This summer marks our 10th anniversary of saying, “Yes Lord, send me” through our sending agency SAMS and the beginning of our relationship with the people of Brazil as SAMS missionaries.
Agape Year seeks a missional minded, Gospel-centric individual to serve the future church by sharing life, ministry and gifts with gap year fellows (18-20 year old) for a 5 month* (January-May 2019*) apprenticeship.
This apprenticeship will encourage the growth of spiritual gifts, engage in deep relational ministry, and have opportunities to see the wealth of imagination in God’s kingdom. From serving with the Church overseas (In 2018-2019, we will be serving with the Diocese of Singapore in Chiang Mai, Thailand) to engaging in parishes’ calls throughout the country, the apprentice will grow their own personal network and understanding of call. This apprenticeship is ideal for an individual who holds the global church and mission in high regard, adheres to and desires to practice spiritual disciplines in the context of community, and has affection for young adults in transition.
In the future, Agape Year hopes that an apprentice will be called to plant a second Agape Year in another hub of Anglicanism in the United States.
An apprentice will:
*There is an option of extending this internship to September-May.
…on or off the field (other than giving them money):
Originally published here
Missionaries are often able to serve because of the generosity of financial partners, but rates of missionary burnout/attrition suggest that missionaries may need more than financial support alone. I recently returned from seven months of missionary service in the Solomon Islands, which can be an incredibly isolated geographical region. For more than three months I was isolated culturally and linguistically; I could count on one hand the number of minutes I spoke with a fellow native-English speaker. Now that my wife Kyria and I are itinerating, we’ve had some opportunities to connect with some of our supporters who have an intuitive understanding of how to provide support to missionaries beyond opening up their wallets. The following are some ideas for how to support missionaries both on and off the field.
1. Read, pray through, and respond to your missionary’s prayer requests.We serve only by God’s power working in us. While I was in the Solomon Islands I felt the prayers of God’s people on my behalf. This was most noticeable in terms of my health and safety. Apart from a bad case of tonsillitis, I was as healthy or healthier than I often am while at home in the States. When I was sick, I sent out prayer requests to supporters. Their words of encouragement were helpful to me emotionally, and I quickly recovered from the sickness.
2. Read and respond to their newsletters. Many of us are inundated with media and our inboxes are filled to the rafters, but for Kyria and me, when supporters read our newsletters and write back to us about them, we feel encouraged and listened to. Sometimes a simple, “I read your newsletter,” “Good to hear from you,” or “we are praying for [insert something mentioned in the newsletter],” can really help us to feel listened to. Even a one liner lets us know that someone out there is reading our newsletters—which take a lot of time and effort to put together!
3. Act as a liaison between a missionary and your church. Pastors and priests these days have a lot of work on their plates. While itinerating, communicating with churches can be a real challenge. Sometimes a lay leader within a church is better equipped to connect missionaries than their rector. Having a point of contact with a new (or existing) congregation can really save a missionary a lot of stress (besides a lot of phone calls). Offer to “put in a good word” to a busy rector on behalf of a missionary or consider organizing a weekend for them to visit your church. This should all be done, of course, by utilizing the existing channels and structure of the local church. Often a member of a local congregation has a better feel for the existing system than a missionary on the outside.
4. Host a gathering of your friends who might be interested in supporting a missionary (again, either financially or by other means). Visiting churches is not always the easiest way to connect with people. Sometimes an informal meal at someone’s house can be a more intimate way of sharing about the work God has called us to. These kinds of informal gatherings have allowed Kyria and me to share more openly about some of the challenges and privileges of missionary work. These kinds of meals are often less constrained by time than more formal events at churches, and they tend to feel a lot more personal.
5. Send missionaries handwritten letters and care-packages. It may seem old fashioned, but it was a real encouragement whenever I received STAMPED MAIL in the Solomon Islands. I received some hand-written cards for Christmas (sent months in advance) as well as some hand-written letters. Stops at the post-office were frequently routine; I wasn’t expecting to get anything. What a joy to head into town (an all-day, and often STRESSFUL process) and to discover a treasure waiting for me at the local post-office. Once I even received coffee, candy, and hot sauce! One caveat to this—it is best to know the situation a missionary is in before sending them a package. Some countries and contexts make receiving a package more of a hassle than it is worth; sometimes missionaries have to pay import fees, cash-on-delivery, or they may not have vehicles to carry packages home.
6. When they come home, help missionaries to enjoy recreation. This past week Kyria and I spent some time with dear friends (and great supporters) in Colorado. They forced us (tongue-in-cheek) to visit the local chocolate shop and hot springs. They were happy to share some of the local attractions, and we were happy to take a break from our usual work, which is not always easy for us. Many missionaries are driven, sometimes to a fault. Depending on the field they serve in, missionaries may or may not have much time for recreation, it may be complicated by cross-cultural pressures, or, in some situations, it may be non-existent. This makes recreation time back in our home culture much more important!
It’s time for another update! Not only do I find it incredible that we are already at the end of July (where did the year go?!), but we are also just over a week away from having been serving here in Belize together for two years. We moved here August 2nd 2016, the day before hurricane Earl, and already two years have gone by. Part of me feels like we were living in our little apartment in Orange County just yesterday, and the other part feels like I’ve lived here forever. God has a way of making every place feel like home. While I can’t say that today’s temperature of 93 degrees (feels like 104) and rising is particularly pleasant, I can say that only one fan is turned on, so I think I’m continuing to make progress! David has meetings in Belize City today, which tend to be exhausting as it’s a two hour drive each way, but I am a little jealous of the few hours he gets in AC during the drive. We can debate when he gets home if AC is worth meetings and 4+ hours of driving, we’ll probably have different answers!
Well, as David said in his last update July had some pretty big events to get excited about. But before I get to July I just want to add that at the end of June my kids had their Spring piano recital right at the end of the semester. They did such a fantastic job and we all had fun! David and I even played a duet to finish off the evening! After the recital we only had a couple more graduation ceremonies for the schools before our exciting week of VBS and the highly anticipated Family Fun Day! Before I tell you how awesome that week went, let me quickly tell you about the graduations.
As you know, we work with three schools here in the Cayo District: St. Andrew’s, St. Hilda’s, and St. Barnabas’. While going to multiple graduation ceremonies might not seem that exciting, I’ve got to say it’s wonderful seeing kids we’ve gotten to know get to complete such a big milestone in their lives and be recognized for their hard work. Here in Belize children are only required to attend school through Standard VI (8th grade in the states), so going to graduations where almost every single kid had applied and been accepted to high school was a very proud moment for us. We see so much potential in each one of the kids God has placed in our lives, and we are very excited to continue working with them this upcoming year!
Ok, so now for the big week in July! Everything started off with Family Fun Day. This day had been planned for months as an exciting start to summer and VBS. One of the very talented members of the St. Andrew’s church committee organized games, food, competitions, and a whole array of activities to make for a full day of fun. Two days before the big Sunday a team from St. Peter’s Cathedral (Tallahassee) came down to help both with the Family Fun Day and VBS. We had so many people working to make sure the day/week was a great success! And praise be to God, it was! Sunday started us loading tons of chairs into the back of our truck and heading out to the park to start worship. I’ve got to say worshiping in a park is a wonderful experience. We had stray dogs walking through and people wandering over just to see what was going on. Following the service David, a couple members of the Tallahassee team, and I headed over to St. Hilda’s for their service before returning to town to join in with the festivities. Besides great food (which makes people come all by itself!), we played lots of old fashioned picnic games like sack races, tug-of-war, watermelon eating contests, and water balloon tosses. We had so many people (adults and kids!) staying for the entire day! Not only was the day tons of fun, filled with laughing, but people were already asking at the end of the day when the church will be having it’s next Family Fun Day. I think the church might have a new tradition!
The following day we started VBS! Our theme for this year was Moses and the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. The kids were broken into three groups; Dan, Simeon, and Judah. Each morning we would all start together in the church for worship. I’ve always thought the songs at VBS are incredibly catchy! They’re usually the songs that you can never get out of your head, and then they top them off with hand motions. Kids love hand motions! After worship we would all separate for Bible stories, sports, and crafts, all related to our theme for the week. The kids always have fun at VBS (it’s a great way to start off their summer vacation), but what David and I enjoy the most is working with the volunteers. Not only did we have the team from Tallahassee here helping, but we had an abundance of Belizean volunteers! One of St. Andrew’s parishioners took on the task of organizing and leading the whole VBS, and then we had another 14 people (mostly youth) come out to help. I was primarily working in the Bible story section, and I got to see two of the youth leaders step up and teach the little kids for the first time. VBS is such a great time to connect with the youth and help raise up new leaders in the church. David and I can’t say thank you enough to the St. Peter’s team for coming all the way to Belize to keep building relationships and provide so much help, as well as a huge thank you to all our volunteers (especially our fearless leader, Ms. Jody Jones!) here in San Ignacio who came together to pull off an amazing week for the kids!
The past couple weeks have mostly consisted of finishing projects, prepping/organizing for our absence (so that everything runs smoothly while we are on vacation), and preparing for our new evening service, which will be starting a couple days after we return from vacation. In our slower summer months, God still has so much going on! Even in all the running around though, we were able to take a day to celebrate David’s birthday with a nice dinner and some Boston Cream Pie cupcakes! Doesn’t he look happy?
And now to update you on what you can be praying for over the next couple months. As many of you know, David has been suffering from a variety of different health issues, from his injured elbow to stress related high blood pressure. Thanks be to God his health is beginning to improve! Please continue to pray for his pressure to consistently stay down and for his elbow to continue healing. Out of the whole year August is our slowest month here in the church. So David and I will be taking our vacation during that month and traveling to a cooler climate. Please pray for safe travels and a relaxing time to re-fresh and de-stress as we prepare for all God has planned for the Fall.
As David mentioned in the last update, the church is growing. Praise God! Thanks to the growth that we are seeing, it is time to start an evening service at St. Andrew’s. This service will be new for the church, but the plan is to have it youth focused and youth run (a way to continue raising up new leaders). Please pray that God will bless this service and fill it with peopled and that he will bring in the youth leaders. Please also pray that we will be able to work out a deal with the football stadium (that is directly behind the church) to ensure that it is not too loud during the service.
One of the things that we are really looking forward to here at the end of the year is to be joined by a “Bridger” family, the Hansens, coming with SAMS, who will be working with us for a year. Evan will be coming in November for a week to look for a house and then in December they will return (Evan, his wife Missy, and their daughter Annabel) to live here for the year of 2019. Please pray for the Hansens as they wrap things up in the states, prepare to move, and continue raising support. We are very excited to get to work with them!
David also mentioned in his last update that we are planning on returning to the states for a few months next year to visit our supporters and continue raising support. Please pray and consider joining our team of supporters (both for prayer and financial support). Please also pray for us as we look at how to prepare for next year. We know that we are only able to serve here in Belize because God has given us amazing partners like you! Thank you for continuing to support and pray for us!
Now before I wrap it up here, I realize that David promised in his last update that I would give you another bug story. Well unfortunately … I never run out of those! Hehe! So here we go. Last week David and I went to a friend’s guest house for a couple days to work in a quieter environment. It was incredibly refreshing! Well when we returned home and started unloading the car I saw a rather large translucent yellow spider in our entryway (think smaller than a tarantula, but larger than a wolf spider). Ok, here’s the thing … I’ve decided to let a few more spiders live in my house since they eat the other bugs. I have an understanding with a spider in my bathroom where he knows he can come out when I’m not there and he has to leave when I come in. It works for us. Well the spider by my front door was considerably larger than my bathroom spider, but he also looked like he might be dead. I decided to ignore him until I finished unloading the car. By that point I also decided that he was a little to big to be a house spider, so I poked him with the umbrella to see if he was even alive. Turns out he was alive, and much bigger once I woke him up. Since I was still in the generous mood of letting him live (bug eater that he was), I decided to get a broom and sweep him outside. I have to add here, that this is the same type of spider that was in my house when we moved in two years ago and David had to dig out under the stairs just to kill him before I would come down. So, progress. Well, once I had the broom I started to slowly push him towards the door. Here’s the thing … he didn’t want to go. In fact, he didn’t like this plan at all. I’m not saying he tried to run away. No. That freaky, huge spider, decided to fight the broom! Once I started pushing he turned back and ran at the broom, with his freaky little pincers going crazy! I’ve always been told, “They’re more scared of you than you are of them …” I call shenanigans! This spider was not scared. This spider thought he could beat a broom! The faster I would sweep, the faster he ran at me. As I progressed in my freaking out, David came over, grabbed the broom, shot the spider outside with enough force that he was incapable of returning. I’m not saying he “killed it”, but it died. While I’m still going to let some spiders live in my house, assuming they can follow the rules, that spider has settled the fate for all his particular kind. A spider who is willing to fight a broom has to die! But don’t worry, my bathroom spider is alive and well!