Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ireland's Last Post

So the saga continues…

Our time of vacation brought us from dingle where we stayed right on the water in a quiet lodge. We cooked our meals, but had to get our first meal’s ingredients from a convenience store, so we had carrots, pork slabs- yes slabs, and fries, all covered in too much salt. We could hardly finish, but didn’t have any alternatives. As usual, food made us tired and we headed for a nap at 7:30 pm. Instead of waking up, we slept until 1 am when we all awoke and we dying (almost) of thirst from all of the salty food. We recovered and had a lie in (sleeping in) the following day. We headed for town on foot and saw some early Christian ruins, but after 3 km, and 7 more ahead, the roads were getting too narrow, so… WE HITCHHIKED! Yes, our mothers would be appalled and our fathers a bit proud?, but we are still alive to tell of it. The lady scolded us for standing on the wrong side of the road, but was kind otherwise. We chilled and walked around a bit and got a taxi back. We enjoyed some traditional Irish music played by three generations of a French family and had many more laughs.

Our journey continued on to Cork, which was much more city and less country. We had more adventures in the kitchen, including lighting a gas stove with a small lighter and having more odd food. We traveled to a small town on the coast and visited a famous fort before heading back to Dublin where we almost missed the train back to Belfast.

We stayed with a friend from camp and were welcomed by 1st Saintfield on Sunday. We worked along Paul and his wife Valerie who were aided by two AMERICAN interns from Colorado Springs. We almost wet ourselves when we heard and were not let down. The six of us stayed in a cute brick cottage next to the church and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. We got a break from Holiday Bible Clubs and did our first Football (soccer) camp that went M-F from 2 to 4:30, which is exactly the same time that the clouds opened up and dumped rain on us. The kids were very enthusiastic, so we weren’t too discouraged, but still rather cold. Each day we peeled off our wet clothes and hung them to dry so they would be crunchy for the next day. Jenna suffered through the cold like a champ while Nicole suffered from her lack of coordination and subsequent moments of almost eating grass. The actual drills and ‘world cup’ were run by three guys from ‘athletes in action’ which is a Christian group of athletes who travel and teach. At 7 pm we had teen events, which always had a good turn out. Our first night was messy fun which involved carrying soy sauce from one location to another in our mouths, wrestling for inner tubes on a tarp covered in soap, water, and oatmeal, and the finale of covering each other in ketchup, chocolate sauce, mustard, baby food, and flour. Kiel had a major victory when he ‘antiqued’ Nicole across her face and neck with flour as she turned with her mouth open. Other nights included a costume party at which Jenna and Kiel dressed as twins, Nicole as a Spanish fruit seller with dark eyebrows and a mustache, and Quinn as himself. While we had a blast, we were also each responsible for a talk at the teen events. It was kind of sprung on us, but God calmed our nerves and allowed to speak clearly and truthfully to the young audience.

After Saintfield, we met David and Janet Maxwell, who are the pastor and wife duo from St. Andrews Presbyterian. We chatted over burgers at an ‘american diner’ and were introduced to the congregation on Sunday during a little q & a time. Like most churches that we worked with, St. Andrews had a large amount of people over the age of 40 (which isn’t old). There were young people working with us, but we were most blessed by the adults who treated us like royalty. They wanted to know if we wanted any special food for lunch and always had dairy-free options for Jenna. They were thrilled to have us there and made us feel like family. Since we were working alongside adults rather than teens, they allowed us to stay at some dorms of the Presbyterian church. We were picked up each day before noon and then fed delicious meals, which included an Ulster Fry: fried egg, sausage, THICK bacon, hash browns, and tomatoes. Fortunately they didn’t serve the black pudding (made from blood) because they didn’t like it either. Instead of one sport for the entire week, we lead a different sport each day. Before we came, they had called it the ‘Seattle Saints’ sports camp, so each participant got a t-shirt sporting our name. Along with explaining the sport, we gave a talk to the kids who ranged from 10 to 16. Kiel started off on Monday with basketball, Jenna followed on Tuesday with volleyball (which they didn’t really catch onto), Nicole led track and field at a track that was the real deal, and Quinn led baseball on Friday. Thursday brought a special football coach that made most of us feel like our skills were lacking a bit. It continued to rain almost every day, but stopped most day for the two hours we needed to spend outside.

During the evenings, we assisted with the holiday bible club from 6:30 to 8 and then went to a few teen events, such as Indianaland (yeah Indiana!) which was a play place for children that we overtook. A tragic event took place on Friday with ten minutes left in sports camp when Quinn twisted his ankle after dunking during basketball. It was decided that he should go to the hospital and less than two hours later he returned with a wrap, crutches, and no bill. The health care here is pretty sweet and Quinn was definitely impressed. Saturday was rainy, as usual, so we went out to lunch with David, Janet, their daughter and another family we had met. We chilled before heading for dinner, but the rain was not slowing at all. On the drive to dinner, we had to turn around because the road stopped where the runoff from a field was passing over like a river. Many houses were flooded and the new highway was flooded at one spot up to the bottom of the overpass-oops. We all thought it was exciting and were ready to grab a life boat, but things ended up okay. We attended Sunday service and were thanked by the congregation who gave us each a small gift. We had been chatting about football jerseys and were each given a Glentoran jersey as a token of our new friends’ appreciation. We felt like we had done what was expected, but the people were so grateful and cared for us like we had known them for a long time.

The next week involved a few days off to recover from the busyness of camps and catch up on sleep. Quinn’s leg slowly began to heal and he was able to throw the crutches to the ground and walk again on his own. On Tuesday and Wednesday we took the bus to the Youth and Children's area of the Presbyterian headquarters. We worked for half an hour stuffing envelopes and then had a coffee break where we met some of the people who had been helping us plan throughout our time in Ireland. On Monday and Tuesday evening our friend Gordon from our first camp at Faughanvale came and went to dinner and bowling with us. It was hard to think that we had known him for a week about six weeks ago and there we were talking again. Thursday was another day to relax and in the evening we met with Graeme, who has been our main contact person while here. He asked us some tough, but really thought-provoking questions about our experiences. He also took us around to see a see a C.S. Lewis statue and some of the houses where he lived.

Friday marked the final big event for our trip when we joined 60+ other young adults for the Route 66 conference, which was held at the dorms we were staying in. It was called 66 because there are that many books in the Bible. Starting Friday and ending this afternoon (Monday), we traveled between the dorms and Union Theological school to hear seminars to open our eyes to the teachings of the Bible. We had mini ones on Philippians, Ezekiel, Obadiah, and Mark, which showed us some amazing new things about the Bible, the history of Israel and God. We had a main speaker each evening who was originally from Australia so we got to hear another sweet accent. He spoke on 1 Kings and the life of Solomon. All of this Old Testament information has created a new appreciation for it and a desire to study it because we were told you can’t understand the second part (New Testament) without knowing the first part (Old Testament). We had quite a few friends from previous camps who were at Route 66, so it was difficult to say goodbye once again. We have jokingly, but also sadly said ‘see you in heaven’ to many of our new friends who we may not see again.

The summer has been a whirlwind of new faces and experiences, but has always been a good challenge. We leave for the states in a few hours, but would have to try very hard to forget all that we have learned. We are not the same people we came as and are excited to live out all that we have learned. We have struggled with issues of faith, team dynamics, God’s will for each of our futures, and many other things, but have been brought through these two months with a closer relationship to God. We thank you for your prayers during these past weeks and ask that your prayers continue as we face the new challenge of applying all that we have learned in Ireland to our lives back in the states.

Home soon!
Quinn, Jenna, Kiel, Nicole

Monday, August 25, 2008

Team Malawi Return Update

We're back in the states! What an AMAZING experience we all had. Here's an update on the last bit of our trip.

After finishing up our last week of ministries, we headed off to Zambia for a three day safari. The actual ride to Zambia was misery...7 hours of extremely bumpy and dusty roads. Upon arriving at the lodge, we were pleasantly surprised to find a family of elephants wandering through the the area. Also, there were monkeys everywhere...swinging from trees above our heads...running around the outdoor dining hall...they are as common as squirrels on the UW campus. Our accommodations at the lodge were guest houses overlooking a field of wild animals. We definitely felt pampered while staying there. During the safari rides, we were fortunate enough to see more elephants and monkeys, along with giraffes, zebras, warthogs, hippos, a leopard, and a pride of lions. It was absolutely surreal; all of us felt as if we were watching a real life version of The Lion King.

After finishing the safari, we headed off the Lake Malawi for a couple days as a debriefing time. Lake Malawi is huge; it looked like an ocean from the shore. So tranquil and exotic, it was definitely a great place to unwind and reminisce about our time in Malawi. We spent our time there swimming and jumping off rocks, which was an absolute blast. While at the lake, we also did a good deal of bartering for souvenirs. Some of us gave away clothing items and shoes in exchange for wooden carvings! What a great yet stressful experience that was.

So, we're back safe and sound, but still a little jet lagged. We all greatly miss Malawi, but are happy to be home as well. Thank God for such an indescribable adventure, and thank you for all your prayers!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Who needs Beijing? The Olympics are in Mekelle!

Hello All!!!

A lot has been going on here in Mekelle, Ethiopia. Life at the youth center has been fantastic. Last week we organized the one, the only Mekelle Youth Center Olympics, whooo! We had them in the morning for younger kids and in the afternoon for older kids. We included events such as short and long distance races, sack races, boot toss, shot put, wheel barrel race (the kids haven't stopped since we taught them this), and team sports such as basketball, volleyball, and handball. We finished last Friday and had a big closing ceremony where we handed out scarves, hats and wristbands to winners of the events. Our ceremony even had fireworks! We thought it was quite comparable to the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, haha, which were happening at the same time. The Olympics were a huge success and the kids really loved it, there was smiling on both sides all week!

The guys have been meeting weekly for Bible study with the men of the youth center staff. The girls have also been meeting weekly for Bible study with local female missionaries. They all feel they have been pumped full of wisdom at these meetings, luckily they're past their know-it-all teenage years so don't worry J. The girls also meet on Saturdays with some girls from the youth center for Bible studies. Our team is continuing to meet weekly on Wednesday night's to pray together. The Bible clubs for the little kids meet weekly and include a Bible story followed by coloring pictures relating to the story, sadly we do have to search the hems of their clothes before they leave due to their habit of stealing the crayons. We are really hoping to have more God-talk times with those we have made relationships with on this trip, a prayer for that would be great. Most people here are very familiar with Christianity as they practice it but are more focused on traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodoxy than having a close friendship or relationship with Jesus. Our goal here has always been and still is to show them that God wants to be in a relationship with them.

There have been a lot of positive things happening here but as always the devil is at work. For example…it seems that everyday there is another fight at MYC. There are power struggles between kids and they handle it through hitting, kicking, and yelling at one another. Some fights get pretty bad…yesterday one of our favorite kids got in a fight with an older teenager which involved rocks being thrown and punches being landed. Luckily, Matt and Joey were close by when it happened and were able to break it up before there was any more blood. So please pray for the kids here...and that we would have wisdom in how to deal with them, that a more peaceful environment would come to MYC (sadly they get enough of the other environment at home). Also don't worry, there are many great kids here that have endless amounts of affection, and thus we get more hand shakes and kisses than we could ever need!

Our team has been through a lot on this trip so far whether it be stretching ourselves to give attention to the kids, tiredness, sickness or stress. We have also had our problems with one another but we have been able to talk them through and by God's grace are still working well together and have been able to open up more with each other as we have grown closer through them. We would appreciate prayer that this growth would continue. We wrote each other love notes last week and have started intentionally learning about each other's lives at dinner. The Irish guys left yesterday so now our team is down to us four Americans. They were super fun and we will miss them and their accents (only Joey successfully learned how to say "how, now, brown cow" like them, the rest of us failed miserably, especially Matt who always ended up talking like a pirate).

Bret the goat was killed on Tuesday of last week. The deed had to be that day because the next day was the beginning of a 15 day fast from any animal products; we didn't realize that until the day before, oops. Matt had a difficult time eating something that was his best friend that morning; the rest of us quite enjoyed it.

Our team went to a Tigray rock church two Sundays ago called Mariam Korkor, which is a two and a half hour drive from Mekelle. So…on the way there our driver decided to run over a rock, which in turn popped our tire. Luckily we were in the city of Wukro when it happened so we were able to get it fixed in about 30 minutes. The hike up to the church was absolutely beautiful! (We took fifty million pictures) It was strenuous with lots of rock climbing and cliffs, Annalise had a moment in which she almost slid off the side of the mountain, but no worries she is alive and well and only ended up with a few scrapes. There were amazing views from the top and some cliffs with about a 2,000 foot drop off, our bus looked like a little pebble. When we got back down our trouble with the bus continued when it wouldn't start. So the guys jumped out to compression start it, thankfully it worked. Then…about an hour into the drive we hit some 2 inch thick mud on the dirt road (from the rain earlier, the problem was it looked fine because no cars had driven on the road since the rain). The driver lost control, we spun 180 degrees off the side of the road, and our lives flashed before our eyes. Miraculously, it was the side without the 10 foot embankment. So thank you for your prayers regarding safety no matter how casual they were because, as we've learned, safety is very important! All in all we had a day full of fun.

Last Sunday, Annalise and Matt went to the Romanat waterfall just outside of town with some friends from the youth center. The waterfall was a fun place to relax and enjoy the day off. Ethiopia has a vast landscape and is a beautiful country! The waterfall was dirtier than one you would see in the US, at one point we saw half a leg floating in the water, which turned out to be just prosthetic, but we were worried for a while though. Unfortunately, Annalise is no longer on the elite list of those who have not gotten sick here, as the minibus had to make an emergency stop on the way home. She was the last one on the team to be taken off the list, so that deserves some congratulations within itself. She is all better now, but currently Joey, Matt and Mikayla are battling colds. Prayer for good health would be much appreciated.

Mikayla and Annalise just began playing volleyball this week with some deaf girls at a nearby church twice weekly. They are a lot of fun, and full of laughter. It was hard to say yes to the request for them to come play, because it cuts into our much needed lunchtime, and we are already pretty busy at MYC and Operation Rescue Ethiopia (ORE). On top of that, they could only go four times, in our last couple of weeks in Mekelle, and they weren't sure if hanging out with them would measure up to anything of importance. But after a couple discussions, they decided that just coming and playing would be fun, and hopefully they can share a little of Christ's love through their time together. Please pray that they do see Christ through them, and that the time together is beneficial for everyone.

We just wanted to update you on the 8 year old, HIV positive girl named Yordanos. Our prayers have been answered and her new living situation with a believer named Leti is working out amazingly. She's even put on 2 kilos this month!!! We couldn't be happier with how God's working everything out. Thank you for all your prayers!

So as you can see a lot has been going on since we last sent an update. We just want to make it clear that we are enjoying our time here, and are very busy, and that's why we struggle to find time to write these! Like everyone we have had our ups and downs but with God we have persevered through it all. We are praying that the other teams begin arriving back safely and we are looking forward to seeing you on the other side of the world! We hope everyone is doing well!

With lots of Love,
Annalise, Joey, Matt, Mikayla
(AKA Team Beyonce)

Team India and Turkey are home!!

Three of the seven teams are now back in the States! The next team to come back will be Malawi on Wednesday the 20th.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bethlehem through security

Hey everyone,

Just a quick update from Team Bethlehem. I just received a text from them telling me that they just got through Israeli security and were boarding their plane. Please continue to pray for safe travels as they are coming home later tomorrow night!

Tears from Turkey

Hello again from Turkey,
Last night Antalya saw a downpour of unexpected rain accompanied by even less-expected thunder and lightening. Apparently anything other than sunshine and heat is unheard of in August. We had been hoping all summer to see rain in Antalya, and when it finally did, we felt right at home.
We are in our last few days in Turkey and we’re anxious to get home, but still trying to fully enjoy the short time we have left here. Friday was our last day working at the Kres’. It was a sad goodbye to say the least. At the end of the day the kids had a special goodbye planned for us. They gave us the traditional Turkish goodbye [a kiss on each cheek], and they each gave us a little turtle with their name written on the bottom to remember them by. In Antalya, turtles symbolize new birth and opportunity—significant because we had been working with young children. Since the beginning of the summer we knew that saying goodbye to the kids would be hard, and it lived up to our expectation. After lots of hugs and kisses we finally said goodbye.
This weekend Tans’ule, the owner of the kres’ invited us over for a traditional Turkish dinner, which we were able to help prepare—it was delicious. It was really fun to sit, talk, and listen to many of her stories. It was particularly special because Tans’ule has been very busy this summer, and we did not have many opportunities to spend quality time with her. At dinner, we were able to see the real heart she has for all the kids we have been working with, and it was interesting to hear more about each child and their family, because with the language barrier all summer, we only knew them by their smiles and personalities.
These last few days are filled with packing, finishing up a few errands [picking up the lat-minute mementos we want to have to remember Turkey, and visiting our favorites spots one last time—which of course includes the beach], and saying goodbye to the many people we’ve met here.
We leave for Istanbul on Thursday, where we get to spend a day and a half site-seeing, and then on Saturday we will return home. Please pray for safe travel. We can’t wait to see you all!
See you soon,
Team Turkey

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

God Bless you, Michael Phelps.

1st night in our hammocks (sorry the pics old... next time we'll have access to new ones)

Hello my long lost and awaiting compatriots. Words cannot describe the sorrow we feel for not being able to write to you until now. We dont have much time, so it will be kept short.

As a summary of our last week+'s activities, we've scaled the depths of Las Grutas (caves with holes no bigger than the girl's hips), swam in an exotic Cenote, visited (yet another) Mayan ruin, gotten attacked by a giant tarantula (3 meters across, it nearly swallowed Stu whole until he got it out of the house using his shotgun... aka we swept it out), watched the olympics as much as possible (Phelps is amazing... you all better be taking advantage of the opportunity to watch them like 30 hours a day), Nicole got sick on our last day of VBS here in Maxcanu and was ralphing all over everything and Josh attempted to kill his small 6 year old host-brother via squishing him in the car door - his missing arm will be a never fading memory of our stay here (just kidding...).

In other news, our final VBS, English class and construction project all finished today. The construction project (buidling the walls of a decently sized church) is still far from finished, but alas since we are leaving tomorrow we must leave it as is. We had a gran fiesta with a King Fu Panda piñata and all at VBS - it was quite chee-yuh (cool). It was really fun hanging out with the kids, since we'd spent 10 days or so with them and knew them better, and it was sad to say goodbye... but also a bit refreshing to finish one thing and now start another. Tomorrow we go off to a high school/young adults camp on the beach for four days. We're all super stoked, and should have a chance to lead some songs and some group games. Awesome! After that we will stay at the beach by ourselves for two nights, head back to Merida and then call it good and head home on the 21st. Woo! Crazy how time flies.

We have all been reflecting on our time here in Maxcanu and the rest of the time that we've spent here in Mexico and what we will be taking home, so keep those thoughts and that process in your prayers along with health, as a few members haven't been feeling 100% lately. You all are in our thoughts and thank you for thinking of us!

God bless America. TIM Mexico,
Josh, Stu, Anna and Nicole

VBS and english and construction
Abraham almost died via josh

Team Malawi Update

From Sami Allen...

Hey all so here in Malawi we are quickly coming to a close. Many tears are being shed as 2 months with the same groups of kids has caused many good relationships to be created. Amy had her last day of sports ministry on Thursday at a field that is just down the road from where we stay. As the rest of us got home Amy was standing just inside the gate with a bunch of girls yelling her name and reaching through the gate to try to grab her. Her face showing exhaustion and sorrow, she marched right back out to them for just one more time! She is really doing some good work here!

Tracy and I have had a bit of a different experience with our sports ministry field at Muzu village. This is a village COTN has not been in and has been trying though the chief is requesting money in order that COTN be allowed to feed the kids there. A few weeks ago while COTN was there officiating a soccer match in which the Muzu boys were a part of chaos came out. We haven't received the entire story but the Muzu boys were kicked out of the COTN league for being to violent during the game. Upset they threatened the ref and threw stones. During this time they said the Azungus (white people) were not allowed back. A Malawian staff Frackson went back to try to smooth things over with the chief but to our sadness we were not allowed back. The hardest part was we had made connections with the kids and never got to say goodbye. We had talks planned and never did a full wrap up. We know its in Gods hands but it is a difficult thing to not say goodbye.

This last Friday we had staff appreciation day with loads of games and a big lunch. There were kids here from some of the COTN houses and some of the staff came though the staff dinner was moved to Monday so more will come to that. As games were occurring we saw some mgwayi kids hanging around the back of our compound. Mgwayi is the village that backs our compound split only by an open field. We have been going to mgwayi five days a week for the last two months really making a connection with these kids. They sat watching us run around and laugh and play. All the interns hearts were breaking wanting these kids to come join us, though we were not sure what our directors would say so we avoided it. After some time they just started coming in. Looking at them they had gone home washed and put on their finest clothes before coming in. Lunch was approaching and looking around there was a lot more people then originally planned. Though that was not about to stop us, we started calling groups up to eat and mgwayi was included. These kids stood patiently in line while cooks rushed to make more food. Happily they sang songs and smiled in line. One by one they got their own plate of food and a fork. They went outside looking like they had won some sort of prize. After some coloring, food and games we walked them home. Looking back at the line of kids we were taking home there was more then fifty mgwayi kids that got to come play and eat! And still there was food for the interns! God provides!

Wednesday we leave to go to Zambia for Safari and will return Friday night. Saturday we leave for Salima (in Malawi) which is where we will spend the night at the lake and get a chance to swim, relax and debrief with all our interns!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Team Malawi Individual Updates

A little something from Amy

Well we are almost done with our ministry in Malawi, and it has, for the most part, been a blast. I have loved the time the whole group spends in mguayi, the village surrounding our dorms. I have really enjoyed connecting with two little girls named Jennite and Edena who have managed to give me a great arm work out every time! For sports ministry twice a week I have been visiting a village called mzumala, and it has been great interacting with the same kids. My favorite moment from sports has been getting to go to a girl named Ellen's house in the village and just spending time with her, washing dishes, drawing water from a well, and meeting her family. The Malawian people I have met are so friendly and relational, it has been such a blessing to spend time getting to know them and meeting their families. Another highlight from the trip has been going to Chiwango (a village about 2hrs from where we stay) and chasing chickens in the yard. As stupid as it sounds, the four of us that were "chicken hunting" had so much fun doing such a simple, silly thing; I think a lot of what made that such a memorable experience was just the relational bonding that has made so much of this trip amazing. The 16 other interns are incredible people and it has made this time in Lilongwe very worth while. I would so appreciate continued prayer for the remaining week of ministry we have left, and also for patience with one another as we grow tired and anxious about leaving soon. Praise God for what He is doing here and for how He is teaching all of us more about who He wants us to be!

A word from Tracy
Bo! That's Chichewa for "what's up!?" or "Hey!" Speaking of Chichewa, I'm becoming quite the little learner. So far I've mastered the basic body parts; kwapa (armpit) and lilime (tongue) are some of my favorite words to say. I've also mastered the phrase "Ndiku pita kwatu!" (I am going home!) and love to shout it out of context all the time just to confuse the locals.
Its an absolute adventure here in Malawi. Besides having a blast cramming as many Chichewa words and phrases into my head as possible, I've fallen in love with many other aspects of the culture as well.
The food, the music, the hospitality- these are the things I greatly appreciate about the Malawian culture. I've noticed that most things done here are done in community and with multiple members of the family present. Whether it's cooking, eating, dancing, doing chores, or entertaining guests, it is always a family affair. As a traveler coming from the U.S., it's a very refreshing observation. My favorite village we visit on a regular basis is a village called Muzu. I've been bringing my unicycle there twice a week and to my delight the teenagers are becoming quick learners. A lot of them will definitely be skilled riders in no time, which is great because I'm planning on leaving my unicycle at Muzu when we go back to the states. A new movement has begun in Malawi… the splendid art of unicycling!
Another highlight for me has been the fact that I celebrated my 21stmy 21st birthday here in Malawi! Along with receiving a care package from my family, I also got a special birthday cake and a gift from the COTN staff. No doubt about it, this birthday will never be forgotten!
As crazy as it sounds, it hasn't completely hit me that I'm actually in Africa. I'm loving each day each day here as I continue to see God's beauty and power in the lives of the people I meet. The Body of Christ is definitely alive and growing here in Malawi, and it's been an honor to be able to observe and partake in all of what God is doing in this part of the world.
Praises from myself
- my health
- my ability to be open and flexible with the culture
- the relationships established with other inters as well as the locals
Prayer Requests
- renewed energy and rest
- boldness in sharing the gospel
- patience and humility

A note from Sami
My favorite moment on deputation occurred in Muzu during sports ministry. I have a little girl jennifa is about three or four and she follows me around endlessly and to be honest I look forward to it each day. She doesn't smile and hardly talks. She just quietly follows me around or sits in my arms. One day she wasn't at the field and I kept asking for her and then I look over and this girl is carrying her towards me, she looks squeaky clean and dressed in new clean clothes. They set her in front of me and simply say "jennifa!" I know who she was and my heart lept with joy. I love her and hope she keeps it safe.
- I thank God for continued connection with kids
- For growing relationships with inters
- For continued growth in God
Prayer requests
- Health
- Rest, Energy
- That God will bless the village Muzu
- That Gods hands will be apperent in the lives of Jennifa, Krissy, Kidd, Wezzi and Precious

Monday, August 04, 2008

Team Turkey Update

Wow…where has the time gone? We have been planning to blog for a while but have been busy with the kids and time has been slipping away. The last few weeks have been an incredible whirlwind of excitement and busyness.
In the past few weeks we have been able to see some of Turkey’s beauty. We went to Duden Falls with Verna, our coordinator. It’s a gorgeous waterfall that flows throughout the city and pours into the Mediterranean. We really enjoyed the experience and it was nice to get out of the city.

Recently, we were invited to two birthday parties, which were a lot of fun and it was interesting to see how different cultures celebrate occasions. We learned some Turkish dance techniques that involved wearing jiggling skirts around your waist. Turkish people are incredible dancers and they start very young. Even our three year olds at the Kres are impressing us with their belly dancing moves.
Despite what you may think, we still have not fully adjusted to the heat, and are envious when we see Turkish people in jeans and long-sleeved shirts not even sweating.
Work at the Kres is going well. In true Turkish fashion, the number of kids that come everyday has dramatically fluctuated since the first half of our trip, which is a bit intimidating, but keeps us on our toes. It is teaching us to be more flexible, and learn that everything happens in God’s timing. Lately we’ve been reading lots of books with the kids, and even though they are in English and we hardly have a translator, they are always so thrilled to listen. The pictures are so help to make up for what gets lost in translation. One thing that we are so proud of is the unbelievable amount of English that our kids have been able to absorb. It is our favorite thing to hear them using what we’ve taught them and reciting English phrases in their cute little accents.

The longer we are here, the more our eyes are opened to God’s work going on in Turkey,, and our role in the process despite not being able to openly talk about our faith—especially to the kids. Not being able to use our words has helped remind us that we are a small part of how God is working, and that our actions are just as important as our words. Although it is difficult to measure, we can see how our subtle influence makes a difference in the projects that Verna oversees here in Antalya.
We are really enjoying ourselves and we’re trying to soak up our last week and a half here by going to the beach as often as we can, and appreciating the scenery. It is so bittersweet to be coming to a close as we realize that saying goodbye to the kids we’ve been working with will be quite tough. We feel so blessed to have witnessed the generosity and kindness of the Turkish people. Until next time,
Team Turkey

Friday, August 01, 2008

Team Ireland deserves some type of medal

Yes another update so soon- we should get an award, or maybe not.

To pick up where we left off, we arrived at Lowe Memorial outside of Belfast on Saturday, the 20th, and began working with 13 other people from age 16 to 22. Our leader was Christine, who we met when we first arrived in Belfast, so it was comforting to know 1 out of the 13 new people.

Saturday and Sunday were much like our previous camps in which we decorated and talked about the coming week on Saturday and then Sunday were introduced to the congregation and ate dinner with families afterward. We were each assigned prayer partners from the congregation and Kiel and Nicole went to the house of their partners. We stayed upstairs at the church, and had all of our meals down in the kitchen. At the other camps we could have showers daily, but we only had showers three times at Lowe, so we could hardly handle our own stench by the end.

We led the Bible Club in the morning to the theme 'Go For Gold', which had a ridiculous song to go with it. We even made up some 'killer' motions, that Quinn did oh so enthusiastically every morning. We also led teen events every evening. The first night we had less than 10 teens, but by the end of the week we had almost 20. It was encouraging to have local non-Christians attend the events, which involved a water balloon fight, and even a girls/guys night.We met some great teammates once again and had plenty of laughs singing a rap song called 'INDEPENDENT' and Kiel, Jenna, and Quinn had some sweet times playing Squash ball.

Our week of vacation began after Lowe, so we hopped on the train to Dublin on Saturday morning and stayed at a hostel right in the city. It sounds great, but there was literally too much sound as we were right across the street from a pub/nightclub that played real good dance songs until 2am in the morning. Our time in Dublin included visiting the Book of Kells and a really old library with over 200,000 books at Trinity College. We had money budgeted to us before the trip began and Nicole as treasurer misread the amount on the Food envelope, which means we only have 50 euro a day for food, which means we have to make almost all of our meals-oops. We headed out of Dublin on Tuesday morning at 7 and took a 7 hour bus trip to Dingle, on the west coast. We were so excited to be out of the city, but were greeted by the strongest rain that the city has had in years.

Time is up on the computer, but look forward to more info in our next update.

Kiel, Quinn, Jenna, Nicole

Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Inda-long update from Team India


Well, we are alive! In case you have not heard there were 7 bomb blasts here in Bangalore and many others in another city in India. We are all safe and the blasts were far enough away we did not hear or see them (Bangalore is a very big city). But besides not getting blown up, we have been really busy.

Shortly after our hospital trips we had a unique opportunity to bless Prem & Rita, our inda-parents (inda- is a prefix we use to describe something in India. This was developed because, although most things that we could get in the U.S. are available to us here, everything has a unique Indian addition). What we did is made them an American meal. Rita had been raving about how last years team had made Lasagna so we decided not to be outdone. We made Lasagna AND brownies. We were surprised that we were able to get all the materials (with much improvisation, of course) and shocked when it all turned out delicious. Despite a minor miscalculation on cooking time (dinner at 8:30pm) we had a great time laughing around the dinner table.

The following Saturday (July 19th) we went on a trip with the boys that live at the school to a place called Nandi Hills. It has been an enjoyable experience to invest deeper in the relationships we have been building with the boys in the hostel. The hills were beautiful and it was fun to get out of Bangalore to hike around.

That next week Prem took us to visit some of the ministries in Bangalore. It has been encouraging to see the way that people have let their passions really be shaped and fulfilled by God. First we went to the Bible Society of India, which is the largest translator of bibles in India and has been around for about 100 years. They had all kinds of bible paraphernalia, most of which we didn’t know existed (the entire bible on one page?). Then, Wednesday we toured the Baptist Hospital in Bangalore and got to spend some time with some other college students from the U.S. they were are very friendly, but it was kind of strange to interact with white people again (I know that sounds weird, but you don’t realize the cultural bubble we live in in the Northwest until you come to a country where you are the minority).

On Thursday we went to see The Dark Knight in the theater 1km away. It was an inda-movie. Once we found our assigned seats, but before the feature presentation began the houselights came on and everyone stood up, removed their hats, and sang the national anthem. Then almost exactly an hour and half into the movie the screen when blank, the houselights came on and everyone got up to leave. This was the intermission (every movie in India has one) Kevin and Roderick went to get some snacks, but came back to the seats empty handed. The movie commenced and within twenty minutes a person came to our seats with a tray of food. Kevin gave her some rupees and she gave him and Roderick the tray of food. This was the food that they had ordered during the intermission and it was delivered to our seats.

Friday of that week was when we were set to leave for Goa. Goa is an old Portuguese colony that is right on the Arabian Sea. The beach was beautiful and the water was warm, even though it rained the majority of the time. But the most memorable part of the trip was the inda-train ride. We had to travel overnight by train, 14 hours, to get to the state of Goa. It was quite an adventure. We had to get on to the train quickly; it only stopped at our station for 2 minutes (I’m not joking). Once on, we found the accommodations rather cozy. We settled in and got a full night sleep. In the morning we were a little more ambitious and explored the train some. We got to talk with the couple in the compartment next to ours and found out they live in the same neighborhood in b’lore and were in the same compartment as us on the ride back from Goa too. We have exchanged mobile numbers and hope to have dinner with them some time before we leave. The train gave us a new perspective on how pleasant and engaging the Indian people are. As we walked down the isles of the train we would run into random people that would ask us all about our time here and about the states. A common greeting after hearing we are from the U.S. is “America, huh? George Bush?” once we got a “How’s Bushy?” On the way to the toilet or just exploring we were often offered cigarettes, biscuits, beer, or anything else they had to give. The experience convicted us that we have been much too reclusive here and need to get out and meet people. At one of the stops Kevin and Roderick got off the train to get us all breakfast (Masala Dosa….mmmm). We began to worry when the train started moving and we still didn’t know where they were. A couple minutes after we left the station they came, panting, up to the compartment and we learned that they had waited until the train started moving, intentionally, so they could dramatically run and jump onto the train.

Once in b’lore Wednesday was our first day back at school and it was also Amber’s last day before she went home. Amber was another missionary here at Prem & Rita’s, working at the school. She hails from the thriving metropolis of Ritzville, Washington and attends Witworth University as a student of theology. Amber was really part of the team and she (having arrived two weeks before us) was like our inda-big sister. After school we visited a ministry called World Cassette Outreach of India. They make recordings of the bible in different languages and dialects in India to provide to the illiterate, tribal people of India (approximately 52% of India is illiterate. That number is hugely underestimated due to the fact that the Indian government defines literacy as being able you sign your name). It is also noteworthy that they seek to do it in different dialects and languages because the common estimate for the number of languages used in India is over 1600. Also visiting that ministry was a group of students from Northwestern College in Iowa who have been in India a month and are leaving tomorrow. It was fun talking with them and comparing experiences. Amber’s flight was scheduled to leave b’lore at 6am Thursday morning so she had to leave the house at 2:30am to get there in time. The girls stayed up with her while the boys slept until 2:30. When it was time for her to go we all saw her off. Today we had a half-day at school so, reinvigorated by the experience of talking with people on the train, we set out to be more social. God blessed us. While we were in a sweets shop one guy mid-twenties noticed our white skin (not hard to do) and decided to strike up a conversation. It was really fun; we got cokes and talked about culture and actors and by no fault of our own, religion. As it turns out he is a Muslim and he was very open with his faith and we were obliged to reciprocate that openness. After talking for 45 minutes we had to go, but we got his number and hope to meet with him again soon. This afternoon Prem took us to two more ministries: Far East Broadcasting Associates (FEBA) and Gospel Recordings. FEBA uses radio and handwritten, personal follow-up to encourage and share the gospel with all of India. Due to federal regulations they are not allowed to overtly share the gospel on the radio, but that is where the personal follow-up comes in. FEBA gets thousands of letters from listeners around the country and use those avenues to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. They have even seen Hindu priests come to Christ through their programs and letters. Gospel Recordings focuses on the illiterate peoples of India and provides tools for churches and missionaries to share the gospel in over 500 languages using pictures and recorded scripts.

At school we are sort of being weaned off of the kids. Whether it is for their sake or ours, we are not sure. We have spent the last couple of days doing some much-needed organizing work in the library of the school. Roderick has also been tasked with writing several descriptions of events for Rita to use in promoting the school. If we are honest with ourselves we are starting to get anxious to be coming home, but we still have a lot of great things planned and every intention of being fully present here until the final moment. We miss you all terribly and always appreciate your emails of encouragement. Please be praying for the ministries we’ve mentioned. They are fighting the good fight and doing so with such passion and drive.

Love Teamindia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What the sheesh is Dengue doing in Chapab?

Us in front of the plaque on the completed house.

Unibows - and yes, that is Stu's hair.

The people that mean the most to us in Chapab.

Hello everybody!!! After a long week of goodbyes, hellos and fiestas (as always) our team is back in Mérida resting up a bit. We just finished up our time in Chapab - finishing the house we built, our VBS classes and english classes.

First we will begin with our recent exciting events: just last week we found out that this "meat" called "sheesh" we had been eating in Chan Chans was actually tripe. And what is tripe you ask... it is "the first and second divisions of the stomach of a ruminant, esp. oxen, sheep, or goats, used as food" ( And apparently they use the word sheesh here to describe the remnants of something that noone wants. Mmmm. On that note, we also found out that our little pueblo of Chapab had a small infestation of Dengue. This came to our attention one day when a man with a blower full of insect death juice showed up to spray our house and we were told not to go back inside for a while. That was neat-o, since none of us got dengue shots. Somehow we made it out alive though, so its OK. Next was spoons. Yes, we taught our families how to play spoons.... it was awesome. The entire concept of the game was not completely understood by all, which made the game all the more fun. As a summary, Stu and Josh cheated for grandpa Don Berto and grandma Griselda so that they wouldn't lose every time, and whenever someone got 4 of a kind he/she would scream and lunge to the middle of the table. No words can describe the glory of this event, but there was much laughing and lots of comments about cheating in English that they didn't understand. Oh and we played again the next day with 21 people... it was incredible.

ALSO, during our time in Chapab we have been trying to share the finer side of the American dining experience with our families via desserts. They loved our cake, but we recently discovered that they HATE apple crisp. We spent a couple hours making it for them only to discover that our dessert was "really good" (according to our families) but that thye in fact hated it and wanted Josh to finish all of their plates for them. Weird. Seems like they prefer their salty chili covered apples instead (seriously...). They did love the Rice Krispy Treats though.

Our last week of events with the church also went very well. We finished our house just before we had to leave, leaving a plaque with our names and commitioning the house in the name of God. We also had more kids than ever - 40+ each day - and got them to chant "GO HUSKIES", Husky football game style. it was awesome. Take that, Oregon. It was really neat since we were finally getting to know some of the kids better, making the VBS scene a lot more exciting and fun for everyone. We had a "clausura" (goodbye party) for the VBS with 2 piñatas, lots of kids and complete chaos which was a great way to close off our time in Chapab, though it was sad to say goodbye to all the kids. We also taught our English class the word "awesome" and closed off with some English jeopardy.

Luckily we did not have to give our final goodbyes to our families, since we will be seeing them in 3 weeks for our final goodbye party, so that made it all a bit more bearable - but it was still sad, and its a bit weird to think about moving on to our next village and new family.

As for recent news, Nicole has recently obtained a new nickname: Sleepy Bear. I will leave the interpretation of the name up to the reader. We've been having an awesome time as a team, talking about lots of random things, painting each other (we've been painting a school the last two days) and just having good conversation. We're all a bit nervous but also excited to move on to our next village, so prayer for that transition would be awesome. Also prayer for continued team bonding, our remaining projects, health and the relationships that we have made so far would be greatly appreciated.

God bless all of you and thank you for thinking about us as we are thinking about you all.

TIM Mexi-Mala,
Nicole, Anna, Josh and Stu

Monday, July 28, 2008

Team Ireland update...its about time. :)

Hey everyone,

You may be wondering, but we are still alive- we have just been busy and have slacked off a bit with updating the blog.

There is much to update on, but we’ll try to fill you in on everything. After finishing at Faughanvale, we had five days off to travel and recuperate. We didn’t realize how tired we were until we stopped moving, and then it hit us hard. We left the camp on Sunday and stayed at a hostel in Londonderry by the North Coast. We were in a room with about five other people and had some pretty weird, and funny experiences. On Monday we traveled around the city on walls that are old- maybe very old?! We visited a museum about the history of the “troubles”, which is what the violent times of unrest are called. That night we met up with some friends from our last camp for dinner and then headed to Downhill Hostel, which is right on the ocean. The woman who owns it used to go the UPC, so we felt at home even though we were a far way from it. We stayed there for two nights and had a blast. We borrowed wet suits and boogie boards and Kiel and Jenna rode the waves, while Nicole and Quinn pretended to know what they were doing! We traveled along the coast by bus to Giant’s Causeway, which is a huge area of hexagonal stones of different heights that extend out of the water. We also visited a rope bridge that moved a little too much for Quinn and Jenna’s comfort, but we all made it safely across- both times! We caught the train back to Belfast for a few days where we traveled around the city with friends and took a sweet tour of the city on a double decker bus.

On Saturday, we got a three hour car ride down to Mullingar (in the Republic), but not before resting up by sleeping in until 1 pm- it was amazing. Nicole had never had fish’n’chips, so we stopped for dinner at a place that we were sure would make her fall in love. However, the fish was more like an eggo waffle with its squareness and it slapped us on the chin when we tried to take a bite. We recovered in time to meet the Mullingar team of 18, most of whom were from the North and not the Republic. The pastor of Mullingar Presbyterian, Steven, was joined by his sisters, Cathryn and Susan, in the running of the camp. It was hard to shift back into camp mode after the break, but everyone was great and we soon were joking around and laughing. Unlike Faughanvale, we did two Holiday Bible Clubs each day, one at 10:30 and the second at 2, so we were constantly running about. We had around 65 kids at the morning session and 40 in the afternoon, but the afternoon bunch seemed just as energetic, or maybe crazy, as the morning. The church was VERY small and we had to move into an army tent outside for certain activities. This also resulted in us staying with families of the congregation and community. Jenna and Nicole stayed with the Wilsons and their two sons and Kiel and Quinn stayed with the three other guys at the house of a man named Cyril who arrived home at 3 am and always left the lights and tv on. Our theme for the week was Champions, and Steven used his guitar skills to write a song to the tune of ‘Don’t Stop Me’ by Queen? The camp was very different from Faughanvale, but was just as great. We were exhausted, but were blessed by the kids and the great team members who kept us sane, or at least laughing. We had to leave Mullingar early and miss the last two days of events to head to our next camp, Lowe Memorial, in Belfast. We have more to write, but are going to wait a day or seven so that you will have something to look forward to and we will be able to say that we have posted more.

To everyone who makes it this far, we thank you for loving us and being excited about what God is doing through and in each of us. Please keep us in your prayers and we’ll write again soon-hopefully.

Jenna, Nicole, Kiel, Squinn (or Squid or Squinn)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ethiopia....Party Time, Excellent!

Joey with a bunch of kids at Mekelle Youth Center

Annalise and Danny at the blind school

Us in Aksum in front of one of the giant obelisks

Workin' the Beyonce T-shirts

First we want to apologize for not updating you all for a couple weeks, we have been extremely busy. The missionaries we are partnering with here left to go back to the States earlier this week. On top of our daily routine at Mekelle Youth Center we are going to Operation Rescue to teach orphans English, act out Bible stories and sing a lot of "Father Abraham" for them. We tell you, it's one of the most freeing feelings to dance ridiculously in front of 50 students while they stare at you like you're ooh-id (Tigrinya for crazy). We take turns in partners going to the blind school in the area on Friday mornings. We love going and hanging out with the kids, we might go a couple times a week when our commitment at Operation Rescue ends. We are getting a little tired and have a hard time staying up past 9pm, as we are working 6 days a week. However we were able to take a bit of a vacation last weekend (though it gave us no time to rest.)

This past weekend we hired a "party" bus (we nicknamed it that) to drive us up to Aksum. It took us about 6 and a half hours on the bus to get there on the Adigrat Road. Although it looks close on a map the terrain was very extreme so there were lots of switchbacks and turns and at least 2 different mountain ranges on the road. Luckily we only saw one car on it's side and our drivers understood that we wanted to make it back to Mekelle so they didn't drive "too" fast. The scenery was gorgeous and the drive was entertaining as we passed livestock, many people walking, and police checkpoints.

Aksum is a city in northern Ethiopia (we could see Eritrea at one point....awesome) that is the center of the old Aksumite empire. We saw the obelisk field there that was constructed sometime in the 4th century AD. The obelisks (called stelaes by the locals) are tomb markers, carved out of a single block of stone, the largest one being 33 meters, and 250 tons. We saw the reconstruction being done on one that the Italians took during their occupation here and only recently returned to the Ethiopians. We also saw the St. Mary church compound. This is the location where over 250 Ethiopian kings were crowned and the Arc of the Covenant is said to be kept. It is believed that the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon had a son who went to Jerusalem and brought the Arc to Ethiopia. We also saw a toucan there…absolutely awesomely fantastic.

On the way back we were booking it so the drive only took 5 and a half hours. Joey, Matt, Mikayla, and the Irish guys each took turns driving the bus for a few minutes, all while Annalise mentally yelled at the people who said they would teach her how to drive stick but still have yet to do it. Don't worry though, there weren't many cars on the road… although when Mikayla was driving she had to stop abruptly about 100 yards away from a random police checkpoint. The driver jumped back in his seat and thankfully as we began our approach they just waved us right on through.

Our daily schedule involves us getting to the youth center at 8:30 or sometimes earlier if we feel like eating at the café for breakfast. At 9 am we begin sports and English with kids younger than 12 years old. At noon, we have a break for lunch. On Monday and Wednesday we go to teach Operation Rescue during lunch. We're back at MYC at 3pm (or 4 pm on Operation Rescue days) the time in the afternoon is full of bingo, sports tournaments and English for the older kids (age 12+). We usually wrap up the day around 6pm and then get some dinner. We normally get about 9 hours of sleep, and then the day starts over again.

The guys bought four chickens 2 weeks ago and had a chicken dinner. They almost had too much fun killing them and eating them. Next on their list is the goat. They bought the goat yesterday (Saturday) and named it "Bret" after the guy from "Flight of the Conchords." They are planning on having a block party Ethiopian style towards the end of the trip with all the friends we have made. Until then the goat is eating lots of grass and keeping the girls up at night (their house has more grass).

The girls are hating the boys and thinking about throwing the goat out of the gate door in the middle of the night. Otherwise they're enjoying there time here especially their bible study on Wednesday nights with the women missionaries here, there is so much wisdom when you mix generations together. Last Thursday, they went to lunch at one of the high school age girl's house. They ate delicious food, played with her 4 year old brother, and watched music videos on Arabian MTV which made them feel a little like they were at home. On Wednesday night they ended up outside a brothel where a little 8 year old HIV positive girl named Yordanos lives with her older sister. She is being placed in a new home soon thankfully. We ask prayer from all of you that her placement will work out for her (as she refused profusely the first time and that's why the girls and a missionary ended up taking her back to her sister at the brothel on Wednesday night).

We are loving our time here and it is going by so fast. We could use prayer for good health, Mikayla is getting over her sickness and Joey has been fighting a soar throat and fever the past week. We also would like prayer for opportunities to share the gospel with people we have built relationships with for the past 4 weeks. We also need wisdom in where and how to spend our time, so we wont be spread too thin, but at the same time we are doing what we can, and being as useful as possible.

Chow for now!
Team Beyonce
Annalise, Joey, Matt, and Mikayla (which is a boys name here…hilarious)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Living la Vida Locust

La jungla, polol, chitzen itza, yaxuna, ticul, fiestas, just a quick list of all the places and things we saw this last week...AWESOME! (english word of the week). The bugs and storms have been bigger and better than ever, we (and 13 others) got a bug shower in the back of a sweet pickup truck, as well as playing with locust, praying mantises, furry and deadly catterpillars,stick bugs, gigantic poison-filled jumping spiders, scorpions, and giant ranas (toads...poisonous ones of course). We also made it through tropical strom Dolly which dumped gallons of rain periodically for the last few days.
The week started out with a true American battle royal on the hardwood (a cement sketchy puddle ridden b-ball court in the central plaza). Anna, Josh, Stu, and the shortest worst Mexican baskeball player ever took on a well oiled Mexican team...aka four other terrible Mexican players. The game got intense and tempers flared as we battled for every point of the first to 25 by ones game. Team USA fell behind somehow 15-9 due to some sloppy play, fortunatly we were able to dig deep relying on our superior knoledge and team play, making an epic comeback worthy of a denzel washington sports movie. Nicole provided moral support from the bench...aka she evangalized...aka flirted with the local policia....that is all she does...ever...for real....word.
Our next major adventure was a family trip to the lagoon and cenote where they used to live. After a hour long pickup ride through the dense jungle we arrived at the end of the road, aka the place where the truck couldn´t pass and we had to hike, we knew we were in over our heads when all the others carried machetes and we were packing a rifle. We got to the cenote after a quick bushwacking, the locals didn´t want to swim due to traditional legends. We jumped from 25ish feet into some sweet cool water, but we were a little aprehensive after hearing about the snakes that frequent the water too.
Last weekend we took a quick trip to Yaxuna, a town of 150 people where we helped to build a rock wall between the local presbyterian church and their neighbors. The houses we stayed in there were made of sticks and mud with tin was legit and surprisingly not too many bugs. We got up Saturday morning at 5:15 in order to walk to a closeby ruin where we watched the sunrise over the Yucatan, there are next to no hills in the area so we could see for miles. There was another small cenote in the village that we got to swim in, it was more than a little sketchy because it was way below ground and the trees and undergrowth blocked out almost all the light that was left in the sky, during our walk to the cenote a storm came dumping rain, we had to run to find shelter in the water from the lighthing...good idea? After some more work on the wall which was more like doing a jigsaw puzzle with rocks and cement we got in the van and headed out to Chitezen Itza, one of the biggest and most famous Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. Going to a tourist destination was a little bit of a culture shock to us, soo many people speaking english and buying souveniers...not like the little villages we have grown accoustomed to. the ruins were beautiful and full of mysteries, we wandered around the ruins for almost 3 hours before getting some pizza and shaved ice for lunch...a little slice of home was nice.
We are now back to work as usual, VBS classes have been great, lots of kids with lots of energy(today we lead them in a sweet chant of GO HUSKIES!!!!) they loved it even though they didn´t really know what they were chanting about. English classes contiune to be amusing, teaching them important phrases as well as random slang like ¨awesome¨, ¨the bomb¨, and ¨i want to play with your hair¨ was a request from anna and nicoles mexi-dad. we have also been teaching them about the finer food of the US...aka cake. None of the people here had ever heared about making a cake, they were blown away by the fact that we can make a cake from a box in a half hour, we have already made two, thursday we are going to make a huge spaggetti dinner with marble cake for dessert.
It is crazy to think that we are almost halfway done with our time here, we only have five more days in Chapab before we head off to Merida and then to Machcanu. Our spirits are still high for the most part, everyone is deffintly missing aspects of summer in seattle and everything that that entails...seafair, golden garden and such as well as missing the tour de france and knowing that we will miss the majority of the olympics. we can deffinitly need prayer for energy and good attitudes as we change homes as well as direction for where we can be most usefull and open ears and hearts to see where and how God is leading and teaching us. until next time.
-ojala en cristo
anna, nicole, stu, and josh

Loose motions in India

Teamindia has had an eventful week. Marykate started having stomach pains last Sunday evening. The whole week she was tormented by fever and loose motions (that’s what they call diarrhea here) and by Wednesday she was admitted to the Hospital. After some tests the doctors divined that she was suffering from Typhoid fever. An Indian hospital is an experience unto itself and Marykate ended up spending two nights there. Images conjured by the word Hospital for those of you in the U.S. probably do not do justice to a Hospital in India. Words like sterile, white, and private could not be applied to Marykate’s experience. A nurse would come in randomly, give her some pills to take, or give her a shot in the butt, or take some blood, in all instances leaving without any explanation. But by the grace of God the team’s prayers were answered and she completely recovered after only two nights.

Unfortunately for her though she missed a great day on Friday. We had the opportunity to take two of the classes from the school to a day camp. The camp had a ropes course, trampolines, a zip-line, great food, and a loving staff. The staff was great with the kids and gave them enough activities and guidance that we were able to play a bunch too. We found the camp so rewarding and exciting for the way that we were able to encourage and challenge the kids to face their fears and rise over obstacles on their own. One of the kids, Bharath, at the start of the day wouldn’t even go near the ropes course, but after much coaxing we convinced him to just sit on the platform, then convinced him to stand on the platform, then before we knew it he was going across and he made it across on his own. To see the triumph and the joy in his eyes was moving. We also had a unique opportunity to build relationships with some of the older kids in the school, children that are less severely disabled.
Despite all the fun and fellowship Kevin succumbed to stomach pain as well. This led to fever and our old friend loose motions. Roderick was instated as Kevin’s temporary nurse and tended to his every whim until he to was admitted, kicking and screaming, to the hospital. But Kevin’s hospital experience was markedly different from Marykate’s. Due to a lack of available space in the ward where Marykate had been admitted just days before, Kevin was placed in the “Special” ward. “Special” in this case meant individual rooms with a private bathroom, air conditioning, and a television. Roderick stayed the night with him. It was an adorable sleep-over, and despite the IV in Kevin’s hand they still had one hell of a pillow fight (just kidding). But Kevin got out today and now everyone is healthy (knock on wood). As of today we have one more month and although it has gone by very quickly it still seems as though we have another lifetime before we can begin to think about coming home. We miss and care for you all deeply, keep us in your prayers. Congrats Nolan and KatieJo!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Footsteps of Paul

Hello from Turkey,

Our week studying Mexico with the kids ended on Friday with a fun Mexican Fiesta. Our craft throughout the week was putting together 3 paper mache piñatas which went over very well during our Fiesta. We also played some pin the tail on the donkey and enjoyed some Mexican food… or as close to Mexican food as we were able to recreate here in Turkey. Overall we all had a lot of fun and we are continuing to be encouraged by the kids’ enthusiasm.

Saturday night we got the opportunity to experience a traditional Turkish Bath (Hamam). It was quite interesting and memorable to be scrubbed down by complete strangers. It ended with a soap massage and we all felt squeaky clean.

The next morning we left Antalya and headed for Ephesus. Along the way we stopped in Denizli which houses ruins from the ancient city of Laodicea. We got to walk around in recently excavated market place and even saw a 2,000 year old stadium that would have held Chariot races. After that we stayed the night in Pammukale, a town famous for its natural hot springs. On Monday it was on to Ephesus. First we visited the Church of St. John and saw his tomb. The church was built up around his tomb centuries after his death. Seeing the city ruins of Ephesus brought to life Paul’s journeys, many of which included a stop in Ephesus. We were able to stand in the amphitheater that hosted the famous riots against Paul and his teachings. (Acts 19:23-41) After this weekend we all have a deeper understanding and appreciation of this land (Turkey) and its importance in early Christian History.

We are all exhausted from our 7 hour bus ride home to Antalya but are looking forward to being back with the kids tomorrow. We hope all is well at home, we hear the weather is just gorgeous! Keep us in your prayers,

Team Turkey

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Malawi life

Hey all its the Malawi team checking in.
We have not given you a full update yet so here goes!
The three of us, Tracy, Amy and Sami met up with 22 other interns. Most of them are from the US but we have 8 from Malawi who are amazing help to us and its been great getting to know them!

Our weeks are really busy. Monday Wednesday and Friday mornings we do our service projects for COTN ( the organization we came through). Those afternoons we go into Mgwai a village that backs the compound we stay in. There are a couple hundred kids there that we get to play with and see God working through. We give a bible lesson at the start of the week and then follow up the other two days!

Tuesday and Thursday mornings we visit our host family, which has been an amazing experience. With our family we learn real Malawian skills. We attempt to carry water on our heads, “mud floors”, wash pans with dirt… oxymoron?… maybe. We are experts at washing clothes by hand! We can also make our own corn flour! Those afternoons we do our “personal ministry”. For some this means working with widows, mentoring or doing art projects. However for the three of us it means doing sports ministry. This includes going into a village and building the excitement around the soccer organization COTN has created. We give a bible lesson each visit and show Gods love by just playing with the kids.

Our living situation is pretty great! We have running water… most of the time. Sometimes its even hot! Our electricity comes and goes, dinner seems to be the best time for it to go out! We live in a single story dorm with 16 beds total in two rooms. We have a bathroom and a “laundry room”. The boys have the same set up. We have a big brick wall that surrounds the Njewa compound and the compound next door “Salima” houses huts for the one week teams as well as our lunch hall. Food has been a unique experience for us. We eat nsima, which is corn flour and water boiled to the consistency of mashed potatoes. You use it to pick up the “greens” which are veggies boiled down to nothing. We also have a good amount of rice and beans as well as corn porridge. Most of the Americans put peanut butter on everything in order to get some nutrients! We will probably never want to see it again when we get home! One of our best experiences was going into the market on a food hunt. We were given a Malawian budget and a shopping list in Chichewa. We had one Malawian with us and were dropped off near town. We all made it back, nearly all of us with the live chicken that was on the list. We then had to kill it, gut it and prepare dinner… eeek! We really are true Malawians! Some of us our vegetarians now!

Well God is growing us each and every day and we can see him working in the kids! Here are some prayer requests:
1) Health! We have gotten a bad bout of illness. All three of us have been fighting sickness but have come through it for the most part!

2) Here are some Malawian kids that have touched our heart, so pray for their health and that God would open their heart to his message: Krissy, Jennifer, Aisha, Ellen, Martha and Wezz

3) Team Dynamics. With 17 girls in one little dorm and no break we can get frustrated easily, especially with people getting sick!

4) Continued strength for ministry and connection with kids!

Sunday, July 13, 2008



Sprawled across our makeshift "Cyber" slash internet café, we sit to write our next entry. The last few days have been long but good. Weekends are filled with church activities: prayer vigils, graduation thanksgiving parties, birthday thanksgiving parties nad 4 hours on Sundays. Quite an experience.

Recent exciting happenings: We went to an authentic Mexican Wedding last weekend! Although, now that its all over, we would like to retract our excitement from the last sentence... our expectations had been so high, but we were disappointed with a lack of dancing (not even one dance!) and food that was ALL smothered in mayonase. There was mayo in places where we never thought possible. Looks like USA wins this time. We also traveled to a Mexican "Rancho" yesterday (on Nicole´s birthday!) where we chilled with some cows, rode a horse and just got to experience the countryside a bit. Oh, and we had 20+ people riding in the bed of a small pickup truck riding to said Rancho. Don´t worry, lots of pictures were taken. Last big thing was a Cenote that we visited on Thursday. A Cenote is basically a big cave with real deep water that you can swim in. It was beautiful and extremely refreshing in our 95 deg heat. The best part may have been the horse drawn rail cars that took us to and from the Cenote. It was pretty sketch.

Construction, Bible classes and English classes coninued as normal also. A typical day for us here in Chapab includes us working on Geronimo´s house from 8-11am in the morning, resting until lunch time, planning after lunch, VBS at 4pm and English class at 7pm. Nights and afternoons are ours to do what we please - roaming around the town and possibly playing some basketball or soccer is a favorite activity. Its too hot to do so during the day. Activities are going pretty well, the house looks like it might not fall down dispite our best efforts... the kids are loving playing around and learning the song Pharoah Pharoah and everyone can now count to one hundred in English class.

Our team is plugging along here in Chapab, although it has been difficult at tmes adjusting to our new location and schedule. Patience is definitely key here... I´m assuming the word "punctuality" does not exist in Spanish. example... if church starts at 6pm, then you can expect there to be 4 or 5 people there by 6:20. Yeah. The record for late-starting-ness is currently an hour and 45 minutes. Besides patiance, we have all been learning how to best work together as a team and really support one another´s needs. Of course, things have been very different than expected also - this being both a good and a bad thing at times. We all already feel like we are part of the families with whom we live, and even the community to a degree too, which is great. Everyone (seriously, like everyone) in the 2500 person town knows our names and is not shy to shout out to us as we pass by. Its been neat to see how receptive and excited all the people here have been. We can already tell it will be very sad to leave in two weeks.

Thank you to all that have been reading and praying about us, as we are all healthy and no serious issues have been encountered. Please continue to pray for health, communication and direction for the rest of our time here in Chapab.

Team Yucatan

Malawi Update

Malawi team is alive and well. Things haven't changed too much except God is showing himself more and more! Please pray for health of our team. Sami got really sick and is on the mend but our team as a whole is getting run down.
Please also pray that God continues to open the hearts of the children and parents we meet every day!

For more updates on Team Malawi, you can also check out:
or the intern team blog (of the Malawi interns from UPC and elsewhere):

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Northern Ireland... fan-dabby-dosey!

Hey guys! Ok well, first of all... our apologies from failing to blog more than once thus far. I guess we are just having that great of a time! (also, internet access is surprisingly hard to come across in this first world country!)

Northern Ireland has been such a whirl wind so far! We started our first camp in a small farming town called Faughanvale. The people that we worked with were absolutely incredible and we were so heartbroken to say goodbye. We all worked with different ages, Kiel and Jenna had the ages 7-8, Nicole with the teens and Quinn had 9-10 year olds. The holiday bible camps are so great and the kids with the accents can break your heart in one sentence, or one lick in Jenna's case. (A little blonde girl named Grace had a problem with licking everyone). Each night we had programs for the young people in the town. This included a talent show with Kiel looking like a very pretty woman dressed up for our rendition of blind date, and Jenna was a little too scary as scary spice in a lipsync. We also had a barn dance, a treasure hunt and lastly, celebrated our independence with an enormous slip and slide rally.

Ireland is absolutely beautiful and the rain intends to always keep it that way! We have just had a couple of days to travel and have seen the best of the north, even with a little sunshine. We even spent an afternoon at our hostel buggie boarding in the waves! We are heading down south to Ireland on friday to start our second camp... and are excited to see the differences between the North and South. The accents have definitely been a humorous addition to our experience, we now and forever will pronouce Chicken as CHAken.

We miss you all and think about what the other teams must be up to while we are learning line dances to "cotton eye joe" with Northern Irish teens! I hope this blog doesn't make us sound as though we are only having fun... because we are having a LOT of fun! We still would love prayer for travel, understanding of cultures and for our team in general.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Team 'Beyonce' Update


We are safe and settled in Mekelle! Mindy and Megan (the WSU team) are headed home tomorrow but we had a great time with them before they left. We are also working with Mike and Kenny (the guys from Northern Ireland, pronounced Norn Iron) and they will be here for the majority of the time we are. We are slowly adjusting to everything from the taste of filtered water, gross, to the way people tell time (it is a 12 hour clock which starts at our 6 am; e.g. our 8 am is their 2 am). We also learned of an elite list of Short Term Associates that didn’t get sick while here in Ethiopia. Matt has fallen short of it by being the first of us to get sick, he had a bit too much injera (the common food here) and it didn’t agree with him, if you know what we mean. But it wasn’t too bad and he is feeling much better now. It is highly unlikely that the rest of us will make that list but we are hoping to. In other words we could use prayer for good health and lots of energy bec! ause there are tons of kids that yell our names and want to play constantly.

Our first experience with the kids was humorous. Joey introduced himself and they thought he said Joro, meaning ear in Tigrinya, and since then he has been struggling to get them to call him by his actual name and to get them to stop laughing at him, the rest of us of course have been no help to him we think it’s just as funny. Everything has been great so far and has kept us smiling. When we are playing catch with a frisbee or football every kid comes up to you with the biggest eyes and cutest faces and basically begs for you to throw it to them next. The kids love attention and we love giving it, we’re hoping it won’t get too overwhelming.

The guys (Joey, Matt, Kenny, Mike) are going to buy a goat in the next week and work on fattening in order to have good food for an end of the summer celebration. The guys are also excited to buy some live chickens to kill and eat as well. They also have a dog (the guard’s dog) named Gorat who is the skinniest dog we have ever seen. He is very cute and is becoming happier and friendlier the more they feed him.

The girls are settling in well and are having a good time looking at potential meal ideas. It’s a little difficult with the limited range of food but they’re looking forward to being mad scientists in the kitchen by planning food experiments. They went with Megan and Mindy and some of the older girls from MYC to the blind school last Friday and played games with the kids. Daniel one of the kids sang Rihanna’s song Umbrella for them; it was super cute…all the kids were super cute.

Currently we are making our weekly schedule for our time here, so life here is tentative at the moment. As far as we know we will be having English classes with all age groups on a daily basis, planning tournaments of table tennis and other sports, and playing lots of Uno and bingo, no we are not working at a old folks home they are just obsessed with that game. We are all having tons of fun and laughing a lot! In fact the guys have been walking around town wearing cowboy hats and aviators. We all bought Beyonce t-shirts and have now officially changed our name from Team Ethiopia to Team Beyonce. We also found some sweet lighters that project a picture of Osama bin Laden, of course we bought those as well. Let’s just say life is fun.

We thank all of you, we appreciate your prayers. It is very comforting to knowing half way across the world people are praying for us and that God is ultimately in control.

Chow Chow!
Team Beyonce (a.k.a. Annalise, Joey, Matt, Mikayla)

TeamIndia Not 'Bad' but 'Wet to the Bone'

We’ll start from where we left off. After our exciting Mysore trip, we had a half-day at the school (they have a half day once a month where the teachers spend the rest of the day together so they don’t get burned out and they can build relationships). Tuesday Prem and Rita had a birthday party here at their home (and our home for that matter) for a good friend of theirs who turned 85. It was a really big party because they aren’t sure how many more birthdays she will see. It has been encouraging to see the devotion of the Christians in India. Even this woman’s birthday party had a sermon, worship, and prayer, granted she is one of the Christian leaders of India, but it was still interesting to see and meaningful to be a part of. Also, the food at the party was incredible; lamb biryani, chicken curry, naan, and concluded with a toffee cake.

Wednesday we were still full the majority of the day at school and that evening we experienced our first true monsoon. At about 8:30pm the rain started pouring outside. Rain here is such a refreshing escape from the constant drizzle in Seattle. Sheets and sheets of rain fell on us as we ran through the streets and into the park. We ran and laughed and splashed and jumped and were wet to the bone. The amazing thing is the next morning everything is dry. The ground here is so dry and thirsty when the rain comes it drinks it up within hours. From there we rolled on through the week until Friday.

Friday (as I’m sure you are all aware) was the 4th of July (United States Independence Day) and we had the privilege to sing our national anthem in front of the school. Did you know that there are like 6 verses to the Star Spangled Banner? We were relieved we only sing the first. For Independence Day we sought out to spend a very American day and decided we would go to the Hard Rock Café for cheeseburgers. The occasion was also marked as the last day at the school of Sonya, another volunteer who was also living here with Prem and Rita. So we made sure she was sent out with a bang. The burgers were incredible and we had a great time at the café, but it did make us all a little homesick.

Saturday we went on a safari and explored the zoo in Bangalore. The safari was fun, we were shuttled nearly arms length away from lions, tigers, and bears, but the real spectacle was inside the park. In the park there were all sorts of token zoo animals plus some interesting ones like deer, geese, and some seemingly pet shop fish in the “aquarium.” We enjoyed all these animals, but weren’t awed until we came to the elephant exhibit. There was a fence with a man and an elephant next to it and when you came up you could hold out a coin and the elephant would pick the coin up with his trunk give it to the man then pat you on the head with his trunk. There were also elephant rides, which we enjoyed in typical tourist style with pictures, giggles, and some generic altogether “whiteness.” The elephants were fun and we were all excited to be so close to them, but looking at how some of them were chained and forced to do tricks for show we felt pangs of regret that something has to be so unhappy for our entertainment.

Tonight (Sunday) we spent the evening with the boys who live at the school we work at. There are 12 of them and we spent time playing football (soccer) with them, telling stories, watching their magic tricks, singing songs, and just having a good time. It was really good to get to know, on a deeper level, some of the kids we see all the time at school.

We all miss our family and friends and have been blessed to be able to call home on occasion from the phone booths down the street. We are also really excited for the depth we are building in our relationships with people at the school and are hopeful to see tangible growth. Until next week.


Monday, July 07, 2008


Gunaydin (Turkish for “good morning” even though it sounds strangely like “goodnight”)
This last week and a half at the Kres’ has been encouraging and a complete turnaround from our first chaotic week. We have started our English conversation program as planned, and it is going very well. Our theme for the summer is “Around the World” so as were teaching English we’re also studying other countries. For the first few days we traveled around the US, and then finished the week by having the older kids present on Turkey. We were floored by the amount of effort and excitement the kids put into their presentation of their country. We were so proud to see them practicing their English. It made for a great ending to the week. The language barrier, which at first seemed daunting is less of an issue as we learn more about each individual kid’s personalities. With the little Turkish we know and the little English they know combined with some charades we can generally get our point across and it makes for a fun time. As we settled into the routine, we had more time to focus on building relationships with the kids and we are now realizing how truly hard it is going to be to leave them at the end of the summer.
We hope all of you at home had a good and safe 4th of July. We celebrated ours a day early at an international gathering hosted by a British couple….but don’t worry, they got out an American flag and we all sang the Star Spangled Banner (as well as some other “American” songs we’d never heard), and we were thankful to eat some American food.
We got to celebrate our first completed week of our scheduled program at the Kres’ by going on an overnight excursion to Olympos. We stayed the night in tree houses and night-hiked up to the famous naturally burning flames. We ended by visiting Demre, the town of the original Santa Clause, St. Nicholas.
Although the weekend was fun we were excited to go back to the Kres’ and see the kids. Keep us in your prayers so that we may show Gods love through our actions, and for energy because it is only supposed to get hotter before we leave, as well as Tans’ule (the owner of the Kres’ we work at) as she is under many stresses. It’s comforting to know we have prayer support back home.
Hope you all are having a great summer,
Caitlin, Mandy, Katelyn and Liz

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fiestas, Marquisitas y Familia Nueva


Hola from Chapab! We last left you in Mérida, itching to know about our host families in Mérida and Chapab. Will they survive living with different families? Will they survive the unbearable heat? Will they have any idea what the Mexicans are saying to them? The saga continues...

Thursday night until Sunday morning we spent time with families in Mérida. We had the opportunity to get to know the city a bit: did some sight seeing with our families, went out to lots of sweet restaurants, went to church, spent time with the families, and had opportunites to see what they do in their past time with amigos. Overall, it was like 3 days of fiestas - we had a blast, and even a pool party. The families that we got to know were soooo nice and giving and took care of us really well. Oh, and Anna got bosomed by her Mérida mom. (:

Byron and Inez then took us off with them to Chapab Sunday morning, an hour away from Mérida. Quick summary of our amazing time here so far: our families are INCREDIBLE - we have pretty much fully integrated ourselves into the family already. Stu and Josh live together in one house while Anna and Nicole live together in another. The families here, as they say, live very simple lives, but are some of the most amazing people we have ever met. Stu´s "madre" is one of the happiest ladies we have ever seen, and since Stu´s "madre" is the mom of Josh´s "padre", that makes Stu Josh´s uncle. Uncle Stu. We have a great time just sitting and talking with our families, even Anna and Nicole who don´t know very much spanish still have long and fruitful conversations with the little that they know. It´s amazing how fast they are learning.

We started work on the house we are building yesterday, and today they showed us how to put in the cinder blocks with a concrete mix. We aren´t good at it yet, but we will be. We just hope the thing stands up when we´re finished. We also had our first day of VBS and English Class, and today was Anna´s birthday! It was one of the best days ever: a band playing songs for Anna through her window at midnight (and then eventually coming out and dancing a bit), hot and fairly miserable work, lunch together, tons of fun with the kids and a fiesta after our English Class. Lets just say the party involed a lot of punching Pikachu in the face (pikachu = our piñata). It was a blast!

Everyone is in really high spirits and we can already tell that our time here is going to be incredible (since it already has been). We look forward to getting to know the people here better, each other better, and settling in even more to the culture here. Its amazing how much of a novelty we are here in this tiny town as Americans - the dirty looks, the weird looks, the laughs, and the interest that everyone shows in our presence. We love it though, because it gives us an easy way to make conversation.

For now, we sign off. Wish us luck as we walk past the dogs that seem like they want to kill us, the turkeys that hang out on the roofs and our friendly neighborhood iguanas. Please pray for safety, insight, healing and communication. We thank all of you for thinking of us and will talk again when time allows! And maybe someday we will be able to upload some pics...

¡Que Dios les bendiga a todos!
Stu, Josh, Nicole y Anna