Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Kay Ungurean Tells About Her Experiences in El Salvador

PHOTO: Kay Ungurean working in the greenhouse, El Maizal, August 2005
In 2004, I was one of five people from Iowa who went to El Salvador with Episcopal Relief and Development. In a village that was being built by and for 40 families, I helped clear the land for one of those houses. I cut tree limbs and weeds with a machete, hauled bricks, and dug rocks out of the ground.

In 2005, my husband and I were part of a group of seven who went to El Salvador and worked at another site that would become a self-sufficient village with its own fruit and vegetable crops and livestock. We fertilized fruit trees, planted vegetable seeds, and partially cleared one house site.

PHOTO: Karl Ungurean crossing a creek in the orchard, El Maizal, August 2005
We always felt 100% safe. We were served three delicious meals daily and slept in air-conditioned rooms. We definitely were very well cared for and never felt that we were "roughing it."

The cost for each person was $1,000, 7 days, and perspiration. We've been taught that "in giving you shall receive." That lesson really hits home on a mission trip. We received far, far more than we gave. There is now a family living in the house built where I cut branches and hauled rocks in 2004. The village is complete with 40 families in homes that have small Episcopal Church signs by the front doors. A doctor and social worker spend one day each week serving the village families. The school and church are being used.

PHOTO: Kay and Karl talking with two of our hosts, Mercedes and Blanca, San Salvador, August 2005
We received word a couple of months ago that two houses have been built at our 2005 work site. No doubt, there are more today.

The greatest gift I've received in working side by side with El Salvadorans for 14 days is the relationship with them. In spite of having lived through civil wars, earthquakes, and poverty that is foreign to all of us, the people have given me love, care, laughter, tears, and generosity of spirit that are inspiring. My life is richer for having been privileged to be with them. Hopefully, my husband and I will return this year on another mission trip and be allowed the privilege of working with our friends again.

Going on a 7-day mission trip is truly a lifetime gift you receive. Thanks be to God.

—Kay Ungurean, Trinity Cathedral, Davenport, Iowa

To learn more about ERD's work in El Salvador and how you can get involved, go to http://www.er-d.org/programs_39576_ENG_HTM.htm or contact Ron and Toni Noah, Iowa's ERD Representatives, at harimau@thenoahs.net.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Different Sort of Annual Report: Resource Packets

Deacon Pat Johnson of St. Thomas, Sioux City, decided to deliver a different kind of report at her parish's annual meeting this year. Instead of the usual here's-what-I've-been-up-to message, Pat handed out resource packets that would help her parishioners find ways to get more involved in the wider world in 2006.
Photo: The Rev. Pat Johnson meeting the Swazi student she supports through World Vision, November 2005
"This whole notion of deacons as advocates has been at me for some time," Pat says. "This is one word I have always used to describe my vocation. And, at [the October] deacons gathering in Cedar Falls, we talked about deacons as advocates... about ways we could bring these issues to our congregations."

The packets included information from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), including brochures on the El Salvador mission trips and "What Can One Person Do?" to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

From Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN), Pat shared the booklet "Policy for Action," which lists the social policies of the Episcopal Church and tells how to get involved in EPPN's Advocacy Network. From the Office of Anglican and Global Relations (AGR), Pat shared information on long-term mission opportunities.

From Iowa's Diocesan Global Ministries Office, Pat received brochures on Hurricane Katrina Response, the Swaziland School Fees Fund, the upcoming mission trip to Swaziland, diocesan International Development Grants, and the diocesan Global Mission Network. (For copies of these brochures, write to Karen Nichols at karenenichols@gmail.com.)

Most of the resources Pat shared—and many more—are available for free or for only a small shipping charge (usually $5) from The Episcopal Book/Resource Center. Resources on almost any service opportunity imaginable also can be downloaded for free from web. Here are some sites to try:
ERD Resource Center
EPPN Resources
United Thank Offering (UTO) Materials
The theme of Pat's talk was "What Can One Person Do?" "I talked about the privilege of being in a national church and in a diocese who is committed to the MDG's and justice to those around the world," she explains. Pat's inspiring message follows:

What Can One Person Do?

A member of the congregation recently asked me, “How can I make a difference? How do I decide who to donate my money and my time to? There are so many who need help!” It was a valid question, given the enormity of the loss and destruction caused abroad by the tsunamis, as well as here at home by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Even here in Sioux City, the demand for food and shelter assistance increases, as other services are reduced or cut.

What can one person do? It can seem overwhelming. It would be easy to decide that one person couldn’t possibly make a difference in the face of such great need. But our faith tells us otherwise. We are called to be like David against Goliath.

What can one person do? I watch you—the people of St. Thomas’—accomplish so much. We are just one church, yet we feed so many through the food pantry. We are just one church, yet we offer hospitality and hope at Thanksgiving to our neighbors who need a helping hand. We are just one church, yet we send delegations to Swaziland to remind them they are not alone in their struggles. All of you who daily step out in faith believing your contributions are making a difference.

What can one person do? This is the name of a new web link on the Episcopal Relief and Development site. At the last two consecutive General Conventions, beginning in 2000, all dioceses and congregations were challenged to contribute 0.7% of their annual budgets to fund international development programs, as part of the Millennium Development Goals—goals to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty world wide. The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Iowa dared to believe they could make a difference, and committed to this challenge. Many individuals have done the same.

In the video narration of the Diocesan 2006 budget proposal, Bishop Alan Scarfe states, “we are an Episcopate-centered expression of how Christ makes disciples, focused on the call to share His love for neighbor and enemy alike, with a special eye and heart on those who may never pay us back but who always remind us of the greatness of the creation of God in which we so undeservedly find ourselves.” (1)

What can one person do? Simply believe that God has given you the ability to make a difference in this world.

Dn. Pat
January, 2006
1. Iowa Connections, December, 2005, p. A

Good Friday Offering Materials Now Available

Since 1922, Episcopalians in the United States have supported the ministries of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East through the Good Friday Offering. The ministry of the church in that region includes running schools, hospitals, orphanages, and community centers that serve people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. The political situation has left the church in desperate need for funds to continue their work.

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold’s annual Epiphany letter included a call to support the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East by prayer and donations to The Good Friday Offering. A bulletin shell and poster are available online at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/1649_1669_ENG_HTM.htm?menu=menu1668 or through Episcopal Books and Resource Center by calling 800-903-5544.

Justice, Peace, and Creation Commmission Seeks New Members

The Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission (formerly the Jubilee Commission) invites anyone who has a call to such ministries to join this Commission. There will be only three meetings this year. Contact Anne Williams at annewill@n-connect.net for further information.

Meet Swazi Team Member Beth Robbins

Elisabeth "Beth" Robbins writes:
I was born and raised in Nebraska, raised two sons and attended graduate school in Minnesota, have been five years in Iowa and two at Christ Church in Cedar Rapids. Occupation: family therapist, supervisor of St. Luke's Hospital Family Counseling Center. I believe that as God's hands and feet on earth, we human beings have a twofold purpose: First to serve and be served as we work together building humanity in Christ's image; second, to live in this world deeply, experiencing creation in all its fecundity. Why go all the way to Swaziland to do this? It's a mystery to me—my intuition says to go and the purpose will become more clear later. I hope we will make some progress on constructing the school, but the larger benefit is probably in the personal, ongoing relationships we form among team members and with people in Mpaka and the Diocese of Swaziland.
Welcome, Beth!
Photo: To come

Meet Swazi Team Member Andy Pettifor

Andy Pettifor attends Christ Church, Cedar Rapids, and is currently employed by Rockwell Collins as part of their Advanced Technology Center responsible for R&D planning. Born in Scotland, Andy grew up in South Africa and received an engineering degree from the University of the Witwatersrand ("Wits") in Johannesburg. He came to the US in 1966 for graduate study and has since worked for the National Science Foundation, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Rockwell (both in California and Cedar Rapids). He and his wife Diane, who was born in Jo'burg, were married in 1966 in Evanston, Illinois, and have two children.

Andy says, "I see this mission as one of several opportunities that will help me discern the themes for the next stage of my life. Also, there is still a bit of Africa in my blood, and it will be exciting to be able to return and contribute in a small way to a great need. This mission is a concrete (no pun intended) way to build relationships at a personal level among two communities, each of which has unique and distinct gifts and resources to share with the other. This does not easily happen at the NGO or international aid program level, and I hope that this will not just be a one time project but will lead to a lasting relationship between our two communities that will strengthen both of them."

Thank you, Andy, for all you have done as part of the Christ Church SwaziCompanions to make this trip possible, and blessings to you on your journey.
Photo: To come