Putting Together the Jigsaw Puzzle

thFor some time now our two youngest children have been accompanying Angie on her volunteer day in the orphanage.  They usually do not do much volunteering being 6 and 7 years old.  Mostly they go to play with their friends.  So the Dreamers know the Washington kids.

One of the things that I enjoy most about working with the 14 children in The House of Dreams Orphanage is that we get to be there as they try and make sense of the world around them.  I call it the jigsaw puzzle of life.

A 1,000 piece puzzle comes together disjointed and separated as we try our best to put the pieces together so they make sense. The worst thing in the worl10406774_10202980778855316_1677886519754315373_nd is working all week to put together a puzzle only to find out at the end that there are missing pieces. We have the privilege to help supply some of the missing pieces to the kids at The House of Dreams.  

Recently Shirley, one of the dreamers, asked Angie a question to help her put together her jigsaw puzzle.

“Where do your children come from?” Her head cocked to one side as she looked at one of the pieces.

“Are they adopted?” Her forehead crinkled ever so slightly as she tried to reason together the seemingly disjointed pieces.    

“One of them is adopted,” Angie said.

“Which one?” Shirley asked. Her face relaxed a bit so that the new information could sink in.

With each piece of the puzzle she is not simply answering questions; she is making sense of the world, of her life.  That is one of the blessings we have working with the children in orphanage.  We get to be present when they are making sense of their world. 

 

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Special Appeal – Retroactive Salaries

panoramica-del-tunariIf you have been following us over the last several years you have seen that one of our biggest challenges in working in Bolivia is the ever increasing government requirements of employers.   Last year if it was not for the generosity of several of our friends and family we would have not been able to pay the triple salary for all employees at the end of the year that the government decreed for the final month of the year. We are so very grateful to all who gave so sacrificially to help us meet that need. For a mom and pop ministry trying to stay alive your generosity made all of the difference. 

With this letter I am writing you yet another appeal for a similar situation. This time it is a 10% salary increase decreed by the government, which is retroactive.  The government has made yet another decree that requires all businesses to pay a mandatory 10% salary increase for all employees.  Unfortunately the government does not consider a difference between those who work in the social help sectors different from the local businesses.  So we are required to pay the increase.  Also the decree is retroactive so it is to be paid from the month of January 2014.   

Roughly the need is $2,900 for the employees in our Christian school, orphanage, and ministry office.  I do realize that giving to government requirements are not the most exciting thing to give towards, but if you are able to help please do so.

The more we pray about it the more we come to the assurance that if this is something that is required by the government for us to continue the ministry in Bolivia we are sure that God has had these challenges in mind and also has supplied for the need through people like you. 

Our deadline to supply the need is by the end of the month so if you can help please let us know.  You can give by following the instructions below. Thank you so much again for standing in faith with us that these needs are meet and more lives are impacted in Bolivia. 

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Here are the instructions on how you can give to us: 

If you need a tax-receipt:  If you need credit for your receipt Encouragers International is able to provide that for you.  Simply follow these instructions:

(1) Give online through paypal: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=5LGBSM2UFXWVL

(2) You can send a check payable to: Encourage International.  Our names cannot appear anywhere on the check. To make things easier we are going to receive all of the checks in our PO BOX in Missouri and forward them to Encouragers.

Make the check payable to:  Encouragers International

Mail the check to:  Christ Nation Ministries PO BOX 8644 St. Joseph, Missouri 64508

If you do not need a tax-receipt:  Some of our supporters do not need a tax-receipt for their giving.  If you do not need a receipt you can simply give directly to us.  The benefit for us is that we do not have to pay 10% to our service organization.  You can give simply by:

(1)  If you do not need a tax-deductible receipt (you can save us 10%): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=DAZU24EPGC3J2

(2)  Send a Check Payable to DaRonn Washington to PO BOX 8644 St. Joseph, MO 64508

Remember if you give this way you will not get tax-credit for your giving.

EXTRA OPTIONS:  We are also able to offer that your on-line gift is reoccurring and also provide you with a reminder each month to send your gift in if needed.  Simply let us know if you need any of these services.

Thank you again so much for partnering with us.  Whether you are helping the church, orphanage, school or our personal family we want you to know that your generosity makes all the difference.

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10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You

Angie passed me this blog a few days ago from Adam Mosley and it really hit home with some of the struggles we have on the missions field. Though I do not agree with everything in the article the majority of it is very accurate with the challenges we face on a daily basis.  Thought that I would share it.   

Being a missionary is hard work. Everybody knows that. But the things we think of as the hard parts – lack of modern amenities, exposure to disease, and the like – only begin to scratch the surface of the difficulties of real missionary life. Often, it is the things left unsaid that really begin to erode the passion and soul of a missionary. Here are just a few of those things…

1. THEY DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO WRITE…BUT THEY DO IT FOR YOU.

WHAT THEY SAY

Have you read my latest newsletter?

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Newsletters, blog posts, website updates – all the “experts” tell me that I need to be sending you fresh content on a regular basis so you won’t forget about me. But here’s the thing…writing is hard, especially for those who aren’t natural writers. You know what else is hard? HTML, CSS, PHP, and a bunch of other tech-geek stuff that you have to learn about just to make a decent-looking website or email. I really want to tell you what’s going on, but it’s hard to turn out gripping narratives while I have a sick child asleep in my lap. And if I have to look up how to code a “mailto” link one more time, I’m going to scream!

2. FACEBOOK “LIKES” DON’T PAY THE BILLS.

WHAT THEY SAY

Thank you so much for the encouragement!

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

I’m glad that you liked my Facebook status. I really am. The thing is, when I say we need $1,200 by the end of the week to pay the school fees for orphaned children, I’m talking about actual dollars and actual need. Contrary to the rumors, Bill Gates doesn’t donate a dollar for every Like. That part is up to you. So, the next time you Like my status, consider sending a few bucks my way too.

3. THEY ASK FOR MONEY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m trusting God to provide, and I’m so thankful for our donors.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Lest you think #2 sounded a little whiny and money-hungry, you should know that I truly despise asking for money. I always have. And now I have to ask for it almost all the time. Even when I’m not asking for it, I’m thinking about asking for it. There are never enough funds to do all the good I’m trying to do, and I live with a nagging feeling that the one person I don’t ask is the one who would have written the big check. So, when I ask for money, know that I do so with fear and trembling.

4. YOU’LL NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEIR WORST DAYS.

worst-days

WHAT THEY SAY

Please pray for me. It has been a challenging week.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Things are pretty bad here. If I told you what’s really going on, you would either come rescue me, or think I was exaggerating. If you heard some of the things I’ve said out loud, you might question my salvation. If you knew some of the thoughts I’ve had rattling around in my head, you might question my sanity. Sometimes good days are hard to come by, but I don’t dare tell you the worst. If I did, you would probably tell me to throw in the towel.

5. THEY NEED A VACATION…BUT WON’T TELL YOU IF THEY TAKE ONE.

WHAT THEY SAY

I just need a time of refreshing.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

After 2 or 3 years of hard work, most people feel like they deserve a little break. Take the family to the beach. Visit a theme park, a national park, or Park City. I would love a vacation, but honestly, I feel guilty “pampering” myself, rather than putting all my time and resources into the ministry. On top of that, I know some people will judge me if my vacation is “too nice.” If I scrape and save pennies for 5 years so I can spend a week on an exotic island, you’ll never hear about it, because I can’t handle the snarky, “It must be nice” comments (the ones you’ll say to my face), or, “My donations paid for your vacation” (which you’ll think, but not say out lout – at least not to me). So, I keep some great stuff to myself for fear of being judged.

6. HOSTING TEAMS IS A NIGHTMARE.

teams

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m so excited about your team coming!

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Bless your heart. You think you’re doing me a favor. Thirty people show up at my door and expect me to provide transportation, food, lodging, sight-seeing, and a list of service projects a mile long. You’re here to “help.” The thing is, the other 51 weeks out of the year, we manage to do what needs to be done here just fine. That is, except for the time we spend working on the logistics for your team. You come over and want to help build a fence, when I can hire local workers to build a fence for a tiny fraction of what you spent to come here. I appreciate your desire to help, and I even love having visitors, but consider the size and expectations of your group before you plan your trip. A team of 3 or 4 highly skilled people is much more valuable to our ministry than a gaggle of mission tourists.

7. “GOING HOME” IS A LOT OF WORK.

going-home

WHAT THEY SAY

It’s great to be back home.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Please understand, I now have two homes. When I’m at one, I’m away from the other, and there is a lot of emotion involved in that. On top of that, my life is absolutely crazy when I go “home.” I have to see relatives and friends, visit with partner churches, and take care of any number of issues that have arisen with my health, my electronic devices, and my government paperwork. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, I spend my time living out of suitcases and hustling from one appointment to the next. Is it good to be home? Sure. But when I get on that plane to go to my other home, I breathe a sigh of relief that life is almost back to “normal.”

8. IT’S EASY FOR GOD TO TAKE A BACK SEAT IN THEIR LIFE.

church

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m not very good at self-care.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Let’s face it, I’m no saint. I’m not any more spiritual than you are. I don’t start my day with three hours of devotional reading and prayer. I typically just get up and get to work. And there is a lot of work to be done. In fact, there is so much need here that it’s really easy to become so focused on doing things for God that I lose sight of God himself. In pursuing my calling, I’ve somehow forgotten about the caller. My spiritual life is almost nonexistent, other than the occasional desperate cry of “Why God?”

9. IT’S HARD TO TRUST PEOPLE.

trust

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m just looking for some good strategic partners.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

There are good people here, there really are. But I have seen the worst of humanity in my work here – much of it from people I worked with and trusted. Other missionaries and pastors can be the worst. Just when you think you know someone, they stab you in the back, the front, and both sides. I’ve gotten to where I simply don’t trust anyone. My guard is up, and it’s not coming down. I refuse to get burned again. If that means I have to do everything myself, then so be it.

10. THEY ARE LONELY.

lonely

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m OK – just really busy with the ministry.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Having neglected my relationship with God, and given up on people entirely, I’m left with just me. I hate it. I want to quit. I have dreams about what my life would be like if I went back to my old home town, to my old church, and my old friends. I could get a normal job earning a salary – with healthcare and paid vacation. I could shop and eat at normal places. Most of all, I could have normal relationships. But here? I’m all alone. I don’t know if there’s anyone like me here, and I know no one back home understands. I want to feel wanted, invited, and loved. I want someone to pour into me the way I’m pouring into others.

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The End of a 8 Year Art Project

For over 8 years we have been designing the stages for Christ Nation Church to match the themes.  As I make the transition from being head pastor to being a coach one of the things I will be letting go is the stage design.  Here are some of the designs over the years.  Which is your favorite?

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Some Pics from The Post Climbing a tree

A few days ago I posted a blog entitled “Climbing a Tree” where I shared some of my struggles with one of our projects “Colegio Cristo Nacion”.  Here are some pictures of the last English fair we had at the school.

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Taking Time to Climb a Tree

ImageChrist Nation School was started to meet a simple need. Shortly after we started the orphanage we saw the children struggling in school. A change had to be made. We did the numbers and realized that it would cost more to have tutors than to hire a staff. Coupled with the fact that homeschooling for our 4 children was starting to be to challenging for Angie we asked ourselves, “Why not just start a school?”

We really had no clue what we were doing. Shortly after we made the announcement people from our staff, members of our church and a few missionaries in the community asked if they could enroll their children as well.   All of a sudden an idea to meet a need suddenly became a project.

On the first day of school I realized the real reason that we started the project. Seeing the joy on the face of the children was priceless.   It reminded me of my first ministry position as a Sunday School teacher in Omaha, Nebraska many years ago. Bringing joy to the heart of children is the most wonderful experience.

The first few years were awesome. As always though, if we are not careful the joy can become a job. Logistics set in, legal requirements, challenges of profitability and the pressure of trying to please the parents began to choke the life out of it. Before I knew it I forgot the actual reason why I did it in the first place. I found myself committing the sin that G.K. Chesterton refers to as getting old. “For we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger that we”.

So what’s a person to do? I have found it helpful to purposefully schedule time doing things that keep me young. A good example for me was I recently went to our English fair at the school. I went, not as the owner, but to see the excitement in the eyes of the kids as they talked about their projects. I could not keep the smile off my face the entire time.

In the words of Peter Pan “If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!” On Monday I knew I would have to deal with the pressures again but at least that day I took time to climb a few trees.

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The First Shall Be Last

Angie posted this this week so I thought I would repost it. 

Image

 

How do you know a season has ended? Speaking of nature we know one season ends when the surroundings change. Sure, the experts gave us specific dates that are supposed to mark the end of one season and the beginning of another. We all know, though, the gradual effects caused by the year-long orbit of the earth around the sun pay little mind to the numbers on our calendars.

June first was our last Sunday as head pastors of Iglesia Cristo Nación. This important mark on the calendar serves its purpose, yet the change of our service to the congregation continues to follow nature’s gradual pattern. The shift began some months ago. We alerted the leaders of the need to move from a personality based operation to an organism pulsating with the power of relationship. We needed to move out of the spot light. Heck, the spotlight needed to be turned off. We told them at the end of last year that we would no longer be the pastors of the church and we would help them with the transition.

Much prayer and many meetings later five faithful congregants were identified as the ones to carry the congregation through this new phase of transition heading towards the installation of a new pastor. Two weeks before our last Sunday as head pastors we presented this group to the congregation. The spirit was sweet and amicable. There was an embrace of acceptance felt in the church that day.

These five will preach, teach, lead, care for, and guide the congregation together. Each one has been a member of the church for over three years. Each one has served faithfully in some capacity for quite some time. Above all, each one has demonstrated through word and action a deep love for God and for His bride, the church. We are at peace with the group consisting of: an older man who used to be a pastor, an elderly woman who also used to be a pastor and is helping with a church plant, a young woman called to missionary work, a young man who sings with the worship leaders, and the man who leads the youth. I like that the group has men and women, single and married, young and old. Such diversity represents the heart of an inclusive God. The hand of God, and call to service, is evident in each of their lives. I am happy, grateful, and deeply touched by their willingness to step up and care for the body of Christ Nation Church.

DaRonn shared in his final message to the church an analogy to help people see what was happening. He told them he would no longer be a player on the team, but that he would now be a coach to the leaders, specifically these five. One of the first decisions this group made was to invite him to share at the church’s 8th Anniversary service this coming week. He accepted the invitation to share this coming Sunday. At first I wanted him to turn down the invitation. I see now this is a part of the gradual process of change and I am at peace with him sharing for the anniversary.

We sat in a different place this past Sunday. The front row was our place for these many years. Now that we are stepping out of the focal point I wanted the people to see a physical manifestation of our hearts. We remain part of the congregation. A few people shared with me their sadness at not seeing me in that front row. I told them I am still here, I still love them, and that they need to look to Jesus as their focal point. We will likely try out a number of different places in the seats in these coming weeks. It surprises me how even where we sit holds such weight.

I feel really good about this change of seasons. The sweet spirit at the church so far confirms the goodness in this transition. Please pray for this group of people. Please pray for the Washington family. Change always comes with its own discomforts, lament for what was, and uncertainty about what will be.

The change at church is not the only transition taking place. I feel as though we have been a constant state of major transition for years now. There are times I feel weary from the process. At other times I am energized by the hope of the new things to come. Through it all I am so very grateful for those people around us who extend their unconditional love in tangible and sincere ways. I am glad to be allowed to be imperfect yet accepted. This helps me to see the love of our Heavenly Father poured out in our lives. I hope that each one of us knows the incomprehensible grace and mercy of God. Peace to you.

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