Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meetings and Special Events

With a free weekend between my class in Columbia and my meetings in Charlotte, I decided to look into a trip to see family. It turned out I could get to Rhode Island/Massachusetts for a decent fare, so took the chance to go see Stan's brother, Ed and family. We rarely get to "hang out" as family, so it was nice to be together with Ed and Marian, plus two of their three kids. It was a little chilly--but no snow and ice to hamper travel. I enjoyed worshiping at the church Ed pastors in Pocasset, MA.

Getting close for an iPhone self-portrait.

From January 17-19, five of us from Asian Access met with a number of staff of SIM USA in Charlotte, NC to talk through a variety of details of the transition we have ahead in the Strategic partnership.  It was especially helpful for us all to meet face to face. There are a number of areas where we in Asian Access have one person doing what multiple departments cover in SIM.  Obviously size is a factor there--and while at times it gets confusing in our discussions, we are realizing some of the benefits of multiple staff members doing key roles.

Left to Right: Jeffery (A2 Japan Leadership Team), Sue (A2 Japan Dir of Training), Eric (SIM  USA Personnel Director) , Mary Jo (VP, A2 Japan), Emi (A2 HRD Director), and me (A2 Japan Leadership Team, Member Care).  We were visiting the SIM International headquarters where we got a quick history of SIM. It was facinating!  

While in Charlotte, I had a chance to talk with people about our family's transition, which is currently in process.  I was learning how to file reimbursements; who we go to to ask the questions that invariably will come up; working through the process of getting our pay from SIM--a most important detail!  As the De La Cour family discovers the questions, its up to us to document those areas so when others in Asian Access make the transition later in the year it will be easier to for them. It is a blessing that both the SIM and Asian Access  operational staff are very supportive and accommodating while we work through these things.

With our trip to Charlotte finished, it was time for me to fly across the country to Southern California, where I was picked up by my daughter at 10 p.m. at night.  We spent the weekend together, of course, catching up on life and shopping for things for me to take back. 

Panda Express is always a favorite stop for A and me when in Southern California.

Saturday morning we attended my sister's ordination as a priest in the Anglican Church of North America.  I felt so honored to represent our family--both those who are a part of the "great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before, and others who could not attend--and was given a role in the service.

It was great to be able to celebrate with Joyce on this most significant day!

Sunday we attended the 11 a.m. service at St. James Anglican church in Newport Beach, where Joyce had a key part in the communion.  Then it was off to the area near LAX where after a lovely Sunday afternoon Starbucks visit, she dropped me off at my hotel. I was on the way to Japan the next morning.

These were full weeks--between my class, the SIM visit and the brief stop in California.  But I rejoice in all that was experienced and accomplished. I am also thankful that I didn't have any flight delays in all my travels! This time of year, that is significant!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My "Organizational Member Care Service" Class

Last week I was in Columbia, South Carolina for my third member care course in a Masters in Ministry Care at Columbia International University.  This time our topic was Organizational Member Care Services, where we looked at mission, vision, needs assessments, and proposal presentation for a Member Care facilitator to use in working within their organization.  

Ten of the 15 students had been in previous classes with me, which made it more enjoyable.  There are people who are clinical counselors, pastoral counselors, and others like me who are facilitators.

The class was taught using "Adult Learning" principles, which meant that we had a lot of personal interaction and group presentations.  With the breadth of experience in our group, and the variety of nations we represented, there were some very good interactions.

On Thursday we had to do a role-play with our "administrators" to present a proposal we had worked on throughout the week.  Our profs were those administrators--much too nice, I might add!  Dr. Laura Gardner   (L) has contributed much to the member care field. Many of us have used her writings to help us establish our member care programs. Dr. Jim Smith (R) was one of her doctoral students, and oversees the Member Care program for his mission organization.

We gathered for a group photo on Friday before lunch.  (We're missing one member of the class who cannot be photographed because of the sensitivity of their ministry location.)

I leave with some work left to finish--but much of it is very practical and my project is based on being sure to facilitate the transition for our Asian Access missionaries who are moving under the SIM USA banner this year.

Next week I'll be joined by four other Asian Access people in Charlotte, NC for meetings with SIM to work through details of our transition.

Today I was struck by the passage my brother in law preached (I'm weekending in Cape Cod with Stan's brother and family) from in 1 Corinthians 16:15 & 16

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 

The role of a Member Care person is to be the one who serves those who are serving. As one of my classmates said, they are "missionaries to the missionary."  It is important to care and encourage those who are involved in front-line ministry -- and it was nice to see Paul confirming that role in the Corinthian church.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things that Change and Things that stay the Same

In mid-November of last year, the announcement was made of a strategic partnership agreement between Asian Access and SIM USA.  You can click this link to read the announcement here.

July, 2011 in Charlotte, NC
 for Strategic Partnership Discussions
I (Faith) have been part of the team helping to develop this relationship over the past year.  According to the agreement, SIM USA will partner with Asian Access (A2) to recruit and send missionaries to Japan to help plant churches. SIM assumes responsibility for the functions of mobilization (recruiting missionaries), human resources (missionary training and U.S.based care) and financial accounting. Asian Access retains responsibility for championing the overall vision in Japan, managing the strategy of missionary deployment through its vast network of Japanese churches, and Japan-based missionary care. 

Because of my involvement for the past year, we have volunteered to be the first on-field career mission family to make the transition to SIM USA.  We are excited about the partnership and look forward to the benefits we will gain from being a part of a larger mission organization. We expect to discover where any glitches may be in the transition over the next few months in order to help smooth the way for the other Asian Access missionaries who will make the move later in the year.

In many ways, this change will not be noticeable to you unless you are a financial partner.  We will be continuing the same work in Japan, though we technically have become SIM USA missionaries seconded (loaned) to Asian Access.  Stan will continue to serve at the International Community Chapel of Saitama (ICCS). I will continue to oversee Missionary Care for all missionaries working with Asian Access in Japan.

If you are supporting our ministry financially, instructions for sending future support to SIM USA are given on the link labeled "How to support the De La Cours"at the top of this page.  We will have “open accounts” in both organizations while this transition is under way, so if you’ve already sent this month’s support to Asian Access, you don’t need to be concerned. We do value and need your faithful and ongoing gifts!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Before we get too far past ...

Here are a few highlights of our past few weeks--

STANTA CLAUS was called on to cheer up some kindergarten children who attend a
school nearby a friend's church.  Not only did he bring joy to the children,
 but also to a police man who happened to see him getting suited up
in the car on the way over from the train station.

A team from Singapore visited the Senior Day Care Center in our community where we had been a few weeks before with the Fisher family from Minnesota.  They gave a full program and handed out gifts.   The headmistress says that she feels freedom this month out of the year to share the gospel with those who come, and welcomed both teams.

The headmistress (in front) has the group introduce themselves.

On December 23 there was a Singaporean Christmas party, complete with food and games. Many of the Japanese ladies who attended are English Bible Study students from various classes affiliated with ICCS. They have met the team from Singapore the past four years, and have made some good connections with them.

Ken gave his testimony at the party.  His mother attended. She hasn't made a profession of faith,
 but she has certainly seen the changes in him.  Ken has been working full time in
the emotional care ministries in the Fukushima area since April.

This year we were going to forego the caroling, because last year it started late (always after the Christmas Eve service) and neighbors of people we visited complained about the noise. However, several were very disappointed to hear of our plans, and the idea came that we should go caroling BEFORE Christmas Eve service.
Here is the group outside of one of the regular attenders of an English Bible class
( he's int he back right, holding up his gift bag).

And here they are talking with T-san, who comes regularly to our church, and whose daughter and son-in-law joined him for Candle Light service later.

We had a nice group for Christmas Eve service.

Candle light and singing of Silent Night.

Stan leading the singing

With Christmas Day being Sunday morning, we wondered who would come out.  We were pleasantly surprised at the good turn-out!

The Singapore Team along with the Loh's (Campus Crusade missionaries and faithful members of ICCS) and us.  These folks gave up Christmas at home to spend it in our church and sharing with people in our neighborhood.

On New Year's Sunday we had the same question--who would be there?

Along with a good number of regulars, we had two "alumni families" come with their small children.  It was a treat to start the year off with our church family.

And finally, a few "purikura" photos we took with our girls a few days ago...

Don't you wish all cameras were that gracious!

Happy New Year from the De La Cour's in Japan!