Wednesday, September 30, 2015

{Guest Blogger} A Unique UMVIM Trip That Empowers Women in Honduras

By Kathy Waller, Brunswick, GA

For some reason, it has taken a little longer for me to process our recent trip to Honduras. Perhaps it's because over the past year, this trip was ever changing and continued to be so until the very end, making it impossible to do things independent of God. I speak the truth when I say I found myself leaning on God's grace throughout the entire endeavor, and He carried me as I knew He would. I would also like to clear my conscience and admit that I cannot sew and up until a few months ago, I had absolutely no desire to learn. I consider my meager attempt at sewing a God driven skill that I am working to conquer...and I humbly admit I have a long way to go. Not only does God call on those that have no idea what they are doing, but He has a sense of humor about it. Thus the "Rags to Riches Menstrual  Mission" was born.

 God's hand was there from the beginning, convincing a small group of ladies to take on a huge task of sewing a product so personal yet so necessary in a community with limited resources. Knowing that WOW, the women's group in our church, took it upon themselves to finance the sewing project made it seem more like a "sisterhood" for everyone concerned. Of course it didn't take much for the men on the team to embrace our project as they are unique in their own right and are careful not to take themselves too seriously. One fella even strapped on his tool belt and tried his hand at making a Mama cloth. (Rest assure Todd, construction is your vocation). Not only were we planning to teach the ladies how to make their own "Mama cloth" pads, but we traveled to Honduras with just shy of four hundred pads beautifully stitched for the women of Subirana by a women’s sewing small group in our church.

We were a mere party of three, no one person really proficient in sewing, and only one of us able to speak their language. We met with several shy but eager to learn women who had never touched a sewing machine, as well as several children that came along to add to the chaos. (Once again, thank you Lord for Jessica, the piped piper of children, who is fluent in Spanish.) Some of the ladies were able to catch on quickly and move on to other sewing projects. However, no matter the level of skill, I believe every woman was able to experience a sense of accomplishment for their effort. They were polite, patient, and graciously expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn something useful for their everyday lives. 

Quite honestly, we had no idea what to expect. It turns out, there is at least one skilled seamstress among the ladies who was happy to continue the sewing group. I pray that this ministry will allow the women to continue to grow closer in Christ and support one another just like the small groups have in our church. It was through generous donations that we were able to leave two new sewing machines, along with a surplus of fabric and notions. Our final meeting consisted of twenty-three women singing God's praises, and ever since I have been thanking God daily for allowing me to be part of the "Rags to Riches Menstrual Mission of 2015."

Did you have an awesome experience on a recent UMVIM trip you'd like to share? Follow this link to submit your story!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Carlton Complex Fire Recovery - Pacific Northwest Conference

Below is an email from Jim Truitt, the Disaster Response Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Conference. He is currently seeking volunteers to help with the needs below:
In 2014 we suffered our states largest wildfire in history. 256,000+ acres were burned and over 300 homes were lost. 45 of those homes had no insurance and the Long Term Recovery Group has laid out a three year plan to rebuild the homes. We did not get a FEMA declaration so the materials have to be provided through donations and grants. UMCOR gave us a $270,000 grant for materials and we have pledged $237,000 so far.  We are partnering with multiple faith-based groups and  we are on track to complete the houses in phase one by next spring. We need skilled volunteers to help us finish the task.

Now, this year we suffered wildfires in the same general area that covered three times as much acreage. We don’t know yet how many homes were lost. We’ve heard estimates in the 200 range. The State and Federal agencies were in the field last week and will be again this week doing a preliminary damage assessment (PDA). We won’t know until the PDA is complete how many additional houses we will have to build but our guesstimate is in the neighborhood of 30. We also don’t know if we will get a Presidential declaration for Individual Assistance. Regardless, we are going to need financial assistance and volunteers to help us rebuild. 

We would really appreciate your help spreading the word. Anyone that’s interested can contact me ( or Ronda Cordill, for additional information. 

If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Thanks again for your support.

Jim Truitt
UMVIM Disaster Response Coordinator
PNW Conference United Methodist Church

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Large Group Prepares for United Methodist Young Adult Mission Service

By Elliott Wright

Thirty-seven young adults are [spent] most of August preparing in Zimbabwe for mission service around the world through The United Methodist Church.

They are from 16 countries and represent the 2015 class of international Global Mission Fellows, who spend two years in ministries focused on justice and community development. In July, 15 new Global Mission Fellows were commissioned for service in the United States. Global Mission Fellows is a program of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries and part of its Generation Transformation emphasis on young adults in mission.

The group undergoing orientation in Harare, Zimbabwe, will be commissioned on August 30 at the Revelation United Methodist Church there. Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, leader of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area will preside. To be “commissioned” is to be designated by the church for a special purpose. Bishop John K. Yambasu of Sierra Leone, vice president of Global Ministries, will preach at the service.

Also...commissioned [was] Innocent Phrytoil Afful, a global missionary from Ghana, who is coordinator for orphans and vulnerable children for the Churches of Christ in the Congo, an ecumenical ministry based in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Of the 37 young adults, the majority is from Africa and many will be placed in other parts of the vast continent, none in their home countries. Missionaries are by definition “sent” by God and the church to cross borders and boundaries in taking the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ to all places.

Some of the new Global Mission Fellows will also work in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe. A dozen are graduates of Africa University, a pan-African institution related to the United Methodist Church in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Alumni of the university among the new Global Mission Fellows are from across Africa. Four of the international fellows are from the United States.

Work sites are truly international. Relinjoy Pabrua, who is from Manila in the Philippines, will be working with a community development project in Grenada in the West Indies; Wakili Albert Abbo from Jalingo, Nigeria with a new congregation in Dublin, Ireland; Evans Ndadzungira from Chimanimani, Zimbabwe with an environmental protection project in the Philippines; Kelsey Gatza from Chicago, Illinois, USA with a community-based ministry in Johannesburg, South Africa; Dorcas Samantha Ewoodzie from Accra, Ghana in an ecological program in Kenya; and Edwin Castillo from the Dominican Republic as a communicator in a medical service in Nicaragua. (Click here for a full list of the fellows, including where they are from and will work.)

 “This is an exciting new venture in mission,” said the Rev. Dr. Judy Chung, Global Ministries’ associate general secretary for missionary services. “Global Mission Fellows is one expression of our Generation Transformation focus on young adults in mission. The young people leave their home environment, identify with a new community, and not only provide real assistance to their projects but also better equip themselves for leadership roles in church and society in the complex world in which we live.”

The United Methodist Church has organic units (regional “annual” conferences) in the United States, Eurasia, large parts of Africa, and the Philippines. It has mission partnership across Asia and Latin America/Caribbean, with personnel, projects, and partners in more than 125 countries. It has missionaries in 60 countries. U.S. immigration policy does not grant entrance visas to international short-term young adult missionaries.

The service of commissioning on August 30...was developed with the assistance of the Rev. Dr. Beauty R. Maenzanise, dean of the faculty of theology at Africa University.

UMVIM, SEJ is excited to congratulate the following Fellows commissioned from the Southeastern Jurisdiction:

Hilary Glover 
Mississippi Annual Conference 
Placement: Grenada

Barbara Rogers 
North Carolina Annual Conference 
Placement: Russia

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Eric & Liz Soard: Building Meaningful Relationships in Tanzania

In 2015, we are highlighting UMC missionaries who have been commissioned from the Southeastern Jurisdiction to serve around the world. Many of these missionaries accept volunteers to help with the important and necessary ministries they have established or are in partnership with. Contact UMVIM, SEJ for more information on how to serve!
Building Meaningful Relationships in Tanzania
Eric and Elizabeth Soard are a young couple on the forefront of the United Methodist effort in Africa. Together since college at Lambuth University, they felt a calling to Africa, and began their time on the continent as volunteers in a country that would eventually become their second home: Tanzania. Presently, they are commissioned UMC Missionaries in the Lake Zone near Lake Victoria, where they are church planters and discipleship trainers. Along for the journey are their 3 sons, Derrick, Kaleb, and Micah.
The Local Community
The Soards have many roles and responsibilities in the Lake Zone, including laying the foundation for the first UMC University in Tanzania. For the last three years, they have concentrated their efforts on building up the local church body, and have established 10 new churches so far.

"Our focus is on building the local community of Christ, to mobilize them to engage with each other and the community around them" says Eric. "We want them to be able to the answer the questions, 'Would your community notice if you weren't here?' and furthermore, 'Would your church members miss this part of their lives if you weren't here?'" Through intentional discipleship and leadership training, the Soards are ultimately leading these congregations to be self-leading, self-replicating, and self-sustaining.
UMVIM Teams and Building Relationships
While the Lord has equipped the Soards for their work in Tanzania, they cannot do it alone. The churches belong to the local congregations, but UMVIM teams are needed to help where they lack the resources to cross the finish line.

Over the last couple years, they have asked the members of their local congregations what they would consider the most valuable part of having volunteers serving alongside them. They answered, "knowing people are praying for us, taking the time to offer their knowledge to us, and building relationships with us."

A mission journey to Tanzania with the Soards might be filled with bumpy roads and a lot of dust, but it serves as the background to the warmth and hospitality you will experience while there. So many teams opt to stay in the comfortable cities and more developed areas of the country, but the extra effort you spend getting to this part of Tanzania will be rewarded with meeting the wonderful people, sharing meals with them, and being given the opportunity to sit down and talk to them about the place they call home. "The work is important," says Eric, "but it's secondary to the relationships."
Earlier this summer, UMVIM, SEJ Executive Director Paulette West traveled to Tanzania to personally visit with the Soards to become more familiar with their mission, and to help establish sister-to-sister church partnerships here in the SEJ. (Click the video above for a recap of her time there!) If you are interested in learning more about serving short-term in Tanzania, or what a meaningful partnership with the Soards could look like for your church, please contact Paulette West at or Eric Soard You can also follow the Soards' journey on their blog,