Looking Back – Peru 2/7/14

We received this post from the Peru team upon their return at the end of January!

None of us will let the 36 hours of traveling home squelch our the memories of our final moments with the beautiful children that we learned to love or with the teens and adults that we witnessed serve others every day.

Thursday night we were invited to the Pastor’s house for dinner where they shared with us the stories of the children of Casa Luz. All of us were amazed by the strength of their faith and by the miracle of each child. We didn’t fully understand the extent of how God has worked through those at Casa Luz until we heard the specific stories like the one of Milagros, a beautiful 12 year girl who had been showering us with kisses from the moment she met us. When Milagros was born, she was unusually tiny and her grandmother knew she would not survive high up in the mountains. So the grandmother hiked all the way down to Casa Luz in hopes that Milagros would be able to survive there. She weighed 1 kilo until she was one year old. Through much prayer and good nourishment, Pastor watched Milagros flourish and grow into the meaning of her name, a miracle.

Friday and Saturday were filled with fiestas. Saying goodbye to the kids at Casa Luz and Luz y Vida included specially drawn pictures for us, gifts, games, lots of food, laughs, hugs for all and even a clown! For Saturday night, our team conspired with some members of the church to throw a surprise birthday party for Andrew. One that will not quickly be forgotten.

Sunday was our last time worshipping in Spanish with the members of Pastor’s church. Then we left our beloved little world for a day of debriefing.

We awoke on Monday to board our bus at 5 am and traveled almost 12 hours to the airport. There we tearfully let our translators and patiently waited for our 11:50pm flight. While standing in a never ending line, we heard the heart-dropping news that our flight had been canceled and we would most likely not be able to leave until 24 hours later. We immediately began praying that God would provide us a flight, one team member specifically asked for one that would depart within 4 hours of our original time. After much more waiting and watching our fearless leaders scurry around frantically, we heard the news. We were going to Canada! Our flight left at 3:30 am, just 3 hours and 40 minutes after our original flight, thank you very much God. From Canada, our team split into two planes to Indianapolis but we all made it back safe and sound.

We each witnessed God do awesome things on this trip and were reminded again of how powerful our prayers can be, whether it was watching Pastor stop in the middle of farming to ask God for a tractor or seeing a group of college kids huddled, praying in an airport. And we each were touched by at least one of the lives of the Peruvian people. As heartbreaking as it is to know that we may never see them again on earth, it brings us so much joy to think of reuniting with them in heaven. Hasta luego!

Tiehl (Peru team member)

Finally Home – Guatemala 3/6/14

We received this email from the Guatemala team on Monday, February 3rd. Read below about their reflections since they have arrived in the States!Image

Finally home.  We arrived in Indy at around 11 last night (February, 2).  We left the airport in Guatemala city at 8.  We had a great trip and were very grateful for the opportunity to serve the Guatemalan people alongside Mission Impact.  It was a great eye opening experience, and one we won’t soon forget.  We were able to make over 20 water filters and over 50 stoves.  We hope that the people will use them and that the stoves and filters will improve the health of families.

In Coyolate, the last area where we served, we were told about the sugar cane fields.  Each sugar cane field worker makes 13 Quetzals per ton of sugar cane they cut.  They work 14-hour days and a fast worker can cut 5 to 6 tons a day.  This comes out to about 8 dollars a day.

We are grateful for everyone’s prayers and support during our trip.  We would appreciate your continued prayers for the Guatemalan people and for Mission Impact.  While we are able to return to our comfortable lives, they continue to live in a different reality.  Poverty and health problems resulting from poor sanitation and limited resources continue to plague most areas in the country.

Bugs & Lava – 1/27/14 Guatemala

 

Received this update this morning (1/27) at 1:30am EST from our Guatemala sponsors. We’re excited to announce that the team has started the journey back home! Pray for smooth travel and good time to reflect.

During our time in Coyolate, half of our team continued to work with fuel efficient stoves. We built six stoves each day and near the end of the week we were able to install a few stoves into people’s homes.  The other half of our team worked on painting a school in the community. During our time at the school we also held a meeting with to discuss beginning a garden at the school. This would provide additional fruits and vegetables for some families in the community.

Our days in this community were very hot and humid. Along with this increase in heat we found an increase in the number of large insects and spiders! The first night proved to be an adventure as the guys found their sleeping quarters to be filled with ants. However, we managed to live alongside the bugs (with a few bites here and there) and to enjoy the beautiful views that we had in this location. We had a number of volcanoes around us and one night we even saw lava flowing from one!

God has blessed our time in Guatemala and we look forward to sharing stories with you as we return to the states on Monday, please keep our flights in your prayers!

Final thoughts from Nepal – 1/27/14

Hello! We received this final update from the Nepal team yesterday. As you read this update, celebrate the hope that we have in Christ and pray for the people of Nepal who don’t know Him.

Greetings from Kathmandu, and the Nepal Team! After a four day trip to Pokhara, we safely made it back to Kathmandu, and are very much looking forward to spending the last 5 days of our trip here.

Yesterday we had the unique opportunity to visit a place in Kathmandu called Pashupati. Here there is not only a very prominent Hindu temple, but also the most famous of Hindu crematoriums. Hindus believe that the body must be cremated on the same day as a person’s death, and it is at Pashupati where this takes place. The cremation process is not something that is hidden though. It is carried out on the banks of what is viewed as a holy river for all to see. As we walked around (being led by a very knowledgeable tour guide) we viewed a number of cremations that were going on, all of them in different stages of completion. We also saw a number of different temples, as well as many Hindu wise men that often live in that area. Our tour guide explained very well what was going on, as well as what the beliefs were behind the practices.

We have been living in the Hindu culture for a few weeks now, but this was easily the most blatant and obvious depiction of the Hindu religion that we have encountered, and, for many of us, I don’t think we have ever been to a place so lacking in hope. Many of us came away from the experience with a few very strong emotions, mainly anger and sadness. We were angry because of the things that we had heard and seen. For example the tour guide was telling us about the cow being a holy animal, and we soon came to find that a jail sentence for killing a cow is longer than most jail sentences for someone trafficking girls into India. This caused me to become very upset, but at the same time I felt sadness towards the people there because of the way that they are trapped unknowingly in the hopeless cycle of their beliefs.

We all came back feeling very heavy, not really knowing how to process all that we had just seen and heard. We had some time to be on our own to pray and reflect, and then we got together as a team and not only shared our thoughts, but also encouraged one another. It was wonderful to come away from that time knowing that we have a hope in something so much greater, greater than we can even imagine. Our God is greater than all of the things that we experienced, and He not only loves us, but also the Nepali Hindus. For this reason we continue to love and pray for this nation, and we ask that you would do the same.

One scripture that really encouraged us through our experience was Philippians 4:4-9.  We continue to rejoice in the Lord because of what He is doing here in Nepal. Our trip may be nearing its end, but we have no doubt that God has amazing plans for this place both while we are here, and after we leave, and for that we praise his name!

Dan Clemens on behalf of the Nepal team

Pray for:

-          The Nepali people

-          Our hosts at THI and for the work they’re doing

-          Safety and smooth travels back home

Final Goodbyes from Ethiopia – 1/27/14

We received this final update from the Ethiopian team yesterday. Be sure to check out the two pictures they sent us as well – it looks like there was a birthday celebration and victorious soccer champs from our team!
Project Mercy Memories and Goodbyes Image
Our days at Project Mercy have sadly come to an end. The team spent the last couple days doing a variety of activities. Originally, we anticipated teaching for two weeks but instead we found ourselves teaching for three days and the rest of the time was spent tutoring, proctoring tests, and helping the students review for exams. The most challenging part of our trip was definitely learning to put our expectations aside and being willing to serve in any way possible. No one expected the amazing opportunities we had to serve this campus and its surrounding community.
Unlike the rest of the school, kindergarten still had class on Thursday and Friday, so a group was able to serve there. Two of the long term student teachers left on Tuesday and another left Thursday, so we helped them finish their work by grading and calculating exam scores. Friday brought some more proctoring and later in the afternoon we took a trip to the Butajira market again with some house-kids. We experienced a number of things from bartering to getting chased by Ethiopian kids all over the market to enjoying some macchiatos at the local restaurant.
On Saturday, we actually returned to Butajira to visit a serum company called Scantibodies. This company has a connection with Project Mercy and thus the house-kids came along on this field trip. We took a tour of this successful company which happens to create many job opportunities for local Ethiopians from the Butajira region. We also visited a small zoo and saw baboons, monkeys, tortoises and a hyena. After this excursion, we visited Crater Lake once more and witnessed the breathtaking sunset and herding of camels.
ImageToday (Sunday) brought a series of memorable events. In the morning, we attended church and Trevor had the privilege to preach to the congregation, most of which are from Project Mercy, while Solomon translated in Amharic. After church, our team did some cleanup around our living areas and organized some of the supplies we brought for Project Mercy. Then, in the afternoon, we played with the house-kids one last time and we can proudly say that team USA beat team Ethiopia in soccer! Playing sports and spending time with the kids has always been the highlight of our day. However, concluding the day was tough for everyone. We had to say goodbye to the kids tonight and it was extremely sad and painful for us. It was so hard parting with these kids whom we’ve grown to love so much in just a month! But we are excited to be reunited with our friends and family back home, and be able to share the amazing journey we have all experienced!
- Camila Chiang and Trevor Myers for the Ethiopia Team
Please pray for:
-          Good space and time for debriefing as a team
-          The workers and people at PM
-          Smooth and safe travels back to the USA

Reflections from SE Asia – 1/2714

Hello! Below you’ll see the final update before the SE Asia travels back to the USA. This was received yesterday morning. Thank you for your prayers as they debrief and process all that they experienced!

As we spent time this morning debriefing and worshipping our hosts asked us to write a one, three, and five sentence description of our trip in answer to the question “How was your trip? This being our last blog, Jeff and I asked each of the students to share one of their stories, to give you some glimpses of our trip. As we continue to rest and reflect during our last day at base camp, continue to pray for our hosts, our guides, and our trip home. We have learned so much during our time in SE Asia, and can’t wait to get home to share more of our stories with you. In the meantime, thank you for your prayers and support. I assure you we have felt them. – Natalie

It was incredible, a huge piece of my heart will be left in SE Asia. Learning the ministry of presence and loving on people abundantly has taught me so much. There is something so powerful about learning and loving together. – Amy

The last night on our second island our house mother decided to put henna on us–which meant putting this weed paste on our palms and fingertips. While it was drying, we began to talk with our host mother and father about Islam and Christianity. Lying on the floor, palms up, I was moved to tears when explaining to these beautiful and loving people how deep and everlasting God’s grace is, even to a sinner like me. Our henna was drying, we couldn’t move, and meanwhile we were sharing our Lord with these unreached people. I don’t know how much they heard and comprehended, but we planted seeds, and that’s how my trip was. – Natalie

I really learned to rely on God this trip. I was constantly praying for his strength and love to coat me and others on the trip. Towards the end of the trip my house group was praying constantly every night and at every meal for the people we were reaching, our group, wisdom, power over the evil one, and whatever else was on our minds. He is quick and faithful to provide for our needs and beyond. -Josh

I learned a lot about prayer and enjoyed showing love, whether it was to kids, my host families, or by sharing something about my faith. I will miss smiling at people and seeing their joyful, rotten tooth grins beam back, their day made by a white person showing they care. -Abby

This trip was truly eye and heart opening. I learned so much about myself, the strengths God has given me, and learned to become a prayer warrior. This trip has pushed me in every possible way and I am truly thankful that God pushed me out of my comfort zone and had me live on three different islands with three different families. I learned that it is possible for me to fall in love with people whose language I don’t even speak and that their smiles and laughter could bring me so much joy. I have left a huge piece of my heart in SE Asia. -Valerie

It was heartbreaking to leave each island. The families on the islands became my family in such a short time. I saw The Lord make connections between people that didn’t even speak the same language. -Nicole

These islands taught me what it truly means to fully depend on God. Whether that meant praying for strength to get through an exhausting day, faith that God will protect me from things not of him, or trusting that he is in control of the salvation of the people we encountered, God showed me that he fulfills his promises and provides for me in every way I need. My heart has been opened to unreached people groups and they will forever hold a piece of my heart. -Maddie

It was a once in a life time opportunity to learn the culture and history of these wonderful people while we serve them. I have learned that God is powerful enough to use anyone’s testimony to glorify him, and above all, God taught me he loves these people more than we do.

“…And who knows whether you have not come to the Kingdom for a such a time as this?” Esther 4:14  -Yosef

It was great touring the islands with our Jesus-following hosts who are running a good business in this unreached area. -Matthew

From watching the butchering of a stingray and showering in the jungle to experiencing God’s power, love, and grace in our host communities, my time in SE Asia is one I will never forget. One of the many things I learned during my time here is that sometimes the smallest expressions of love–a smile, playing hand clap games with children, or genuinely engaging someone else’s culture–can speak louder and be more meaningful than words. The genuine love and hospitality of our hosts captured my heart and part of me will always remain with these people who so generously shared their lives with me. -Kayla

Sometimes I have no words to say and I feel like this is one of those time. There is so much I would love to say, but I just can’t put it into words. But thankfully God is so much bigger than words and his love overshadows all which was so evident on this trip. So often we didn’t have the words to say because of the language barrier but that did matter because love and smiles along with lots of laughter quickly became our language which was one of the best ways to pour out God’s love on all those we met. -Shiloh

A highlight for me was sitting with a group of Muslim friends sharing about the characteristics of a godly wife (Proverbs 31) and a godly husband (Ephesians 5). We had a connection around a topic that was important to all of us. I pray that these words from scripture and our ongoing friendship will spark an interest in the Bible and that we will sometime see them as followers of Jesus. – Jeff

My trip to Indonesia was life-changing. I saw people half the world away that were so kind and generous, yet had never heard the gospel of Christ. It was heartbreaking, but also helped to remind me of the need for people to be ministering to these people. Also, being in such a radically different place from America, I was outside of my comfort zone which is where I believe God transforms people the most. I was transformed spiritually, and I pray God does the same thing for the people I met on this trip. – CJM4

Overall, this trip has been an incredible experience in which my trust and reliance on God grew and we saw the hearts of the people in the village begin to soften for the gospel. We were able to have great conversations and truly love on the people. Personally, I saw my prayer life transformed, and God work in the lives of people that ways that was truly incredible. -Parker

This trip has opened up some once in a lifetime opportunities. I have learned to eat with my hands, shower with a sheet on and pee in a tiny hole; many of which I never thought I would ever learn. I have learned how to truly depend on God and to jump out of my comfort zone. I was constantly relying on God whether it was just for strength for the day or for conversations to arise. This trip has been a wonderful experience and there will always be a piece of my heart that remains here. -Baili

I had the privilege of hosting your sons, daughters, friends, family and/or loved ones here. It truly was a pleasure to serve together the men, women, and children on the 3 islands and everyone else in between. They were challenged, encouraged, and blessed. They loved greatly, served joyfully all the while giving God all the glory, praise and honor. Thank you for being a part of this team through your prayers and/or financial support. Thank you in advance for asking questions and listening to their stories. They represented your families well and they represented Taylor well. Thank you lighthouse for such an incredible program and the pre-trip training that is done as it is very evident upon their arrival. 15 hearts and lives have been changed because of this trip and many more lives of the local villagers. – the host

Pray for safe travels and on time flights!

Looking for the Unfamiliar – Ethiopia 1/23/14

The week of national exams has arrived for the Project Mercy students. First grade through third grade had exams Monday and Tuesday limiting the amount of time we were able to spend teaching and observing. The kindergarten teachers still remained in session to help their students review for the upcoming tests (Yes! Kindergarteners have to take national tests too!). Some of our team participated in high school classes that were preparing for their exams, taking place later in the week. Because of the testing, the school days were cut short and our team was able to assist any student who needed tutoring or help in any subject. Luckily, our team was able to help with all subjects as well as reading comprehension since most of their exams are in English. The leadership program still continued and some of the team members were able to have very influential conversations with some of the older students. One of our team members, Nathaniel, being a biology pre-med major, was able to shadow in Project Mercy’s local hospital and had an incredible experience, learning so much about the medical world here in Ethiopia.testing

On Tuesday, the men from our team participated in manual labor which included moving pipes, carrying banana trees, and transporting manure! All the while, the women worked alongside the kitchen staff, sorting through beans and grains for our upcoming meals. We were all grateful to have these jobs which allowed us to serve Project Mercy in unfamiliar ways. manual labormanual labor 2grain 2grain

Wednesday was testing day for high school and our team proctored most of the exams. The two exams for the day were English and Amharic. After proctoring, we helped grade the tests for the English teachers because they will be leaving later tonight (Thursday) for a well-deserved three week break back home in the US. We have a new found respect for those who come and serve long term here at Project Mercy. The luxuries and lifestyle that they have given up to help and make a difference in these kids’ lives is admirable. And then late Wednesday night, we had the pleasure of spending time with the house-kids around a massive bonfire. During this time, we sang songs, played games, ate Ethiopian snacks, and listened to a short message from Solomon and Lauryn. The night became a memorable time spent with the children and staff here at Project Mercy. bon fire

And now today, we find ourselves proctoring exams once again and plan on taking advantage of the short time left we have with these kids. Throughout this whole trip, God has been teaching our whole team to submit to his sovereign plan and not put our own agendas above his. Looking back on the trip so far, God has revealed to us that He is the author of this amazing story we get to be a part of.

On behalf of our Ethiopia team, Trevor M. and Camila C.