Unity Exists We just returned from our NTM conference, and are recovering. The conference was at a Christian conference center/resort a few hours away, and the view was … well, undescribable. That means I am about to describe it. The location looks out across a plain and a huge lake, which is bordered by mountains. The clouds bisect the larger peaks, and give the feeling of being at the bottom of a slow moving lake. Reminded me of Voyage of the Dawn Treader near the end (East) when Lucy looks over the side of the ship and notices landscape, cities, and farms of underwater civilizations. I half expected to notice a vessel among the sea-foam clouds drifting eastward. The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed mild evenings chatting with the Jokladals, and the full moon.

Now, the suprising thing about the conference was the distinct lack of contention. One of my biggest disappointments in life has been the way that the Christian and even the missions community does not vary much from MACI (a manufacturing company where I worked previous to my swan dive into the computer field) when it comes to gossip and contentious dripping. Some of our first experiences upon arriving consisted of missionaries degrading other missionaries/missions/Faith Academy. Faith staff meetings sometimes end in conflict over silly things like how much Faith charges to use it’s vehicles, or it’s courier services for personal use. “We use our own money to take students on ministry trips, and use our own money to print materials for class. Why isn’t Faith paying us for the use of our resources?” Yes, that has actually been said. Did you hear any mention of God’s resources in there? Me neither. So these types of things are what I expect when Christians get together for business meetings. I was shocked and blessed by my first NTM conference. I sat through both the 2 hour business meetings, and the closest I saw to contention was a fellow missionary’s concern over planning for the future financially. The reason why it was not well received is because of the fact that part of the NTM vision is to rely heavily (dare I say solely?) on faith for our needs to be met, including future needs. That does not mean that we bury our talents, it means that we do not worry about what-ifs and maybes concerning the changing demographic of our supporters. As far as we are concerned, it is God’s job to meet our needs, and if the elderly supporters are expected to ‘go home’ in the next 15 years, I am sure God can handle that change.

One of the best exaples of how this unity thing works: We normally give a percentage towards the field administration to cover costs in the office and projects ets. Well, the people in charge of looking at the budget were able to work things out so that the percentage could be lowered by one. When it is low to begin with, reducing by a percentage point is quite a lot. So the field (all those with NTM serving in the RP) likes that, because it gives everyone more money to work with each month. Well, due to events beyond our control, there are other areas of the field that are in need; guest houses, and the aviation group. What does the field do? They decide to continue giving the same percentage and put that extra percentage into those 2 specific areas that are having trouble. I was impressed. We were told that we now have an average of $500 more a year, and the first chance we get we turn around and give it away. Just to clarify: we all voted to amend the budget, and aprove a higher percentage than was offered. It was the entire group that wanted the change. Is that crazy? I really, really like this mission.

Family notes Ariana has grown over an inch in the last few months! Time for us to go out and buy some clothes that fit. This is interesting because she is quite thin (like her mother at this age), and because of this she has been wearing some of the same clothes for a few years. Time to stop wearing some of those 4T size items. Ethan is a very cute naughty little boy. He is not really that naughty, but he is asserting his will more, and has tried that answer of “No!” to direct instructions a few too many times (once is too many). Time to step up the consistancy, and make sure he knows that all the fences are still in the same places, and that they are not just little picketed flower bed fences either. These fences can leave welts on little bottoms.