Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Irene's Spring Updates

In 1912, my father was one of the first Zimbabweans to be ordained. Now, a century later, my family celebrates its 100th year of officially serving God in the Methodist Church! Returning home and attending Annual Conference this past winter inspired me to reflect on what I can still learn from my father’s position as both a tribal and spiritual leader in our community and, ultimately, how I can continue his legacy. The following stories capture some ways I have tried to answer that question this Spring. Thank you for your committed interest and support of my ministry.

Training in Kandal
This past January, we held training for members of a cow group and a rice bank group in Kandal province. Since many of the participants could not read and write, we told stories to explain the purpose of Christ’s church in the world rather than rely on our written manuals. People’s eyes lit up as they actively engaged with the material and with each other in small groups. Even though we have not yet completed the training, we know that the Holy Spirit is working in that community! We were so humbled to see those who could not read the Bible take hold of a different kind of opportunity to discover their true identity in Christ.

Irene with rice bank group in Kandal province

Commitment to a Difference      
Dr. Chery Meylick Casanova of the Rocky Mountain Conference came back to Cambodia in January to continue work she started two years ago. She worked at the provincial hospital and two health centers, training medical personnel in diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and hypertension. On her departure to the US, she shared with me her desire to make her work have a lasting impact in Cambodia. True to her commitment to make a difference, she has pledged to come back once a year at the request of the Provincial Director.
Home Leave in Zimbabwe
When I attended my annual conference in Zimbabwe, I realized the similarity between the needs we have in Cambodia and the needs back home, which was not the case over a decade ago. Now, returning to work, I wrestle with how to carry on the vision of health care as an integral part of church ministry, distinct from the care given by NGOs; because there is a distinction: Our mission is so much more than a mere  job – it is about continuing the work that Jesus began.
CHAD Staff Retreat
In February, we had a three-day retreat for CHAD staff. It was a priceless gift to interact with each other across the cultural spectrum and to appreciate different world views and their influence on our relationships. We learnt, laughed, played games and got to know each other more clearly. .Even now, reflecting on that week, I can see how our team dynamics are changing.
Virginia Team Visit
When a Virginia team visited Cambodia in March, I was blessed to show them some of our projects. We shared our passions about the mission of the church in medical care, maternal health, and especially  prenatal care. We even were given the opportunity at the MEDICAM conference to raise awareness of a critically important issue in Cambodia: how to increase pregnant women’s access to hospitals for safer  childbirth. Since one of the team nurses is involved in medical missions in Zimbabwe, spending time with her also allowed me to learn more about what  is happening in health care back home, reaffirming my resolve to continue my work here and ultimately in Zimbabwe.
Visiting with the Virginia team also gave me an opportunity to say “thank you” to the United Methodist Women’s groups in Virginia that support me in our ministry in Cambodia. I am blessed to have spent time with the group while they visited.
Prayer and Healing Seminar
A prayer and healing seminar held in Phnom Penh this March invited me both to grow and to consider how prayer and healing could be incorporated into our healthcare ministry. The seminar inspired me to continue learning more. Through this seminar, I came to appreciate how the church in Cambodia can do more particularly through Good Samaritans training - health volunteers who work alongside pastors here, to care for the poor.
Transition at Prektoal Church
The change of leadership at Prektoal Church has posed a challenge with regards to the progress of the program. The main issue is whether or not non church members should be involved in project activities. This is a major challenge for us as one of our core values in CHAD is for the church to engage and include the community in projects. Pray for the leadership to live the gospel by embracing all regardless of their beliefs.
Looking Forward
From this second quarter of 2012, we are looking forward to strengthening our work in three areas. We need to centralize the co-ordination of the UMVIM medical teams that come to help us in order to ensure equitable access to their expertise and care by all our districts. We need to intensify our efforts to work with communities in disease prevention and health promotion on issues such as malaria, HIV prevention and water and sanitation. Our work in CHAD has grown in leaps and bounds and there is therefore an urgent need for us to recruit more staff for both administration and field work.
We are deeply thankful for the generous gift we have received during this quarter from Long’s Peak Methodist Church in Colorado.
Many Blessings,
Irene Mparutsa

May the Lord keep us true and faithful to the work that He has called us to.

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