I am going to be serving in Masatepe, Nicaragua for two years with International Teams (ITeams). This upcoming October, I will know more details, as I go to Masatepe for my confirmation/vision trip. As of right now, all I know is that I will be helping somewhere along the business side of their operations. ITeams has been serving in Masatepe for about three years. They started with a cafe, it is now a restaurant. They also have an online handmade-crafts online store, http://www.allthingscoffee.org/, organized a chamber of commerce, and have started a chicken farm. The chicken farm was organized to donate an egg a day to the children at the preschool, which it was able to start doing this September. One hope from this experience is that I will learn at how a relatively young mission operates.
I grew up hearing the stories of my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, and my aunt and uncle being missionaries and I decided that I did not want to be a missionary. Instead, I took a liking to mathematics.
In high school, I began to not like higher levels of math as much, because they began to only be applied to obcsure things such as filling wine glasses, bath tubs, and building dams (these are what calculus can be applied to). That was until I took two personal finance courses at and began to fall in love with algebra again. I decided to pursue this passion with a goal of finding ways for missionaries to be financially independent.
This took me to being a Global Business major with minors in International Studies and Economics.at George Fox University (GFU). While at GFU, I did not think of myself pursuing to be a missionary, but instead I thought myself to be a business consultant for missionaries. It was not until my senior year at GFU that I began asking missionaries about their perspectives on Business (As/And/With) Missions and being financially independent. The missionaries taught me the importance of having a financial support team and the thoughts of those in the role of a supporter. As a part of beginning to raise funds, I was asked to read a collection of Henri J.M. Nouwen, called The Spirituality of Fundraising. This small book spoke on very similar points as the missionaries I spoke with. It was during my college the second half of my education that starting as a consultant did not make sense, so I needed to start looking for mission organizations that were thinking in a similar manner to me.
I am still wrestling with the hopes of financial independence, but realize that it may be a goal rather than a mission (what you do) or vision (what you see). It all depends on the mission and vision if a project can be financially independent or not. Each ITeams worker is financially supported by a community that they reach out to and build. 100% of the businesses’ income in Masatepe goes straight back to the Nicaraguan employees and other projects in Masatepe. The Americans never receive any gain from the businesses they work in, the only money they get is from their support groups.
ITeams works in Integrated Community Transformation (ICT), making sure a person’s whole needs are met (Food, Freedom, Forgiveness). This type of ministry would be hard to have financially independent with missionaries working on this. But looking at Brandon’s goal for Masatepe, once ITeams has successfully taught the Nicaraguans every role and these roles were sustainable with the Nicaraguans working them, then once the ITeams workers leave, it would be a financially independent ministry.
My next question with financial independence is where in the process I would like to see it occur. But again, this depends on what the vision, mission, values, purpose, and goals are.
Thank you for making it this far in this long post. Over about the next number of months I will be gaining financial support for my ministry in Masatepe, Nicaragua.