Monday, December 11, 2017

A Tribute to Our Team

Over the last nine years, it's been a privilege to equip and lead short term mission teams with SEMC. In addition to adding a global reach to our church family, these trips also reflect our commitment to intergenerational teamwork. As we prepare, we talk about looking for God at work in the lives we encounter and then sharing those stories. Over the next few days, it will be my privilege to share the stories my team members have written from our most recent trip to El Salvador with Shelter Canada. Sharing these trips with young people like Quinn Jennings and Silas Allen is an honour's entertaining. They bring joy and enthusiasm to our team, they also are willing to serve and have a great awareness of the needs of others. If you're interested in being part of a team, message me, let's talk. Here's the story that Silas shared:…/the-best-gift-you-can-g…

Having been to El Salvador on several occasions, new learning often takes place through the eyes and lives of those who come for the first time. I am thankful for the people of the SEMC and their desire to be stretched beyond their comfortable norms. I am thankful for Shelter Canada for providing an opportunity for people at all ages and stages of life. In our preparations we rarely talk about "what" we will do; rather we focus on "how" we need to respond to those things that may be going on. Our goal is to help people to think in a way that honours God, trusting that their actions, will be shaped by Him for His glory. Here's a story by Christine DaCosta, a first timer, who contributed greatly to our team's efforts, especially by being a thoughtful listener to the families we met. If you're interested in being a first-timer on our next trip, send me a a message, let's do it:…/uncomfortable.html

Each team we travel with to El Salvador with Shelter Canada is different. From team to team and from year to year, the different people on the team make every trip unique and exciting because of the diverse strengths and gifts that each person brings. Some are gifted to work with kids, some know how to contribute to the building of a house. Every part matters - but there is more. This year we were reminded of the growing role that our Salvadoran brothers and sisters are taking on and how God is using it to grow our effectiveness. A great blessing for me is that most trips also include at least one person from our leadership team. This year we had two: Albert Siertsema and Scott Odolphy. An added bonus was having Theresa LS join our team. She's the Children's Ministry Director at the SEMC. God used all of their different gifts and strengths to make our team better and amazingly connected us to the bigger picture of the work that will continue in El Salvador, particularly through the local church.
Here's how Theresa describes it:…/…/some-open-doors.html
Interested in contributing or getting involved with a team? Drop me a message. Let's figure it out.

Over the years, with Shelter Canada and SEMC it has been humbling to recognize how God works in and through the lives of people who are willing to simply be available. Through their availability together we recognize that we don't bring hope, we enter into the hope that God has already put in place and work according to the rhythm in which He is already moving. As we do we discover stories about Our God, others and ourselves. Inspiring stories that are not dependent on our normal cultural comforts. Patrick Halls has been on five trips with us now. He brings a tenacious capacity to work and a tender heart for those among whom he serves. In fact he now leads a build team.  Brittany Nelson has now been on three trips with us, showing a willingness to learn, to engage with others and to use her talents to bring joy to others. 
By the way, you don't have to live near me to make this work. If you want to be part of something special that God is doing, then let's figure it out together. Get hold of me some how...

While it's always exciting and refreshing to have new people join our Shelter Canada team. However, one of best parts, for me, about these previous 9 years has been to share the journey with a few awesome people from the SEMC. Tyson (8 trips) and Leisha Jennings (7 trips), and Karen Allen (9 trips), were there when we started this and have felt God compel them to continue to serve on these teams for most of the years since. Together we have made many mistakes, had many laughs, have navigated many obstacles (literal and figurative) and continue to learn. Their compassion and capacity for what we do strengthens our teams and our effectiveness as a whole. Their love for what God is doing in El Salvador as well as at home is part of what makes them special. This isn't something they do, it's who they are and they are extending the love of Jesus in whatever place they find themselves. Therefore it was all the more humbling and amazing to see the stories that God had waiting for them this year. 
Want to be part of an amazing extended family?...let's talk...

There's only been one person who has been part of all 9 SEMC El Salvador teams, with me. For those who know Amanda Persad, you will be aware that she prefers cool temperatures, cloudy days; she wouldn't normally choose rigorous or potentially treacherous hikes or truck rides; she has food preferences, sleep preferences, and really doesn't like to feel sweat running on her skin. And yet, side by side, together, she has made a whole hearted commitment to each of our Shelter Canada teams and team members. She looks after the details that I can often neglect (as I frolic in the sun) and is continually watching over our team members, Canadians and Salvadorans alike. Philippians 2:3-4 " humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." This truth comes alive through her life and commitment to serve the Lord, as very few of her personal preferences are met in ES. 
Our family has been transformed over these last 9 years, in part, through this shared mission. When people say, I can't afford to go, or what about our kids, or it isn't comfortable, or I'm not equipped for this kind of work - I get to share the story of my wife and how God is working through her, not only with our team, but also as she helps keep every Shelter team on task throughout the year. Thanks love...
Being on a team isn't a one week venture, it can be a whole life transforming process of growing deeper in your relationship with God and others. If you want to be part of a team, let me know - I'm already praying for you, so let's just talk about it..