Blog from Kristy Engel….

What next?

I’ve been asked a lot, lately, what ministry looks like for me now that I can’t travel. Or at least not until the places I need to go are working towards vaccinating their populations. Although I was blessed to have received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine almost a month ago, I could still pass along the virus to vulnerable people. And the reality of my job is that I work almost exclusively with vulnerable people. Travel must wait a bit longer.

 So, figuring out how to minister internationally has been a bit of a challenge. Yes, I can do Zoom calls to check in on folks but that’s assuming that they have access to the internet and sufficient speed to allow for a video call. And what about translators? Many of the locations where I travel require me to have a translator and this just hasn’t been available, yet. I began a Zoom book/Bible study in Spanish with the ministry leaders in Cochabamba, Bolivia once a month. It allows for all of them to unload a bit with me since they carry the burden of so many. In fact, the contact with them on a monthly basis is far more important than what we study. It shows them that I’m praying for them, that I and others have not forgotten them, and that they have support.

 Ok, that’s once a month. What about the rest of the month? (you might be asking!)

I also maintain communication with several colleagues and partners around the world…usually on their time zone schedule…which means that I no longer have much of a schedule! I often get hours-long calls on the weekends when they are freer to speak, or the calls come late at night or early in the morning. I’ve learned to be very flexible with my time!

Speaking and emailing with colleagues is still only a part of the picture. I also have to maintain my support base here in the USA. This means preaching during Zoom services, recording messages they can play at a later date, monitoring gifts to make sure I am staying at the level I am required to maintain, emailing or writing to donors, updating websites and sending newsletters. I have also been a resource for pastors in regions of the USA that support my work. I have led several training sessions and will continue to do this with both my mission and individual churches. This piece of my work has not changed a lot, except that everything is done remotely and not in person.

Finally, I continue to learn. I am still the go-to person within my mission for all things COVID-19. I attend webinars, read journal articles and listen to the latest updates from health care organizations around the world. I respond to questions and discussions about best practices. I contact health care colleagues to verify data in their region of the world, participate in online classes regarding infection prevention and control/workplace safety/vaccine development/treatment research, etc. and have even volunteered with the state of Georgia to be a volunteer at a vaccination site. But my education doesn’t end with COVID-19. I also need to learn how to teach and train virtually. Thankfully, having family in the education field, I’ve got resources for that!

So, life continues to be full and busy for me, even when I’m not spending a large chunk of it on an airplane or at an airport. In many respects, the work continues to be the same for me because the marginalized communities where I serve remain marginalized and have the same basic needs as pre-pandemic. I have seen, though, amazing community involvement to help during the pandemic and it gives me hope that when I can return, many of these folks will have a lot of important things to teach me.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support during this season of flexibility!