Of Sinners and Big Steps

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“We’re not sinners, we’re Twichells,” Henry said this morning at breakfast while we read our devotions. Trying to parse our true identity as sinners and saints with a toddler who wholeheartedly embraces literalism is quite a task first thing in the morning. As our family has journeyed toward serving fully with Agape Year we are learning to live more fully into who we are as God’s children, His beloved. Our earnest prayer for Agape Year is that its participants will allow this true name, Beloved, to resound in his or her soul with gladness.

As His beloved, we are trusting our Father for our provision. Upon guidance from SAMS, Nate will be leaving Trader Joe’s on March 5 to engage fully with partner and program development for Agape Year. This is a step of faith for us. We are both terrified and exhilarated. This step makes aware of how little our faith is at times, but are confident of how faithful God is.

We are in need of:

  • prayer! Tons of peace and wisdom as we seek to bring Agape Year to reality.
  • Financial support! We’re in need of $3000 of monthly support to continue to be sustainable as full time directors of Agape Year.
  • Participants! We’ll be in the D.C. area mid March and South Carolina early April with the hopes of recruiting both participants and supporting churches. We’d love to meet up with you or appreciate any connections you think would be helpful!

Join us in this prayer from Walter Brueggemann as we trust our true identity:

You are the God who makes extravagant promises.  We relish your great promises of fidelity and presence and solidarity, and we exude in them.  Only to find out, always too late, that your promise always comes in the midst of a hard, deep call to obedience.  You are the God who calls people like us, and the long list of mothers and fathers before us, who trusted the promise enough to keep the call.  So we give thanks that you are a calling God, who calls always to dangerous new places.  We pray enough of your grace and mercy among us that we may be among those who believe your promise enough to respond to your call.  We pray in the one who embodied your promise and enacted your call, even Jesus.  Amen.

Back to Peru

As I am heading to Peru tomorrow I covet prayer covering while I am away.

The purpose of this trip is to lead a retreat for the teachers at San Mateo School as we prepare them to share leadership this coming June when we do another Bible School. A team of four from Grace Anglican Church, Fleming Island, FL, will join me on Saturday. I shall also take that team down to Arequipa to explore mission opportunities.

As I arrive in Peru I will be joining Susan Park who is hosting a varied and diverse group of partners and friends of Peru. Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield, IL and his assistant Fr. Mark Evans are there on a one-week visit so as to renew their Peruvian partnership. Shortly arriving is a team from the Diocese of Worcester, England and their bishop – The Rt. Rev John Inge who is giving a teaching series at the Cathedral, will join them later. Towards the end of the month a group from the Diocese of South Carolina is coming to explore missionary opportunities. Also joining us will be a representative of the Diocese of Gibraltar.

I am excited. After a hiatus of a year we are beginning to see a new series of partner in mission relationships emerging. It is for this that I have worked over the whole of last year and more. The changes in the diocese of Peru since Bishop Godfrey has left have been many. In this time the Diocese, under the leadership of Bishop Jorge Aguilar, has completed a detailed evaluation of the state of the Diocese. They have allied themselves very strongly with the Province of South America. They have abandoned any idea of becoming a separate province of the Anglican Communion, which was proposed about two years ago. They have established goals for clergy and lay people, which put spiritual formation, evangelism and discipleship as Anglican Christians at the forefront. They have planned a series of teaching occasions over the course of the next year.

Lima will be very different from Vermont. Today we are being blanketed by snow. Tomorrow night I shall be in hot and muggy Lima. This is one of the hottest summers on record for them. This is made worse by severe water shortages caused by damaging rains that have blocked the water systems.

Please pray for safe travels, good and useful conversations and a renewal of partnership relations.

Ian

5 Ways to Celebrate World Mission Sunday

5 Ways to Celebrate World Mission Sunday

Partner with SAMS this World Mission Sunday. Discover the different ways you can celebrate mission and raise awareness in your own community.

World Mission Sunday is a day for churches to come together to reflect on the importance of global mission and how they can get involved as a congregation. It is tradition in the Episcopal and Anglican Church to celebrate around Epiphany, which is February 27th this year. As an Anglican Global Mission Partner, SAMS-USA seeks to raise awareness of the importance of global missions and the support of missionaries. In Acts 1:8 Jesus calls us to participate in world-wide mission, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.” Here are five ways you and your church or diocese can participate in World Mission Sunday this year:

  1. Hold a dedicated service: Celebrate and raise awareness as a church by using this Litany for World Mission. Here are some resources for you to use.
  2. Educate: Invite a missionary to speak during or after church, and educate your congregation about what is happening overseas. Want to learn more about missions, Five Talentshas listed their favorite mission books here.
  3. Be stewards of mission: Mission does not just have to be overseas. Encourage your congregation to participate in mission right where they live. Organize a mission day by serving a ministry that your church has a heart for.
  4. Take up a special offering: On the day you celebrate World Mission Sunday, consider collecting a special gift for the missionaries or ministries you support.
  5. Pray: Pray for how God is calling your congregation to participate in global mission. Pray for the missionaries in your church. Pray for those who are discerning the call as a missionary.

We encourage you to be a witness of mission this year. Observe World Mission Sunday right where you are by sharing testimony, prayer, stewardship, and education about missions in your church.

If you are interested in receiving printed material to promote missions in congregation, contact the SAMS-USA office today at 724-266-0669.

Prayerfully consider partnering with SAMS this year for World Mission Sunday by giving to the Great Commission Fund through this Virtual Care Package that will raise up, support, and send missionaries in the name of Jesus Christ:

$100 provides a retreat for a missionary

$50 equips 5 missionaries with a day of cross-cultural training

$25 provides a home staff member with a one-day staff retreat

I Am an Immigrant

 

I made it a policy not to talk about politics—South African or American—on this blog, but I cannot keep silent by the recent events in the USA, concerning immigration.

Yesterday in chapel, we had a Thanksgiving Eucharist for the 10th-anniversary of Growing the Church (GtC), the organisation with whom my husband and I serve on the field. In lieu of a homily, staff members shared some of their favourite stories about GtC, especially those that displayed God’s provision. When it was my turn to share, I broke down in tears. I couldn’t believe how emotional I became. I talked about my first encounters with the GtC staff and my earliest days at GtC, about how everyone had welcomed me with opened arms.

You see; I am an immigrant. I know what it feels like to leave one’s beloved family, country, and culture and move half away across the world. I know what it feels like to quit a good job and head into the unknown of financial security. I know what it’s like to completely uproot, to sell one’s possessions and to arrive in a new country, carrying only three suitcases and two carry-on bags.

I am a foreigner. I know what it’s like to learn how to grocery shop again, learning new foods, how to read labels, new terminology, a new system of weight and volume. I know what’s like to learn to drive on the left side of the road and to learn different rules of the road. I know what it’s like to struggle to communicate, to understand people and for them to understand me. I know what it’s like to feel so homesick at times that the feeling feels almost like physical pain.

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Within a month of my arrival in Cape Town, I was in George, helping out with a Rooted in Jesus training. We were in an Afrikaans-speaking community, and all the parishioners, including the ones in this group, welcomed me with opened arms.

I am an immigrant. I know what it feels like to be welcomed with opened arms and with love, for people to be happy that I am here, for people to have me over for dinners and braais and to take me for walks on the beach. I know what it feels like to receive needful help and advise and guidance from opening a bank account, to cooking, to where to get the best bargains for clothes, to which neighbourhoods to be cautious of, to which doctors to go to for medical help. I know what it’s like for people to be patient with me, as I struggle to communicate in their language. I know what it’s like for people to live out Leviticus 19:34a, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself.” This has been my experience in South Africa, and I can never thank my friends, family, colleagues, parish family, and all the countless churches, parishioners, priests, bishops, students and other individuals who have welcomed and loved me as one of their own.

 

Back in Davao for a Time

As our last newsletter explained, we are returning to North America for the sake of Sora’s health and our kids’ education and well-being. But we are stopping in Davao until the 3rd of February to see old friends, resume old ministries, and enjoy a place that is full of happy memories for our family.

We worshipped with Davao Covenant Reformed Church on Sunday. Hosanna was glad to see Ate Flor and Ate Juvie, and they were happy to see her:

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Matt got together with some of his former Greek students. They plan to meet five or six times while we are in Davao. Here they are reading Romans 3 and 4 together in Greek:

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Hosanna loves Abreeza Mall, so we took her there. She has a big heart:

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Matt has been asked to preach at Davao Covenant Reformed Church next Sunday. He’ll be preaching on the book of Jonah.

Sora also is back in the saddle. She’s teaching a class on herbs to the student midwives at the clinic where she used to work.
As we prepare to leave the mission field for the foreseeable future, we are delighted to be here in Davao, and fully expect to return again in later years.

Advent 2016 Update

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Happy Advent to you! We’re grateful for this season in the church year of anticipation, hope, and repentance.

For both Nate and me, Agape Year has been a great teacher for hopeful anticipation. Five years ago, Nate and I met on St. Nicholas Day and shared a call to mission. One year ago, we accepted the call to start and direct Agape Year from the Anglican Global Mission Partners. Often we stand in wonder of how God has heard our prayers. Often we are caught in dismay, knowing it is only through His grace we are sustained. His grace has kept us while we are developing partners and the program and living our daily life of full-time work and child rearing. This year we’ve seen God bring His vision into greater formation and anticipate seeing it more fully fleshed out this year. So, we enter this season undergirded with grace and walking in faith.

In faith, we are accepting applications for Fall of 2017 to be our first cohort. (agapeyear.org/apply). Please pass along this application to 18-21 year olds you think God may be leading to participate.

In faith, we are hopeful to have our full support raised by March 1. At that point, Nate will be able to leave Trader Joe’s and dedicate his full energy to Agape Year. We currently have 45% of monthly support raised, but are still in need of $3000 per month in support. Would you join us? Would you help us connect to others who God may be calling to be a part of Agape Year? Praise be to God, He has provided what we need for our start up costs. We stand amazed.

A few highlights from the last few months:

  • We welcomed Anne Elisabeth, 9lbs 22inches, to our family on October 31. She taught us a lot about anticipation, as she was 10 days past her due date. She’s lovely and well loved by her brother and parents.
  • We visited the D.C./Baltimore area in September to meet with potential partners for Agape Year. It was a great time of encouragement and engagement. One refrain we heard was how Agape Year is an answer to prayer for youth, parents, and youth directors! Thanks be to God!
  • We were able to participate in our parish retreat and grow in relationship with our church family and other missionaries our church supports. We were also able to meet with Archbishop Foley Beach to share the vision of Agape Year.
  • We enjoyed having lunch with Bishop Jim and Mother Shari Hobby, and were encouraged by their excitement for Agape Year and its potential for shaping future church leaders.

As 2016 draws to a close, we are incredibly grateful for the support and care our community has offered us. We look forward with great expectation to what 2017 will hold for us and for Agape Year.

In Him,

Erika