Early Summer 2017 Update

Brodie and I earlier this month, setting out for France.
Personal Update
(Don't miss the ministry update at the bottom, below all the pictures!)

This has been my heaviest travel year yet since I joined EMI, with 3 international trips in the first 5 ½ months of 2017. Looking ahead, I have 2-3 more before the end of the year – possibly a trip somewhere in August, then Nicaragua in September, and a multi-office stop (likely in Africa) in November.
The bride and groom - John & Celine

The day we arrived, John spent the day with us getting us
oriented since he lived in Paris for 18 months when he
attended language school.
If you know me well, then you know that the travel is both the best and worst part about our ministry work with EMI. It’s the best part because it allows me to be directly involved with our ‘front lines’ work around the world and because I get to interact with people from any and every culture.
But it’s the ‘worst’ part too because I am wired to be a home body, so leaving home and my family is never something I yearn to do. I know that to some who love to travel, this may not be a relatable trait. But trust me, for who I am, it’s a significant challenge – one of the bigger ones I routinely face. As I’ve said many times, I’d much rather just live somewhere overseas than have to regularly travel there!

This latest trip was to France to attend the wedding of an EMI staff member in our Senegal office. During his year and a half attending a Paris language school, EMI civil engineer John A. met Celine, a Congolese woman who has lived in France since grade school. Celine was a refugee since her home community in the Congo was ravaged by conflict. It's an interesting story, as is their whole relationship, which exists entirely in French - the language John only learned a few short years ago!

I took Brodie with me as a sort of 16-year old birthday present (we found a r.t. ticket for under $500!). Brodie has taken French since 1st grade and was a very helpful interpreter! We spent two days before the wedding seeing some of Paris, and also visiting the language school where our EMI staff are sent to learn French. I’ll attach some pictures here so you can see some of the fun Brodie and I had!
Brodie in his element - navigating the Paris metro system
Thanks to T-Mobile, we have free data in 150 countries, so
navigating around town was easy.
One of our favorite things was climbing the seemingly endless
spiral staircase up the Arc de Triomphe.
This thing's pretty cool too.
It was warm and muggy in Paris - I can only assume
the weather in Europe is this way year round?
The Champs Elysees from atop the Arc - the traffic
circle shown below is world famous for its confusion
(and accidents).
The Church on the Hill, Sacre Coeur - the highest point in Paris
From atop the MontParnasse skyscraper - they say the best view
in Paris is from here...because the building itself is not in it! :)
Such a fuss over this small painting.
One of the smaller paintings we saw.
Another famous work of art that, to the untrained eye, seems
less impressive than other larger, more intricate sculptures.
Each night, Parisians crowd the banks of the Seine River to
split a bottle of wine (or 3) and hangout. This picture was taken
at 11pm - it stays light late in the summer. We walked up and
down the place and only saw 1 restroom - not sure how so much
alcohol is consumed without restrooms!
The language school in southern Paris where past and future
EMI staff attend to learn French.
The language school is in Massy, a quaint suburb south of Paris.
The wedding of John & Celine! Brodie and I were the only
two EMI people able to attend. What an honor!
After the wedding.
In our Sunday best on wedding Saturday.
EMI projects that went out this summer - now
the real work is underway to complete the
design reports by the early August.
Ministry News

As you know, EMI has set a goal of involving more local design professionals (LDPs) in our organization. Ideally, we’d love to get to a place where at least 50% of those working in EMI are non-Western locals. Obviously, the funding of such a goal is a huge challenge for a ministry that asks its staff and interns to raise their entire financial support. Think about it – how do we accomplish that?

Some of the ideas that have been put out there… some say we should ask LDPs to raise support amongst their community, just as we Westerners do; others, noting how challenging/potentially impossible that would be for some/most, have said that LDPs should raise support from visiting Westerners who travel to their country, for instance, on EMI trips; others still have suggested the idea that EMI staff pay an ‘office fee’ that would fund the LDP salaries.

But thinking about good mission practices and sustainability, two things we value greatly at EMI, do any of these methods stand out as fully viable in the long-term? It’s possible – but is the idea of more and more Western funding the right solution decades into the future? Or is there another way?

As we have been exploring ideas, and talking to many other Christian mission groups as well as other development organizations, we have unmistakably ran into the idea of using Business As Missions (BAM) time and again. That is, the idea of EMI starting businesses (i.e. engineering companies) in other countries whereby the work we do funds the people (LDPs) doing the work. In such a model, the idea of both professional and spiritual mentoring (discipleship) is a key.

In fact, many have suggested to us that EMI is better suited to explore BAM possibilities than most mission groups because of our unique makeup of being architects, engineers, surveyors and construction managers. In other words, we have a ready-made skill/ability to offer that people all over the world are used to paying for.

In talking with people from other well-known mission organizations, we’ve seen that there are many models for doing BAM, and many ways of going about it in a way that preserves who EMI is at its heart. In other words, the idea isn’t to transform EMI into a BAM organization, but rather for the support-funded missionaries working for EMI to become entrepreneurs and start businesses in other countries that could employ LDPs. In doing so, might we be able to create sustainable ways of training, discipling, and employing LDPs?

These questions, and the whole idea of EMI exploring the use of BAM, is for now just being discussed. But might this help not only our ability to hire LDPs, but also help relieve the growing difficulty we have in obtaining visas and work permits in some countries? Registering as a non-profit is becoming more and more difficult in the places where we work – while at the same time, registering as a business is by comparison quite simple. Could moving in this direction help ensure EMI can continue doing the work we do decades into the future?

As I said, this discussion is just beginning. We have no desire to change the heart of EMI’s ministry away from what it is. We are a Christian ministry that first and foremost values the gospel message reaching the world, and for the 'Hope' that both spiritual and physical relief brings to reach those who are most in need. Our vision is still ‘people restored by God and the world restored through design’. Our mission is still ‘to develop people, design structures, and construct facilities which serve communities and the Church’.

But might the addition of using a BAM model be a strategic way to not only continue but even expand this mission and vision? And might it help us better achieve our 3 core values of Design, Discipleship and Diversity? We’re asking those questions.


Traci Morrow said…
Wow. Praying with you as you explore this - very cool. Love that outside the box thinking.
Also: Brodie this trip looks like it was a perfect fit for you! What a great memory with your dad!! Love you all!! Xoxox

Popular posts from this blog

Summer / early Fall 2017