FS - Mike Mercer - Seeing Progress; Sorry to Miss You on the Campout

I’ll be missing you on the camping trip this weekend. Currently, I’m a couple days home from Indonesia and headed to Dallas next week. I’m thrilled to say that I’ll never fail at Paigwe 4 again and will be quickly moving on to Paigwe 6. At that, I have to be honest, I’m missing Danny’s MMA ground training just a little.

I wanted to report that it was an amazing couple of weeks away. As I’ve explained, my leadership project is, in part, the further development of leaders that we have in place and new placements where necessary. The project that I mentioned in Surabaya made great strides thanks to the right person confidently taking the helm. We have struggled with a partner organization and the project leader sat down with our counterpart and respectfully declared what our path through would be. Our next step is to conduct a family camp for the families living in and around the Yellow Flower Cemetery sometime in August. We are also getting good reports of women who are leaving their work in the cemetery and starting micro-businesses, some with our direct help. In fact, we’re expanding one woman’s bread business with our first micro-loan. This is not an area of expertise for us but we have walked our friend through to this point and it has been a tremendous success story so far. Our funds will buy new equipment that will increase her capacity.

I watched our Indonesian Executive Director pull together a powerful meeting with PPA (Protection of Women and Children) police, legal advocates, and Social Department decision-makers while we were in Bali. It is the second of several conversations that will hopefully have us running a full operation there in a couple of years. We were also able to gather with U.S. Consulate staff which has been an infrequent meeting for us. Most of our State Department interactions have been with the Embassy in Jakarta. It is the Consulate in Surabaya, however, that serves the specific regions that we work in. Even in a meeting like this, I find myself grateful for the leadership that we have in place.

The highlight for me was a leadership retreat that we did in North Sulawesi. Without going into much of the story (perhaps I’ll cover it later), our original staff of a few years ago suffered tremendous hardship in our early efforts. They fought hard for the human rights of those in our care and, at times, paid a severe price for their dedication. Amazingly, almost all of them are still working for us.

Our staff is much larger now. Even our leadership staff is twice the size of our original staff. Our first exercise at the retreat was to have the original members of our team call out things that they remember from the early days. It was a very emotional session that created resulted in us having an institutional memory that now reaches beyond the experiences of the first few. This developed into a theme for our retreat as we found ourselves often repeating the phrase, "We are still here."

There were a handful of things that we covered at the retreat that may be blog-worthy in the future.

Just after I left, our team case managed two police-led rescues in Papua. Both girls are in our care and their recruiter was taken into custody.

It was a great couple of weeks. Lot’s of push-ups, Paigwe 4 reps, jump-roping, sit-ups, squats, time with a bunch of people that I love, a half-day on my favorite beach in the world.

By the way, I should say that we have two black-belts on our security staff!

Out of the dojo,

Posted on May 24, 2014 .