Tuesday, June 28, 2005


We had a great evening with some friends who are missionaries in Ecuador. He is a doctor and she teaches at a local school. They brought their kids. Their youngest is the same age as Nathan. His name is Nate. The boys had a great time romping around the house. We also got to catch up with the family as a whole. Their daughter did a good job of acting interested in our conversation, and occasionally took some time to play the piano or play with the boys (who are much younger). I always respect kids who do well in those situations. There really isn't much for them to do, yet they do a good job of staying engaged.

The family is supported by a number of churches, and they range from liberal to conservative. That wasn't a big surprise to me, given that we used to live in the same building and attend the same church in Chicago. The church was a mix of the things that liberals want and conservatives want, so people who come from that setting usually do well in either. They talked about their efforts to justify doing "social ministry" to the conservative churches and doing "evangelistic ministry" to the liberal churches. Of course, neither type of church realizes their weakness by being focused on one without the other. Conservative churches are viewed as heartless and uncaring, so people won't go. Liberal churches don't invite anyone to show up, so their dying even faster.

Anyway, it was also interesting to talk about how missionary communication has changed over the years. All of their churches have asked them to have a powerpoint presentation when they visit this summer, so instead of the typical video or slide show, all they had to bring was a cd with a file on it. Pretty cool! We also talked about the role of email versus the written letter. Jill's business of sending out letters for missionaries hasn't seen much of a drop at all, even though email has become pervasive. This couple had been told when they first started that they should use overseas stationary and a foreign stamp. It gave a feeling of authenticity. It also eats into the account pretty quickly. Most of their supporters prefer to get email now, based on a survey that they did. As a result, people like us do not receive a letter in the mail. We get an email update. We requested it simply because it saves them money, and I would guess that lots of other people do the same thing. If I was still on missionary support, I'd sure be doing the email thing. The time and energy savings would help a ton, and the money can then be used for ministry instead of letters that end up in the trash. Ah, how life changes.