Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's exciting being a founder of something...I can put my name on the letterhead.

A couple things....firstly, my dad had his wisdom teeth removed last week. Don't bother asking him how the surgery went. We already asked, and he thinks he must have "slept through a good part of it" because he doesn't really remember how it went. hahaha! (They gave him some meds.) So, that was fun.

And secondly, we're making a ton of progress on The University Project, even though there have already been quite a few obstacles. obstacle really...he just keeps obstacle-ing it up over and over and over again. haha! But I think we're handling that pretty well.

You know, I knew this was going to be a big job, but it has definitely surprised me just how big it really is. I kind of feel like the more we get done, the more there is to do. But it's been an interesting process so far, and we're still really excited about what we're doing.

The first step was to determine who exactly we are as an organization and what our purpose is. So we took a stab at writing a mission statement and some fundamental belief concepts. Everything is still in a "rough draft" stage for now, far so good. Basically:
The University Project exists to provide support to facilitate college education for Christians in Ecuador who want to impact the world for Christ in their chosen profession.
  • We believe that God needs Christians in every profession.
  • We believe it's an injustice that some people in the world cannot pursue the professional training they need to use what they are passionate about to make a difference in the world simply because of money.
  • We believe we should do something about it.
The next step was to meet with the World Wide Outreach team at Downey First Christian Church to present our idea and to ask that they consider making our organization a ministry of DFCC. That meeting (in November) went really well and the team presented our proposal to the elders who approved the idea. So...The University Project is officially a DFCC ministry, which will help us get going a lot quicker.

So, then we started figuring out everything we need to do before we can actually begin presenting this idea and finding support for students in Ecuador. The list is extensive, let me tell you.

And this is where it starts to get overwhelming....

First, we need students to sponsor. So that's just one thing, right? Nope. It's like a hundred things. It's writing an application, thinking about what kind of information we'll need in order to approve an applicant. It's figuring out what exactly we're looking for in an applicant, and what we're not. It's thinking to ourselves, "am I really even worthy of looking over someone's application and deciding if they're what we're looking for or not?" It's researching other application processes for similar organizations to determine the exact, specific wording we should use on the last page that they will sign (the legal blahdittybloo). It's deciding what kind of agreement we are making to these applicants, and communicating the commitment they are entering into if they are accepted into the program. It's figuring out what commitments are important and how we will go about holding them to that agreement. It's writing about ten drafts of the application to get the wording just right to communicate who we are as an organization. It's translating it all in to Spanish, so the applicants can actually read it and apply. It's getting a second, third, and fourth opinion on just about everything, and it's about 25 e-mails back and forth with the other people involved in the process. And that's just the very beginning.

Then we start to think about, "how in the world are we going to review these applications and determine an acceptance or rejection of an application?" So there's a whole "application review guidelines" section of what's turning out to be a novel of a University Project Info. and Procedures file handbooky type thing.

Then there's the distribution of the applications, then translating the applications we receive back into English so that WE can read them, making sure to keep the translated apps anonymous so that the review process will be as fair as possible. Then there's the actual reading through of the apps, figuring out if an applicant is a good fit for candidacy in this organization. Then, realizing there's so much more information we really would like to have in order to make that decision. So then there's calling each applicant by phone, and asking the questions we have about their applications and getting back to the other decision-makers to make the decisions. And then there's writing yet another draft of the application for future applicants that includes questions which will give us the information we realized was missing.

It's quite a bit more work than I anticipated, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is also the field representative (that's meeee!!), and their job responsibilities, there's the management of the program here in the states and those job responsibilities, there is a huge financial aspect that we need to dive into, there are presentations that need to be prepared, and publications we need to make, a website to design (with portlets, Paddy. lots of portlets), biographies to write for each student, an acceptance letter/packet/new candidate orientation, letter-writing guidelines for students (who are committing to write to their sponsor), other organization services we will offer those students, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. But even though it's a lot more than I expected, I am really really enjoying this process. It is a big challenge for me, because I've never done anything so involved. But I feel really good about what we're doing here. And I also feel the more we get done, the more I want to do, which is really encouraging, especially since there's a lot more to do with each step that's accomplished.

So...we have already received six and approved five applications besides the two students who are already "sponsored" through our organization. And that is super-exciting! We're not even present in the country yet and we've already hit the ground running. I hope we can keep up with the pace being set for us.

There is still so so so much left to do, so your prayers are greatly appreciated! (constructive, helpful, encouraging) questions, comments and input are appreciated as well. I'll be updating you with progress more frequently. Or not. I don't know yet.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Seriously...actual graphs. About Nascar.

I've been thinking lately about this whole blogging thing, the writing part and the reading part, and I've decided that one of the reasons I like it so much is because each of our blogging friends offers something unique and helpful to this little communityish thing we have going on here.

I don't know anything about the process of writing a novel, but some of you do and when you share your personal experiences I get a little glimpse into what that's like. I don't own any guns and I don't know the first thing about which camera to buy...but if I want to know about that, I have blogging friends who can help. When I visit your blogs, I can get information about Neti Pots and mud runs...I can learn how to modify nerf guns, I can see graphs about Nascar races....I can see art and photography...I can learn about travel, beer, swing dancing, mosaic art, Christmas decorations...I can get insights on Harry Potter, 80's movies, cheerleading, zombie attacks, and parenting. Seriously, the possibilities are endless...even frightening sometimes. haha

And what makes it so great is that anything I could possibly want information on, someone is bound to have experienced it. And it's not just something somebody wrote on the's information that's coming from people I know and trust.'s not just information...a lot of what you write is share what you think about what's going on in your lives, and you share your opinions on politics and faith and education and your life-experiences. And maybe some of us need to hear those opinions and insights at exactly the moment you write about them, and you've done us all a lot of good by sharing what your thoughts are. And I'm so appreciative that all of you make your unique contributions because I get to (in a way) experience things through you that I might not have experienced otherwise. So I think that's all pretty neat.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what my unique contribution is...what could I write about that you might not have experienced or that you might find interesting? Well, maybe my next post will be about trying to start a non-profit organization or moving to a foreign country....or working at Chili's. I don't know yet. Anything in particular you want my perspective on? :-)