Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To give or not to give- to missionaries

Hi friends,

I am checking my shopping list and cupboard to see what we still need for tomorrow. I still don't know if we will have any guests, but I am sure that will work out. I am turning 52 tomorrow and am happy for the almost 11 years out from my first beast cancer. So much to be grateful for- a wonderful family, an incredible ministry, a nice home and food on the table, etc. But I am feeling sad.

I feel like my sharing what it going through my heart right now, so that it may help any of you who are making decisions about missionary support at your church or personally. So that you can consider the implications of that simple line through a budget line item to real people. I have just had to do this with the missions commission at our church here in Spokane, because the church budgets, like everyone else's, are taking a hit. And unfortunately sometimes that hit goes extra hard to the missions budget.

Missionsries are people you don't see everyday, or week, or month. They, by definition, are busy people who have several "worlds" to care for: Their own immediate family, their focus of ministry, their extended family back home, their sending agency, and of course their support base- their prayer and financial life-line to enable them to do their ministry. They usually burn the candle at 3 ends to keep up with all of this. If they weren't committeed and called to this hard work, do you think they would be sacrificing a 'normal' life to do it? But if the financial part dips, it can all come to a halt, as they scramble to find a way to stay in ministry while finding replacement money somewhere else. Imagine doing this from the Middle East or Asia.

Greg and I have always highly valued our support team. These folks bless us and the nations through us, but they also get the reward of participating in exciting global Kingdom of God things through our ministry. It blesses the nations and it blesses them to be playing a vital role in what God is doing on the front lines. Symbiotic- mutually beneficial. We love these friends and churches and thank God for them regularly. (We hope we communicate that adequately to any of you reading this.)

On Monday we learned that one of our main supporting churches decided to discontinue our support at the beginning of this last year. We should have picked up on this sooner, but didn't due to staff shortages and less than optimum dilegence on my part. I have to go looking for information currently- it isn't just given to me. Greg leaves this part to me and I enjoy doing it. Anyway, a string of zeros across the page recently caught my attention. We investigated and discovered this decision.

This has implications in several ways. Since we didn't know, we didn't get to be part of the discussion. It seems like after almost 2 decades of a close connection, including us in the process would have been obvious. There are 100's and 100's of relationships between us and that church. They cared for us in the most excellent ways when I went through my cancer. We cried together and prayed together. They brought us meals and some went with me to chemo. I was active in a breast cancer support group there for 7 years. I helped start the children's missions program there. I wrote several years of month-long missions curriculum for the Sunday School. I did a monthly missions club for for kids for several years. I took a large role in helping to plan mission conferences. I taught children's leaders how to teach missions. We lead support groups, took leadership roles in the missions committee, Greg on the exec. team, and lead a short term mission trip to Central America with 28 people.

When our ministry with Caleb Project came to a close, this church also cared for us most excellently. So many ways caring was expressed as we grieved and made decisions for what to do next. So practical and so loving and caring and generous.

So now...this discovery of a severed connection. A line through a name- our name- on a list when it was time to make the tightening budget work. When you have to make these decisions, can I beg you to not only think about your personal connection to that missionary, but to the connection they have to the church? The relationships. Their history. Their involvement. Their commitment to you as a church. Their dependence and value of you being on their team. The deeper these are, the more necessary it is to communicate with them about these decisions. Please let them be part of the process.

Did you commission them and send them out from your body? By severing ties, isn't this the equalivilant of walking out of a covenant relationship without warning? Like 'dumping' someone when you are a teenager?

We never got to say a proper thank you. That is really sad. For a church to have blessed missionaries like we were blessed and cared for by this church, we would like the opportunity to properly thank them for all they have meant to us. Instead I am left feeling sad that I didn't get to express gratitude. To be fair I was told that "in every way but financially you are still considered missionaries of the church." We are still being prayed for by the leadership team. I think we have been adopted by a large Sunday School class and I am supposed to do a presentation there in Feb. Do we still invest effort and time in visiting and fullfilling our part of the missionary role with that church? How can we afford to? We now also have to figure out how to replace the gap in funds. I could have been working on this all year if I had been more careful and obvservant.

Any funds that don't come into our account to pay Greg's salary come out of the minstry's general budget and are literally not able to go to our partners overseas for their amazing and strategic ministries. We have an agreement with Partners to cover at least 2/3's of Greg's salary. We are around $10,000 short. I feel like it is my fault for not paying closer attention. Greg is telling me that God will provide, and my Bible is doing the same, and I know that is true. But I have to tell you that my connections to my newly found brothers and sisters in our partner ministries in the 10/40 Window is making this very gut-wrenching for me. I believe in what they are doing with my whole heart. I feel like I am letting them down.

The physical therapy to disabled children being lead by Ubaldo in Morrocco, the children being rescued out of human trafficing by Anita in India, the outreach and over 140 new Achenese believers in Indonesia through my sister there, food for the women in the witches' camp in northern Ghana who have just come to Christ- who I personally got to hug this summer... I could go on and on and on. There is so much to help them do. Well, I need to dry up my tears and get ready for Thanksgiving. There is much that is happening through our partners that I can be thankful for. Sorry for dumping. Just give when you can to the things on your heart everyone else had decreased giving to, and don't forget those you don't see every day.

Learning trust and understaning in all of this- Nancy Fritz

P.S. If you want to give to Partners International you can at our website, but I am NOT intending to guilt anyone. I mean that.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The east coast, carpal tunnel and snow

Dear friends,
My Trip to the East Coast
I am back from my trip. I had a wonderful time on the east coast. I had a wonderful time sharing about the ministry of Partners International. I was able to share about many of our partners working throughout the 10/40 Window. A few times meetings lasted for over 3 hours! I shared in 3 churches, visited with 4 and got to visit friends and family, including many on our support team. It was wonderful to catch up with many friends. There is nothing that takes the place of personally connecting. Thanks to all of you who took the time for a visit with me!
Together with Greg's parents, I got to see a family of 5 bob cats right outside the back of their house. Two adults and 3 kits. Wow. I think that is pretty rare. This isn't the clearest picture, but I think you can tell that it is a bobcat.
I will say that the use of Partners' Garmin made the trip so much easier for me as I drove alone. That GPS is a true feat of engineering! It guided me through Baltimore, around central and eastern PA, upstate NY, northern NJ and then across NJ back to Baltimore. And God provided a significant discount toward my car rental fee through a brother in Christ. That was a direct answer to prayer. Thank you, friend!
Carpal Tunnel
It has been a week since I had my carpal tunnel release surgery. I am doing well. I thought you might like to hear how it went. I was preped like other surgeries, but obviously not with as much detail. My nurse is my now friend, Shirley. She has just finished her breast cancer treatment. We connected quickly as we shared stories. Our hearts connected deeply on issues we both understood about adjusting from being a patient to being a survivor. She also knew how to start an IV on my right hand without giving me lymphodema problems.
My friend Sue came back for a few minutes and then went to the waiting room. I met with the surgeon who explained what he was going to do in more detail and assured me it would take less than 10 minutes. He was going to make a small incision near the bottom of my palm, where the nerves to the hand pass through the carpal tunnel. My tunnel had become inflamed and was pinching the nerve. Eventually, this kind of nerve constriction would kill the nerve to the hand. He would insert a tool into that incision that would tunnel down a ways toward my wrist and "release" (cut apart) the tendon or ligament that crosses over the top of the tunnel. This makes the passageway for the nerve to the hand 40% bigger and releases the pressure. There are no adverse affects to doing this, and it solves a very big problem.
The anesthesiologist met with me also and explained that he was going to give me Versed while the nerve block was being put into my right wrist, then they would turn off the Versed and by the time I woke up, they would be done.
So, before I knew it, it was all done. I was able to leave in an hour. I was very awake and comfortable. My hand was wrapped and was numb until late afternoon. My hand was very sore that night and the next morning, but by evening the second day, it felt much better. The next day I took off the wrapping and took a shower and put a band aid on my little incision.
I have been doing gentle exercises of opening and closing my hand all week and get my stitches out on Monday. Even as soon as Saturday, I could tell that the carpal tunnel symptoms were gone. No tingling, numbness or that kind of pain up my arm or in my hand. I was able to knit some by Monday. If I had a desk job, I would have been able to resume work in a few days.
I know a lot of friends who have problems with carpal tunnel and who try and avoid the things that cause the problem to flair. This procedure was pretty simple to solve the problem without having all the discomfort and pain. They used to do this in a much more complicated way, but now it is fairly simple. So there you have my experience. I did make my hand hurt on Tuesday when putting a sheet on the bed, but it is doing well again. The procedure was called "Carpal Tunnel Release."
Yesterday we got a very small amount of snow. Adjua, our international student from Ghana, who is living with us while she attends Whitworth, is marveling at the phenomenon. It took her weeks to get used to wearing sweaters and light jackets. The idea of wearing a bulky jacket does not compute, and so far, even at 38 degrees she won't wear one. She feels like it makes her look too fat. I never thought before how different it is to be somewhere cold when you have grown up at the equator. She has the coats, hats, scarves, boots and gloves to wear, but we will have to see how long it takes her to get used to the idea of wearing them.
Greg is back from the mountains without anything to fill the freezer, but so glad for his time by himself with the Lord. He cherishes these times every year. Partners is again this month seeing low numbers as he expressed in our recent Yahoo update. (If you want to be on that list, email him at Please pray for God's wisdom for him and the other leaders.
Laura was just offered a severance package by AT&T, and feels that since she was praying to get laid off, that she should go ahead and do it. Although college is paid off, she was hoping for some more time to build up her savings so she would be able to investigate other possibilities for ministry. That luxury is now not possible. She would love to go to URBANA, but can't because of the cost. It would cost close to $700 for her to go, and she just doesn't have the money.
Allison is with us at least until Christmas. After much prayer, she has settled on the decision to go back to school for a 15-16 month nursing degree. She gave teaching a fair chance and feels like her gifting would be better used in nursing. She might end up teaching nursing someday since she already has an education degree. She would also see her training in Elementary Ed. being very helpful in pediatric nursing. She is sending an application to John's Hopkins today and will also be applying other places. Currently she has a part time job at the mall to pay for college loans.
Jenni is still studying in France and is enjoying her experience very much. She has been able to do a lot of traveling on the weekends to places all over Europe. She comes home Dec. 21st.
Jesse is in community college currently, and this weekend is serving with his national guard unit doing training- in the snow. His old, old car has totally kicked the bucket. Allison was given that car by a ministry in Denver called God's Cars in '05, and it had over 200,000 miles then! It served her for student teaching in college and since, until it has become the vehicle he and Allison are using to get to work and school. You might realize that this means that the car I use, has become the Fritz family shuttle. We would love for you to join us in praying for God's provision for a vehicle for Allison. Whichever way she goes, she will have to have a car. God has been faithful in the past, and He is Jehova Jira. Jesse won't need a car after March 1st, since that is when he goes to bootcamp.
I (Nancy) am doing some projects for church for Angel Tree, driving our kids all over the city, including Adjua to college as well, I taught two college classes for Greg while he was gone. I taught on "Ministering to Children Cross-Culturally." I am meeting with those planning our regional missions conference that is scheduled for next fall. I will be helping to lead the children's track and miscellaneous other tasks. I am leading a group of women at church for a Beth Moore Bible study, and will be helping with a church kids Christmas program. I am serving on the missions commission at our church, and on Wednesday this week I honestly woke up at 5:04 p.m., and then slept all that night as well. So, in between my various projects, resting happens. I am doing felting of wool items and knitting as my hobby of choice in my spare time currently.
So, thank you for your interest and for any prayers you offer up for Partners and our family
Blessings, Nancy Fritz 509-990-8465