Making a Difference in Moldova

A post from Jesse Blaine:

Recently, a friend of mine sent over a link for me to watch a YouTube video titled “Stella’s Voice”.   Based on what he heard about our church’s involvement in a far off land called Moldova, he thought that his video was worth the watch.  He was right.

The short set of clips tells the story of what happening in Moldova from the point of view of those who have been affected by the conditions the most.  Because I work for a ministry that has been drawn into these types of situations I spend a lot of time trying to understand and explains situations like those portrayed in the clip.  I think from now on, I’m just going to play this clip and end with, “any questions?”

While there are a few things in this video people might not call “best practices”, it’s amazing to see the impact that God has when He uses His disciples to be a part of changing lives.

I count it a privilege to be a part of a congregation that displays its values by real involvement with real issues that exist both in the immediate vicinity and those found in a forgotten former Soviet Republic.

It’s hard sometimes to be a few levels removed from the specific lives our congregation is touching….which is precisely why we wanted this video on our website.  The project that we – that is, you and me – are involved with in Moldova is making a real impact in the lives of girls just like these.  They have come to know protection, love, job skills, and most importantly the one who makes all things new!

Here’s a quick video of our own. Not as cool, I know, but it’s of me walking through the tailoring shop we all helped to fund.  This shop is going to provide these girls with job skills, and some income!

Thanks Restoration!
Jesse Blaine

supernatural shoes

Shoes can be supernatural. This weekend we’re going to infuse as many shoes as we can with near-mythological powers. Ok, they probably won’t levitate or become faster than a speeding bullet, but the old pair of Reebok’s in your closet can be transformed into an otherworldly boon for an Ethiopian, perhaps, who might others contract podoconiosis.

What is podoconiosis? I hadn’t heard of it either, until this morning. It’s a horrible foot disease often called “podo” that turns the victim’s feet into something like rotting cauliflower. According to a recent ChristianityToday article,

An estimated one million Ethiopians suffer from podo, as do perhaps three million more, mostly Africans. In affected areas—typically mountains with red volcanic soil—1 out of every 20 people have it. A village of 2,000 will have 100 victims, permanently disabled. In certain areas of Ethiopia, the podo infection rate surpasses that of HIV/AIDS.

I threw away a pair of used running shoes last month. I wonder if my shoes could’ve saved someone from having their feet turned to mush? After listening to David’s sermon on generosity this Sunday, I’ve been wondering how generous I am with my money, time, talents?  I want to be generous, I want to help others. But it’s hard to change good intentions into action.

Your old Reebok’s change someone’s life.

Here’s an opportunity for me and you to change good intention into reality. We’re collecting shoes and passing out flier to our neighbors this Saturday, 9am at Restoration. If you can’t make it, we’ll have donation boxes out on Sunday morning. We’ll package up shoes of all sizes and send them to Soles4Souls, a not-for-profit organization that distributes used footwear to millions of people without shoes around the world.

Cleaning out the old shoes from your closest and bring them to church is a small thing. But our small actions can become salvation to an Ethiopian. Like the boy who watched lunch of fish and bread turn miraculously into a meal for thousands, we can watch our shoes be changed into something divinely salvific this weekend.

So please check your closet this week. See any extra shoes? Bring them with you to Restoration.  Like Clark Kent, your shoes are needed.

Andrew

Not going to WVa this year? How about The Event?

A post from Ian Hassell:

You may have noticed the worship guide announcements over the past few weeks advertising The Event.  Ok, I’ll admit that not everything we said in the announcements was entirely true.  Erin Bair is (fortunately for her and for us) not actually master illusionist.  Brent Cochran won’t be juggling flaming torches.  Grandpa Bob will not be singing Miley Cyrus.  At least not at The Event.

So what exactly is The Event?  It is not only the premier social activity of the spring but is also an opportunity for you to financially support the trip to WV this year.  The Event will be a talent show starring some of your favorite Restoration personalities and a silent auction of ‘experienced-based’ items donated by the Restoration family.   The talent show will feature music, skits, comedy and artistic acts.  The silent auction items include custom jewelry design, a children’s birthday party package, yoga lessons, guitar lessons and much more.

The annual mission trip to West Virginia is one of the best ways for you to connect to outreach and to others at Restoration.  But if you can’t go this year then I’d strongly encourage you to show your support at The Event.  Tickets are on sale after each service over the next two weeks.  $10 per person or $25 per family.  (You can pay with a check payable to Restoration.)

The Event: Saturday April 16th, 7pm at Rivendell School: 5700 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207. You won’t want to miss this.

how much is enough?

I have been talking with different friends recently about goals.  What are things they are aiming for in life?  A position at work?  To see a part of the world?  To own a certain car, house, bike?  Part of this interest was inspired by this article I read in Outside Magazine.  As I looked at their 51 ideas, I realized that I would probably not ever do 49 of them.  And part of that was because even if I wanted to do them, I’m not sure it’s ok for me to pursue them.

That got me thinking…  how do I decide what’s ok? For each of us and for every decision, there is a continuum between ‘enough to satisfy a need’ and ‘too much, should be ashamed that I bought/did/pursued that’.

For example, I need to provide a house for my family.  But I know there is a break point (measured in square footage or price of accutrements or ??) that a house is too much house.  How do I determine that point?

Or, I know I need a car to get my posse of 6 around.  I’ve got no problem with a van, but what about something more luxurious?  What’s the break point (measured in price and features) of too much car?

Or, I know it is good for me to take a vacation.  I gladly head to a beach here on the East Coast, but what about something more exotic?  What’s the break point for too much vacation?

How do you decide? For most of us that question has been answered by looking at our resources.  Very simply, we don’t have a luxury car, we don’t go on a $10k vaca because we don’t have the money.  But many of us at Restoration are getting to the point where we do have the resources to do some of those things.  That Outside Life List is aimed at folks in their late 30s/early 40s who are making critical (if, unfortunately, not conscious) decisions about career, and how they will spend discretionary time, and new disposable income.  In this area of DC in particular, we have the luxury and privilege of asking this break point question–  when does enough become too much? I think the answer is very subjective and contextualized.  It is an answer of wisdom, not of morality.  It would be too easy and a mistake to say one answer is right for everyone.

It is very personal and vulnerable.  But I propose that none of us should make the decision alone or even as family units.  How many of you invite others into your ‘life list’ conversations? Would you ever sit down with your small group, some trusted friends, or an elder in the church and say: “We’re aiming for a vacation that looks like this.  We can afford it.  Do you think this is a good idea?  Does this push us beyond a break point that is good for our soul?”  What if we all were humble enough AND had the privilege of a group of people who would be ‘discernment partners’ for us?  Would you do it?

And yes, that bike is the thing that makes this post real for me.  Pretty, ain’t it?

Holy Week Offerings

During Holy Week, all the offerings we collected were given to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF). The total that came in that week, including Easter was close to $11,000!!  We gave it all away.

ARDF is an organization committed to an holistic, high impact community development approach that crosses cultural and economic boundaries in some of the most challenging parts of the world. They work directly with Anglican churches in the Global South to ensure that believers are strengthened and encouraged, lives are rescued and made whole, and Christ is glorified.

Currently, some of ARDF’s projects include training healthcare workers in Kenya to prevent the spread of Malaria, training locals in Sudan in new agricultural techniques to help them move toward self-sufficient farming, and providing relief for earthquake victims in Chile. 

Thanks, Restoration, for giving so generously to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

West Virginia Mission Trip Meeting

UPDATE: Applications Due March 28th!  Click here to download an application. The required deposit is $50 per person (not $300 as the application states).

Last summer, a group of 45 people — adults and kids — from Restoration and The Falls Church spent 5 days in the town of Philippi, West Virginia.  It was an amazing time of getting to know some of the people of this impoverished Appalachian town and serving them by working alongside them to refurbish homes and a community center.  We worked hard, laughed a lot, and in the end found that we were the ones who felt most blessed by the experience!

The great news is that we’re going again this year! The trip will be July 7-11 and is open to everyone ages 7 and up.

There will be an informational meeting this Sunday, March 14th, in the sanctuary after the 10:00 service. Come hear from folks who went on last year’s trip and get all your questions answered!

Interested in the trip but can’t make it to the meeting?  Talk to Ian or Laura Hassell.

And to give you a taste of what you might experience on the trip, here are some excerpts from a letter that Laurel Hanke wrote to our team’s prayer supporters after the trip last year!

I think it is safe to say that the trip met and exceeded our expectations…. We had a great time together.  In addition to collaborating together and serving one another on the worksites, we had so much fun at our community times of meals, daily debriefs, and unstructured evening hang out time.

One overarching theme was repeated to us over and over by our World Servants leaders.  They wanted to be sure we understood that the people of Philippi and the surrounding areas were the most important part of our trip.  Taking time to listen, share stories, and build bridges of relationships was our first priority.  The actual work we did was important, they said, but not above the importance of building relationships.  As you can imagine, this approach changed how we viewed the work, re-oriented our focus from tasks to relationships, and in the end helped us all experience the blessing of getting to know one another and the folks we went to West Virginia to serve.

Some of the projects [we] completed were power-washing and staining the outdoor pavilion [at the Community Center], painting, and general groundskeeping…. Cleanup, painting, flooring, and roofing to stop some leaks and water damage [at a family’s home]…. The renovation of a local pastor’s home, finishing the roof, sealing the foundation of the house, laying insulation, hanging drywall, and putting up ceiling joists.

The World Servants motto on the t-shirts we took home says, “Serving Changes Everything.  Lead the Way.”  Please continue to pray for each of us in our sphere of relating at home.  Pray that we would apply the lessons of service we learned to our daily lives.  Please also pray for God to continue to bless and further the good work that World Servants is doing in Philippi, WV.

Help AFAC win $50,000!

Many of you know that Restoration has partnered with the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) in various ways over the past year.  Restoration volunteers have cleaned floors, carried crates, bagged food, and helped with other projects.  Now AFAC has another way that we can help — and all that’s required are a couple of minutes and your Facebook account!

One of AFAC’s sister non-profits, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), is in the running for a $1 million grand prize as part of a Chase Bank community giving initiative.  In exchange for AFAC recruiting voters, A-SPAN will give $50,000 to AFAC if they win the grand prize.  Needless to say, it would be huge for these Arlington non-profits to win!

So log on, cast your vote, and ask all your FB friends to do the same!  The last day to vote is tomorrow: Friday, January 22! Read on for complete info & links:

Vote For A-SPAN & Arlington NonProfits to Win $1 Million

Between January 15-22, all Facebook users will have the chance to vote for A-SPAN and Arlington County nonprofits to Win $1 Million for homeless services.

Chase Bank is donating $5 Million to 100 small nonprofits nationwide and is allowing Facebook users to decide the winners. A-SPAN finished in the Top 100 and is now eligible for the $1 Million Grand Prize.

Vote for A-SPAN! A-SPAN will share the prize with these other Arlington nonprofits: AMEN, AFAC, AACH, Borromeo Housing, Doorways for Women & Families, and OAR.

Here’s How You Can Help:

Visit the A-SPAN website and click on the Chase Community Giving button.

Log into Facebook and vote for A-SPAN!

Post to your wall, tell your friends, and tweet for A-SPAN.

Any questions, call or email Jan Sacharko at 703-842-0154 or jsacharko@a-span.org.


Community, Connect Four, and Crayons

Our weekly Wednesday-evening, all-community fun nights continue tomorrow with Board Game night at the Wilsons’!  Bring your favorite board games, card games, even yard games (I know those Hanke kids play a mean game of croquet)… Bring your friends, too!  It’s going to be a great time.

While we’re having fun, we’ll also have the chance to help some kids in West Virginia as they start back to school in the fall.  In August, a team of folks from Restoration are headed to Philippi, WV.  We’ll be doing some home and church repairs, and we’ll also help at a back-to-school party for 200-300 middle and high school kids.  On Wednesday night, we’ll collect backpacks and school supplies that we can give out at the party.

As I talk to people about what they value most about being part of the Restoration community, I often hear how much people appreciate feeling known, loved, and cared for.  The school supply collection is one small, concrete thing we can do to share some of that experience of love and care with people who are outside the immediate Restoration community–but who are still part of God’s community.

The following school supplies would be especially helpful: pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, colored pencils, blue pens, highlighters, markers, posterboard, lined paper, graph paper, spiral notebooks, 3-ring binders, pocket folders, pocket dictionaries, thesauruses, calculators, staplers, staples, glue sticks, paper clips, scissors, organizers/planners, backpacks, hand sanitizer.

So bring your games and your glue sticks–it’s gonna be fun!

(If you can’t make it tomorrow night, we’ll have a collection box for donations at church for the next several Sundays.)

God gets a lot more CBM in a recession

Church attendance in recessions: No rush for pews | The Economist.

CBM= ‘Character Building Mileage’

On Sunday I talked about the hard things to which God calls us.  Moses was called to face the most powerful ruler of his day and ask him to release the Hebrews.  Moses had a list of good excuses for why this was a bad idea.

What is God calling you to do that feels really hard?  Are you paying attention to Him?

For all of us who follow Jesus, at some point, God will confront us about our money.  He will call us to something hard financially–  to not buy something, to give more away, to help someone in need, to give sacrificially.  As I talked about God’s call on our finances, I made 2 points:  God will mess with our money…

  1. Especially in such a wealthy area as Arlington (’cause we love it so much)
  2. Especially in such challenging economic circumstances (’cause we are so worried about it)

God gets a lot more Character Building Mileage in a recession.  The Economist article has some interesting poll data about church attendance in recessions–  goes down.  So maybe I’m right.  People don’t want God to mess with their finances, things are hard enough without Him getting involved…

It’s all His.

hospitality and the pool

One of the activities I love to hate is swimming.  Arlington has great pools that are so convenient.  It is one of the things I love about this county.  The pool I swim in has a cadre of fiercely loyal denizens.  These men are there (early) every morning.  They bang out 80-100 laps (way more than me) then afterwards chat it up in the locker room.  Yesterday, the place was PACKED.  6 lanes of 5 swimmers.  People were grumpy.  The post-swim ‘regulars’ chatter centered around ‘how do we get these extra people to go away’?  There was no celebration that more people were swimming.  There was no delight in welcoming extra folks to the pool.  Instead–  ‘it’s supposed to get really cold this week, maybe that will keep people away.’  Or ‘I hear they might turn the heat down in the locker rooms, maybe that will discourage new-comers.’

Can’t blame ’em.  If I have a set way of doing things…  If I love my lane all to myself…  Then people get in the way.  Restoration worships in a small building.  We are new.  Many folks will check us out.  How do we communicate sheer delight that lots of people have come to hear about Jesus, to be in community, to take our pew and parking space?

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