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 piƱata 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