Gratitude Day 144 – Mission Work

Mon., Oct. 29, 2018 

3 John 1:6 – They have told the church about your love. They say you were good enough to welcome them and to send them on their mission in a way that God’s servants deserve.

mission

I have a quick little exercise for you to perform. Willing to try? It will only take a minute.

Good. Here are the instructions.

Either grab a map or think of the geographical area where you live. Think of a community 30 miles to the east of where you live. Now, 30 miles west. How about 30 miles north as well as 30 miles south?

Draw an imaginary, or real if using a map, circle connecting those communities. Look at all the of the communities, towns and people who live in this area. Can you think of a family who might have a need? Is this need something you can help with?

When I was in seminary, I remember a professor teaching about mission work. He understood the need for people to go significant distances or live in a different area for awhile to do mission work. Yet, he was a proponent of doing things locally as well. He defined “mission” work this way: anything at least 30 miles from your house. His explanation of “mission” work in this context made such an impression on me that I shared this with Hubby Rick.

Throughout our marriage, Rick and I have been involved in a wide variety of “mission” work. We have traveled long distances with other people. We have chaperoned youth mission trips, so youth can develop an appreciation for what they have and foster a sense of helping others. And yes, we have participated in many 30-mileish “mission” trips.

Recently, Rick and I prioritized a day-long “mission” project. It was about 45 miles from home. So, according to my seminary professor, it qualified as “mission” work. Actually, we traveled to Rick’s son’s house and helped him with specific projects. Rick worked on installing a window in the basement. I worked on a huge project in the basement. Rick’s son asked if Rick could do the window. We decided it would be a good project to do together, knowing there were opportunities for me to serve as well.

We appreciate long-distance mission trips. Yet, we also value and prioritize local “mission” projects. Sometimes, it seems silly to travel two days on a bus when there are lots of local opportunities to serve. Our local “mission” projects have covered the gamut. Sometimes, it’s a repair or construction project. Cutting wood, doing yardwork or helping in a garden. Sometimes it’s cleaning, sorting and organizing. Maybe it’s taking food and simply listening.

This time, we were asked to do this “mission” project. Often, we are asked. Other times, we volunteer. We accept these projects because we can serve God, our neighbors and model our faith. These projects aren’t glamorous. f our time and abilities can serve another member of God’s kingdom, it’s a win for them and us.

Think again of the geographic area in the 60-mile radius from where you live. Is there someone that could be a “mission” project? How could you serve them? Are they willing to accept help? When are you be able to set aside time and carry out your “mission” project?

The 30-mile distance from your home isn’t magical or necessary. Rick and I have experienced lots of “mission” project opportunities much less than 30 miles. Does a shorter distance disqualify them as “mission” projects? Absolutely not. “Mission” work has less to do with distance and more about a person’s willingness to serve someone else and God in tandem.

We can get so caught up in our own “projects” that we fail to see beyond our needs and observe someone else’s needs. Every time we perform a “mission” project, I discover someone about myself or learn something new. I see these as clear opportunities for God to mold and shape me. I am always richer for the experience.

Rick and I appreciate doing these projects together when we can. “Mission” projects are great family activities. Everyone can serve your neighbor and God together while create lasting family memories.

We put in a long day on our “mission” project at Rick’s son. When we arrived home, we were tired and dirty. Yet, we had a sense of accomplishment. Rick’s son appreciated our work and the jobs accomplished.

There are great benefits in going away on a mission trip. Yet, there are also opportunities to help someone closer to home. When Rick and I enter these opportunities with the attitude that we are doing “mission” work, it changes our approach. Yes, we do our very best. But we are also aware that a “mission” attitude removes the project’s work from what we are doing to how we are serving God.

I pray you will discover a “mission” project soon within your community.

For opportunities to serve God through “mission’ projects, I am grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for the people who have serve us on a “mission” project. I pray you will bring forth another mission opportunity for us to serve soon. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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If We All Donated 5 Dairy Products …

sliced cheeseTues., Apr. 25, 2017

2 Chronicles 15:4 – But when they were in trouble, they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel. They looked for him and found him.

Early in April, about 75 Wisconsin dairy farms received a letter from their milk processor. As of May 1, the milk processor will no longer purchase milk from their dairy operation. They have to find another place to sell their milk within 30 days.

Let me help us understanding the challenge these dairy producers face. Most dairy operations have milk picked-up from their farm and delivered to the milk processor every day. On-farm storage is extremely limited. Milk must be moved within 24- or 48-hours. Because milk is perishable, milk not processed within a few days cannot be marketed. Most Wisconsin dairy processors are currently running at or over 100% capacity. There is no demand for additional milk in Wisconsin and neighboring states right now. Finding another processor for the milk is literally more daunting than trying to find a needle in a haystack.

The cows, well, they can’t just go on “vacation.” They aren’t a factory that can be stopped and started at will. For most dairy operations, the majority of a farm’s income is derived from the sale of milk. Over the past year, the farm gate milk price paid has been low. Missing even one milk check is devastating. Do you see the very difficult pickle these dairy operations are in, with very limited options and alternatives?

The ag media has reported that about half of the dairy farms who received the letter have found another processor. This is good news! But what about the other folks who do not know where their milk will go next Monday, other than down the drain?

I grew-up on a Wisconsin dairy farm and was very actively involved in the day-to-day operation. I have spent more time professionally and personally involved in the dairy industry than I have as a pastor. I’ve milked cows more times than I’ve given sermons. My husband says, given the choice, I would be milking a herd of dairy cows today rather than trying to shepherd a flock of sometimes unwieldy sheep. I continue to have a part-time job in the dairy industry and spend at least one day a week helping dairy operations around the world.

This situation is very close to my heart. I know the difficulty of saying “good-bye” to a herd of cows you’ve grown to love, respect and treat like family. I’ve experienced the daily anxiety of trying to keep a dairy operation going while caring for a family. I’ve fielded phone calls and spoken with dairy producers who could not afford Christmas presents for their children and did not know where to turn for help.

The series of events that led up to this predicament are long and varied. The problem didn’t happen overnight. Long-term solutions are even more daunting. Industry folks have worked tirelessly the last few weeks exploring possible short-term and long-term remedies.

Yet, I keep wondering what I can do. I don’t own a dairy processing facility. If I can’t affect the processing end of the equation, what can I do to help increase dairy product consumption?

Recently, a suggestion surfaced of one way we can help. We can find ways to increase consumer dairy product consumption by 5 dairy products. Drink 5 gallons of milk. Eat 5 gallons of ice cream. Incorporate 5 lbs. of cheese into cooking. Use 5 lbs. of butter for baking.

This, I can do. It’s not realistic for Rick and I to consumer 5 more lbs. or gallons of dairy products in the next week. We’re just two people. But I can encourage others. So, I went to the grocery store and purchased more than 10 lbs. of sliced cheese and donated it to the local food pantry. During food distribution on Tues. and Thurs. this week, I’m optimistic 10+ families will choose sliced cheese for sandwiches or to make grilled cheeses for supper. Maybe this cheese will allow kids to have cheese and crackers as an after-school snack. Or a quick snack for on-the-go families. I pray some families will think the unusual availability of cheese is something that will benefit their families.

Wisconsin is not the only state dealing with this dilemma. Increasing consumption of dairy products and alleviating some of the current surplus of U.S. dairy products WILL help the entire American dairy industry.

Why am I encouraging us to increase dairy product consumption this week? Because it’s a way to assist families whose livelihood is being challenged. Think of this as another way of serving our neighbor in need. This neighbor just needs a place to market their milk.

For the dairy families currently affected and those who may in the near future face the challenge of no market for their milk: I pray you can turn to the Lord and find the Lord. Unfortunately, the Lord does not remove all the challenges in our lives. What the Lord does is journey with us as we navigate life’s pot holes and road blocks. The Lord wants to take this journey with you. For this, I thank the Lord. Please invite the Lord to join you in your journey.

Lord God – today, we lift up those operations and families who are dedicated to helping feed the people of this country and those around the world. As we struggle with a food distribution challenge, be with those who are deeply affected with the current situation. Bring forth wisdom with ideas and options. In these days of trouble, hold those affected in the cup of your hand and bring them your comfort and peace. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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