Sunday, February 28, 2010

February updates

I am continuing to try and write a review of my activities each month; February started off at a gallop and never let up.
The first week in February we held a special 3 day Social Concerns Committee (SCC) meeting for a Health Training at the Hagar conference facilities. There was a long discussion on the importance of the church participating in relief work. The highlight for me was learning about some of the traditional Khmer methods of raising funds to meet an emergency disaster. In some regions, other NGOs had helped to mobilize community-wide multi-religious efforts using these methods. In other areas, churches themselves had adopted these methods. In a few of the districts they have established bereavement funds, either among the pastors or with churches. But for many of our churches they still feel outside of mainstream culture and they neither organize local church fundraisers to meet emergency needs or bereavement and they participate in wider community events to a very limited extent. On the third day we got down to setting some nitty gritty policies about how the funds from Advance # Emergency Health and Medical Welfare could be used. We also set policies about reimbursement rates for SCC members going out for project monitoring visits and received 1st trimester project proposals.
Friday, CHAD staff continued the discussion about how to proceed with the MOU with various government ministries, and then I had a meeting with my friend Joyce about a curriculum she has developed about spiritual gifts and using Nehemiaha as a model for community development. These have been very helpful and I've been incorporating her ideas in with our Mobilizing the Church curriculum.
It was then out to the village. On Saturday, Monday and Tuesday I started the formation of Local Social Concerns Committees (LSCC) through the use of the Mobilizing the Church curriculum with seven churches at 3 locations in Kampong Speu. Sunday I was up in Kampong Chhnang continuing the same. I headed back down to Takeo (next to where I had been in Kampong Spue on Tuesday) for a wedding of one young woman staff members on Thursday.
We had a large number of visitors come through in February, starting on Wednesday with my dear friend Juanita from Aldersgate UMC, Alexandria, Virginia and her husband Steve, followed soon after by another member of the church, Dave. I spent a few days catching up on emails and trying to make some headway on our financial reports.
Since it is the dry season, farmers are a bit more free to meet, so I continued to pack in as many workshops as possible. Tuesday through Thursday was spent in Kampong Speu with one day of LSCC workshops and two days teaching a continuing education class on Theology of Development with most of the pastors in the district. Juanita gave some very helpful feedback about the workshops and a framework for improving our lessons.
The Bishop from my home conference, Bishop Brown of Cal-Nevada, led an evaluation team to look at possible ways to improve our partnership and the first visitor, Steven, arrived Friday. We had dinner together with the Virginia folks. I tried to spend a little bit of time every evening one on one with the different visitors over the next week, but mostly with my dad who was also here as part of the team. My calendar indicates that I was still trying to work on financial reports and the reports from the SCC meeting, but as these items are still not satisfactorily completed, it is all a bit of a blur. Wednesday I took the Cal-Nevada and Virginia team of visitors out to visit two churches in Kampong Speu. We did project monitoring visits at 2 churches and heard a variety of stories. My dad and everyone departed on the 28th. It was a short month, but plenty of activity.