Dear friends in my supporting churches:
I’ve always liked Advent. The weeks of intentional waiting for the incarnation have helped me understand how so many people around the world wait, like Jesus’ contemporaries, amidst war and poverty, anticipating nonetheless that God will “disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death's dark shadows put to flight.”
Because you have generously supported my work as a missionary, during Advents past I have met Joseph and Maria countless times as they traveled the roads of Central America, or the Congo, or the Philippines, looking for a place to spend the night. Thanks for giving me that privilege.
As we approach this Advent I’m also waiting for my knee to recover from surgery last week. I tore the meniscus several weeks ago while on assignment in Haiti, but the doctor assures me that I should do fine in a few more weeks. So I cancelled international travel for the rest of the year, and am spending the recuperation time catching up on work in Yakima, Washington, where I moved in August to live with Lyda. After more than three years of living apart because of her work, it’s nice to be together again. She continues her ministry as coordinator of Hispanic ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference.
In December I'm flying to New York for a couple of days to launch a new book–Rubble Nation: Haiti’s Pain, Haiti’s Promise–which includes 72 pages of my photos. Similar in design to our book about Darfur, the new book is a collaborative effort with Chris Herlinger, a writer with Church World Service. While in New York, I’ll also be meeting with folks to plan work for next year.
The easiest way to keep up on my work as a missionary is to read my blog, which I shamelessly note just won this year's best of class award for internet communication from the United Methodist Association of Communicators. Besides the main posts, which I try to add at least once a month, there’s a “Picture of the Week” feature where I provide background to some of my favorite images. Several of you have linked to my blog from your congregations’ websites; that’s an easy way to connect your members to what they support. You can also keep up with my work by friending me on Facebook or following me on Twitter. I realize some of you are even more curmudgeonly than me about social media, but I’ve slowly come to appreciate the potential that these sites offer for keeping us in contact with one another. If there are other ways that I can help your faith community understand my work, please let me know.
As your congregations continue to struggle with making ends meet in hard economic times, I’m more appreciate than ever of your economic support for the mission of the church, both through your regular apportionments as well as with the additional support you provide for my ministry. Please continue to be generous. Your support for me doesn’t increase my salary, but it does free up funds for new projects of mission outreach. During a trip in October, I witnessed first hand some of the exciting work that other United Methodist missionaries are doing. I photographed Juan Guerrero, a United Methodist missionary from Colombia who’s now the district superintendent in Honduras, as he accompanied a rural community fighting wealthy landowners; we were present one day when a member of the community was assassinated and Juan led the village in praying over the man’s body. In the Dominican Republic, where I went to document renewed discrimination against Haitians living there, I photographed United Methodist missionary Connie DeLio as she brings together Haitian and Dominican youth, setting an example for a larger culture sickened by racism. I’m proud to be part of a community of such committed people, and to be supported by congregations and individuals in the U.S. who are reaching out in courageous ways with local ministries of justice and compassion.
So thanks for your support for God’s mission, both in your own community and around the world. As we prepare to celebrate another Advent, may it be a time for all of us to deepen our commitment to the Gospel as we welcome the homeless holy family as it wanders into our neighborhood.
-- Paul Jeffrey +1-541-206-4483 firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: kairosphotos.com/blog Facebook: facebook.com/kairosphotos Twitter: twitter.com/globallens