Saturday, March 24, 2012

Old love, new rendezvous...

Oh My!

I don't remember my first encounter with fashion but it has something to do with my Grandma (Smith) who lived with us when I was growing up and was an icon in every sense. Everything about her was put together, from her bright silver hair to her lavender scented clothes. She was something else. Strong. Opinionated. Outspoken. Gracious & Generous.

Her name was Alice. My name is Alison.

We're very different in many ways and very similar in others, namely we know a good entrance when we see one and we love clothes; Alice was tucked (put together) I'm un-tucked (not put together) and it really doesn't matter very much.

Grandma (Smith) & Nana (Howard) both made lovely things. Grandma knitted and Nana sewed and embroidered, it was a very important part of their lives as women, wives and mothers during both the first and second world wars.

As I was growing up they both made lovely clothes for my baby doll (Jane) and my Sindy doll (Sindy!), Mum (Lilibo) did too, and in fact Mum packed my Sindy wearing some of her very best outfits in her 'Sindy-Wardrobe' and sent them along with all my other belongings across the Atlantic to meet me (by then aged 30-and-a-half) in Minneapolis when I decided that this was where I wanted to live (at least for now).

I loved making clothes. Going to 'Sew Easy' the fabric shop in Ware, buying fabric and a pattern and spending hours sewing, pressing and finishing in what used to be Grandma's sitting room. How fitting.

My speciality was evening and bridal wear. Never one for an understated garment and at the period when Lady Diana was in her heyday - it was a wonderful time to grow up as a budding fashionista. I was commissioned to design and make a wedding dress as a 14 year old, I did it and it was lovely.

Years past, I attended the London College of Fashion where I loved the fashion bit, but knew something was missing...and years later here I am in America, working in Human Resources in a The Best Coffee Company on the Planet...and a member of PINTEREST.

Where once again my love of fashion has been ignited, the looks, colours, shapes and textures are awesome. It feels like coming home.

In my not-very-humble opinion, people are too literal with fashion. They wrongly believe that if you like it you should wear it and I don't see it like that at all. Fashion is a deeply spectacular adventure into art. Art you could wear, but sometimes (perhaps even often) someone else should wear it in order to provide the perfect canvas for a piece of wearable art.

 Thank you Pinterest.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time Flies

Happy Almost-Spring Fabulous Ones!

I can't quite believe that exactly a month ago I woke up at 2am and headed to Wooddale where at 3am we left on our Guatemalan adventure; it was my first time ever on an American school bus (SUPER EXCITING!) and thus even at that early hour i was compelled to take my first trip picture!!

Over the last few weeks we've been back from Guatemala photo sharing has been a big thing for our team - thank goodness for facebook :-) Each person's pictures show their unique perspective of our trip, everyone saw things that no one else did and so the combined story told by our pictures is fairly epic. One of our team members Myron is a photographer, and he faithfully recorded most of what went on especially the work of the different ministry teams as we went out an 'did our thing' around Lake Atitlan. His pictures are wonderful and really capture the spirit and essence of our trip, click here to see them
(scroll down the page to the Guatemala 2012 folder which includes 14 galleries of fab photos!)

Lots of you have asked me what impact Guatemala has had on me and whilst i'm a fairly slow processor, a few things are clear...

1. I'm amazed how God worked in the hearts of complete strangers and formed them together into a team that made huge efforts and did extraordinary things for him. To us it was normal, to others not so much.

2. I'm thankful, embarrassed and humbled by 'how good i have it'...this tension gives me pause when i find myself falling back into the western materialistic ways of thinking (yes even in the face of Anthropologie!)

3. I have a different perspective on what's important and whats not. Just last week my colleague Barrrrb and I experienced something which previously would have sent me into a downward spiral, but with my new perspective it was just not worth bothering about. I need to save my energy for things that ARE worth bothering about.

4. I'm so very grateful to YOU for being such amazing supporters and to Bill, Steve and Susan our trip leaders, which gets me back to point 1 about how God works in our hearts to bring us together to do his work. YEAH GOD!.

So what happens next?

COME AND BE APPRECIATED! by the entire Guatemala team at a SUPPORTER APPRECIATION EVENT on Sunday April 1st between 6:30-8pm at the Wooddale Church Eden Prairie campus, in the Chapel  we would love, love, love to see you all to share more photos, tell you about our adventures and generally have fun with all the folks who helped us physically, monetarily and spiritually :-)

Time has flown again, and i look forward to the time when i get to see you - hopefully very soon.

BEST Blessings


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Wow! Where do I even start to tell you about the extraordinary trip I had the privilege to take part in? So many sights, sounds and experiences that it's all a bit of a blur right now so what I'll do is to take one of the Bible verses we used in our leadership retreats for the Pastors and try to give you a little insight that way...

Finally, brothers (and sisters!) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent of praiseworthy - think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Whatever is true...
I love Guatemala, that much is true. It's an amazing country and is often called 'the land of eternal spring' because of the wonderful temperate climate which produces a landscape naturally bursting with flowers and fruit. Everything about Guatemala is about contrast - poverty and wealth, beauty and ugliness, fragrance of flowers and rotting waste, hard work and corruption. They make up the fabric of life and remind me of how contrasting my life is and how I need God's help to balance and live a life that brings him most glory.

Lake Atitlan

 Women washing clothes in Lake Atitlan

Whatever is noble...
For me there's nothing more humbling than working in the name of our mighty, glorious and noble God. It was such an honor to serve on a team with others who felt the same way and many of whom went through enormous personal sacrifice to Make God Look Good through their work on this trip. The team helped build five houses, cleaned, extracted and fluoride treated hundreds of teeth, diagnosed and treated illnesses, prayed, laughed and cried with widows and orphans, installed and refreshed water purification units in churches and schools, listened and supported recovering alcoholics, taught English, played with kids, angst'd with teens and refreshed weary Pastors. It was good hard work for our noble God.

One of the houses we helped build amongst the coffee trees

The lovely Connie, one of our House Visiting Heroes packing a gift of bread, chocolate and milk powder to take to each home.

Whatever is right...
Being in Guatemala, working with Pastors and leaders, making wonderful new Christian friends and helping and encouraging where I could were all 'right' for me; although the experience was all new, in many ways it felt like coming home. I've noticed before that God is very lavish in bestowing that home-coming feeling when things are right.

Some of my new Guatemalan girl-friends.

Whatever is pure...
We had a whole load of kids on our trip from the Marvelous Minzi (3ft and bursting with life) right up to Peachy Paul (6ft and soon to become a Marine) they bought so much unbridled joy, energy, enthusiasm and pure love to our trip. They formed two ministries - the kids went into schools and played games with the Guatemalan kids, telling them about their God and Jesus and, well, just being kids! Many of the kids on the team attend Spanish immersion schools in the USA so their language is flawless, but my guess is that even without the language, they would have had no trouble at all connecting with others because they appear to go 'heart first' and that tends to overcome all other barriers. The teens worked with a Guatemalan youth worker (the FABULOUS Betty) to develop a drama which they presented to an enormous group of Guatemalan teens at one of the large churches in San Pedro on Wednesday evening. They talked about being a Christian teen and what that means, what impact it has on relationships, internet usage and lots more. 

 A gaggle of teenageness (sorry about the ridiculous camera angle!)

Whatever is lovely...
The trip we were on was the 18th year that Wooddale church has worked in Guatemala with the association of Baptist Churches around Lake Atitlan and as a result the depth and strength of relationships between the team members and the people they serve is just lovely. Trust, willingness to work hard, be flexible and take risks are just some of the benefits that have accrued over time and they have yielded significant positive effects in the lives of everyone concerned. You can imagine that a trip of the scale and complexity of this one requires infinite planning, coordination and execution that is second to none. In addition to the details (ARGHHH!) the cultural and linguistic differences are extreme and so we partner with Jaime Lopez who leads the SEPAL organization (Serving Pastors And Leaders) in Guatemala. It's tricky to explain the complexity of what Jaime does but really I'd describe him as an International Christian Logistics Superhero and this is from a woman who knows a bit about leaders! At any given time Jaime is on the phone with incoming groups, on the ground with current groups, translating, praying, smoothing out relationships between different church denominations, working with the government,  customs and police authorities, driving buses through 4WD bandit-ridden roads and all this while keeping an eye on his lovely young Daughter Melissa. Truly I don't know how he does it, but I know for certain that without his efforts many missions trips plunge from lovely to horrific in a matter of minutes.

Pastor Issac and The Lovely Jaime

Whatever is admirable...
The team I was part of was one of the smallest of the ministry teams, made up of Ed, Candy, Susan, me and of course supported by the lovely Jaime. I TRULY admire Ed & Candy. They both had busy and fulfilling careers - Ed as a Pastor and then a businessman and Candy as a Spanish teacher. Once they retired they decided to start traveling the world, joining missions trips and encouraging Christian leaders across the globe, and my! what an amazing job they do. Candy has MS and walks with great difficulty assisted by her trusty 'wheels' however any impediments she has are completely overcome by her dogged determination to love and serve others, she traverses terrain that many able bodied folks would find challenging and never, ever, ever complains. Her obvious heroism is matched by a wicked wit and thus she is an enormous hit with everyone she meets especially the Pastors. Ed is SO deep and SO wise it's actually a bit scary! His knowledge of the Bible and heart for others makes him a wonderful man of God, he is able to rapidly pray for and minister to others with no preparation or advance warning and he has a wonderful resonant voice which is impactful whether he is speaking or singing. He brings a quiet calm everywhere he goes. I have no idea how I got so blessed to spend the week in the presence of this wonderful couple but will be eternally grateful that I did.

 Candy giving a little peanut a ride on her 'wheels'

 The Ed-inator

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy...
Being a Pastor anywhere is hard work, but being a Pastor in Guatemala is something else entirely. These men are shepherds of  huge flocks that live in conditions that few in the first world could even imagine, with no discernible way-out and few resources to assist them; and yet these Pastors are focused, compassionate, wise and joyful servants of God. I had the opportunity to do three home visits on Friday to members of two of the churches we were serving and it was truly horrific. The despair, grief, sadness, poverty, filth and squalor that are commonplace in the towns we worked in were barely conscionable to me and I was utterly exhausted at the end of my pathetic three hour visit. But these are the conditions that the Pastors serve in every day and they do great work instilling the love of God, hope of salvation and practical help wherever they are able. They are my heroes.

Pastors & Deacons from San Lucas

Once again THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all you have done and will continue to do to love God by supporting me and the people of Guatemala. 

Best Blessings, Love and Enormous Gratitude.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Almost There!

Happy Sunday Fabulous Ones!

Thanks again for all your encouragement, support AND extra donations that arrived this week - YOU CHAPS ROCK EVEN MORE!

Here's the whole team! Sorry about the miniature photo, i could'nt work out how to enlarge it :-(

This week has been all about packing, final preparation and working out what we may have forgotten earlier! I also got to spend more time with the fabulous Ed & Candy Nelson to develop the leadership retreats. We've designed what we hope will be great, uplifting events for the Pastors and Deacons entitled The Profoundly Refreshing Retreat or PRR for short! It will include bible readings, worship songs, discussion, lunch, a workshop, prayer and a closing devotional from the lovely Ed. I'm excited just thinking about it and so hope it truly blesses the folks we are sent to serve.

We drop our bags off at church on 7pm Friday 17th and then have to be back at church at 3am on Saturday 18th to board the bus for the airport! I'm thinking sleep may be a short lived thing on Friday night! We'll spend a night in Guatemala City and then on Sunday 19th head off to Lake Atitlan which is where we will spend the rest of the week - woooo hoooo!

Here's where we'll be... 

Many of you have asked what you can do to support us while we're gone and the simple answer is to pray! To assist you here is our supporters prayer guide...

Firstly please keep all our ministries in your prayers this week...

+ Construction + Medical & Dental + Teaching + Teens & Children's + Leadership Training + Water Filtration + Water Education + Computer Skills Development +  Men & Women's One to One 

Next here's how you can pray each day...

Saturday 18th February
+ Pray for safe travels particularly for our team members coming from different parts of the country. Pray that all goes well as we process through customs (with all you wonderful donated items and computers)

Sunday 19th February
+ Pray for continued fellowship and team building as we start our on-site preparations for our week of ministry. Pray that God will be preparing our hearts to touch those we serve.

Monday 20th February
- Pray that God would continue to guide us as we begin our work and that he would provide us with patience and peace as things may not go as 'we' had planned.
- Pray for safety in our travels around the lake
- Pray as we serve in the villages of Panajachel and Santa Clara

Tuesday 21st February
+ Pray that God would open our eyes so we can see how he is working through the ministries that we are part of and that he will help us keep our eyes focused on Jesus.
+ Pray as we serve in the villages of Chakaya, Tzan Chaj and Santiago.

Wednesday 22nd February
+ Praise to God as he guides us through the halfway point of our trip. We are thankful for everything he is revealing to us and the relationships he is building.
+ Pray as we serve in the village of San Lucas.

Thursday 23rd February
+ Pray for continued health and strength as we near the end of our week of serving.
+ Pray for the Pastors around the lake and their churches, Pray that God would continue to bless and encourage them and their families.
+ Pray for a wonderful God-filled evening of praise and worship as we gather together with the churches to celebrate tonight.
+ Pray as we serve in the village of San Pedro.

Friday 24th February
+ Pray that as we finish up our work, God will be filling our hearts with joy and that he would be comforting as we say goodbye to friends old and new.
+ Pray as we serve in the village of San Pablo.

Saturday 25th February
+ A special day as we head out to dedicate the homes that have been built during the week.
+ Pray for the families receiving these homes that God would continue to bless them and provide for their needs.

Sunday 26th February
+ Praise to God for the time we have in Antiqua for a little R&R and for the first time that we are able to collectively reflect on our experiences of the week.
+ Pray that God has opened our hearts, minds and eyes to received everything he had planned for each of us, and that we would be changed by our experience of witnessing God at work.

Monday 27th February
+ Pray for the team as we head back home
+ Pray for safe travels and for our weary hearts and bodies after a week of serving.
+ Continue to pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Guatemala.

And finally to keep you updated with our progress, log onto our blog

Again, a thousand THANK YOU's for all you've done so far and hopefully will continue to do throughout our trip, words cannot describe how truly grateful and humbled i am by your support. It takes a village to raise up a missionary (even a short-term missionary) and I'm so thrilled that you are my village.

Love, Hugs and BEST Blessings to you and yours


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


My friend Tracy is a crafty kind of gal (in the best possible way!) and has just started a new business doing cute, crafty things for little loves.

Here's a new accessory she put together for Little Miss Tipsy-Sausage, how adorable?

Check out more from DI4Y at Tracy's blog

Thanks Auntie Tracy


Sunday, February 5, 2012

And now for this week's mission trip message!

Hi Chaps!

Today we managed to gather almost the WHOLE TEAM (minus 1) and had a pot-luck lunch (I took Caribou coffee - Guatemala blend of course) we had a great time. I finally got to meet  Ed & Candy Nelson, the couple I will be working with. Our mission is to design and deliver three leadership retreats for the Pastors and Deacons of the churches on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and when we're not doing that we'll be visiting homes spending time with widows and families in need. The Nelson's are awesome! They retired some time ago and now spend their lives dashing across the globe ministering to people in diverse places, they just got back from India on Tuesday where they had been for three weeks. TRULY, I want to be like them when i grow up :-)

Also today we heard from a member of our group who has formed an extraordinary ministry in Guatemala working with alcoholics and their families. He is a recovering alcoholic himself and today he shared the story of how his fight for sobriety helps him understand and be able to give hope to others struggling with similar problems. Alcoholism is rampant in Guatemala, it affects almost everyone in some form or another and is accompanied by so much shame and guilt that the families involved often don't get the help and support they need and might otherwise hope to recieve for other less stigmatized illnesses. It's our hope that we will be a blessing to all.

This year the demographic of our team is very different from previous years, with many families, kids and teenagers taking part. This mix brings so much life and joy to our group BUT unfortunately our team fundraising is a little slow and thus in addition to everything you have and are doing already, I have two big asks of you this week:

1. Please pray that as part of our preparation we will be able to raise the funds necessary to complete the trip for all team members.
2. That if you have any spare change, cash or even a few hulking great piles of unattended money! You would prayerfully consider donating to support our trip. This is how to do it..
DONATE - Our trip expenses are $2,300 per person so if you are willing and able to make a tax deductible donation here's how 
  • Online Select the "Give Now" button by the "Bridge Builders Guatemala" link. Create an account (or use your Wooddale Weblink account login info) Choose participant "Alison Smith" and select your contribution amount    
  • Check Make your check payable to Wooddale Church Mail check to Bridge Builders Wooddale Church6630 Shady Oak RoadEden Prairie, MN 55344

I'm so excited for our trip that I can barely stand it! almost two weeks feels like a long time...but as my Mum always says "all good things come to those that wait". 

Thanks SO much for waiting with me and encouraging and supporting me along the way - you're the BEST.

BEST Blessings to you and yours


Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Homes New Hope

Happy Sunday Fabulous Ones!

This week at our team meeting we learned about the families that some of our team members will be building new homes for during our trip. Each of these families have been selected by the local churches as being in particular need, none of them attend the churches but they are significant because of their desperate circumstances and thus are the people we are privileged to serve. The pictures below show the families with the Pastors who have recommended them as being new home recipients, please pray that our work with these families will bless everyone involved and above all, will make God look good.

1. Living in the first house will will be an aunt with four children, ages 10-20. The oldest niece Gloria Maria, who is 20, is pictured here with her one-year-old son Maurice and the local pastor. The mother of the four children has abandoned them. The remaining three children are Jesusita (16), Mariano (12) and Juan Rafael (10).

2. Living in the second house will be Cesar (pictured with the pastor of the local church), his wife Ana Maria and child Moises (10) who will live with Cesar's parents Alejandro and Rosiario. Rosario is blind.

3. The third house built this year with Bridge Builders support includes this grandmother, Inez, who speaks only Tzutuhil and has two grandsons from the same absentee daughter. The grandsons (pictured) are Pedro and Keneth (who has a heart problem). The mother of the boys does not visit and will not be living in the house. 

4. The fourth house will be the home of a 68-year-old mother named Teresa (pictured), who is deaf. She has three adult children. A daughter, Josea (27) pictured with the local pastor, will be living here too, and two sons Pedro (29) and Antonio (40). 

Another highlight of this week's meeting was the arrival of our rather gorgeous team t-shirts...

 ...Wow! Isn't it a beauty? The verse is John 15:11 which with verse 10 for context says this "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."

The whole group (60 something so far) will wear these when we travel on the February 18th and we'll leave them in Guatemala along with the wonderful items you supplied and various other bits and bobs we will take to leave. The idea is to bring home considerably less than we leave with, so we'll see how that goes!

As ever, I cherish all your thoughts, prayers, encouragement and contributions so please keep them coming :-) 

BEST blessings


Sunday, January 22, 2012


Happy Sunday Fabulous Ones!

We're having a super-slick-Sunday here in Minnesota with icy, rainy drizzly yuk, but I hope wherever you are you're warm and toasty :-)

Thanks again for all the support, encouragement, prayers and cash you've so richly contributed this week, it's just awesome to have such wonderful supporters :-)

This week has been an interesting one as I pondered my personal goals for going to Guatemala, I was a little surprised by what I learned and am intrigued to see what God does with it. Guatemala is a predominately indigenous language speaking county, with between 20-50 regional dialects spoken it's complex and thanks to Christopher Columbus the second language is Spanish. That's all good, but I don't speak Spanish (apart from being able to order a beer but that's not so useful on a mission trip - thanks John Malone!) thus I'm going to be reliant on communicating through others or in other ways. As you all know this is completely new territory for me, i'm usually the one that speaks up, reaches out and puts people at ease with words, but this trip those techniques won't be available to me. 

From my reading about missions work it's becoming increasingly obvious that to stop, look, listen and be open to learning from the people we are serving is about the best thing to do, so it looks like my 'temporary mute-button' and my work will go hand in hand - Yeah God!

My discoveries this week have caused me to think about a quote often attributed to Francis of Assisi "preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words" it looks like i'm going to get the chance to try this out without relying on my usual support of words and language because my words will be of limited size and quality, my challenge will be to rely on the God's support to show others the Good News of Jesus Christ by my actions instead.

Wow and Wooo hoooo!

As ever, I cherish all your thoughts, prayers, encouraging words and contributions, please keep them coming :-)

Best Blessings


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blessings of Bags, Bugs, Elephants & Mice


What a Crazy-Fantastic week and what a SUPER-AWESOME bunch you are! 

This week you chaps managed to fill my entire car to the brim  (only a small space for me to drive!) with bag upon bag of AMAZING blessings for the people of Guatemala, you gave shoes, backpacks, school, medical and dental supplies. It took three people and two trips to unload Betty-the bug and person commented on how fabulous my friends must be. I agree. YOU CHAPS ROCK!

You have also donated so very generously to the on-line giving site for our trip; I'm unable to see exactly who but we're told we will get a report soon - between now and then Thank You SO Much.

I know many of you are praying for us and I have to say that we covet every one of your prayers. They are making a HUGE difference already. Please don't stop!

At our team meeting today we were documenting, organizing, packing and weighing supplies into big 50lb cargo bags that we will take with us. The customs rules tightened two years ago and now everything has to be meticulously documented to ensure unobstructed passage into Guatemala. My job today was to work with a team of five children ages seven to ten to unpack toothpaste from the boxes and repack them in 50 count bags! We are proud to report that 750 boxes were opened and repacked without any tears but with much giggling and hilarity!

We also heard of a fairly major miracle that has occurred in one of the Churches we are going to serve. One of the very poorest Churches believed they had the resources to construct a small room to be used as a computer school, so we would bring old computers set them up in the room and start teaching people how to use them. Sadly this week they discovered they were about $1,500 short for building expenses and were about to contact us to tell us not to bother bringing the computers but another local Church (who themselves are in great need) stepped in and voluntarily donated a financial gift they had received to fund the computer room. It is stories like these that let us know that Good things are happening for God in Guatemala.

As part of my continued preparation this week I had to submit a book report. The book i chose to read was When Helping Hurts an amazing book written for folks from the west who are trying to help poor people near and far and explaining the inadvertent damage that can be done in the process.  Some of the book was sad, some was shocking but all the way through felt like it was really helping me step back from my unbridled enthusiasm and really think about what God wants from me during this trip. One of the most impactful parts for me was a story told by an African mission worker 

Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, "Mouse, lets have a party!" Animals gathered from far and near . They ate. They drank. They sang. And they danced. And nobody celebrated more and danced harder than the Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, "Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!" But Mouse did not answer. "Mouse, where are you?" Elephant called. He looked around for his friend and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant's feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend Elephant. "Sometimes that's what it is like to do a mission with Westerners" the African storyteller commented "It's like dancing with an Elephant"

My note to self for next week. Don't be an Elephant and watch out for Mouse wherever he may be.

Next week my homework is to do more reflection on my personal goals for the trip, why do I think God want's me to go? what does he want me to learn and what is he teaching me along the way? So if you see me staring into space more than usual this week don't be alarmed - i've got some serious thinking to do!

As ever, I want to thank you all for your fabulous support, encouragement and all-round awesomeness. If you have any spare thoughts, prayers (or cash!) we can still use all of it so please join me on my adventure.

Have a FABULOUS day and a Blessed week :-)



Sunday, January 8, 2012

YOUR mission should you choose to accept it...

Happy Sunday Joy, Love and Work-ers!

Firstly THANKS SOOOOO MUCH for all your notes, prayers, contributions and words of encouragement over the past week since I posted about my upcoming mission trip to Guatemala - I can't explain how uplifted I feel, so please don't stop!!

Last week my preparation was to gather supplies, write a presentation for the group about language in Guatemala (did you know that over 50 languages are spoken of which 21 are officially recognized and they are all rooted in the original Proto-Mayan languages which are about 5000 years old? - no, i didn't either!!) and finding a book that will help me understand the Guatemalan people and culture (my book review is due next week and i'll be happy to forward it to you upon request!)

At our team meeting today I learned that during our trip I will be working with the Leadership Training Team, our job is to design and deliver a 'Retreat' for the Pastors, Deacons and Elders of the local churches. I'm VERY excited about this opportunity as I always feel called to support leaders, and so for me to be able support and help refresh and revitalize these folk who are work so hard for God will be a real treat. I cant wait :-) 

This week is our LAST WEEK TO COLLECT SUPPLIES! the reason we have to have them gathered so early is to get all the correct customs paperwork completed in which every single item has to be documented. It's a long and dull process but hopefully will be well worth the effort when we see the faces of the Guatemalan's who will benefit from them. 

AND HERE'S YOUR MISSION SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT we need to gather AS MANY of the following items as we can by 12noon next Sunday 15th January. I'm happy to provide Caribou Coffee, Beer or Wine to folks who can get me these supplies just text, e-mail or call me and we can arrange a whadaya think?
  • Shoes for Children - new & gently used, from babies to adult size 5, no boot please!
  • Backpacks - new & gently used, non-branded if possible
  • School supplies - 
    • Notebooks without spiral binding
    • ballpoint pens - all colors - no pencils please as they don't have sharpeners
  • Medical supplies
    • Large bottles of Ibruprofen
    • Acetaminophen or Tylenol
    • Children's Tylenol meltaways
    • Children's vitamins (chewable not gummy)
    • Cough drops
    • Tums
    • Eye drops or natural tears
    • Neosporin
    • Bacitracin
    • Soap - regular sized bars
    • Eucerin cream
    • Shampoo - all sizes
  • Dental supplies
    • Toothbrushes
    • Toothpaste
    • Floss
Again, thanks for such wonderful support and encouragement. 

Have a Fabulous day and a Blessed week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm on a mission...

...well, I will be on February 18th!

I'm SO excited to be beginning 2012 by participating in a mission trip to Guatemala and it's all Beth Moore's fault!

For those of you unfamiliar with the lovely Ms. Moore she is a wonderful Women's Bible Study teacher who came to the Twin Cities last spring for a fabulous weekend retreat. During the event she ranted (which she does fairly often!) about how single Christian women should get their butts in gear and take as many mission trips as they can manage. I agree! The last one I participated in was to Swaziland in Africa where we were working with AIDS orphans to plant sustainable vegetable gardens which would help them feed their families with nutritious food. It was an AWESOME experience and one from which I hope to never fully recover...

There's something distinctly different about "Going in the name of the LORD", whilst in theory I understand that as a Christian my whole life should be set apart, different and dedicated to God, in practice I struggle and find that often I put myself rather than God front and center. Thank God for grace.

Anyway, back to my upcoming 2011 progressed I was drawn to a missions trip to Guatemala organized by my church Wooddale. I prayed, met with the leaders, signed up and fifty of us are currently preparing for what looks to be a FABULOUS trip all about Making God Look Good in Guatemala - Woooo Hoooooo :-)

Wooddale has been partnering in the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala since the early 1990's with the philosophy of working with and through the local churches around the lake. This year our ministry areas will include 1-1 home visits, medical clinics, water filtration, business training & mentoring, computer training, home construction and teaching English as a second language. I'm not sure what my ministry area will be yet, but i'm excited to find out and get to work for God.

The way I look at missions trips is that I'm the 'lucky one' who gets to go to somewhere new and exciting, meet fabulous people and do fun things for God; I'm blessed with so much freedom, health and flexibility to be able to do this and I am hugely grateful for these blessings. I know many of you would love the opportunity to do something similar but for various reasons are unable to participate right now, so I'm inviting you to join in and partner with me in one or more of the following ways:

1. PRAY - That our trip will EXPONENTIALLY BLESS the people of Guatemala and everyone involved, that we will Make God Look Good and do great work with eternal benefits. 

2. FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK! Wooddale Bridge Builders

3. GIVE 'STUFF' BY JANUARY 15th - Guatemala is a poor country and many of the essential things we take for granted are luxuries for the Guatemalan's; so we will be taking items such as
  • Kids shoes up to size 5 (no boots)
  • School supplies - stitched notebooks (not wire bound), pens (not pencils) backpacks (neutral - non branded)
  • Medical supplies - chewable vitamins, chewable tylenol, eyedrops
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste

4. DONATE - Our trip expenses are $2,300 per person so if you are willing and able to make a tax deductible donation here's how:
  • Go on-line to
    • Select the "Give Now" button by the "Bridge Builders Guatemala" link
    • Create an account (or use your Wooddale Weblink account login info)
    • Choose participant "Alison Smith" and select your contribution amount    
As you may be able to tell, I'm SO excited to be Going With God to Guatemala and who knows, I may even get round to blogging about it too!

Have a Blessed and Awesome 2012.