Monday, June 29, 2009

the island life (issue I)

Greetings from our life on the Philippines island!! (technically the Philippines is not an island, it's an archipelago but island life just sounds so much cooler!)
Our journey here was a piece of pineapple!! ah ha ha, get my joke?? We got to hang in Hawaii for a bit and everything. Loads of movies to watch...Hawaiian Air ROCKS!! (they have COCONUT handsoap in the bathrooms. I was sold) Mikey especially enjoyed the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic which he watched while eating chocolate brownie Ben and Jerry's joke here.
Rainier (youth adult director that is planning our time here) picked us up in the church van and took us to our host families house. It is SOOOO humid here, but a very nice change from Seattle. Mikey and Johnny are bunk bedding it up across the hall from Brit and I. The boys woke up at 7 AM but us ladies slept until about 10 AM. ah ha ha.
Ate loads of tropical fruit this morning and we all took a morning swim. We are all pretty much lazying around for a couple more hours and than we are off to Station One. Station One is equivalent to The Inn so that is going to be lovely indeed.
I have already seen two cockroaches!! They are so beautiful.... While we are on the topic of non-human things, our host families have two dogs and their names are James Bond and Shorts. How flipping awesome is that? Oh and for you Harry Potter fans....a cat named Crookshanks!!!
Everyone here is oh so friendly and welcoming. Immediately after eating some Filipino dinner we went shopping! Not really, but we are about a 5 minute walk from about 20 malls. Seriously. (We live in the central business distrcit so life is very hussel bussel) One of the malls is so gigantic, its called Greenbelt but there are FIVE of them. So you have to figure out if you want to go to Greenbelt 1, Greenbelt 4, etc. I cannot even describe how many shops and restaurants they have. It is absolute madness. But of course Brit and I are thrilled to buy shoes for $3. Everything is so cheap here. Also found out you can get an hour massage for $4.
I am going to stop my rambling now (this is Ashlynn by the way) and possibly go find some coffee! (they have STARBUCKS!! and Seattle's Best) Tomorrow we have orientation for Habitat and actually start building Thursday; yippee skippee. So in conclusion we are going to come back super buff and tan!
Mahal namin kayo (We love you),
Team Philippines

Fun Filipino Fact: you do not call it the bathroom, you call it the CR. CR stands for comfort room.

Words of wisdom: "I basically carry a miniature library with me whenever I travel." -John Fay

Team Philippines

Team Philippines has arrived safetly in Manila and is at their host family's house. Longer update to follow tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ireland, Day 10

This week we have been living in a "flat" (aka apartment) in the very small town of Convoy. It has been interesting because we were expecting to be living and working with other Irish teens through the PCI outreach teams, but we don't start those for a couple weeks, so this week has provided a lot of time for team bonding- something we were told we would not get a lot of time for.

We just got done with our first Holiday Bible Camp (Vacation Bible School) in the county of Donegal at the Presbyterian church of Raphoe. It was extremely fun and we all had a great time playing with kids. At the camp we helped with the worship, told bible stories, and helped with activities like coloring and word searches. On Monday we went around with Kyle, the youth leader for the area and promoted the Bible Camp at the local school, which really helped. We were told to expect the usual 25-30 children, but we ended up with around 60+ kidsl; a record setting attendance! The Holiday Bible Club filled our evenings, and a couple of the mornings were spent at local schools, playing baseball, football (aka soccer), and rugby with the students, since it was their last week of school and the teachers needed a little bit of help keeping them occupied.

The weather has been gorgeous, and we were able to take a trip to the beach on Friday- we are working on dispelling the myth that the Ireland team always comes back whiter and fatter. We are getting some sun, though we are definitely packing on the pounds. Irish hospitality is a wonderful thing! We have been hosted by a different family every day this week for tea (aka dinner), and we have not been let down. We are beginning to get quite used to the homemade desserts after every meal, followed by tea and biscuits.

We've taken a couple of trips into the city of Derry, once for a concert, and again today for sightseeing/ shopping. Lindsay took the advice of a former deputee and went shopping for "the Primark look", Thoma fought the urge to shop with all of her might (and the help of the boys), Tyler sang his heart out while playing Guitar Hero, and Chase rode a mini-train around the private gardens of an estate.

We've all started to think with Irish accents, and sometimes it slips out, especially when we are with the children. More holiday bible clubs are on the schedule for next week, as well as outreach to youth in Convoy.

Much love,
The Seattle Team (aka Team Ireland)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Update from Bethlehem's "C" Money

Greetings min Beit Lahem!

Here are some pics you can look at for the time being:

We went to Nablus and Ramallah last weekend. While in Nablus, we met with the Nablus Association, which is an organization working to support Palestinians on an economic level. They have several projects currently under way including a scholarship program that provides housing for Palestinian students. It was one of many presentations that we attended on this trip, all of which were great, but to be honest they have all kind of blended together. Maybe one of the others can tell you more. On a more tourist-y level, we visited the olive oil soap factory and a turkish bath house. For men. They let us walk through and see some guy being lathered up (he had shorts on). It was interesting to say the least. We were also given the amazing opportunity to eat some of the city's famous Knaarfa. I am not certain as to what Knaarfa is exactly, but I know that it had melted cheese in it, and it tasted like Cap'n Crunch. Delicious. Another stop in Nablus was Jacob's Well where Jesus had his interaction with the Samaritan woman. We were able to see the actual well that they say is where Jesus met the woman, and, if we wanted to, we could purchase some of the water. J bought some. My overall reaction to Nablus was that it was big and dirty.

On our way out of Nablus, we stopped by a refugee camp. I dont remember the name, but I think it was the smallest one in all of the West Bank at about 2,000 displaced human beings. We were given a quick tour and allowed to see a few graves of people who died in the second Intifada. Altogether, it was a sad experience. I wish that every person in the world would visit a camp like the one we saw. I think if people were to see the conditions that these refugees are forced to live in, the conditions their children are forced to live in, it would have a much more profound effect on them, and it may even motivate them to actually do something to help.

Also outside of Nablus, we were able to stop by Mt. Gerizim, the home of half of the living Samaritan community. We were given a talk by the priest about the history of the Samaritan community and the how their community operates. It was definitely interesting. I will let someone else who is a bit more careful with their words tell about it, though.

Ramallah was also big and dirty, but I had a lot more fun there. We arrived in the evening and ate dinner at our hotels. We had to split up because the original hotel made a mistake and didnt have enough room for everyone. Luckily the four of us ended up in the other hotel, which turned out to be a lot nicer, and had a better breakfast. Dinner was great. It was buffet style, actually, which I found amusing. I wonder if that is how they always do it, or if they did that specifically for us Americans? After dinner we went downtown. The first thing we saw was a break-dancing traffic cop. Never thought we would see such a thing here. The whole group split up and went either to ice cream or to a restaurant. L,K, and I (C) ended up at a restaurant with some other kids from the program where there were a bunch of guys watching the U.S.-Egypt soccer game.Eventually, J ended up where we were because the men's club that our tour guide was going to take him and some other guys to was full. It may have just been me, but I felt like everyone was looking at us with a little maliciously. I wondered if they knew that we didnt care about the game. While we were sitting there, our guide told us to start speaking french or spanish so that people didnt think we were American. He was joking of course. The people in Ramallah were extremely nice. In fact, everyone has been. I have yet to meet someone that hasn't been over-the-top nice. It's incredible.

The next day, we met with several organizations. The first meeting was with a Palestinian lawyer who has been working on fighting human-rights abuses in Israeli prisons. Her presentation was depressing. They all were. Its heart breaking to hear the things that happen to these people on a daily basis. It was encouraging, however, to hear that this lawyer has been fighting against the injustices that Palestinians endure while in Israeli prisons. Her organization is called Adameer.( I think) Check it out. After that, we went to a presentation by Stop The Wall. Amazing. The presentation laid out the big-picture plan for the separation wall that the Israelis are building. It is incredible and a bit scary to hear how they are getting away with what they are doing. I will not take the time to explain everything because I will not do it justice. However, if anyone is intersted in seeing the presentation, go to this link After hearing these presentations, the PSE leaders felt like we needed to take the edge off so we went to the Taybeh brewery. Taybeh is the only micro-brewery in the entire Middle East and it is Palestinian owned and operated. The tour was quick (the brewery is about half the size of larson hall, if not smaller) and informative. They allowed us to try a sample of their product, which the four of us declined. Not. It was quite tasty! Unfortunately, they do not sell it in the U.S. yet because of the whole occupation thing. If they were to try and sell it in the U.S. it could take up to three months (or some ridiculous amount of time) to make it through customs, which, since they dont use any preservatives, would be a problem because the beer has a shelf life of about six months to a year (depending on who you ask). Therefore, if they were to try and ship it to the U.S. it would probably expire rather quickly once it reached its destination, and no one would want to drink it. It's quite a tragic story.

We started our volunteer positions on Tuesday. I am working at House of Hope. So is K. H.o.H. is pretty much a school/boarding school disabled people (mainly kids). I was kind of nervous to work there because I was worried I wouldnt have the patience. Nonetheless, I was prepared for it. When we got there, we found out that the kids were on summer break, and therefore not at H.o.H. K and I were there to help them with random maintenance tasks that they didnt have time to complete during the year. For the last two days, I have been removing paint from a hand-rail with a flame thrower. So awesome. K is currently covered with the oil-based paint that she has been using to paint the same hand railing after C blow-torches it. At first, I was kind of struggling with the idea of just doing maintenance. I had this idea that I was coming here to do something profound, but I have come to realize that maybe this is exactly where I am supposed to be because it will show me that changing the world doesnt always happen in big dramatic ways. I hope that I can come to grips with that.

JS's volunteer placement is great. He is working with an American named Jason who has been here for five years and has raised a family here. Jason is a strong Evangelical believer from Arkansas and is supported by a church back home. He and some other American volunteers run a house church in English here and I plan to go to some of them. There is also a church group here from Michigan. It is encouraging that the senior pastor's daughter is here. JS asked her what her church thought about the issue and she said that her church's stance was to stay out of politics, they view it as helping Palestinian Christians. Whatever they call it, we hope they bring the experience home and let people know what is happening here. It's not a political issue, it's about justice, helping the oppressed, and loving people, we hope churches will see this and some will stand up. JS is helping build a climbing wall in a park next to an abandoned Israeli military base. The organization Jason works for tries to develop leaders among the Palestinian youth through camps, lectures, and leadership among younger Palestinians in the hopes of developing a strong generation of leaders (especially since many community leaders/fathers are arrested as Israelis are trying to weaken the resistance against the occupation).

L is loving her volunteer placement as well. She is working about 15-20 minutes from Bethlehem in the village of Alwalajah, with an organization called the Ansar Center, which is actually partially funded by World Vision. The Ansar Center provides much needed recreational and educational activities, leads demonstrations against the construction of the wall (which is planned to completely surround the village with only one exit/entry point), advocates for families who have had their houses demolished by the Israeli government, and supports the primary school (grades 1-9) in the village. L spent the last week touring the village, particularly the old school buildings and the one currently under construction), and talking with village residents. Her task for the Ansar Center is to write descriptions in English of all the Center's activities that will be posted on the Center's website, which is being constructed by some of the other volunteers. Overall, L is falling in love with the people of Alwalajah and thoroughly enjoying her exploration of their way of life, though she has been a bit overwhelmed and outraged by the weight of the injustices committed against the community.

Overall, everything has been amazing! The food, the people, the weather (once the sun goes down a little bit), the sight-seeing, and the host families have all been so amazing. We hope that every other Deputee is having the same experience that we are. (Except you Kenya. Slackers. :) ) We are excited that we still have so much time here, but we all miss our families and friends dearly. We hope everyone is well and that you enjoy reading our blog. Too da loo!

Team Bethlehem.

...and a few pictures of Team Serbia!

Before boarding the plane in Seattle!

Outside Kalemegdon Fortress in Beograd

View from Kalemegdon, where the Rivers Sava and Danube meet

Goofing off with some famous Serbians!

Dober dan from Beograd!

Hello everyone! We're sorry it has taken us so long to give you all a long update of what we've been doing here in Belgrade. We have been so busy with meetings, touring the city, and learning more about what our two months here will look like.

The first days were a struggle with being so busy, jet lagged and uncertain about what our purpose here is. Our team took some time to pray and discuss our struggles, and we've since seen God working through us, giving us comfort and peace of mind.

Yesterday, we began teaching our English classes at a language school. Casey and Emily are teaching 6 students aged 12-15, and Cassie and Carolyn are teaching 2 girls that are 14 and 17. The students are so eager to learn English and really enjoy all things American. We let them pick English names, so they chose Peter, Taylor (Swift), Miley (Cyrus) and Duane. We will teach them in the mornings from 10-12:15 every day for the next month or so.

We also got connected with a humanitarian organization called Bread of Life, that works with local Gypsy communities. We took a trip out to the village, and played games with about 15 kids, ages 2-8 while their mothers had a group meeting. We sang "baby shark", played Duck Duck Goose, hokey pokey, and had a blast. The kids were so enthusiastic and excited to meet us, and they wouldn't let us go at the end. We can't wait to work with them again, because they really gave us the encouragement, laughter and joy that we have been missing here.

The weather is finally turning around - the first few days were really rainy and gray. We must have brought the weather here to Belgrade from Seattle. This weekend we will go to Lake Ada, which is really close to the city. We'll go there for the softball championship for the Serbian women's team. We might play softball later today and try to build relationships with the women on the team.

For now, you can be praying for energy, as our days are very long and exhausting. We could also use prayer for health, as many of us have struggled with allergies, migraines, and annoying bug bites. We miss you all very much, and will hopefully update again soon!


Emily, Carolyn, Cassie and Casey

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Update from Mekele

Greetings from Ethiopia!

We have finally arrived. Currently we are staying at SIM Headquarters in the capital Addis Ababa. We met a few others joining us in Mekele, Leah who is from London, and Nikki who is from Tennessee. The staff here are very warm and kind. There are also numerous other missionaries staying here from all over the world, some are temporary like us and some are more long term. So far we have gone through orientation which involved immigration, medical, treasury, etc. Nothing too exciting yet. Medical took forever because (ironically) most of us knew only half our vaccination dates which you would think we would all know by now. Let me just say we got a lecture.

Yesterday we were able to tour a bit of Addis. The streets are very hazy and smell mostly of gasoline, and are crowded with people. After we went to the grocery stored we headed on to a “spritzer“ or juice bar where we tasted a delicious concoction of avocado, mango, and banana (highly recommended). Today we went out for lunch and ordered pizza, except today was Wednesday so we got the “fasting pizza” (Wednesday and Friday are fasting days in Ethiopia). Thus far our fast growing vocabulary consists of three words salah (hello), ciao (bye), and amesygnala (thank you). At least we think that is how they are pronounced. Anyway that is all for now, don’t forget to pray for us.

Jason, Amber, Justin, & Alyssa

Tuesday, June 23, 2009



Hello to all. Sorry it´s taken so long to update! We have been here for a week already and can hardly believe it! But we are adjusting to the Dominican lifestyle, and are all moved into our host families. Alicia enjoyed the Dominican tradition of sitting outside her family´s shop on the street on her first day, talking (in Spanish) for four hours! Try that at home. All of our host families ONLY speak Spanish (which Lauren of course loves), and feed us more than we can stomach (apple juice in cereal, pineapple in milk WITH cereal, plantains of all shapes and forms, and hamburgers for breakfast). We have all survived our first concho rides and surprisingly love them, are being eaten alive by mosquitoes, taking bucket showers, and realize that nalgenes, while previously indestructible, can now be destroyed by the 100% deet we put on our skin twice daily. We´ve enjoyed seeing Mariners t'shirts in our houses (Elisa) and the handprints of all our friends on the mission house wall. We´ve loved being welcomed into our host families and getting to know everyone that they know. All in all, adjusting well and learning to love being sticky all the time!

Tomorrow we´ll finally start working in the bateyes, teaching English. So far we´ve been doing a lot of prep work, so we´re ready to get moving and see what God can show us through these children. We´ve been in the clinic twice, organizing supplies, updating ¨files¨, scarce as they are, and hanging out with the nurses. We´re hoping to get some vaccines to administer in the bateyes later this summer.. but since school´s out, we´ll have to do a bit of wandering from house to house.

We met up with 6 other interns here, and they have all been wonderful. We get along great and love hearing eachothers crazy host family stories from the night before! The staff is amazing, love to help us with our Spanish, and understanding the situation here in the DR. We´re excited to keep working with them and getting to know them and their stories. We all went to the beach the other day (hard life in the Caribbean, I know) and had a blast... this place is beautiful!!

Please pray for our stomachs as we continue to adjust to the food and the HEAT, for strength and courage to reach out and show God´s love to these people, as well as learn from them because they have MUCH to teach us.

Las Dominicanas
Lauren, Alicia, and Elisa!

Ethiopia Team has Safely Arrived

I just got word that the Ethiopia team has arrived safely and are leaving for Mekele tomorrow. Hopefully they will have time to send us a more detailed update soon. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009


I lied is an update from the Serbia Team:

We made it!! Our group stayed awake for about 30+ hours so we slept well last night. We're staying in two different flats with host moms, Jelena and Nada (which means hope in English) in the older part of Belgrade. Today we went to an English speaking church and tomorrow we will play softball with girls our age to start building relationships, we are so excited. We just had our first real Serbian meal, which was a type of croissant with meat and cheese and we drink yogurt! That's all for now, take care!

Team Serbia has Arrived!

***From Samuil, the director of EUS and the host for the Serbia Team this summer***

Dear Nolan,

Greetings from warm Belgrade!

The students arrived safety, and we put them in flats. Today will go to register with host in police and explore the city, tomorrow they will be our guest in international church and will be register in US embassy as well and they be guests at Ambasador Party for July 4.



*I'm sure the team will give us a first hand account when they have the chance!

Oops, we're in the way again...

Today is day five in India. Here is a recap of thepast few days:

We spent Thursday recouping from the flight. Discovering how to use the light switches in our flat, walking around the neighborhood, and shopping for clothes. Most of the day was spent in good conversation and walks. There is a park right across the street from the house and we walk around it a couple of times every day. People here are very intogetting some sort of exercise, whether it be a group stretching, doing laugh therapy, running, or leisurely walking. Like Lauren said in our last post: there has been no stopping the great discussion. We spend most of our time in the living room area, either on the couches or at the table playing cards.

We've been following the New Testament reading guide Nolan provided and it's been right on track with the nightly devotions that Rita does with us. (More aboutthat in a minute). Thursday, after Rita came home from school we went shopping!We all bought Indian garb. Lauren and I are wearing kurtas and salwars with ashawl (follow the link to see a picture). While the boys wear "pajama" pantsand [man] kurtas. Quite the sight we are with our white skin and amazingly beautiful clothes.

As I am typing this the most amazing woman in our lives right now walked through and asked if we wanted a change in our breakfast menu. Rita is an angel. From cooking to laundry to helping us shop for Indian clothes. Looking at how easy Rita has made it for us here we are stricken withan unending gratitude for her - only five days into the trip.

Friday we had our first day at school. Walking through the gate we are immediately approached by Abushe (that's written phonetically) who asks us our names. Here we saw a different side of Rita, the compassionate yet strong disciplinarian. The kids just got back in school after their summer holiday. Over their summer they were encouraged to nurture a hobby, Friday the kids brought their hobby to school to show others. From collecting toy cars to singing to folding paper or drawing these kids are very talented and creative. My favorite was Vinayak (spelled correctly, and said just as it looks), he never stopped talking and really wanted all of us to visit his class. Friday was not a normal day at the school so we weren't put into our roles yet, we were just there to facilitate the hobby exhibition.

We took the school bus home from school with the kids, quite amusing at times. Lunch, bible study, cards, walk, dinner,devotionals with Rita, then we went straight to bed. We were exhausted. Monday we will assume our roles in the school. It looks like Lauren will be working one on one with a little boy named Shakur, Brian will be teaching teachers how to use a lesson planning software program, Dexter will be teaching and playing games with the kids, and I will be compiling a book of the stories of kids and their families. We are all eager to get in and get our hands dirty.

Saturday was our adventure day. We slept a little late, had an Indian breakfast with Rita which consisted of dosa, a peanut butter like paste, and a potato mixture? We forgot/never learned the names (Nom nom nom). After that Rita put us in an auto [rickshaw] to the mall. The boys bought cricket jerseys, we saw Angels & Demons (for the equivalent of <$5), went through a haunted house (a lawsuit waiting to happen if it were in the US), and Lauren and I tried on countless kurtas which ended with Lauren buying one pair of pants. We had lunch at the mall and came home to a dinner of homemade pizzas.

(The auto back home, we split in pairs instead of going all four together)

Today was also an adventure, but of a different nature. We attended Indiranagar Methodist Church. Church here is a bit different than at home: more prayer, shorter sermons, and a lot of greetings. But one thing never changes it seems between churches: post service coffee, love it! We came home and had lunch then went shopping on a nearby street (CMH Road). Brian and Dexter got matching outfits and when we sat down to bible study they were both wearing their new jeans, white shirts, and glasses. This is about the third time they've done something like that without even trying, I wonder if they're spending too much time together. Lots of laughter, stories, and opinions have been shared.

We all want to send a hearty Happy Father's Day to our dads. The service today spoke a lot about fathers. You can all expect emails from us soon.

I'm posting this a day after it was written, the internet was off yesterday. Prem and Rita take a full remembrance of the Sabbath on Sundays.

Also if you're wondering why Prem has been absent from the updates, from June 12th through midnight on the 21st he was in the Philippines for work.

Much love,

Antje E. and Team India

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Moving to the country.....

We are still a little jetlagged, but so far our days have been jam packed full of activities and we are really enjoying ourselves.

Friday we met with the PCI staff and took an open top bus tour of Belfast, where we learned a lot about the history of the city. We also had a chance to meet the man we have nicknamed 'Rev Trev'- the one who was able to pull some strings and get us into the country. Our little adventure with immigration not only served as our first team challenge, but proved to us that we really are suppossed to be in Ireland this summer, and God is going to do amazing things through us. From what we heard, there have been hundreds of people turned away within the past month, and the way we got in was really unheard of- plus on top of it all, Trevor had only 4 of the forms left- I wonder who we would have voted off the team if he had only had 3....

Today we had 12 hours of training, where we met the teams we will be working with during the rest of the summer. It was really fun to talk to people who have worked with previous Ireland teams and hear what they had to say. Thoma walked around asking the locals if we looked American and whether or not we had accents, Lindsay scouted for her husband, Chase ran around announcing to everyone that he was an American celebrity and making fun of the way that they talked, and Tyler was absent all day. Quite productive indeed.

Even though we are in Ireland, we have definitely experienced some culture shock- getting used to the accents has been incredibly difficult. Today was rather frustrating, because we know that we should be able to understand them since they are speaking English, though often times we can't. We spent the past few nights staying in Derryvolgie hall, the residence hall owned by the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, but tonight we have moved out to the country...we are staying in Donegal for two weeks, which will actually be our only camp in the Republic of Ireland.

The Turkish Life

After taking a day to explore the treasures hidden in Istanbul, we hopped back onto a plane and flew into our very own destination city. Antalya is better than we had ever hoped, or imagined. Everything is so beautiful: the sights, our apartment, the people. We feel right at home in our beautiful apartment, which is such a blessing. We are happy to be one of few that have klima (air conditioning) in the living room :) We have an amazing view of the city and the sea off of our balcony. We love to sit out there and listen to the sounds of the city as we read, chat, and watch the sun go down over the mountains. The call to prayer is probably the most noticeable and exotic sound that we hear. Five times a day the haunting, yet beautiful sound saturates the city and invites the Muslim people into prayer. We have mixed feelings about it, however know that no matter what we can use it as our own reminder to be praying for the people of this city and country.

The language is so different than anything any of us have experience with- but people are extremely helpful and only laugh at us a little when we try to talk to them. A couple of us are picking up the basics pretty quickly, making it easier to shop at the market and get around town. One word we wanted to learn for sure is “kedi” (and yes, we realized it is extremely similar to the name of a certain team member...) which is the word for cat. Cats, unexpectedly enough have become our team mascot as we have seen them EVERYWHERE since we got to Turkey. And we aren’t just talking stray cats fighting outside our hotel in Istanbul and roaming around outside our apartment here, we are talking cat decor inside the house as well (our landlady likes cats on her stools, aprons, and any other surface she can find). We can’t seem to get rid of them, and Landi has a certain fascination with them (although not a healthy one- we’ve stopped her from throwing forks at them from the balcony about 12 times so far) so we are making the best of it and adopting them as our friends. Our favorite is Terk, a particularly dirty cat we see quite often.

On Thursday we went on our first beach adventure and we were glad to have it go very smoothly! The first dolmuş (mini-bus basically) that we got on took us straight to Lara Palaj where we found our own little stretch of beach. Swimming in the Mediterranean was yet another surreal experience, as most everything has been so far. The beach that we went to stretched for miles and miles and was dotted with resorts. We took advantage of a patch of deserted lounge chairs and umbrellas we stumbled upon and had a nice relaxing afternoon. We got home on our first try as well, which was pleasantly surprising- we had all prepared ourselves to get lost on our first venture into the city!

We have been to a couple of different markets, which is a lot of fun as we get to interact with some locals and see more of the Turkish lifestyle. This morning we went to the Saturday market, which was huge! There were multiple streets blocked off with rows and rows of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to name brand clothing. We bought our second round of groceries, once again shocked at how much we can get for so little (we spent 10 lira- or about 8 dollars- and got enough fruits and veggies for a week!). We really enjoy making dinner together- as unusual and inventive as our meals have been. Our favorite so far has been the corn on the cob that we got at the market- and we have found that we are satisfied as long as we have some fruit and fresh bread.

Today has been the hottest day so far at 100 degrees, so we feel blessed to be experiencing cooler weather. While we are starting to settle in, we are of course continuing to learn the rhythms of life here in Antalya. I think that we are all surprised at how much we love it here already, feeling at points that eight weeks is not going to be enough. We have a lot of great adventures coming and can’t wait to share them with you. Next week we get to start working with some younger kids at a church here in town. We will be doing arts and crafts with them (surprise!) and look forward to being able to do some Bible lessons, as they are Christian kids. Blessings to all our of our family and friends- don’t worry we still miss you even though life is perfect here.


Your Turkish Delights

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hey friends! Marhaba from Bethlehem!

Hey friends,

After a scary time at the border (we were questioned pretty tough for 10 min), we made it through and have safely arrived in Bethlehem!
Actually, at the time it seemed bad, but two people (both from
England) did not make it into the country and were deported. About 4 people on our program were detained for a few hours and were heavily questioned by several different officers. So even though we were hassled, God blessed us and allowed us to get through.

Bethlehem is amazing! The people here are very hospitable and are treating us like family already. We are all staying with Christian families who have given us so much of the little they have. To give you an idea, they have been without running water for the past week!
But they graciously insist we use it, trusting that God will provide.
One thing I have learned is how big family and community is here. Our host family is Christian yet they have tea with there muslim neighbors. We hope that soon Israelis and Palestinians would be able to peacefully live with one another in this same way.

The rest of the program here is great. There are about 20 of us who all want to serve the people here as much as we can. We are doing everything from working at refugee camps, working with the disabled, with kids, and at hospitals. The need here is great as there is little money being given to Palestinians for infrastructure.

Please pray for us as we continue to serve these poor and oppressed people. Pray that we would show them the love of God through our actions and through listening. Also pray for L & K's host mother as her husband recently passed away. She has been gracious even through her suffering. Pray that she would be comforted as she goes through this tough time.

God Bless,

From Team Bethlehem!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Team Bethlehem has Arrived!

Haha and fortunately they didn't receive extreme interrogation that the Ireland team did. How saw that coming???

Anyway, they breezed through customs and are getting some well deserved rest. I'm sure they will be updating shortly.

Nolan G

team detained

we are finally in ireland. we have been detained, fingerprinted, mug shots, searched, bags turned over, and refused entry to the country, but finally after 8 hours in the customs office, we finally had a turn of events and got "quick visas".

we will explain more later. we have been up for 40 hours. must sleep.

ireland is beautiful and the people are absolutely great, besides the immigration officers.

much love and thanks be to god,


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Talked to the DR Team

The DR team has safely arrived in Santo Domingo and are on there way to Barahona as I type this. What a fun drive. :)

Indian Charms

Hi Friends and Family!

We have officially arrived in Bangalore, India. We left Mon evening and arrived at 4:00am Wed morning…a combination of long flights and an approximately 12 hour difference in time zones. The travelling was very smooth. No delays, all our luggage made it, we all made it, and going through border security was relatively a breeze. I had been a little worried about security, so that was great for me! Our only surprise was that Prem and Rita thought we were arriving tomorrow (Thurs), so we ended up with an extra adventure on the bus to get to the house.

At Prem and Rita’s we are experiencing the epitome of Indian hospitality. The food is amazing and we even got a lesson on how to eat in India. Right hand only. No forks allowed! And did I mention right hand only? It’s a little tricky tearing off the pieces of chipate/naan/bread, but it’s all awesome at the moment. Antje and I have already unpacked and settled into our room. It’s downstairs in the house with two twin beds. Our own bathroom is down the hall. The boys are settling into theirs, just outside the house…but they have to cross their bathroom/shower to get to their bedroom. Good luck when someone’s showering!! We have electricity and hot water, girls and guys own bathrooms, and washing machine. They don’t compare to the US, but they are still special commodities here and the house electricity runs on a ton of AA batteries when the main supply is turned off. Crazy!

There’s a park just down the street and that was fun to walk around today as we toured the neighborhood. And yes…we got a few funny looks in our American clothes, but what did you expect? ;) I also hopped over the neighbor’s wall today in order to retrieve the ball we were throwing around. I had permission, but it was an interesting way to meet the neighbors. J

Finally, it’s been a good day simply trying to stay awake. We are all exhausted, but want to stay up so we can get on a good sleep schedule to start helping out at the school on Friday. This led to a lot of chill time and some great conversations. I knew they’d happen, but being me, I loved that they started so soon here! Then again, I guess they started a while ago J. You can be praying for our “jobs” or tasks during our 2 months…trying to figure out what they will be. And also for more great memories and development along the way. “It’s not for us, it’s all for you.” Let it be.

We are probably going to get some Indian clothes tomorrow and then we should be set. Thanks for reading! See you all in 2 months. Much love to my family, my housemates, and all my friends.

Love Lauren and the India team.

P.S. The Team India website is down for maintenance by We'll have it updated within a few days.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

India has arrived!


I have an email from the team but am having the hardest time copying it onto the blog....stupid copy/pasting features.

I will try to get that up tomorrow. Perhaps they will have something up by then themselves. :)

They are safe in the hands of Prem and Rita so that is a good thing!

-Nolan G

The Turkey Team Arrived in Antalya

Hey everyone!

I wanted to report that the Turkey team has now arrived in Antalya safely and will begin their orientation into the program tomorrow!

The India and DR teams are currently in flight to their sites and the Bethlehem team leaves tonight!

Please continue to be in prayer for these teams and the ones taking off soon!

Very excited,

Nolan G

Monday, June 15, 2009

We Finally Arrived!

We made it! After what seems like countless hours on the plane, a short rest (and Starbucks trip...) in London, and a nice little jaunt over the sea we are in TURKEY! We love it already..even the tiny elevators...(see picture above). We are already adjusting to the time as we are more than ready for bed- in the morning we are going to stroll up the street to the Ayasofya and the Blue Mosque before our flight down to Antalya!


Your Turkish Delights