onobasulu kids learning to read and write in Onobasulu is so important. This office will help facilitate this work. #3- I’m financially invested (and some of you are too!). When I left PNG some of the money that was still in my account went into a literacy fund. This money has been used for miscellaneous literacy materials and costs and now some of it is going into the wiring and other needs for this building.
Thank you Beverly for keeping us posted via village email. This building is an important part of the ongoing work for the Onobasulu. I’ve learned today thanks to Beverly’s Blog that the building will also house places for translation and other church work. This is great because it becomes more of a community responsibility and maximizes its use.
Please be in prayer for this huge project. Pray for the weather that there be enough rain to keep the tanks full but not too much that the work can’t continue. Pray for the workers, that there would be no injuries and that everyone would stay healthy. Pray for the community that will benefit from this building. Pray that the leaders would be united and that the work of Bible Translation and the church would be blessed and move forward. Pray that God’s name would receive glory because of the work that will happen within the walls of this new building.
I will be sure to post finished pictures! Thank you everyone for praying and for those who supported my work in PNG. Your gifts continue to give to this community.
Mission has its origins in the heart of God…there is mission because God loves people. -David Bosch
The world we live in is becoming increasingly connected. We can Skype, text, email and Facebook around the world. We search the internet and have choices to buy from, sell to, connect, research, etc. from places both near and far. The Olympics is a great example of countries, products and people all coming together. But sometimes I wonder how connected we are when it comes to the things that really matter. We may know generally about one counties instability or financial problems. We may have a vague idea how food shortages or heavy rains are devastating an area half way across the globe but do we know the faces of the men, women and children who live there? Do we have any personal connection?
Of course, we can’t know everyone and everything but I wonder what would happen to our world if everyone reached out to at least one unknown place and became familiar with the everyday stories. If we knew people by face and by name and somehow could connect our worlds. Would this make us less cynical? Would it give us greater empathy and understanding? Would this expand our ability to love?
There are many ways to go about reaching out but if you are involved with a church, hopefully they are offering many options for worthwhile connections. Yesterday was a Global Outreach Sunday at my church and we saw faces and heard stories about what is happening in city in Egypt. This wasn’t about general political strain and turmoil. This was about real people, in particular the story of a small girl being loved on because of the medical and mercy work that is happening on the ground in her city. I smiled as I watched the video because although I’ve never been to Egypt, I have followed this work for many years, seen pictures and heard stories. Some of the faces were familiar and I was excited to see the progress and changes that have come through the years of hard work. My heart was encouraged, as I was reminded that the church is at work in a very tangible and practical way in Egypt.
As a Christian, my heart for the Church links my heart automatically to the world and people outside of myself. Charles Van Engen says “Mission cannot be something separate from or added to the essence of the Church. The essential nature of the local congregation is, in and of itself, mission, or else the congregation is not really the Church.” And as a human, I believe that we are made to be connected to other humans. So I would encourage you, if you are part of a local church or through other channels, to see what ways your can start connecting with the world, you may be lead to someplace exotic and far away. Or your heart may find something closer to home that still stretches and expands your worldview. Maybe the Olympics is a good place to start praying for countries and starting to reach outside of ourselves.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Presbytery meeting and present my heart and vision for the work in Australia. Presbytery, for those of you unfamiliar with the Presbyterian church structure, is the governing body of the Presbyterian church made up of pastors and elders. This was my second time attending and presenting in front of a Presbytery. It is a privilege to be given time during this meeting so I try to keep it interesting and do my best to be a good representative. In situations like this I feel like I am not only representing MTW (Mission to the World) and other missionaries but women as well. Yesterday seems to have gone well because, even though I immediately left after my presentation, I received some great feedback later on. Hopefully this presentation will translate into more conversations about Australia with churches and individuals.
Despite the seemingly cumbersome nature of some of the Presbyterian structures, I appreciate the value of having agreed upon guidelines for the church to follow. It is both uniting and binding. The Book of Church Order, used yesterday during the meeting, is the PCA’s (Presbyterian Church in America) record of these structures. I don’t normally talk a lot about church order, denominations or church politics. There are lots of reasons for this but a few of them have to do with tending to generalize and stereotype when engaging with these topics, my incomplete understanding of the underlying structures in general and they aren’t always the most exciting topics in the first place.
But you might have caught the little reference to representing women that I somewhat glossed over in the first paragraph. So I figured I might as well briefly address this now. The pastors and elders in the Presbyterian Church in American are all men. Therefore, these meetings are attended by mostly men. They do allow women to attend and I think that in general the men would encourage their wives, daughters and sisters in Christ to know about and understand what happens in the church outside of Sunday mornings. Presbytery is just one of those working parts that helps to complete the whole. But, let’s be honest, these meetings aren’t super exciting and so they don’t tend to draw large crowds of people who are there just for fun. So yesterday I was one of two women actually attending the Presbytery meeting. But I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak. And it is a privilege to be that subtle reminder that we are all a part of the body of Christ and we can celebrate the gifts and talents we have been given and how they are at work building the church.
So my computer isn’t back yet but 2013 won’t wait. I have finally attached my December 2012 newsletter with a summary of last year. Find it under the Newsletter tab here. And after catching up on last year, here are some things that I am looking forward to in 2013.
- Aboriginals- this is where my heart is heading. While I am in California, I am learning about these amazing people, their history and their future in preparation for my arrival in Australia.
- Community- People everywhere are amazing. I look forward to continuing to get to know new friends in California and am already praying about the community I will have once I get to Australia.
- Support- In order to leave for Australia, I need support, both through prayer and finances. My job, at this point, is to connect with individuals and churches in order to find people who want to partner with me in my work in Perth.
- Perth- this is my next destination. I hope to be settling into my new home in Fremantle (near Perth) before fall of 2013.
- Church- I love the church. My job in Perth will be church planting assistant but my main outreach will be to the Aboriginal people.
- Language and Literacy- I love language and this is a great start to help connect the social with the spiritual needs of the Aboriginal people.
- Art- Aboriginal art is another connection and a way to connect with people.
- Presentations- Connecting with people in California means presenting my vision for my life and work in Australia.
- Family- It has been great to be closer geographically to my family. While I am here in California, I might as well enjoy it.
- Western Australia- God has a wonderful plan for this part of the world and I look forward to being a part of it.
Today I had the great opportunity to teach Children’s Church. 3-7 years old kiddos aren’t my typical audience but they are super fun. I wish I could be around for the conversations that happened at home after church. Here is an overview of the all the exciting things we talked about- life, literacy, Jesus and scripture in Papua New Guinea.
Song Learning- Jesus Loves Everyone in the Tok Pisin language:
Jisas laikim olgeta, olgeta, olgeta. Jisas laikim olgeta, laikim olgeta. Laikim Papa wantaim Mama, bikpela susa, liklik brata. Laikim yu, laikim mi, laikim olgeta.
A day in the life of an Onobasulu child:
After seeing pictures of life and homes in PNG, we read Matthew 7:24-27.
This is the story about the wise man who build his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. In PNG the wise man builds his house with a strong center post and the foolish man builds his house without a strong center post. This passage is not about the house building but instead about listening and obeying the word of God.
More Pictures from PNG, my life and working with literacy and Bible translation:
At the end of the morning the kids had lots of stories about Papua New Guinea, a cool coloring sheet and a Papua New Guinea bookmark. Sounds like a good Sunday to me. I hope the kids had as much fun as I did.