Hope In Christmas

Thank you for your support this year! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday surrounded by friends and family. Our office will be closed Dec. 24 – 25, and Jan. 1. We will have limited staff available Dec. 22 – Jan. 2. Remember, end-of-year donations must be postmarked by Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for 2014. Our co-founder Sarah Corson shares the following letter to help us all remember those who may be hurting this Christmas and the hope that we have because of Christ’s birth!

Dear Friends,

I will never forget Christmas of 1958. Ken and I were newlyweds and were working in Cuba. We had decided to adopt Isabel, a little girl who needed a home. She had begged us to kill and roast Rosita, our little pet pig, because that was the Christmas custom of Cuban families who could afford it. She was thrilled when we agreed, because she had never had a roast pig at Christmas. I washed and set her hair that afternoon, and she helped me bake Christmas cookies for the traditional Cuban Christmas Eve meal at midnight…the hour they accepted as the birth of Christ.

Sarah with Isabel in Cuba on Christmas Eve of 1958

Then in late afternoon, our world was shattered. Relatives came and took Isabel away, carrying her from our home kicking and screaming. That was the last time we saw her for 32 years. We lost our precious little daughter. Soon afterward, the local baker knocked at the door with helpers bringing back our whole roasted pig. I burst into tears anew. “Keno,” I wailed. “I cannot eat a bite of this lechon! This was for Isabel. I don’t want to even see it! Take it away!”

Ken told the baker to set it down on the table, where the platter filled the biggest part of the table. “Wait, Sarah,” he told me and dashed out the door. Half an hour later, he returned with our car packed with people. He had brought a family with three children, whose father had left them sad and alone this Christmas. Ken went in the local bar and found a lone man trying to drink away his loneliness because his wife had left him. Ken looked for all the hurting people in our little village. As our home filled with hurting people, I had to dry my tears and try to help them have a good Christmas Eve supper. It became one of the happiest evenings we can remember…because all the hurting people tried to help the others who were hurting have a good Christmas. We sang Christmas carols. Ken read the Christmas story from the Bible. We shared and prayed together, and then at midnight, we all ate roast pig. All of us had a very special Christmas Eve, helping each other to overcome the tragedies in our lives.

God has made us so that we can help each other by sharing our pain. Somehow it does not hurt so much if we share it with someone who understands. It is a little of God’s love channeled through one in pain to another.

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#GivingTuesday is Back!

Last year, SIFAT received $108,080 in one day from donors during #GivingTuesday. Of that, $34,050 was matching funds provided by the Global Ministries of United Methodist Church. Overall, Advance projects raised $6.5 million on #GivingTuesday 2013! Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who participated last year!

This year, you have the opportunity to give again on Dec. 2, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The goal of #GivingTuesday is to give back to nonprofit organizations after all of the shopping that takes place on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Because of matching funds, you can double your gift!

Here are this year’s rules for UMC #GivingTuesday:

  1. Go to SIFAT’s Advance page. When donating online through the Advance, no processing fees will be taken from your gift!
  2. Matching gifts begin at 12 a.m. Dec. 2 (EST). Double check your time zone. You may need to donate on the night of Dec. 1! Global Ministries is matching gifts up to the first $1 million donated online. Last year, the matching gifts were met within the first 30 minutes.
  3. Individual gifts can receive a match of up to $2,500, and SIFAT is eligible to receive up to $25,000 in matching gifts.
  4. Do you want us to send you a personal reminder, or do you have questions? E-mail Marie, lanierm@sifat.org, for more information.

Learn & Serve: Summer Experience 2014 Wrap-Up

This summer, 605 students and individuals — from 31 different churches throughout 9 states — attended our week-long Learn & Serve Summer Experience. They began each week living in our Global Village, picking food from the village garden and cooking foods more common to the 10 countries represented (Liberia, Uganda, Nigeria, India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cote d’Ivoire/The Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Bolivia and Guatemala). 

Students enjoy preparing dinner in Cote d’Ivoire.

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Bolivia: Mt. Bethel UMC Men in Quesimpuco

Our last Bolivian team of the year is in Quesimpuco this week. Each year, Mt. Bethel UMC takes an all men’s team to this remote area high in the Andes Mountains. John Moxley, a former team member, has received a few phone calls from the team and shared with friends and family what the team has been doing. In Quesimpuco, the only communication available is through a satellite phone or one phone at the town hall. There are no current pictures to accompany this post, but John has done a great job adding details from his personal experiences to explain what the team is experiencing. 

SIFAT teams have been helping the people of Quesimpuco for almost two decades. Within this beautiful landscape, daily life is a struggle with harsh obstacles. But, the people are improving their lives with education and opportunity! We are seeing a generation of young adults returning to serve their own people.

Saturday Update

Yesterday went better than expected:  a long drive, an enjoyable picnic beside a lake with flamingos, and most importantly: no problems!  No flats, mechanical issues or overly bad road conditions.  Given what they just drove through, this is an accomplishment. They arrived at about 9:15 p.m., and it is, indeed, a tiring drive.  The last several hours are very off road, plus being in a car for 11+ hours is just no fun. However, the team had enough energy to unpack and have a devotional.  While Carey did the first devo, each team member will have a turn this week.  Additionally, Carey set the team up with a daily scripture to read and focus on. Our team is covered up with God’s word, fellowship among themselves, and prayer from you.  Great things are bound to happen!

Job Opportunities at SIFAT

Nov. 1, 2014 Update: We are no longer taking applications for these positions. Thank you for your interest in SIFAT

We get questions about the possibility of working at SIFAT and how we find our staff. Guess what? SIFAT currently has openings for two positions: campus director and campus program manager. Please help spread the word that we are looking for new staff members to fill these important positions. If you are interested in applying for one of these, please submit your resume to SIFAT administrator Terry Haynes, haynest@sifat.org.

Campus Director

Classification: Full time/Salaried

This position is under the supervision and direction of the Executive Director. Persons applying should have good organizational skills, as well as strong communication and interpersonal abilities. The Campus Director will also be available to promote SIFAT campus programs in churches and at other events.

Duties of this position include, but are not limited to:

  • Responsible for directing, coordinating and supervising all campus programs, staff and facilities. Currently, the programs are the Learn & Serve Summer Experience and Learn & Serve Retreats, which includes one-day field trips.
  • Responsible to coordinate staff, facility and logistical needs for other programs that take place on the campus, such as trainings and special events
  • Work with the Executive Director to plan, recruit, organize and implement work and service projects on the campus with volunteer work teams
  • Work with the Executive Director to coordinate, plan and implement programs on the campus, manage budgets and oversee use and maintenance of buildings and grounds.
  • Responsible for overseeing the maintenance of facilities and grounds, as well as work with cafeteria staff and the Campus Administrator to insure food service needs are provided as needed
  • Promote SIFAT campus programs in churches and at other events

Campus Program Manager

Classification: Full time/Salaried

This position is under the supervision and direction of the Campus Director.

Duties of this position include, but are not limited to:

  • Working with the Campus Director in collaboration with the training department to design and implement campus programs that are relevant to core values of SIFAT
  • Recruit and make recommendations regarding hiring summer counselor staff
  • Recruit and manage volunteers to assist with tasks and events on campus
  • Make recommendations regarding program pricing and design to the Campus Director
  • Collaborate with the Campus Director to implement campus programs
  • Promote and market SIFAT as speaking opportunities, mission fairs or events