Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Utterly Defiled and Contaminated

I seem to be on a roll. The toilet roll, that is. After last week’s post I had another incident. Of course I learned my lesson to check carefully which restroom I entered, but I’m figuring maybe I should give up using public facilities altogether.

On Sunday I got locked inside a nasty bathroom stall. I could NOT get out, and to my hyperactive nose, it smelled bad. Thankfully a df* was there to patiently talk me through the process of sliding backwards under the door face first. Even though she was laughing at me, her presence was nonetheless reassuring in a humiliating sort of way. Thankfully no one else witnessed my wallowing on the filthy floor.

Utterly defiled and contaminated, I rushed to the sink to wash as much of my arms as possible, only to realize why the toilet was not flushing properly: there was no water! If laughter is good medicine, surely I laughed enough to counter any icky germs I encountered on my way under and out before I found and slathered the hand sanitizer all over myself.

After all these years of meticulously instructing my children the art of flushing, opening doors, and doing all manner of business in public bathrooms without touching ANYTHING, this whole episode strikes me as extremely ironic.

Plumbing problems and bathroom scenes seem to be a recurring theme for 2011. Dh* is still pulling up muck from a hole in our bathroom floor, bucket by bucket, to clean it out every week or so. Someday soon, hopefully, it will be running and draining properly, but for now it remains a stinky issue.

Meanwhile I am occupied with a semiannual prayer letter announcing all our happy news, and trying to minimize all the pesky problems. Two biggest personal items are the grandchild we are expecting in November (yee-haw!) and the upcoming wedding in August. Yes, it looks like I am to be a MOG* again for the third time in four years. That’s another recurring theme. A future theme will hopefully involve the arrival of many grandchildren. Life is sweet.

Since no “Ask Jamie Jo” questions were submitted this month, I’ll ask one of my own. My question for you is regarding prayer updates, newsletters, and websites:

Do you ever wonder if anyone reads them?

What do people prefer, electronic letters or ones with a postage stamp?

I seem to get a lot of traffic on my Facebook page (friends wondering what silly predicament I will face next), but my ministry blog gets little to no traffic. Monthly prayer updates generate almost no response unless there is a crisis of some sort. In fact, I skipped two months of writing, and no one seemed to notice. I’m sure correspondence is important, but I wonder if people aren’t bombarded with too many emails these days. What do you think?

IRL* The times are changing, but I don’t know which way the winds are blowing.


  1. i think people get so many letters, and unless they are pretty short with lots of pictures i don't think they read them. i often wonder about the prayer letters that i send out too. i wonder if the envelopes even get open. i try to spice it up by sending different types of envelopes, fun colorful postage stamps, and use color copies when i can :)

    for email prayer updates i've started calling them "30 second prayer update" and have three bullet point prayers that people can skim and pray.

    just a few ideas i've used :)

  2. another thought... i do always try to have a changed life story or cast some kind of vision for the ministry...i think that is what get's people excited about being a partner in ministry!

  3. I'm sorry about your contamination and defilement: ACK! That sounds AWFUL!

    I agree with Holly: I think, in general, many of us are overloaded, and pictures and bullet points are a great thought. Don't take that personally: it just is what it is.

  4. Bless your heart, Jamie Jo. I can't believe your newest toilet adventure!

    I think people are bombarded with e-mail, but you are such a great communicator. If anyone's letters get read, I'm sure yours do. I realize lots of people read, but don't comment. When I go home, I'm often encouraged that people seem to have read our letters and updates, but they don't comment. I have tried more attention getting subject lines, and sometimes I get more response.

    I loved Holly's "30 second update" idea too.

  5. That's beyond nasty. I've been there and done something similar though, I just didn't blog about that one. Blech. I hope you got your shower at home though. Dry brushing anyone???? (!!!!!!!)

  6. Good suggestions, Holly. Being on the receiving end of many prayer updates, I know how quickly I can scan them when needed. For me, though, it's the overall picture that helps me pray rather than a bullet list. You know? I like both, so my letters reflect that.

    Susan, your comment makes me stop sweating over the middle section of my newsletter, cause truthfully it has no photos, and will not likely be read by as many people. If people see photos of ds and fiance with the caption, and the photo of the ultrasound, and the photo of dh and me 25 years ago, they've got the news all summed up.

    Thanks Olive, for your confidence in my communication ability. I never thought to put catchy subject lines in emails. Mine are always boring old "June Update" unless it's something urgent. That way I'm not crying wolf and grabbing attention when it's not needed right away. Maybe there's a middle range of titles that are interesting but not urgent-sounding.

  7. It's great to hear other missionaries are also considering how best to communicate to supporters. It's so good to be able to change methods and flow with technology these days.
    We still do the traditional newsletter that's sent by email and snail mail (we get a great price on printing and mailing through our home church). We aim to make a newsletter that our parents and pastors will be proud of (if that's all who reads it! ha!). We find that the small handful who want it by mail appreciate the copy in hand and keep it around for a while. Then, our prayer updates by email are quick, bullet pointed, and one photo. We get the most responses from those. I think people get a better idea of our lives and current happenings.

    It was a real eye opener when, in our last newsletter, there was more prayer and responses over my being cancer free for 10 years than a dear friend becoming a bible translator and beginning her work. I realized how my supporters can't easily connect to the ministry. They connect to me. Many are supporting me. And if that's how it is, then I want to be relevant to the supporters and work harder to connect on their level. I need them to keep walking with us in life and ministry! :)
    When we've posted friends' mailed newsletters to our fridge, undoubtedly people who saw it only read the section on the baby/family news. We've sometimes let our needs be known through the kid's corner of the newsletter (i.e. "(baby's name) needs a new car and a car seat...if you feel led to donate..."). Very forward, isn't it? For us it wasn't about getting the funds in, but hoping we were connecting well with people.

    Happy Newsletter Writing!!!


  8. I have learned the art of story telling. My prayer letter/updates have never been the traditional report of ministry with praises and prayers. Mine have always been stories: Personal stories, fun stories, quirky stories, emotional stories. I talk about burning peanut butter cookies in my gas cooker or having the wind blow my skirt up in a muslim neighbourhood. Or I talk about a kid I met whose story has touched me or an overwhelming situation I found myself in (like telling a young girl her mother died). Something relatable. My readers love it. I do get discouraged when I write something and don't get a response. However, when I get home, IHave dozens of people tell me how amazing my stories are or how inspired they are. They want to relate. They want to know I am human not some super spiritual woman. And now that they know I write good stories, they are more likely to read through each letter I send.

  9. Hey JJ--What's up?! It's Yellow Dress girl.

    I wrote ONE update... my first month in the Middle East. Sent it electronically to almost 500 people. 8 responded. 1 was my mom telling me she liked my pictures. I never sent another one. And no one has ever asked....

    They check my blog if they really care, FB if they're a-stalkin, or send me an email if they REALLY want to know how I am/want something.

    It's a bummer. I'm sure you'll get a holiday blues post about this from me--after my Ramadan happens.

    Hope all is well!! I watched your video--you're super cute!! I can't wait til I graduate to doing give-aways and stuff. Looks like fun! :)

    Love & a whole lotta support,
    Sarah. :)


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