Mission Partnership Quarterly – June 2017

June has brought opportunities to be particularly present with each of our three major mission partners. Read about the experiences of Dr. Barbara Edwards in Malawi with Villages in Partnership, and about 30 of Nassau’s members and  friends who worshiped on Pentecost Sunday with the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton. Our third partner, Cetana in Myanmar, was present in spirit as their board met on our third floor over Memorial Day weekend , beautifully hosted and fed by Nassau’s Susan and Michael Jennings. All these encounters emphasize the major characteristic of partnerships that thrive – strongly nurtured relationships. Look for the signs!

As always, we welcome your questions, suggestions, and support as we seek to deepen our commitments beyond the Nassau Church community.

For the Mission & Outreach Committee,

Joyce MacKichan Walker, staff

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Update from Villages in Partnership

by Barbara Edwards

Every year the Allentown NJ based non-profit Villages in Partnership sends a medical team to Malawi. This year’s 28 person team, largely composed of doctors, nurses and nursing students, treated over 5000 patients in the deeply impoverished villages of Malawi from May 9-20. I represented Nassau Presbyterian Church as a member of this year’s team. Among other amazing experiences we spent a day away from the clinics and at local primary schools:

Wednesday was a great, fun, exhausting day. I think we are all a bit tired from everything we’ve already done this week. We never stop moving here but it is always interesting and fun. Wednesday most of the group went to visit local primary schools. They helped to clean the schools by sweeping with the local homemade brooms (made with small branches held together in your hand) and then mopping with old t-shirts on their hands and knees. Then they went to visit the classrooms where they spoke with the students. The students had lots of questions such as, “What do you eat in America? What do you do for fun? How many languages do you speak? Do you have HIV/AIDS in America? Did you bring a car over with you on the plane?”

While they were at the schools, a few of us went to a village to help cook our lunch. We prepared a large community meal for well over 100 people. We cooked outside under the trees over small fires that they built between bricks. They used corn cobs, sticks and corn stalks for fuel. We chopped greens, shelled peas, pole beans, and ground nuts (peanuts). We ground up the peanuts with a giant mortar and pestle and added them to the food. They also roasted peanuts and ground that up for the most delicious peanut butter I have ever tasted. We fetched water from the well and carried it back to the cooking area about 200 yards on our heads! We also helped to cook nsima, the local version of cooked cornmeal. With the nsima we made “relishes” that are eaten alongside mustard greens, pumpkin leaves, and sweet potato leaves cooked with tomatoes and ground nuts, okra, pigeon peas, and goat cooked with tomatoes. All the food was delicious! We sat on the ground in groups of 3-4 and ate out of shared bowls using our right hand. Yes, we wash our hands beforehand by pouring water from a cup over them. After the meal we all thanked the village and the chief for providing such a wonderful meal for us! We all feel blessed to be here.

We are looking forward to continuing our work with VIP and will keep you updated as to how you may become involved. Any questions? Please contact Loretta Wells at lorwells4@gmail.com.

Update from Cetana Educational Foundation

by Sue Jennings

Nassau members will have a chance to see firsthand the work of our mission partner Cetana if they join a trip to Myanmar/Burma in January 2018. This will be the third trip since the Nassau/Cetana partnership began four years ago. This time participants will travel to Kanpetlet in Chin state where Nassau is supporting a teacher training project. Joyce MacKichan Walker traveled there with Sue Jennings this past January to get an overview of the project.

Kanpetlet is near Natma Taung National Park, a place of pristine natural beauty that provides opportunities for  birdwatchers, hikers, photographers, and orchid fanciers. Participants in the January 2018 tour will visit the Kanpetlet schools where Cetana is working and have a chance to meet the local leaders involved in the project. In addition, the tour will include stops in Yangon to see the Cetana flagship learning center and the country’s most revered temple, Shwedagon Pagoda; in Bagan, one of the world’s best preserved archaeological sites, where many of the two thousand plus temples date back to the 11th century; in KyaingTong on the border with Thailand, where Cynthia Paul, a beneficiary of Cetana scholarship support, now runs an English learning center; and at Inle lake, famous for its floating gardens and markets and exquisite craft workshops.

The tour is a rare opportunity for travelers to get an inside look at Myanmar/Burma and its fascinating, complex culture. We will have daily contact with local people, who have a reputation for friendliness and generosity; we will have access to monasteries, schools, and other institutions that the casual tourist never sees; and we will see the results of the Myanmar people’s resilience and ingenuity, which make our partnership so rewarding.

Exact dates and the itinerary for the trip are not yet set, but we are planning on a stay of approximately 15 days and looking for a minimum of 10 participants (maximum 16). The exact cost will depend on the number of participants and number of nights (last year for 17 nights the cost was $4600 pp, double occupancy, excluding international airfare). Some financial assistance is available for those with need. Please contact Sue or Michael Jennings (susancjennings@gmail.com) or Joyce MacKichan Walker (609-924-0103, x103, joyce@nassauchurch.org) BEFORE JULY 9 if you are interested. Deposits will not be due till early August.

Your ideas for making this a vital partnership are welcome. For more information, contact Sue Jennings (susancjennings@gmail.com).

Update from Westminster Presbyterian Church

by Angie Belmont

“We are standing on Holy Ground, and I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now. We are standing in God’s presence on Holy Ground”.  On Pentecost Sunday, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we sang Holy Ground led by the children of the church. As I looked around at all of the members, visitors, and guests, joined in song, I truly felt the presence of God. In an amazing multicultural, multigenerational, multimedia service, together with over 30 friends from Nassau Presbyterian Church, we participated in a song-filled, praise-filled, worship service that filled our hearts with love.

Our guest preacher was the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, professor of Earlham School of Religion, and co-editor of the book entitled, Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World. Pastor Karen shared the story of Westminster’s transformational story in its’ chapter 12. Pastor Karen and Rev. Dr. Kathie Sakenfeld also shared information about their book entitled, Faith of our Mothers, Living Still, which will be out in October.  Rev. Joanne Rodríguez, Rev. Patti Daley, Rev. Joyce MacKichan Walker, Rev. Wayne Meisel, and Rev. Dr. Marianne Rhebergen served as liturgist and officiants.

During the celebration of communion, Pastor Karen explained the meanings of the salutation “sawabona” and the response “sikona,” two South Africian phrases that mean “I see you, as you truly are” and the response “I exist” or “I am” not as you imagine, but as I truly am. Each person upon receiving communion, was given a hug and a “sawabona”. This traditional Westminster greeting, usually repeated during the benediction, reinforced the feeling of “una familia” throughout the worship service.

Westminster’s presence in the City of Trenton is a staple portion of the weekly “Seeking the Shalom of the City” PowerPoint presentation during our worship service. On Pentecost Sunday, various pictures were displayed highlighting the partnerships and events shared by Westminster and Nassau churches. Together, we are making a difference in the City and throughout the communities where our shared partnership has been a witness to God’s work through us.

Westminster’s Deacon, Crystal Jordan, a former caterer, prepared a delicious luncheon with funds provided by Nassau. The spirit of joyful communion during worship trickled down into our fellowship time. Many members of both churches remained after worship to break bread together as they got to know one another better.

Interested in visiting Westminster’s 11AM worship and meeting our partners? Contact Patti Daley (pattidaley@aol.com). Google directions from Nassau Church: https://goo.gl/maps/6qpZsBXv8T82

Posted in Events, Mission, Mission Partner, Trips