Dear companions in mission,
The beginning of July has found me in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as I take up again the task of sharing about the work of Presbyterian World Mission and the Latin American Biblical University. I am so grateful for all of the expressions of concern and support I received as I accompanied my father during the last weeks of his life and as my family began the long process of mourning his passing even as we celebrate his life. As part of that process, it was wonderful to travel with Javier, my husband, to many of the places in the western United States that were special to my family during my childhood. We finished our road trip in Portland, where we spent time with our daughter, Tamara.
Last weekend I have several opportunities to share with folks from University Presbyterian Church here in Chapel Hill. Next weekend I will be with Chapel in the Pines. These were the churches who cared for me while I was undergoing treatment at the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital in 2012 and they continue to walk with me in mission.
On July 10th I will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky. Each year Presbyterian World Mission gathers the mission co-workers who are currently in the United States for a week of meetings and conversation about the work we are doing around the world. I am looking forward to being with my colleagues.
My next stop will be Kansas City, where Ward Avenue Presbyterian Church has recently joined the circle of churches that support my work with Presbyterian World Mission. I am looking forward to sharing the word of God with them in worship.
On July 19th I will move to the Princeton, New Jersey area, where I am looking forward to connecting with many folks and churches. The weekend of the 24th I will visit the First Presbyterian Church of Barre, Vermont. The next Sunday I will lead an adult Sunday school program at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton. I will be in the Princeton area until August 10. I am booked already for the Sunday mornings, but I still have lots of available time on my calendar.
I look forward to getting in touch with friends as I travel. Please write if you would like my phone number. You can always reach me by e-mail.
In Doing Good. . . .Says Who? Stories from Volunteers, Nonprofits, Donors and Those They Want to Help, Connie Newton and Fran Early explore what happens when people with good intentions enter into another cultural context. After conducting 430 interviews with 184 people, more than half of whom were Guatemalan, Connie and Fran have constructed five fictionalized narratives, each one of which explores a principle which the authors have come to see as vital for translating good intentions into lasting positive outcomes for all involved in these efforts. (Disclaimer: I was one of the people involved in multiple conversations with Connie and Fran about this book project over several years). In each of the narratives, participants in the different projects voice their distinct perspectives about the interactions they experience. The discussion guide at the end poses questions about each chapter in ways that challenge assumptions and motivations. In the conclusion, Connie and Fran analyze the power dynamics involved. They also access the possibilities and problems offered by short-term mission trips. Adult Sunday school classes as well as groups preparing to engage with neighbors down the street or in another part of the world can benefit from working through the questions posed and the kinds of relationships they can build with those with whom they wish to work for change. You can order the book as well as participate in an ongoing discussion at www.doinggoodsayswho.com.
As I close this month’s letter, I am very glad to be able to share with you the news that I have reappointed to continue serving at the Latin American Biblical University for another four years. This is only possible because designated giving to Presbyterian World Mission and to my support has been increasing. I and my colleagues in Presbyterian World Mission are stepping out on faith, trusting that the resources will be there for my work over the next four years. I am so thankful for the churches and individuals who have joined together with me in mission. I trust that we will keep walking forward together, seeking God’s reign of justice and peace in this world full of pain. Thank you all for your support and especially for your prayers.