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Team Russia: Affirmations from Leader Lauren!

 

Hello friends and family!

We’ve officially made it halfway through our trip and the first session of camp! All of us had an amazing time playing with, serving, and loving the beautiful campers. Naturally, we are all tired, but we are enjoying a day of rest today before the second session of camp begins.

I’ve been so encouraged by my team members over these past two weeks. When you lead a trip like this, you usually expect to be the one teaching your team members. However, my team members have been the ones teaching me. Below are lessons I’ve learned from each of my team members.

Megan: Megan is such a sweetheart! She is one of the most loving and caring people I have ever met. She has gone out of her way to learn basic Russian and to show love to the Russian people here. Every time I see her, she is always giving someone a hug or a word of encouragement.  What I’m learning from Megan is to love without limits and to love boldly!

Daniel: Daniel is an amazing guy! He has a huge servant’s heart and is always seeking to put others first. Everyday, Daniel asks to carry my backpack when the group walks to the sea. The first day he asked if he could carry my backpack, me being a self-proclaimed strong independent woman, told him thank you, but that I was fine. Daniel simply responded with, “but I would like to.” Through Daniel, I am learning that we need to humble ourselves and let others serve us. Not allowing people to serve us deprives them of of the opportunity, but the  joy that comes with blessing others.

Amy: Amy has been an incredible mentor to me (she is our team faculty member as well) over these past two years. Amy is an accomplished professor and has extensive training in multiple fields, including camp ministry and leadership, but she is the most humble of member of the team. There is no task that is above her. Everything she does, she does with humility and joy. She has taught me and the value of humility in leadership and the importance of being a team player. She and Lauren both had to leave early two days ago and we all miss them terribly.

Zach: Zach is such an awesome guy. This is his second time in Russia and I’ve loved seeing how he as grown and matured. He is incredibly humble and always willing to serve. I’m not sure if there a person more loved by the kids at this camp than Zach. I am constantly finding him surrounded by a throng of Russian children. Through Zach I have learned the importance of a gentle spirit and serving with a joyful attitude.

Lauren: Lauren is such an amazing person. She simply radiates joy. Every time I am done spending time with Lauren, I feel refreshed and energized. Lauren had to leave us early due to have surgery for a medical condition that causes her constant discomfort and pain. Despite being in pain everyday, Lauren remains positive and joyful. Through her I have learned the power of choosing joy in spite of difficult circumstances.

Alicia: This is also Alicia’s second time in Russia. She has been such an encouragement to me over these past two years. Alicia is an extremely caring person and feels incredible empathy for others. Whilst in Russia, I’ve always been impressed by Alicia’s ability to make fast friends with the Russian counselors. Her openness, caring nature and genuine kindness disarms people and makes them feel at ease. Through Alicia I have been challenged to approach others with the same kindness and genuine care that she demonstrates.

Griffin: Griffin is Jane’s cousin who joined our team in the JFK Airport. I was shocked and impressed how He immediately fit in with the rest of the team. Griffin has never met a stranger and genuinely loves life. Everything he does, he does with incredible enthusiasm and joy. Through Griffin I have be challenged to appreciate life and to treat every day as a gift. I am so incredibly blessed to have him on our team!

 

Thank you everyone for your continual support of us! It’s onto session two!

Lauren

 

Update from Russia!

 

Hey Everyone!

Greetings from Russia! We’ve officially been in Russia a week and it has been great so far. Camp officially started yesterday and we are all extremely excited to begin serving and teaching the children of Russia! This my second leading the WorldSERVE team to Russia and cannot express how great is to back. It feels like I’ve come home!

This past week has been spent preparing for camp. Our guys  spent most of the week building a mini golf course and laying carpet in the camp’s new rec room and the ladies assembled the English lesson books as well as helped decorate the camp.

 

During this week of tedious and difficult tasks, I have been incredibly impressed and humbled by my team members. Everyone had positive attitudes and were all so ready and willing to serve. It’s a blessing to be their team leader!

Thank you everyone for your continual support!

Lauren aka L Physical

Update from Thailand!

 

Last weekend we went to Mahachi, which is a city about one hour outside of Bangkok. We went there to assist another missionary couple and the local church there with a few outreaches and an english church service. We were asked to come up with a skit that the pastor could use to preach on. We chose to do a skit on the prodigal son. We performed the skit twice, once at an outreach to children who live in slums and again at an outreach for teens that lived closed to the church. We sang english songs and played games with both groups this helped break the ice so that they were open to hearing the pastors message based on our skit. On Sunday the team was completely in charge of running an english church service for the people who came to the church early in the morning for english classes. We are going back to mahachi tomorrow to teach english at one of the schools and perform the skit once more.

 

 

On tuesday we got a chance to go to Barnabas at the C&MA guest house. Barnabas is a meeting for the C&MA missionaries in Thailand to get together for a time of encouragement and fellowship. Our team got to meet these missionaries and ask them questions. I enjoyed this because I will one day be a missionary and I was able to talk with them about all of my fears and concerns when it comes to missionary life. They were able to help me to understand that being a missionary is not as scary as I thought it was.

 

 

The next day we had the deeper life group, which is a bible study that we have at Toulee’s house every Wednesday. There are always christians and non- christians at the bible study so it is always interesting to see what the non-christians think about bible passages that we discuss. The passage that we discussed on Wednesday was Luke 15, which is about how God rejoices more over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous people and the parable of the prodigal son. We had a good discussion, we talked about how valuable we all are to God, the love of the father to forgive his son, and the unforgiveness of the elder brother. For most of the team this is our last deeper life group so after the bible study Toulee had the group pray over our team. That night when our team was debriefing some of the team members expressed that they felt kind of discouraged because we have been pouring into so many people and building so many relationships yet we did not see anyone make any decisions to follow christ. We just wanted to see one person accept christ before we left so we could know that our work was not in vain.

 

 

Then the next day went  to Toulee’s house and he tells us that he was texting one of the non christian Thai girls that we have been hanging out with alot and she said that she was ready to accept Christ but did not want to do it alone. So she came over to Toulee’s house and we got to witness her accepting christ in Thai. So God answered our prayer that we would get to witness someone becoming a christian before we left! We celebrated afterward by having lunch together and we bought her a Thai study bible. God is doing amazing things in Thailand and our team is so lucky to be apart of it  these past two weeks.

 

 

Prayer requests:

 

  •  Please pray for the Thai girl who has just become a Christian. It is hard to be a Christian in a Buddhist nation.
  • Pray for our team to do well teaching english tomorrow in mahachi and that the students would be open to the gospel when the pastor preaches after our skit.

 

 

Middle East Update

 

Marhaba from the ancient Arab lands!

Sarah Bourns here, reporting in after a wonderful visit with our
Middle East Team.  I couldn’t be more proud of those guys or more
excited for the great kingdom work they are joining.

 
For a few quick days, I got to see them in action and be part of their
daily life during the 6 weeks they’re on the field. At just 10 days
in, they all seemed very comfortable in the culture, bravely trying
out the language (some butchering it less than others!), and of course
enjoying the variety of amazing food their city has to offer.
They each rocked the English classes they’re teaching, and they are
all starting to develop meaningful friendships with their students and
others. The girls have already been invited to 2 weddings and several
parties (or “visits”). And the guys have been adopted by The General,
a retiree from the army who has taken them on early morning swims in
the Sea.

 

The local field partners are so grateful for these interns who help
share their load at the Community Center. And the team is equally very
thankful and impressed by the way all the long-term families have
poured into them and welcomed them into their lives.

 
We had a great time of team encouragement (words of affirmation!)
yesterday, and here are a few things that stood out for each one:

 
Jake– ALWAYS smiling, never a negative thought or word about anyone
or anything, joyful, lighthearted and flexible (“gumby-licious” as
Eric said?). Jake is so SO relational with the local men, not even
shying away from the traditional greeting of kissing the cheek and
holding hands. Many “man-dates” are coming his way!

 
Eric– team comedian, always good for a laugh and keeping things fun
(every time he thinks about the camel he saw wearing a cowboy hat he
cracks himself and everyone else up!). Yet he also has a keen
prophetic gift and heart of prayer for this city. And he was the king
of the encouraging words for each of his teammates!

 
Daniel (quasi-teammate as he’s interning all summer there) — resident
language “expert” and growing every day, big brother and protector for
the ladies, winner of the most man-dates so far (though he’s still
waiting for the man-kiss and hand-hold!), discoverer of new shawarma
and falafel hot spots, and deep thinker about the local religion and
way of life.

 
Jordan– carrier of peace, and rest, and encouragement. She knows just
how to bless and lift up the long term workers with her thoughtfulness
and prayers. Her spunky side comes out when she leads the ladies
exercise class (just imagine Zumba with a room full of sweaty, happy,
middle eastern women! So fun!) She is also very sensitive to the
customs and way of life here and takes great care to make sure she is
humbly adapting to whatever the situation calls for!

 
Vanessa– ADVENTURER! Not afraid to try ANYthing, from strange
indiscernible foods, to snorkeling with the “animals” in the sea, to
leading a boot camp exercise class for the women. She’s also the
English teacher extraordinaire (keeping it both entertaining AND
instructive). The local ladies are drawn to her humor, real-ness and
ease of conversation (though she can hardly say a word in their
language, ha ha… Stick with teaching English!)


Lydia– Just the right leader for this team of leaders!! She allows
for plenty of independence and freedom as each member figures out
their own unique roles, and she provides the perfect example of how to
mesh easily into a foreign place. That girl was born to cross
cultures! She reads cultural cues like you’d read a book, clearly
discerning what to do or what NOT to do in the variety of interesting
and new situations they find themselves in.

So there’s the latest from Team Middle East!
Please pray for continued ministry doors to be opened and for God to
produce a harvest in this dry and dusty place. Many many followers of
Isa (Jesus) are asking Him for spiritual rain to fall so let’s join in
that request!

Signing out for now… And moving on to the Eastern Europe crew to
finish out their last few days and return home with them on Thursday!

 

SE Asia Blog Update!

 

  We have completed our third island stay and boy was it a strenuous one! Strenuous meaning we basically got pampered in every way possible and treated like kings and queens by the village. On day 1 the girls got treated to full body massages by a kind and hardy Indonesian woman while the guys had their massage done by a kind and hardy Indonesian man. After that our bodies were prepared for our two day work project of cementing and repairing a road in the village. It turns out that Sadie is a natural with a sledge hammer! One of the nights we got to prepare an American meal for our household. We fried chicken, made corn on the cob, as well as garlic mashed potatoes. I conquered my fear of raw chicken by cutting and slicing it. Everyone enjoyed the meal, especially our garlic mashed potatoes. Who knew our team had such great chefs?

 


We visited two other islands during this island stay and was favored enough to receive a private tour by the president of a major oil company located on one of the islands where we learned about pirates in Indonesia. We took part in learning how to do dishes and laundry as the locals did- outside on the ground. We also learned a lot about Islam because our father of the house teaches it in a school in Batam. He was very open to hear about our beliefs and stories and talk about them freely. Many of us got to share pieces about our testimony and relationship with God. To complete this hard island stay the girls were treated to a spa day and received Indonesian cream baths and henna all over our arms while the guys were out fishing. Colin looks like the Indonesian flag because his sunscreen didn’t do the trick on this particular fishing trip!


 

So many great conversations were had with the family we stayed with. It was very different from the other island stays because the entire group was with the same family. Being with them for a week provided us time to get very close to them- so much that tears were shed by our beloved dad and grandmother of the house when we had to leave them. This island’s name in English is “the cure for the longing heart” and the team can all agree that our heart will forever long for the great friends and family we made within this island stay. We’re spending the rest of our time here debriefing and preparing to come home with great stories that we are very excited to share!

 

 

 See you soon, America!

Middle East Update

We’re in our second week here and we’re loving this crazy, fun, and amazing Arab culture! 

 

Our life has consisted of falafel, shawarma, hummus, bread, lots of bread, and lots of coffee. Turkish coffee, Arabic coffee, Saudi Arabian coffee, and of course good ole Nescafe. 

 

 

English classes are going well and I’ve been blown away by the opportunities it creates to have deep conversations about important issues such as religion, family, and just life. Teaching is definitely out of my comfort zone but I’m getting to know my students and we’re all learning from each other. (We laugh a lot in my class – because I’m definitely the coolest teacher.)

 

 

Us girls are also making a lot of connections with some of the girls who come to the Life Center and have gone on a couple of visits to people’s homes. Little did we know that a “small get-together” meant several hours of near 30 women drinking coffee, cooking, playing music, arguing, eating, gift giving, second-hand smoke, and kissing. It was a very buoyant experience to say the least. 

 

 

The aerobics classes have been so much fun and all of the Well Fit ladies are such a joy to be around. Whoever thought Muslim women were quiet and reserved has never sat in a room with these ladies! We dance, we do yoga, we do weights, and more importantly we laugh and we have fun. 

 

 

Being able to see all that the workers here do for this community and the amount of love they have for these people has so impressed me and the team and we are learning so much from them. My eyes have been opened so much wider to the real lives that these people lead – they’re not just Muslims anymore, they’re people with names and personalities. I know their families and their friends, what makes them laugh and what they’re passionate about. I now see these people for who they really are and not just how our culture has identified them. My prayer is that through our time here we would be able to effectively show Jesus and that opportunities would continue to arise for us share.

Chile Final Update

Chile Trip Final Newsletter:

Have you ever heard the quote that life is not measured by the breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away. In my two weeks in Chile I found this to be true. Going in with a heart to serve, my time in Chile could be more easily charted by events and moments than by days. Arriving in Santiago early Monday morning after a sleepless overnight flight, we were welcomed into the country with the warm Chilean greeting: for the girls, a kiss on the cheek; and for the guys two handshakes and a hug. From that moment on, I was home.

Throughout the entire trip, though I had never been to Chile before, I never for a moment felt like I was somewhere I didn’t belong or that I wasn’t welcome. The first week, we spent at an Ibero-American church called Libertad, working on repairing the wall of the children’s Sunday school room. Since Chile is in the Southern hemisphere, and it is now their winter, we were working to finish the wall before the rainy season started. Praise the Lord we finished on time and even were able to go over the walls with a fresh coat of paint. As I head back to summer weather it is a good feeling to know that the Chilean children will be safe and warm as well in their winter as they learn about Jesus in Sunday school.

 

                                           Laotaro Construction Site

                                             The finished Libertad

                                                    Church wall!                                                  

The second week in Chile we headed 8 hours down south by bus to Laotaro. There, we worked in the construction site laying the foundations for a school. This project has been in the heart of Pastor Miguel, who oversaw the project. The vision is to open a school so that the young native Maipuchi Chileans can stay closer to home a while longer before heading to the bigger cities to look for jobs. The idea is to teach the young Maipuchi skill sets so that they will be able to more easily find jobs. As the Maipuchi are mainly agricultural, this school would also allow the students to return home during harvest season so that they can continue aiding their family on the farm.

In addition to construction work, we also taught English in a Chilean middle school, had soccer ministries, and spent time giving and receiving much love from our host families. Not only did our host families open their homes to us, but their hearts as well. Not only did I get to step in and experience a typical Chilean home and family life, I became part of the family as well. Each night after we came back from working at the construction site, my teammate Sarah and I would sit on the couch next to Tia Rita in her home, listening to the crackle of the fire and communicating with hand gestures and Rita’s Spanish-English Dictionary. Even though our vocabulary was limited, our conversations ranged anywhere from ET and area cincuenta y uno, to how authentic the American accents of the girls singing pop songs were in Chile’s got talent. One of my favorite memories is when Tia Rita pointed to the word ‘darling’ in the dictionary and told us that we were her darlings and that she hoped we were happy staying at her house.

Though in the end, we had to board our planes and leave, I think that many of my teammates left their hearts in Chile. We came with a heart to serve, and in return received so much love and kindness that I feel I received so much more than I ever gave. Chile and the people there will definitely stay in my heart and my prayers. Thank you so much for supporting me throughout the entire trip with your prayers, funds, and encouragement. I would not have been able to experience this huge blessing without you. Once again, thank you so much for your kindness and support.

Sincerely,

Clara Law

2014 Chile Worldserve Team!

Middle East Update

 

Marhaba (Hello in Arabic)!

We are finally getting adjusted to the 10 hour time difference and the effects of jet lag are pretty much gone! Last week we were getting acquainted with the culture and the rules and way of life here, and this week we have been thrown off into the deep end with our tasks! The team is teaching English three nights a week, and the women on the team are also teaching English two additional mornings a week. Teaching English in this context is a new experience for all of us and it has proven to be a struggle and a joy. The international workers gave us the materials and some great teaching tips and let us go with it! They have been a huge source of encouragement and guidance as we navigate teaching English to adults.

            Three times a week the women also lead a one hour aerobics class, which is also fun! The men also have a great fitness program here.

            We are starting to make friends through our classes and through mutual friends and we are able to meet with them in more of an intimate setting like in homes or in coffee shops. Many want to practice their English as well as teach us Arabic. Another program we have been involved with this week was a program with 8th-9th grade girls and boys.  We were able to help them with English, play games together, do volunteer work with them, and have great conversations.

Please lift us up! We want to love these people well. There is a language barrier, but love speaks louder than the broken Arabic we can muster up. We also would like to be the best English teachers that we can be. We want to teach in a way that our students learn well. Lastly, please lift up the meetings/ hang out times that we are having with locals this week! We want the love of God to shine through us!!

Update from Thailand!

This weekend we traveled several hours to Kanchanaburi, a small rural town on the western border of Thailand. We partnered with our Envision/host leaders Tou Lee and Tang in putting on a retreat for Thai, university-aged students. These students came from varying religious backgrounds including Christianity, Buddhism, Muslim and some accepted multiple religions. Though we all had different beliefs, we all gathered together to build relationships with one another and spend time learning more about Jesus Christ.

Our retreat started off with a visit to an elephant farm in a Thailand jungle. We were all able to break the ice and start our weekend with the excitement of riding elephants through the jungle and watching an elephant show. Once at our camp, we invested our time into pouring into each student and sharing Christ’s love with them by prayer, words of encouragement, quality time and simply hanging out with them and becoming their friend. We participated in activities such as frisby, bike-rides, competitive challenges and staying up until late hours of the night playing games. Through it all we were able to see the students through Christ’s eyes and pour out unconditional love on them. By showing them how similar we are and opening up to them, I believe many changed their perspectives on Christians.

Aside from intentionally loving them through the fun and games, we were able to pursue friendships with them and get to know them on a deeper level by asking them questions and engaging in meaningful conversations. Every day we helped lead worship and sing praises to God which was followed by a simple but very meaningful Word that captured their attention and challenged them to think about the love of God. After each message we broke into small groups which had a mix of believers and non-believers who shared their perspectives on the message  and what it meant to them. We had the privilege of asking them deep questions that made them really think and we engaged in conversations that centered around Jesus. We had the opportunity of sharing with them how God has worked in our lives and the unconditional love He has for them. We told them how Jesus loves them so much that He died on a cross for them and this gift is free if we are willing to receive it. For some students this was the first time they had heard of God’s love or the most they had thought about Christ’s love for them.

We have been continually investing into the people daily and asking God for wisdom and strength. We pray that we can continue to see each individual through Christ’s eyes and love and accept every part of them. We are building on the foundation which has already been laid as well as planting new seeds. Our goal is to draw the people nearer to Jesus by doing whatever it takes. We can already see evidence of the Spirit working in many lives by the curiosity they show in Christianity. Thank you everyone for all that you have invested into us and for the many prayers for our team. Please continue to pray for team unity, strength, and the power of God to fill us. Pray that we allow the Holy Spirit to grow us, stretch us, make us  sensitive to His voice and obedient to His call.

Two Updates!

 

 

We are finished with our second island. It was so great! Some of us girls got to go fishing and I got to make pancakes from scratch for our family. That’s a miracle because I literally don’t cook. Our Host Mother gave me the traditional dress I got to wear for the going away party. Everyone had so much fun at the party…and it turns out that our team is full of fabulous dancers! 

 

 

Since we have returned to Telunas, we have gone to another island to do a work project for one of Telunas’ staff. We have also gone kayaking, paddle boarding as well as a jungle hike up to the waterfall we went to last year during our break time at Telunas. 

 

 

Everyone is doing well and healthy now! We got to celebrate Melissa’s birthday the Indonesian way by throwing eggs and four at her followed by delicious birthday cake. :)

 

 

We leave for our 3rd island on the 20th. Please keep us in our prayers!

 

 

Kinsey

 

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The guys had a great second island. Colin was able to initiate a deep conversation about cleansing sin with the host family. This conversation then transgressed to a great discussion about giving to the poor. Through these conversations, Colin and Richie were able to build bridges and get to know more about the host family. 

 

 

Lastly, Richie was able to close the final night with a speech in Bahasa Indonesia at the farewell party. He even delivered a break-taking poem which was well received by the island natives. 

 

 

The guys hope to have more opportunities for in-depth conversations on the next island. Please pray for such encounters. 

 

 

Team SEA (And Richie)