Traveling in the name of the Kinsler Foundation, I brought Rev. Ed Kang, Rev. Dayoung Kimn, Elder Kenneth Park and his wife, Rev. Julie Park, to North Korea in May. The purpose of this visit was to introduce Rev. Dayoung Kimn, who will be working with me in the future. Rev. Kang and the Parks traveled to visit the handicapped work and to meet relatives.
NEW TRANSPORTATION Arrangements were made during my March visit for the purchase of a 15-passenger-van. The vehicle had enough room for the group and our luggage as we traveled to the Haebangsan Hotel. On the way, our guide gave details of our travel schedule including information about family reunions and a visit to the Wonsan Deaf School.
Pyongyang’s streets and buildings looked cleaner and more orderly than previously. We saw green trees and flowers. There were more cars and taxis and it seemed as though there might even be traffic jams now! The group had a three-day visit scheduled to see the Chosen Jangae Hweibokwon (school for physically and mentally disabled young children), the Korea Federation for the Protection of the Disabled (KFPD) Cultural Center, the Dongdaewon Disabled Persons Fitness Center building, and the KFPD sponsored nationwide table tennis competition for the disabled at Kim Il Sung University.
The grace and peace of the Lord be with each one of you. Dorothy and I are doing well. In July, we attended the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU) which was held in São Paulo. Our Regional Liaison, Dennis Smith, and Valdir França, PC(USA) Mission Coordinator for the Caribbean and Latin America, were present as well. The IPU invited us back for another term beginning in January 2018. This will be the first time in over 23 years of ministry in Brazil that we have been invited back to the same location (Mangabeira) in which we have been serving. We are comfortable with that decision. We have served in seven different locations during our time in Brazil as a couple.
During our first two years here in Mangabeira, the adult group at our church lay dormant. This year they decided to come alive and participate in the life of the church. They plan special events and commemorations and are in charge of making things happen. They were instrumental in helping one of the ladies of the church, Dona Maria, celebrate her 80th birthday with a devotional and cake. She was most appreciative. For Mother's Day, the ladies in the adult group made aprons to put clothespins in to make it easier to hang clothes to dry since folks where we live do not have dryers.
Greetings to you from Cobán in Jesus’ precious name!
Psalm 133 declares, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in harmony!” Such harmony, explains the psalm, is like the dew of Mt. Hermon falling on Mt. Zion. As it turns out, snow-capped Mt. Hermon stands at Israel’s northern limits, whereas Mt. Zion is down south, near the desert. The message seems clear. Harmonious living isn’t just a local affair. Its blessings extend from north to south and vice versa.
A lot of “dew” has fallen upon Cobán in recent months. In April, a mission team from Toronto, Canada helped break ground for the theological training center at the Presbyterian Complex. Since then, one Presbyterian partner after another has descended, coming from Nashville, TN; Fairhope, AL; Charleston, SC; and Cincinnati, OH. They each brought a harmonious spirit, injecting enthusiasm and energy, reaching out to the needy, to children and the community as a whole. Now the training center’s first level is nearly finished. We’re boldly praying it can be dedicated by year’s end.
Other fantastic teams came from churches in middle TN; Williamsburg, VA; and Dothan, AL. They all enjoyed serving in partnership with churches in remote places like Sayaxché, Petén; Chajul, Quiché; and Limón Sur, Alta Verapaz.
It is a joy to write you in my new role as an Outreach Foundation mission staff member. As you might know, Outreach’s part in Kingdom work has involved ministry with vulnerable children and families. After decades of Public Health work in Africa with HIV, AIDS, and Ebola affected groups, I have developed a passion for trauma healing. With the assistance of The Outreach Foundation, I have been trained as a Children’s Trauma Healing Master Facilitator and will now help prepare African partners to work with traumatized children. As part of an Outreach team, I recently visited with South Sudanese refugees from four camps in western Ethiopia. The number of refugees was astounding; their stories were shocking. They had ongoing traumatic stress. Many of the refugees were members of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. The UN reported recently that more than 10,000 unaccompanied minors were among the 380,000 South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers in the camps in western Ethiopia. Thousands more are fleeing to neighboring countries each month from an ongoing civil war and famine. Based on the current trajectory of displacement, conflict and man-made famine, roughly half of South Sudan’s population will be at risk of starvation or will have fled the country by the end of 2017 – that is more than three million human beings severely traumatized!
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers [and sisters!] dwell together in unity! These are the opening words of Psalm 133 and I know that each and every one of my Outreach Foundation team who went to Lebanon would echo this sentiment. It was, indeed, so very good and so very pleasant to spend eleven days learning from and in fellowship with our Church partners of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. After five intense days spent at the conference center of the Synod, north of Beirut, in the slightly cooler mountain air of Dhour Schweir, where our days were full with Bible studies and seminars, conversations shared over meals and oh-so-many hugs and even more photographs, we said tearful goodbyes to more than 85 Presbyterian sisters from the churches of Lebanon and Syria. Over the next day and a half, we shared with each other our impressions and “take aways”, and helped one another “fine tune” what we might share when we returned to our congregations in Omaha, Tulsa, Moraga Valley, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Evanston and Gaithersburg and were asked “how was your trip?!?!
Day two in Siavonga, on the edge of Lake Kariba. The vulnerability of children and families in the Siavonga district of southern Zambia is obvious and has been affirmed by our visits with children at the Namumu Orphanage Center and by others we have met during the last two days. Today we began by meeting with the government District Commissioner, together with the Namumu director and board chairman. We expressed appreciation for the support that the District has promised to the Namumu orphanage and their concern for the well-being of the children.
This meeting was followed by a visit to the local fishing boats on the shore of the lake. In planning for financial sustainability of Namumu, the decision was made to launch a fishing business on the lake. The Outreach Foundation and other supporters assisted in the purchase of four fishing boats for Namumu.