We are back in Canada (Calgary) and have experienced 3 or 4 snowstorms! Unbelievable! And very few days of temps above 10C. But the warmth of family and the people of several Alliance churches and 1 Baptist church we have met have more than made up for it. Well, truthfully, there was driving in one snowstorm where I just did not want to be here. Coming back to Canadian culture has been tougher than I thought it would be. We felt disembodied. Here but not really here. Feeling comfortable but not really…just having to wait for Canadian cultural norms to float to the top and feel more natural. It’s amazing how one can adjust to the Spanish culture in such a short time. There have been many times where I wanted to give a “beso and an abrazo” in welcome and saying good-bye but I think it would have thrown many for a loop. I thought for this blog update I would give a general ministry update via a note I sent out to a friend.
Our ministry focus continues to evolve. We have re-focused our name to Caribbean Justice and Compassion Team to better describe the direction of ministry. Over the last several months, we have been doing more program development than anything else. We were in C*b* to check out the micro-enterprise which was totally uplifting. What a revival movement that is developing into! Nicaragua was a great experience. 2 weeks of working with a Alliance Men’s work team doing translation work. It was very cool how a small business loan opportunity was put in my lap. Got a guy started with a welder. I am working through the local church on this one hoping to start something bigger and develop with stronger CHE guidelines. It’s really a test for the Pastor’s leadership to see if he will buy into community leadership and development thinking. If it works well, I would like to start a business cooperative there. When we get back to Costa Rica, the plan is to start some development work in a Nicaraguan community (in CR). There is already a local feeding program and a couple of other small initiatives through a local Alliance church that I want to expand on. Maybe use a CFGB grant in the area. Lot’s of work to do. Lot’s of money to raise. I want to use this as a bit of a proving ground in basic community development as there are larger things on the horizon in other countries that we need to tackle. Start small. As our ministry is regional, this will build into enabling a system of national level leaders in the Caribbean area to work on local CHE style programs. I want to center on a combination of micro-business and disaster preparedness training at the local church level but use this to teach basic community-level problem solving working towards Kingdom transformation principles.
On the disaster response front, the National Ministry Centre is totally revamping their database structure. I managed to get a request in with our needs. Our plan is to create a interactive, national database of volunteers from Canadian churches that are able to respond to a disaster event. I want to work out the kinks with this response program in my region first. Then as other Alliance compassion track leaders come on line in other world ministry areas, they would be able to use this database for their response needs. Right now, I am working through ideas of how to involve the local Canadian Alliance church at the grassroots level making them feel part of a ministry response even though they never leave the pew. We’ll see how that goes.
At times I am feeling intimidated and overwhelmed at the scope of ministry in which I have been placed though it is exciting to see how God moves, opens doors, puts people in our path. I think my biggest struggle at this point is finding that niche in disaster response that enables us to come along side other organizations and not duplicate problems and procedures. Though this morning (by chance), met with the SP Project manager for Latin America and we seem to be on the same page stressing the need for disaster preparedness/reduction programs in smaller communities using the local church as a mitagating force. A great contact for some future work. He enrolled me in the national DART (Disaster & Response Team) training happening in May.
I have written enough. I need to get some work done before watching some hockey. It’s really nice to sit and watch the playoffs. I didn’t realize that it was something I missed!
ps While we are here in the Calgary area and you feel like sitting down for a coffee… Give us a call 403-617-6377