How Do You Eat an Elephant?

By Ed Jacob

How Do You Eat An Elephant?  One Bite At A Time!

You don’t have to go for too long before clients, colleagues, friends, family or any of us for that matter feel overwhelmed by problems. It can be a daunting shadow that sometimes has us fearing that the beast is going to sit right down and squash the life out of us!  Key to overcoming an elephant or a problem is breaking it down to one chunk at time. Let me explain below how that relates to our mission trip here in Peru.

On Tuesday, the Peru Mission Team had an opportunity to support a Compassion Leadership Conference.  Attending the conference were representatives from the 15 Compassion Development Centers in the Huanuco Region. This included Pastors and some staff that support about 4000 Compassion children.  These Centers and the children are connected to the Compassion Program through their local churches. The leadership conference was hosted by Pastor Aquiles who runs the largest program here and is very much the local Yoda.  They convened together to address the following elephant size issues:

– Driving effective Communication of their Mission, Vision and Goals

– Leveraging Volunteerism to create, implement and monitor plans

–  Building strong teamwork to effectively and efficiently use resources

From the business world, I know that these three topic areas are perpetual problems that rear their ugly heads.  Frankly, I don’t know that you can solve the problems completely.  You really just have to get better over time with continuous problem solving as these issues morph into other areas or become new/different problems that arise over time.

By now, you should be asking yourself …what does any of this have to do with the Peru Mission Trip? The answer is that we used this opportunity to advance our objectives as a Mission team. That is, we were advancing our goal to continue to build a stronger relationship and drive real and lasting transformation through Christ as our center.

Let me explain further about the mission teams goals. Some of us were returning while new individuals joined the team.  As a newly formed mission team, we prepared in advance of the visit.  We met in short meetings over several months. We applied ourselves using a workbook titled “Helping Without Hurting”. Indulge me to share only a couple of high level learning points. But first a quick point in what it’s not about. It’s not about going to build a much needed lavatory for a school. By definition, the people here will always know local practices and techniques better than outsiders coming in. Instead, the focus is on a way to serve with cultural intelligence. The workbook equips short-term mission teams to avoid pitfalls of crossing cultures, it builds the teams capacity to learn well and honor partnerships through their presence, understanding and critically important encouragement.

Recognizing the above, our objective for the leadership conference was to serve, learn,  and encourage.  Pastor Aquiles, the host has the longest experience, largest center and potentially has the most to share on key learnings in addressing these major issues. You can also expect that all of the other participants as Pastors and support team in their own local area are subject matter experts on what they have experienced. Sure, we too share some elements of these issues but clearly we’re not in Kansas anymore. These good people here have greater insights into their situation that we may never fully comprehend.  For our part in the session itself we too focused on the theme of building leadership skills and shared our insights on a Problem Solving Method/Process.  

We developed a handout for them describing a Problem Solving Method and its process steps. My lovely wife Andrea then facilitated them through the process. They worked in small teams to break down the problems into smaller more manageable chunks, they explored root causes for the component issues and then identified potential solutions.  Upon completion, the small teams reported out on what they accomplished.  Having gained some experience, they now have a tool they can add to their toolkit going forward.  Hopefully, they can take it back and apply it for continuous problem solving going forward with their own full teams.  I closed our segment of the session and brought it back to the elephant. They sure got a belly laugh out of my closing comment.  I pointed to my rounded belly and let them know that I sure have had more than my fair share of the elephant.

In summary, we stayed true to our goal of building on our relationship. In the session, we were able to serve while learning from them and encouraging their work.  We honored each other by together sharing and acknowledging how we support each other in the process. Together, and most important of all we are advancing the common overarching goal from the Compassion International’s mission statement which is to “Release children from poverty in Jesus name”.

Edith

By Gary Zoet

Peru Day 4! This is my third trip to our brothers and sisters in Christ in Huanuco Peru. It never gets old as I share the journey with A! Members who will become life long friends over a week of intense experiences visiting  our compassion churches in Peru.

Today was a transition day. We had no home visits no new church experiences but once again God had other plans for our hearty band of missionaries!

Our day was to be a day of serving others .. the pastors and leaders who met at the church we were at for the past few days to meet and network with other Compassion pastors.

My story starts in the kitchen. Today it was our turn to serve. Chicken, pork and of course guinea pig to the men and women gathered in the dining area after their morning meetings

After cleaning the tables and sweeping the floors we grabbed a few towels and helped with the dishes. Here we experienced why we traveled 24 hours, endured  three plane changes and little sleep, took time off of our busy schedules and got out of our comfort zones in an unfamiliar land.
In the small kitchen our small group of A! Members washed  dried and put away dishes along side our Peruvian brothers and sisters. We discussed family members and the Cubs winning a World Series. They shared our pain of waiting 108 years for success  We learned Peru was playing soccer in New Zealand later this week for a chance to finally play in the World Cup after 38 years!  Laughing Learning and Commiserating.

But then on a day we were supposed to be taking it easy we once again were reminded why we partner with Compassion. Why we write letters to children we have never met and  why we pray for their success in their world of poverty.

Edith began to share her story. A Compassion child for seven years she shared her struggles growing up in a broken home. How she found her home in the church. How she graduated from the Compasdion program. How she plays and sings in the church band. How she has one year left before graduating from law school!
Edith showed us another example of God’s grace! We feel blessed we have had this chance to see his Grace. I hope after reading this you get on your Compassion app or pull out a piece of paper and take time to write your child today. And continue the journey of releasing another child from poverty.

A Gift Recieved

By Bob Herdman

I share this story as ONE in a very long line of firsts this week.
I have embarked on a mission trip (a first) eaten guinea pig (a first) and THIS is my FIRST blog…EVER!
… I feel it is a story that needs to be told, shared and heard in hopes perhaps it may inspire others.

This journey began 2 years ago when I heard a calling and was introduced to the compassion trip and even went to a meeting to find out more. For one reason or another it was easier to find reasons not to go..to busy, work situation,timing won’t allow, It did not go any further. As the opportunity arose again I heard the calling, a bit stronger this time…I prayed, fought and questioned God …Are you sure you have the right person?…What can I do? How will I make an impact? How will I make the time? How will I pay for it? At each stage a door opened and a barrier was eliminated, So I trusted and continued on the journey of going.
As I/we as a group prepared for our trip, I was again called on, this time by Pastor Mark and Gary Z. to
assist in putting together the banner “the Gift” one that we would share with the Alleluia! family for signatures, prayers, well wishes and present to the compassion site/church in Peru.

We brainstormed an idea of using the past trip picture inside the word “Gracia” (Grace in Spanish)
I reviewed the pictures several times, and saw, thought, or something told me don’t just put the pictures randomly “look closely… tell the story”.

So … the left starts with the “Who” the people who envisioned what could be…Pastor Mark, Gary Z. Pastor Felix, Pastor Victor and Keith from Compassion. Next came the “What” what is there, what is going on, what work is being done, showing pictorially the existing church, holes dug, walls being constructed etc. Then on the far right it shows the “Why” why the work is being done..the inside of a very humble home, three small beautiful children, This banner though unlike a timeline with a beginning and an end, has two beginnings the left “the vision” and the far right the future… the children…which is never ending..and the stories that are yet to be told.


Although 11 people presented it, it was supported with hundreds of people who signed it, who wished well, and sent love to people they never met or only know thru a picture.

As I met the individuals in the pictures I arranged,.. Pastor Felix, Pastor Victor, Keith from Compassion, saw the church, the newly constructed bathrooms,did home visits and saw the humble homes, the very poor conditions and met/recieved hugs from the 3 children (that I never met) who where photographed 2 yrs earlier and finally, saw the impact compassion and the sponsorships are making as well as the pure joy the people expressed when we presented the banner “The Gift” to them.
I realized I /we are not giving a gift…we are RECIEVING a Gift..a gift far greater than I/we could ever have imagined. A gift of knowing what we are doing is making a difference in people and children’s lives. This trip the many sponsors who give lovingly and connect to pictures write letters to children they never met is truly making a difference.
Those pictures to me will never “just” be pictures, They are stories and memories of extremely loving, warm people that I now know and am honored to tell their stories.

I wish, hope and pray that others will listen to the call, overcome the obstacles, and open their hearts to recieve such a beautiful gift.

Day Two – God’s Grace fills our souls

By Ed Kubiak

Jennifer couldn’t have summarized yesterday any better, what an amazing Day One to our journey! She and I were admittedly the first to come to tears upon meeting our sponsored children. Words cannot describe the feeling inside when God connects two people through faith. Love speaks its own language when a warm hug between a little girl, her mother  and a mere stranger from thousands of miles away bring tears of joy. I’ve never imagined that type of feeling even existed. That is God’s grace at its finest! One that I will never forget.

Being part of the church service today led by Pastor Felix was nothing short of amazing. Although his words came to many of us through interpreters, his overwhelming passion spoke volumes to us all as he shared the word of our Lord about the value of our souls. The generousity and hospitality of Pastor Felix, Pastor Victor and their congregation was absolutely humbling.

Seeing the Compassion program at work is absolutely amazing and I am blessed to have been called by God to be part of such a wonderful group of individuals representing Alleluia! here in Peru. I’m so excited to return and share the stories of Compassion and continue to help the children in need!

God bless!

An emotional 1st day

By Jennifer Finnerty

After only a few hours of sleep last night, we were excited to make the trip to see Pastor Felix and all the staff and meet the kids. Upon our arrival we could see all the kids waiting to greet us.  They had made signs in English and we could tell how proud they were to hold them up in greeting.  After a short welcome from Pastor Felix, we were given a tour of the classrooms, the new kitchen, and the new bathroom facilities that Alleluia funded.  The bathrooms are beautiful, with a teal tile on the floor and tile on the walls. They are very cheerful looking for bathrooms.  There are boys and girls restrooms and a shower so that those who can’t shower at home can do so here.  We were also shown the bookkeeping system and how the files are kept for each child.  It was quite impressive and very well organized.  Then the fun begins when we get to spend time with the kids.  The first classroom was for the 7 year olds,  this is where Ed and I met our sponsor child.  They wanted to know who Ed was and then he met his child.  Hugs were given! Pictures taken and the smiles were huge.  Then they asked who Godmother Jennifer was, which I was quite surprised, but they wanted me to meet Analhi my sponsor child.  There are no words to explain what it was like to give that sweet girl hugs.  Her mom was there also, and came and introduced herself.  Pictures were taken, and the tears could not be held back, I was an emotional basket case.   The other classroom was 8 year olds.  They sang a song for us.  After the tours, we broke out in groups and went and spent time with the kids in their classrooms.  The teachers had art projects for the kids.  We were able to help the kids and talk to them and just have fun with them.   Of course I was in the classroom with Analhi helping her with a bead artwork picture.  I just learned that Analhi and her sister are twins and they were both there so I got to spend time with both of them.  What a special treat for me to meet her sister also.  This was an unbelievable first day.  The love that Pastor Felix, his staff and the kids and their families showed us was incredibly touching  and emotional.  I can’t wait for tomorrow to come!  Blessings, Jennifer

!Bienvenidos a Huánuco!

We have arrived safely to Huánuco! It was a long travel day yesterday and a short night’s rest, followed by a 45 minute flight over the mountains this morning, but we’re excited to begin the experience.

We’ll be visiting Nueva Sion this afternoon to reconnect with Pastor Felix and the Child Development Site we helped launch after our visit in 2015. For the handful of us who have been to Huánuco before, it feels like a sort of homecoming. We’re grateful to be here.

Early morning

Our Peru Team met at Alleluia! early this morning to head to the airport. We change planes in Houston and then on to Peru. We’ll arrive in Lima around midnight; then a morning flight to Huanuco.

We have a full agenda and will hit the ground running tomorrow. This is an awesome group of people and we are looking forward to sharing the journey together and with you!