Things that make me smile #4 – Kool – aid

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The state that I am from is where Kool – Aid was invented. I practically grow up on it and we drank it more than water. It is a constant reminder of my childhood and home. A few years ago I came across it in the supermarket and could not help but buy it. Now whenever I want to have a taste of home I can mix it up. It makes me smile.

For more things that make me smile visit the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202409629416937.1073741963.1079445210&type=3

Reaching the other regions of Bolivia

Three years ago I came to a conclusion after a local Christian leadership conference in the city of Cochabamba.  As I asked where the people had come from I noticed the vast majority had come from the three major cities of Cochabamba, La Paz, and Santa Cruz. Almost none had come from the other sectors of Bolivia.  The reasons were relatively easy to see.

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1)    The other regions of Bolivia are extremely remote. A person would have to travel many hours on very rough terrain in order to get to the event, and in some cases as much as 3 days.

2)    The other regions can not afford the price of the events.  In the events we host we try to keep the costs down so that the Christians leaders around the country can attend.  Even with that goal in mind we still find ourselves not being able to motivate people from these regions because they simply can not afford the price to attend.

3)    There is a lack of understanding of the importance of leadership development in the other regions.   Simply because they have not been exposed to the light of leadership formation the people from these regions have not learned the importance of working on their leadership potential.

Taking all of these factors into consideration still does not change the fact that these regions need help just as much as the big cities.  With that charge our ministry has tried to do just that: bring leadership formation to the remote, far reaching sectors of Bolivia.

This week we hosted one of our yearly conferences in Tarija, Bolivia.  The reception was not big, just 50 leaders.  We hosted the two day event with a live speaker doing part of the training. The other sessions were by video.  When I got home I was content because we helped those that rarely get assistance.

Thank you so much for all of you who give, pray and encourage us as we do our best to help the other regions of Bolivia.

DaRonn

The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

A few months ago I was talking with a group interested in helping us start a Christian school in another city in Bolivia. I shared with them the goal that the Christian school would someday pay for the expenses of an orphanage in that same city. With excitement in their eyes they asked to see the numbers. A few days later they said, “With the orphanage involved in the equation there does not seem to be much left over for profit”. They were exactly right. Orphanages are not profitable. However, that depends on how you define profit.

Six years ago we started The House of Dreams Orphanage with a dream to help the orphan crisis in the nation of Bolivia. We also hoped that through monthly sponsorship the orphanage would be self-sustaining. People would catch the heart of what we were doing and become partners. Looking back I see that may have been pie in the sky, like the myths of the unicorn and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The closer we got to “self-sustainability” someone would chip a tooth, need glasses or have an emergency trip to the hospital. But really, are orphanages suppose to be self-sustaining or profitable?

If we define profitable simply from the standpoint of income and expenses an orphanage does not qualify. But, if we include in the definition things that cannot be measured on a balance sheet, we see lives being impacted for eternity. With a meager amount of funding we have been able to impact the lives of 53 orphans in 6 short years. Not to mention the lives that they will impact over time. We can also add to that the number of people who have been changed by donating their time, money, and services to those who will never be able to repay them. This impact is immeasurable.

I still hope that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow shows up. Until then we will simply have to be unprofitable and do more bowling strike fundraisers, garage sales, and facebook appeals. Anyone who knows the good he ought to do should do that good, especially if it will change a life for eternity.

My greatest challenge

A few weeks ago I was talking with a pastor in the US. He asked me, “What is your greatest challenge on the mission field in Bolivia.”  Whenever someone asks me that question I do not know where to start.  Bolivia is a challenging country.  There’s the challenge of living in another culture.  The challenge of the unstable political structure and constant protests.  There’s the challenge of living in a country that has been considered one of the most corrupt countries in Latin America. But the greatest challenges are two responsibilities which are mutually opposed to one another. 

As a missionary, my number one responsibility is to develop the ministry here in Bolivia.  In this particular stage of the ministry it requires that I am present in country.  We are in the middle of a tremendous time of growth and one of the reasons is because I have been able to be hands-on since the foundations of the ministry. 

But at the same time, I see that we there is an increased need for me to be in the US to fundraise.   It was clear to us, based on our ministry income in January and February, we were going to have to find more people to partner with us.  Literally, our donor’s gifts decreased 30%.  By the month of March we had to make tough decisions of downsizing and cutting off ministry operations. 

Thus comes my greatest challenge, needing to be in Bolivia so that the ministry can continue to prosper and at the same time needing to raise funds abroad.  My challenge is the inability to be omnipresent.

Some months are better than others.  Sometimes our partners come through or we receive a miraculous gift and it allows me to spend more time in country.   I love those uninterrupted times because we can really see things happen.  But other times, I find myself in the US opening an offering envelope in an airport which will determine if I have to stay one more week abroad or not. I am not complaining.  At this particular stage in our lives it is just a part of our calling.  But I long for the day when it will not be necessary to try to be in two places at the same time. 

  

My view of fairness

As a single mother with three children my mom tried to do her best to make things fair in our house.  At meals time everyone got the same amount of food.  When it was back-to-school time everyone got the same amount of money to spend on shoes. On Christmas my father had to buy my younger brother, who was not his son, toys because it was not fair in my mother’s eyes that one child would have more than the other on Christmas day.  From a young age I learned what you do for one you must do for all.  As I look back at my childhood I am amazed at how my mother was able to pull it off because as an adult my concept of fairness is constantly challenged.  

Being a father of 5 children I am guaranteed trip to the shoe store every two months.  Someone is going to need new shoes.  The last time I was in the store I found myself struggling with the fact that I was only going to buy shoes for one child. Eventually I had to call my wife to give me affirmation that it was justified because her toe was coming out of the shoe, and not the other children’s.  I did not struggle with spending the money. What bothered me was the concept that just because we can do the same for all did not mean we had to.

In the family it seems less challenging.  When it comes to the ministry it is more complicated for me.  We have an orphanage, a Christian school, a church, a ministry that helps pastors and church leaders, not to mention being an aspiring author.  If I wanted to be equal in all areas at the same time I literally could not.  It is impossible for me to give the same amount of time, energy, and focus to all that we do at all times.  I have tried it and it has worn me out.  So, I find myself having to make wise decisions of my fairness due to these limitations.   

 
My traditional view:  “To be fair I must do the same for all.”
My new view of fairness:  “To be fair I must devote my energy to that which God points out is the most important thing at the time.”

If I devote the energy to the good thing instead of the God thing I find myself being unfair to both the good thing and the God thing.  The challenge is identifying the difference.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dealing with pressure is an everyday reality for the leader.   It is also one of the reasons that people follow us.  For some reason in the darkest hour a leader can somehow find the hope to see the positive side of the situation.  They have the ability to see light in the middle of darkness.

As I thinking about the ability to see light in the middle of darkness it is many times a decision of will more than anything else.  When things do not go our way there is always to ways to look at the situation.  From the positive side and from the negative side.  The way that I like it is that in every situation is a small fire.  When the leader arrives he has with him two buckets.  One bucket has water in it and the other has gasoline.  Depending on the attitude that they have it will determine if the fire gets bigger or get’s put out.  Everything depends on the attitude that the leader has.

To help you to keep a positive attitude when we are in tough situations here are a few things to keep in mind:

1)      The attitude that you display about a situation will be contiguous to the people follow you.  They will have the same outlook towards the future as you do.

2)      Your attitude will determine the outcome of what you are doing.  Those who think they can and those who think they cannot are both right.

3)      When you it seems the darkest is the time that you are closest to the light.  I like to think of it as God is the closest to me when I am in the most need of His assistance.  Whether I ask for it or accept it is up to me but He is always there.

If we can somehow find the bright spots in a given situation we will be able to overcome the dark times and achieve our organizational goals.

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Questions:

  • What are some of the things that you can personally do to find light when you are in the middle of dark times?
  • Find a person that you know has mastered the ability to find light in dark situations.  Ask them for an hour of their time and do an interview trying to find out what they do.  Once you have discovered a few things start practicing them this week.

“Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the carácter” James Russell Lowell

There is power in silence.   The world we live in is a world full of noise and many times it requires that we escape from it so that we can think clearly.  I have noticed that in order to stay sane and focuses one must have a constant practice of alone time.  For some reason it is necessary to have alone time so one can celebrate who they are and not become a copy of others.

When I say personal time I am referring to I am talking about time alone where a person is allowing their imagination and dreams form who they are.  A time when one explores their likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, goals and aspirations, etc.  Many times this it helpful to carry along a pen and piece of paper to journal because it is these times we form who we really are.  These are essential times for us as a leader.  Some of my most powerful revelations and times with God have been in times like these.

To help you grasp the concept of “times of solitude” I have given a few suggestions below:

1)      Find a place that if free from distractions.  The last thing you need when you are trying to have solitude time is have a ton of distractions.  People knocking at the door, phone ringing, people passing by, etc. do not produce an adequate location for a time of solitude.  Look for a place with very few distractions.

2)      Find a place that get’s  you in the right mode.  We have work places that when we go there we are in an attitude to work.  Relaxation places where when we go we are ready to relax.  The same is true when it comes to a place of solitude.  Find a place that when you are there you are ready to get in the right mindset.

3)      Take something to journal with.  No one is talented enough to remember all of their thoughts so taking a pin and a piece of paper along is helpful.  You can write things down that impact you or inspire you so that later you can go back to them.

4)      Often times it is helpful to lesson more than speak.    In these times of solitude many time God will speak.  It is hard to hear Him when you are doing all of the talking. Make it a practice to have times of silence during your time of solitude.

5)      Find the time where you are your best.  It is not the best plan to have your time of solitude in times where you are sleepy.  In other words if you are not a morning person do not put yourself through the struggle of trying to stay away in the mornings.  If you are not a night person do not give yourself the extra challenge of trying to stay awake at night.   Find a time that works well with you.

The more that we lead others the more confident we have to be in being ourselves.  Times of solitude help us to focus and refocus our thoughts.  It helps us to maintain who we are in a society of rapid change.

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Questions:

  • Can you identify when is the best time of the day for you to have a time of solitude?
  • This week make a schedule of distinct times where you can have 45 minutes of solitude.  Take a notebook and a pen and write down some of your reflections.
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