Archive for October, 2012

Story by Franklin Hamilton. Photos by Susan Brown.

Richmond’s First Baptist Church assists in the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees.

calloutI first became involved with Richmond’s Bhutanese American community by helping them with job searches. Their response was always to invite me into their homes for conversation and food, because they so highly value hospitality. That became my impetus to introduce these recent immigrants to more of their new culture.

A Day at the BeachFirst, I invited some of the New Americans to a Thanksgiving dinner at my house. Next we had a day of window shopping, pizza and a movie at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. Other outings included the Metro Richmond Zoo and Halloween “trick or treating” in Carytown.

Then I thought about my childhood time at the ocean and wanted to share that magical experience with the New Americans. In August, Siyano Prach, FBC’s Refugee Outreach Worker, and I organized our second annual trip to Virginia Beach for more than 40 Bhutanese Americans. While they had encountered many facets of American culture, until last year, none of them had been to the beach.

Although most could not swim, the New Americans mA Day at the Beachade a beeline for the surf. Sellina Limby and Smrit Roi said they “liked the taste of salt on the water foam.” With total joy and abandon, the children body surfed, buried each other in the sand, and made sand castles. Deepan Rimal, Shara Mangar and Bibas Gurung declared the trip “was more fun this year because there were more children” and they had learned to swim since the last trip.

A Day at the BeachThe parents did what all American parents do. They enjoyed the water, watched over their children, sat on the sand and chatted, made sure everyone had enough to eat – fragrant rice, curry chicken and homemade humus and pita bread, and thought about next year’s trip to the beach.

Om Adhikari told me about another kind of trip he is planning. He wants to go back to the refugee camp in Nepal where there are family members afraid to come to America because they don’t understand the culture here. Om plans to tell them about his life and that of others on the beach that day. He wants to give these people courage. Maybe he should tell them about Sangay and Thinley Dorji who thought “we saw a whale and were scared but then they showed us that it was a porpoise and we laughed.” These New Americans have learned that fears are more easily overcome when they’re faced in a community of family and friends.

A Day at the Beach

Editor’s note: If you want to introduce New Americans to a cultural experience, call Franklin to help you get started (938 4264). Find more information on the Bhutanese at http://www.bhutaneserefugees.com/.

See related story: Green, Not Concrete

Franklin Hamilton

Franklin Hamilton is a third-generation member of First Baptist. As a father of five children and grandfather to three he is always active in their lives. He has a passion for the active and contemplative dimension of spiritual development in everyday life. He enjoys reading, and all outdoor activities including sailing on his new “old” sail boat. Franklin is a real estate broker with Hamilton Realty and Development. He and his wife, Linda, live in Carytown in a 110-year-old house with their two teenage daughters and a menagerie of pets.

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By Meredith Booth. Photos by Allen Cumbia.

calloutAs one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Manila, the Philippines, is far from serene. At all hours of the day, streets teem with buses, cars and tricycles (see first photo) pumping thick, black exhaust into the sultry sky. An endless stream of people wade through murky flood waters, their clothes saturated from the monsoon rains. Piles of discarded trash litter the ground, spilling into the scrap-metal shanty homes that line the road. The poverty is all-consuming.


In early August, our 10-member team of volunteers served families and children living in evacuation centers in Metro Manila. Many of these centers exist to support the thousands of families displaced by the recent flooding, while others serve as temporary government housing for impoverished families.

PhilippinesArmed with a spirit of adventure (and a few essential craft supplies), we left Richmond with anxious excitement for how God would change us and use us during this trip. We were prepared to sing and tell stories, ring chimes and play games, and do just about anything God placed in our path. And that He did.

He placed us in gymnasiums swarming with crying babies and smiling children. He took us to open-air awnings packed with hungry children. He drove us through neighborhoods built upon landfills and inside the walls of a women’s prison. We sang songs with their children, painted butterflies on their faces, and rejoiced with them until our shirts were drenched in sweat.

In the midst of such deep physical poverty, gratitude abounded. Children splashed in the waters that washed away their homes, smiled for our cameras, held umbrellas to keep us dry, and joyfully honored us with their finest hospitality.

And still our team was left reeling, consumed with the devastating need all around us. In one of our conversations with Elmer, the missionary we partnered with in the Philippines, we asked, “How do you deal with the overwhelming need here?” And his reply was quite simple, “Because it is my joy. You see, you are the answer to these people’s prayers. You are what they’ve been praying for.”

And so, in a place that seems somewhat forgotten, God has not forgotten His people. He answered with face paint and with puppets. He answered with enough. Enough rice for a thousand hungry bellies. Enough hope for a city under water. Enough crayons for a sea of tiny eager hands. Enough faith to believe God is still present. He has answered with enough in a place that has not nearly enough. He has answered with us.

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess … I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:11-13, The Message).

Team members: Meredith Booth, Allen Cumbia, Hope Cumbia, Jensine Cumbia, Gladys Johnson, Ralph Starling, Matthew Szucs, Ruth Szucs, Cathy Tankersley, Lynn Turner

See Related Story: How are mission trips funded?

Meredith BoothMeredith Booth is a fourth grade teacher for Chesterfield County. At FBC Richmond, she enjoys serving as a small group leader for youth on Sunday nights and taking part in local and international mission projects. She loves traveling, being outdoors and spending time with her family, especially her nephews, Jackson and Wesley. God has given her more than enough.

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By Allen Cumbia, Mission Executive Team, Co-Leader

Philippine mission

2012 mission trip to Philippines

Most mission trip participants cover all or the majority of their costs for travel, food and lodging.

Some people do personal fundraising by taking on extra jobs, holding yard sales or enlisting the support of family and friends. In addition, FBC accepts donations designated for use by a specific individual, or for a specific partnership mission or trip.

There are some sources of help for those who are unable to pay all the costs.

The First Baptist Endowment Board yearly sets aside money to be used by first time mission trip participants. These participants are eligible for a grant of up to 50% of the trip cost, but that amount may be increased in cases of great financial need.

The church budget also offers some assistance for people who have participated in previous mission trips. The amount of this assistance is generally 25-40% of the trip cost and decreases as the individual’s number of trips increases. In 2012, $24,000 was available through the budget for mission trips. However, only about half of that is for assistance to trip participants, including team leaders who may receive half the cost of their trip. (The rest is designated for the supplies used on trips, for the youth mission trip, and for Steve Blanchard’s travel to set up and coordinate mission partnerships.)

There are also some designated funds that have been set up by church members to be used by mission trip participants. These are administered by the Board of the First Baptist Endowment Fund. The amounts vary each year depending on the return on these funds. For 2012, $800 was available for use by staff members participating on trips; $2400, for partnership missions; and $6500, to split between partnership missions and community missions.

For more information, please contact Steve Blanchard or 804-358-5458, ext. 133.

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Story by Debbie Ward. Photos by Richard Ward and Mary Lee Boosinger.

Ward family

photo by Mary Lee Boosinger

Shortly after we married, the Lord began introducing Richard and me to people who were homeschooling their children. Our first encounter was with our neighbors’ nine-year-old. She spoke intelligently, listened well, demonstrated impeccable manners, and spoke confidently with adults.

Then again, when we visited my high school friend who homeschooled four boys, we found they demonstrated the same character traits as our neighbors’ daughter. There seemed to be a pattern. They were smart, polite, godly, and confident.

I felt God calling us down the homeschooling path for our family. It was more than coincidence that I was continually in the company of these families. I asked God if this is what He wanted for our family. His response was that He did.

calloutMany people have questions about homeschooling. How can you spend that much time with your children? Aren’t you sheltering them from the outside world? Are you concerned about socialization?

My answers are direct. There is nothing we would rather do than spend time with our children. Yes, we are sheltering them from the outside world, and also training them in the way they should go, so when they are old, they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6). And, yes, we are concerned about socialization, so we choose whom our children socialize with.

Ward family

photo by Richard Ward

First-time homeschooler Amy Lyn Brooker also provides perspective on these questions. She homeschooled two of her children last year and found the rearrangement of her schedule was not as much of an inconvenience as she thought it would be: “Being with my children far outweighed the inconvenience.” Amy Lyn’s husband played an important and typical role by helping with their children’s schoolwork and with household chores. She recommends homeschooling to others: “I definitely believe it was a blessing to have that extra time with my children, to be a part of their education and have a positive influence on it as well.”

With hundreds of different types and styles of curriculums to choose from, children can learn scholastically what they need to learn. But homeschooling also provides the freedom to teach our children’s hearts. Who better to train their hearts than those who love them the most?

Hope Cumbia, a 16-year veteran says, “It was difficult at times, yet it forced me to face areas in my life that needed working on, such as patience, grace, encouragement, letting go, handling interruptions. I soon realized this was a job bigger than me and that I was going to have to trust God and depend on Him to give me what I needed to succeed in this huge task that He had given.” She describes the results as a close knit family unit: “We have grown in our faith together, enjoy spending time together, are able to gear school around interests, have freedom to do what is best for our family, can travel anytime, and have been allowed experiences that the girls would not have had in a classroom.” Additionally, the eldest two have had easy transitions to college life.

One of our main goals is to train our children in the love of learning. We think it is important to introduce children to great literary works so they will develop a thirst for more. If they love to learn, they will read to find their answers. Hope agreed that our job as homeschool parents is not to teach our children every detail but to “teach them how to learn and how to find the information that they need to teach themselves.” Perhaps this is the most important lesson for us because what we want is for our children to continue to learn far beyond their school years.

Debbie WardDebbie Ward has homeschooled for 10 years and is an enthusiastic stay-at-home mom to her two children, John and Leah Mei. She and her husband, Richard, own and operate Caretime, a home healthcare software company. Debbie has an extensive background in commercial real estate and SBA lending, as well as real estate paralegal work. She has served First Baptist through TLC (Tender Loving Care for preschoolers), Vacation Bible School and as one of the producers in the upcoming Prodigal Project film.

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