May 22, 2012

E’s Update: Disability, Hosting & Relationships

One of our own, E, serves in Central Asia. We support his work as a community developer, English teacher, cycling advocate, and Jesus follower as he lives and shares the gospel to his friends.

Hello again from Central Asia. Hope you’re all doing splendid. There is a lot to update from my end — but I will just pick out a few important things.

Nepali renewal

Had great coffee and really good, helpful, life-giving times with friends there. Got to attend an amazing Nepali church with the best music I’ve heard in months, as well as eat a real pizza with fresh basil and take some lively photos … Then a CW guy who I had joined up with there (my International Director) accompanied me back into Central Asia to see what life is like here for me and my team—listen to our complaints, listen to our joys, help us think about strategy and the future, and most of all encourage us where we’re at. I really needed some encouragement as well as time away from Central Asia so I was really grateful for the timing of my Director’s trip and for the faith and hope he was able to share. He kind of “brought me back down to earth” as well as brought me up from the some of the dark places I’d been mentally.

Projects in town

We are almost done printing all 23,200 Pregnancy Health Books, in time for the six-month government-required project reports to be written up and submitted to the bureaucrats in June. The books are in the process of being distributed in our always ongoing Pregnancy & Birth Health Trainings for men and women.

Three weeks ago we delivered 45 high-quality, locally-built schooldesks to children in a village school who were using warped 1″x6″ boards on stones as benches with no desks except for other pieces of wood in their laps. We couldn’t get the vehicle all the way to the school because of the roughness of the road, and we also didn’t have enough man-power to move the desks in a reasonable amount of time. So the little school kids themselves moved the bulk of them from the vehicle to the school, sometimes with six kids to one desk! They were really excited to receive them, as were the village leaders who invited us to sit under a gigantic tree for tea and food.

One of my teammates and I have been brainstorming on a Congenital Disability Awareness project, which has begun to take some concrete steps forward. We are looking at a three-pronged approach for distributing our message and I will keep you all updated further as it moves along. Happily it will probably involve a decent portion my skill set: photography, videography and writing/literature. We will also be doing some very interesting preliminary cultural research with Mullahs that should reveal insight into the “majority faith” view on congenital disability.

Please lift up a funding request, which is that the Pregnancy & Birth Health Trainings budget (as a whole; that is, combining the three branches of our NGO in this country) is now looking at a $56,000 gap because a major donor just backed out. There are lots of highly valued Central Asian trainers, lots of transportation, lots of building rentals, lots of materials and books and salary hours behind this project that takes place in multiple locations across three regions all simultaneously all year round — and it all costs a lot. So we are hoping for the funding to be able to carry on what is probably our most directly beneficial project.

Activity outside of town

I will be going back to the capital soon to help the NGO with PR/photography/documentation as well as to observe and learn from how their community development projects are implemented (the capital branch as a wider variety of projects than we do here). This will help the NGO in terms of donor relations and it will help me to become more effective in the long-run as far as knowing how to do good projects. My plan is to be there for three weeks. Please pray that I will learn a lot of long-term beneficial stuff and be able to contribute while I’m there in the capital. And for my own personal fun, getting to challenge myself with the camera!

Hosting two middle-age Central Asian guys

One of the results of the meetings I had while I was last in the capital is that this weekend the capital city Literature department of the NGO (which produces a ton of Dari and Pashto good books) is sending up their two main guys to pursue more distribution in my city. I will be having meetings with them to find out more about the project and distribution methods and we will visit bookstores together to strike up relationships with booksellers and hopefully get some strings formed between us and them. I am hosting the two guys for four days and would appreciate your prayer not only for the actual book work but also for the hosting situation. It’s a LOT different from just hosting a couple Westerners. Basically it’s going to be my 24-hour/day job for those four days so please pray for cultural wisdom and knowing how to walk the balance between being myself and being a good cultural host … all while being gracious.

Spiritual growth

Pretty self-explanatory and also hard to explain. Just pray for more of what’s already happening.

And with that, I’m off — gonna walk home and enjoy the long shadows on the streets. Having a friend over for dinner tonight. I’m loving my new neighborhood, getting to know the neighbors on all sides and the store owners and such. My main store owner, “Uncle Abraham,” is truly a gem. Laughing, squinty eyes, a long white beard down to his belly button, and a very friendly and jolly attitude. He and my night chaokidâr are pretty much best buds.

Anyway, thanks for helping make this happen. I’m stunned by all of your generosity and all the many ways you’ve all invested in this story. I am learning a lot, growing a lot and perhaps God will use that to make a difference in some small way here.


[Photo by evanistan @ Flickr]

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