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Refugees in the Middle East

23 May

As I sat on the small patio overlooking an ancient city in the Middle East I could see 15 mosques.  From 4:30 AM through most of the day I could hear the ‘call to prayer’ as it echoed through the city.  As I took in the sites and sounds of the city it gave me time to reflect on the need for the S*vior to be proclaimed. The need is great.

The trip was significant for me in so many ways.  The impact was felt as I talked to two different couples and heard their personal stories of pain and loss.   They shared with me some of the incredibly devastating things that happened to them.  Hearing their stories and the description of the loss of everything, the death of many of their relatives in the civil war that has broken out touched me deeply.  They were no longer just ‘those people over there’, nameless statistics that aren’t personal  but they were Mohammed and Aiesha (not their actual names).  As they told their stories there was a deep sadness for them in my heart.  They have experienced pain and loss at levels I can’t even begin to comprehend.

Syrian-refugeesThis experience touched me at the heart level and gave me a great appreciation for the need for the gospel message to go out.  Our Faith Promise contributions make a difference for people like Mohammed and Aiesha. Being able to share the “message of hope” that J*s*s provides is part of the road to redemption, the road to a new life beyond their current pain and loss.

Having the Courage to Travel

28 Nov

IMG_0770There are many people who live in south central Pennsylvania who have not traveled much.  Whether they grew up on a farm and had to stay close because of the nature of farming or their family was not adventurous they never went far.   One person I recently traveled with had that kind of upbringing.  She had not traveled south of the Mason Dixon line until she was an adult.  That all changed when she heard about our short term trips to Guatemala.  She felt the call of God to step out of her comfort zone and sign up for the trip.

She had never flown before, had not applied for a passport much less traveled anywhere outside the United States.  It turned out to be an effort in perseverance and fortitude.  It was only 2 months before the trip.  She didn’t have a certified copy of her birth certificate which took her four trips to Harrisburg to get.  It turned out there as an error on her birth certificate which needed to be corrected.  Time kept marching on.  She then applied for her passport and it was finally issued in time for her to travel.

The trip was a great adventure for her; trying new things, experiencing the Guatemalan culture, eating new foods and seeing the way people lived in rural Central America which was quite different from Pennsylvania.  She stepped out and worked in some areas that were very challenging for her but she did it with grace and God met her.   She has traveled again and plans to make short term trips a regular part of her spiritual journey.  I am thankful for her dedication and perseverance.  She was a welcome member of the team.

The Joy Found on Mission Trips

6 Aug

Whenever I am in a new or different culture I am aware of the differences.   When I was in college I was able to travel in Europe.  While staying with some friends in Germany one of the neighbor girls came to visit.  She was about 4 years old.  She started talking to them in perfect German.  I was taken aback, which shows how little I knew about different cultures.   Of course she spoke perfect German, and there are billions of Chinese children that speak perfect Mandarin.  That is one of the joys of these trips.
Sendafa Jan 2014 162

It’s not just about languages either.  On a recently trip to Sendafa, Ethiopia one of the team members started to play with one of the young Ethiopian girls.  They were doing a game where they clap each others hands, slap their knees and things like that.  No words needed to be spoken but there was a connection there.  She got it and actually taught the team member a few new moves that she didn’t know.   I was fascinated watching the process.  This and so many more things are where joy is found on missions trips.  Ready to go yet?

A Story: Guatemala Construction Trip

1 Apr

For nearly a decade Living Word Community Church has been actively involved in building churches among the Ixil People of northern Guatemala. It started with building a retaining wall for Pastor Jorge at Los Violettas Church in Nebaj back 9 years ago. This past month a team of 24 volunteers from Living Word traveled to Nebaj to help with another 8 churches. Whether it is setting columns at the beginning of a project, to pour foundations and concrete floors to finally putting a roof on the finished structure.

Ken Painter and Geoff Fix shared their story this past week with a video during the Sunday morning service. Watching this will give you a small taste of the joy that serving the Lord in Nebaj brings.

One Person’s Reflections on Sendafa

17 Mar

In the middle of January I had a great adventure joining the team on a journey to Sendafa.  There were eleven of us who got on the plane at Dulles International Airport heading for Addis Ababa.  I knew a few of my fellow travelers but most of them were new friends that had chosen the same adventure I had.  After almost 24 hours of travel we landed at the Bole International Airport ready to experience a new culture.

The wonders of Ethiopia were evident in the sights, sounds and smells.  We all were touched by the incredible poverty of Sendafa and yet equally touched by the gentle spirit of the people.  We had the opportunity to love them, help them with small acts of kindness and to see the amazing work of the Project Adopt A Village (PAAV) team.  One of our team members captured it well with a video that we shared in church yesterday.  I have attached it for you to catch a glimpse of what it was like.  I hope you enjoy it.

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