Thursday, June 21, 2012

Encourage One Another

"Hi Brenda," they're all shouting. These are the babies under the care of
Jacaranda Kids while maamas are hard at work.
Our final day together came much too quickly. On one hand I’m anxious to get home. On another, I’d love to stay a few more weeks. I felt less well prepared for this visit than I should have been in this sea of opportunities and it was only toward the last day that the ladies really started telling me what they wanted and needed. I could have easily come with an agenda but their own self discovery was essential to the willingness to receive and implement change. Now that they’ve reached that marker…it’s time to go home. Grr…I’d love to stay the whole time Brenda is away but God will strengthen and encourage them and he will give them the wisdom they need to become the leaders he designed them to be.

The children tugged and pulled at me but when the camera came out,
the poses were on.
Pauline organized a meeting with the parents of sponsored children in the Marururi slum. She encouraged them to participate in the education of their children both academically and financially. Sometimes providing outside help creates a sense of entitlement that leaves parents expecting (demanding) more. Yet Jacaranda wants to be sure that parents understand they have a role in co-laboring with Jacaranda to educate their children. Managing child sponsorships is so tricky. Fees increase, unique needs arise, things change. Still, just as we co-labor with God one of Surprised by Hope’s and Jacaranda’s values is that people co-labor with us toward their own betterment. It’s a biblical model.

Aggrey, Sarah, Linda, Gertrude, Shaan, Pauline, and Sheila
Our last few hours together were spent as a team encouraging one another and building each other up. We talked about the grieving of losing Brenda’s daily tenderness and attention to each detail of the lives of every one of the Jacaranda leaders. This realization helped everyone understand how much they love and appreciate her and that she is not gone (she is in the States), but she is also not able to meet that relational need in the same way as before. The realization also helped them think more about how the people in the slums where she visits will also be missing her and that they have the opportunity to minister to them in a new way. We also talked about the need for unity of the Spirit as the enemy would surely use Brenda’s absence as an opportunity to create division and frustration. Please pray regularly with me that this would not be allowed a stronghold.

Sarah, Leslie, and Shelia
On a more practical front, we discussed the importance of balancing income and expenses and ways to decrease expenses and increase income. Everyone shared some great ideas and I challenged them to take action rather than leave them on the table as ideas. We also talked about some very important ways to be productive during slower periods – by investing in ministry and training the branch leaders, by developing new product ideas, by seeking new markets, by practicing spiritual disciplines.

I cannot tell you strongly enough how very much I love these precious people. I wish I could be here all the time to learn from them, to encourage them, and to help them. They are truly a group of gifted people and these are the people you support when you purchase a Jacaranda product. Thank you for making this possible!