Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 in Posts

Personal favorite posts from 2008. It's been a pretty good year overall.

Winter Expedition
CpR Spring Retreat
Key West Action Shots
Hungary Wednesday
2008 Hungary Reflections
To The Class of 08
What I've Been Up To
Dear Girls
Vision Trekk WI

Related: 2007, 2006 in Posts.

2 in January

Starting in January, two friends of mine are leaving the country, both on quite the adventure.

Di is going to be joining the World Race for 11 months. The World Race is an offshoot of Adventures In Missions, who I have a ton of respect for.

AK [cryptic name on purpose] is going to be doing a fellowship for 6 months in Asia with one of the premier social justice organizations.

Had I continued on in my role as student missions coordinator, I would have expended a lot of effort to bring both of them on as leaders for 2009. Not only were they students from our ministry turned into leaders, they have hearts of servants, solid experience in other cultures and a disposition towards empowering students.

Oh, and they know that it's up to them. And there isn't much time left. And if you can't help them affect humanity, that's okay. They'll find another way.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Burn

::: Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species
using Google Earth

::: Mosaic's 2009 mission experiences
Note the levels of engagement, invitation only trips and options to engage outside of actually going.

::: Emerging Leadership Initiative's church planter assessment
Collaborative among 31 different church planting networks.

2008 in Books

Here are the books I read in 2008. Not bad, not bad.

1. Hamster Revolution
System for managing your email.

2. Mind Set!
Very futuristic.

3. The Starfish and The Spider
Good, but I didn't think it was as great as some people thought. I did however appreciate the chapters on hybrids [organizations and teams that were a mix of starfish and spiders]

4. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome
Read more like an academic paper than I expected.

5. Please Pass the Butterworms
Love Tim Cahill. Total fun.

6. Whos Your City
Very compelling info about cities and why where you live is such an important decision.

7. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
Awesome story.

8. The Old Man and the Sea
Picked this up because of our time in Key West.

9. Serving with Eyes Wide Open
Great book to help prep cross cultural teams.

10. Emergence

11. Culture Makers*

12. Seven Habits of Effective Families
Need to finish this one.

13. Three Cups of Tea
Another great story about someone giving up everything to serve.

14. Type Talk [post]
If you love the MBTI, you will LOVE this book.

15. The New Conspirators

16. The Shack
Great story. Depressing and shocking at the beginning though.

17. Uprising [again]

18. Outliers*

19. Organic Community*

20. Wild Goose Chase
Loved it. Batterson nails dreaming, adventure and going again.

21. The Truth About You [post]

Related: 2007 in books
* Will be trying to post some notes on these eventually.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Burn

:: Cell Phone Blood Tester
Using only an LED, plastic light filter and some wires, scientists at UCLA have modded a cellphone into a portable blood tester capable of detecting HIV, malaria and other illnesses.

:: Helping 1bn of the poorest see better
What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be "tuned" by the wearer to correct his or her own vision? Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?
The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, says the scientist. Literacy rates improve hugely, fishermen are able to mend their nets, women to weave clothing.
Link via Ben

:: Serving with an NGO or the US government?
This test probably will give you a good idea on how well you will do.

You Have to Drive the Bus

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great among other books, is famous for the principle of "First Who, Then What," better known as Getting The Right People on the Bus.
The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.
It's a fabulous lens with which to see a very challenging principle. Here's the thing though - sometimes, YOU have to drive the bus, even when you don't feel like it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

One Rail At A Time

The single decorated rail at my parents house, after the girls went there to celebrate Christmas early with them. Celebrate = reading the story of Christmas from the Bible and "turning Grandpa into a believer."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Virtuoso Teams

Traditional teams typically operate under the tyranny of the "we"—that is, they put group consensus and constraint above individual freedom. Team harmony is important; conviviality compensates for missing talent. This produces teams with great attitudes and happy members, but, to paraphrase [Max] Liebman [Broadway producer], "from a polite team comes a polite result." - Fischer and Boynton, "Virtuoso Teams," Harvard Business Review, July-August 2005as quoted in Organic Community, Joseph Myers

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your Portfolio

From the NY Times 2008 in Ideas...
Zeke M. Vanderhoek, the founding principal of the Equity Project Charter School, opening next fall in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, says he wants to attract "highly qualified individuals "to teach at his school. To be hired, according to the school’s Web site, you need to be able to prove you have "expert subject-area knowledge," present a "portfolio of achievement of past students" and score above 90 percent on the verbal section of a graduate-school entrance test... [emphasis mine]
I'm interested in your portfolio of past students - because your role with students is just as important as a teacher, if not more. Does your portfolio of achievement have students that:

- aren't afraid to try new things and perhaps even fail at a few of them.
- serve the marginalized and build momentum for their friends to do the same.
- leverage their understanding of culture and context for the sake of others.
- act as though the sake of the world is in their hands.

Because your past performance is the best indicator for your future success.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And Even More Mission Support Letter Metrics

Ok.... even more data.... For what it's worth...

First, some contextual notes about the data:
+ Support raising for oveseas teams, not domestic. Domestic data points were filtered out.
+ Majority of team members are high school kids. Support base is therefore going to include families [support letters sent to your best friends' parents, etc.]
+ Demographics include affluent part of the US [mid atlantic], home church is a large suburban church.

$ Total Donations:$26731$23409$38806$110295
# of Donations:381277385732
# of Teams:2123
# People:18133251
# Donations/Person:21211214
# Donations/Team: 190277192244
$ Support/Person:$1,485$1,801$1,213$2,163
$ Avg Donation:$70$85$101$151

A few observations:
+ 2007 and 2008 saw a drop in the # of donations per person. I suspect this has a direct correlation to how many letters each team member sends out. The support letter process is one that has a direct relationship between effort and result.
+ 2008 saw an increase in average donation [not to mention an increase in expenses.] Even in a troubled economy.
+ I think that the trend of average donation increasing is largely due to momentum as our process for student missions matured. You would see similar trends for the number of students involved, number of returning leaders, etc. People notice other people getting serious.

Feel free to use this as you need for some kind of sounding board if you track the same kind of thing.

Related: Personal Mission Support Letter Metrics.
My Support Letters - 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bowling and Malaria Nets

For all the heartache we give our first daughter, K [and that's part of our job as parents...] she's a pretty amazing kid. Her birthday is coming up and we decided to have a party at the local bowling alley because none of us have foot fetishes like we should. Anyway, this year, instead of collecting gifts, she loved the idea of having her friends donate something to a worthy cause. We thought of hats and mittens, canned food, and other stuff, but finally decided on having her friends donate to purchase malaria nets, if they wanted. For $5, each friend can have a malaria net donated, via AOET, a nonprofit org serving the AIDS crisis in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa.

Here's the creative stuff D did for the invite:
Kt's inviting you to
Celebrate another year,
So bring yourself and
All your good cheer!

A gift is not necessary
But if you would like
A donation for a mosquito net
For an African child

It's a small donation
$5 will do
It will keep an entire family protected
From Malaria - a gift from you!

With passionate heart
To serve those in need,
This will honor her most
On her birthday indeed!

Happy Birthday, Kt!
(Any donations will be used to purchase a mosquito net for a family in Uganda through a program our church supports, AOET. Thank you!)
It's a lot of fun to parent children like this. If you would like to make a donation to celebrate with Kt, I'm sure she would love it. Email or leave a comment.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hosts With the Most

Hosting teams is a difficult job. Besides providing basic food and lodging, most hosts are significantly invested in the mission of the team, which raises the logistically complexity of playing the host role. This includes finding meaningful tasks that fit with the overall project, plugging the right people into the right job, an almost-constant-conducting and arranging of people, resources and tasks. Not to mention the work before the team even arrives. And let's not even talk about how to entertain teams in their downtime.

Most hosts are done when teams leave. But the really great hosts leverage their connection. They see their role not as hotel desk clerks but as teacher-mentor-dorm parents, knowing that they can tap an unseen potential that will serve a greater cause. Great hosts offer advice, insight and perspective to their teams. They ask for feedback on the experience from team leaders - and they act on it. They relate, challenge and inspire - long after their teams have left.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Burn

::: Eating on one dollar a day - in Encinitas, CA.
[Most updates from September 2008 but still a fascinating read.]

::: The Skid Row Photography Club
Skid Row is a massive, permanent homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles - the largest such community in the United States. About 8-9,000 homeless people live there.
Link via BoingBoing

::: Fast Company's Social Enterprises of the Year

::: Today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mission Support Letter Metrics - 2008

The holidays will be over in a few weeks or so. You know what that means, don't you? Mission support letter mania. To help those of you involved in that, below are some updated mission support letter metrics, based on my personal support letters. [One of the google searches coming to my blog reminded me about this fun topic.]

1992: - 28 - 09 - 32% - ????? - ? - ?
1993: - 19 - ?? - ??? - $ 1100 - ? - ?
2000: - 20 - 08 - 40% - $ 350 - $ 575 - 165%
2002: - 16 - 08 - 50% - $ 425 - $ 675 - 158%
2004: - 23 - 09 - 40% - $ 300 - $ 630 - 210%
2005: - 34 - 18 - 52% - $ 2000 - $ 1580 - 80%
2006: - 50 - 18 - 36% - $ 2400 - $ 2475 - 103%
2007: - 70 - 30 - 42% - $ 7100 - $ 6199 - 87%
2008: - 70 - 30 - 42% - $10000 - $ 7920 - 79%

[Note that 1992 and 1993 are missing some data and 2007/2008 support goals were for a family of 4.]

A few other interesting points:
+ We've had a few supporters contribute via getting the news in a medium different than a physical support letter [and contribute electronically] - it's not a lot but still. In other words, you should spend some time making connections digitally. But if you are reading this blog, this hopefully isn't news to you.
+ Best case seems to be around 50% response.
+ Support is never a function of how many people are moved by your letter. It's always a function of how many people are moved by your life.

I may have some more info on this topic later on - I've got five years of data that might be fun to dig into.

Related: Historical Mission Support Letters [2008, 2007, 2006, 2005]

Monday, December 08, 2008

Try This - Intersect Students and Kids

What: Take your students somewhere [literally or figuratively] where they will serve children. Preschoolers are the most fun, elementary age may be where they both connect the best.

Why: Teenagers usually love serving little kids and they usually have a blast doing it. You'll see some kind of sparks when they go out of their way to make something fun for kids. Kids need to see high school students living bigger lives. And, just in case, you didn't realize, kids are a different culture - use this as a launching point for discussing culture. Even better, get your students to talk about the world to the kids they are serving. Students inspiring kids is the Kingdom on an exponential order.

How I've seen it: Impromptu park ministry [be smart about this though - always in groups, have official contact info to give to parents, etc.], volunteer at some kind of community event, help run some vacation Bible schools, church summer camps, etc.

Extra Credit: Form a deep, consistent partnership with the children's ministry from your church. Experiment with the intersection of students and kids and make sure you fall flat on your face at least once.

My Never Implemented Dreams: Use our students to do some "teaching" in children's Sunday mornings for exposure to the world and their experiences; setup consistent partnerships with local elementary schools and our students to assist in scheduled and routine ways [although this did happen with one school]; SPACE camp - a three day once in the summer day camp with elements about world cultures, global issues and ways for elementary kids to make a difference.

Other Inspirations:
ExCalibur - in Aix, France
Illuminate, a creative arts camp from Mosaic LA

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Burn

::: Flip Video Camera for NonProfits
The company will offer non-profit partners two camcorders for the price of one in order to document the work they're doing.
Link via YPulse

::: Neil Cole is blogging

::: Salt iodization and the global IQ
Almost one-third of the world's people don't get enough iodine from food and water. The result in extreme cases is large goiters that swell their necks, or other obvious impairments such as dwarfism or cretinism. But far more common is mental slowness.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Excitement of the Start

This past weekend, I chatted with a good friend of mine who is co-leading a mission team to Africa this coming summer. I've been very informally helping him through the process and they are on the very front end of it at this point - just finalized the partnership, assembling the team, thinking about logistics and budget, etc. It's been therapeutic for me to relive all those emotions you feel at the beginning of such a big project - joy, anticipation, responsibility, trying to keep your breakfast down. It's also helped me remember some of the important pieces we learned last summer, like all the summers before.

I shared these with my friend and will also be implementing these best practices the next time I'm involved with teams:
- Mandatory deadline - support letters - support stuff gets out in a very short time frame after the teams are official
- Concentrated energy towards support via digital platforms - Facebook, blogs, etc. - hard copy of support letters are great for those supporters over the age of 40
- Milestone - X percentage of support raised by a certain date - line this date up so it's before plane tickets are purchased
- optimal team sizes for travel
Of course, these things are important but not central.

Yes, therapeutic. And catalytic.

Photo: ARotolo, JLucht and Kt, City Hall, Vienna, Austria, Europe. July 2008.

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

Today is World AIDS Day. Learn more here. Also, check out this article highlighting AIDS and global slavery - via the IJM Institute.

No matter your passion - economics, logistics, medicine, engineering, communications, aid and development - this global problem [like other global issues] could use you, your experience and your talents.