Team World Vision: 2015 Recap
This year at Mission, Team World Vision took our hearts to the other side of the globe as we partnered with this awesome organization in a host of new ways. Many of us ran the full or half marathon in Chicago, sponsored children in Buliisa, Uganda, or even took part in a trip to Africa to see the work being done there. Not wanting to miss a single moment, we asked Mission's TWV Leaders, Russ and Dawn Franceschina to try and put into words what it was like to witness the impact the team made.
Team World Vision Impact
By Russ and Dawn Franceschina
Russ and I were excited to lead another team for 2015, and were especially excited to offer the half marathon option this year! We definitely wanted to include more people into our running community at Mission, and knew that the half marathon would encourage some to jump into the running scene that otherwise wouldn't if the marathon was the only race option. We were also really excited to share some of the team leadership with a few "apprentices". Reid, Kurt, and Andy helped us in so many ways, through leading devotionals and group runs ; through brainstorming fundraising ideas; through encouraging our team members by phone calls, emails, and prayer. Their contributions were so impactful on Russ and I as well as on the team.
We had almost a completely new group of team members this year, which was exciting as this allowed us the chance to get to know so many people from Mission that we didn't know well or at all prior to training. Through joining us for Saturday morning group runs we also had two guys join our team that don't go to Mission.
Ron and Marge will always stand out to us, as people who radiate selfless, faithful service to others through coming out and volunteering for our team every Saturday morning.
Russ and I love watching the transformation of our teammates every year, when they come out for the group runs and conquer their "longest run ever" on that day. Seeing someone achieve personal victories is something that motivates us to keep leading!
A couple that really stands out to me this year is Matt and Jessica Roberts. They were not runners at all going into training, but decided to do the full marathon. They would admit that they had a lot of struggles with their training, but they persevered and made it through the marathon, running together the whole race!
God shows up in so many ways throughout the season. He gives strength to the weary by providing energy and strength to run farther than they ever thought possible. He gives courage to us to ask others boldly for donations, to provide water for people we will likely never meet. He gives us passion, to sacrifice our bodies and our time to serve people that live in a country on the other side of the world. He builds community among us, allowing us to pray for each other, and serve one another in so many ways throughout the season. He gives us hope, that clean water may be an agent of healing and restoration not just physically but spiritually as well.
We were nervous that we would have a small team for year two, knowing that year one provided people the chance to scratch "run a marathon" off of their bucket list! We were also nervous about the fundraising goal, because it can be hard to ask people 2 years in a row for financial donations. But God overcame both of those through providing over 70 runners between the two teams, and helping us to raise enough money to provide clean water to over 1200 people! That's crazy!
There are such a mixture of feelings seeing what we accomplished as a team. On one hand, you're so excited to know that 1200 people will be provided with clean water that didn't have it before! But, being who we are, you're never satisfied in a way, because you know that there's always more need, more that can be done, more people that deserve to be served. It's just the tension that exists, but it's a good tension because it's so motivating to want to continue to extend yourself through running and fundraising.
Seeing the work in Africa was priceless. When I reflect on what we are doing through running with TWV and overlay that with the experience I just had traveling there and witnessing the fruit, the words “intentional impact” keep coming to mind.
Intentional because what we are doing takes intentional effort. There is intentional effort in doing the work of run training day after day to prepare for a one day event. There is intentionality to inspire others to keep going and to rally behind you. Intentional grace and support of your family to give you the time and space to go on long training runs and time to recover. Intentional effort to ask people to join you on this journey and to give their resources to your cause.
Sometimes it can be difficult to perceive the impact tangibly, to truly realize how much good it is doing and how much love it is sending to those half way around the world. It is easy to wonder if the resources are really getting put to use when you are enduring hours of pain and sweat on those long runs. Then add in those sometimes challenging conversations we have with others asking them to support us financially. It can be draining. But, I can tell you it is worth it. I have never told anyone “It is easy” but we always say “It will be worth it” and the truth is, yes it is. Just ask Matt and Jessica Roberts.
Then, we get to see the real impact in Africa, in Bulisa, the community Mission Church has chosen to support both through child sponsorships and with our fundraising efforts. I can tell you first hand it is worth it and the impact is big, very big. Community wide the effects of our efforts are being felt, from the regional World Vision leaders, to the local community World Vision personnel, to the water engineers and of course the community who benefits from the projects. There is not a single aspect of the community that does not have an impact from what we are doing here. Simply by being bold enough to say yes to running and asking others to join us is having a huge impact on lives. Can we help change a community so far away? The answer is yes, we can. It is happening, the evidence is there and there is more to do.
The impact goes both ways of course. Meeting the community, sponsored children and World Vision leaders in Africa will forever cement gratefulness in our hearts. When you carry a jerry can of water for someone you realize how grateful we need to be. When everyone genuinely thanks you for coming to visit them and see their work and are so proud of what they get to do, you can’t help but be humbled with gratefulness to just be a part of the work they are doing. When your sponsored child gives you a rooster which is a highly valued family possession, you can’t help but be excited and grateful. When you are driving down the rough roads and see lines of children carrying jerry cans of water, gratefulness will bring you to tears. When you hear how passionate World Vision is in their own community you cheer with confident gratefulness knowing that the money you are raising is being well spent. When you realize that you are a spoke in the wheel of something great and big that God is doing in the lives of many, you are grateful for the team He has provided to do His work.
Our benediction talks about being the church where you are, at school, work, home in your neighborhood, redefining the way we all see and experience church. Can we really do this? Yes, we can be the church Saturday morning while running to train for a marathon to bring clean water to our friends and extended team in Buliisa. Yes, we can be the church by sponsoring children to help provide health and welfare, child protection, nutrition education, sanitary education and clean water. Yes, we can be the church as a team supporting and loving each other and further redefining what church is and can be within our own community and those around us.