Love Crossing BordersEmbracing the spirit of God's lovehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Love-Crossing-BordersLove Crossing BordersBy Ann Jacobs

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Life’s mission questioned, transformedListening to African partnershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Life’s-mission-questioned,-transformedLife’s mission questioned, transformedBy Steve Wiebe-Johnson
The advice you didn’t ask for, but I’m giving anywayCareer Corner https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/The-advice-you-didn't-ask-forThe advice you didn’t ask for, but I’m giving anywayBy Carmen Hoober
Dreams with the CofánEcuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Dreams-with-the-CofánDreams with the CofánBy Jane Ross Richer
Breath-taking sweetness in the eye of God’s stormBarcelonahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Breath-taking-sweetness-in-the-eye-of-God’s-stormBreath-taking sweetness in the eye of God’s stormJoshua Garber
Settling in and reaching outService Adventurehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Settling-in-and-reaching-outSettling in and reaching outBy Jessica Porr
A gut-punch of the divine: a redefining of faithMennonite Voluntary Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/A-gut-punch-of-the-divine-a-redefining-of-faithA gut-punch of the divine: a redefining of faithSarah Tomas Morgan

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Four tools to great mentorshiphttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Four-tools-to-bFour tools to great mentorshipBy Travis Duerksen <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – A Service Adventure leader inhabits many roles as the head of their unit household. On any given day, they might serve as the house pastor, teacher, confidant, or (occasionally) fire safety marshal. No matter the occasion, however, the spirit of mentorship is present in each role.  </span></p><p>Service Adventure leaders offered these four tools and a few insights on mentorship they have discovered while sharing daily life with participants. <br></p><p><strong>1. Commitment to one another</strong>  <br></p><p>"Living life together, the good and the bad, is one of the best ways to share the knowledge that God has given me," said Cindy Headings, leader for the Colorado Springs, Colorado, unit. "The way I react to tough situations speaks louder than any lessons I could try to teach."<br></p><p><strong>2. Authenticity </strong> </p><p>Monica Miller, leader of the Anchorage, Alaska, unit, thinks of mentoring as a "fluid relationship," where sharing about struggles and offering advice can flow both ways. "When I share some of my shortcomings, [my mentees] are initially surprised," she said. "But they can really give great perspectives."<br></p><p><strong>3. Love</strong>  </p><p>Cynthia and Roger Neufeld Smith co-lead the Jackson, Mississippi, unit. Roger suggested that mentoring requires a leader to "listen, observe, learn and affirm."  Cynthia believes that meaningful conversations as a mentor rely on timing and commitment. "I don't want f<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">ear to keep me from asking tough questions," she said. "I want to give [my mentee] the opportunity to address the biggest and most scary issues of life." She explained that being a mentor is an invitation to reflect on her own beliefs and actions. "Love is the bottom line," she said. "Whatever I do or say, it must be done in love."</span></p><p><strong>4. Prayer</strong>  </p><p>Headings in Colorado Springs also stressed the focusing power of prayer. "The more I pray specifically for my people, the more the Spirit guides my responses to whatever situation we're talking about."</p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"></span></p>
You, too, can become a leaderhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/You,-too,-can-become-a-leaderYou, too, can become a leaderBy Lauren Eash Hershberger<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I served in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in Service Adventure right after high school. For me, it was a year of feeling the freedom to "find myself" in a new place with people who didn't have a clue who I was.  </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">It was an exciting challenge to figure out how I wanted this new world to perceive me, the </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">real</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> me.</span></p><p>During that year, I became more confident in creative leadership in my job placement as the head of a third-grade classroom in an after-school program. I became a better mediator through challenging times with housemates. I used my God-given gifts of guitar playing and singing at church. I was inspired to reconnect with God by witnessing the unfailing devotion of my German housemate, Anni.  I gained confidence in my cooking skills as a meal provider. I figured out how to deal with accountability and divided responsibilities in my shared household. I wrestled with God as I walked alongside my housemate after she heard the news of a family tragedy. In the end, I became more whole. And because of my enormous gratitude for this transformative year, I decided to contact Mennonite Mission Network, years later, to see if there were any openings for Service Adventure leaders.</p><p>My husband and I were accepted and were sent to Albany, Oregon, to first lead a group of five young women, and then a smaller group of both male and female participants. My previous experience gave me an interesting perspective, and many moments brought me back in time to my years in Johnstown. Similar to my experience as a participant, they surprised themselves in finding new strengths, and grew in their relationships with each other and with God.  They also were able to create safe spaces, as is necessary when you're in a house full of strangers and are asked to take on responsibilities you've never done before. Like the time someone prepared a dish with a cup of salt instead of a teaspoon … grace was extended, then commiseration, and then laughter. I appreciated times like these because it reminded us of our humanness, the kindness we can show to each other, and the vulnerability we must bring if we truly desire to grow. </p><p>It's not as if these two years of leadership were a piece of cake, but the benefits outweighed the cost. There is simply something exceptional about living alongside others who are just beginning to figure out who they want to be. The joy of observing someone discovering themselves, and in turn becoming empowered, is unmatched. You, too, can be part of the transformation in a young adult's life. So, what are you waiting for?</p><p>Be a participant. Be a leader. Be the Gospel.<br></p>
Coming to terms with the road not takenhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Coming-to-terms-with-the-road-not-taken-Coming to terms with the road not takenCarmen Hoober<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">A few weeks ago, I turned 40. The birthday itself was perfectly lovely, but the year to six months preceding it … was not so lovely. If it wasn't such a cliché, I guess I </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">might</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> say I was suffering from a mild version of a midlife crisis. I was never in danger of abandoning my family or splurging on a new car, but I did spend some time in existential crisis mode: rehashing my life choices and contemplating the roads I didn't take.</span></p><p>Particularly in your early career, forks in the road present themselves more often than they will at almost any other time in your life. And the fact is, you <strong>will</strong> make choices. You will choose to take one job and not another. You will choose to relocate to a new city or move back to your home community. You will choose to end a relationship or pursue a new one. A few of my big life choices include getting married young (by today's standards) right out of college, going to grad school and not law school as I had planned, and then focusing on family over career as a stay-at-home mom for nearly nine years. I love my life and I wouldn't change a thing, but from time to time I do wonder …  </p><p>Robert Frost has a wonderful poem about making choices. I heard on a podcast that this is the most well-known American poem, and it has a great <a href="https://owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Poem-The-Road-Not-Taken-by-Robert-Frost">backstory</a>.</p><p><em>Robert Frost wrote this poem to highlight a trait of, and poke fun at, his friend, Edward Thomas, an English-Welsh poet, who, when out walking with Frost in England, would often regret not having taken a different path. Thomas would sigh over what they might have seen and done, and Frost thought this quaintly romantic.</em></p><p><em>In other words, Frost's friend regretted not taking the road that might have offered the best opportunities, despite it being an unknown.</em></p><p><em>Frost liked to tease and goad. He told Thomas:</em> <em>"No matter which road you take, you'll always sigh and wish you'd taken another." So it's ironic that Frost meant the poem to be light-hearted, but it turned out to be anything but. People take it very seriously.</em></p><p><strong>The Road Less Traveled</strong></p><p>Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,</p><p>And sorry I could not travel both</p><p>And be one traveler, long I stood</p><p>And looked down one as far as I could</p><p>To where it bent in the undergrowth;<br></p><p><br></p><p>Then took the other, as just as fair,</p><p>And having perhaps the better claim,</p><p>Because it was grassy and wanted wear;</p><p>Though as for that the passing there</p><p>Had worn them really about the same,</p><p> </p><p>And both that morning equally lay</p><p>In leaves no step had trodden black.</p><p>Oh, I kept the first for another day!</p><p>Yet knowing how way leads on to way,</p><p>I doubted if I should ever come back.</p><p> </p><p>I shall be telling this with a sigh</p><p>Somewhere ages and ages hence:</p><p>Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—</p><p>I took the one less traveled by,</p><p>And that has made all the difference.</p><p> </p><p>Here are five ways I've come to terms with my own "roads not taken" and how I now approach forks in the road.</p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">1. I've made hard choices before and everything turned out OK.</strong></p><p>My sophomore year of college, I was feeling the pressure to pick a major. I remember finally declaring an English major and the dual feelings of relief and terror I experienced. Relief that I could finally have something to say when people asked what my major was – and terror that I was somehow missing out on THE THING that was going to give me the best chance for a lifetime of success and happiness. Like Frost's traveler who was "sorry that I could not travel both," I hated saying goodbye to the possible realities that I might have otherwise created.<br></p><p>I hear the same kind of story from young people I talk to who are searching for identity – which is, that making <em>any</em> decision about education, location, career, etc., is going to rule out a lot of possible identities. The alternative, of course, is to sacrifice an <em>actual</em> identity in order to keep holding on to those possibilities.  Once the anxiety of declaring a major was out of the way, I was able to focus on what this particular "road" had to offer me, and to discover new possibilities which hitherto had remained hidden or unknown.</p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">2. </strong><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">The road not taken would not necessarily be better or worse – it would just be different.</strong></p><p>Back to Frost, <a href="https://owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Poem-The-Road-Not-Taken-by-Robert-Frost">this</a> analysis says:<br><em>The main theme of the "The Road Not Taken" is that it is often impossible to see where a life-altering decision will lead … It is normal to wonder what the outcome would have been if the other road, the road not taken, was the road chosen. But to contemplate this hypothetical deeply is folly, for it is impossible to say whether taking the other road would have been better or worse: All one can say is that it would have been different.</em><br><br>In a sports family like mine, I've had to sit through my fair share of post-game analysis and speculation. Why didn't the third-base coach send the runner home? Why did they go for the win instead of the tie? Each game usually does have a turning point, but it has always struck me as hubris for anyone (usually my husband) to say, "If __ had happened, then __would have happened."  Seriously, has NO ONE seen <em>Back to the Future</em>? Have we not learned anything from <em>The Flash</em>? You change one thing, you change everything! Stop trying to mess with the timeline, people! </p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">3. </strong><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Good regrets.</strong></p><p>I'd like to take a moment to introduce a new phrase into the vernacular: "<strong>Good regrets</strong>." Sort of like how student loans or mortgages are referred to as "good debt," g<em>ood regrets</em> are a positive way of reflecting on the inherent risk of our life's choices. When we have g<em>ood regrets,</em> we feel the pain of our limited human capacity for making decisions <strong>AND</strong> self-compassion for that person who made the best decision they could with the information available at the time. If debt is ever to be judged truly "good," we have to end up ahead of where we started. Likewise, if our regrets are to be judged as "good," we will have to end up with more of something … but what? More knowledge? More insight? More empathy for others? Maybe/hopefully, all of the above?<br></p><p>For instance, I have g<em>ood regrets</em> about my decision not to go to law school. I sometimes imagine what my life would have been like had I kept following the road I had<em> planned </em>to take, instead of doing the more niche grad school program I ended up doing. I've been known to say that, for me, a law degree would have been a really expensive ego trip. And yet, I still feel the occasional sense of loss: about the impact I might have been able to make, the doors that would have been open to me, or the lifestyle a higher-paying job would have afforded me and my family. </p><p>I love how the traveler in the poem looks to the future and knows he will revisit this moment "with a sigh," as is our human nature. In fact, g<em>ood regrets</em> is a deeply human experience. It is the process of surrendering the possibilities you once held so tightly. It is allowing yourself to feel the pangs of the could-have-beens while letting go of the anxiety that keeps you from embracing the present. Having g<em>ood regrets</em><strong> </strong>keeps our hearts tender and builds wisdom for decisions to come.</p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">4. </strong><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Practicing gratitude.</strong></p><p>As I emerged from the period of time I spent mourning the loss of my youth (haha), it seemed like every book I read, every podcast I listened to, and every conversation I had somehow led to the topic of practicing gratitude. According to <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude">this article</a> from Harvard Medical School, "gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."<br></p><p>So I decided to try it! I found the app <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grateful-a-gratitude-journal/id1197512462?mt=8">Grateful</a> and have been using it faithfully ever since. There are tons of ways to do a gratitude journal, but this particular one has worked for me (see Exhibit A). Despite the fact that my middle child's blow-up unicorn costume malfunctioned just in time for trick-or-treating (hence the trash bag and the long face), how can I NOT be grateful for whatever choices in my life led to this moment?? Scrolling through the things I've entered into this app has become one of the best parts of my day.<br></p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2018/CarmenGrateful.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /></p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">5. God is with me – no matter which road I choose. </strong><br></p><p>Theologian Dallas Willard was known to say, "The main thing God gets out of your life is the person you become." Make no mistake, I love how work is a vehicle to express my God-given gifts and abilities. However, as much joy and fulfillment that work can bring us, it's not actually the stuff on your resume that counts most to God. Money, title, reputation … all that is just ephemeral – here today and gone tomorrow. </p><p>The truth is, no matter what road you choose, I can guarantee you that storms will come. Someone will get sick. A marriage will end. Recessions happen. Your career will not exist in a vacuum. During those times, you will have new decisions to make and new roads to consider, but God is still God and God is faithful. Coming to terms with my own "roads not taken" involves affirming my <em>true</em> identity, which is rooted in Christ. It's super cool and mind-bending that being with us is <em>who God is</em>! Like, what? I can ponder the mystery of incarnation for exactly three minutes before my brain just quits. What I am left with, however, is the conviction that it's not <em>which</em> road you choose that's the real issue, but rather <em>who is with you </em>on the road. And, to me, <strong>that</strong> "has made all the difference."<br></p>
How to be ambitioushttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/How-to-be-ambitiousHow to be ambitiousBy Carmen Hoober<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">n the vast hellscape that is children's television programming, one show always stood out to me as the most painful to watch. No greater love has a parent for his or her children than to watch </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Thomas the Tank Engine</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> with them. </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Calliou</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> is a close second … and then </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Yo Gabba Gabba</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">. Like I said, it's a hellscape.</span></p><p>I'm (thankfully) a few years past my kids' fixation on Thomas, but upon closer examination, the Isle of Sodor (where Thomas and his fellow anthropomorphized friends live) was a strange setting for a children's story. And if you want to waste a half-hour of your life like I just did, you can read <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/rabbit-holes/the-repressive-authoritarian-soul-of-thomas-the-tank-engine-and-friends">Exhibit A</a> to explore the dark underbelly of this mythical island. I'm not really sure <em>why</em> kids like this show because it is about as interesting as watching paint dry, but there is one theme that jumps out to me as something that maybe explains some of it. </p><p>Thomas and Friends long to be <strong>Really Useful</strong> (capitals not mine), which is an idea that probably resonates with most of us. To be Really Useful on the Isle of Sodor meant that you were given work that was important, necessary, and (often) high profile. Anyone who spends time around children understands that innate longing to matter – to be involved in the work that makes daily life happen, and to be appreciated and recognized for their contributions. The trains on the Isle of Sodor represent the worst of humanity in their striving and self-promotion. Sometimes these trains learn their lesson; sometimes they don't (and sometimes they're crushed or dismembered … nbd).</p><p>However, I think most of us would recognize that it IS possible to be Really Useful without being destructive or ego-driven. What would it mean to <strong>you</strong> to be Really Useful? What would that look like? And how does that reconcile as people of faith who are meant to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" (Philippians 2:3). Does that mean ambition is a bad thing? These are great questions to wrestle with when you're starting out in a career, and an important touchstone to revisit along the journey.</p><p>What I like about the construct of Really Useful is that it's kind of judgment-neutral regarding ambition. The trains (and we as humans) can mess this part up, but generally speaking, <strong>Useful</strong> is good. We like things that are useful. We appreciate it even more when things or people are <strong>Really</strong> useful. [Side note: As a woman, I learned early on in life that the worst thing in the world for a girl is to be perceived as thinking she was (in second grade terminology) "Hot Snot." So I learned to downplay, to be self-deprecating, to make sure other people knew that I didn't take myself very seriously and they shouldn't either. For girls and women, being Really Useful is tricky – but that's a whole other blog post.]<br></p><p>I came across a verse a while ago that has helped me think about my own ambition in a way that encourages me to direct that energy in ways that honor God instead of feeding my own ego. </p><p>Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG) <br></p><p>In fact, that verse means so much to me that I had a friend of mine with an Etsy shop put it on a scroll for my workspace so that I make sure to look at it every day. Cute, right?<br></p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2018/scroll.jpg?RenditionID=13" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given ...</strong></p><p>Being Really Useful for me starts out with a lot of inner work. Who am I? How am I wired? What things come naturally to me and what pushes me past healthy limits? What gifts am I excited and energized to use? And with whom? And to what purpose? For example, I've found the MBTI* (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) to be an incredible resource personally and professionally (INFJ reporting for duty!) in answering those questions. Through this resource and others, I've discerned that my path has something to do with helping others find their path. I encourage you to seek out these kinds of tools – there's nothing to lose by doing so and a lot to gain.</p><p><em>*I will soon be certified to be able to administer the MBTI to better serve MVSers and other Mission Network program participants. WOOT WOOT!! If you're interested, let me know!! </em></p><p><strong>and then sink yourself into that. </strong></p><p>Turning inward in prayer and reflection, and reaching out to others you can trust, is the cornerstone of self-discovery. Unfortunately, this takes <strong><em>time</em></strong>. And some of us who are uncomfortable with ambiguity/transition are under the illusion that all the decisions must be made righthisminute. </p><p>Luckily, Mennonite Voluntary Service is a wonderful place for this immersion to happen. There are people all around you who are committed to seeing you grow and discover your gifts, calling, and vocation. I literally break out my jazz hands when people want to talk personal and career development.<br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourselves with others.</strong></p><p>The takeaway here is to STAY IN YOUR LANE. Once you have achieved mastery in an area, it's awfully easy to start thinking you really <em>are</em> Hot Snot … and maybe even forgetting the <em>true source</em> of those gifts. But being Really Useful<strong> </strong>in the <a href="https://relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/success-upside-down-kingdom">Upside-Down Kingdom</a> looks a little different than it does in the rest of our culture, doesn't it?      </p><p>It's also natural to start looking around to see how you measure up to the competition. There is nothing shameful about engaging in a clear-eyed assessment of your abilities and working to become the best, most effective version of yourself. To be clear, I'm not knocking the power of competition either. Even Paul tells us to "run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24). </p><p>What IS a problem is when we become unhealthfully ensnared by jealousy, envy and dissatisfaction. Just like you can feel a flu coming on, for me, the symptoms of an Ego Infection start with actual feelings in my body: a tightness that coils in my chest, churning resentment in my gut, and a queasy sense of inadequacy and anxiety. Whether it involves too much time spent on Instagram or even hanging out with certain people, I've learned to recognize my triggers and how destructive it can be if I allow myself to indulge in harmful comparison. </p><p><br></p><p><strong>Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.</strong></p><p>No one else can run your race for you: not your parents, not your partner, not even your children. Henry David Thoreau once posited that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" and perhaps this is true, but for people of faith this should amount to heresy. Contrast that with Maya Angelou who said, "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." I know which one of these I want to embody.</p><p>We all have barriers and setbacks. We will mess up again and again. But this is where it gets fun. This is the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero%27s_journey">Hero's Journey</a>! This is where we get to RISE TO THE FLIPPING CHALLENGE! This is where each person (if they work at it) finds what it means to be Really Useful. Oh – and guess what – your outcome is probably not going to look like anyone else's. And that, my friends, is kind of the point.</p><p>So be ambitious wisely. Do the inner work. Give it time. Stay in your lane. Seize the day. Repeat. <br></p>
What can I do?https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/What-can-I-doWhat can I do?Contributed by Jim and Ruth Mellinger <p>​We are hearing the question "What can I do?" a lot these days as immigration rules change often and make life very difficult for those directly affected by the changing landscape.</p><p>Once again, here in LaGrange, Georgia, we are incarnated into the lives of people directly affected, through the households on our street as well as through our work with <em>El Refugio </em>(the shelter or place of refuge) that assists immigrant detainees.<br></p><p>We've heard a lot of shouting and anger from both sides of "the issue," but when you know the people, it is no longer just "an issue." It is the mother who wants to learn English, but has no time or energy to do so after working 50 hours a week and caring for her family of six on a minimum-wage income. It is the man who gets pulled over for a broken tail light and because his skin is brown. His name gets run through the system and he now faces deportation. (Who of us reading this fears that one minor infraction could mark the end of our family life?) It is the child who has a hard time concentrating in school due to the pressures and uncertainty she feels at home, and the snide remarks made about her behind her back and to her face.</p><p>This past summer, we had the joy of helping with a day camp we had for 26 children on our street who are first-generation immigrants. The children were so well behaved and such a delight to be with. For pictures and more about that, type "Casa Alterna" in the search bar of Facebook.</p><p>Then, Jim and I had the opportunity to serve at <em>El Refugio</em> hospitality house in Lumpkin, Georgia, and go to Stewart Detention Center with volunteers who actually came down from Greensboro, North Carolina, where we used to live. They were all part of Faith Action International House and have clients who are detained in Stewart ... more than eight hours from their homes, which is quite common.</p><p>While at <em>El Refugio</em>, I got the analogy that may help us all think about what we can do. Saturday around 5 p.m., the Greensboro group arrived. The 10 of them had just gotten settled into the 900-square-foot, one-bathroom house – along with three wives of detainees and a 3-year-old who were spending the night. At 5:30, I heard a loud crash outside the back window and saw a large 30-foot tree trunk had fallen over and landed on the jungle gym. Our first thoughts were ones of thanks that no one was outside, and that it even missed three of our cars by a mere five feet.</p><p>That night I found it hard to sleep on the futon in the living room and began to think about that tree trunk. To be honest, before the trunk fell, I wasn't even aware of it, nor did it have anything to do with my life. I didn't know or care that it was hollow and dead inside and could snap and be uprooted even on a clear, calm day. And that's how I began to find hope, even in the midst of all the depressing circumstances I was surrounded by. If that mighty tree trunk could fall so easily, perhaps the immigration system can change more quickly than I think possible. Perhaps all we need to do is work on softening the roots that are still holding up the dead wood.</p><p>The first root needing yanked free is how we talk about immigrants. We need to name them without bias or racism. No labels like "illegal aliens, infestation, or animals." Perhaps not even "<span style="text-decoration:underline;">un</span>documented." For the most part, they are <span style="text-decoration:underline;">non-</span>documentable, meaning that there is no legal path for them to come to the United States, no line to get in, no forms or skills that would allow them entry.</p><p>This root is the easiest to pull out. Simply get to know someone who has one of these labels. Smile kindly at them in the store, volunteer with an organization that helps them, or better yet, invite them to dinner and become a friend.</p><p>While visiting our contact in Stewart Detention Center, we were in the same room with four other families there to visit their husbands, brothers, or sons. It's a hard place to visit since you are separated by a glass and can communicate only via the phone on either side. No physical touch whatsoever. The one mother asked me how we knew the man we were visiting. I explained that we didn't. We were there because he was on a list of men who hadn't had any visitors. She replied, "Thank you SO much for being kind to us."</p><p>The second root we hear all the time. "But they broke the law and shouldn't have come here in the first place, putting their children at risk." However, how are we to judge why someone seeks asylum and a better life? I don't know what I would do if my business was constantly threatened by a gang, or if my child was forced to join them or be killed, or if I had no means to feed my family, or if my spouse was constantly abusing me and threatening to kill me and my children. I think most of us would use whatever means possible to save the lives of ourselves and our loved ones. We can't stand by and let them suffer even more hardship and trauma than what they've already suffered to get here.</p><p>The third needing uprooted is the spiel that they are taking our jobs. I wish everyone could see the jobs most of these immigrants are doing ... cutting up chickens in 40-degree-temperature rooms so we can enjoy boneless chicken breasts at low prices, stapling heavy material around mattress frames so we can sleep soundly, stooping over plants all day so we can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, sweating in the hot summer sun so we can stroll on a manicured lawn, building houses with cheap labor so our mortgage payments are less than their housing rent, cooking food so we can savor exotic flavors. And the list goes on and on.</p><p>One man we visited at Stewart was there due to a work raid in New York state. He has now been in detention for nine months and has had no visitors during that time, has no idea when his case will come up, and has no access to a lawyer because the government doesn't need to give detainees any. Even if he could find a lawyer who would come to such a remote location, it would cost him $8,000 just to have his case taken on. And bail is often $15,000, if he could get it. So he sits and waits. His wife has given birth to their fourth daughter while he is at Stewart. He hasn't held her or seen any of them as it's too expensive and far for them to travel. Yet, the crazy thing is that he was picked up for working illegally and "taking a U.S. citizen's job," but in detention he is working/slaving for $1.00 a day in the kitchen so the for-profit prison doesn't have to hire and pay any of the local Lumpkin residents to do the cooking and cleaning.</p><p>The fourth root is that our borders are flooded with violent gangsters, MS-13 the primary and worst. But, once again, for those who want the facts, many are not even Latinos and have not entered through the southern border. Some are detained due to visas that expired by a few days, students who overstayed their visas, Africans who fled violence in their own countries and sought asylum here but got put in detention immediately due to the nature of their homeland, and the list continues. Gangsters are a minuscule part of the immigrant population.</p><p>The fifth root is the one that says they'll take over with their chain migration. Once again, wrong use of words. It's called "family reunification" and is what Melania Trump most likely used to get her parents to the United States. It doesn't extend to third cousins and great aunts. It is for immediate family and parents only. All faiths teach us that families belong together.</p><p>Protests are needed to increase visibility. Calls to representatives may help to challenge policies. But more important is the daily loosening of the soil each of us can do so these roots stop propping up the dead trunk. And let's pray that when it falls, no one gets hurt.<br></p><p><br></p><p><em></em><em></em><em>This post has been republished from Jim and Ruth's blog. To learn more about their SOOP service, check out </em><a href="http://jnrjourneynotes.blogspot.com/"><em>JnR Journey Notes</em></a><em>.</em><br></p>
Steven Covey, staples, and shalomhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Steven-Covey,-staples,-and-shalomSteven Covey, staples, and shalomBy Carmen Hoober<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Is there anything more soothing than walking the aisles of an office supplies store? I think not. The voice of God is clearer to me among the clipboards and calendars and pretty file folders and desk organizers and festively colored paper clips than anywhere else. It makes me happy just thinking about it. I'm convinced that one of the cheapest forms of therapy is simply to meander through Staples – letting the displays of envelopes, binders, and other office supplies renew my spirit.</span></p><p>Confession: I'm actually a recovering slob. Not the kind of slob who ignores globs of toothpaste in the sink or who stays in pajamas for days, but the kind that piles stuff up (clothes, dishes, papers, laundry) until I have time to clean and put things away <strong>perfectly</strong>. I truly love the <em>idea </em>of being organized (a place for everything and everything in its place), and I even do a decent job of setting up organizational systems – but maintaining them … well, that's another story. I can be quite organized … until I get overwhelmed or distracted, which is, of course, when being organized would come in most handy. </p><p>People are often surprised that someone who loves organization as much as I do struggles with procrastination and clutter and getting herself to the right place at the right time. I liken my attraction to organization to why sinners love Jesus – not because they are so naturally holy and spiritual – but precisely because they are <em>not. </em>I've come to the realization that I <strong>just can't</strong> be as organized as I want to be if left to my own devices. Therefore, I am always looking for a savior in the form of systems or structures or schedules: including books and apps and pinning things and randomly touching things to see if they "<a href="https://konmari.com/">spark joy</a>." I've tried to use a planner approximately 7,219 times. It turns out that I am really good at picking out cute planners, but not so good at pulling it out to use it when I should. </p><p>Some people are just naturally organized and that's great. But (since I get to interview many of you) I happen to know that I am not alone in my struggles and that many of you struggle with organization, productivity, and time management as well (it usually comes up in our interview with the "What would you say is your growing edge?" question). But like so many things in life, it's helpful to have a <em>growth mindset</em>: <strong>personal management and organization are skills you can learn</strong>, and I <em>have, </em>so be assured that there is HOPE. True, it's something I have to work really hard at, and I still struggle and drop the ball sometimes, but through the years, I have learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn't. </p><p>Clearly, I am not an expert in this area, but I've done some living and so I humbly offer you some of my own wisdom about getting your life in order.</p><ol><li>The best system or tool for you to use is the one that works for you <strong>right now</strong>. Stop beating yourself up because something that works for someone else does not work for you. Also, if something that worked for you in a different season of life (say, college) does not work for you anymore, it does not mean you're a failure. It might just be time to try something different.</li><li>Give yourself permission to try some new things, but once you find something that shows promise (i.e., a calendar, app, schedule, system, etc.), use it for at least a month before moving on to something else.   </li><li>Different people have different resources, but you don't need fancy supplies or the newest technology to get organized. A little creativity goes a long way and the amount of FREE apps and Internet resources are infinite – and I'm always surprised at the goodies I can find in thrift stores. Example: I was really intrigued at the idea of this <a href="https://bestself.co/products/weekly-action-planner">Weekly Action Planner</a> but because I am not going to spend $20 on a pad of paper, I opened up Microsoft Word, inserted a table, modified it a bit to suit my style (read: cute fonts), and made a DIY version that I print off every week and put on a clipboard. Lesson: Let the thriftiness and creativity flow!<br></li></ol><div><span style="font-size:22.4px;"><br></span></div><p>With all of that in mind, below are links to some wide-ranging articles on the topic of organization and time/personal management. </p><ul><li>How to set up your <a href="https://money.cnn.com/2015/01/30/pf/jobs/desk-organized-tips/index.html">desk</a> for optimum productivity. Depending on your role and what kind of vibe you're going for, you might want a space that is crisp and professional or a space that is homey and inviting. Either way, it needs to be functional and it needs to be clean.  </li><li>Do you like Internet quizzes? I like Internet quizzes. <a href="http://clutterbug.me/what-clutterbug-are-you-test">Take this quiz</a> to find out your organizing style, and check out the website for all kinds of surprisingly helpful organizing advice. This has implications for work and home life and might be a fun activity to do together as a unit! (FYI: I'm a Butterfly married to a Ladybug).</li><li>If you're searching for a new calendar app on either iOS or Android devices, I highly recommend reading <a href="https://www.tomsguide.com/us/pictures-story/442-best-calendar-apps.html#s1">this</a>. More and more I'm using the <a href="https://www.cnet.com/how-to/iphone-calendar-tips/">calendar native to my iPhone</a> – I've been pleasantly surprised at how good it is AND how it syncs with my Outlook calendar (which I have to use for work), meaning I don't have to mess with the crummy Outlook interface on my mobile phone. </li><li>Time management is difficult ... so many cat videos, so little time … am I right? Take a look at <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2018/05/01/manipulate-time-with-these-powerful-20-time-management-tips/#766b848857ab">this list</a> and pick out one or two ideas to try to increase your productivity (I recognize myself in #7 – gonna work on that). I am also currently (finally) reading some Steven Covey: <em>First Things First</em> and <em>7 Habits of Highly Effective People</em>. <strong>Here is what I know: Your whole adult life people are going to reference Steven Covey books. Just get it over with and read them. The universe will not be satisfied until you do.</strong> If you're STILL resisting, here is my favorite concept – the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-use-stephen-coveys-time-management-matrix-2015-12">Eisenhower Matrix</a> of time management.</li><li>More on planners. Are you an analog guy or gal? If you like things to be handwritten, there is a whole community of people who will welcome you into their <span style="text-decoration:line-through;">weird</span> <a href="https://www.wildforplanners.com/">enthusiastic little tribe</a>. This is next level stuff, you guys. There are stickers and "layouts" and heated debates about which are the best markers. Last year I tried a paper planner and succeeded for about eight months – I only lasted that long because I did spring for some of those cute stickers. </li><li>Maybe you've heard of bullet journaling? I love <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm15cmYU0IM">this video</a> – and I also love how customizable and creative you can make them. Whether you prefer bare bones or artistic and beautiful, the Internet is full of examples to get you started. Cooler people than me have developed <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbIOwCFVFgI">digital bullet journals</a>, which work best if you have a tablet and a stylus. </li><li>I'm currently discerning if the reason I want to try using the <a href="https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique">Pomodoro Technique</a> is because it sounds so common-sense and useful or because I think it would be fun to have a little timer shaped like a <a href="https://www.amazon.ccom/Novelty-Tomatoes-Style-Cooking-Kitchen/dp/B071JXFWMN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536086668&sr=8-1&keywords=tomato+timer">tomato</a>.  </li><li>The productivity tool that I'm most excited about right now is<strong> voice dictation.</strong> In the past six months I've been learning how to use voice dictation features on my phone and smart watch ("Hey Siri" for Apple or "OK Google" for Android) to add things to my calendar and give myself reminders. It has been kind of revolutionary for me. I still use my Outlook calendar on my PC for the bulk of scheduling appointments and meetings, BUT having the ability to add things to my calendar, set a timer or alarm, and give myself reminders with just my voice somehow suits my personality – particularly when I am overwhelmed or distracted. It's hands-free, which makes it easier to follow through the second I think about it. I know I've just cracked the surface of voice dictation; I'm excited to start <a href="https://zapier.com/blog/best-text-dictation-software/">incorporating it more into my life</a> (next step: using it on my PC). (Bonus: I get to look like <a href="http://inspectorgadget.wikia.com/wiki/Penny%27s_Watch">Penny from Inspector Gadget</a> when I talk into my watch – fulfilling at least one childhood fantasy – but, just in case you're reading this, Tim Cook, I'm still patiently waiting for my laser beam …)<br></li></ul><div><span style="font-size:22.4px;"><br></span></div><p>Through the years, I've realized that having a well-ordered life requires the discipline of staying in a moment long enough to recognize that my future moments will be filled with <strong>more satisfaction and joy</strong> <strong>and less anxiety and frustration </strong>if I am intentional about acting on my priorities. Organization is not an altar at which I want to worship; however, it does create space for God's shalom to occur – In my life and in the lives of those I live and work with. Beauty, productivity, and order were all found in the Garden … which, I'm just sayin', sounds a lot like Staples.<br></p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2018/gif.jpg?RenditionID=8" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p>

 

 

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