The world that we knew just one year ago has since been reshaped, changed, and adapted in new ways. That is the power of a global pandemic. We’ve also been witness to humankind and finding stronger, more intentional ways to connect. That is the power of a God that is global.
Long before starting in my role as Community Partnership Manager, my husband, Orion, and I served as HopeChest Partnership Leaders (HPLs) for our home church in West Michigan. We still do. For more than six years, we’ve partnered with Ukro CarePoint, a community located in Hawassa, Ethiopia. We’ve traveled and fundraised and sponsorship-pushed our way to the good stuff: true and authentic two-way transformation.
As HPLs, our hearts can beat boldly for those whom we serve, but it’s not without challenge. We can strive to embrace, equip, and empower vulnerable children and their families worldwide, but burnout is real. We can raise hope, awareness, and funds for a latrine and well, while our own wells run dry. Throw in an ongoing global pandemic and many of us find ourselves at a standstill.
So, how can we lead well? What are some ways that we can engage and keep others connected?
Let’s start with each other.
I’ll even go first.
One way we’ve managed to keep our U.S. community (and ourselves) engaged is through the act of letter writing. Although, let’s face it, writing a letter to HopeChest Friend(s) takes time and intent that many of us are hard-pressed to find.
For us, I believe, we’ve found a sweet spot in hosting an annual Letter Writing Party – and it’s exactly what it sounds like. We gear up to host the annual Letter Writing Party through emails, social platforms, and one-on-one touch-points. We invite Ukro sponsors, donors, and team members who’ve traveled before. We invite that one person who expressed interest, once, and briefly in passing. We even invite the neighbors next door.
Everyone’s welcome. Bring your kids, too.
Leading up to the event, we work with church staff to prepare for the party. We provide the physical space and all the materials from paper to pens, markers, and crayons, stickers, and glue … “We’re just missing you!”
Don’t forget to have fun.
On the day of the event, we make sure that the tables and craft items are ready at hand and organized for easy access. We provide light refreshments, coffee, and juice. We do our very best to recruit volunteers. A resource we’ve found to be helpful is an updated sponsorship list. We then use the list as a way for people to sign-in, and eventually, better record which kids at the CarePoint will need a letter before our mass mailing.
Cue the kids in Sunday school, an awesome local preschool, or even a few of your friends and family. Our partnering CarePoint has a total of 161 children; once every child has his or her letter, we mail them all out to HopeChest for their journey to Ukro.
Like many of you, our team wasn’t able to travel last year because of restrictions and COVID concerns. Fortunately, the previous year, we spent time with the kids at Ukro CarePoint and did their very own version of a Letter Writing Party. We later gifted each of the children’s HopeChest Friend with their respective letters.
With all of the burdens this past year has borne, our hearts are still postured and ready to serve. I hope that you feel affirmed and encouraged to find that one thing that works best for you. What ways have you found to re-engage? In 2021, may we continue to learn from each other and what it means to be a global community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Faith has been a HopeChest Partnership Leader for over six years and with that experience brings tremendous insight to the Community Partnership Team as the Community Partnership Manager for Ethiopia and Russia. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a BA in journalism and is an excellent writer and communicator. An ideal day off of work would be spent hanging out with her husband, Orion (HopeChest’s Partnership Development Representative!). Faith loves visiting family, being outside, thrifting, trying out new, local food finds, and reading. She’s narrowed down her favorite book to “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan.