Friday, May 30, 2008

Meet Hungary Leader - Emilie

Emilie was one of the first five students I called when SPACE started and she has stuck with us ever since. SPACE student-turned-first-ever-intern-turned-leader, her strategic strength continues help cut the clutter and get right to the ethos of SPACE - why do we do what we do and how do we form the culture of global students for the future.

Off-the-charts adaptable, she's off to Ghana in the earlier part of this summer, with a pit stop in London, and will meet us in Austria as our team is en route. A walking GPS, that kind of travel for her is like you and I going to the mall. As a maximizer, she also ensures that we have strong finishes to what we start.

The state of Europe is on her heart naturally - she has spent almost half of her life in Norway - and no doubt Europe will be different because of her.

Emilie has been a leader on Cameroon2006 and Hungary2007 as well as having spent significant time serving in cross cultural contexts such as China, Ecuador, Trinidad and Seattle.

Photo: Emilie in Tibet, January 2007.

Meet other 2008 Hungary leaders:
+ RachelJ
+ Leslie

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The New Conspirators - What's Best?

Christian parents want what's best for their kids. No problem there. However, because of the huge influence of modern culture, most parents tend to define "what's best" primarily in economic terms. As we have worked on college campuses, the number-one barrier students report that restraints them from going into missions, believe it or not, is their Christian parents. The message is, "I did not spend $80 thousand on your education for you to head off to a refugee project in Ethiopia. You get your career under way, buy your home, your car, start investing in retirement accounts, and then after you are established, you can visit mission projects in Africa during your vacation."- Tom Sine, The New Conspirators
Certainly, this is what I did. But that doesn't mean that is what you should do. Just don't bring up my name when you talk to your parents about it.

Fast becoming a book that I will start recommending to most SPACE people, The New Conspirators covers concepts such as missional, monastic, mosaic, and emerging communities of faith; the impact of various stratas of economic classes; indigenous, sustainable and holistic ministry; technology; the global poor; global cultures - all wrapped around mission in the future. Sounds good huh?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SPACE Archives - Leadership Survey - Summer 2003

From the pre SPACE archives, circa 2003.

Results from a leadership survey [from Kouzes and Posner - some of the best leadership material out there - if you can take some of their surveys in working teams, do it] at job 1.2.

Looking at the bottom 10 least frequent behaviors [the ones for improvement...] - either my Futuristic StrengthsFinder results are way off base or I was REALLY imagining my future somewhere else. You decide.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Planning for Mission Advance 08

We are starting to put the plans together for Mission Advance 2008, while we make sure the Silent Auction gets executed well. Mission Advance [our all team pre-field preparation weekend] is probably one of my absolute favorite ideas about SPACE ever. It's a ton of work and we are totally fried at the end of it, but it's probably the best thing we do in relation to effort to result. Our efforts result in strong teams and strong teams result in a positive impact on the field, good connection with hosts and students that know how to work with others while living in different culture and doing things they have never done before. Those results are worth the effort.

Mission Advance has been very dynamic for the past few years. 2006 was our first year when we took all the teams to the beach for the weekend, because we had some extra money in the budget from the year before. 2007 found us more local and able to serve with a local service project with one of our SPACE friends, Colleen. That year, we also tried a talent stage on Friday evening to engage broader parts of the community. This year will find us local again and MPM is running point with a different kind of element for Friday night.

We've got a lot more help on the logistics side this year too, which is a huge, huge relief. One of our great SPACE parents is running point for food, which is going to be a great project. And you know teenagers - they like to eat.

The various elements include:
- a session doing team initiatives and with some lessons on team work.
- various workshops with seasoned mission team leaders.
- a community impact project.
- spending a little over 24 hours with your team.
- sometime worshiping together as a community and blessing each other's teams.

Like every year, it's going to take a lot of work, but be well worth it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SPACE Archives - Decompression - Summer 1993

I've been digging through lots of good stuff and lots of junk that have collected in the international office for the past few years. Expect more fun stuff from the SPACE archives.

In this case, a pre-SPACE scanned document from one of my mentors in 1993 about a structured decompression. We successfully used quite a few of those upon returning with my team from the Dominican Republic in the summer of 1993. As always, use what you want.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Meet Hungary Leader - Leslie

Leslie has traveled with me every summer since SPACE's inception. Our first summer together was in NYC when, still as a high school student, she got to see the global mix of cultures that is New York, as well as see LL Cool J live in concert. Since then she has seen a lot of the world and it’s been our joy to continue to send her to places we aren’t able to go to. Yesterday, she finished a Discipleship Training School that included San Francisco, Turkey and Italy and is now getting ready to move into the old international SPACE office to spend the summer with our family while working here in Howard County.

She's an intellecting, high-achieving, empathetic, developer - meaning she’s going to dream up really sensitive ways to grow our team members, making sure the plans are well thought out and are sure to get done. Don’t be scared if you are on the receiving end of this – I’m very much looking forward to watching her share her life and what she has done in the past few months with the team.

She’s got a heart for Europe and the Hungary trip this summer will continue to forge the desire for those that haven’t yet heard. Our best odds [yours and mine] are to send someone like Leslie far and away when we can, so she can create more people like her.

Leslie has led on Brasil2005, Cameroon2006, and Hungary2007.

Photo: Leslie [on the right] in front of Aya Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey, April 2008.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2008 Funding

Our funding is absolutely our biggest challenge this year. Growth in the sizes and quantities of our teams means higher levels of support [we are seeing about a 20% growth in the number of students and leaders]. In addition to numerical growth, we have three overseas teams - the most we have ever had in a summer. In combination with the global food crisis, the decline of the dollar versus the euro and the cost of fuel, we've got some significant challenges. All in all, a best picture budget is about $170,000 to fund all these teams. Believe me, I know it's an insane amount of money. We have been very careful to ask our 3 essential questions for each team for this summer.

The rational tells us that the odds are against us. Instead, I like this quote from Neil Cole via
"He will not place the order and then not pay the bill."
[Lots of interesting topics covered in the comments like tentmakers, bi-vocational pastors, full time ministry, etc.]

We really do believe that God has led us to these partnerships and teams this summer and that He has gone before us preparing hearts and setting environments for our teams to make an impact.

Besides the standard mission support letter to well connected people that would love to support those students, teams are being ultra-creative for fundraising this year. These include hosting restaurant nights, bake sales, car window washes, supporting a marathon. But by far, our newest fare into the unknown is hosting a silent auction - where local business can donate items to be auctioned off for the benefit of SPACE teams. We are combining the actual evening of the auction with an ice cream social and it's our attempt to engage a larger community that might be interested in supporting SPACE. If you are in the area, we would love to see you for ice cream and perhaps there might be an item or service you might be interested in bidding on. We've also posted all the items up for bid on this site here.

Oh. And we are praying. Like mad. And we would love you to pray like mad with us too. That would be really cool.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What The World Eats Followup

Many of you probably saw the original "What The World Eats." Here is an interesting follow up Q&A with the authors via Freakonomics.

Global tidbits include:
+ Mongolia is more urban now than rural.

+ Q If you were president, what one step would you take/ policy would you implement to help resolve the global food crisis?
...if one of us were president, the biggest changes we would make regarding food and nutrition would be to reform farm subsidies in the U.S., and to send cash to pay for world food aid grown by growers nearer to the areas that need it rather than send food grown in the United States.

+Q: Is Coca-Cola really as globally pervasive as people say?
A: Sure it is; Coca-Cola is everywhere, and Pepsi is nearly as far-reaching.
It's almost refreshing to be in countries that serve the Arab cola alternatives. People in Mexico drink the most Coke - the country has the highest per capita consumption of Coca-Cola in the world.
Somewhere along the lines someone told me that the Gospel goes as Coke goes but I haven't been able to find any anecdotal evidence of that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dear SPACE Parents

Here is an email letter followup I sent out to all of our SPACE parents after we hosted a quick parents meeting last Sunday. Some of you might be interested if you deal with students, parents, mission teams, budgets... ok enough...
HI SPACE parents,

Thanks to those of you that were in attendance at our parents meeting on Sunday. Here is a quick recap of the information I went over. Feel free to pass this on to those I may have missed.

+ Summer Team Leaders
I'm overjoyed to tell you that our summer team leaders have a retention rate of 85% this summer - meaning that 85% of team leaders have been either a leader or participant on a previous SPACE experience. We know that the more experience our leaders have with global cultures, working with students and serving in different contexts, the stronger our teams will be. Choosing team leaders is the most intentional decision we make, based on strengths, fit and experience.

+ Support Status
Current Support as of 5/15/2008
Baltimore – XX/3600 – 2%
NOLA – 5500/14000 – 50%
England – 200/28000 – 2.5%
Cameroon – 4000/51200 – 10%
Hungary – 20334/71500 – 30%
Total budget – 34,603/170,000 – 20% [estimated budget - will fluctuate once teams hit the field and there is a significant amount of support letters that have just gone out in the mail...]

This is our most ambitious summer with more students involved in teams than ever and a larger budget due to 3 overseas teams, cost of oil, 2 teams to Europe and the global food crisis. We know that the only way these teams are viable is if God provides so we are all praying for support. Team leaders are challenging and encouraging the students to pray for support - it would be fun for you to do that with your kids too.

As an effort to engage a broader community, SPACE is hosting a Silent Auction/Ice Cream social. Products or services can be donated to SPACE to help raise support. If you know a local business that might be interested in donating, please let me know. We could also use help that evening and could use items for a bake sale if you are interested.

Friday June 6th
Maryland Piano Studio
6pm - 8pm
Website for donations:

+ Mission Advance
Mission Advance is our weekend where all the summer teams come together for team building, mission trip workshops and a community service project. Mission Advance starts Friday June 20 at 7pm and ends Saturday June 21 at 8pm and will be using the Warehouse as a base of operations. We could use help from parents for food for the
weekend, including donations, setup, etc. VK is coordinator for that effort - contact her if you are interested in helping. Our goal for the weekend is to
architect an environment where teams grow, get to know each other better and serve together all in an effort to ensure that they hit the field as strong as possible.

I know thats a long email. To summarize:
- Know a business that can donate a product or service for a SPACE silent auction? Let me know. We would love to see you there - feel free to pass the event info on to anyone else that might be interested in getting to know SPACE a little better.
- Interested in helping provide some food for Mission Advance? Let VK know.

Thanks to each of you for being willing to send your students out this summer. We do this because we are convinced that your kids will mark human history. Our job is to help them do it.

- tony sheng

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hosting Cameroon

This is SPACE's good friend PT and I. He is the country director for Cameroon for The Navigators and a good friend of the Nens and served as one of our team's hosts when we were there in 2006. The term "host" is a large understatement given American's idea of host versus Cameroonian's idea of host. But our team will find that out this coming summer. He was in town recently and met with our 2008 team, giving them a little bit of an overview of the culture and environment they will find themselves in this summer.

In 2006, our team helped start the first ever high school Navigator small groups in Yaounde, the capital city, ever. Keyword - ever. The big deal is not about our team, but about helping start specific environments for students to gather, connect, have fun and transform into something more. It's really fun for me to tell you that the majority of those groups are still meeting today.

This summer's team is also going to start something new. The Navigators run a country wide conference every summer and there has never been a great opportunity for all families to come - mainly due to the lack of a kids program. So our team is going to run that, allowing husbands and wives to attend sessions together. Like in 2006, the service this team does is going to last for a while.

If you are going to go to Africa, this is a great way to go. A host family that used to live where you live and understands all the cultural adjustments; a committed and top notch, indigenous, local ministry team on the ground; and great opportunities to ignite and pass on relationships and opportunities for the long term. Hosts that we trust, a solid indigenous team, and catalytic opportunities - these are all elements that make long term impact truly viable.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Meet Hungary Leader - RachelJ

I'm going to spend the next few Fridays introducing you to our Hungary leaders. In 500 years, you'll say I told you so.

Meet RachelJ.
Rachel is our newest SPACE friend, literally. We met her this past January when she came to the area to hang out with her college roommate, ESunde. Most of the SPACE peeps connected immediately and we decided to give her a formal invitation to the Hungary lead team because we saw intention, a servant's heart and a love of adventure and the unknown. [Read how our invitation and her acceptance was confirmed too.]

She represents a few experimental questions, such as:
+ How can a brand new leader to SPACE contribute to leadership movement right from the start?
+ How can we maximize initial trip travel time to get Rachel well connected to the rest of the team?
+ Will Rachel's northwest network help expand SPACE and how we serve students and youthworkers?

Rachel's got leadership experience in Mexico and Honduras, having been on a few mission trips with her home church in Washington State. She's a strong developer through and through, meaning that it won't be hard for her to think of new and fun exciting projects for team members whether she knows that them well or not.

Photo: Rachel in NYC - Winter Expedition 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday RocketFuel

::: Gladwell on invention and innovation [a must read]
visiting topics such as :
+ the puzzling phenomenon of soldiers in Iraq who survive a bomb blast only to die a few days later of a stroke. Some think it's a shock wave, penetrating the soldiers' helmets and surging through their brains.

+ you can track moving things by counting wing beats. So you could build a mosquito fence and clear an entire area. [say for malaria]

+ stopping hurricanes - the waves in the ocean have energy, and you use that to lower the temperature differential.

+ what if you slid a tiny filter into a blood vessel of a cancer patient? "You don't have to intercept very much of the blood for it to work," Wood went on. "Maybe one ten-thousandth of it.
Link via kottke

:::, Granger Community Church and the church planting piece of OnePrayer
Funding 500 church plants in 4 countries in one weekend.

::: What 100,000 people means in US terms.
By the way:
Baltimore - 651,154
Washington DC - 588,292

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SPACE's customers

Long time readers know that every few months I go sit in on a Missions Task Force [MTF] meeting, the body of people charged with all missions all the time at Grace. One of the unique things about SPACE is that we have very tight integration with the MTF - they are constantly in the loop as we dream, plan and execute. Prime example - since this particular summer has some ridiculously audacious support goals, they were our last milestone sounding board before we pulled the trigger for our teams.

Every meeting with them is so affirming, I always say that they are SPACE's biggest fans. But in a weird way, they are also SPACE's best customers. We deliver to them - just like parents, students, and our partners around the world - a way to make the future different. And they receive our "product" with open arms, always saying, "We want more."

It reminds me a recent Seth Godin quote, "Your best customers are worth far more than your average customers."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thinking About Disaster Relief

No doubt, a lot of us have been monitoring the Myanmar situation. In general, I've got mixed feelings about disaster relief. Within my circles, I know lots of people that would drop everything to be part of the rescue. That's really admirable, passion like that is contagious and we are called to be a part of rescuing humanity. On the flip side, disaster relief is so complex, I have to think that unless you have some really specific training and expertise, you are just going to be in the way. Passion is great, but it doesn't replace understanding what needs to happen in a situation like Myanmar or Katrina or the tsunami - safe disposal of the bodies, water treatment, reconstruction, distribution of food and water, grief and stress counseling. This also requires understanding the macro picture of this situation - resource poor localities, a very different form of government, the context of people related to the ladder of economic development. Of course, these lists can go on and on.

In other words, I would probably advocate only the well trained go into a situation like that, while the rest of us who are passionate about mankind continue to pray, watch and send - specifically sending the right people. But what I'm also saying is that if you feel yourself drawn towards situations like this, go get some experience. Buy a water filter and figure out how to use it. Take a class in post traumatic stress. Invent large scale logistical problems with your friends for fun and profit. Get a degree in international development or medicine. Then the next time, and there certainly will be a next time, go with the confidence that you've got something that will really help.

Some current resources with regard to Myanmar:
Comments on where to give at TallSkinnyKiwi
Rudy on WorldVision, where he serves as a board member. [Rudy also hosted our SPACE 2006 LA team.]
Joel Vestal from ServLife

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day 2008

Happy Mothers Day D. Love.

Rotating Headers

This blog now has rotating headers. I can't tell you how fun that is for me. It might be fun for you too. F5 to see some of your favorite SPACE teams. Yet another moment of nerdery.

Here is the collection of them all.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Nice and Little

I want two things that are mutually opposed - I want to live a nice little life, and I want to play an important role in God's kingdom.- John Eldredge, Walking with God

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Small World or...

The Seattle pair of ESunde and RachelJ and I had another Skype video chat this evening. This time their webcam worked - lots of fun.

Some of you remember reading about RachelJ, who is roommates with ESunde. She came out during the winter and hung out with some SPACE peeps, including traveling to NYC with us. Being a great fit, we invited her to help lead on the Hungary team. Of course, it was quite a decision for her, deciding whether she would connect with a team on the other side of the country and all that.

Shortly after she made a commitment, she lined up a job as a nanny for this coming summer. And wouldn't you know it, the family she is working for spent a year living in .... Sopron, Hungary.

Small world or God moving into human history?

SPACE Core Score - Summer 2008

From Marcus Buckingham:
+ What Is Our Core Score?
By zeroing in on one core score leaders brought clarity to their people.
Ideally, this score will be a leading indicator of success, such as employee engagement or employee safety or crime, rather than a trailing indicator, such as sales or profit or tax revenues, but from the perspective of your followers, what matters most is that it's clear.
One of the metrics SPACE measures is how many leaders are returning to SPACE. If they have participated in a previous SPACE experience - either as a leader or student, it is scored. It matters because the more expertise, experience and context our summer team leaders have, the better the odds of their success. Our choices in leadership are about the most intentional thing we do and it's a choice we make matter.

Here is that particular core score for this summer's leader teams.
: Baltimore - 5 out of 6 == 83%
: Cameroon - 5 out of 5 == 100%
: Hungary - 6 out of 8 == 75%
: NOLA - 6 out of 9 == 66%
: England - 5 out of 6 == 83%
+ Total - 29/34 - 85%

Compare this to the score from Summer 2007 -- 65%

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who Does What

A lot of leadership is observation. Who does what, when do they do it and why do they do it? When you leave the team to figure out something on their own, who takes charge, speaks up, organizes the rest. And who sits back and keeps quiet? And why? When your own seven year old falls down and needs some help, who picks her up and carries her the rest of the way home? And why?

Of course, the next step for you as a leader is to engage them at the next level. How can you make their experience move them to the next step of initiative, influence and impact?

Monday, May 05, 2008

2008 Hungary #3

We had our third formal Hungary 2008 team meeting this past weekend. This particular all-day event included the following parts:
- Blind Volleyball - We went down to the park in my neighborhood and played blind volleyball for about 15 minutes. Blind volleyball is when there is a tarp or something laying over the net so you can't see the other team. The overall idea was to get them to understand that this summer, and some of life, is moving and acting when you don't have all of the information. Even though you can't see what's coming next clearly, you still have to move. Get used to it, friends.
- Program Development - At this stage, we are still very much in the midst of ideation as the program pieces develop. So far, we have a big idea theme along with team breakouts to develop specific pieces as much as we can. These breakouts include a teaching team, a skit/video team, crafts and opening and closing ceremonies. Similar to last year, most of the elements have been developed by the students on the team - we have given it to them and they have run with it. It's going to be pretty amazing.
- Lunch
- Window Wash Fundraiser - we did a fundraiser where we washed windows at a gas station. If people wanted to donate, they could but we made sure we told them they certainly didn't have to. Lots of fun conversations and people encouraging our team. We raised a nice bit of support.

Hungary 2007 - Meeting #3
Cameroon 2006 - Meeting #3
Brasil 2005 - Meeting #3

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday RocketFuel

::: Thinking about the Peace Corps?
Two insightful articles about culture, sustainability and impact related to the Peace Corps.
Interesting anecdote, one of my friends says his experience is that a lot of Peace Corps people finish out their careers as lawyers.

::: A Daily Big Idea
Some of the recent ones:
The rise of social networks has cheapened what it means to be "friends" with someone.
All innovation is fueled by the theft of intellectual property.
An entrepreneurial environment is the best way to foster high performance.
Link from Fast Company.

::: Making the World Human Again
Alex McManus's new book. Preorder here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lying to Myself

This is about the time of year where part of me tries to convince the whole of me to give it a rest. To shut it down, walk away, finalize the experiment to see how self sustaining it really is. To see what would happen to SPACE if I were to take a sabbatical. I use the word sabbatical because it implies taking a pause and then coming back. But that part of me is lying. Once it convinces me to leave, it's a done deal.

This certainly was the case last year - after a very busy Spring and early summer of initiating and launching teams and a fabulous weekend of Mission Advance, I told myself I was done. And then the ridiculous happened - I visited our at-that-time freshmen team working with Chain Reaction in Baltimore. And the part of me that was trying to do the convincing gave up, right then and there. I saw hope. I saw purpose. I saw the future. And I decided we weren't done yet.

I don't think you should feel like your SPACE team has the overdramatic responsibility for the future of me. That would be just silly. Like most people, I go through waves of certainty and uncertainty, low risk and high risk, loud and quiet. Those waves are anchored by the truth of who Jesus is my life and what kind of God uses people like me. But, your SPACE team certainly has the not-so-overdramatic responsibility for the future of humanity.

That's how to not to lie to yourself.

Photo: Last summer's SPACE 2007 Baltimore team.