Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Greetings

Being a part of the ministry of eMi back in Colorado Springs has been both a challenging and eye-opening experience. I have to say, God knew what He was doing. The more we learn, the more excited we are about the impact eMi has on people and ministries around the world.
Last week, we had a guest speaker during our morning prayer time – a former client-ministry director from India who is visiting the US right now. She shared how the design report eMi did for her orphanage ministry 6 years ago has been a huge part of her sustaining an onslaught of persecution from the government as it has cracked down severely on Christian ministries in the past year. Because they had our project report, including a master plan with extensive plans and specific details of their plans for their site, the government has been unable to shut them down. And when the government tried to steal land from her by providing a false survey of her land that made it look much smaller, she was able to prove that it was her land due to the survey eMi had performed for her!
Also, two volunteers have just returned this past weekend from Haiti who played a critical role in helping Samaritan’s Purse's ongoing response to the growing Cholera epidemic. The press has grown bored with the story, but the problem is growing and could become another major disaster there. Our volunteer civil engineers tested the water at the Cholera Treatment Centers setup by Samaritan's Purse and verified that the waste was being properly disinfected to prevent further spread of the disease.
Unfortunately, they also found that a number of emergency water systems they tested in various locations around the country had been contaminated with e-coli. They were able to quickly respond and get the chlorination levels up to take care of the problem, but thousands of people had been drinking from these water systems thinking they were safe.
Anyway, all of this to say, sometimes it’s hard to relate exactly how far reaching the effect is that your support has, but we feel honored to be partnered together with our friends and family to do this work. We really feel blessed by our supporters, that the work we're doing is part of a small group of people who make it possible through their generosity and committment to God calling them to participate in His work. Our support team is small in size compared to most in eMi and other support-based organizations, so we feel especially close to our support team. It’s very humbling to be the ones receiving the support, but God has shown us that dependance on Him through others is a blessing despite it flying in the face of 'the American Dream' and our natural, inner desire to be independent and self-sufficient.
We love you and thank you again for being on this ministry team with us.
We pray you have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Love, Brad, Alisha, Brodie, Jonah & Graysen
Santa Claus was not very happy about being caught putting stuff in the stockings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Update - project closeout, et al

The Samfya Bible School Master Plan and project report is almost complete!

Well, the last few weeks aren’t the most glamorous part of my job here with eMi, but they are amongst the most important as we’re in the process of finalizing our design report for the Zambia trip. Between the volunteers, interns and myself, we’ve spent over 1800 hours working on this project so far, and it all comes down to these last weeks before the intern semester ends.
So, while the project trip makes for more exciting and interesting blog posts, as is the case with so many things in life, the real nuts and bolts of the work we’re doing for the ministry takes place back here in the office. We have been finalizing plans, sending things out to the volunteers and the ministry for review and comment, and now we are incorporating all of those comments and making the final changes to finish the report. We’re really excited about this project and how our design ended up, and are especially excited that the ministry will be starting construction of the first new student housing units very soon (they might already be underway).

Interns Rachel (top) and Melissa hard at work at finalizing the project report.
Other update items…
1) I have been working with some of the disaster response stuff in my new role. We have two volunteers on the ground in Haiti right now working with Samaritan’s Purse in the Cholera outbreak in Port au Prince. SP is setting up Cholera Treatment Centers and our volunteers are working to ensure safe drinking water is available and than sanitation is being handled very carefully to prevent further spread of this disease. The latest count I’ve heard is that 1700 have died in this outbreak and they fear this number could rise drastically in the coming weeks.
2) I have been recruiting for my next project trip to Uganda at the end of January. My team is just about full so I am excited and thankful that once again God has provided a great team for me to work with. It looks like there will be 9 of us on the trip this time.
3) We spent Thanksgiving with a family who is originally from Germany but lived in Uganda for 12 years before coming to Colorado Springs 6 years ago to work with Compassion International. They invited us over since we are new to town and don’t have any family. It was so nice of them and we really enjoyed our time, though we found it a little funny that our first major holiday back from Uganda was spent in much of the same way we spent our holidays in Uganda – separated from family and with new friends from another country!

Alisha and Brodie with Andrea, the nice German woman who invited us over for Thanksgiving.

Brodie and I with Wolfgang, Andrea's husband. They are really nice people and we enjoyed our evening with them.

Earlier in the day, we went to Starbucks as a family - we couldn't do that on Thanksgiving in Uganda!

Jonah & Graysen built this 'Zoo'

4) We hosted Janet Strike for a few nights this week - Janet worked with me in the East Africa office and has just moved back to the U.S. after living 5 1/2 years in Uganda. She will be working in North Carolina with Samaritan's Purse now - so given my new role with eMi's disaster relief program we should be in fairly regular contact!
5) We are coming back to the West Coast for Christmas and New Year’s. We are excited to spend some time with friends and family, though sadly we won’t make it up to Oregon so we won’t get to see everyone.
We took Janet to dinner - just like old times, except on a different continent!

After receiving over 100 packages in Uganda from family and friends back home, we decided to take our turn to send some. These are 3 of the Operation Christmas Child 'shoeboxes' we had the boys shop for and pack.

Brodie's class is 'traveling around the world' in Geography, so they decided to stop off in Uganda so Graysen could share all about his time there and bring in some Ugandan toys and things to show the class. Alisha went down for a few minutes from her class to help (and make sure Graysen got the facts right! :) )

Intern Rachel came over to babysit the other night...dressed up as a gorilla! The boys loved it!