Myanmar Airstrip and Prayer Calendar

Feeling Isolated in Myanmar

When I think of being isolated and needing help I am reminded of the humorous time I randomly decided to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up all in one day by myself.  I was young and reckless, completely disregarding warning signs like this one:

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I was actually making good time until about half way back up when I ran out of water and both of my legs cramped up.  I was literally crawling on all fours on the trail in the dark in hopes to make it back up to meet my friends who didn’t know where I went for so long.

While my journey was humorous and self-inflicted, the people in the Chin State of Myanmar (formerly Burma) have to experience isolation and need as normal life.  Chin State and its people have been disadvantaged in terms of socioeconomic development. Mountainous terrain and poor road conditions isolate this state from the rest of the country, hindering external assistance.  There are currently no airports in the whole of Chin State but airport development in Lailenpi would enable aircraft to access the State for the first time in 70 years.

 

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Dr. SaSa (pictured) has seen many impossible dreams come true in his life, so why not an airstrip? resized1000x1000-18-Dr._SasaSaSa grew up in these mountains with an intimate knowledge of what it means to be isolated. As a young child, he remembers the day his mother’s best friend died in childbirth along with the baby, and the day he lost three of his childhood friends from diarrhea. With no clinic, hospital, roads, or even education, he believed nothing would change unless he could help his own people. He needed to become a doctor.

Through a series of improbable and miraculous circumstances that took him to India, Armenia, and England, he became that doctor, started an NGO called Health and Hope, met Prince Charles who became a patron of the organization, and began training Community Health Workers in Chin State. Over the course of six years, 834 Community Health Workers have been trained and are serving their communities across 551 villages. The work has expanded to include training Traditional Birth Attendants and supporting the education of more doctors. Truly nothing is impossible, even moving a mountain.

Moving a mountain is what is needed to provide these people with outside resources.  EMI developed a design for an airstrip literally on the top of the mountain as you can see from the design graphics below:

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The Myanmar government were so impressed with EMI’s design of the airstrip that they want to incorporate our ideas into their design and construction codes.  The government has invited EMI to advise them on another mountain runway under construction in a different location and they are discussing involving EMI and our partner ministry MAF in the development of up to 25 more runways through the country of Myanmar.

Hope is starting to spread throughout Myanmar.  Providing air service will help develop the people of Chin State’s economy, education and health.  And as EMI stays faithful and diligent with our ‘good deeds’ of design more people in Myanmar will no longer feel isolated.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Praying for EMI

Have you ever wondered how you can pray for the work and people of EMI specifically?  Here is a link of prayer points for each day of the month of January: EMI_Prayer_Calendar_January_2018

Any EMI account holder can subscribe to the prayer calendar by marking it in their preferences – start at the ‘pray for us’ icon at the bottom of emiworld.org.

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Merry Christmas and Quick Story from India

Christmas Season and Advent

If you are anything like me you are trying to cram in as many Christmas season necessities as possible- whether that be Christmas parties, Christmas traditions, presents or cookies.  I sometimes wonder if in all this good busyness I overlook the blessing of Advent.  During Advent we are invited to prepare, to get ready, to make a place for the Lord in our lives and in our homes and to anticipate His coming.  As your time allows, join me in preparing the way of the Lord this season.

Poisonous Pollution

While I was in Delhi, India the smog was so bad that Time magazine reported that being outside was like smoking 50 cigarettes a day!  It was so bad that United cancelled two days of flights to Delhi right after we arrived.  We had to walk around with masks on.

 

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The smog starts on the Hindu New Year called Diwali, where Indians celebrate by setting off fireworks. This also indicates to the farmers that it is time to burn their stalks and stubble from their sugar cane crop to make way for their winter wheat planting. Burning their crop is the quickest way to do this, but is also harmful to Delhi’s citizens.

Here is a picture the day before the Diwali and then the day afterwards.

Due to the climate and geographical orientation of Delhi, the smog will stay around for all of winter.  Imagine the EMI staff who have to experience this every day for all 3 months of winter.  Now imagine what their small children’s lungs are going through.  There is talk at EMI of how something needs to change for the families to continue working in this region.  Until a solution is determined they are staying indoors using air cleaning filters which helps significantly but is still not ideal.  Pray for the EMI families as they continue to serve those in need in India.

I’ll give a longer report on how God is working in India in my next month’s update. 

Personal Update- Baptism

As I mentioned in the last update, Drew and Blake committed their lives to Christ this fall.  We told them that baptism was the next step of obedience if they felt they were ready.  We wondered if getting into a big tub in front of a church congregation of a 700+ people would overwhelm them, but they were excited.

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Giving

Please consider making a donation to our support account at EMI which helps provide for our ministry work at EMI.  Click here to give to the Reinhardts ministry with EMI.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Upcoming India Trip

Imagine a time when someone presented you with a goal that you felt was unattainable.

Vision casting has this way of making you stare directly into your own disbelief. But what about the feeling you get when you reach that seemingly unattainable goal?

After 30+ years of EMI being primarily made up of American’s, the India office has empowered Indian design professionals to join our ranks. To my surprise, there are now more Indians in the office than Westerners– a goal that is 8 years ahead of schedule.

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Madhlika was introduced to Christ by an EMI Intern and is now on Staff in our India office.

Here is an example of how God worked to accomplish this: Preeti, a former EMI Intern, was working in Delhi when Madhulika (pictured), came to work on her first day. “Preeti shared the gospel with me, telling me about the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus,” Madhlika recalled. “I was struggling to forgive myself, so hearing that Christ has the ability to forgive made me feel free. It has been a bittersweet journey since then as I come to know more every day about my sinfulness, how awesome God’s grace is, and how much I need Christ in my life. EMI ‘happened’ in late 2013 when I was between jobs and the Office Director asked me to consider EMI. God was clearly leading me to EMI. I am excited and grateful for this honor and opportunity. I hope to glorify God with everything I do.”

I had the opportunity to meet Madhlika at our World Staff last year and I will be assisting at the India office again in a couple weeks.

Left Picture: My first EMI trip to India in 2006
Right Picture: I was conducting a survey (with a lot of help) for a children’s home in India in 2012

This will be my third trip to India, and as our longest running overseas office I am always excited to participate in the impact they are having in their large region.  EMI India is serving ministries like The Changing Destiny Project where they believe that education for girls rescued from human trafficking will make a difference in their future.

 

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Girls rescued from human trafficking by The Changing Destiny Project.

Please pray for safety for me as I travel to India and for Jalina as she wrangles our three lively boys without me.


An update on the home life of the Reinhardts

Drew and Blake asked to invite Jesus into their hearts!  It wasn’t quite as magical a moment as we had imagined as Drew said he didn’t want to become a Christian but wanted to invite Jesus into his heart.  After further explanation he decided he did want to become a Christian which followed by Jason and I (Jalina) acting out what it means to be separated by God due to our mistakes (sins).  They watched patiently and repeated after me the salvation prayer, but then immediately afterwards they said “Can we play on the iPad” because they were jealous that Cole was playing with it while we tried to have this magical moment.  Oh well.  The lifelong role of discipling our children continues nonetheless.

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Blake and Drew pray with Mommy to invite Jesus into their hearts

 

Giving Impact

We are so grateful for God’s provision through the generosity of donors. If you would like to contribute to the impact of our ministry work with EMI please click here.

 

What Do eMi Teams Do?

Here’s a short video spoken from a ministry we served with snippets of what goes on during a typical EMI trip.  You are of course welcome to join me on a trip to see it first hand , but if you have 2 minutes this will give you an idea of the tremendous impact a trip has on the people we serve, the ministry, and even the volunteers giving of their time.

Click on the link:
WATCH VIDEO- What Do EMI Teams Do

 

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Jason and an EMI Team after a day of surveying

 

Cherish Uganda, Growth, and Cole

Cherish Uganda

Have you ever been faced with devastating news about your health or medical condition? Have you heard a shocking update from a friend or family member that they have terminal cancer or some other incurable disease? It rocks you to the core and quickly reminds us that our true home is not on this earth- and that our true hope is not in what we can see.9138_footer

There is a small fishing village in the central Wakiso District of Uganda. It is home to Cherish Uganda which dreams of changing the stories of children living with HIV by offering them hope.

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The clinic offered Cherish staff and the medical mission team an opportunity to serve the greater community.

 

 

Though cases of HIV/AIDS in Uganda have decreased in recent years, the disease still runs rampant among fishermen, commercial sex workers and other trades. Fishermen in particular are three to four times more likely to have HIV/AIDS than the average population. The impact on children is especially hard. About one million children in Uganda have been orphaned as a result of the disease and treated as outcasts- they are unable to connect with the rest of their community.

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Dr. Clara finishes an exam

 

Cherish seeks to change this social stigma. EMI has been working with Cherish to design a master plan and the first phase of the Hope Hospital. The goal is to have accessible healthcare and disease prevention education in the surrounding community so that they can provide some of the best healthcare in Uganda.

The aim is to show these children the love of Jesus in a very real and practical way. They often arrive in pretty bad shape. They need medical attention, clothes, and food – as well as schooling and a loving home. Dr. Clara Komuhangi, the Health Center physician and director, says, “The fact that they are living with HIV attracts more stigma than one could deal with in a lifetime. However, they are as full of life as any child I have ever seen.” Cherish immediately places them in a family style home with a mom, auntie and “brothers or sisters”. The medical needs of each child are assessed and they are started on ART (anti-retroviral therapy) to slow down the progression of HIV.

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The Cherish Outpatient Health Center

Cherish CEO Brent Phillips says, “When the history of Cherish is written and we talk about the key partnerships that enabled us to fulfill the vision laid out before us by God, EMI will be on that list, if not at the top.” As EMI continues this partnership, offering appropriate and sustainable design, the story of this fishing village is being changed. God is writing a new story through the efforts of Dr. Clara and the Cherish team.

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Dr. Clara Komuhangi is the Health Center physician and director

 

Growth is Good… but not easy

Constant change seems to be the norm for me at EMI over the past 3 years. Things are never boring as I try to keep up with all the exciting improvements we are implementing as we steer the boat in a more impactful direction. We now have 11 offices around the world and to be honest it feels a little unwieldy. It reminds me a little bit of being a teenager when your body grows so fast that you become clumsy, tripping over yourself unnecessarily. Thankfully many of us on the leadership team are quick to recognize this and are taking action to adjust to these growing pains.
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Not only is EMI changing but the approach of missions is ever evolving to better influence those we want to reach. Combine that with the culture of giving in the US ever being in flux and it seems like we are trying to hit a moving target. Should EMI become a for profit business? No, that seems like an overreaction.

Will I and others still be able to raise support for our positions in 5 or 10 years? We hope donors will see the impact our work does and want to continue contributing to our efforts. These are just a sample of the many factors we are taking into account as we try to steer the EMI ship.

These are exciting times because I truly believe that EMI is more effective in our mission than we have ever been. Honestly, it’s just a little stressful for us as leadership to try and keep ahead of all this good growth. We can definitely use your prayer in all of this.

Cole

I’m not sure if this is every parent’s experience but we feel the first year of a child’s life is rough. Consistent sleep is something that is tossed out the window, routine sessions of crying when you have no idea what he wants, and on and on.
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But Cole is currently 20 months old and NOW we are into the good stuff! It’s like right after he turned 1 year old, he just pops with personality showing his love for being outside, wanting to show compassion to other kids when they are crying and awkwardly trying to give a hug, or just trying to keep up with his brothers. Cole does take the award for being our first son to receive stitches after he got cut on his forehead falling onto a brick fire place. Things are back to being fun (but of course always hectic) at the Reinhardt house.
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Traveling to Nicaragua

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Nicaragua

I (Jason) am heading to Nicaragua next week to assist in setting up our new EMI Office for future impact in Central America. This is the third location that we’ve planted an office in Central America.

Our first location was in Guatemala, but with it having one of the highest violent crime rates in Central America it made it difficult for EMI missionary families. Imagine feeling imprisoned in your own home, where you couldn’t leave the walls surrounding your house until your husband returned home from work to escort you to the store.  As the violence continued to increase, including a staff member being at gun point during an attempted carjacking, it became clear that an EMI office needed to move for the safety of its staff and families.

The second location was in Costa Rica where it was much easier for staff families to raise their children. In the end, however, EMI decided that there weren’t as many local ministry needs.  Many of the physically poor were still an airplane ride away since Costa Rica was so economically stable.

Three years ago, Jason, Jalina and Blake served the EMI Costa Rica Office before it closed down to be relaunched in Nicaragua. While Jason assisted the EMI Project Leaders there, Jalina served in a local orphanage with Blake only 9 weeks old.

This led to the decision to finally move the office to Nicaragua where there was safety for family livability, a multitude of local ministries to serve with our design, and a growing number of Christian design professionals which we hope to help disciple professionally and spiritually.

The office has just opened and already their first project has been a success. In Nicaragua’s desperate poverty, the handicapped are especially disadvantaged. David (pictured) is one of 115 disabled kids receiving Christ-centered therapy, professional services and lots of love at the center.  But there are many more on the waiting list.  It’s time to build!  EMI designed their first priority; an arena for the Equine Therapy program.  Using horses as part of therapy has proven to be a huge success in the lives of these kids; physically, relationally and emotionally.

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David came to the ministry (God’s Treasures) at only 8 years old, never before having had any opportunity for education. Now, using the skills and confidence he has been given, David is about to graduate from the 10th grade! His family and teachers have been trained by the dedicated staff at God’s Treasures.  In spite of his overwhelming physical disabilities, David is finding a very real hope for his future!

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It is always a privilege to work at EMI where we are able to make a true impact in the lives of people like David through the work of God’s Treasure. It is as if we can witness the act of God’s love at work on the broken hearted.

Reinhardt Boys Update

Life in the Reinhardt house is full of joy and commotion as our 3 active boys like to keep us busy and entertained.

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Drew is enjoying school and is already starting to learn how to read.  He is a diligent student and we are proud of him as he perseveres through his struggles to learn things like rhyming due to his auditory delay.  The school decided to put him back in speech therapy language group.  Drew is also memorizing Bible verses at Awana’s which again won’t be easy for him but we are encouraged by all the effort he is putting forth.

Drew is looking good on his first day of school and he is getting the hang of soccer in his first season of play. 

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We just celebrated Blake’s 3rd birthday and boy was he excited.  His favorite part- the birthday cake!  This kid is a sugar fiend.  After a failed first attempt at potty training a year ago, we are trying again with quite a big success.  Blake likes to show off his ‘accomplishments’ too.

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We were surprised to find that Cole was slow to learn how to crawl, and even now insists on pulling one of his legs in sideways- we call it his limp crawl. However, all Cole wants to do is walk.  He was pulling himself up at 8 months and is ‘cruising’ the couches.  He is doing whatever he can to keep up with his older brothers.  Sadly he still wakes up at least twice a night to nurse which means Jalina is still sleep deprived.

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Thanks for All You Do
Your partnership with our work at EMI has a tremendous impact on our family and on the people throughout the world that are touched by our ministry. Thank You!

Being Restored and David’s Story

Wow, it’s amazing how fast time flies. So much is happening and changing here at EMI and I’m really excited about where we are going.

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Last month Staff from all of EMI’s offices came together for our World Staff Conference. This includes our current offices in Uganda, India, US, Canada, and UK.  In addition, EMI is growing fast as we are expanded our presence into Nicaragua, Senegal, Cambodia, and South Africa!  I’m heading to Nicaragua next month to assist in setting them up for future impact in Central America- more on that in a couple weeks.

It was 5 years ago that EMI last had a World Staff Conference and since then our numbers have grown tremendously. Take a look at all the Staff and families who gathered at the conference to discuss where God is leading our organization next.

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Jalina and the boys were also able to attend and even got to go hill tubing in the middle of summer. It was a surprisingly fast ride especially when the attendant spun us in circles.

At the conference we revealed…

EMI’s new logountitledEMI’s new vision statement:
“People restored by God and the world restored through design”
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EMI’s new mission statement:
“To develop people, design structures, and construct facilities which serve communities and the Church”

In addition, we talked through our core values: Design, Discipleship, and Diversity. I’ll talk in more detail about diversity and discipleship in my future updates, but let me start with Design.  EMI works within the local context to design and construct culturally-appropriate facilities that are sustainable, affordable, and transformational.

You might be thinking, “So what?”. Well EMI has found that a foreigner coming in and giving a ministry technical plans from purely a Westerner perspective actually doesn’t help in the long run.  By involving local architects and engineers from that country, we learn about how construction is actually accomplished in that region and how the ministry will use the facility.  This means our designs are more likely to be built and serve the ministry and the poor around them more effectively- allowing the design to have more impact.  If you want to hear a story of how a simple EMI design in Uganda can translate into transformation in people’s lives… keep reading.

David’s Story

Not only are lives being touched in tandem with the design and work of EMI, but the buildings themselves create a place that people can call home- sometimes for the very first time. After spending most of his life looking for a home, David Muyanja had a vision of a beautiful place.  Later that vision was fulfilled at the ‘Field of Dreams’ site at Show Mercy International in Uganda.  Let me explain…

11017_headIt was 2009 when Show Mercy International (SMI) first asked an EMI team to come to their site near Kaliiti Village to design their ‘Field of Dreams’ site as they began their ministry in Uganda. Five years later, Show Mercy directors Mike and Lori Salley invited EMI back again to design the next phase of their work: a primary school that will eventually grow into a boarding school for 300 children.

While most of the EMI architects, engineers, and surveyors were figuring out the technical design for the new site, some of the team talked to several of the young people SMI has hired as staff. Each of these people had a story of how their lives have been transformed by God through the love shown by people at Show Mercy. The story of one of the staff in particular, David, really impacted the team. They got to know him as they included him in some of the tasks the project team was working on in the field.

David’s first memory is of living on the streets of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. He has no parents and no family that he knows of, no relatives to care for him or take an interest in his life. Looking back at that time, he said that he has no idea how he survived. He believes that it must have been God’s mercy and grace alone. Street children like him don’t usually live for long as injury, hunger, and disease take their toll. They simply disappear and there is no one to ask questions. Orphaned and abandoned children like David are seen in nearly all the AIDS-ravaged countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is to help children like him that Show Mercy began their ministry in Uganda.

IMG_6517When David was eight, he started doing cleaning jobs and helping in a local church to earn some money. He was allowed to sleep in the church building at night. Later, a family took him in for a time as a house boy and he was able to earn food by doing odd jobs. But there were problems in the house and he didn’t always get fed. He longed to belong somewhere and his eyes filled with tears as he shared how lonely he felt.

When he was 17, a visitor named Sonia came to the church and began to take an interest in him. She talked to him about his life and asked him if he would like to have somewhere new to live. That night as he slept he had a vision of a beautiful place. Not long after this, Sonia brought him to the Show Mercy site where he received prayer and encouragement. Seeing the site reminded David of the vision and knew he had found his home.

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Something about the landscape and beauty of the ‘Field of Dreams’ site reminded David of the vision he had and gave him peace about making this his new home.

David has been employed as a groundskeeper at ‘Field of Dreams’ since November 2012. Show Mercy has provided work, support, and care for him as a full-time staff member. Being loved, feeling useful, and given self-esteem, David feels he has received more than a job here – even more than a fresh start on life. Here he feels he has finally found a home. He has found long-term hope for his future too. In fact, David is trying to save up enough money to buy land and build his own house someday. And, when he gets married, he hopes to care for his own children with a sort of love he never received himself: The love he found at Show Mercy.