Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Island Life: Final Edition

Yes! Team Philippines is all home and well. (As I am sure many of you have seen us back in the States!) Talk about D-E-L-A-Y-E-D blog...I guess time really got away from us towards the end, so much to little time :D Our plane landed aprox. 10 pm Tuesday the 25th and after fully 16 hours on 2 different planes, we were all happy to set foot on American soil :D. Back to the real world once again.
In the last couple of weeks we managed to:
Hike during a monsoon
have a going away party with Habitat for humanity
Hang out with our host family (aka fake mom, dad, sisters, and brother) LOTS
Visit the American Memorial Cemetery close to our house
Go to a Filipino cultural night with Mia, our Habitat coordinator
Eat some authentic Filipino cuisine (John ate Bolute-an aborted duck egg...complete with feathers and bones! hooray! needless to say, the rest of us DID NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
We also were blessed to support a new friend getting Babtized on a beautiful beach north of Manila
Our last weekend we stayed at the beach for 2 nights with our mission coordinator to reflect and debrief with the team and take a break from the hard work :)
All in all, our progress report for Habitat for Humanity was:
CIB-215 bocks
Bending of rebar-3,436 pcs.
Cutting of rebar-2,629 pcs.
Tying of rebar-24 beams
sand sieving-7 cubic meters
Hauling of black sand-1,585 sacks
Hauling of white sand-2,718 sacks
Transferring of CIB to 4th floor (with help from lots of friends!)-3,106 blocks
Wow, what an amazing summer!!! Through all the hard patches and good, we all made it home safe and had a truly life-changing experience. Thank you for all of your prayers and continued support, praise God who deserves all the glory
"For we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28
I'll (Britt) sort through some picts to post up, so check back! God bless!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

There and Back Again--A Kenyan Tale by Bilbo Baggins x 4

In a house called Wageni, there lived four young mzungus.

In other words, our summer in Kenya is coming to a close, and we are feeling a bit nostolgic. Tomorrow is our last day of teaching. We honestly can't believe that we accomplished 6 weeks of full time teaching. It is all by the grace of God. We are trying to squeeze as much as we can into our last few days here. Tomorrow we are going to try to learn how to make some traditional Kenyan dishes that we have grown to love over our time here.
There are so many things that we will miss about Kenya. It really has come to feel like home, and we feel like family. Everyone on staff here is so great. The mamas are constantly giving us encouragement, and very generous extra helpings of ugali. In other words, we've grown in body and soul. But it was worth the "weight" ah hahahahahaha. The missionaries here are so good to us as well. We are always being invited over for good food and good company. The stories of how they came here are all so amazing.
Amy has been transitioning her teaching roles every week. Now she has found home with the three year old class. Needless to say she has finally found a group that she can relate to. Mindy is loving her seventh graders more and more every day. If only she could say the same about Pilgram's Progress, which she has to teach. The kindergarteners continue to be her daily entertainment. Abby's 8th graders just finished their final class debate, which was about intervention in African affairs. She has enjoyed learning the perspectives of the students who live outside of the compound. Megan is enjoying answering irrelevent and often hilarious questions posed by her 2nd graders. It has been challenging in ways she never expected. They will be missed.
We will be home soon, and can't wait to tell you all our stories in person.
Amy Wagoner x 4

P.S. Zac Efron is The Derby Stallion

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It was a lot easier for Team Ireland to get out of the country than it was to get in.

Despite our negative feelings toward the Belfast International Airport, we were forced to go back. They were much happier to let us leave than they were to let us in 2 months ago. Our trip back was relatively painless, though I think we are all suffering from serious jet lag. Especially considering the fact that we got little to no sleep the night before we left, as we were busy catching up with friends from the various camps we had worked at.

Our last week was quite challenging, but a great place to be for our last few days in Northern Ireland. We worked in Lisnabreen Presbyterian Church, holding events for 11-18 year olds who came from very rough backgrounds. We were definitely given many opportunities to practice patience and love. The kids were crazy, but full of questions about what it means to be a christian, which was really encouraging. Our final week showcased our exhaustion- mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is nice to be settled in at home, though a very hard adjustment to make. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. This has been an amazingly unique experience for each one of us.

Team Ireland

The Tech Campers created an awesome video about "The Seattlites"- which can be found on youtube:

Kenya: yes we are still here :)

How long has it been since our last post? One week? We're just so busy we lose track. It gets hard being full time teachers, and then having all our other work at night. Sometimes we only get to see our kids for an hour or so a day. However, we LOVE the work we're doing here and our time is never wasted.

Our latest task was to cover and label every book in the school K-8. We finished grades 7 and 8 in a week's time. We aren't sure if we'll finish them all before we leave but we'll keep working at it. We spent most of our evenings this week working on them.... except when we watched Titanic... oops :)
Our hearts are going on... and on... and on...

Overall it wasn't an ridiculously eventful week. This weekend was the first time we stayed on the compound and didn't go adventuring around Nairobi. We ended up playing knockout (or bump) with the older kids for approx. 3 hours. It was bliss. It's such an accomplishing feeling when you win against them all, but then you remember that the oldest kid is 12.... and all that accomplishment vanishes. The weekend has been restful. Haven't had rocks in the soup in a few days, so that's been good. We played some good hardcore soccer tonight, followed by a great jam session in the guest house with some new visitors. Life is good.

2 more weeks here and we'll be on our way. The permanent missionaries here on site have been trying to convince us to email home and try to raise funds to stay until the end of September. I wish. 2 more weeks it is... :(

Please be praying for us to be able to emotionally handle leaving these children; and that the children will be able to adjust to us leaving as well. We've seen people come and go and it isn't easy on the kids. Also pray that we make the most of our last few weeks here. Hope everything at home is wonderful :)

Signing out,

Amy Wagoner x4

.5 of Team Turkey is Home....


Saturday morning as we got ready to leave for the airport Landi's wallet got stolen- passport, credit cards, everything. The consolate can't do anything for her until monday morning. Kady and Brittany made it home safely- Kate and Landi are booked on a flight from London to Seattle monday afternoon, but are flying standby from Istanbul to London. Please pray that Monday morning goes smoothly for them- getting a passport and getting on that plane!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Team Bethlehem is safely home, jetlagged and enjoying the wonderful weather (read: not 100 degrees)...

One Long Last Update from Team Bethlehem:

3 weeks ago:
The Saturday trip was to our very own Bethlehood & only K decided to join in, while the others did their own thing because we've a lot of the stuff here already: L went with the kids from the Ansar Center to Ramallah where they swam, went to a fun park and ate an excessive amount of sugary treats. C went to Deheiseh refugee camp to help with a kids camp one of our friends has been working at there. J was in Tel Aviv at the beach.

On the Bethlehem tour, we went to the Herodian - Herod's palace & harem - where we saw ruins, underground tunnels used during the Bar Kokhba revolts, and the place where currently archaeologists think that Herod was buried. We also saw the Shepherd's Fields in Beit Sahour, the Nativity Church - including the cave where they think that Jesus was born - in Bethlehem, and ate lunch at Afteem (Falafel King: where Bethlehem's best falafel can be found), then we went to Solomon's Pools and Aida refugee camp where we heard from the Lajee (which means refugee) Center and got a tour of the camp. Afterwards some of us went to Cafe SiMa to hang out, because the cafe was set to close for the next two weeks.

On Sunday the four of us headed into Jerusalem with our adopted fifth member, Joey, to do some of the stuff we had missed the past couple of times. Unfortunately we found out that both the Dome of the Rock and the Garden Tomb closed just before we got there, so we headed out to do the Holocaust Museum instead. That was a really interesting experience. The Holocaust in itself is one of the most shocking and sickening things to learn about, and all of us walked out with heavy hearts. But to make it all the more disturbing was the similarities we noticed between the oppression of the Jews in Europe to that of the Palestinians in Israel - you could literally just replace the word "Palestinian" for "Jew" and "Israel" for "Germany" and it would be describing the conflict here: injustice, racism, etc. In the very first room there was a particularly poigniant quote: "A state is not just what it does, but also what it tolerates...."

This past week, C and K finally finished painting the railing they've been working on for the past six weeks: YAY!! L and J are also feeling their work winding down at their volunteer sites.

On Friday we all helped to paint at J & C's host family's house, L & K's taxi driver asked them to a rodeo (we, no...), and we had dinner at the Salman's (Catherine and Jessica's host family from last year).

Two weeks ago:
Our trip this weekend was to Caesarea (a port city built by Herod), Capernum (where we saw the house they think Peter and Jesus lived in), the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth and Golan Heights. It was about 110 degrees on Saturday so one of the highlights was swimming in the Sea of Galilee after going on what is called the "Jesus boat," a replica of a boat that comes from the era of Jesus, that plays a random mix of music (Black Eyed Peas and ABBA, anyone?) as we drive around the sea. In a small village outside of Nazareth, we met with this organization called House of Hope, an organization working for peace and justice. It was interesting to hear from them particularly because they are Palestinians living in Israel.

We spent the night in Nazareth where we got to see the Church of the Annunciation and Joseph's Church (built over the spot they think he lived). Then we went to the Golan Heights where we met with Golan for Development. Our tour included a lookout point on a hill filled with bunkers used by the Israelis in the 1967 war, overlooking the Israel-Lebanon border. After a delicious meal, we headed home early because our meeting in Haifa had been canceled.

Our last week:
For our cultural night we got to spend the night at Tent of Nations where we explored the area, roasted hot dogs, slept on sketchy matresses and had a great time. J visited friends in Ber Sheva. L got to make wadak dawali (grape leaves and zucchini stuffed with rice and lamb) and K & C helped eat it :)

On Sunday we went our last trip to Jericho (where we saw the ruins of the city), Qumran (where Bedouin shepherds discovered the dead sea scrolls in 1947) and the Dead Sea. Either the tourist destinations didn't live up to their expectations or our tour guide decided to give us the boring version of the story, because it was kind of a lame trip.

Monday we had our last meeting, mailed home all of our potentially pro-Palestinian belongings, and hung out for the last time with our host families, which was very sad :( On Tuesday we said goodbye to Bethlehem and headed out to Tel Aviv. It was a really nice day: we got to hang out on the beach, swim in the Mediterranean (or if you were K, get totally dominated by the waves...), eat a relaxing and delicious dinner while we watched the sunset, and hang out on the beach at night with three of our favorite people: Flora, Joey and Rob.

Wednesday morning we woke up really early, said goodbye to them, and headed to the airport. We got through security relatively easily & were very happy to finally be headed home. We got to spend a little time in London during our layover with our friend Miriam & were all very happy when it began to rain. Way too many hours later, we finally arrived in Seattle, home sweet home.

We will all miss the place, the people, the culture and the group of internationals we have all come to fall in love with. But we are very glad to be home.

The B-Team

Thursday, August 13, 2009

el fin

here's one last message from team DR... we all got home on Tuesday night and cannot believe that this part of the deputation experience is over!

in the last few weeks...
** Alicia and Lauren witnessed eye surgeries first hand... like we were literally wearing scrubs in the operating room at the clinic! a little weird, a little unsettling, but we both feel really lucky to have been able to see this. it gave us a lot of closure to actually see something happening in the clinic, after spending the majority of the summer collecting a lot of information. the clinic was hopping and it was wonderful!

** we all finished up our english classes with parties and treats... to varying degrees of success. In Los Robles, word spread quickly that Elisa and Dylan were bringing cookies, so they had to fight off the crowd of children with a bat in order to leave the village! Lauren had a rough time saying goodbye to her class in Algodon, after forming some really cool relationships with the older girls in the village (and continuing some from previous trips). She's really excited about some girls who are starting at the university in Barahona in the fall- it's great to see them pursuing their dreams! Alicia also got to know some older boys from Don Bosco, who have made their name known in their village as Christian reggaeton singers/rappers. it was amazing to see the impact that this has on their community, especially when you saw all of the younger boys singing their songs. they performed at our despedida goodbye party last week, too.

** saying goodbye to our host families was full of mixed emotions, since that experience brought so many ups and downs throughout the whole summer. we were excited to spend time living with all of the other interns at the mission house, but it was sad to say goodbye. Elisa went on a weekend vacation to Santo Domingo with her host family, which helped her to get a lot of closure as she said goodbye. her family was always busy and running around, so she loved being able to spend some solid, quality time with them and to see more about their life. Alicia's host family tried push her back in the truck when they were supposed to be dropping her off. Lauren's family cooked chili (which she introduced), bought ice cream cake, and held a dance party the night before. We all left our host families very grateful for the experience. We also enjoyed the freedom and independence of living at the mission house all together :)

** we made some goodbye tours of all the villages, and explored some waterfalls nearby before leaving barahona on saturday morning to spend a few days debriefing in Santo Domingo. while we're still figuring a lot out, here are a few things we learned...
- we learned to be content in the Lord in any situation
- we saw a lot of prayers answered, including the healing/recovery process of a burned 6-month old baby, and a young girl with chronic eye infections, and of course the cataract surgeries
-we learned to trust that God is always working, even when we can't see it or understand

God got us through a lot this summer, and our team of interns was able to get really close. it was hard to say goodbye, but we all learned a lot from eachother and are incredibly grateful for the experience. now we just need to figure out how to keep the mission going at home, and see what that looks like. Best of luck to everyone finishing up on their trips! you are in our prayers and we'll see you at home soon :)

lauren, alicia, elisa!

Too many Bibles?

We fail at posting. Yet, I guess all the teams could say that at one point or another.

A brief recap. Since our last post we have had school, a vacation, and other adventures around Bangalore.

We took another trip the Bible Society to pick up a Bible for Brian to take home. This trip prompted us to count the number of Bibles that we have just in our flat of the house. At the end we now have: Lauren: 2 full, 2 halves, Dexter: 3 full, 1 half, Brian: 3 full, Antje, 3 full, then adding the 2 full and 1 half that are here in the flat of Prem and Rita's. = 15 total. WOWZERS!

Asha Kiran isn't just a school but also a hostel for about 12 boys. Dexter and Brian wanted to spend as much time there as possible from the beginning of the trip. However, that plan failed until last week. Last week they spent one night, and they are spending the night again right now. (Whooo, girl's night in!). They play cricket with the boys, help them with their homework, play indoor games, and talk...anything further you'd have to ask the boys about...

The past two weeks of school have been really tough. We are now making sure the kids understand that we are leaving and they won't see us again after Friday. Some of them understand fully but others just wave at us and say "bye bye." Like they'll see us again Monday. There are certain kids we're each especially attached to, but we'll surely miss the entire school, it's not just a school but a family.

Friday night we took the train to Goa, which is on the Arabian Sea. It was awesome. When we first got there Saturday afternoon the first thing we did was head straight for the beach. We could see the beach from our rooms and walk right out onto a trail that with a 30 second walk we were on the beach, kicking off our shoes and running into the waves. Lauren made friends with three women who ended up just wanting to sell us jewelry, henna, and sarongs. We quickly realized what monsoon season does to the waves and headed for the pool. That evening we spent walking North along the beach, collecting shells and watching the locals fish. We met our friends again and I bought a few things while Lauren held off.
Dinner was our first expedition into the town of Colva, we ended up at this little hotel where the food was good but the service was lacking - I didn't get my food until we were standing up to leave.
On Saturday we adventured South along the beach. We started at about 10:30am. We walked for probably four hours, had lunch at a place called Funny's. Dexter had shark, which he said tasted a lot like a regular fish. Then we walked back to the hotel. At this point Lauren and I realize that our legs were scorched AND we had an hour walk back to the hotel. Lauren was already in pain about fifteen minutes into it and the sun was still fairly high in the sky. As soon as we got back to the hotel Lauren polished off the bottle of aloe we brought with us while I put more sunscreen on and jumped in the pool to cool down. The boys departed from us part of the way back to explore the main area of Colva. Once they got back we goofed off in the pool for a while then headed into town for dinner. We found a great place called Kentuckee, huge menu and the food was great.
Monday our original plan was to hire a taxi to go to another city and go to a sandal shop our guidebook told us about, but that became too expensive quickly. Plan B was to rent four scooters and drive there. BUT, three of the four of us didn't bring our driver's licenses to Goa. I thankfully had mine. We rented one scooter for the day and the others took turns exploring the back roads and villages around Colva while the two leftover played cards, read, and journaled in our favorite coffee shop (Coffee Day).
At one point Dex and I got up to 80 km/h. WHEEEEE!
Dex and I also ran out of petrol on another expedition and he pushed the scooter to the nearest general store. Apparently they rent you the scooter with little to no petrol in it.
We all had fun riding through jungles, fields, and football pitches. Trying not to get lost - and succeeding on that mission!

Other hi-lights of Goa:
Brian talking with some Christians at the general store before heading to dinner.
Finding two different puffer fish.
Brian body surfing.
Our friend the cat, who I named Sooty (he looked like he sat in a pile of soot, 101 dalmatians style).

On the train ride back Lauren and I got off to get snacks at a stop and decided to jump on the train while it was pulling away from the platform. It pulled away sooner and faster than we thought. Lauren made it perfectly fine and thought I was going to get in at the back door because I had the snacks in my arms. I decided to legitimately run for it and made it to the front door. Though Brian - who was inside the train and saw us running past the window thought I wasn't going to make it and Dex who was standing in the front door didn't think we'd make it at all. We did, safe and sound.

This is it from Team India.

We'll be home at about 5pm Seattle time on Saturday!

Love and blessings,
Antje and Team India

Monday, August 10, 2009

Team Serbia: Suffering for Jesus all over the Balkans

While many teams have been sleeping on the dirt, showering once a week and truly suffering, Team Serbia just got back from a beach vacation where we suffered for Jesus on the shores of the Adriatic Sea and spent the equivalent of a day and a half on buses.

The adventure began July 24, when we left at 11:30 p.m. to take a 9-hour night bus to Podgorica, Montenegro. We were warned that the bus trip would be awful, with winding roads through Southern Serbia, no air conditioning, multiple bathroom stops in the middle of the night, and passport checks of every single passenger at each border. We ignored the warnings and took the bus anyway. Needless to say, we are surprised we lived to tell the tale. We vowed never to take the night bus again…or so we thought. We arrived in Podgorica and took yet another bus to Niksic, Montenegro where we would be staying with Stan and Vicki, a missionary couple from Southern California. Total bus time (TBT) so far: 11 hours and counting.

We spent 3 days in Niksic, a small town in the mountains about the size of Issaquah. Stan and Vicki live in a beautiful house with many guest rooms, a small vineyard, a massive vegetable garden and Stan’s workshop where he builds violins. They used to live in Southern California, but moved to Montenegro 13 years ago when there were fewer than 20 believers in the entire country (Montenegro has a population of about 620,000 today). Today there are about 120 total believers, and 3 thriving churches in the entire country. Stan and Vicki are incredibly hopeful that their ministry will continue to bring people to Christ, but know that the road ahead is long and daunting. Vicki cooked incredible meals for us each day, some of which included salsa (we all miss Mexican food!) and peanut butter. We also got to visit with some of the young adults at the church in Niksic, and were encouraged by their optimism and strength despite the tough climate for ministry in the country.

All four of us were sad to leave Niksic and Stan and Vicki, but our next stop was the coastal town of Herceg Novi, Montenegro. We took a two-hour bus ride (TBT: 13 hours) to Herceg Novi, and were met by Eric and Susan, a missionary couple from Chicago. They have lived in Herceg Novi for 5 years, and not one person has come to the Lord since then. We learned that a lot of the difficulties involved with ministry in Montenegro are a result of peoples’ distrust and hardened hearts. Montenegro means “black mountains” and rocks litter the hillsides. Eric said that ministry in Montenegro is like moving rocks: first removing the rocks from their hearts, and then trying to plant seeds. We learned from Eric and Susan that our success on this trip is not determined by how many people meet Jesus. Instead, we might be just a link in the chain, or more water for seeds that have already been planted. We were really encouraged by our discussions with them.

While we were in Herceg Novi, we had the chance to visit the ancient city of Kotor, Montenegro (TBT: 15 hours) and Dubrovnik, Croatia (TBT: 18 hours). It’s safe to say that all four of us have fallen in love with the Adriatic Coast. Visiting Dubrovnik was definitely a highlight of the trip for our team. We spent the whole day there, walking around the fortress walls that enclose the old city, enjoying wonderful Croatian sea bass, eating ice cream multiple times, and taking a dip in the Adriatic to cool off. Dubrovnik was by far the most tourist-populated city on our journey, and we met a lot of Americans there. Despite almost missing our bus back Herceg Novi and begging a taxi driver to accept our last few cents and take us to the bus station, the day was wonderful and a great time for our team to relax and enjoy one another’s company.

The rest of the time in Montenegro was spent on the beach. Carolyn and Cassie (or Cassandra as she’s known here) are golden brown, Casey has about a million freckles, and Emily is probably giving Team Ireland a run for their money in the pale department. Our last night in Herceg Novi was spent talking to the woman whose house we were staying in. She and her family are refugees from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina who arrived in HN 17 years ago with only the clothes on their backs. They left Sarajevo 6 days before the war began in Bosnia in 1992. Their family of 5 lived in the same trailer for 10 years, surviving only on meat pie. They’ve since built a house and their children are going to university in Belgrade, but you can tell that they still struggle with a lot of pain and hurt from the war. We were all really grateful to hear a story that is not often told, as many people aren’t quick to share how the war affected them personally.

We left the next day for what we thought was a 7-hour bus ride to Sarajevo, but instead turned out to be 9 hours of hairpin turns, Turbo Folk (search for it on YouTube, then imagine listening to it for 9 hours), and body odor. Believe us, the 2 extra hours seemed like eternity (TBT: 27 hours). We arrived in Sarajevo and were brought directly to the best cevapi restaurant we’ve been to thus far. Over the next couple days we experienced the culture primarily through food and drink, which included Turkish coffee and a truly authentic Bosnian meal. Money was tight because of a miscalculation at the exchange office, but we still managed a carriage ride down a peaceful road lined with trees that led to a park filled with fountains, walking bridges, and spring water so fresh we could kneel down and drink from our hands. Oh how we suffered for Jesus! In the early evening on our last night we attended a church service and immediately following it we hopped on a bus to trek back to Belgrade. It was a night bus. Remember how we said earlier that we’d never take a night bus again? Oops. A poor life decision we will never make again.

Thirty-six hours of bus rides, 10 days, 4 different currencies and 3 passport stamps later, we were all very relieved to be back home in Belgrade. As we finish out our trip, we are all experiencing the bittersweet feelings involved with wanting to be home, but also not wanting our time here to come to an end. Please pray that our team will finish strong for our last week and a half and that we would continue to build relationships even though we are leaving. We’re all hoping that God will continue to help our friendships blossom even after we’ve left, and we trust that God will work through the distance.

Samuil’s first impression of Team Serbia based on the picture of us on our prayer card:

Emily – Looks more like a “Stacy”. We’re not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because it sounds a lot like Casey? Which sounds a lot like Cassie? Which is pretty similar to Carolyn? (i.e., “Stacy, you are talking little bit much”). Looks sassy because of arm placement in picture.
Casey – The little angel who is always happy and bubbly and doesn’t know anything.
Carolyn – Or, “Fancy Carrie”. She’s naïve: “Oh I am going to Serbia, la la la la la”
Cassandra – The quiet businesswoman who you wouldn’t expect to speak her mind, but when she does, she really means business.

Quotes, funny moments and other cultural misunderstandings…

Cassie: “I would never wish a night bus on anyone!”

Casey: “We could go to the 24 hour market!”
Cassie: “I don’t think it will be open…”

Samuilo, Director of EUS: “GIRLS! Don’t baptize my floor with your cup of water!”

Total number of wrong buses Casey and Cassie have taken: “I don’t think we can keep track of that anymore” – Cassie

In Sarajevo, Casey accidentally took the largest cup of wine for communion. She gave it to Emily, who then felt buzzed on the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy? Maybe. Funny? Very.

Jelena, Carolyn and Emily’s host and EUS staff member: “Emily, what is wrong with your hair today??” (We think she meant: What did you do differently with your hair?)

Joke from Samuilo: “Jewish custom is to put a baby between a bible and a stack of money and if it crawls to the bible it will be a preacher and if it goes towards the money it will be a banker…and if it grabs both…TV evangelist”

In Cassie and Carolyn’s English class, while playing “Would You Rather…?” a 21 year old male student asked “Would you rather me take off my shirt right now, or go to drinks with me later?”
Šmeksi (shmexsi) = a slang term used by younger Serbians to describe a macho, cocky guy

Lots of ljubav,

Stacy, Fancy Carrie, Cassandra (The Soap Star), and Casey (who really needs a nickname…)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Story time with Team Kenya

Since we have the wonderful opportunity to work with 80 children everyday, we thought we would entertain you with some magnificintly comical children stories. Our kids are constantly being unintentionally hilarious.

1. Megan's second graders were learning about how big God is. She was asked "Is God bigger than the world?" followed closey by "Is he even bigger than YOU?"

2. Mindy's kindergarteners love to share anything and everything and the most inappropriate times. Once in the middle of a lesson, Sharon raised her hand and said "Last night I shared my milk with Ruth...and then I vomited."

3. Amy was sitting next to Joseph (fourth grade) who claimed that a magician was better than a doctor. He continued to describe what magicians can do. For instance, magicians can touch your sweater, and make your sweater disappear. He can drink soda and make a handkerchief come out of his nose. Most importantly, he can appear out of thin air in the bathroom and make you bald and then wear your hair on his head.

4. Another one of our mini-missionaries, Lena, walked in on three year old Hannah in the bathroom. She proceded to roll up her sleeves, and wash the toilet paper in her own.... you know. Oh the humanity!

5. In Megan's second grade class, Victor (a child who we believe may be a distant relative of Mr. Bean) has been placed in the middle of the room away from the other children. Why? You might ask; has he hurt another child? Well, no, but his constant "polluting" (or gassiness) was hindering the learning of the rest of the class. Isolation is the only answer.

6. Catherine explained to us where babies come from. Thank goodness we finally know that babies come from your wrist, starting as a tiny ball and then travel up your arm, down your throat and to your stomach when you are married. That's why you hold hands.

7. Milk in the face. Milk in the beans. Stir the beans, stir the beans. Thanks again Hannah for the warm memories.

8. Stella peed in the gazebo and hugged Megan. Abby didn't tell Megan.

9. One night during devotions baby Peter ran into the bathroom, both hands forward pushing the door open. The door was left open. Drip, drop... drip drip drip. Uncontrollable laughter ensued.

10. Abby walked into her fourth grade class, thinking it was just another day. However, every student had a colored bat cut out taped to them, and one was dressed like batman. Explanation? The teacher gave us bats. Oh... of course.

11. Another one of our missionaries went to devotions, having just showered. Soon she noticed that one of the young girls had licked her hair. When asked why she licked the hair she said "It just smelled sooo good."

12. "I spy" is a pretty safe game to play, right? Right. Until they say "I spy something white" and you are that something white.

13. Joseph: Can I cradle you?
Megan: No. ... no.
Joseph: Do you like to cradle Aunty Abby?
Megan: No.... again, no.

14. How could you not love these kids?

15. We hunted hyrax's (we know you use wikipedia for everything anyway, look it up). We used machetes. We fought a jungle and won. Children watched like it was a movie.

Signing off: Amy Wagoner X4 (hey, it was actually part me this time...)

We Need Bigger Luggage... that we can bring home all of our favorite Turkish things. The sea, the public transportation system, the saturday market, Magnum ice cream bars, gözleme ladies, and our beautiful friends- just to name a few. We can't believe it is the beginning of our last week here- we'll be home before you know it, but I'm not sure we've soaked in all the Turkey-ness yet. Hopefully we can get it all in this week.

Since we last updated (sorry it's been so long!) we have had a lot of new fun experiences. Unfortunately, the camp still isn’t ready to open so we haven’t had the opportunity to work there at all. Our time has not been wasted though, as we have continued to fill roles with the English conversation classes, at the rehab center, and now decorating a kreş(preschool). Over the last few weeks we have been helping and running three different conversation classes, with all different ages. We have worked with teenagers, college students, and adults- reading fun stories and teaching vocabulary from them, playing games, and mostly just talking about anything and everything. This has been a wonderful way to connect with some of the local people here in Antalya, and we have built some great relationships with them. Many times after our afternoon class we would hang out and play games, eat good food, learn how to dance, make jewelry and just hang out with the younger girls- both from the church and from the English classes. We have loved seeing great progress in so many of the students- mostly in their confidence to speak English. This last week was our last with the classes, and it was sad to say goodbye to our friends.

 We had a few more weeks at the rehab center, which was just wonderful. The friends that we made there are so dear to our hearts, and we are hoping to go see them one more time before we leave. They have been closed the last two weeks for holiday, so we have really missed spending time with them. We consistently saw a lot of the same kids and it was a joy to see their faces light up when they would come do crafts with us. It was a complete blessing to watch these kids express their personalities and their talents through the simple art projects that we brought. We also made friends with a lot of the staff- especially Seval who we got to spend time with outside of the center, which was really fun and another wonderful example of the hospitality of the Turks.

 Last week we got an invitation from Verna’s friend Tanşule to come and decorate the rooms in her newly re-opened kreş. This has been such a fun project as we have complete creative freedom to as much of anything that we want. We’ve spent our days cutting out and creating all types of shapes and creatures with construction paper and lots of glitter glue. We’ve completed three rooms and look forward to doing a couple more this week before we leave.

 Over the last month we have traveled to Ephesus, Side, and Cappadocia. We went to Ephesus in two groups and had very different experiences, but all loved it. It is an incredible places full of beauty and rich history. Side is another beautiful place, only an hour and a half outside of Antalya. Here we visited more ruins located right on the beach and just enjoyed the beauty around us as the sun went down. Cappadocia was a really fun place to see. There are tons of natural rock formations because of volcanoes that have been turned into houses and hotels and caves. We took a tour and saw a huge underground city and some old churches built into the sides of a canyon. These have all been really fun trips showing us a lot of different sides of Turkey.

 We continue to have lots of laughs as we move through our days here. I think that we are all pretty much on the same page- we love this place and there is so much that we will miss, but we are also ready to come home. This last week is full of spending some last moments of quality times with friends, finishing our project at the kres and then heading to Istanbul on Thursday for a couple days of sight seeing.

 Thanks for all of the prayers, can’t wait to see you!

Friday, August 07, 2009

nos vemos, barahona

well things are wrapping up here in the DR which is pretty hard to believe.... we've said our goodbyes to our host families, the staff, the bateyes, and the city, and we're going out to enjoy the beach one more time this afternoon. tomorrow we head out for the capital, where we'll spend three days debriefing and exploring, and tuesday morning we all fly out to come home! it's been an insane journey and we'll try to conclude a little more in the near future, but for now, please pray for safe travels, elisa's stomach, and closure as we tie all our experiences together and figure out how to make sense of all this at home. happy trails, we'll see you soon!

lauren, alicia, y elisa

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tech Camp Radio Spot

Hello all!
The BBC bus came to Tech Camp today and the campers worked hard at putting together a mini radio show about their week at tech camp. Our opinions are featured. Listen up!!

Team Ireland

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Team Ireland goes to Tech Camp

We have gone from having an hour of internet access between the four of us each week (if we were lucky), to pretty much constant access at our fingertips. It is a blessing and a curse, but part of the blessing is that we finally get to update the blog on a more regular basis! We are helping at a tech camp for teenagers this week, being held in Derryvolgie Halls of Residence. Before the week started we were all a little worried about how useful we would be (since none of us are particularly tech-y, apart from Chase), and unsure of how we would feel about doing a residential camp. We are halfway through and I think we can all agree that we love it! We've had an opportunity to get in alongside the kids and learn lots of cool stuff- ranging from how to use twitter and sound systems, to creating short videos and animated movies. It has been really great to build relationships with the campers, and we have found that 13-16 year olds are great to work with because they are sarcastic and fun, but not yet annoying. Plus we all get our own rooms, which has been a huge blessing- it is nice to unpack our things and not feel like we are living out of our suitcases-- for this week anyway. It's also been really great to talk to the campers about their faith- Chase and Thoma have been leading worship each night, and it is followed by a devotion on the theme of "getting connected with God." Tyler has been in charge of waking everyone up in the mornings (even though Lindsay has to wake him up every morning), and Lindsay has been helping out in the kitchen.

We had the afternoon off today so we met up with some friends from a camp we did a few weeks ago and walked downtown to the best Christian bookstore we have ever been in. It's a beautiful day in Belfast, though we have noticed via facebook that the rumors are coming true: while all the other teams are getting thinner and tanner, we are getting fatter and paler. It is hard to believe that we only have 9 days left in this beautiful country, and while we are trying to finish strong, the closer we get to departure the more we begin to think about home.

Hopefully once our videos are done our new techie friends will show us how to upload them to the blog and you can see what we've been working on.

Team Ireland


Monday, August 03, 2009

Team Ethiopia Update

Selaaaaam from Mekele

So as usual we haven't blogged in over 2 weeks. Our time is flying by here, we have less than 2 weeks left in Ethiopia. Amber leaves this Sunday to head back home and we leave that Wednesday to begin traveling to Lallibella.

Earlier this week, one of our Canadian teammates (Reuben) returned from Egypt. We also got another teammate from England (Tim). Amber and Alyssa pretty much spent most of the time he was here picking on him and imitating his accent whenever possible.

On Monday, we went to the "Market," which was a true African experience in itself. There are souveniers, fabrics, clothes, vegetables, spices, etc. We also went to one of our favorite habasha restuarants to watch some traditional Ethiopian dancing. It was quite interesting, especially when Justin tried to get up on stage and imitate their crazy shoulder dance. We would say the highlight of the week was when we went hyena hunting after dinner one night. We have gone a few times before, but never on top of jeep. It was as close to a real safari as we could get. Unfortunately we never saw any hyenas but always wondered how high they could jump, just in case...

This past Saturday we performed in a program at the Mekele Youth Center. There was a unicyclist, mens and women's gymnastics performance, and of course our HIV/AIDS cheer and dance was the best part of the show. We used Amber's 8th grade cheer routine to "Four Minutes" by Madonna and Justin Timberlake. Its was pretty awesome.

After church this last Sunday we were invited to our friend's (Rufael) house for his gradutation party. We got there around 1:30, but apparently the program was running late. We were invited in and his sister made us some coffee and popcorn (yes they serve popcorn here with their coffee). Well an hour goes by and Rufael still isn't home.
We get a call from one of the missionaries we are working with asking us where we are. Well it turns out we are not at Rufael's house and it is not his sister who invited us in. We were actually at one of the circus girl's houses. She wasn't even expecting us, but still invited us in and fed us. Obviously there was a miscommunication, the girl spoke Tigrinia and Karen spoke Amharic. Go figure. An hour later we arrive at the right house in a slight state of embarrassment.

Later that day we decided to go see a movie, which wasn't playing due to technical difficulties. A.W.A. (Africa wins again). Instead we found a bomb ancient army tank at the monument nearby and pretended to be marines for an hour or so. Yes, this is how we do in our spare time.

Although we have had power for the last 5 days in a row now, our phone has taken on a mind of its own and decided to go dead. AWA.

And since all the other teams are apparently vacationing at the beach every other week, we decided to be adventurous and go pirate hunting in Somalia. Pray for us....

Justin - would have bought a monkey at the market yesterday if he had enough money on him. He is still currently searching for his habasha wife and is willing to pay up to 4 camels, 2 donkeys, and a monkey for her.

Amber - tells all the children she is habasha, and when they tell her, "no, you have white skin," she says, "no, see my skin is black," and they think its the funniest thing in the world.

Jason - really enjoyed going to the Castle last night and tasting "tej." He is currently working on a new website for MYC. And finally found a Wii, and thus much more adjusted and at home here

Alyssa - is still lost somewhere out in Somalia. We are still negociating her ransom....Things aren't going as well as we hoped...Apparently 200 birr doesn't mean a whole lot to Somalian pirates. Please pray for her.

Pray for our travel plans these next few weeks (Amber will be by herself for 2 days) and we will be drving for 90+ hours through Northern Africa soon. Pray that everything goes safely and smoothly.
Many of us, ironically, have the common cold (AWA) so pray for health too. Especially pray for energy and that we may finish off these last few weeks strong. As always pray for team dynamics (Amber conquered the world in Risk, as predicted Alyssa was wiped off the world, and Justin and Jason nearly annihilated one another). Some of these issues have continued outside the game. Just kidding. But seriously....

P.S. some of the above statements may or may not be true....

Saturday, August 01, 2009

India never ceases to amaze us

Well, a lot has happened since the last blog! The trip to Mysore was a huge eye opener into the heart of cultural India. We saw many ancient temples and buildings, several of which are still used today. The outsides are beautiful and ornate, but I was honestly a little shocked at what I saw inside. Nothing extreme, but I guess I was thinking “tour bus” and “sightseeing.” To walk in to see big statues and guys with incense and water was a little different, and to see people bowing down and worshipping these statues completely caught me off guard. We left and didn’t see the main idol, and didn’t go into any of the rest of the temples, but I guess I’m glad I went in and saw what I did. I realized how much these people put time and energy and much of their lives into wood and metal and stone. (Habbakuk 2:18-20) Brian had a conversation with a worker at school, asking him why he was a Hindu and stuff. He replied he didn’t really know and it was mostly just because his parents did it and it’s the culture. Hinduism is a belief system practiced by people here, but it’s more commonly a ritual, custom and tradition that the culture is immersed in.

After Mysore we went with the hostel kids to the zoo and stopped by a high ropes course called Breakthrough. At Breakthrough every physical challenge has a lesson in it, which they bring faith into if the incoming group is Christian. Very neat. The zoo was FANTASTIC and fantastically Indian, lol. There were nearly as many snake exhibits as other animals exhibits. Highlights were the humongous hippos, the pelicans swallowing each other’s heads, the white tigers, and the lion—which we saw on the mini safari. The kids were also a blast to get to spend a day with outside the school, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed spinning around at ridiculous speeds on the park playground contraptions.

We also just came back from an amazing overnight trip to Kerala. We took a train to get there, which was one of my highlights of the weekend. My teammates and I enjoyed sitting and standing between the cars and staring out at the whizzing by scenery of rural India. It was beautiful and very surreal. Still feels that way. Then we arrived at our hotel/resort, and since it is off-season for India, we nearly had the place to ourselves. After spending the night there, we woke up and went by taxi to our next destination—an authentic Kerala houseboat. You have to see pictures. The most peaceful part of the weekend by far. We got on, went to the little upper deck/area/hideout, and just sat and watched the boat head down the canal of water surrounded by trees and houses and head towards the open backwaters of Kerala. Incredible. We explored a rice field later that night when the boat docked. Dexter and I ended up accidently exploring the mud a little more than the other two, but I have to say it was worth it. Dexter was covered in disgusting black and brown mud up to his knees! Needless to say, we ended up washing off with a little swim in the backwaters, per instructions of the crew…well, they told us to wash off at least. After a semi-miserable, sleepless night from the heat and bugs, all of us enjoyed a peaceful morning return to the hotel. We headed home shortly after, and enjoyed a slightly less comfortable train experience than the first, although it was still enjoyable and got us back.

Between weekend trips, working at the school has been an incredible experience. All of us have very unique experiences at the school, so I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know each of us is having a great time there. I am enjoying my classroom a TON and will miss it SO much. I’ve seen development in the kids over the two months, which is incredible to witness. In the classroom I feel I can be a support and extra hand to the teachers, as well as just love the kids and be there to support them—trying to speak encouragement to them beyond the schoolwork (although often it’s just trying to manage the kids and some of their terrible behavior). Some of the best moments with the kids I’ve had, however, have been on the playground, away from the classroom. One of the kids with the worst behaviors has grown attached to me and it will be so hard to leave him, as well as all the others, too.

Thanks for all the prayers and encouragements and support. God has yet to fail me this trip. He has been good to me and all of us in health, safety, and looking after us in the little things. It is great to witness the Lord provide for each other as teammates. You can be praying for health as we finish the trip, safety in our trips to Goa and Chennai, for the kids in my classroom and their needs both emotionally and spiritually and situations in their homes, for the provision of the right teachers at Asha Kiran (the school), and for God to reign in these last two weeks—starting with my life, and then overflowing into everything else.

Miss you and love all of you back home and around the world, Lauren and team India.