Thursday, December 15, 2011

Newsletter Tidbits

Do people actually read all the way through a missionary's prayer/newsletter? I've often wondered if people enjoy our letters, slog through them from a sense of duty, ignore them altogether, or what. Allen and I are concerned that our current letter is a more difficult read than usual. In this letter, we desire to communicate to our supporters how we try to use donated funds as efficiently as we can. This is super important to us, and we believe it is of great interest to our donors - but that doesn't necessarily translate into an interesting letter.

I've decided to post some parts of the letter on the blog, in a series of posts. If you don't receive our letter, this will fill you in a bit as to how we handle some of our ministry work. If you do receive the letter I apologize for the duplication.

After a preliminary greeting, here's the first part of the letter:

2011 has been a difficult year for many, and we have seen this reflected on the mission field. More and more often, we are seeing missionaries having to leave the field due to lack of funding. Although we continue to trust God to provide, sometimes He chooses to allow times of hardship. Often the times of hardship are also opportunities for great spiritual growth. In Honduras, hardship has been a way of life since long before we came to live here, and the spread of the life-changing Good News and the work of church planting in the poverty-stricken mountains of western Honduras has continued to advance at an amazing pace, even reaching into the most remote villages of the Lenca Indian people. As long as God allows, we hope to continue to live here and help with this work.

During hard financial times, everyone learns the importance of stretching a dollar. Our family has made the frugal and efficient use of funds, in our home and ministry, a high priority. In this letter, we want to highlight some of the ways we try to make the best use of every donated dollar. This is important to us, and we know that it’s important to you, too.

One of the ways we’ve found to use money most efficiently is to recognize what we do best, and to allow – and empower – the Honduran Christians to do what they can do better than we can. For instance, running a feeding center is something that we are able to do, but your average Honduran pastor can do it better. He can more easily teach and mentor the people of his community. He can muster the resources of his local church for volunteers to help in finding a suitable location, setting things up, cooking and cleaning up, getting the word out to the poor of his village, etc. He can present a Bible lesson which is relevant to the lives of the people in that place, using language that is accessible to them. He can maintain a day-to-day relationship with the families involved in the feeding program. What a typical pastor in our area lacks is not the desire to serve others in this way, but the financial resources to purchase the necessary food. That, of course, is where our part comes in. By partnering with donors in the US, and dealing with the hassles and expense of paperwork, international communications, accountability back to the donors, etc., we can import a container of highly nourishing food, and oversee the distribution of this food to a network of pastors who then run over a hundred feeding programs in widely scattered locations throughout a large part of western Honduras.

There. Now you probably know more than you knew before about how we run feeding centers. The picture at the top of this post is a pastor picking up food for his center. Below are photos of a feeding center in action - first a Bible lesson, then a meal.

Next post: how to build more churches with fewer dollars.


Laurie Matherne said...

Good post. I read every word. We use the same soy/rice mix but not daily. We mix it with beans and veggies. And next year . . . I am releasing the program to Hondurans who will run it better and cheaper than I can. Amen!

Cindy in California said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading the details of your ministry. I love that you are being strategic...doing what would be difficult for Hondurans to do and letting the Hondurans do what they can do, acknowledging they can do it better. WIN-WIN!

Unfortunately, not all missionaries have this mindset and it's frustrating to watch, even from afar. I can't imagine what the Hondurans who have to live it think. For many, their hands are get the practical help they want the have to endure the "garbage". Lose-lose.

Patty said...

I think you do a great job at being informative and interesting a the same time. I'm glad you are teaching/allowing the pastors to feed their own flock. I think everyone has a part in the program of life, if they are allowed to shine with their own light.

Trish said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement, you three! And Laurie - do you do daily meals? Our centers generally feed once or twice per week. I definitely think you're right to mix up the menu with some other food, if you're feeding daily! Some of our pastors add corn tortillas, or do other meals (like spaghetti) on occasion, just to keep things interesting.

Laurie Matherne said...

We feed four to five days a week as time and budget allows. Yes, we serve spaghetti some days, and other stuff, too. My main goal is protein and vitamins, especially calcium. Pancakes is a good meal when enriched with extra milk.