Thursday, October 22, 2015

Loving the least--who are the least? Sometimes it's you and me

Jesus calls us to do for the least--that by doing for them, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40)--and He also calls us to love our neighbors. When asked, "Who is our neighbor?", Jesus responded with the well-known story of the Good Samaritan.  In that story, the man from Samaria stopped to help a badly injured victim of a violent mugging. The Samaritan wasn't just a stranger, or a foreigner; as a Samaritan, he would have been a natural enemy of the Jewish man. But not only did he stop to help, he took the man to a place for care, paid the bill and gave an open check to cover the rest of the costs. Big help and charity, indeed, especially when considering the victim's own people crossed the road to avoid him.

The Apostle Paul gives us a life-changing definition of love in Corinthians, helping us to see that love is not all about how we feel, but about how we treat people. It isn't enabling either. Jesus shows through countless examples that His love could aid someone but didn't necessarily enable their behavior and choices (in John 8, when telling the mob to drop their rocks as they set to stone the adulterous woman, He saved her but also advised her to leave her life of sin.)

In our society we tend to confuse words like love and tolerance. We mix up helping and enabling. We fear holding someone (and being held) accountable in case we are casting the first stone of judgement. One can love without allowing a continuance of harmful sin. We can help without enabling. We can hold accountable as long as we are also prepared to be so held. Jesus shows us how, over and over.

And that brings me back to my opening scripture, one that we chose as the tagline of this blog. "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ~ Matthew 25:40. And the story of the Samaritan.

Who are the least? Jesus gives a list from verse 31: the sick, hungry, thirsty, prisoners and strangers.
We might find it easy to show love and charity to the first few of that list: but prisoners and strangers?  Foreigners? People who choose to break laws?  Illegals? Drug dealers? Are they what we consider needy and the least? Or does the word least mean something more? Maybe it means something deeper than simply considering those who have less than us in terms of money or possessions. Maybe it also means those with the least to lose, the least respect, the least honor, the least favorable past, the least to love.

I think we all have someone on a list of 'least' that we feel justified to put there and to not love. For some it's the ultra poor. For others it's the ultra wealthy. Or criminals, illegal immigrants, people of opposing politics, drug dealers or addicts, welfare cheats or folks with poor ethics, shady lawyers and corrupt businesses; for some, the 'least' are people of different religions or races or sexual orientation. How can we love them? Well, we might never feel warm and fuzzy kind of love about some of them. But we can take from the examples of Jesus: to change things. You see, He does have the warm-feeling kind of love for them, and He would stop to help each and every one of them. Sure, He might tell them to change their situation and He would show them how, giving them the tools or the strength or courage. And maybe sometimes, you and I are the least. The least compassionate or merciful, the least understanding. And maybe we need His guidance to get past that.

I get disheartened when I see my Christian friends bashing the 'least'. Heck, I do it too. I am not a fan of some people either. Sometimes nor was Jesus: He had a thing or two to say to the Pharisees!  But His goal was to change things. Not to belittle or mock or spread hatred. How can we change our behavior towards and about the least so that we reflect the life-changing love of Jesus Christ to them and to those watching? If our goal is to grow the Kingdom by directing the least to the love of Jesus so He can do His life-changing work, how do we do that? Only with love, surely? Non-enabling kindness, compassion, courage, patience, teaching, mercy, humility. And when that's too hard, turn to the Source of it all. He might not step in to fix the situation, but He might step in to fix your heart.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Honduras Mission Team video

Each year we put together a little video montage of the trip. This year's video is here. Check out the great photos and some thoughts about the trip from some of the team members.

View it in full screen here:

Friday, September 11, 2015

Manuelito Missionaries visiting Butler, FUMC

This weekend, the US Missionary Justin Guest and Manuelito Project director, Mauricio Flores, will be visiting us at First Church. They will speak at each of the 5 services, and everyone is welcome to join them for a luncheon on Sunday afternoon.

Please do come along to show your support of the work they do!

Where: Connection Center, E. North St, Butler (next to the downtown chuch campus)
When: Noon, Sunday Sept 13
Cost: Free!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

3rd year... and the best yet!

For friends who have been awaiting news of our trip, I do apologize for my lack of communication during our trip this year. It was a busy week, and an emotional one. And though I have been home a couple of weeks, I was hit with some exhaustion, fevers, and insomnia.

All that said, thank you to those who have supported these trips in any way. It was a great blessing to be welcomed back to the Manuelito Project this year as family, and it was a true honor to be able to serve the kids and staff once more.

If you are in our area, Wednesday Aug 19th there will be a presentation at Crossfire at 6:45pm. Several people will talk about the trip, and there will be details of how you can get involved with the project in future - either visiting on a team or in other ways without leaving home!

I will share more here soon, but wanted to show a few photos at least, to give a sense of the week!

2 new children at the project, taking their total to 42 living there.
Another 80+ attend the school

Jessica with 2 of the boys. Good friends.

Josh flying a kite with some of the boys

Musical chairs - a fun night!

Josh with Okaren

The school volleyball match against another nearby school

Jason, Wendy & Joyce: working on the new school building.
Check out that scaffolding! I was not climbing that this year!

Our trip to the cross. It's a killer hike up the hill.
Edith, one of the girls at the project, & I did it together.

Nightly devotionals. A great way to end each evening with the team.

Wendy and Yeni. They struck up a great relationship 3 years ago
and Wendy is now a sponsor.

A couple of the boys trying to find their new tie dye shirts.
The day before we all made the shirts - controlled chaos!

Every chance they could get to spin!


The kids don't often do this hike anymore, they have been so often.
We were touched that they accompanied us up again!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Away we go!

I didn't expect to be so blessed as to be able to go back to Honduras for the 3rd year in a row. But as I've said all year, I am not in control of all my plans and God had different ideas for me. I am very humbled to be called to serve with a great team including Jason and Jessica, in a place where we get to see the face of Jesus in so many people. I pray that we can show the face of Jesus to them.

From the outset this year, I felt God was expecting something a little deeper from me on this trip, and it has taken the past 6 months of prayer to discern what that might be. I am so grateful to have had prayer warriors to help me with that!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in so many ways. I pray we can make this one short week something special & meaningful for the kids of the project. Praise Him!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Last week of prep!

Major work projects have been completed, and we have some smaller loose ends to tie up - but other than that, this week is dedicated to collecting final donations and trying to fit them into suitcases.

There were a couple of team members not available today but the test of us are here, gratefully accepting our prayerful commission from our pastor & congregation today, and humbly asking for friends to continue to pray for the project, the kids we serve and our team. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Item collections for Honduras

Though we have finished our fundraising, we are still collecting items to take to the kids in Honduras. The Manuelito Project has a wishlist, most of which is listed below.

Items we can take down: 

School supplies (backpacks, notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners, play-doh, markers, etc.) CRAYONS ARE NOT NEEDED

Quilts/blankets to keep warm (size single), bathroom towels

Clothes (underwear, socks, shirts, jeans, boxers, sweaters, etc)

Personal items (Soap, shampoo, tooth brush, large tubes of tooth paste, lotion, deodorant, perfume/cologne, pads (not tampons!), sunblock, bug repellant, etc.

Medicine (headaches, stomachaches, diarrhea, earaches, toothache, etc) Anything at all medical is extremely useful.

Small kitchen items - silverware, utensils

Baby Wipes

Items needed but require $$ donation (we cannot carry down, for example)
For tax receipts, make checks payable to FUMC or donate through WGM

School uniforms (pants, dress shirt, black shoes), uniforms for gym class. $50 covers all of the official school uniform. This needs to be purchased in Talanga.

20 mattresses for the work team building ($150 each)

Food (grain, milk, meat, bread, beans, etc). A shipping container of food would be amazing and extremely helpful.

20 seats for the dining hall, 35$ each. 2 tables for dining hall, $150 10.

Larger Kitchen items (pots, pans, industrial blender, strainer, pyrex, microwave, industrial coffee machine, mugs,etc)

To see donations at work, below is a photo of the new school building. In 2013, the VBS at FUMC raised enough money to help the project begin this building!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fundraising update

Between a final rummage sale and a car wash, the team blew away our fundraising total!!  Praise God! Not only did we cover what we need for the trip, but enough to buy a refrigerator for the kitchen at the Manuelito project and other supplies.

Thank you all for your support.

A few people have asked what other items they can donate - I have a list from the project and will share that soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fundraising update, prayer request and street kids

An update.... Some ups and downs this year for our fundraising. We began fundraising much earlier this year in the hopes of getting a head start so we could finish sooner and then be able to collect goods to take to the kids in Honduras.

But we've hit many roadblocks. Possibly we began too soon (close to Christmas) but also some of the fundraisers we did were less profitable due to rising costs. Flight costs are higher, so we just added another $100 per person to our goal. And a big one is that we have to have our money paid up by the end of May this year, due to admin reasons.While we might be surprised at the increased costs and shorter timeline, I know that God isn't caught off guard & I do believe He has this under control.

It has made this part of our mission very challenging, though, and so I seek prayer support to help us overcome this very important hurdle. We've not heavily sought financial donations, instead working for the money as we are more than willing to put in the labor to make this happen! We've sold things, made soap and scarves, organized a show, we'll be washing cars, I've written resumes and more.... so I do pray for our efforts to be blessed so we can serve as we believe we have been called.

My family needs to raise another $1,400 within the next 6 weeks, and others in the team are in the same boat. These costs aren't to benefit us, or just to pay our way, but much goes to the project itself to help the street kids who are homed and educated there.

Speaking of the kids, within the last couple of weeks, it was International Day of the Street Child. The children of the Manuelito Project marched, danced & spoke in the local town. It's hard to imagine children this young out begging on the streets, isn't it? Or the teens living rough and joining gangs to survive. Thanks to the Project, these children don't have to. For more details on the place, see their Facebook page

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Silent auction - Concert tickets & more!!

We have a few great silent auctions running, with more to come. All proceeds from this will benefit our mission trip! To bid on any of these, visit: Silent Auction album

Items up for bid include:

A pair of tickets to see Third Day in concert this weekend in Pittsburgh. Ticket includes free transport by coach from Crossfire (optional, you can drive if you wish). The concert is this Saturday. Total value of the 2 tickets and transport is $124. Starting bid is $25.

Handmade copper star- 18", real copper. Value $125. Currently the bid is at $40.

Handmade doll's trundle bed - suitable for American Girl dolls.
Value approx $150.

Mica and steel cross candle holder - value $80.
Bid stands at $30. 

Basket with 6ft x 4ft handmade afghan, candle, book, mug and a box of tea. 

To bid on any of these, visit: Silent Auction album

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Costs of a mission trip, financial and others

As much as we try to inject "fun" into fundraising, it's a time consuming and tiring business. I have not sent out the usual request letters this year, instead focusing on raising the funds through events, making and selling things and similar. Car wash, soap making, crocheting, rummage sale, selling candy and the like. It's a slow business, and inch by inch we head towards our goal. Three of us in my family are headed to Honduras this summer, as well as one embarking on other ministry trips this year.

This gets expensive. The cost of the Honduras trip starts at $1,875 per person. On top of that, we need more shots this year, others need passport updates, and there are usually other unexpected costs that pop up - items to take to the kids, tools that might be needed for projects, materials for crafts and fun things to do with the kids.

How does that $1,875 per person get used?
  • Approx $875 of the funds will be used on airfare - getting us from Pittsburgh to Honduras. 
  • Approx $100 will be spent on projects - buying supplies like paint, tools or whatever we will need to work down there. About 6 to 7 hours per day are spent working. We've painted walls, tied rebar, hung drywall, made metal screens for windows and so on.
    Typically that $100 won't buy as much as we need, so we do try to raise a lot more. Honduras has little in the way of manufacturing so many supplies are imported into their stores and can be pricey.
  • Room and Board - taking out the cost of food, the amount we pay to stay in the dorms goes to the Project and helps with the overall running costs.
So that puts about half of the $1,875 per person going to benefit the project itself. Any extra we raise will also go towards the Project. In the past 2 years funds raised by our church have gone to:
  • Beginning the building of the new school, so more children from the nearby town can be educated.
    This money was raising by our VBS in 2013.
  • Buying a new stove for the kitchen
  • Buying tables and chairs for the dining hall
  • Putting metal screens on the kitchen windows to keep out flies
  • Installing a wire mesh ceiling onto a store room so it could be used for a small shop that the kids could earn & buy treats for themselves
  • Purchasing new toilets for the boys dorms
  • Installing ceilings in the bedrooms of the missionary directors' home so they could sleep without scorpions and other bugs falling on them & their children.
The new school classrooms

New toilets for the boys dorms

This was all made possible from the hard work of the teams raising money, and the very generous donations of friends, family and our church.

What's the benefit of us flying down there to do this? Couldn't we send the money?
We could send the money. But going down there provides important extras.

1) We are able to bring extra labor and skills. Honduras is a 3rd world country, and we are able to bring some of our skills to help them.

2) We are able to see the needs first hand, which gives an extra passion to raise more for them.

3) Most importantly, we are lead by the Lord. We are lead to serve them, love them and help them. Yes, the money alone would help them but for them to see people who spend half a year fundraising, give up work vacation (and pay), pray for them and love them... well that's priceless to them. They feel more hope than we can imagine - kids who were abandoned, neglected to live on the streets, to beg for food or join gangs - showing them this passionate care gives them the hope and drive to succeed and hopefully to live for Christ as well.

The kids show their love

If you would like to help, we are having several events in the coming weeks - please come along, or share the details with others!

April 18: Vendor & Craft Show at Thorn Creek UM Church, Rockdale Rd, Butler
May 15/ 16: Rummage Sale at Crossfire, Butler
May 30: Car Wash at Wendy's, Clearview Mall.

Until  May 1: Online flower bulb sales:

You can also donate directly.

Paypal or Credit Card:
If you don't have a paypal account
you can still use this tab & just pay by card
Check - US Dollars Make checks payable to FUMC, and send to Fannins, PO Box 107, West Sunbury, PA 16061.  Please put HONDURAS - FANNIN on the memo line.
If you would like a tax receipt, please include a return address!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rummaging to Honduras...

Dates and times have been set for our church-wide rummage sale - this year's proceeds will benefit the mission trip! Yeah!!

This will be held at the Crossfire Campus, corner of Rt 8 & Mercer Rd.
Rummage Sale:
Friday, May 15th 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday, May 16th 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Drop off Days for your donated rummage (all at Crossfire Campus)
Sunday, May 3rd after service
Wednesday May 6th 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday May 7th 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sunday May 10th after service
Wednesday May 13th 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday May 14th 12:00 noon - 8:00 pm

Monday, April 6, 2015

Handmade soap... proceeds to Mission Trip!

For a few years, Jason has been making lovely handmade soap with proceeds going towards our trips to the Manuelito Project. This year he has stepped it up, making even higher quality soap with beautiful essential oils, butters and other nourishing ingredients.

We ship all over USA so don't be shy! Check it out. These make beautiful gifts for Mother's Day, birthdays or just a special treat for yourself.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fundraiser update! Vendor & Craft Show, Butler PA

Our open house party is getting bigger! Not only have we moved this event into a nearby church hall but we now have 17 vendors and crafters! Exciting! And we've extended the hours with a new starting time of 10am.

More info on some of the vendors here, including links for online orders

We will also be serving lunch, ice cream & drinks.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bold compassion - at home and abroad

"Why do you help overseas, when there are so many needs at home?"

This is a question I hear often, and one I try to answer fairly. In my experience, when people ask the question, they don't always give time for an answer, so the 6 or 7 reasons I have just stick in my head as I wonder which one they will actually hear in the seconds they give me their attention.

There are multiple reasons why, but I will answer just a few.

"Go and make disciples of all nations."
This is really the number one reason. These are the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew . In the book of Mark,  He is recorded as saying: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." And so, ultimately that is our number one reason for being a witness abroad as well as at home. If the original disciples never left Jerusalem, Christianity would never have got off the ground floor.

I had never considered volunteering abroad until a few years ago. I helped out with things locally, but never thought about stepping further than that. In the Experiencing God bible study (by Henry Blackaby), I learned to trust when I heard from God, that if He laid something on my heart then He was inviting me to join Him at work - and that is precisely how I felt when I had the opportunity to join this mission team in 2013.

As a Christian it is my duty to do what I can for others, no matter whether they fit my version of needy or worthy (Matt 25:40), and whether or not they are my people (Luke 25-37). The parable of the Good Samaritan isn't merely a good tale about being helpful, but about helping people who are not our own, that are even from foreign territory. Indeed, Jesus used this parable to explain that our neighbor is not just in our own town, but from every land.

But there are other issues at hand too. In our Western world, we fear the spread of evil - understandable; we shake our head at poverty; we wonder how God could let horrors happen. So what will we do about it? What is God expecting us to do about it? We get our hands dirty, that is what. Education, truth, love and compassion - these are all things that we can help to grow. How can we stop the spread of evil? By joining the battle with love and truth. How can we help fight the spread of poverty, drug addiction and corruption? Through education, empowering people with truth. 

If we think third world problems aren't a first world problem, then we ignore that spread of evil. The spread of drug lords and other terror. And the enemy laughs as we sit at home saying this isn't our job to fix. I beg to differ. I think it is our job to meddle. The world - from my front door to the outer margins - is my mission field. 

I love that people want to help at home and that God has people placed in ministry where He needs them. And for many, praying for those who travel overseas is an important ministry all by itself!
And I still join in at home! In fact, one thing that these trips has taught me is how I can help more effectively at home! It has taught me the difference between enabling and empowering. What is true need. How God can work through people in the most dire circumstances! And to see our teenagers from Butler PA go out there, and come back with a greater compassion and deeper desire to act, then I say praise the Lord!! The next generation is grabbing this need and embracing it! 

Above all, it has taught me that I don't always know best. God is already at work in these countries, through missionaries and local churches. He isn't going to reveal the whole plan to little ol' me, so I have learned, and am still learning, that I just see a thrilling glimpse! And the importance of that is it reminds me, as I help at home, to listen to His leading - not assume I know what needs to be done. That much more can be accomplished if I let Him lead me instead of expecting God to bless my willful efforts. 

If you would like to support our efforts, you can come to any of our events or donate directly.
Checks can be made to our church FUMC Butler, with Honduras (Fannins) in the memo.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Crochet for Honduras, Ruffle Scarves Part 2

Click to enlarge

The hand crocheted scarves by Chelsae have really taken off, and she's already making custom orders to help support our mission trip!  Many of these are ready made, a few are made to order.

Black & Gold $20
All other ruffle scarves $15

Delivery - local meet up (Butler, PA)
I can also ship anywhere in the USA, $5 for the first scarf, add $2 for each extra one in the same package. Outside USA, I can still ship to you at cost.

Most are 4ft long, but there are a few extra long ones. 

To order: Contact me through the contact form on the right side of the page. I can take payment by check, cash or in some cases by Paypal.

Profits from all of these will fund our mission trip back to the Manuelito Project in Honduras.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Crochet for Honduras!

My friend Chelsae has made some really pretty ruffle scarves for our fundraising efforts. Chelsae suggested that they also make a really cute alternative to boas for kids - and they don't shed feathers everywhere!

These are $15 each, and can also be shipped anywhere in USA for an extra $5.

If interested shoot me a message through the contact form here on the page.

Our fundraising will pay for our 3rd mission trip at the Manuelito Project in Honduras. This is a home for ex-street kids, rescued from the violent streets and extreme poverty. 40 kids live there and another 70 come each day for a free education. For more information about the project, see their Facebook page

If you would like to donate to our trip directly, then we welcome your contribution of any size.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Toilets for Honduras!

Yes, that's right. Toilets. No, I am not doing a weird fundraiser involving the loo.  The Manuelito Project was able to purchase new toilets for the kids' dorms as a result of the wonderful donations to our team's trip last year. How awesome is that!  While the fundraising pays for our tickets down there, it also makes a difference in other ways. Working on the new school, putting up metal bug screens.... and buying toilets!

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Proofreading for Honduras

I am accepting small jobs for proofreading.

I have been writing for several years, sometimes for fun but also for work. As an all-in-one website writer, blogger, resume reader, book reviewer etc etc, I felt this would be a creative way to earn some extra funds for our Boldly Compassionate campaign! Rates will be a lot lower than pro rates of course, but enough to make it worth my time for fundraising.

Examples of papers I will proofread:
  • Works of fiction
  • Short works of non-fiction
    - excluding specialized fields that require expert knowledge
  • Resumes and cover letters.
I do reserve the right to decline any works. If interested, contact me for details. Use the contact form on the right side of the page.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spring flower bulb fundraiser

Anywhere in USA!

If you are planning to buy bulbs or bare roots to plant this Spring, will you check out these first? You can support our mission trip when you buy your bulbs through the link - 50% goes to the mission fund.

* The bulbs have 100% guarantee by the company
* Delivered directly to you in USA
* Flat rate $5 shipping! 

Just follow the link and see the pretty options!

Monday, January 19, 2015

What's in store for 2015?

Through last year, as I prepped for our trip to Honduras, I thought that in 2015 I would take a break. Maybe take a trip to the beach instead? Enjoy a few months of not fundraising, perhaps? Alas, I am not in control of these things and it seems the Manuelito Project is firmly in our hearts, and the good Lord has different plans for me & they don't involve the beach!

So this summer, we will join our church's team & head once again to the beautiful children at the project, to serve them, love them and be blessed by them. Excited? Yes I am, and I am also so anxious about the coming months. Can we raise this kind of money for the 3rd year in a row? I sure hope so. Our return visit last year showed me how much the kids benefit from the missions - not just having food and a shelter, but an education, and they grow spiritually and emotionally. It is empowering to them, rather than enabling. And at the same time it fills our souls with joy and a firmer faith as we see the work that God is doing in their lives.

I hope you can support us through your prayers over the coming months! 

Share with friends!