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Grant and Shannon’s Mission Year Newsletter for February

How to Love Your Neighbor

By Shannon Jenks

I’m going to be honest. Sometimes it’s difficult to love my neighbor in Peoplestown. I do not appreciate bass thumping stereos late at night on Fridays or Saturdays. I am bothered by the amount of men loitering in front of the corner store drinking beer. I haven’t yet met a kid who hasn’t lied to me at least once. Moms scream at their kids. Kids call each other ugly or much worse regularly. How do I show these people love? How do I show these people that God loves them? How do I show these people that they are more valuable than the way they are treated by others or even the way they treat themselves? I can easily get overwhelmed by the feelings of helplessness. So what do I do? I take one day at a time. I talk to and reach out to people one at a time. I can give my umbrella to the woman who has no car and needs to walk home in the rain. I continuously tell the kids I work with that they are smart and capable. I make sure to give the sulky teenager on the street corner eye contact, a smile and a friendly hello even though I know I probably won’t get a response. I give parents compliments on their children, which they probably don’t get very much. I make myself available for Chemistry tutoring at the youth center. Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough or that I’m not accomplishing anything. However, I will trust my belief that a little bit of love goes much further than I think it does.

Valentine’s Day In Peoplestown

This was Grant’s and my third Valentine’s Day as husband and wife. It was also quite different. We didn’t have money to buy each other gifts. We didn’t have money to make a fancy dinner like I used to. I didn’t buy a new dress. Mission Year also has us commit to no alcohol so wine and champagne were out. I gave up refined sugar last August as a natural remedy against depression so there was no chocolate. In fact, we spent the evening at the laundromat with Josh and Debbie. But even without all the typical Valentine’s Day trappings and events I actually enjoyed myself. Grant and I celebrate the fact that Mission Year has grown our marriage to be stronger than it ever has been. We also believe that love is bigger than romance. When God calls us to love, it’s a much broader scope than romance. Here on Mission Year our motto is “Love God. Love People. Nothing Else Matters.” Love is about showing someone that they are valued and since that is what we hope to accomplish this year, we’re really practicing Valentine’s Day every single day.

Praises & Requests

  • We’ve had quiet a few kids come over for our Saturday night community dinner.
  • We’re starting to get to know more people in the community through Emmaus House Chapel.
  • Pray for anxiety and stress levels to be eased.
  • Pray that we remember to take pictures so our newsletters will be more colorful!


While, we, the Mission Year Married Team, are fully funded (Woot! Woot!) the rest of the Atlanta Team is still only 68% funded! We work as a community here at Mission Year and don’t consider ourselves funded until everyone is funded. Please consider giving to Mission Year and support our community!

How to Make a Donation

You may either use the enclosed envelope or you can donate securely online. Whenever you make a donation, be sure to include our Team Member Name and Support ID Number. Those are:

  • Team Member Name: Grant and Shannon Jenks
  • Support ID Number: 11-9031

Visit in your web browser to make a donation online. Make checks payable to “Mission Year” and include our Support ID Number in the memo line. Donations are tax deductible.

Solving Hard Problems

By Grant Jenks

One of the things I like best about my job at Microsoft is that I get to solve hard problems. As I began Mission Year, I wondered what kind of hard problems I would face next. I knew that it would be a different kind of hard problem, but I wasn’t aware of the solution or methodology that worked best.

Learning to solve problems in software really has its roots in learning math. Beginning with arithmetic, I learned algorithms for adding, multiplying and dividing numbers. These algorithms were fairly simple and resulted in a single correct answer. After arithmetic came algebra and the method of solving was more ambiguous. Fortunately, the unknowns in algebra have a finite number of possibilities. And after algebra came geometry. With geometry the start and end points were often given to us. The problem was to trace the proof connecting the two. With each successive year in mathematics, the solution became more ambiguous and the method of finding the solution more elusive.

How I long for arithmetic problems in Mission Year! The solutions are nothing like those faced in software. At GJP, for example, there are simple problems: arranging a visit to prison and hard problems: effectively explaining why a client’s actions do not display reform to the Parole Board. But in the case of the hard problems, I find there are fewer hints for me than there are for others. While I can accept that there’s no algorithm for writing an algorithm, I at least want an algorithm to exist. In these social issues however, no algorithm really exists. While that’s intuitive, a lot of the aid, support, and benefits systems seem constructed as if an algorithm really did exist.

As a way to celebrate achieving our fundraising goals from last year, our Atlanta team went out to the movies. My wife and I saw “Hugo” which, like solving problems, was about fixing things. In the movie, the main character, Hugo, struggles to rebuild a robot as a metaphor for rebuilding his own life. The film makers communicated a theme of understanding as the algorithm for fixing people. With imagery vivid to an engineer, the message came to me: with loving understanding, people can be fixed. And so again I’m reminded of Mission Year’s motto of solidarity: a great way to understand someone is to live, commute, and serve alongside them.

Quick Update on Dreams

Through a friend of a friend, I’ve coordinated a visit for our Robotics Club to see Georgia Tech’s robotics lab on April 11th as part of National Robotics Week. It’s wonderful to experience such progress so quickly on a dream that came only last month. Your prayers and support are much appreciated as I work to inspire the youth in our neighborhood.

Good Shoppr has raised $316.43 this year. That’s nearly a third of the way to my $1000 goal. Shop online at and 5% of all sales will contribute to our fundraising efforts. As an Amazon Affiliate, you’ll checkout through so you get secure billing, fast shipping and easy returns. Shop for goods, shop for good on .

Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World

Mission Year’s President, Leroy Barber, just released an awesome new book called Everyday Missions! Buy it on Good Shoppr and 5% of your purchase will be donated to Mission Year!

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