Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Sky Lantern Festival of Pingxi

by Melissa Chang |

Festivals Around the World

In a remote town in Taiwan, there is a beautiful festival that lights up the night sky. On the 15th day of the lunar new year, people in the town release lanterns into the sky, filled with wishes for the new year. They write their wishes onto the lanterns, wait for them to fill with hot air, and then release them into the sky. The origins of this festival go way back. Since access to the region was inconvenient, the Han pioneers came up with the idea of releasing “sky lanterns” to let others know that they were safe and sound. Through the years this practice evolved into a popular cultural tradition celebrated annually during Lantern Festival.

Elephant Festival in India

by Melissa Chang |

Cultural Sensitivity, Festivals Around the World, India

When entering a new culture, one way to learn a lot about the people there is to visit a local festival.  Festivals can revolve around the seasons, religion, politics and much more. One famous festival in Southern India is the Elephant Festival.  Elephants are decorated in colors and gold, and the festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the god of destruction. The elephants themselves are seen as the incarnation of the elephant god of luck and prosperity. During the festival the elephants parade through the streets of the village to the temple. The festival is celebrated in late April or May.

Can’t Go? Give.

by Melissa Chang |

Malaria Prevention, Poverty, Ways to Give, World Vision

Not everyone can go around the world helping others. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have an impact and actually change the lives of those you may never meet on the other side of the globe. Here are some creative ways you can help change the world by giving.

water well Clean Water
Women and girls in developing communities often spend a large portion of their day fetching water for their families — water that may not even be clean. Your gift to the Clean Water Fund will help provide resources such as safe, protected wells, hand pumps, and latrines to improve sanitation. You’ll be safeguarding the health of mothers, children, and entire communities by minimizing waterborne illness. Plus, you’ll give mothers more time to care for their families, and girls the time they need to attend school.

microfinance loanMicrofinance Loan
Put strength in the hands of an impoverished woman with a small loan she can use to start or expand a business — the income from which can help feed, clothe, and educate her children. As loans are repaid, the funds are used to provide new loans to others. Your gift today can be recycled to literally hundreds of women in years to come!

Clothing for Children
Countless children are suffering from colds, influenza, and even pneumonia because they lack one simple thing: warm clothes. You can help deliver urgently needed outerwear to protect these children from the deadly elements. The poorest of the poor have only tattered rags, or even no clothes to wear at all.

education in africaEducation for a Child
“My children used to be chased away from school because they didn’t have school fees or uniforms,” says Virginie of Rwanda. Your gift can help pay school fees or provide essentials like uniforms, textbooks, backpacks, and school supplies such as notepaper, scissors, pens and pencils, and crayons — helping ensure that one child has what he or she needs to come and learn.

Malaria Prevention
Malaria kills nearly a million children and adults each year. While life-saving preventive measures are inexpensive by U.S. standards, they are out of reach for poor families in malaria-prone regions, who must watch helplessly as their children suffer. Your gift will provide bed nets to keep mosquitoes away from one family as they sleep — plus critical education for malaria prevention and control.

world vision childGlobal Food Crisis
Every seven seconds a hungry child dies. As food prices soar, the poorest populations — especially children — suffer most.

“I am meeting families in the villages, who, for years, have been surviving on a diet of naan and chai, or bread and tea, alone. Today, they can no longer afford the bread … It’s an unfathomable situation.”
—Mary Kate MacIsaac, World Vision communications manager, Herat, Afghanistan

There are so many ways to give, and your donations can remove suffering, create hope, and change futures. Change a life.

All photos are courtesy of World Vision.

Margaret Becker in Malawi

by Melissa Chang |


This is a video from a trip that Grammy Award Winner Margaret Becker made when she went to Malawi. She is a spokesperson for World Vision and encourages people to sponsor a child. Just a few dollars a month can change the life of an entire family. To sponsor a child, vist the World Vision site at www.worldvision.org.

A Class You Need to Take

by Melissa Chang |

Missions Training, Planning to Go, Strategy

If you are interested in missions at all, this class is for you.

Morocco: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Africa, Morocco

Moroccan Landscape
Photo by  Giustino


Location: North Africa, between Algeria and Western Sahara, the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Capital: Rabat.

Climate: Mediterranean.

Map of MoroccoPopulation: 34,343,220 according to July 2008 estimate. About 15% live below the poverty line as of 2007. Morocco has an unemployment rate of about 9.8%. The Moroccan government has made attempts in recent times to diversify the economy in a bid to stimulate growth. In spite of these efforts there is a continued inability to develop enterprises and gain investments. Moroccan exports include textiles, electronics, chemicals, minerals, and fertilisers.

Ethnic Make-up: Arab-Berber 99.1%, Jews 0.2%, Others 0.7%.

Religions: Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%. Islam is the official religion but Christianity and Judaism are also recognised as legal by the government of Morocco. The Baha’I faith has been outlawed and its practice is restricted. Evangelisation by any religion or religious organisations is not approved. Any attempt to induce the conversion of Muslims is deemed illegal and will incur punishment. Tolerance between the three main religions is encouraged and propagated by the government.

girl in moroccoLanguage: Arabic, Berber dialects, French.

Government: Constitutional Monarchy.

Travel Issues: Nationals of certain countries including North Americans and Europeans are allowed to enter Morocco for a period of up to 6 months without a visa. All others require a valid visa, passport with validity for a minimum of 3 months after date of arrival, documents for return or onward travel, and an International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever if arriving from an infected region. Inquire at your nearest embassy as to your specific requirements.

Health & Safety: No certificate of vaccination is required unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected region. Immunisation against cholera and malaria is recommended but not mandatory.

Morocco Street
Photo by  Joao Maximo


Boy in MoroccoThe People
Moroccans are conservative people whose lives are governed by their religious faith. Once you have earned their respect they are very welcoming and hospitable. The grandeur of their art and architecture is something that is often taken for granted as a part of their lives; however, they graciously acknowledge your appreciation. They area a proud people with a natural dignity of demeanour. The rich dress extravagantly in silks and gold as a matter of routine. Moroccan men love their horses and weaponry while women indulge in rich silks and jewels.

The Religion
Morocco is an Islamic country and is tolerant of Christianity and Judaism. Other religions are not encouraged but there is no history of violence or persecution of other faiths. The dominant faith of Islam governs the social behaviour and etiquette. Non-Muslims are strictly forbidden from entering mosques unlike some other Muslim countries that allow visitors.

Coke MoroccoRole of Family
Family plays an important role in the life of a Moroccan. Extended family is the norm but there are modern nuclear families to be found in the cities. Children are brought up to value traditional culture and practices. Women have control over the domestic frontiers while men conduct business outside of it.

Ancestors and elder relatives are accorded the greatest of respect. They are looked to for wisdom and guidance and exert a great deal of control over the happenings within a family such as marriages and business deals. Though elder males relinquish control of businesses to their grown up sons they continue to be powerful members solely due to their seniority.

Moroccan ArchitectureRecreational Activities
The Moors enjoy a kind of football that is a bit different from the western version. Wrestling, fencing, powder-play involving firearms, and horse racing are other pastimes. As you enter the rural scene you may encounter snake charming, acrobatics, and jugglery. They also have a highly sensual music and dance that is extremely unique.

Anything else important for this culture
To be treated with respect you have to show extreme respect yourself. Once you’ve earned this respect life becomes considerably easier. It is important to have some familiarity with their religious observances and accommodate this into your life style as it is an integral part of Moroccan life.

 Morocco Vendor
Photo by Giustino


Meetings & Greetings
A non-aggressive shake hand is an accepted form of greeting. Kissing on alternate cheeks is the Moorish greeting between friends and family. Do not initiate greetings with the opposite gender. A slight bow may suffice to greet those of the opposite gender. When leaving, it is important to take individual leave of each person.

Always greet the eldest person first and work your way down. Wait to be introduced and never speak before the eldest has spoken first. it is considered rude to rush straight into business. Always take time to have an informal conversation about matters in general.

Gift Giving
It is good etiquette to arrive with a token gift if invited to a Moroccan home. This can be in the form of well packaged sweets, dried fruits, and nuts. Do not gift alcohol. It is considered bad form to open gifts in front of guests.

Dress Code
It is important to dress well and conservatively if you’re headed for a business meeting or formal dinner. Too casual attire will give the impression of a lack of respect for the host and will not earn you any respect. Women need to keep shoulders and knees covered and not show too much skin. If wearing a local Moroccan costume, it is important to wear it as it should be and not too casually.

Moroccan TeaDining Etiquette
Moroccan dining is a communal affair where you might be sharing food off a common dish. You will be seated at a low table on cushions. Things begin with a washing of hands in a basin that is brought to you. Do not reach across but eat from the section directly in front of you. Food is eaten with the fingers of your right hand and never the left. Once the meal is over, the basin is brought round again to clean your hands.

Visiting a home
If invited to a Moroccan home always check to make sure the invitation includes your spouse. Often such invitations are aimed at males only. Arrive with a token gift to show your appreciation. Leave your foot wear outside the home before entering. Do not address female members directly.

 Rugs in Morocco
Photo by Smoobs
Communication Style
Communication is normally between people of the same gender, unless it is a business meeting. Never attempt to greet or speak with the opposite gender unless they initiate it. English is spoken widely among the educated. It is important to be courteous and formal in order to create a good impression.

Dos and Don’ts
Never attempt to visit or photograph a mosque. Always dress appropriately when sightseeing or visiting public places. The holy month of Ramadan is when Muslims fast and observe religious rituals. It is very important to not disrupt these matters even inadvertently. The Moroccan concept of Hshuma, or shame, may cause them to say Yes when they mean No. It takes some discernment to distinguish the real deal.

Girl and Coke photos by Giustino
Boy and Building photos by Smoobs
Camel photo by Shamir
Tea photo by  vaccaroni

The Importance of Appointing a Power of Attorney When Traveling Overseas

by Corey Brook |

Planning to Go, Travel Health & Safety

flowerAs Christians we know that our souls would be blessed if we were to ever die for Christ’s sake. This, I believe, includes missionary work. Unfortunately, if something were to happen to us while overseas our business affairs would have to be dealt with and failing to appoint a responsible person could lead to conflict and unnecessary and additional heartache among those we love. Death while abroad isn’t the only event which warrants the drafting of a will and appointing a power of attorney. An accident could render us unable to speak for our self. This would then leave us at the mercy of local medical staff that may be unaware of our best wishes. A living will and appointing a power of attorney is then as essential as buying the plane ticket when traveling overseas.

When appointing a power of attorney it is important to choose someone that can be reached, that you trust, and who knows your wishes concerning the type of medical treatment you do or do not want in certain circumstances. Some people want their lives spared at all costs. Some would never want to be hooked up to a vent. With no power of attorney, medical staff will normally assume the person wants all medical intervention.

Just picking a person is not enough. Due to the Privacy Act, U.S. consoler officers may be prohibited to give information concerning the location, health status, problem faced, or welfare of an American to anyone, including family or congressional representatives, without the American’s express consent. This could create problems. This is why written documentation providing permission for the consoler to give information as well as the power of attorney to receive information is very important in case of an emergency situation. To make things nice and legal and to be sure every ‘T’ is crossed, it is advised to seek help from an attorney. One can be found through the Department of State’s website

The U.S. government, through the Department of State, provides ample information for all kinds of emergency situations including death or injury. The Bureau of Consoler Affairs offers assistance to families when a death or injury of an American citizen occurs overseas. They also deal with other emergencies concerning American citizens such as arrests or victimization of crime.

Photo by  cattycamehome

Reaching out to Kids

by Beverly Cooper |

Children in Missions, Orphanages

 kids galore

Any seasoned missionary can tell you that the local kids are the most heartbreaking and the most delightful aspect of a mission trip. Our hearts may break when we see the squalor that may be their home, and when we see their poor physical health. But our hearts also swell with love when we see them respond warmly to our touch and attention. Though they appear on the outside to be different, kids all over the world are the same on the inside. They need love, and they need Jesus.

It is very important to interact with the children, whether it is a planned structured activity, such as Vacation Bible School, or an unstructured activity such as an impromptu soccer match. So, what kinds of activities are possible when there are language and culture barriers? I am so glad you asked!

Structured activitiescameraStructured activities are those that are pre-planned and pre-organized. Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a great example. If possible, work with a local pastor. Many times, the mission teams serve as a kind of draw to the local church. Essentially, we aid the local ministry already in place.

Send a team out ahead of time to pass out flyers (in the local language of course), to prayer walk, and to interact some with the kids and adults in the area. I cannot stress enough the necessity of flooding the neighborhood in prayer. Be approachable. You may be asked to pray for a specific need, so be prepared. The locals usually know why you are there.
Most teams create their own VBS lessons. You will need someone fluent in the local language to make sure your message is clear. Here is the way it typically goes:

• First, team members greet kids and parents as they arrive. This is a good time to take pictures. If your camera is digital, show them their pictures. They love it.
• After the greeting, there is music and singing. It is great to have team members seated amongst the kids or at least walking around interacting with them. Make it lively.
• Use skits to illustrate the lesson. Puppets are great, too. Ham it up, but make the message clear.
• Craft time. Keep the craft simple and have it kitted in baggies to pass out to each child. Be prepared for the adults to participate, too. It is a really great idea to make the little kits before you leave home. Trust me on this.
• Give the pastor time to speak.
• Snack time. This is best done as the kids are leaving. Be really organized here. Crowd control is a must.

Unstructured activities

kidUnstructured activities are those that just sort of happen. Maybe your mission is to build a church and during a lull in the work, you notice a group of kids gathered to watch. If possible, take a moment to engage them in something fun. You might be surprised at what happens when you bring out a soccer ball or a bag of beads and string.  Here are some items that you can pack fairly easily and have great fun with.

• Beach balls
• Beads for necklaces
• Balloons (can you make balloon animals?)
• Frisbees
• Bubbles (watch for leakage if flying)
• Bouncy balls
• Hacky sacks
• Coloring pages

Here is the link to great website that offers free multilingual coloring pages and ideas for Bible lessons: http://www.christiananswers.net/kids/clr-indx.html.

Also, some kids like to trade something with you as a sort of memento of your visit. Sometimes the adults will, too, so be prepared. Most of all, have fun and be loving. You have the opportunity to help Jesus change a life.

Photos by  Stig Nygaard

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