Friday, May 18, 2012

A Holy Moment

"Arms raised and heart abandoned.  In awe of the one who gave it all.
So I'll stand.  My Soul Lord to You Surrendered.  All I am is Yours."

Last weekend, I stood at our staff retreat and belted out those words several times over the weekend. Overall, the retreat was great.  Great speaker...great community...great food (very important for any great retreat) and great games.  However, the greatest part of the weekend for me was definitely the times of worship through music.  Simply coming before our creator and proclaiming the salvation that comes from Him and the incredible breadth of the God we serve.  It was worship.  A Holy Moment.

Sunday morning as the retreat was winding down, our speaker gave us an extended period of time to spend in solitude.  During this time, I pulled out my journal thinking I was going to write but instead stumbled upon a past journal entry.  It was from last summer and I has recently read a blog post  from a blog called "Kisses from Katie."  (I highly recommend it.)  She had written "Surely I could take off my shoes.  Or fall to my knees.  Or raise up my hands.  Surely this moment is holy."  As I read those words again, I could definitely echo that very sentiment.  In fact, I had felt that very well several times during worship that weekend.  However, what had caught my attention the first time I read it and what had caught it again was that nothing drastically different was going on her life.  She wasn't at a nice hostel, eating great food, with great people, and worshiping to great music.  It was simply another morning for her.  Katie, a young single mother of 14 adopted children, living in Uganda in the midst of extreme poverty, was simply washing the dishes in her pajamas and recognizing that God had been good to her.  Proclaiming the joy of her salvation, the immensity of the God we serve, and recognizing that she deserved none of it.

As I finished reading my journal entry, I was convicted yet inspired at the same time.  It's not often that I recognize holy moments in the middle of the mundane, in the middle of the normal of life.  It's not that holy moments don't happen during these times. In fact, every moment is a gift from God, a holy moment.  I simply fail to recognize the moment for what it is.  So I pause today, a break from busy schedule, and I choose to remember.

I remember my oldest sister going to live in Ecuador for a year.  I watched from afar but noted her example. It is a gift from God.  A Holy Moment.

I remember the frustrating weeks of college when I felt as if my passions pulled me in opposite directions.  It is a gift from God.  A Holy Moment.

I remember the daily grind of fundraising in order to come to the mission field.  Friends and family opened their hands and the Lord provided.  It is a gift from God. A Holy Moment.

I remember sitting with one of my associates, Liliana, tears in her eyes, as she tells me she doesn't know how she is going to provide for her family.  I don't know either.  It is a gift from God.  A Holy Moment.

I remember seeing an associate's eyes light up while I teach a class on business administration.  She understands for the first time.  It is a gift from God.  A Holy Moment.

I remember the awe and joy of the 41 boys who went to a water park for the first time yesterday.  It is a gift from God.  A Holy Moment.

My list could go on forever.  My life is full of holy moments if only I would choose to see them that way.  Yet I know I will forget.  I'll struggle with my Spanish.  Something I own will get stolen again.  I'll be washing the dishes in my sink and run out of water.  I'll sit with an associate who is struggling and I'll have no words to say.  But even though I forget in the moment, I know that one day, I will sit back, I will remember, and I will be able to say.  It is a gift from God.  A Holy Moment.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Micro Connections

“How is your business going, Dania?” I asked standing in fronting of her small fritura. 

“Things are a little slow right now. “ she replied,  “I just wish I had opportunities to sell to more people.”

This was not the first time I had heard an associate utter those very words.  Most of the MF associates live and work  in small communities with a limited market.  In fact, limited and saturated markets are some of the greatest challenges that face many of the small business owners at the MF site.  With only 200 potential clients, it is hard to realistically expect substantial growth from a business.  In essence, our associates work hard but often lack the resources and opportunities to network themselves well with clients or other business in order to expand their business.

While there are no easy answers to these problems, the MF site has been hard at work trying to build connections and market opportunities for our associates.   Recently, Miriam connected with a small startup company that sells framed cross-stitch.  Knowing that one of our associates, Rossi, already was selling cross-stitch from her house, Miriam connected Rossi and several other associates with this new company.  Now Rossi is receiving orders on a regular basis and has more consistent work which allows her to be at home with her family.  With the help of a single business relationship, Rossi quickly expanded her market from several hundred clients to thousands of clients.

While the example above may be small, we believe that networks are one of the most powerful business tools and hope that we can continue to use our own networks as well as those of our supporters to benefit associates in the future.

Pray that God would give Miriam and I the creativity to effectively connect and network our associates with viable and sustainable business opportunities.