Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Transition, Celebration and Ministry


MERRY CHRISTMAS - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I don't know about you, but it's hard for us to believe that another year is almost gone.  Perhaps, the older you get, the faster time actually goes - at least it seems that way.

Transition

Karl started 2012 transitioning to being the full-time Justice Pastor at Mission Community Church. MISSION is a growing church in Gilbert, Arizona that has a vision to "do Justice, love Mercy and walk Humbly".  We have known Mark Connelly, the Senior Pastor since 2007 when Karl took a group of pastors to Malawi and South Africa. That trip introduced MISSION to Somebody Cares Malawi and we have been in relationship since.  Karl is still on retainer with Visionledd as the transition to new leadership in the USA begins to unfold.  We anticipate that this transition will be complete by the middle of 2013.

In the meantime, Debbie continued to lead and participate in short-term teams for both MISSION and Visionledd. Throughout this year she has had a greater role in being a pastor and friend to the women leading or working in our partner ministries around the globe.  Those of you who know Debbie, know she does a brilliant job at this.

Celebration

In June, we spent a couple of weeks in Canada celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of Karl's parents.  Donovan and Hyesun were able to join us for part of our time in Canada.  We are so grateful for the example of good marriages that both sets of our parents have provided for us.  We realize that in today's world - long marriages are not the norm - and having stable families make all the difference in the world.

The 60th Wedding Anniversary Picture
We had a wonderful time together in Edmonton and in Radium Hot Springs in the Canadian Rockies.  Being in the mountains and where it is green is soothing to the soul.

On The Road Again 

At the end of last year we felt that we needed to do less international travel in 2012 - AND - we managed to accomplish that.  Instead of doing over 175,000 miles between the two of us in 2011 - we only got in about 100,000 in 2012! Three of our trips in particular were of significance.

Fiji

In February and again in December we spent time with Homes of Hope (HOH) in Fiji. Homes of Hope operates residential and community-based programs that rescue, restore and reintegrate women and their children, to give them value and stop the cycles of forced sex. HOH has a growing focus on community-based work - and two of our partners - Somebody Cares in Malawi and Dr. Hugo Gomez of Global CHE Enterprises in Guatemala are some of the leading practitioners of this approach to ministry.  

In February we were able to facilitate and participate in the visit of Chief Theresa Malila from Somebody Cares to HOH.  She came as an African chief and spent some very significant time speaking to Fijian chiefs about their responsibility to protect the women and children in their villages. Because Fijians believe that East Africans settled the islands about 3,500 years ago - her visit took on special significance.  We were also able to spend time with the staff and leaders of Homes of Hope to think and pray through the implications of HOH becoming more community-based in their ministry approach. It was a very important week.

Chief Theresa, Karl & Debbie and Linda Rinzel with HOH Staff
Chief Theresa, Karl & Debbie Mueller, HOH Staff and Provincial Chiefs, Pastors and Leaders

Building on the foundation of the February trip, Debbie and I accompanied Dr. Hugo Gomez from Guatemala to HOH in December.  Dr. Hugo conducted a 30+ hour CHE (Community Health Evangelism), Training of Trainers Workshop for the HOH leadership and staff.  Once again this was a significant time in the life of HOH, as we spent a whole week learning about and discussing community-based ministry.



Dr. Hugo with some of the HOH Staff who participated in the workshop

It was such a privilege to facilitate these two trips that enabled our partners from Malawi, Guatemala and Fiji to learn from each other.  This is something new that God is doing.  The Great Commission is "from everywhere to everywhere" - and it was wonderful being part of seeing that happen in Fiji.

Malawi

In September we were able to be part of a small consultation of African leaders from 5 nations involved in community-transformation.  Hosted by Somebody Cares, this was a week where Africans could learn from other Africans and discover what God is doing to change the continent.  Debbie and I were privileged to be part of this gathering because we have been partnering with Somebody Cares since 2005 and because MISSION has been working alongside Somebody Cares in the community of Chikudzulire since 2007. God has done some amazing things in Chikudzulire and in other communities served by Somebody Cares, and it was wonderful to be part of sharing that story with our African friends. 

Chief Theresa & Debbie with the women leaders at the Consultation
At the beginning of the consultation we all introduced ourselves and shared what we do.  Debbie simply said that one of the things she comes to do in Africa is to be "a friend".  After that meeting, one of the women leaders from Zambia, who cares for 4,000 orphans and vulnerable children came to me with tears in her eyes and told me how much what Debbie said meant to her.  She said;

"I've been working with children for 20 years.  I've had scores of westerners come to Zambia and tell me what I've done wrong, criticize me, and try to tell me what to do.  NEVER has anyone said to me - I want to be your friend". 

Once again I was reminded of the fact that what we "do" doesn't matter half as much as who we "are".  Simply being a friend can make a huge difference.

2013

We are looking forward to the coming year.  We don't have any international travel scheduled for the first few months - but we do get to go to Alaska in February!  Karl has been invited to speak at a Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class in Anchorage, and we are looking forward to spending a couple of extra days enjoying the mountains, the snow and the cold.   

As we have been thinking and praying about 2013 we are filled with expectation that the Lord is going to do some new things in our lives and in our ministry.  We "see as in a mirror dimly" but we know He only has good in store for us in the months ahead.

Debbie and I want to wish you a wonderful 2013 filled with the blessing of the Lord in every aspect of your life.

We so appreciate your friendship, your prayer and your support.  We become more and more aware each year how the real wealth we have here on earth is in relationships with dear friends and family like you.  Many blessings on each of you.

Karl and Debbie