Success vs. Significance

I want to invite you in on some things that I have been thinking about a lot recently. In fact, God re-id orated this to to me through a quote from a team leader that he shared to me on our way to the airport last week (Thanks Graham). It has been rolling around in my head and I’m hoping this makes sense and I’m hoping that you can take these thoughts and better your life through it as well.

The quote that I heard was “Success vs. Significance.” What does that mean? I knew that I heard that quote before and it actually came from a book that I read a couple of years ago and since hearing it again I have had all sorts or reminders about the things that I read in that book. So often, especially in America, we place so much value on success. In fact I can remember throughout my life I can remember people talking about becoming successful and that I can be anything I want to be. There wasn’t any specifics of what this looks like but when I think about being successful I think about a great job with great pay, and I think about a nice house and a beautiful family, etc. The American dream. All thing that aren’t necessarily bad. Now significance… I think that significance means a whole lot more than success. So often people hope that through success they will find significance. They strive to be successful and hope to be fulfilled through that. When I think about all the times we I have felt significant or have felt significance I doesn’t have anything to do with me or someone else being successful. In fact it has everything to do with relationships and experiences. The things that I feel shaped my life all come down to people and my relationships and experiences that I have had with them. Think about your own life… What things stand out the most? Is it the accomplishments you have had? The things that you have? Or, is it the people and the experiences? Why do we base so much of what we do on a day to day basis on trying to be successful? If we try and base day to day on significance then our days will look different.

I have been thinking about our ministry here and Jamaica and the fact is that being successful might take years and years. For someone to come and say “Wow, you have accomplished a lot” might never happen while I’m here. However, if I start to seek out significance then perhaps I will find success. If I look towards relationships and bettering my life and the lives of those around me success will naturally come. From the beginning of my time here I have wanted to focus on relationships but it’s honestly hard sometimes with all the things that have to happen on a day to day basis. Really it’s up to me to change my focus. Sure those things have to happen and sure I want to start moving towards be successful but if that is the primary focus I fear that I will miss on what God has for me and the people here.

Let’s become significant and let’s look for opportunities to make a difference in other peoples lives. Let’s re-wire this success driven mindset and let God move in us. In the end the only judge to our success should be God anyway. When I think about Jesus’ ministry here on earth I see him being significant in the lives of the people he encountered. If he wanted to be successful he would have been hanging out with the pharisees. He poured into the lives of his disciples and they started the first church. He poured into the lives of the people from the towns where he visited and people where healed and lives we changed. Now that God lives in us so why can’t we do the same things? We can…

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Revisiting expectations

Hello Friends – I have been taking some time this morning to look over some old notes from our time at Mission Training International (MTI). It’s hard to believe that it has been a whole year since we have been there. Such amazing people and so many things learned. We had a section in our class when we talked about expectations. We talked about how having to many expectations can be a problem when those expectations aren’t met. What has been really interesting today is looking over the things that I actually wrote about my expectations. I actually wrote that I didn’t really have a lot of expectations, but I wrote about the things that I would hope for when I get here, personally and relational. I was very naive and looking back I think that was a good thing. It is still kind of funny to see how life has shape out over these last 8+ months. Hard to believe we’ve been here that long.

There was a poem that we read at the beginning of the section at MTI. We haven’t experience all of these things but quite a few we have. It did kind of scare me at the time but now many of these things are just life.

Ben

Ants in the sugar bowl

So I send you
     To ants in the sugar bowl,
     To things that fly, creep, and crawl into the house,
     To uncertain water, sporadic electricity.
     To long hours, sweltering heat, exhausting days,
     To uncomfortable vehicles, crowded jeeps, smelly buses.
     To noisy early, early mornings,
     To rice, rice, and more rice.
     To poverty you didn’t believe existed,
     To masses of people like you have never seen,
     To know and work with people who have never known comfort,
So send I you, and I expect you to adjust
 
So I send you
     To people who will give to you from their poverty,
     To friends who will embarrass you with their generosity,
     To pastors who will entertain you from their lack, with beauty.
     To hungry, receptive, questioning people who want to know God,
     To study, to teach, to learn from you study and teaching,
     To prove your own motives, values, and beliefs,
    To learn about yourself and the culture that has reared you,
    To know God and to understand more deeply dependance on Him,
So I send you.
 
Are you going? I’ll go with you all the way.
 

By Elizabeth Givens

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Conference and Retreat Center Roof Project

I wanted to take some time to talk about a project that we are in the middle of working on. The Jamaican Deaf Village has been in the process of building a Conference and Retreat Center on our campus for a number of years.  We are hoping to use the building to house teams as well as host wedding receptions, graduations, and parties. We can employ some of the deaf from the village as well as from the area. We are also hoping to bring some in of the students from the Knockpatrick campus and train them on catering. We can do all this and bring in revenue to help JDV become self-sufficient.

We need help in order to complete the next big step on the building. We have both the first and second floor block laid. We have started finishing the bottom floor but we need a roof to do any work on the second. We have a work team scheduled to come at the end of the year and we need to raise $30000 more than we have. Materials here in Jamaica are very expensive and we need to have all the money raised in order to get the team down here.

Please Please consider giving some money to this project. Every little bit helps and we know that we can get there. Thank you so much!

Ben and Krista

We’re are hoping to get a better page up with the more information. I will keep you informed on that.

For some more info and to give visit http://www.cccdjamaica.org/raise-the-roof-at-jdv.html

 

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Big “Thank You!” to our home church Faith Promise

I hope that this post finds you well. We want to take some time today to say a special “thank you” Faith Promise church. Faith Promise is our home church in Knoxville, TN, and they have been one of our biggest supporters in so many ways. From the first day that we met with Brad Ervin, the missions pastor at FP, he has been behind us coming here to Jamaica and very involved with our plans and preparation. Brad told us from the beginning that FP wanted to be our biggest supporter and that he would try to do everything that he could to help us down here. Brad and FP have stayed true to this ever since we had that meeting in December of 2010. Last summer, the church even took some time to film a promotional video for us to show at each church service, and it helped us greatly in spreading the word and raising support. I still remember being up in front of church and having Pastor Chris pray over us and then encourage the congregation to get behind us and what we are doing. I remember being amazed at seeing the names multiply on our “please contact” sheet and meeting new people who felt called to pray and to give. What an awesome, humbling feeling that was. We also had the opportunity to speak to FP’s student ministry, in which we served, in hopes of motivating and encouraging the youth.

We have heard so many sad stories of fellow missionaries who have had trouble getting their home churches involved with their vision, so seeing FP’s response was overwhelming. After that Sunday, we were able to have a number of meetings with small groups about support and prayer. We still take time occasionally to Skype back home to a small group from FP…a group that collected money every week to help send us to missions training! Before moving here, we decided along with Brad that we wanted to try and talk with each other every other week. Brad has done that faithfully since we came here in January. Brad always asks how we are doing, prays for us, and asks if there is anything that he can do for us. We also have others from the church who couldn’t make monthly financial commitments but support us in prayer and regularly encourage us and keep up with our updates. One family has been sending monthly “care packages” full of items that are hard to find on the island or are very expensive… along with some nice treats! 🙂

All this being said, we wanted write this so that our family and friends see how proud we are of our church, and so that the people of Faith Promise know how important they are to us and our ministry here. The missions department does amazing work and has been by our side since the beginning. If you know someone from Faith Promise, send this their way so they can know!

THANK YOU FAITH PROMISE CHURCH! We can’t wait for your team to come next week!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Jamaica!

Hello everyone! I can’t believe it’s been so long since our last post. I don’t know about you, but this summer is just flying by! If you haven’t read our July newsletter yet, click here to check it out. Last week was our first week in over 2 months without a team, but there was still plenty to do! We moved into a different apartment on campus, because a new missionary family (the Svobodas) with two children moved into where we were living before. It’s been great to get to know them better and to begin partnering together. This past Monday was a great time of fellowship with everyone as we celebrated Jamaica’s 50th anniversary as an independent nation! Here are some pictures and a video of our celebration! (Make sure to watch the video to the end to see some dancing!)

Yellow Yam Song

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Dampers

So we are on our 8th team in a row here at JDV for the summer. I have one more team and then a week off and another 2 teams after that. With all these teams I have been able to get a lot of work done here at the village. I have been focusing on paving the road and finish work in the new conference/retreat/team center. For those of you who have been here before you know he badly we need to pave the roads here at JDV. When that new building is finished we know that we will need to have the road paved all the way up to it in order to help rent it out. Once work team season is finished I can post some pictures so that you can see what was done over the summer.

Last Friday we had a great team here from PA who has been here before. We decided to do something different than we normally do. We made a camp fire and had Dampers. Dampers are basically dough that wrapped around a large stick and roasted over the fire until it’s crispy and you can just pull the dough off of the stick. After that you can fill the inside with jelly, or peanut butter, of just butter. It was really cool. The team then took some time to go around and share some things that they had experienced throughout the week. It was a really good time as the community of Christ to share what He has been doing.

One thing that I share with everyone that comes here is the Jamaican motto, “Out of many, One people.” I think that motto is true to us as Christians. He at JDV we have people from all different backgrounds and all different places that come here to partner with the deaf and us missionaries but we are all united under the body of Christ for the same goal. It is a really cool thought and I’ve loved seeing the teams work, interact with, and encourage the deaf as we all work together as the body of Christ. I’ve also loved seeing the outreach that has been done at both orphanages and the infirmary. So cool

Please continue to pray for us as we are still in the busy season. I am looking forward to having a little break to focus on the future here at JDV this fall. Fall is coming fast!

Ben

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James 1:27

Hello friends and family! Sorry it’s been so long since our last post. If you haven’t read our June newsletter yet, you can read it here. It will share a little more about what’s been going on during this busy season!

This has been a special week at JDV. This is our only team this summer that has not been doing construction (except for a couple of skilled handymen on the team). This group, Williamson’s Chapel from Charlotte, NC, has been leading Vacation Bible School at an orphanage each morning and at JDV each afternoon. There is no doubt that lives have been touched this week. James 1:27 says:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Wow! How easy is it to look over verses like that? We try to encourage teams that, in the end, it’s not the concrete and blocks that matter. It’s the relationships and the sharing of the gospel through love. It has been so inspiring and touching this week to see the team love on the fatherless at New Hope Children’s Home and on the children who have been coming to VBS at JDV…many of whom do not have a good model of Christian family at home.

We try to bring each team to visit New Hope Children’s Home at least once during their time with us. Mandeville has 3 orphanages that we partner with, but this one has found a special place in our hearts. It is the smallest of them all and also the least funded of them all. The woman who runs the home, Amanda, has such an amazing and inspiring story. She came here from the states about 25 years ago with an open heart and mind, fell in love with and married a Jamaican man, went from nanny-ing to running this children’s home (after being asked to babysit a few kids, whose parents never returned). The community of Mandeville has come to highly regard Amanda, and it is known that she will not turn down a child. All week, Williamson’s Chapel has been loving on many children with disabilities and babies who just need to be held.

Please pray for New Hope and for Amanda. Pray that God would continue to provide for their needs and that we at JDV can continue to be a blessing to them. Also, a challenge. When is the last time you cared for an orphan or a widow? Or even for a person whose parents or spouse isn’t emotionally/spiritually present? 

We love you all dearly and hope you are enjoying this hot summer (coincidentally hotter than ours!) and that you had a wonderful Independence Day. As always, please let us know how we can pray for you! Until next time…


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Guest Blog post

Hey Everybody. I wanted to share a brief reflection from a team leader of a recent trip. Ted has been coming for years and years and is very passionate about what we do here and very passionate about being intentional about the spiritual side of a mission trip. Here is a little paragraph that he wrote regarding his teams trip last week…

Reflections of JDV2012… Once again our hearts and minds were transformed by the Holy Spirit as our team gathered together on the Jamaica Deaf Village mountainside June 8-16, 2012. Our 41 team mates representing 23 Apostolic Christian congregations from 8 states and 3 countries, along with the resident missionaries and Jamaican brethren, were united as the Body of Christ to serve God by serving others. The work that was accomplished was both physical and spiritual. Shovels, concrete mixers, pick axes, cement blocks, paint brushes and rollers, jack hammers, scaffolding…. and yet there was ample time for Bibles, prayer lists, songs of praise, devotions, and sweet fellowship. We gave much, but we could not out-give the Lord. His blessings were poured out upon us, and our cups were overflowing with blessings. Our lives have been changed by this experience, and we will never be the same. Oh, how thankful I am for the grace and mercy and love of God, that he brought this team together at JDV for His glory!

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Gift of Gratitude

As many of you know, if you have read our recent posts or our May newsletter, Ben and I have entered this summer’s team (aka busy) season. It’s hard to believe that after nearly 5 months of busily preparing for this summer, it is suddenly upon us! 9 consecutive teams will be coming throughout this summer (plus 2 more after a week break). Slowly but surely, it is clicking in my mind that this is home now. And the more I begin to realize the things that I miss from my old home. But more than the things, it’s the people. I was blessed to be able to Skype with my mom, sister, and friends Mike and Mallory this week, which was wonderful! I know many missionaries around the world do not live with such luxuries. And though it’s tough, it’s good…as we discovered at our missions training, missing reminds you that you have experienced love.

My sister Lindsy and I have begun reading a book called “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp together, just to be intentional about staying connected with each other. Though we’re only a few chapters in, I can say that this book has the potential to be life changing! It is a “celebration of grace and a recognition of the power of gratitude”….”a dare to live fully right where you are.” It has made me recognize that there are countless gifts that the Lord lavishes on me daily, and I often neglect to acknowledge those gifts or give thanks to Him for them. Consequently, I can miss out on the joy that comes from thanksgiving.

Mother and Daughters Summer 2011

Lord willing, in the next 3 weeks, both my sister (Lindsy) and Ben’s sister (Mindy) will be having their second child. I know this will be a hard thing to miss. I think that in the midst of loss (though I know this is nothing like death, just separation), it is all the more important to name God’s gifts back to him. If anything, just to remind myself of God’s faithfulness and care in my life. The little things add up to a big thing, so I am asking the Lord to help me to live out gratitude in a new way. Him becoming more, me becoming less (John 3:30). What do you think? How do you live out gratitude in your life?

 

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Busy Season Begins

Greetings from Mandeville! After a month of serving at the Montego Bay campus, Ben and I are back home at the Jamaica Deaf Village. Ben has spent the last couple of days prepping for the team that will arrive here tomorrow…and then it will be nonstop teams until mid-August! This means dropping off teams on Saturdays and picking up the new team that same day. Please pray for us as we navigate through how to “do life” during this season (how to manage our time and keep our priorities, how to maintain a thriving marriage and set aside quality time together, how to say “hello” and “goodbye” well to the teams each week, how to set healthy boundaries when we could allow ourselves to serve 24/7, how I (Krista) will manage my time between teaching and being with teams for the month of June, etc., etc.). Thanks in advance for your prayers for us and for lifting us up in prayer thus far!

Ben and I are really looking forward to the team that will be arriving here tomorrow. Our good friend Chris Briggs will be leading the team, so it will be wonderful to see a familiar face and to spend time with him! It is his church’s first trip to CCCD, and we are praying for lives to be transformed and hearts to be opened this week.

Be checking your email, because our May newsletter will be coming soon with more stories of how God has been working this month! If you don’t receive our newsletters and would like to, please let us know. Love you all!

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