Missions

handsHere we are again.

To be honest, I don’t even know where to start this time… other than to simply say that Tyler, Hannah and I (Rod) will be participating in a March Break Mission Trips once again.  This time in very different ways, but still short term missions.

Once again, we have to surround ourselves with prayer support and raise some significant dollars.  More about that later.

The Ask

I’m not sure where to start in “the ask” this time because, to be honest, I know I ask often.  This has caused me to reflect and seek why God would once again ask me (and Tyler and Hannah) to participate again.  Doesn’t God know that people get tired of being asked to pray for and financially support others doing missions (locally or cross-culturally)?  Doesn’t He know that people are busy, our economy is battered, and people don’t want another thing to add to the list?

I was sharing this with someone the other day, someone I didn’t know well.  He said something that has echoed thru my thoughts since.  What he said was not new to me, but his conviction (I think) stood out to me.  He simply reminded me that, “God calls some to go and gives the rest the opportunity to support those that are called to go.”

I’ve heard that said before in a variety of ways.  In the past I often cringed at it because for many it is used as an excuse to not go.  I would hear this most often when talking about our family’s ten month mission trip to Bolivia.  So many saying, “We could never do that!” would make me want to push back and say why not?  I agree, not everyone could, but to dismiss it without a look is not the right answer either.  Too many times we said the same thing before Bolivia… “We could never do that!  How can we take the kids out of school for a year?  What about our house, we can’t sell it and we can’t raise donations to pay the mortgage in our absence!  We have to raise $55,000?!  In four months?!  We could never do that!”

We had so many opportunities to back out of the Bolivia trip, but chose to seek God’s direction each step.  And, being honest, many times did not know how God was going to take care of some ‘big’ details till His timing.

Yet, here we stand, with our Bolivia trip already over two years behind us.  We still have conversations and ‘ah ha’ moments about the incredible impact on us individually and as a family.  We have a deeper prayer life and understanding for long term missionaries and our kids have an educational experience no school, public or Christian, could give them.

God is good.

Back to the earlier comment.  I felt as I was hearing it again, that maybe it’s ok to be the one called to go.  I feel, as I reflect back, I always wanted to be the one who supported the one called to go… that, in my warped sense of pride, there is something great about saying, “I financially support X number of missionaries!”  It just sounds nicer, again, in my pride, than saying “I have had to depend on $$$ of support.”

My new friend in the above conversation was unknowingly giving me, perhaps for one of the first time, a glimpse of that pride in my life and the reverse side of the coin.  You see, he also showed me that others were doing what I was doing to them.  While I was secretly wishing I could be proud that I was supporting a bunch of missionaries, he (as someone supporting missionaries) was secretly wishing he could be the one God called to “go” to the mission field and was somewhat envious that was the one going.

I guess, in all of this, I am saying that God seems to have it all figured out.  In His Kingdom economics, He has us where we need to be… that the real challenge is more about listening to his calling in our lives.  You see, I am confident in my call to “go.”  I am confident in our family’s call to serve others, locally and cross culturally.  Just as confident as my friends call to financially and prayerfully support those who were called to go.

One more thing before I wrap this up.  As I typed this, I ended up revisiting a bunch of our Bolivian posts.  Check out our Merry Christmas from Bolivia video here.  Our kids look sooo young!

A few Details

This year, Tyler will be going back to the Dominican Republic LightHouse Projects with Compass Community Church.  Hannah is joining the Junior High Mission Trip to Windsor to help with a VBS style week and some community work with at risk kids.  Finally, I (Rod) am leading the CBOQ (Canadian Baptist of Ontario and Quebec) Youth Mission trip to the LightHouse Project as well (Tyler and I will be on the same trip, but with different teams).

If you are able to financially support one of us, we thank you.  If you are able to support each of us, it is a bit complicated.  Because we are essentially on three different teams, you’d have to send three different supports.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me via email at rod_vis@hotmail.com.

Lastly, but most importantly, we covet your prayers.  Our family is able to do missions because of the prayer support we have had over the years.  I know God has a reason for these rich experiences in my children’s lives and He will use them in significant ways as they become adults, so your prayers are needed.

TylerSupport for Tyler:

Iteams International – click here.

HannahSupport for Hannah:

Compass Community Church – Mail a cheque to (Put Hannah’s name and Windsor Mission Trip on the cheque), Compass Community Church, P.O. Box 86, Orangeville, Ontario, L9W 2Z5

Support for Rod

Iteams International – Click here.

 

 

Here we go again!

Her We Go Again

How many times have I said “Here we go again!” in the last few years?  Too many times to count, I’m sure.

Every time I visit the LightHouse Project in the Dominican Republic, I feel like it will be my last time.  Not because I don’t want to return, but because I’m not sure if God will open doors for me to return again.  The last trip was to introduce my church to the ministry and work of the LightHouse Projects and train new leaders to lead future teams.  So, in a way I was passing the torch.

 

I also decided that I could not do these trips anymore without part or all of my family.  Time with my kids is at a stage when I need to be present in their lives more intentionally as they enter their teen years.  Second, having gone to the mission field as a family, I have seen first hand the power of serving together as a family and I missed that on my last trip to the DR.  So, when asked about going back in a support role for the new leaders of the team, I was in if I could bring one or two of my kids.

On March 13th, Tyler, Hannah and I will (with the team from Compass Community Church), head down to the Dominican Republic for one week to serve with International Teams and The LightHouse Projects.  We will have a variety of opportunities to join in some construction work, help in the school(s) and simply love on the people living in Los Alcarrizos.  This will be an opportunity for Tyler and Hannah to see, first hand, the community that God used to stir my love for the mission field that ultimately led to our time in Bolivia.

I am not oblivious to the fact that we now have to raise funds for 3 people, so this is an exercise in faith for us that God will provide.  I believe without a doubt that God has called Tyler, Hannah and I to be on this trip, so my confidence is in God to provide the resources.

A few Sundays ago we heard a sermon about praying with persistence.  To pray audaciously. To pray specifically.  One of may favourite examples was when funds were needed to keep a seminary open, a prayer was voiced, “God, you own the cattle on a thousand hills.  Please sell a few so the funds can keep this school open.”  The next day, someone showed up from the cattle auction with a cheque saying, “Someone just sold two trailers of cattle and felt compelled to give you the cheque.”  God hears our prayers.

I invite you to join us in prayer over the next few months as we prepare for this trip.  Pray for the team from Compass Community Church, the LightHouse Projects in the Dominican, and for divine moments to impact and be impacted for God’s Kingdom purposes through this experience.

If you are able to support us financially or would like to track our progress, you can go to the International Teams support page by clicking here.

Be Blessed!

Christmas Cards, Camp Adventures, DR Missions Trip and Rod’s Health!

To say that January has been a busy month is an understatment!  I don’t even know where to start, so I will try to categorize things for you.

Christmas Cards

Listening to the instructions

Listening to the instructions

Tyler, Hannah, Carter and Abby all worked hard before Christmas to make and sell Christmas cards with the goal to raise a bit of month for a Centre in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We had an opportunity to serve at the centre and became friends with the directors (The Quinteros Family), so we have had time to meet and know a number of the kids from the community.

The Vis kids raised an over 3,900 Bolivianos!  While this is definately worth celebrating, the bigger thing (to me) is the countless times

Hannah and two friends

Hannah and two friends

they created opportunities to share their God story about Bolivia!  Our kids attend public schools and were given opportunities to talk about the Centre and the reasons we were there.  I believe seeds where planted as they were public about their faith!

Camp Kwasind

Our next family adventure has begun!  If you haven’t heard yet, I accepted the ManagingDirector role at Camp Kwasind, beginning January 1st.  What camp ministry experience do I have, you ask?  Great question!  I have been the Spiritual Director for a few Sports Camps at Camp Norland and Jen and I were the speakers at a

Dock Conversations

Camp Kwasind family camp, but that is about it.

To be honest, I did wonder why I would be asked for this role.  My background is in
Pastoral Ministry and a family business (Bright Spot Drycleaners), so how does camp fit in?  My short time here has shown me that the answer is “perfectly.”  At Camp, I will be able to put to use my full toolbelt of experience, education and interests.  In fact, the more I learn about Camp Ministry, the more excited I get!  And I haven’t even mentioned how perfect we believe this will be for our family as a whole!

Stay tuned to hear about some of our camp adventures and discoveries in the days ahead!

Back to the Mission Field

Prayer

Before going to Bolivia, I (Rod) had been part of 4 short term teams to the Dominican Republic with the Canadian Baptist of Ontario and Quebec and Careforce International (wow, that’s a mouthful!).  While I was in the Interim Family Director position at Compass Community Church, I was asked to lead a March Break youth mission trip.  Naturally, it made sense to connect again with the Lighthouse School in the DR.

From March 7th to the 14th I will be part of a team of 12 people traveling and serving at the Lighthouse School in Los Alcarrizos, Dominican Republic.  This is a community of over 250,000 people, many living in extreme poverty and poor living conditions.  Education is one of the best ways to break generational cycles of poverty and the lighthouse has had incredible impact in this community over its 20+ year history.  I am excited to be returning to once again participate in all that God is doing there.

You can read more about the Lighthouse by visiting Careforce International’s website (here) or their facebook page (here).

One of the many joys of any mission experiences is raising support, both financial and prayer.  So many of you have been part of our support during our time in Bolivia and I would covet your support once again.

Finacial donations can be made via my Careforce page (here).  Tax receipts will be issued by Careforce International.

If you are able to commit to praying for me and the team from Compass, I would love to know.  Please comment here or send me an email at rod_vis@hotmail.com.

Lastly, the Lighthouse always has specific item needs… from paint brushes to ink for their printers.  If you are able to help somehow in this need, please read the list (here) and let me know if you are able to help.

My Health

In short, I am still not 100%.  I am walking better and more each day, but I still can not run or manage stairs very well.  Most days I feel fine and I am ok to move at my own pace.  I am still confident that I will be running by summer.

Well, that has been our month… and the year is just starting!  Talk to you soon!

Ride For Refuge and Health Update

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It has been 3 months today that we returned to Canadian soil.  The past 3 months have had many rollercoaster moments of great highs and deep challenges.


Over July and August we were deeply blessed with the generousity of so many… from donations of food and money to people giving us their homes to live in.  God is good and provided so many things to us through friends and family.  

We raised support to go to Bolivia, but receiving support this past summer was different.  Last summer, people gave so that we could go and do ministry in a cross cultural context, but this summer people were giving just to give and support us.  There is a small, yet significant difference.  Last year we were able to show what supporters money and prayers were able to produce, this year it allowed us to pay for gas and food for our family.  Adjusting back to Canadian culture has been an interesting journey with some unexpected oddities… one of the biggest being the nomatic kind of lifestyle we have experienced.  Even today, as we are back in our home, we are very aware that once I find full time work again, we would likely need to sell and move.  So how settled do we get in our current home?!

On top of that, my health prevented me from doing much of anything.  Knowing people have given you support and not being able to do anything but say thank you is a hard reality to live in.

My health has been getting better.  I am able to walk (slowly) and stand for longer periods of time, but the slow pace of my recovery is frustrating.  I visited the doctor this past week and she raised the possibility that this could turn into something more long term… which is not exciting at all.  My medication has been adjusted to hopefully speed up my recovery.

icon_34All of that said, I am able to ride my mountain bike again.  It feels good to be able to move faster than a slow walk.  I am planning to ride in the Ride for Refuge on Oct 5th for a total of 10 kms.  This will be a bit of a challenge for me, but I am confident that I will be able to complete the full 10kms.  I am also raising support for an amazing ministry in Guatemala.  Our good friends, Barb and Gerry, have been in Guatemala for several years now and have done a great job of building relationships and investments into the lives of so many.  The money I raise will enable them to make further significant impact in the lives of students in some remote communities.  God’s fingerprints are all over what they are doing.

You can read more about their ministry by clicking here.

If you are able to support the team riding with me, please visit the Ride for Refuge website and search for my name to make an online donation.  You can also just click here to be taken directly to my page.

If you are unable to make a financial donation, please continue supporting me through prayer.  I appreciate prayer for my health to return to normal and especially for Oct. 5th as I ride my bike.

Be Blessed

Centro Comunitario Sumumpaya

This past week we had the wonderful privilege of visiting a local ministry not too far from the school.  The Sumumpaya Community Center seeks to build relationships with people in the community.  This is an area where the people are cold to the gospel message and the Truth of scripture.  It does this by providing opportunities to engage with people in the places they do life, by meeting the needs of those living around the center.

A few of the ways they do this are;

Education: Mostly pre-schoolers can come for 1/2 a day to learn many things from hygiene to the ABC’s.  There is also after school help for school-aged students.

Medical needs: There is a dentist and a psychologist to further help the child grow strong and healthy.

Kitchen: They use the kitchen for weekly cooking classes.

Youth room: A place for youth to connect and build relationships.

A covered gym:  This room offers everything from soccer skills training (Tyler is enrolled) to a rental space for weddings, etc.

A weight room: A great space for people to come and work out.

Zumba: This is an area that can be used for many things, currently offering Zumba classes.

This ministry is an example of Integral Mission at it’s finest.  It is meeting the needs of a people group that is simply not receptive to the good news of the gospel.  The wording used during our time there was that they were not only planting seeds, but tilling the soil.  Pray for this ministry, and if God leads, I know they can use your financial support too.

The long-term goal is to become self-sufficient by the small fees/memberships charged for the use of the center.  God is using the Quinteros family and this center in some great ways… what a blessing they are to the community.  We look forward to connecting and visiting on a more regular basis.  You can also learn more about Integral Missions at this link.

Enjoy a few of the pictures we took during our time there.

Be Blessed.

Let’s make a deal!

Remember that show?

I can’t say I remember much about it, other than the name.  There is probably a reason I don’t remember much about it…

Well, I have a deal for one lucky person (or family) who reads this blog.  Have you ever wanted to own a VW Beetle (not the fancy new ones, but like a vintage 30 year VW Bug made with real steel and not that fiberglass/plastic stuff)?  Have you ever wanted to say that you owned a car from South America, where cars seem to run forever?

I would like to help you with that.  If you answered yes to the question above, we would be willing (for no charge) to help you buy that VW Beetle!  We will gladly search for the best deal in Cochabamba and take care of it for you during our time here, including, but not limited to;

  • taking it for test drives in Cochabamba
  • keeping the gas tank full (at about 55 cents a liter, that shouldn’t be too hard)
  • wash it on a regular basis
  • always park it in safe places, preferably the shade
  • find a good home to sell it to before we leave Bolivia

I have been told that you can buy a VW Beetle in good shape for about $3,500 US (cars are not cheap in Bolivia).  There is an advantage to buying an old car in Bolivia… they hold their value well, so when the time comes to sell it, you should be able to recover most or even all of your money!

Does this sound too good to be true?

Well, it gets better.  In addition to everything stated above, we will send you pictures of your car hanging out in the scenic parts of Cochabamba!

This is a limited time offer, so act quickly!

** This type of purchase would not receive a tax receipt with SIM Canada.  Money received from the sale of the car would be returned to you once we return to Canada in July 2013.

Now is the time.

This journey to the mission field is an adventure like none other.  It has stretched us in many ways, yet we remain focused on the vision God has placed before us.

We also recognize the realities before us and live in that tension while stepping forward in faith.

As we end the month of July we have completed all our paper work required by the various governments and organizations we will work with, and so the only step to complete before boarding a plane is that of financial support.  We currently sit around the 50% mark, which translated means we have about $30,000 in money and pledges (pledges are calculated over 12 months, so  for example a $100/month pledge counts as $1,200 towards the $60,000 goal).

This is truly a case of the glass being half full or half empty.  If I were honest, there are days I scratch my head and wonder about how the next $30,000 will come in and when we will be able to leave.  Other days I celebrate what God has done already… so many great conversations and even some new friends, and the fact that he has already provided so much money in a very short time.

So what are our next steps?  We will continue to trust God and will continue to move forward with plans to leave as soon as we hit our financial goals.  This means we need to continue packing and cleaning our house (btw, does anyone know of a family looking to rent a house in Brampton?) packing our bags and making arrangements for while we are gone (we also have a beautiful black lab to lend to a good family for one year!).

We have a vision that God has given us to impact lives in Bolivia and ultimately the world.  We are passionately following that vision as it fuels our mission of God.  You may not be able to join us in Bolivia, but you can still be a part of this mission.  God may be calling you to join us on this mission by becoming a financial supporter.

I am currently reading a small booklet by Henri Nouwen (any other fans of Nouwen out there?) called A by Henri NouwenSpirituality of Fundraising.  I like these opening words;

“Fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry.  It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission.  Vision and mission are so central to the life of God’s people that without vision we perish and without mission we lose our way (Prov. 29:18; 2 Kings 21:1-9).  Vision brings together needs and resources to meet those needs (Acts 9:1-19).  Vision also shows us new directions and opportunities for our mission (Acts 16:9-10).  Vision gives us courage to speak when we might want to remain silent (Acts 18:9).”

If you have planned to join our mission by supporting us financially, please click here to find our instructions on how to give.  You can make a one time donation or become a monthly supporter.  All donations are appreciated.  If you plan to give at a future date, please let us know too so we can continue to make plans going forward.  If you have questions, please email me directly at rod_vis@hotmail.com or Jen at jen_vis@hotmail.com.

Lastly, whether you are able to join us in financial support or not, we would love your prayer support.  Please pray for us as we take these next challenging steps of faith.

Be Blessed

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” ~ Proverbs 29:18