Being on home assignment until I leave for my next missionary assignment brings to mind Matthew 9:35a, according to The Message translation, that says, “Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages.”
In the early 1800’s, missionary reports were printed in the Missionary Herald, the magazine of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). For many Christians in America, the Missionary Herald was their window to the world. Descriptions of local customs, history, economic activities, and geographical features were included along with accounts of the influence of the Gospel on these far off lands. Well, like Jesus and the Missionary Herald, through your many invitations, I made a “circuit of all the towns and villages” to be your window to the world sharing my experiences of life and mission work in Haiti.
My circuit/journey began in California attending the General Synod and in Florida attending the General Assembly. Both meetings gave me the opportunity to not only share my experiences and mission work, but also to meet and talk with a variety of people interested in the current situation in Haiti. During these meetings, all of us (missionaries on home assignment) were recognized for our present mission service and blessed to continue to our next global mission assignment. From there, I was on the “church circuit”.
I had a chance to visit many congregations. I started with Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (DOC) in Memphis, TN, a large African American church with two sites where I gave a mission moment to both. During the week, I met and shared my mission experience with a variety of mission ministry teams, female staff leaders, the Senior Pastor, and had a wonderful time presenting and discussing Haiti with a youth group.
From there I visited churches in the Central Atlantic Conference of United Church of Christ. I met so many wonderful congregations and I want to share just one story. At St. Luke’s County Line in Timberville, Virginia, as part of their local mission, they do outreach to immigrant Haitian orchard workers. After the service, they were just as excited to hear my experiences in Haiti as I was to hear their experiences in the United States.
During missionary orientation/training update, I was invited to preach the Sunday service at Allisonville Christian Church (DOC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. What a wonderful spirit that flows in Allisonville CC. Other highlights in the beautiful Fall season include the wonderful hospitality in the Southeast Pennsylvania Conference and the Pennsylvania Northeast Conference. And one more story – during my time with the Fox Valley Association of the Illinois Conference, in Mackinaw, IL, I presented at an agricultural farming celebration. This was my first time presenting in a barn, going on a hayride at night and most of all tasting my first smores! And at the Community Congregational UCC, Elburn, IL, not only did I get to participate in adult bible class, confirmation class and evening presentation – I even got to join the women’s crochet group.
It was a lot of traveling but a beautiful journey. A big THANK YOU to all the churches that invited me to share my experiences and be your window to the world in Haiti. A big THANK YOU to you for reading this newsletter. And a big THANK YOU with a big HUG for the Godly hospitality I received from the families that hosted me during my circuit of all the towns and villages!
Jeanette Salley serves with the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH) as an assistant for disaster preparation and response, as well as a teacher at St. Andrew Seminary.