It was another exciting week for the Experience: AIDS exhibit, celebrating World AIDS Day last week in Long Beach, CA. We partnered with the Call2All Global Congress to advocate and educate future missionaries and their partners on the realities of HIV and AIDS around the world.  The conference was attended by current, future, and hopeful missionaries not only from the United States, but around the world.  It was a chance to share wisdom, opportunities and resources in reaching the world for Christ!

It was exciting to see peers on a “mission,” or on a mission to find the “mission.”  Ready, willing and open to whatever missions opportunity the Lord had prepared for them.  In life, many of us spend years searching for the right avenue to seek the Lord and the work that He has.  For our staff members, that’s the exciting part of World Vision.  Our mission is clear, to build a better world for children.

This is how we see it: to come along side and equip those in need to meet their needs, allowing them to look up, see Jesus, live in faith and be loved.  Meeting the physical, social, and spiritual needs of children and families around the world through child sponsorship is the passion of World Vision.  Collectively, through many different avenues, the “mission” is being carried out on a daily basis throughout the world.  From Burma to India, Brazil to Kenya, the Dominican Republic to Indonesia: life is being spread through simple “mission” partnerships.

During our time at Call2All, great conversation was made around “mission,” being Christ to those who need Him most.  We had a special time in Long Beach, stretching the exhibit to a new level, engaging with a whole new audience, and being apart of equipping the saints.  We wish all our new friends God’s faithful mercies in their new adventures, and extend many thank you’s for the lives of those changed last week through sponsorship!

The “mission” is ahead of us!  Keep running the race that is marked. God is our faithful partner running with us, pushing us to help meet the needs of millions around the world.

Partnering in the journey,

Dean, Kristin, Ange, and Trooper

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August in Chicago, September in Austin & California and just as that cooler weather is beginning to set into areas such as the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest, Step into Africa headed to “warmer” breezes of Northern Florida.

Gainesville, home of the Florida Gators, a university the size of a small city in the US, and home to many retirees was our stop for the next week and a half. The night we arrived, we were welcomed by a wonderful planning team whose efforts of the past few months included spreading word to many businesses, local leaders, churches and residents alike in the community. Together we enjoyed a nice Italian meal and celebrated the beginning of what was to be a very fruitful week.

Andrew Pridgin, the motivator and missions director of Trinity UMC, put in his 40 and then some before and during the event. Throughout the week, we saw solid amounts of visitors and had a group to speak to about AIDS and poverty issues almost everyday!

On Sunday morning, the church had a special focus on the Experience and had local African drummers and dancers participate in the service! It’s not everyday you see dancing and drumming of this sort in American churches, and it was a pleasure to see.

Trinity UMC had decided to support one project in Malawi and by the end of the week, almost all the Malawi kids were sponsored!

Thank you to Trinity UMC, Andrew Pridgin, Pastor Dan, the Prayer team, and many others who were involved. It was a great week and we hope to come back to the area sometime in the future!

Hello, my name is Matt and I’m one of the new staff for The Village at the Northtown Mall in Spokane, WA. Before joining the World Vision team in Spokane, I interned in Seattle this past summer after graduating from Eastern Washington University. We have been in Spokane for three weeks and it’s been a great experience talking with people about World Vision, Count On Spokane and child sponsorship.

I have spent a lot of time in The Village presenting a 7-min movie entitled “Brenda” in our mini theater and challenging visitors to consider getting involved through WV child sponsorship. (to learn more about it, click here) ‘Brenda’ is an uplifting and inspiring story of a little girl in Uganda featuring the power of developmental progress done by WV in her community. The five main areas of development are: clean water, food and nutrition, education, health care, and economic growth. As I watched Brenda’s video over and over I started to notice subtle images that opened my eyes about life in Africa and other parts of the world. Brenda collects water three times a day, but I can’t imagine having to do this even if it was just down the street. Throughout the video she doesn’t wear shoes, even when carrying heavy jugs of water down dirt roads. Everyone in the video is always wearing the same clothes (except when they’re at school,) and their clothes don’t look very clean. Yet Brenda says in the video she is always happy. A pretty bold statement when you think about it. She has so little but yet God has given her so much joy through her friends, family and sponsors that love her — she is happy with the life she has.

It made me think how much of a blessing sponsorship can be for a child. I have been giving a child sponsorship challenge to visitors after every video, talking about how it can make a difference in a child’s life for about a dollar a day. I’ve also talked about sponsorship dollars going towards development within communities; and that World Vision’s goal is to build sustainable communities so these children, as well as future children, have a better chance in life. After watching Brenda’s story so many times and seeing how happy and blessed she is through her sponsorship, and knowing that World Vision really is making a difference — I started looking at kids on our Sponsorship Wall and I considered sponsoring a child myself. That’s how I found the child, “Innocent” and chose to sponsor him. He lives in Rwanda with his mom, two brothers and two sisters, and just had is 14th birthday this month. I’m excited to hear how World Vision is helping his community that has been severely affected by HIV and AIDS and how sponsorship will change his life.

We’re in our final week here at the Village, if you know anyone in Spokane make sure to send them our way!

— Matt

Hello, from sunny and beautiful Spokane, WA.  Leading up to this past holiday week, we hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day and hopefully a great time with family or friends.  As for the team, we were on day 10 of a 6-week effort in Spokane, WA called “Count on Spokane.”  It’s an effort to sponsor 2,600 kids in the Spokane area through a variety of World Vision events.  Beyond the experiential portion, (which I’ll explain more below,) other activities include a Kenny Rodgers concert, Art Walk, Caregiver kit build, and viewings of the much anticipated ‘Journey to Jamaa.’  As for our team, we are perched between a Mrs. Fields Cookies and a Champ Sports at the NorthTown Mall.  Yes, indeed, I’ve been at a mall more in the past 10 days, than in the past 10 years.

We have set up The Village: A World Vision Experience in the space normally taken by cell phone kiosks, Super Shammy demonstrators, Santa Claus, or hand-woven beads (sunglasses, rugs, calendars, DirectTV – you name it, it has been sold in these areas!)  Our exhibit truly does surprise those who walk by, whether they are at the mall to window shop or go directly to buy the latest Air Jordans.  The Village shares the reality of life for many families living in Africa and other parts of the developing world by focusing on the core necessities needed for sustainable development: clean water, food and nutrition, education, healthcare, and economic development.

As you can imagine, it has been a unique time to visit with people not familiar with the work of World Vision.  As a humanitarian organization, we strive to end the realities of poverty and hunger.  We aim to stop the 26,000 children who die each day from lack of nutrition.  We want to eliminate the walk many children and parents make each day for water, and replace that with an education, or an economic opportunity that provides for their families.  This is what sponsorship provides: the tools necessary to develop and maintain self-sustaining communities, rich and motivated by opportunity.

As our 2nd week continues, please lift up in prayer the community of Spokane, the team, and all we connect with.  Whether they are jamming in the drum circle, or learning how WV distributes food, this truly can be a time used by the Lord.  For kids needing sponsorship, it’s time to Count on Spokane, but also, the time Spokane can count on us.

Half of our tour staff will be staying in Spokane for the month of September while the other half travel to the next tour stop in a week: Springcreek Church in Garland, TX!  Click here for more info!

Until next week, thank you.

-dean