Our church has been and continues to be involved in numerous missions projects in a variety of venues and through several different groups. We have had a three-year partnership with a church in Fajardo, Puerto Rico that has included financial assistance to aid them in preparing to erect a building on land they have purchased, as well as a youth trip last summer that I was privileged to participate in as a translator/sponsor. Our youth were involved with the youth of the Fajardo church in a camp experience with wonderful times of praise, solid preaching, and great fun. We also painted the facilities of a Christian school (not affiliated with this church), cleaned an overgrown playground area of a home for unwed mothers that is run by an order of Catholic nuns, as well as doing general clean-up and improvements to the camp facility and some public beaches.
We are currently receiving donations of winter coats, scarves, gloves, etc. for the Lakota Indians of South Dakota. This is the third year we've participated in this effort called Operation Warm Embrace. It's part of the Rural Poverty Initiative that CBF has launched to meet the pressing needs of those in the 20 most impoverished counties in the U.S.
We're also looking to get directly involved as a church in the 3 year partnership that the Baptist General Convention of Missouri has with the Guatemalan Baptist Convention. I've been able to make 2 trips there so far and we're looking at creating some church-to-church partnerships between BGCM churches and those in Guatemala.
Another missions initiative that we will be pursuing is called Kids Heart Africa, a project sponsored by Buckner Orphan Care International and CBF to meet the needs of the rapidly mushrooming number of AIDS orphans in Africa. We'll be focusing specifically on some orphanages and child development centers in Kenya.
Our church also is privileged to be able to offer missionary housing to furloughing missionaries on stateside assignment. In one house we currently are hosting a single IMB missionary who serves in the Philippines where she is involved in MK education. In the other house, an IMB missionary family that serves in Togo, West Africa is currently residing. Tony and Marlene Darnell consider our church as their home church as Marlene grew up in FBC Lee's Summit. Her parents are very active members and her father Lynn has gone on several mission trips with us in recent years. We're also exploring options to plug in to their ministry in Togo through the IMB. The IMB will be hosting a West Africa summit in St. Louis next month and we look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the possibilities of involvement in that part of the world. I noticed that at least three of the missionary couples slated to be present were with us at the Missionary Learning Center in our orientation back in 1987. It will be good to renew ties with them.
I'm grateful to be part of a church with a big enough vision to say that we will work with anyone who is committed to Kingdom causes in missions. It's a blessing to be involved with Christians of many "stripes" who don't let political issues overshadow the task of working together to fulfill the Great Commission.