Tag Archives: skype

Skype with the Stoltzfuses!

22 Aug

I remember as a kid being fascinated by the missionary phone patch, or at least that is what it was called at the church I grew up in.  During a worship service, we would call one of our missionaries and do a mini-interview with them through the church sound system.  It was really cool to think that our whole congregation was talking with someone halfway around the world.  As the church got more technology proficient, I remember that we would use an overhead projector to show their picture during the call.

Fast forward 20 years.

Stoltzfuses 2013Two weeks ago at Faith Church we Skyped with Lamar and Janice Stoltzfus, long-time Faith Church members who are full-time EC missionaries serving with Africa Inland Mission at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya.  It was a live video call.  Live video of them was on our big screen up front, and through a camera in our sanctuary, they could see us.  Through our sound system we could talk as if they were right there.  The wonder of the internet.  It was like Skype that you are accustomed to, but on a big scale!  I am so thankful for that kind of technology.

We’ve done it before plenty of times with our missionaries, but those calls have always been short, 5-10 minutes.  We would check in, hear brief updates and prayer requests, pray with them and say good bye.  But then we thought, why not give them the whole service like we do with missionary guest speakers?  Through the magic of Skype we can easily do this.

That is if Kenya doesn’t lose internet!  As it did last time we tried to do a short Skype with them.  Imagine that…the internet goes out over an entire country.  That gives you a bit of a picture of life in Kenya.

Thankfully this time, the connection was great, until literally right before I was about to turn the service over to them.  At that very moment we lost the connection.  It was great that their daughter Alyssa was with us in person, and she had just spent a month with them in Kenya. So as I interviewed her, the sound/projection team restored the connection and got the Stoltzfuses back on the line, and we had a clear call the rest of the way. No delays either.

It was great to hear from Kenya, where God is at work!

Monday Messy Office … on Tuesday!

4 Feb

Today I’m starting a new series on the blog, my Monday Messy Office Report.  One of my first tasks every Monday is to clean up my office.  I am always amazed at what I find here when I arrive on Mondays.  Something happens on Sundays, so that what used to be a (mostly) tidy office when I left on Friday turns into a mess by Sunday morning.  Is it a Toy Story kind of office where my books and gadgets and office parapharnelia come to life and have a party while I’m gone?  Nope, it’s just the craziness of Sunday!

So here goes…my first Monday Messy Office report…on Tuesday.  Yesterday my wife left for a trip to Cambodia with Imagine Goods, and we got a snowstorm so the kids were off school and I worked from home.  So this first post in the series is a day late.

Here’s what I found in my office:

1. A 100ft CAT5 cable, a USB superbooster/extender, and an HD webcam.  We use this equipment in our sanctuary when we’re doing Skype calls with our missionaries during worship services.  In the last two weeks we chatted with BJ Whitaker in Spain and Lamar & Janice Stoltzfus in Kenya!  I love Skype, and I love the Whitakers and Stoltzfuses!  Things got a bit hairy this past Sunday morning when we weren’t able to connect with the Stoltzfuses.  Their daughter Alyssa, in college in Harrisburg, joined us for worship, and she had just gotten a call from her parents saying that the internet was down in Kenya.  Can you imagine that?  Thankfully, it was back up about 30 minutes after the service began, and we were able to connect.  I’m so grateful for our sound/audio crew working that out, and I’m grateful for our missionaries.

2. Reports.  Each week I get a giving report and an attendance report.  I’m not a big fan of numbers as a measure of faithfulness to the Kingdom of God.  Our society is really into the philosophy of “bigger is better”, and so it is very easy to feel that success for a church is growing your budget and growing your worship services.  Growth might point to faithfulness to the Kingdom of God, but it also might not.  Jesus called us to Love God, Love People, and make disciples.  To accomplish that might necessitate that some churches actually get smaller.

3. A visitation report.  We have a bunch of people who regularly visit the sick, the homebound, and others.  I love that!  Those who receive visits love that.  And what we have found is that those making the visits receive love as well.  If you would like to be a part of our visitation team, please let me know, and I’ll sign you up.  This particular report was very encouraging.

4. A Child’s size clothes hanger.  For the last few years on Super Bowl Sunday, we’ve had Super Mission Sunday here at Faith Church in the morning.  It was another great time of hearing about God’s heart for the world and how we can get involved.  Steve Baker from The Global Aid Network was with us, and did a great job sharing about how one outflow of the Gospel is that we who have become disciples of Jesus should show our love for God and the world by doing good, that others may become his disciples as well.  We had a delicious brunch (thanks to our Mission Commission who did an amazing job!) after the service, and in preparation for the meal, they decorated the fellowship hall with global items.  My wife brought a couple items to help with the decor, including two girls dresses she brought home for our daughter from past trips to Cambodia.  Apparently one dress made it back home without a hanger…

And that is my messy office report for this week!