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

Dispatch from the Thai-Burma Border

In late October, Restoration members Liz Gray and Christine Jones, along with The Falls Church member Suby Wildman, traveled to the Thai-Burma border to teach and build relationships with a group of young Karen teachers-in-training. (The Karen are a people group that has been persecuted by the Burmese government.)  The following report from Liz gives a taste of the amazing work that God is doing among these young people, which the Restoration/TFC team got to witness and be a part of.

Wow!  The Teacher Trainer College along the Thai-Burma border is remote!  It took the three of us four days and six modes of transport to get there: car, airplane, bus, pick-up truck, boat and foot.  Liz had told us that the college was located on two hills, but it is really two spines of the hills. One misstep and you could roll down into the jungle valleys.  The college is a collection of bamboo huts, livestock, and people.

The 47 students training to be teachers back in their villages in Karen State – often under challenging circumstances – are so impressive.  Christine was teaching English to the first year students, and was able to ask them interesting questions about their hopes, dreams, background and motivations.  The 32 sitting in her bamboo (hut) classroom soon became 32 distinct individuals.

The first hints of a new day came at around 1.30am when the nearest rooster had an early run-through in preparation for the pre-dawn chorus, which started in earnest at around 4.15am. All the students gathered to sing in the central area of the college at 5am. For us, coffee and devotional time was out on our veranda as we watched the students attend their morning chores such as sweeping, feeding the chickens, or cooking.  We were constantly amazed how our daily scriptures reflected the reality of the day:

  • Ps 59: 16 – “Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.”
  • Ps 119: 147-148 – “I rise before dawn and cry for help;  I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,  that I may meditate on your promises.”
  • Even the picture of the ideal wife from Proverbs 31:15 – “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”

Breakfast was at 6am.  Class time went from 8 – 3, with several short breaks. At 3, we rushed back to our hut to prepare for the next day before dinner at 5pm.  At 6pm the generator came on and soon after students would come by to visit.  These visits often involved rowdy games of Uno or less rowdy bananagrams!  Students stopped by constantly whenever we were at the hut, but this evening time was when we consistently hosted the largest groups.  We were given the opportunity to pray with and for several students and staff and to learn a lot about their lives, dreams, concerns, etc. At around 8pm we generally gently sent the students on their way and had a bit of time before lights out at 9pm reviewing the day as team, sharing answers and requests for prayer – before finishing with a daily compline. These were lovely times and for all of us were a definite highlight of the trip.

While our team had many take-aways, one initial lesson was that God ordains us to be in community.  Christine was surprised that the 32 students all staring up at her the first day – with their similar names and similar smiles – all became distinct individuals grafted into our hearts.  Living in community with the students and college staff certainly helped.  Yet we were impressed that while here in the US we so often focus on differences and individual choices, half way around the world, God revealed the many constants in the human condition as we grew in community with our students.  Despite the short time we were there, God knitted us together with these dear people.  We couldn’t have remained detached from them if we’d tried!  This seemed especially relevant to Restoration, as we all create a community here.

David asked us to share one lesson, but we cannot NOT mention that we were also impressed by God’s economy.  How amazing it is that He can use us to help the Karen while working to meet our own needs as well?  God is the ultimate multi-tasker and we saw just how big our God is when we empty ourselves to him and allowed him to show us multiple consequences of his goodness at once.

Yes, finally, we were incredibly blessed in both concrete and less concrete ways.  We felt sent out by the Restoration congregation and your prayers were answered in (somewhat) smooth travel, good health, team unity, etc.  The verses from  Psalm 91:11-12 – “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” – provided a constant reminder to us that the roads we follow in life may well have rocks on them, but that as we were upheld by our praying friends, God, our father, was protecting us from harm.

God was good to us beyond measure.  Christine and Liz had fun as we raced along incredibly dangerous hairpin turning roads.  And He gave us the Viscounts in Chiang Mai, who greeted us before and after with incredible hospitality, challenging and insightful conversation, and prayer. All in all, it was an amazing trip and we thank you everyone for all your support.  Please do not hesitate to contact any one of us if you’d like to hear more stories!  We have plenty.

Liz, Christine, and Suby will be sharing stories and pictures from their trip this Saturday, December 5, from 3 – 4 pm at the Wildmans’, 3120 Knoll Dr. in Falls Church.  They’d love to see you there!

Restoration’s First Mission Trip

Picture 6Hello Friends and Family!

Tomorrow marks a week since our return from West Virginia! I think it is safe to say that the trip met and exceeded our expectations. Each team member will have their own unique stories of things that touched them. I will try to highlight a few things in this letter, and please write or ask any of us in person if you want to hear more…

Thank you for praying for good community to be formed on our team. 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.

The World Servants staff and volunteers who led us were wonderful. They did an excellent job of orienting us to the culture of Philippi, helping us understand some of the core motivating values of the area, and helping us see differences between “normal” for us and “normal” for rural Appalachia in light of those values. They were open to all of our questions, were side-by-side with us directing our work on the sites, and were continually serving and looking out for us. Please join me in thanking God for the staff and volunteers: Stephanie, Jeff and Lisa, Gail, Eddie, and Pattie.

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.

We heard descriptions on the first night of what the three work projects would be. With a little information about the project sites, we self-divided based on the skills we brought to the table, our interests, and the needs we had in terms of young children. It is amazing to look back and see how God was completely in charge of how we divided up. The mix of each team–personalities, kid-needs, site-needs, connections with the families we served–was just what it needed to be.

The original structure of the Philippi Community Center was built in 1954. It burned and has been rebuilt, with several additions over the years. This building is where our entire team stayed, ate breakfast and dinner, and had all of our team meetings. The children had free run of the basketball court and the youth areas in the basement. Part of our team stayed there at the center to do work each day. Some of the projects they completed were power-washing and staining the outdoor pavilion, building bat-houses for the bats that were re-located away from the pavilion, painting outside doors, and general grounds keeping. As one team member said, “It was a joy to serve the World Servants staff by doing projects around the community center so that they could be free to do work with the people of Philippi.” The team who worked at the community center also connected with a community member named Chris, building that relationship and helping him with some work on his property nearby.

A second site was working with a family in order to make an existing structure into a livable home for them. The family was staying nearby at another house. Our team who went there did general cleanup, painting, flooring thru the entire structure, and roofing over the structure to stop some leaks and water damage. In addition, they spent countless hours listening, talking, hugging and playing with the family they served.

The third project was to make progress on the renovation of a local pastor’s home. The site was an hour from the community center, so a lot of the experience was in the travel to and from, with team members getting to know one another better in the car. The pastor and his family worked alongside the team to clean out and fill a dump-trailer with rubble that was produced when the original structure was gutted for renovation, finish the roof, seal the foundation of the house, tack insulation around the exterior so that it was ready for siding, lay insulation inside the house, hang drywall, and put up ceiling joists. The pastor’s three children played many games of kickball with the kids we brought to the worksite. Again, working side by side and building relationships with the family was the highlight of the time.

Thank you for praying for the community-wide Back to School Bash. We were able to come alongside another organization to host a pool party for the school-age kids of the community. We helped set up and grill food, ran games throughout the night, and hung out with the kids who came. At the end of the night every child took home a school backpack stuffed with school supplies. Thanks to all the donations we received, there were plenty of extra backpacks for other community-sponsored events throughout the area. I would venture to say that this was one of the highlights of the week for all our kids, getting to join in the pool fun and the games.

Thank you, also for praying for the 17 kids on our team. They had so much fun together, and built close bonds with one another. They each were involved in meaningful work every day at the worksites. Thank God for the patience of every adult on the team, willing to take longer for tasks for the sake of involving the kids.

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.

If you are able, please join us at The Falls Church on the evening of Thursday, October 22, from 7-9 pm. Our team will have a chance to share stories and pictures for about 30 minutes. We will also hear from a few other short term teams during the evening. We’d love to see you there!

Thank you so much for your generous support and faithful prayers for us. I am confident that your prayers had everything to do with this trip being such a success. We look forward to connecting with each of you more personally and sharing our own favorite story of God’s faithfulness to us in West Virginia.

Laurel Hanke, for the team

An Update from David

“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation…  I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.”

My friends,

I am so overwhelmed by God’s goodness and faithfulness to me and my family.  How do I say thanks?


We now have all of our stuff in our new house and we spent most of today cleaning the old house.  I am so grateful for all the people who helped us move on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  One team sawed our box spring in half, another team rebuilt the boy’s bunk beds, another team hung a ceiling light, and many boxes were moved.  Quite an exhausting 3 days.  Thank you for prayers, strong backs, meals, and help with our kids.  Laurel and I have been anticipating this move for 6 months–  lots of deliberation and prayer.  As we get settled, we are struck by how perfect this house is for our family.  The space is so much more usable and the things for which we were longing (an eat-in kitchen!!) are now a reality.  We can’t wait for you to see it.

Restoration Community Nights

I am so encouraged by our Wednesday night gatherings.  The stories I hear are of great turnouts, good conversation, and the chance to meet new people.  Next week is the big bike ride.  Should be awesome.  For me, I am so pleased that they are happening with almost no input from me!  I love seeing people take ownership and responsibility for our community.  Thank you to Lacy and her team of dedicated coordinators!


I am proud of the work we are doing this summer alongside the Arlington Food Assistance Center.  We are moving left over produce from farmers markets to AFAC’s distribution shelves.  Along the way we are having great conversations, serving the most vulnerable in Arlington, getting to know each other, and working alongside others in Arlington who care about the hungry.  Many thanks to Connally Gilliam and her team for coordinating this project.  There are still opportunities to get involved.

WV Mission Trip

On the near horizon, we will be sending 40 TFC and Restoration folks to Phillipi, WV to restore homes and live the Gospel in practical ways.  You all are praying.  You gave money to get your car washed.  And now we are collecting school supplies for a back to school outreach we’ll do in WV.  I’m so excited for our kids who will experience life in community and serving others.  We are taking tangible steps to serve and love in Jesus’ name.

These snippets give me such joy.  I’m so proud of our Restoration community.  I love living life with you and watching you use your gifts to bless each other and those around us.  What a privilege for me.


Like many of you this summer, the Hanke family will be getting away for a week starting tomorrow.  This is my ‘deep cover, little contact’ week away.  I will not be checking email at all.  I will check my voicemail once a day.  If you have an emergency, you can leave me a message or send me a text and I’ll get it.  I am leaving you in the more than capable hands of Erin Bair Coleman.  You can reach her by email through our contact page. John Kurcina is preaching this week (7/19).  I will be back to lead the service on 7/26 and Erin will preach.

Couple More…

  • Remember we are reading through a bit of Exodus each week.  You can follow the plan by picking up a purple sheet at church or by following me on Twitter or facebook.  I try to post what we are reading each week.
  • Our parish survey ends on July 20.  If you have 10 minutes to give us some feedback, we would be so grateful.  Your collegial input is very helpful to us as we plan, dream, and pray about what’s next.

Thankyou for all your help.  I love being on this journey together.  See you on July 26.

With Love,

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.)

Car Wash

In August, a group of Restoration folks (together with people from The Falls Church) are going to Philippi, West Virginia for five days. While we’re there, we’ll do some much-needed home repairs, host a back-to-school party, and otherwise try to embody God’s love for the people of this small town in rural Appalachia.

Want to partner with us in this great ministry opportunity?  Come get your car washed!  This Saturday, June 13, we’re holding a car wash as a team-building and fundraising project.  So swing by the Shell station at 5630 Lee Hwy (just west of the Lee-Harrison shopping center) between 9 and 12…  David even promises that you can spray him with the hose.  (Right, David?)

Spread the word to friends and neighbors!

The Details:

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