Monday, July 21, 2014

Ember 14X Wrap

Long post - feel free to read it or skip it.

: Aix
Again, like last year, being in Aix was so fun. It's a great little city and I love some of the elements that make it up. Elements like expats there for the business opportunities, lots of third culture kids, a technology hub and close proximity to Marseille, which is a key gateway to North Africa. If those things interest you too, keep Aix in the back of your mind. This year our team understood, even more than last year, some of the unique difficulties of ministry here, like when one of our missions roundtables guests said something to the effect of "It's hard to raise missions support when you live in a wedding destination." It's a beautiful city and embodies European and French culture with a distinct appreciation for food, art and beauty. The weather is beautiful, the scenery is gorgeous and the churches are scarce. Some have said France is a graveyard for missionaries.

: Kids Week and ICCP
I didn't convey this real well as things unfolded but the plans for Kids Week had to be drastically changed. Originally scheduled to run Monday to Friday, we were instead shutdown after the day ended on Wednesday by local authorities due to some minor safety concerns. However, we were able to have an end of week picnic in a local park. There was a huge outpouring of community support so ICCP has found themselves with lots of attention, which is hopefully a good thing. The theme of the week was Kingdom of Grace, so everyone, including some pretty upset parents, were encouraged to respond… well… with grace. There is, of course, a bigger story going on here and it will be interesting to see what comes of it.

You know mission trips - stay flexible because things always change. It's a theme for Ember too, our plan A never works out. As I get older, I get less and less flexible. And I am more and more annoyed at myself for being less and less flexible. This is a personal decompression topic.

ICCP continues to be one of the most innovative communities we know about. Their level of intention, sacrifice, and creativity all for the sake of the kids in their community is unparalleled. It is a beautiful thing to see. Tim Anderson [KW director] and Tim Arlen [lead pastor] led this initiative with grace and integrity and I wish our team could have spent more time with both of them.

: Culture Aixchange and Missions Evening
One of my personal highlights of our two weeks in France was the culture exchange. Since the staff was such a good mix of French, American and various other cultures, we had originally wanted to host a culture exchange. The goals for this included having the kids to share about their cultures and having the staff to get to know each other better by doing something fun. This didn't work out for the original schedule but when Kids Week closed down, we were actually able to execute on this and it was a great success. See more notes on it here.

The other highlight for me was hosting a small group of missions people at our villa one evening for dinner and a time of discussion. Among the people included the lead pastor of ICCP, who just moved to Aix a year ago from the States; a Dutch guy who is a serial ministry starter and is going to plant a French speaking church out of ICCP; an American wife of ICCP's former lead pastor who also ran a local wine and cheese touring business in Aix; and someone who is considering coming on staff at ICCP and two of the guys who came to Kids Week from a church in Virginia. Moderated gatherings like these are one of the best things we do. Most trips like these never make the time or space to have students intentionally interact with experienced cross cultural people. For Ember, this is as important as the project itself. More here.

: Financials
Big picture financials - use these to compare keeping in mind that Europe is very expensive.
Airfare: $1230
Food: $157
Insurance: $8
Partner gift: $50
Ground costs: $185
Lodging: $618
Excursion: $18 [Les Baux castle tour]
Costs per team member were about $2266 for 14 days which equals about $161 per day. We got a great deal on our flights through British Airways nonprofit program. Last year, it cost $2250 per person for 10 days.

: Team
I loved working with Teal Rapp. He's one of the most easy going, highly relational leaders that I know. He cares for his family and teams phenomenally and gets fired up when people are engaged and empowered for God's mission. Since he was on staff with ICCP and lived in Aix, he was perfect to be a part of our team. Having his kids on our team was phenomenal too. [His oldest, Olivia, and Katie are working together in Madrid right now.]

The rest of our team was phenomenal as well. Each and every person contributed significantly to both Work Week and the short Kids Week as well as being fully engaged in whatever we were doing - seeing the sights, decompression, helping out around the house.

We made some improvements compared to last year about leadership and most of our team was returning. In addition, John helped prep our team with some very targeted prayer points the week before we departed. We engaged the older students in some various leadership roles which was a great help to me.

: Why This Matters
In the short term, I'm pretty sure you'll see each person grow in at least one of the missional concepts that we were exposed to from the experience: international church planting, people of peace, cultural icons, a community that is incarnational, bivocational ministry. In the long term, you'll see at least some of these kids do something phenomenal but it might take a while so hang on. Thanks to all of you supporters, investors and blog readers - your support is incredible. I love each person on this team like they were one of my kids.
'You don’t plant churches you plant sons.[and daughters]'- Oscar Muriu

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