Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Oops! A Mistake on our letter!

The account number we included on our donation/EFT form (9046) is incorrect. My correct staff account number is 2092. eMi discovered this and is aware of it, so all money donated to the incorrect number will still make it into our account (as will all money that comes in that is accidently sent to the other number). But all future contributions to us should be made to account # 2092.

Sorry for this error - it was my mistake. I told you this was all new to us! :)

Speaking of contributions, I want to thank all of you who have already sent in your pledges, or emailed to let us know that you will be contributing. We feel so blessed by your kind words and generosity. As I've told a few people already, we're finding it more difficult than we expected to accept the generosity of our friends and family. It's a weird feeling to come to grips with raising support, but an entirely different (and more weird) to actually see that support come in. All we can say is thank you so much. We feel honored to have such wonderful people in our lives.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

eMi Conference - Jackson Hole, WY

(Warning: This blog entry is longer than I'll normally do, but it explains as good as I am able why we feel eMi is such a huge part of global missions, and ultimately why we feel God wants us to be a part of it.)

PICTURES: Top - Us with Janet and Chad, 2 of the 3 current staff members in the Uganda office (Chad is the director). Next - Us at the conference - the soccer jersey was the only Ugandan attire I had for the theme dinner. Next - The eMi world staff - we're in the back right.
On Weds. morning at 6am, just over 33 hours after returning home from LA, Alisha and I boarded the plane in Medford to head to Jackson Hole Wyoming (via Denver). We'd never been there before (actually, Alisha went as a young child but had only hazy memories. It was very beautiful, though the terrain was surprisingly less "woodsy" than Southern Oregon. Rocky mountains (I didn't come up with that name) and rolling green hills with patches of thick pine trees (skinny, shorter lodge-pole pines), intermixed with green pastures.
But the conference was the main focus of our trip, and it did not disappoint. We didn't know what to expect, but we were hoping to get better armed to share what God is doing in our lives and why eMi was the vehicle he 's called us to serve through. And that goal was accomplished in a big way, though not how we would've expected.
The conference consisted of a couple days of continuing education classes which were very informative and will be most helpful in living and working overseas. Then on Friday night, it shifted to a more typical conference setting, with one large banquet room for worship time and speakers. On Friday night, I got everything I'd hoped to get out of the whole weekend.
The speaker was from India - a man by the name of Vishal Mangalwadi. He shared a lot of philosophy and history of Christian societies in his talk. About half-way through, the point he was making resonated with me, and I began furiously writing two full pages of notes. It's difficult to explain the full point that hit me in this format, but I'll try to give a brief summary.
Basically, he gave an example of how one day he happened to be in Jinja, Uganda (where I'd spent 2 weeks on my project trip) and he noticed something that bothered him. There, next to the Nile river with a couple of large dams and power plants, he saw women taking trip after trip down to the river to carry water buckets on their heads back home. He compared this with what he'd seen in India as well, where women would spend 3 hours a day walking the fields to collect cow chips that could be burned back home to boil the water to make it safe to drink. What struck him was how tedious and monotonous these tasks were, and why after so many decades and centuries of advancement in the West did the Africans and Indians not find an easier method for obtaining water.
He also saw the men not helping in this process, which also disturbed him. He went on to cite several more examples where people in these 3rd world countries were spending much of their day in pointless toil, and thought about the vast difference in the developed world. The difference: the developed world used not only muscle, but their mind to make life better.
He went on to explain how the different religions around the world kept these countries from advancing, whereas those countries where christianity was prevalent, the societies were always bettering themselves, using their minds to accomplish the menial tasks and toil so they could spend their time working and creating. This, he argued, is God's intended plan for the human race - not to spend their days in repetitive toil.
He went on to say that this was why he saw the work that eMi is doing around the world as so critical. eMi is using the talents and skills of westerners to better the societies in the developing world. Not just building buildings or homes, but teaching the local people that by making certain changes, they can build safer buildings that won't collapse, and water systems that relieve the women and children from making 20 trips to the river each day, and septic systems that properly disgard their sewage without contaminating the water and bringing vast sickness and death. On top of this, eMi brings the message of Christ to these people. When they see in a real way how God's word put in action can make their lives better, their hearts are softened to receive the gospel.
Even the byproducts of the work eMi does are significant. As the clean water, proper sewage treatment and safe building practices begin to spread in these countries, pretty soon the number of sick and dying people is reduced. This frees up humanitarian workers and money to focus on others. Billions and billions of dollars (mostly from the USA and a few other Western countries) are spent each year trying to treat the sick and feed the hungry. By going and bettering the society, a much larger impact is made on the developing world as opposed to just sending more aid money.
Well, this in a nutshell is why we've decided to join eMi, but even I didn't fully understand it until now. God has been preparing us to do this for a number of years now, though I don't think we were ready to do it until now. But this message of using our gifts (though I still feel underqualified) to further his kingdom by bettering the lives of the poor is the purpose I've been looking for in my work for many years.
There were a lot of other significant parts to the weekend, but this already feels like a marathon blog. Quickly though, another speaker there was Fred Markert with YWAM. He definitely WAS a dynamic speaker, and we got an awesome presentation about global strategies for sharing the gospel, and also fighting radical Islam and terrorism (no, he was not speaking on the USA's war on terror, but the church's; in his words, he is neither pro-war nor anti-war - he lives by the scripture that God works "all things" together for the good of those who love him, and so going to war or not going to war are both an "all things". - interesting). Anyway, Alisha and I sat next to him on the shuttle to the airport on our last day and had an interesting conversation with him. He was a very good friend of Keith Green. He was the one who got Keith interested in missions in his final years, and was the one who set up those trips Keith took overseas that changed his whole focus towards world missions (remember him saying "as christians, you don't need to be called to 'go', you need to be called to STAY!") So that was really interesting to talk to him.
Ok, that's all for now. I'll share more about the conference later, and more pictures too!

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Erinne & Travis Big Day!

Well the much anticipated wedding day for Erinne and Travis came and went like a flash, but what a great time it was. The wedding went off without a hitch and it was a great time to hang out with family. The boys were little gentlemen walking down the aisle and Erinne was a stunning bride.
What a fun trip it was for us. We flew down Thursday morning and stayed with the Morrows. Thursday night was the rehearsal (the church wasn't available Friday night). On Friday, the LaBrie's put on a day-before the wedding bbq/swim party that was a lot of fun (other than Brodie nearly "drownding"! Cousin Tyler was the hero for his quick attention to jump in and give Brodie a hand as he was struggling trying to get out of the pool at the tall wall in the deep end. A little scary.).
Saturday was wedding day, and it was a perfect wedding as far as we were concerned. The family is definitely happy to have Travis join the ranks. We're especially hoping that his Oregon roots will loom large in their future! But the boys looked daper in their little beige and brown tuxes, and Travis & Erinne were very nice to include them in all the goings-on. Fortunately they didn't ruin the wedding! The reception was lots of fun, though the noise was too much for Brodie, who finally shut down around 9pm and fell asleep 8 feet from the booming speaker, not to wake until the next morning!!
Sunday was another pool party, except at the Morrows this time. It was fun to have nearly the whole Crawford clan together (brother Bart was worn out so he sent Megan and the boys to represent the Venice Crawfords).
When Monday rolled around, we weren't quite ready to get back on the plane, but the trip to Wyoming was approaching...

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