Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ministry Update: One Year in Costa Rica

We moved here exactly one year ago. Of course we realized before we even moved here that this would not be easy and that things might look different than expected, both in our personal lives, but also in the work at the Abraham Project (AP).  And this has indeed been the reality.  But we are also very aware that by persevering through the unexpected things we have grown and matured in unimaginable ways. Below is a not-so-short recap of the last year (we tried so hard to be succinct, but truly needed this many words to properly explain what’s been going on; please read on if you care to – there is a very special announcement at the end J).

Since Joe, specifically, came down to raise money for the AP, and he loves to be busy and have a project to work on (apparently learning Spanish and cultural adjustment wasn’t enough for him J), he jumped right into asking questions about the Project when we arrived.  In short, over several months, he started to see some specific challenges the Project was facing that he felt needed to be addressed and possibly changed in order to a) be able to confidently raise money and b) make the AP stronger and more sustainable into the future.  However, the real difficulty came in communicating these ideas/challenges.  The organization and leadership didn’t appear to be open to new ideas. (We have learned a lot since then about cross-cultural communication!!)

Then, our home church came down in March to see about forming a long-term partnership with the Project, but decided not to partner with the AP, citing as their reasons many of the same potential issues Joe had been seeing.  It was a big disappointment to lose such a great partner and donor, but at the same time, an opportunity for the AP to really start evaluating their organization and how to improve.

This decision by our church lead us to put together a document that summarized both the church’s decision not to choose the AP, as well as our own observations, questions, and suggestions for future sustainability. We knew that we didn’t have all the right answers, but we felt very strongly that it was important to ‘officially’ present the challenges we saw to the leadership at the Project.  We presented this in early July, and this led to a bigger meeting that happened in mid-August.  Our last Ministry Update asked specifically for prayer for this meeting.

We haven’t shared how that meeting went yet… One of our biggest challenges has been figuring out how to communicate all this with you – our friends, family, and supporters – in a way that is transparent but also in a way that honors the people who have poured their lives into the Project.  Suffice it to say, during the meeting we continued to feel the way we’ve felt for many months: misunderstood, disappointed, and frustrated.  We haven’t felt like there has been much openness to change or an ability to reflect on what we, or others, have been saying.

So that left us with a big question: Where Do We Go From Here? We didn’t know. That’s where we were in August.

Now it’s October.  And we’ve had more meetings.  One that lasted six hours just last week!  And little by little, we are starting to uncover the misperceptions and misunderstandings that have lead to these roadblocks in communication and in our ability to do what we came down to do. We are aware of our own failings and shortfalls and ways in which we could have gone about this whole process better.  But we also continue to feel very strongly about the need for reflection and change. We are seeing doors start to crack open, but there is a long way to go before they are swinging wide open.  Right now, we are discussing some of the smaller funding needs the Project has and what we can do to address these areas in a sustainable way.  We are taking things one step at a time; being flexible and holding our original plans loosely.

So we continue to persevere, because we believe so much in the work the Project is doing.

We would so appreciate, more than anything, for you to pray for wisdom and discernment for us.  We know so many of you have been praying for us and this is invaluable.  Thank you.  We know God is working through the Project and the people there to bless others, and we also know God is with us and working through us, despite our flaws or the frustrations of this past year.

Thank you, as always, for your love, support, and partnership.

Joe, Jennie, Kate and finally Baby #2 expected in mid-April (see Una Luz)

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