”What Do You Need Most?”

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An update from MEMO Ministry’s work in El Salvador.

“Jerome, this is the most important meeting you have had this trip!”

Eduardo was referring to the brief tour given by an elderly, spritely town counsellor who showed Jerome the conditions of La Presa. La Presa is a village close to the larger town of Texacuangos, but is separated from it by a steep, often treacherous pathway. The people have great needs and we have the ability to help physically, socially and spiritually.

Dutchaks scrap metal in Thunder Bay, ON is setting aside 1,000ft of hand rail over the next little while to help make this pathway safer. MEMO volunteers will pick it up from time to time and MEMO will start shipping it to the region.

Of course that is the easy part. With the help of the community and town workers the pipe has to be cut and welded and then installed. But what an opportunity to show care in a practical way!

We want to collect child’s and adolescent size shoes so kids can go to school. The Shalom clinic is a 20-minute walk away for serious medical problems. MEMO will supply a “sitting” stretcher to carry patients down the mountain.

Finally, it is possible for us to provide a pre-fabricated first-aid post and church building, with 2 rooms, galvanized walls and a concrete floor, if we receive $3,000 in donations.

There are no churches or significant help from churches in La Presa. The town with its limited resources brings in food once a month.

MEMO wants to be involved in a supportive role in this community in this time and for Eternity. This is its vision and with your help this community can learn that God loves them!

For lots more about MEMO, visit the ministry’s website by clicking here.

Do Your Christmas Shopping In Japan

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In November 2014 the Onagawa Megumi Project opened an online store. Their unique products can be purchased online from Canada or the USA, and made great Christmas presents—especially for ladies. And all proceeds go toward helping rebuild the lives of some people in Onagawa.

The Onagawa Megumi Project is an income generating social enterprise that transforms vintage kimonos into beautiful products. The Megumi Project shares the love of Jesus Christ in a tangible way in the town of Onagawa, Miyagi-ken that was devastated by tsunami generated by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011.

The Project is a ReachGlobal and EFC of Germany initiative that the EFC of Canada Mission (EFCCM) is partnering with. The Project received over $30,000 from the EFCCM disaster fund for the construction of their working trailer where they make all their crafts.

The EFCCM church planting ministry at Tokyo Multicultural Church (TMC), led by Dale and Ann Little, is closely connected with the Onagawa Megumi Project. Throughout 2014 TMC ladies have prepared kimono fabric for the Project by seam ripping many donated kimonos so the ladies in Onagawa do not have to do that time consuming work.

Several times in 2014 Dale and Ann delivered the prepared kimono fabric to Onagawa, and offered encouragement to the missionaries and workers there. They will continue to do this in 2015.

Communication and Leadership — The Receiver

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IMGP9030This is where the bad news starts. See, up until this point, this Communication and Leadership series has examined the influence and choices of those who initiate communication. Beyond choosing the content, medium and intended target for your messages however, you have very little control over who will actually receive your messages. Or how they will interpret them. Or what they will do with them.

A lot of people miss this, and end up blaming their recipients for not being interested or tuned-in. If we didn’t give our receivers the enough reason to care, or we didn’t provide ways that they couldn’t access, understand or follow through on our communication, that is not their fault.

In our emotionally-charged era of (armchair) activism, it is increasingly likely that people will actively take words out of context, and at least filter them through — if not twist them around — their own agendas. You simply cannot guard against that in all cases. What you can do is be sensitive to this tendency (so as to not unduly provoke it), stay consistently on message, look for chances to explain your choices, and be ready to apologise when you need to. In other words, stay humble and stay generous.

Everything in the most effective communication is focused on the receivers:

  • Where do they expect to receive this information?
  • How are they going to approach it?
  • How are they going to respond to it?

Thinking about your communications through your receivers’ perceptions requires imagination and empathy. Ironically, the first step of true empathy is recognising you will never know exactly what another person is going through, or how it feels. We can’t read minds.

We make certain guesses. The better we know someone, the better our guesses become. But they are always guesses. In light of that, we are better served by filtering our guesses through hopeful assertions about our receivers. This is what we call assuming the best, or extending the benefit of the doubt.

This isn’t to say that we know nothing about people.

For example, we know that people generally:

  • prefer messages which make sense
  • appreciate what is novel, original and creative (this and the above point are often in tension)
  • will bristle at a hostile or aggressive tone, no matter how much “truth” it’s carrying

That last is a really important point, and it’s way broader than the negative emotion I chose as my example. Indeed, people most often respond in whatever manner was initiated. Emotions are contagious. This isn’t always true, obviously. But as a person who affords a lot of dignity and respect to people I meet, I’m surprised at how many fewer issues I have with people than others do, even when analysing the same interaction.

Assuming the best of each other should be identifying characteristics of a people called to love and hope.

Considering the people we’re trying to communicate with doesn’t cost a lot — certainly compared to the cost of not considering them enough.

The last entry in this Communication and Leadership series is under way — it’s where we get to discuss feedback, and why that is so critical to any kind of effective communication.