Journeys through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service AdventureReflectionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Journeys-through-the-unfamiliar-reflections-on-life-in-Service-AdventureJourneys through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service AdventureBy Bethany Masters and Helen Tiefenbach

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A missed opportunityAnti-racism https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/A-missed-opportunityA missed opportunityBy Wil LaVeist
The Christmas story, our storyBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/The-Christmas-story-our-storyThe Christmas story, our storyBy Joe Sawatzky
Online classes in Lithuania create global communityEducationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Online-classes-in-Lithuania-create-global-communityOnline classes in Lithuania create global communityBy Robin Gingerich
How to decide about graduate schoolCareer Cornerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/How-to-decide-about-graduate-schoolHow to decide about graduate schoolBy Carmen Hoober
Solidarity and hope are the goals of Nanjing, ChinaNanjing, Chinahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Solidarity-and-hope-are-the-goals-of-Nanjing-ChinaSolidarity and hope are the goals of Nanjing, ChinaBy Mike Sherrill
Get a taste of Service AdventureTry it outhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Get-a-Taste-of-Service-AdventureGet a taste of Service AdventureBy Susan Nisly

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Muslims help build church in Burkina Fasohttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Muslims-help-build-church-in-Burkina-FasoMuslims help build church in Burkina FasoBy Siaka Traoré<p>BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso (Mennonite Mission Network) — Thirteen years ago, we began planting Mennonite churches around Bobo-Dioulasso, the second city of Burkina Faso. Today, we worship in three locations, with the newest being in Kodeni.</p><p>It began with Ousmane Hié, a teenager from Kodeni, who was forced to end his education due to lack of family resources. He worked for two years as an apprentice to an auto mechanic. My wife, Claire, and I saw much potential in Ousmane, and Claire helped him get back into school.</p><p>Each Sunday, Ousmane and three of his siblings walked about three miles from Kodeni to attend our church in Bobo. Claire helped them get their paperwork in order so they, too, could attend school. These four children were the beginning of the Mennonite Church in their village.</p><p>To celebrate World Day of Evangelism in 2016, we held three evening meetings in Kodeni. Because of this outreach, more than 50 children gathered for worship and Sunday school in a classroom of a nearby public school. This church plant is led by Samuel Traoré, a Bible school student from the Bobo congregation. </p><p>Believing that this new congregation would soon outgrow a classroom, we searched for a plot of land on which to build. As soon as we bought the land, we visited the people who lived in the neighborhood. They are all Muslims, but they welcomed us warmly. They began giving us valuable building tips.</p><p>Each time we visited our new plot of land, we first visited our neighbors, especially the family of the <em>imam</em> whose property adjoined our church plot. God seemed to precede each encounter and soften their hearts so that they were friendly toward us, even though there is much distrust and persecution between Christians and Muslims in our country. Because of our good relationship with the imam's family, we asked if they would guard our construction materials — cement, boards, shovels and wheelbarrows — against theft.</p><p>What is even more remarkable is that when our church members have workdays, Muslim youth come and help us build our church!</p><p>Our prayer is that we will be a church of peace that builds relationships with everyone — without laying aside our distinctive identity. One of the verses that guides us comes from 1 Peter 2:9: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of the one who called you from the shadows into marvelous light."<br></p><p><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;">Siaka Traoré has retired from formal leadership positions with </em><span style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;">Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso</span><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;"> (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso), but continues to serve with Mennonite World Conference. He owns franchises of Christian bookstores and hardware stores in Burkina Faso, and lives in Bobo-Dioulasso with his wife, Claire. </em><br></p><p><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;"><br></em></p><p><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2019/Kodeni.jpg?RenditionID=16" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></em></p><h4>Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Mennonite Mission Network’s co-director for Africa and Europe, and Siaka Traore stand on the foundation of the new Kodeni Mennonite Church building. Photographer: Rod Hollinger-Janzen<br></h4><p><br></p>
Family across the oceanhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Family-across-the-oceanFamily across the oceanBy Diana Cruz<p>If it were possible to cross the Atlantic in a straight line from Colombia, you would reach Africa, the place from which all our ancestors came. </p><p>We are neighbors, just across the ocean, but when we first meet, I see my own surprised face reflected in African faces. The truth is that I do not know which face reflects the other's, because centuries of colonization, suffering, struggles to survive, and of trying to assimilate to European ways have created a chasm that is impossible to bridge with a single glance.</p><p>And yet, African drum rhythms pound perfectly to the beat of my Latin American heart. The streets, full of playing children, are the same streets I have already walked by in my dear Colombia. The people are the same people: survivors trying to add color with their dresses and flavor with their spices to the difficult life that history and geography have imposed on them.</p><p>At first glance, we might think we come from different planets. This is what world powers have made us believe. If we are invisible to each other, we lose the strength of two continents together. And yet, little by little, I see that our faith, our struggles, our dreams, our rhythms of life, and our life stories are undeniably familiar.</p><p>From time to time, it is good to visit the neighbors across the way. When we live with them, we learn to know each other. We build bridges that span the chasms, even if we must do it brick by brick, and even if it takes us a couple more centuries to realize that those strangers are, after all, our family.<br></p><p><em>Diana Cruz and her husband, Felipe Preciado, are jointly supported by Colombia Mennonite Church and Mennonite Mission Network. They began serving at </em>La Casa Grande<em>, a children's home in Benin, in 2018. Diana teaches English and Spanish. Felipe helps develop agricultural and animal-breeding projects. </em><br></p>
I wear my heart on my sleevehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/I-wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeveI wear my heart on my sleeveBy Joshua Garber<p>When Alisha and I and our son, Asher, moved to Barcelona, many things didn't make the cut in our honest attempt to "leave all things behind" and follow Jesus. However, <em>Martyrs Mirror</em> was never on the chopping block, despite its six-pound weight.</p><p><em>Martyrs Mirror</em>, a book of more than 1,500 pages, was written in the 17th century. It is filled with thousands of stories and testimonies of the early Anabaptists (and other similar-minded Christians) who were persecuted and killed in terrible ways during the Radical Reformation. Perhaps its most famous story is about a Dutch Anabaptist named Dirk Willems, who was running from the authorities after he escaped imprisonment. While fleeing across a frozen lake, Willems heard a loud crack and realized his pursuer had fallen through the ice. Willems went back and rescued him. This act of profound compassion and enemy-love cost him his life and he was burned at the stake. </p><p>I love sharing this story. For me, it captures one of the most stunning Christian acts I've ever heard of, proclaiming that one's liberation cannot come at the cost of someone else's suffering. It has affected me so profoundly that I got the well-known copper etching of this story tattooed on my arm.</p><p>It's joined several other tattoos, all of which delight in different aspects of God that I've learned in my walk with Christ. I have a page from Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em>, wrapped around one arm — a beautiful parallel of the Prodigal Son. I have a nautilus deconstructing into a plot of the Golden Mean — God's fingerprint that shows this reoccurring phenomenon of order and intention in a seemingly chaotic universe. I have a bird and flowers — a reminder that, if God takes care of such things, then I shouldn't worry. And there are several more. </p><p>When you consider a modern definition of "sleeve" that refers to an arm covered in tattoos, I'm not joking when I say I wear my heart on my sleeve. In doing so, I've had the opportunity to tell the story of Dirk Willems dozens of times, whereas it's a safe bet most copies of <em>Martyrs Mirror</em> never leave the house. </p><p>My tattoos are conversation starters. They're personal reminders. They're an act of worship and obedience — a nod to Deuteronomy 6:8 ("Bind God's message to your hands.") and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ("Your body is a temple; honor God with your body.").</p><p>From my experience, wearing my heart on my sleeve illustrates a faith perspective that genuinely confounds most people who have been turned off by certain branches of Christianity. It has built countless more bridges than barriers, allowing my body to proclaim the gospel even when my mouth doesn't have the words. The world is changing, and to be honest, I had forgotten there are still pockets of Christians who are shocked by tattoos — that is, until this past summer when Alisha and I were sharing about our ministry in Barcelona with a wonderful partner church in rural Kansas. The first question we received was, "Can you tell us about your tattoos?"</p><p>If making some ethnic Mennonites scratch their heads is the consequence of decorating my arms with visual stories, inspired by the divine, like the cathedrals of old, then I'm OK with that. Any natural opportunity to share about the subversive nature of Christ's love is worth making some folks uncomfortable.</p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2019/_DSC6326.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>In the Middle Ages when literacy rates were low, stained glass windows told the biblical story. Alisha Garber repurposes the stained glass windows motif for today’s world in her tattoos. Photographer: Josh Garber.</h4><p><br></p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2019/_DSC6373.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>Asher Garber gets an early start on Anabaptist theology from <em>Martyrs Mirror</em>.</h4><p><br></p><p><em>Alisha and Joshua Garber, along with their son, Asher, serve with Mennonite Mission Network in Barcelona, Catalonia (a region where allegiance to Spain vies with voices calling for independence). They work alongside the leaders of the Mennonite church in Barcelona, focusing on youth outreach and congregational mission. To learn more, visit</em> <a href="http://www.worthwhileadventures.org/">WorthwhileAdventures.org</a>.<br></p>
Ephemeral details and lasting relationships: What I learned from writing obitshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Ephemeral-details-and-lasting-relationships-What-I-learned-from-writing-obitsEphemeral details and lasting relationships: What I learned from writing obitsBy Travis Duerksen <p>NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – In my two years at Mennonite Mission Network, I’ve written seven obituaries for mission workers who served with the organization, or one of its predecessor agencies. Stating that writing obituaries is not my favorite part of this job is neither controversial nor surprising. Yet, putting together obituaries is a necessity for Mission Network writers. We cover writing “beats,” locations around the world that often have a long and complex history of North American mission workers coming into their communities. Some were invited. Many were not. While our organization’s practice of “mission” has and continues to change, we relate with and celebrate vibrant churches around the world that were started through methods and practices we would not use today. </p><p> </p><p>This history means that writing obituaries can be difficult. Yet, through my practice of interviews, researching, and archive skulking, I’ve come away with a few understandings that I have grown to appreciate through writing mission worker obits.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Lives go by quickly</strong></p><p>I’ve had the fortune of writing obits for people who are older: septuagenarians and up. Yet, summarizing a person’s life to focus on their time of service means that I need to distill 80 years into about 500 words, which takes an adult roughly two minutes to read. It’s this tremendous ratio of time lived versus time read that makes me wonder how my next year of life will be condensed into the o<em>ne and a half seconds</em> that will represent it in my own obituary someday. What will be mentioned? What will be passed over? </p><p> </p><p>Word count aside, as a writer I don’t <em>set out</em> to condense a decade of a person’s life into a single sentence or two. Instead, it often happens due to a lack of details. Many of the people that I ask for quotes and information are older as well, and simply don’t remember what the individual did 40-odd years ago. Eventually, that information was lost through time.  </p><p> </p><p><strong>Details are ephemeral…</strong></p><p>I have no doubt that future historians will have a field day with the abundance of geo-tagged photos and Twitter posts chronicling our locations, ad preferences and minute-by-minute thoughts. However, piecing together obituaries has helped me realize that the details of our lives can disappear quickly. By nature, an obituary has the disadvantage of the best source of information entirely unavailable for earthly comment. Spouses may or may not remember dates or locations. Children or extended family may not either. Sometimes, the obituary subject gives me, the writer, the greatest gift of all: published memoirs. Yet even those are not always factually accurate. Archives may have 20 vibrant Kodachrome photos of a mission worker, or a single, blurry headshot scanned from the back of a yellowed prayer card. While there may have been dozens of better photos taken, it was the prayer card portrait that survived, and it was the prayer card portrait that was catalogued. Given enough time, all specifics erode, like a river stone that becomes smoother and less discernable as the water rolls atop it.    </p><p> </p><p><strong>…but relationships survive.</strong></p><p>One of my favorite parts of writing obituaries is talking with not just family members and friends of the mission worker, but with people whose lives and spiritual journeys were changed through them. That means talking to coworkers, congregation members and people in the communities where these workers lived. Some people I interview never met the individual in question but are connected to a church or organization with which the mission worker was involved. Many of these churches and organizations now have local leadership. The North American mission worker retired, but the relationships formed, and the lives touched continued to create their own legacies.</p><p> </p><p>Singer-songwriter Lucy <a name="_GoBack">Dacus</a> described a relationship as two people choosing to be each other’s historians, and I firmly believe that responsibility extends beyond couples or spouses. In a very real sense, I am a historian for my friends, my coworkers and the people with whom I share life. Being privy to someone’s life journey is an honor and sharing about that journey is a great responsibility. As a writer who is given many stories to share, I think about that a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’ve given a story justice. Other times I fear I came up short. Yet, obituaries have taught me not to shirk the responsibility, nor take the honor for granted. So, when the time comes that some poor, hapless writer comes to me for a quote on someone recently departed, I, their historian, will be ready.</p>
Walking the Watershed Wayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Walking-the-Watershed-WayWalking the Watershed WayBy Alice M. Price <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Wendell Berry once penned: "Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you." That theme was woven throughout a recent gathering, "Walking the Watershed Way: Going Deeper into Creation Care," held Sept. 27-29 in Alamosa, Colorado. </span></p><p>I was grateful to be part of a Mountain States Conference planning team* that helped to shape the high-energy gathering of 40-some Mennonites and other diverse community allies. Together, we explored ways to build capacity to respond locally and globally to the climate crisis. The Anabaptist Fellowship of Alamosa hosted the weekend of presentations, activities, practical tools, and commitments to action. <a href="https://mennocreationcare.org/">Mennonite Creation Care Network</a> provided a small grant to help with expenses. </p><p>It was heartening to see a wide range of participants – people in their early 20s up to their 80s – engage with each other and the material. For me, it held one vision of what "church" might be moving forward in this region. Hands-on portions of the weekend, a "Taste of Place," pivoted around local field experiences and presentations, exposing out-of-town visitors to innovations in the Alamosa area related to equitable land and local foods access and environmental restoration efforts.  </p><p>For example, Liza Marron, executive director of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, shared information about the organization's varied initiatives. Tours followed, led by various project managers such as Jesse Marchildon, of the Rio Grande Farm Park. Abe Rosenberg prepared a Local Foods/Local Places picnic shaped by foods from the Valley Roots Food Hub. Zoila Gomez gave a tour of the Alamosa Farmers' Market, highlighting her program's focus on nutritious cooking for lower-income families. Emma Reesor, executive director of the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, took the group to a bend in the Rio Grande restored through efforts by that project, where a history of indigenous presence was shared and prayers were offered. </p><p>The next day, Reesor and Patrick O'Neill shared about ongoing collaborative efforts in our Valley to preserve and restore important water and soil resources. O'Neill also spoke of his long-time partnership with the Guatemala family farmers at what is now the Rio Grande Farm Park.  </p><p>Todd Wynward and Daniel Herrera, leaders of a Watershed Way group in Taos, New Mexico, challenged the audience with what <em>Walking the Watershed Way</em> requires, from overall life commitments to specific daily practices. They highlighted five practices that inspire the Taos group:<br></p><p><br></p><ol><li>Fall in love with your place.</li><li>Protect your place and practice abundance.</li><li>Celebrate and surrender to each season.</li><li>Practice communion through common projects with diverse groups.</li><li>Treat your place as your teacher/rabbi.  </li></ol><p><span style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;"><br></span></p><p><span style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;">Interwoven throughout the weekend was space for individual and small-group networking. Every break included the buzz of conversation. Folks swapped contact information along with advice on worms, seeds, and garden produce. They also shared recipes, music, poetry, book recommendations, and connections for accessing desired foods and other regional supplies. Opportunities to explore "next steps" for action by individuals, local community groups, and the larger regional network also helped to drive the event. Towars the close, Wynward repeated his ongoing challenge for individuals and groups to move beyond ideas to action. He urged them to draw upon learnings they gained from projects they had visited and connections they had made during the gathering.</span><br></p><p>As coordinator of a Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) program in this area for many years, it was gratifying to visit local projects that MVS volunteers and Fellowship members have helped to initiate and/or keep vibrant over the years. Reesor, who began two years of MVS in Alamosa in 2013, now directs the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project. Connor Born is a current volunteer at that project, preceded by Andrea Bachman and Reesor's predecessor, Jeremy Yoh. Hannah Thiel currently volunteers with the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, preceded there in recent years by Chris Lehman, Bryce Hostetler, Curtis Martin, and Peter Wise.</p><p>These important opportunities for community engagement resonate with our Anabaptist understandings and with the local service model of MVS in Alamosa. These and others have greatly enriched our lives and the life of our broader community in this rural setting. </p><p>*The planning team members were Anita Amstutz, Barry Bartel, Ken Gingerich, Alice Price, and Todd Wynward.<br></p>
Missionary Myth #3https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Missionary-Myth-3Missionary Myth #3By Joshua Garber <p>​<em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">This is the third post in a three-part series addressing some of the common myths and misconceptions we experience most regularly while serving with </em><em>Mennonite Mission Network</em><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> in Barcelona. </em><a href="/blog/Three-missionary-myths" target="_blank" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>Read Part 1</em></a><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> and </em><a href="/blog/Missionary-Myth-2" target="_blank" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>Part 2</em></a><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">.</em></p><p><strong> </strong><strong>Missionary Myth #3: We work for you </strong></p><p>We believe spiritual poverty is real and spreading, and the church is entering a time of transformation in Europe. Anabaptist-minded communities have potential to be pivotal shapers of what the next iterations of Christian community may look like. </p><p>That's what we're about. But practically speaking, we're not doing this in a vacuum—we live and serve in a faith community in Barcelona. Being present in our physical home is crucial. But we also are committed to North American supporters. </p><p><strong>One of our colleagues recently picked up on this:</strong></p><p><em>—It weighs on you guys a lot, doesn't it?</em></p><p><em>—What?</em></p><p><em>—Keeping one foot in the United States and the other here. That must be hard.</em></p><p>Here's the simple version of how our ministry works: We're partnering with one such Anabaptist-minded community in Barcelona where we've felt called. We're building relationships to foster the church body becoming a beacon for people thirsty for wholeness, liberation, and spiritual peace.</p><p>For this to be possible, we receive a salary. It is paid to us by Mennonite Mission Network and is the product of a part of our jobs we're less excited about: <a href="https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/Garber" target="_blank">fundraising</a>. We enjoy sharing about what God is doing in the world and how we're partnering with God to be agents of change. But we do <em>not </em>enjoy asking people for financial support.</p><p>We are funded largely by wonderful, faithful individual supporters and churches. But we struggle with how fundraising creates a sense that you work for your supporters.</p><p><strong><em>"Show me how your ministry is being successful. We'd like to see a little more on your end."</em></strong></p><p>I understand why people say this—ministry accountability is important. We know our supporters often make a financial sacrifice. But we receive the above-type statements in ways that probably aren't intended. Aside from creating expectations with <em>how</em> we spend our money, folks want to know <em>what they get</em> for their "investment." On one hand, that makes sense: People want to be a part of something positive and know their support isn't being wasted. On the other hand, missions aren't supposed to be oriented toward the supporters.</p><p>Having talked to many pastors and missionaries, I know this tension is relatable to just about everyone in ministry. Funding sustainability is becoming increasingly elusive throughout the institutional church. In fact, during this series, we've received several comments from others serving in post-modern, first-world missions. They've expressed gratitude for articulating these misconceptions with which they also struggle. </p><p>What's changed? In the past, mission agencies raised the financial support for their workers. That freed the workers to focus on the tasks at hand until time to return to the United States every three or four years to share at churches. Most agencies, including ours, can't survive on this funding model anymore for several reasons. So, the responsibility of raising funds has shifted to the workers — a reality that always looms.</p><p>When we worked at <a href="http://lcc.lt/" target="_blank">LCC International University</a> in Lithuania, those of us who were American staff and faculty always half-jokingly said: Fundraising was everyone's part-time job. However, what we didn't realize then was that it is much easier to quantify a highly structured, <em>project</em>-based ministry like what we had at the university. It is much harder to quantify the foundation-building phase of an organic, <em>relationship</em>-based ministry like what we've been sent to engage in Barcelona.</p><p>We've never been about tally marks of the number of people that are "saved" and baptized because of our work. Such things are always the result of many points of light in someone's journey and the work of the Holy Spirit. But sharing about the number of student leaders we mentored and the growth in chapel attendance was easy.</p><p>The content of what we share isn't the only issue, though. Rather, our struggle is with the time commitment and constant shifting of attention that communication requires. Blog posts, ministry updates, holiday cards, video calls — we value these as tools for staying connected with family and ministry partners. Yet, they gobble up time and energy we could direct toward the Barcelona community we've been sent to serve. At the same time, this connection is precious and encouraging for us. </p><p>That illustrates another tension: Alisha loves making personalized greeting cards for the folks at Trinity Mennonite Church in Arizona. But currently, there's not time to also make them for folks at <em>Comunidad Evengélica Menonita</em> in Barcelona. We've lived with this tension for nearly seven years and accept it as part of the landscape of our work. </p><p>For example, this blog is read mostly by North American supporters. I would love to post on it every week or two. Yet, I create these posts in a narrow slot of time between when our language courses end (20+ hours a week) and when we get Asher from school. During that slot, I'm also studying, planning youth worship rehearsals, preparing teachings and worship leading for the church, organizing committee meetings, doing handyman stuff around the house, eating lunch, and running errands. In this time frame, Alisha does a plethora of <em>other </em>important things.</p><p>When external voices start adding one-off requests to that list, we choose what area we need to let slide on the local side a bit. <em>That's totally fine and we pivot when needed.</em> When the voice seeks to add something recurring to that list, we are faced with an even more challenging decision: What do we drop? If it's not ministry time, it's often family time.</p><p>We want (and need) to include our U.S. American partners in our work as much as possible. But we struggle with feeling fully present and committed to our current community. So please keep connecting with us: It's <em>vital we stay connected. </em>But also consider what and how you're asking: Maintaining balance can be hard and exhausting.</p><p><strong><em>Reflection questions:</em></strong></p><p><em>What's the best way to straddle two continents, being present and engaged in both?</em><br><em> What do you expect in return from nonprofit individuals and groups you support financially?</em></p><p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p><p>Confronting misconceptions can feel abrasive. While I stand by the content in this series, we don't want our supporters to feel unappreciated or attacked. In the case of our sending church, Trinity Mennonite in Phoenix, that's a journey of nearly 15 years! <em>If you've found you've held any of these misconceptions, know that we're speaking to a much wider-spread issue in global missions than toward specific individuals. </em></p><p>We shoulder the blame, too. Many misconceptions evolve due to fractures in the communication process, which involves both receivers (i.e., our North American supporters) and senders (us). Communicating can become intensely difficult in an era where we're inundated by messages from all kinds of senders vying for our attention. </p><p>In the not-too-distant past, information from the mission field would trickle to supporters in the form of a newsletter via snail mail a few times a year. Now there is an unspoken expectation that information flows regularly. </p><p>Groups like Mission Network can keep up with that on an organizational level, but at our level, it feels daunting. Play the game and we risk burnout and the arrested development of our ministry. Avoid it and we risk funding being a barrier for sustainability and being replaced by another worthy cause — the consequence of being "out of sight, out of mind."</p><p>Jesus teaches us <a href="http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=432219853" target="_blank">not to allow our lives to be dictated by worry</a>. However, that doesn't mean we ignore our obstacles. We created a<a href="http://www.facebook.com/WorthwhileAdventures" target="_blank"> Worthwhile Adventures Facebook page</a> to communicate the ministry we're doing in Barcelona. We are also maintaining personal pages to communicate other stuff that happens to a young family trying to thrive in a new, dynamic environment. However, that's not been enough. By having far more connections on our personal pages than our ministry page, our ministry experiences are often not successfully communicated. Add to the mix the unorthodox nature of the type of work we do and it's easy to see how myths and misconceptions develop.</p><p><strong>Now we're trying to adapt.</strong></p><p>As we traveled and visited supporters this summer during our two-month furlough in the United States, we did quite a bit of soul searching and learned some ways we can do a better job communicating. </p><p>For starters, we realize this series may have focused more on what we're <em>not </em>about than what we <em>are </em>about and, in retrospect, that's rarely a good way to define something. While you <em>can</em> paint a picture of something by describing the negative space around it, we're going to fill in the full picture. The first paragraph of this post is a fair starting point.</p><p>We ask for grace and understanding as we figure out how to navigate this thing.<br></p>

 

 

Journeys through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service Adventurehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Journeys-through-the-unfamiliar-reflections-on-life-in-Service-AdventureJourneys through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service AdventureBy Bethany Masters and Helen TiefenbachGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
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