Saturday, June 15, 2013

Down on the Farm

This week, we have been helping Aunty V on her farm. Being at a farm reminded us of home, but none of us knew much about farming. In her papaya field, we harvested, washed, and delivered papaya. On the same day, we weeded around the trees and harvested worms. 
  
The next day, we helped on Aunty V's other farm. That day we did anything from helping with horses to cleaning out around banana trees.

It was a few days of hard work, but also a time of fellowship and learning about how the Hawaiians live. We talked about a verse in devotion time that morning before we set out to work.

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Matthew 9:35-39

Please pray for:
  • safety as we continue working on construction projects and farms
  • a servant's heart in everything we do
  • Vacation Bible School as it starts next week
    Jillian holding a baby chick.



P52 Nashville: They Had Never Heard


How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:14-15
Today, Lexi and I spent some time in our apartment complex playing with the kids and sharing Bible stories with them. We helped some ladies from City Church Woodbine that does this regularly in the local apartment complexes.  We had a moderate sized group of kids with us during the Bible story. At the end, most of the kids left, but three Nepali kids who were all siblings stayed. God had these kids there for a reason. They had heard from God’s word and they wanted to hear more. After our friend K had shared a Bible story and a verse with all the kids, she was able to share the story of the gospel in great detail with them. It lasted for a while, about 30 minutes, and through God’s power the kids didn’t leave. 

At the end of the day, it’s not about if things go according to plan or how many kids are there. It’s about the gospel and getting to share the testimony of God’s grace with anyone who wants to listen. It was amazing to witness them all hearing the gospel for the first time.
The special thing about sharing the gospel with these kids is that they are from countries where the name of Jesus is not as likely to be shared as it is in America. It’s cool that the nations have come here to popular American cities, like Nashville, because there is opportunity for the gospel to be shared among many who have not ever had the opportunity to hear. After we shared with the kids, K, Lexi, and I all prayed over them, that they and their families would know Christ. We don’t know what may come of this day, but the important thing is that the gospel was shared and the kids had never heard it before.

Please pray for these three children and the rest of their family to know Christ. Also pray that we will be able to connect with them again and that the gospel can be shared again.

2013 France: Blessings

       The blessings God gives are truly remarkable. Every morning when I first wake up I wonder where I am, and what am I doing in a place I don’t not know.
    Then reality hits me that I am in France, and that I am here to share the good news of what Jesus Christ did for me.
    Shortly after coming back to realism, I am greeted by my dear friend we are staying with. He always greets me in the morning in French with great, excitement “Bonjour Mitch, ca va?!” which translates “Good morning Mitch, how are you?!” After I reply, he always asks if I would like a cup of coffee, and of course I cannot turn that down.
    God has blessed me with the encouragement, and enthusiasm of this man. Hearing his story from how he was a former Muslim, to accepting Christ as his savior, has blown me away.
   God has used someone who has gone through a massive amount of persecution to be one of the biggest blessings in my life.
     Even though it’s hard to communicate to him because I don’t know French, and he doesn’t know English; he is still my brother in Christ.
    These words resonate in my heart, as this is something he says often to me in English “Thank you, Jesus.” This man realizes without Jesus he is NOTHING, and with him he is EVERYTHING. We must come to the realization that Jesus Christ is all that we have. I am beyond blessed to have people like this in my life that realize the persecution is worth it.
I cannot say it enough; IT IS WORTH IT!

Acts 5:41-42

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

God Bless,

-Mitch

Butuan City: Getting Around

Getting around in the Philippines has been quite the adventure. Here are a few ways all twenty-something of us travel.





Jeepney. Its a versatile beast that we can all cram into, and it's what we first met getting off the plane in Butuan. When we can't all fit inside, such as when we need to hitch a ride to town and there are other passengers, there's always the roof, a group favorite!




The jeepney provides a great way for the whole group to get us somewhere at once. For smaller settings, there's a tricycle. It's a motorcycle with a car attached around it. There's also the bicycle version of this. 




UPDATE: The Habal Habal!

It's the greatest thing you'll ever ride. 


Motorcycles are extremely popular here. Most cares are Toyota and Mitsubishi, with a few other scattered Hondas and such. Traffic is as crazy as you may have heard, with one painted lane becoming 3 de facto lanes any second, and the horn being blown regularly as a communication device, not an anger response like in America. Few intersections we've seen had lights and aggressive driving is the name of the game, but I haven't seen an accident yet. 

-Brian & teams

Mindanao: Food

You may be wondering what we've been eaten there in the Philippines, or how we make our food. While members of the healthcare teams were told to bring camp food that only requires adding hot water, those are more supplemental in nature. In other words, we buy food from the market and cook it over a fire. 



Foods at the market range from foreign to familiar. Spaghetti and hot dogs are eaten alongside traditional filipino stir-fry meals like chop suey and manudin. Markets have all kinds of options, and they even have frosted flakes. It turns out it will not be a summer of freeze-dried meals, but rather one of a menu as creative as the members make it. One staple of nearly every meal is rice, something that every true Filipino eats religiously. Each group will have to learn to love rice, as they are responsible for feeding their translator as well.

We've also enjoyed some Filipino desserts, such as mango float and mango shake. Mango is the national fruit of the Philippines. 



Teams are responsible for keeping a budget for shopping.  The conversion from US dollars to Pesos is about 1:42, but that doesn't mean we can buy everything – a jar of blueberry jelly costs around 150 pesos, for example  so we still need to watch our wallets. But some foods you can get for great deals, such as a loaf of bread for 50 pesos at the bakery. For the students who haven't shopped and cooked for themselves before this trip, the translators have been great helpers. 

In any case, know that food is plentiful and it's not all just ramen and freeze-dried meals,

Brian & teams. 

Mindanao: Ministry

For our first week we've had orientation in the mornings, consisting of lectures concerning local healthcare and what the groups will be encountering, as well as preparation and training on teaching farming techniques and doing circumcisions. In the afternoons, after the 2-3 p.m. siesta, we've gone out to the local villages and shared our testimonies and engaged the people in Bible studies. The people are very open to talking about faith here. 



Teaching the kids a memory verse and talking about Jonah and the whale. 




Several people we met requested we come back for more Bible studies, and many have prayed to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. The majority of people here would call themselves Catholic, but many are nominal in faith, believe in salvation by good works or still believe in animism. Many think are are saved but admit they're not really sure. A big part of our mission this summer is to share the gospel with people and teach them about the salvation from God that leaves no doubt. 


Brian & Healthcare & Agriculture Teams





Friday, June 14, 2013

Thai Media Mobilizer



Hey everyone! My name is Rachel, and I am the Media Mobilizer for the Thai Dorms teams. Each week I hope to update you on all the wonderful things God is doing in our hearts and in this country. I also want you to know our team a little better, so each week I will feature a short get-to-know the girls post. By the end of the summer, you should know us each pretty well. I will go first.

I am 21 years old and a Broadcast Communications major. The Lord introduced me to the Great Commission when I was 13 years old. I have had a heart for other nations and culture ever since, and I have traveled all over the US and several South American countries spreading the good news. 


After I served in Lake Tahoe, CA last summer, I felt like God was calling me to go overseas. I started searching the IMB website in August, and I stumbled across the Media Mobilizer position in Thailand. I applied and got the job. Everything after that just fell into place. 


Romans 10:14-15   How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Living in Darkness??


So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”  -Ephesians 4:17-19


We had a short Bible study in the Atlanta airport while we were waiting for our flight to London, and this is the scripture we focused on. To me, this is the saddest scripture. The thought that someone could be completely absent from God because their heart is hardened is so heartbreaking. But it is true. I know people who walk within a breath of Christ and miss Him, because they don’t understand and they are completely stuck in sin. If we read on in Eph 4:20-24, however, we see that we are the hope for the Gentiles. Christ made us new and helped us to take off our old selves so that we can be a light in the darkness.


In Thailand our team is going to be surrounded by darkness and people who only know sin. God has chosen us to exude Him through our new self!


Please join us in prayer!

Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts and minds of the people
to whom we will be ministering.

Within the Village


Waking up in a friend's home near your house can be strange. Waking up in a random Honduran family's home, however, is just plain disorienting. Sometimes I wake up in Honduras, forgetting where I am and what I'm doing here. It takes a few minutes to get re-adjusted, but then I get to relive the fact that I'm carrying out my dream: traveling across the globe with friends, sleeping on random dirty floors, and spreading the life-saving gospel to all who will listen. I woke up this morning very disoriented, but then I remembered. I remembered the elderly lady who prayed to accept Christ after years of her family trying to convert her. I remembered all the children running out of the school and tackling our team, asking us why we were here and getting to tell them about the love of Jesus. I remembered conquering the mountain on which this village rests and looking out into the distance to see God's glory revealed. I remembered the abuela, or grandmother, that was sick on day one and healed by day three. I remembered, and I relished the fact. I am full of joy. We are where we need to be.

Pray that God will continue to shine his power and that His glory may be seen during our time here and even after we leave. He is moving and it leaves us speechless to see His glory shine through these villages. We share the good news that once more another name has been added to the book of life. Martina, 87 years old, decided to make the most important decision of her life, she took Christ as her Lord and Savior. She now walks in God's path and perfect plan. Please continue to pray for continual blessing upon these villages and the people who live in them. 


Martina, 87
    
At the village school




Through the village roads


With much love,
Honduras Healthcare team 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bonding with Children: Mexico Trailblazers

We spent one of our mornings at a local children's home to play with the children, show them love, and share a Bible story with them. The school serves children from the villages who's parents can no longer look after them and many have special needs. 


When we arrived, the children were overjoyed and we naturally split up into groups to hang out with them. Some of us started a big game of soccer. Others played a series of card games while others colored pictures from the Bible story we were about to hear. 


The story was from the book of Daniel -- the famous story of Daniel and the lions' den. All of us gathered under a tree, with kids in our laps or hanging on our shoulders, to listen to Karen read the story in Spanish. We had the kids repeat motions, like pointing to the sky when we said "Dios" ("God"), which they really seemed to enjoy. 


By the end of only a few hours, we felt close to these kids -- they had made a lasting impression on our hearts and we hope we were able to do the same for them. 

We will be returning to the children's home every week while we are here. Pray that God will use us to show these children love and that he would use the Bible stories to provide these children with hope. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SE Asia Ex & Ev Heading Out!

Today, the two four-man teams of Ex & Ev are splitting ways, each heading to our respective locations. After several days of in-country training, we have been deemed as ready as we'll ever be to leave the nest. The local m's have been so very gracious to us and have done nothing but pour into us this week.

As far as team dynamics go, I couldn't be happier with our team. The eight of us have bonded and grown close since arriving at team training. Father has been good in blessing our relationships, growing us closer to each other as we pursue Him.

We will be going out for a few weeks, back for a week, then out for a couple more weeks, followed by some time of work in a big city.

As we venture out, please pray for the members of both teams: the team of Samson, Nick, Carlito, and Sheldon, as well as the team of Stevie, Bobby, Jeremiah, and Eli. 

Pray that:
  • Each of our wills become more and more like Father's every day. 
  • That we make ourselves vessels for his honorable use and service. 
  • That the people we encounter are receptive of the good news, and that the HS works wonders in the hearts and lives of all. 
Please pray for encouragement for the local m's and cp's, as it is very difficult to see the fruit of their labor. These people have been so hospitable and have built us up in every way!
Blessings,

Eli and the SEA Team

"...'The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one anothers sight'."  -Gen 31:49


A taste of culture: Mexico Trailblazers

Our first full day on the field immersed us in the rich culture we will be a part of for the next two months. From navigating the public transport system, to the variety of comida (food) offered in the Zocalo (downtown square) to meeting the nationals, we had a lot to absorb. 

We got a good first "taste" of the culture from desayuno (breakfast) in the Zocalo and shopping in the market. The market was a vast change from the grandiose supermarkets we have in the US, with a handful of friendly farmers selling their assortment of fresh produce. We hope to go back mucho veces (more times) to get to know them better and build relationships with them.

Our biggest taste came from the fiesta (party) our ministry held with members from the local church. It was really cool to meet some of the people from the local church's grupo de jovenes (youth group). We got to know each other by playing a series of American games which they seemed to enjoy. 

The night of food, games and small talk laid the ground work for relationships. There were four guys and three girls at the fiesta ranging from teens to late 20's. We will see all of them at church on Sunday and many of us have already scheduled time to hang out after church. 

Please pray that God would use that time to encourage them and to provide more opportunities for us to meet more nationals and serve the local church.  

Church en Espanol: Mexico Trailblazers

Sunday we went to church for the first time since we've been here. We got to go to the same church as all of the people from the grupo de jovenes that we met at the fiesta Friday night.

The service was entirely in Spanish but apart from that, it was very similar to service in the United States. We started with worship, there were some announcements, then we had prayer time and heard a message from one of the pastors, who also joined us for the fiesta on Friday. 

Worshiping in Spanish was a great experience. Our team didn't always understand the words, but many of us did -- we found though that we didn't have to understand all of the words in order to worship the Lord. 

The experience reminded me of Revelation 7:6 where "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, and all tribes and peoples and tongues" are sitting before the throne worshiping God. 

The message was on Genesis 3 and Adam & Eve disobeying God by eating of the tree in Eden. The pastor actually brought an apple in to act it out, which brought the audience to roaring laughter. He expanded on the message to make it personally for each one of us. In the decisions we make each day, are we choosing to be perfectly obedient to God or are we to eating of the tree? 


After the sermon we had a short break where we were able to enjoy the sun and have some snacks with the church members. Then, we split into smaller groups for a Bible study in which we investigated the characteristics of God and how they influence our lives. 

We were able to build upon the relationships we made Friday at the fiesta and talk about God and how he's changed our lives. It was a challenge at times to bridge the language barrier, but nonetheless we were able to have a deep conversation about God's love, his plan and his purpose, among other things. It made us realize that God was, is and always will be greater than any barrier we face, including the language barrier. 

Please pray that God would continue to break down this language barrier and pave the way for deeper relationships with the nationals.