October Update and Funny Things

First, if you haven’t checked out Evan’s last blogpost which features Annabelle as a “Pom Pom Girl” in her school parade – go check it out! Being here in September, a month filled with national pride and festivities, was fun and interesting. I have never lived anywhere that has so many parades. In our town alone there must have been at least six separate parades. We caught bits of at least three and heard many of them. We got to see a wonderful array of cultural traditions and it was grand.

We are currently in the season of Harvest. It is a beautiful time of thanksgiving and is celebrated in the churches and schools. In the services, the children present poems, songs, dances, and process up to the altar with gifts of fruits, vegetables, and sweet baked goods. Even the children who do not normally care for church or chapel services seem to love Harvest time. There are quite a number of children who have to literally fight to have food in their homes and who are hungry frequently – many of whom are developmentally behind and physically stunted due to lack of nutrition. It is a joyful remembrance and a reminder for all of us that God is the One who provides from His bounty and that we must be grateful for what we have. Even with the drought this year the altars were overflowing.

Annabelle and I got to travel on a bus to Diocesan Day (a day for the entire Anglican Church of Belize) in Dangriga. It was a very long day and by the end we were both unbelievably dirty. But it was so much fun too! We got to participate in a huge church service in an outdoor basketball court. We also got to meet the Bishop of Belize, the second topmost politician, and Annabelle got to play some games and we spent a lot of time with our dear friends who go to the village church and have two children about Annabelle’s age. I’m so glad we got to be here for that event.

There are truly countless stories of tragedy, and hope, and beauty, and laughter, from my counseling, from conversations with people in the street, from all around. There are many reasons we came here but the rhythm of life we have here is slower and simpler and we are still relishing being able to be present here. We are going to soak up what we can over the next two months before we head back.

Another Installment of Funny Things

If you say, “Hey Babe” or “Good afternoon Beautiful” to me when I pass you on the street, I have resolved to be rude (which goes against every grain of manners I possess). I do not look. I do not respond. I pretend as though you have said nothing. If you call to me a couple of times and when I ignore you, you say, “My friend likes you and wants your number,” I will respond, “Oh, ok, my husband will be interested to hear that.” And I continue on my merry way with a smile on my face. When I arrive home, I will inform said ‘husband’ that such an interaction just occurred. Honestly though, I don’t relish these moments, but they are far better than the 4.5 months I spent in Sierra Leone back in my early twenties. I had wondered how it would be here in Belize and it is much better. Back then I easily got dozens of marriage proposals every day from strangers on the streets of Freetown and I found it exhausting and frustrating by the end of the day.

We have all been dewormed. In the Fall and the Spring at St. Andrews School they deworm all the children. Evan and I have been meaning to get dewormed for months now… and we finally did it this week. They are some intense pills for adults – six different doses. Anyway, it was overdue! I feel a bit like a dog or a cat but that’s just life here. We’ve been told this particular medication is not available in the U.S. so we’ll be buying some to bring back with us for a session after we return. More deworming to look forward to.

Speaking of worms… one of the things I miss a lot from the U.S. is our compost pit. Ever since we moved to Charlottesville we have had compost piles. The one when we had pet bunnies was a particularly good one, but I liked not having all that vegetable and fruit and eggshell waste going to waste. 😊 It’s been difficult for me in a place with significantly depleted soil to be throwing all our good vegetation scraps into the rubbish. So, several months ago I started a compost bucket. However, since where we are renting, I didn’t have a good spot to dump the compost and eventually it got maggots (an unbelievable amount of creepy, crawly, slimy pale buddies) and it started to smell awful. After Evan disposed of it and we still smelled it for days he put his foot down. Alas, that was the end of composting here. If we lived on our own land or even just had more space around our house, I’d be a crazy compost lady. Maybe one day my dream will come true…

Last, but certainly not least for funny things, Evan had to go back to the States for a funeral last week. He did a video chat with us from the Atlanta airport. He flipped the camera around and said to Annabelle, “Look where I am!” (meaning the airport). Annabelle immediately said, “Woah, look at all those white people!”

And so dear ones, it is going to be an interesting few months. With each passing day our minds turn more and more to the winding down of things here, making an international move, and readjusting to life back in the U.S.A. For Annabelle, of course, a year is a seventh of her life and this has been no small adventure. While she is anxious to get back to the U.S. and especially anxious to see all those she loves, we know she will miss things about life and people here. We had another rough patch with school a couple of weeks ago. However, after processing what happened and working through it, I think she seems to be better and happier at school than she was previously, and I think there are little friends she will miss quite a lot. Please continue to pray on the school-front for her.

Please also continue to pray for us as there are so many things that will be happening here. Starting tomorrow, over the next five weeks there will be two different priests visiting from the States and the Bishop of Belize will also be joining us one Sunday. We are so glad they are coming and it will certainly be a change of pace!

We continue to be so grateful for each of you. I’ve heard from so many who continue to read these writings and who continue to pray for us. Thank you!

5 Things Young Adults Should Know about Serving as a Missionary

5 Things Young Adults Should Know about Serving as a Missionary

We talked with SAMS Missionary April Sylvester currently serving in Zambia to learn what Young Adults should know about serving as a missionary overseas. Here are five things she wants you to know:

1. Some days will be super busy and exciting! Check out this video of what mission is like in Zambia where I mentor students in a Gap Year program.

2. But other days may not be exciting at all, in fact, most days may not be.

Whenever I tell people I live and serve in Zambia, one of the first reactions is always “Wow that must be exciting!” Well yes and no. In my opinion, if we are doing missions well, we are building a life where we live (whether in America or overseas). And building a life means making things normal and doing mundane things. It means building relationships and routines. It means doing things like grocery shopping and paying car insurance bills. Yes, doing those things may look different than in America, but they will be just as routine and mundane. So your life serving overseas will most likely be just as “exciting” as your life at home. But that’s a good thing! It means you’re doing it right.

3. When you build a life where you serve, you will create lasting and meaningful relationships.

Living in a foreign and new place can be a bit intimidating at first. Reaching out to form friendships can even be a bit taxing, but God placed you in a certain place for a reason. He will put people in your path who will help you, love you, and teach you. You will also help, love, and teach them over things like music or food, but even more importantly Jesus. You will talk about deep and sometimes difficult things as you lead others closer to Jesus and grow together in faith.

4. You will miss important things going on at home – especially if you are a young person like me.

Lots of important life events happen in our 20s and 30s. So if you are a young missionary, you just have to know that that is part of the sacrifice of deciding to live a couple thousand dollars worth of a plane ride away from friends and family. I have had to miss countless weddings. Even those of my best friends. I have missed my brother and sister’s graduation and even my grandmother’s funeral. You will want to be back for every one of these landmarks, but with just one trip home per year, you will have to pick and choose. And there will also be unplanned events that you will have to miss…I was in Zambia when my mom suddenly passed away. And while I made it back for her funeral, my heart still breaks thinking that I didn’t get to hug her like the rest of my family on the day of her stroke. Mourning missing life events comes with the territory of saying yes to the call.

5. You will get your hands dirty.

We took a day trip to a small village. It was the first day of evangelism. As we approached two women building a mud house with their bare hands.  As one team member began to ask them questions like “Do you know God? Do you attend church?” another team member noticed their yellow water cans were empty. He picked them up and walked to fill them, returning with sweat pouring down his face, his hands dirty, and water all over his jeans from the containers sloshing. At that moment I realized that is the kind of missionary I wanted to be. It is not uncommon for church service to be 5 hours long and school is notoriously lecture-based. So how many times do we come across someone who is not concerned with words but is willing to get down into the mud of life with us? It means being able to really see people and their needs. Sometimes you will sweat, learn, and love your way towards that goal.

Are you a young adult or know a young adult that is interested in serving cross-culturally? Meet up with SAMS at Urbana 2018 Missions Conference, an eye-opening global missions conference, a sacred space for college and graduate students, faculty, and church leaders to hear God’s call. Register here and drop a comment below to let us know if you will be attending!

April Sylvester

SAMS Missionary to Zambia

April is involved in an outreach ministry to Zambian youth that involves discipleship and mission training. Her home church is Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. Support April here.

5 Mission-minded Books to Read

5 Mission-minded Books to Read

Here is a short list of books that focus on mission and other related topics. What mission focused books have you read and recommend? Leave a comment!

 

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness

The Call continues to stand as a classic, reflective work on life’s purpose. Os Guinness goes beyond our surface understanding of God’s call and addresses the fact that God has a specific calling for our individual lives.

Why am I here? What is God’s call in my life? How do I fit God’s call with my own individuality? How should God’s calling affect my career, my plans for the future, my concepts of success?  According to Guinness, “No idea short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose and fulfillment.” With tens of thousands of readers to date, The Call is for all who desire a purposeful, intentional life of faith.

 

Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed. Elisabeth Elliot is also a founding member of SAMS-USA.

 

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good.

But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to himself.

Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

 

Getting Sent: A relational approach to support raising by Pete Sommer

Raising support is one of the most difficult challenges facing Christians in ministry. Fears of rejection, concerns about biblical validity, feelings of not being deserving, anxiety about limited resources can all block us from obtaining the means to fulfill our calling.

Getting Sent both affirms that God uses the Christian community to send us into ministry and demystifies the process. This down-to-earth handbook offers a clear, biblical perspective, gives step-by-step instructions on how to assemble the tools unique to each person’s support-raising task, explains exactly why people do and don’t give, and much more

 

Waterbuffalo Theology

by Kosuke Koyama

Kosuke Koyama was a Japanese theologian and former missionary to northern Thailand. Waterbuffalo Theology gives a very interesting picture of cross-cultural missions with some of the theological and practical issues that arise in regard to contextualization.

Bridging Cultures: What You Need to Know about Short-term Mission

Bridging Cultures: What You Need to Know about Short-term Mission

What if you are looking for missionary experience, but you are not ready for a year-long commitment? Or perhaps you are discerning if long-term service is where God is calling you. SAMS has a short-term missionary program that will help you discern the next steps in your vocation and explore your potential missionary call. Are you ready to become a Missionary Bridger?

What is a Bridger?

A Bridger expands the bridge of service between missionaries and churches across the world!

What’s the point?

You will meet the desire for serving longer than traditional short-term mission work of two weeks, yet shorter than missionary service of three years.  Some want to extend ministry for a longer period of time than a short-term mission offers while others want to discern further the Lord’s calling for long-term missionary service.

How does a Bridger internship work?

Missionary Bridgers are partnered with and mentored by an experienced SAMS long-term missionary.  Missionary Bridgers have served with missionaries in Africa, Europe, South America, and Central America. SAMS’ Missionary Bridgers are often assigned a “Cultural Link Person” from their host country who will help them manage ordinary life experiences like going to the bank, locating a store, or navigating transportation.  Some Missionary Bridgers will also have formal language lessons.

How old do I have to be?

SAMS sends Missionary Bridgers from many age groups—pre-career, mid-career, and post-career.  To be considered for a SAMS internship, it is necessary for the applicant to have completed high school or the equivalent of high schoolat least one year beofre beginning the program.  You must be at least 18 years old at the beginning of your internship.  Some of our applicants are college graduates, currently enrolled in college, or have no college experience at all.   We look for Christians who are seeking God’s will for their lives and we consider life experiences as indicators of the applicant’s qualification to serve as a SAMS Missionary Bridger.

What is required to be a Bridger?

Accepted Missionary Bridgers will be required to attend a Missionary Bridger Training Workshop (3-day intensive conference in Ambridge, PA).  The primary focus of this workshop is to build relationships with Missionary Bridger applicants so that we can better serve you as you serve Christ in your later determined host country.  In the workshop we will discuss individual Missionary Bridger placement, expectations for the placement, cultural adaptation and, because Missionary Bridgers raise their own financial support like our long-term missionaries, we will develop your personal intern budget and prepare you to start raising your own support.  The training will be offered periodically so that at least six months prior to your departure date, you will be prepared for your placement and to raise financial and prayer support.

What can I except to achieve?

Grow personally in all aspects, especially spiritually as you face a new environment and the challenges that accompany it.

Expand your vision of God at work in the world.

Discover and develop gifts for ministry, increasing your effectiveness for wherever God calls you.

Discern next steps in your vocation, and particularly explore potential missionary call.

Offer yourself as a living sacrifice serving others under the guidance of your missionary mentor.

Build Christ-centered relationships with those God calls you.

Encourage your sending church by being an extension of their ministry and seeking to bridge the church to the world.

So, how do I sign up?

If you are interested in pursuing a Missionary Bridger internship with SAMS, please contact Lynn, SAMS Short-term Missions Coordinator at lynnbouterse@sams-usa.org.

 

Allen Gardiner Day: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you!

Allen Gardiner Day: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you!

Today has been established as Allen Gardiner Day. Allen Gardiner is the founder of SAMS. He felt the call to bring the Gospel to the southernmost part of South America. Ultimately, Gardiner, along with many other faithful servants, gave his life to the mission. A prayer from Gardiner’s journal before his death:

Grant, O Lord,  that we may be instrumental in commencing this great and blessed work, but shouldest Thou see fit in Thy providence to hedge up our way, and that we should even languish and die here, I beseech Thee to raise up others, and send forth labourers into this harvest.

A history of SAMS-USA:

1844: In response to God’s call, English naval officer Allen Gardiner sailed around the globe and then to the Yaghans in America. Charles Darwin said of the Yaghans, “Viewing such men, one can hardly make oneself believe they are fellow creatures and inhabitants of the same world.” In contrast, Allen saw them as fellow human beings in need of the Gospel. Six others joined him on mission to share the grace of Christ. Stranded on a barren shore with limited supplies, Allen and his crew all gave their lives for the mission. In Allen’s journal, we read that they lifted up prayers to the Lord through all of their challenges and petitioned others to bring the Gospel to that remote place. Allen Gardiner eventually became known as the founder of the South American Missionary Society (SAMS) due to this trip to the Yaghans.

The London Times called the missions to South America a foolish cause, but in the darkest moment, God raised up a young seventeen-old named Thomas Bridges. He visited the Yaghan settlements in complete weakness and vulnerability. Unthreatened by Bridges, and moved by the forgiveness he brought, the Yaghans, at last, received the Good News. Those who were baptized included several who had killed Bridges’ friends. A short while later a ship sank offshore, but the Yaghans who in the past would have killed the sailors, risked their lives to save them. Their transformation in Christ was so dramatic that even Darwin became a committed giver to SAMS.

1975: The Lord was faithful in raising up other to be sent into the harvest over the following centuries extending beyond England to many countries including the Americas.

1976: A Great Commission focused group of Episcopalians formed SAMS-USA with a purpose to send missionaries to be witnesses and to make disciples for Jesus Christ, in fellowship with the Anglican Church, endeavoring to follow the work of the South America Missionary Society in Great Britain. The first SAMS-USA missionaries were John and Susan Harvard.

1977-1986: During this time SAMS sent 68 missionaries into the field

1987: SAMS-USA office moved from Union Mills, North Carolina, to a new home in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

1996: This year marked an increased involvement of the church in their sending role, and long-term missionaries more than tripled from the low in this decade.

2006: SAMS created collaborative partnerships, such as our sending agreement with Sharing Of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) and the formation of the Anglican Global Missions Partners.

2007: The Church Mission Society (USA) merged into SAMS-USA, extending further the Society’s relational connections with Anglicans around the world. There are more opportunities to use all types of vocational experiences and spiritual gifting to minister incarnationally in word and deed.

Today: SAMS-USA’s ministry scope, extending from the Americas to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, is reflected in our new name: The Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders. SAMS has more than 90 missionaries serving in over 20 countries around the globe sharing the grace of Jesus Christ.

4 Ways You Can Serve: A Visit From SAMS Missionary Cathy Donahoe

4 Ways You Can Serve: A Visit From SAMS Missionary Cathy Donahoe

SAMS’ long-term missionaries will go on Home Ministry Assignments (HMA) every few years to reconnect and visit with family, their home church, and Senders. SAMS Missionaries also stop into the SAMS Home Office to share their ministry happenings and to debrief their time in the field.

Cathy (right) visits the SAMS Office and gifts Associate Director with a collage of ministry photos from the Dominican Republic.

Recently, Cathy Donahoe, who serves in the Dominican Republic, made her journey back to the States to spend time with her Senders and the churches that are involved in her ministry.  Cathy serves in several ministries in the Dominican Republic. She is a physical therapist, teaching classes at the university in the capital city. She also has a consolation ministry in her neighborhood, which involves members of her church bringing words of comfort and scripture to those in the community. In the recent years, Cathy took on a construction ministry, helping restores homes in the community that were affected by last year’s hurricane.

She has a full schedule in the Dominican Republic, making Home Ministry Assignment an important time of rest and renewal, and while the HMA calendar can fill up fast, there are ways to help your missionary during this transitional time. Here are four ways you can serve them:

  1. Set up a time to Share: As a church, give your missionary a designated time during the service to share how the Lord is working through their ministry. It allows those who support them to hear about how their prayers and giving have contributed. It also may inspire new people to get involved.
  2. Invite Missionaries to join your Bible study: This is a time of refreshment in the Lord for missionaries, but they may have been away for a long period of time, making it difficult to get connected with a community. Reach out and invite them to take part in your prayer or Bible Study group.
  3. Ask Intentional Questions: Let your missionary know that you want to hear about their ministry.  By showing an interest in the details of their ministry, you are letting missionaries know you care about their life and work. Some examples are:
    • What is your typical day like for you?
    • How have you seen God work in a person’s life while on the field?
    • How can I be praying for you?
  4. Be an active Listener: Sometimes just sitting and listening to someone is all the help they need. According to Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo active listening says, “I am with you. I will take the time. I will put energy into really hearing you, not just what your surface words are saying.”

What are some ways you have served missionaries on home assignment? Missionaries, what’s a way someone has really blessed you during this time? Leave a comment!