Final Reflections – (1/30/17)

24 days. 14 people. 

There’s no way to prepare for showering in mandis, wiping with your left, sitting criss-cross applesauce for hours on end, eating food that stares back at you, eating a sagu worm, sweating constantly, and listening to hundreds of puns about sarongs. It’s through all these experiences and more, we got to have the opportunity of a lifetime. Being able to see how God is moving on the other side of the world.

  

One of the most impactful ideas from this trip for myself (Isaac), was that of the Islamic faith and the work of contextualization. I did not know much about the work that was being done here before and was curious to have a first-hand experience. This idea from one of our guides seems incredibly important to me: Our God is a God who has created a culture and defends it. He does not want to change or rid these people of their culture but rather wants them to be people of their culture who love and know Him. In acknowledging that, it is absolutely beautiful how the people work to bring the Good News to these people of Islamic faith in an applicable and realistic way. Though it may not be your first thought, there are many truths that Muslims believe that is even within the Qur’an. This hit me on our third island as our host sister shared the story of Moses. There is a deep longing for God in these people, and how beautiful it has been to see the revealing of Jesus Christ through their own culture and beliefs.

 

As Isaac previously stated this idea from our guide has brought about so many questions for our group (Caleb). To say this trip was easy would be a lie, which shows the beauty of the people who live and work here. While we jump into their lives for 24 days, they live in it for 365. As we have reflected after every island stay and the trip as a whole we have all had this one reoccurring theme: we are leaving with more questions than answers. When you hear that you’re going to the other side of the world and will be living in Muslim families’ homes who have never heard of this man Jesus Christ even though he is in their book, you fully expect to come home to friends

and family telling of how much you know about God and how you have all the answers to the hard questions you had always asked. In reality, though, you come away with more questions, but a deeper understanding and a glimpse of God. This idea from Adam (one of the team members) really embodies how we need to learn. He shared this idea that you are a bottle in the ocean. God is the ocean and we are the bottle. If you fill up your bottle and pour it out and then fill it up and pour it out, then you will never fully understand anything about God. But if you fill up your bottle and admire, play, feel, and experience the water in the bottle you get a fuller glimpse of our God. Most of us will be coming home with hard questions that we may not have the answer to but in an American culture so steeped with immediate satisfaction, there is no better lesson to learn than patience. The process to the answer requires patience but that process is where we slowly see God working in our lives and in the lives around us.

 

Caleb and I had the privilege of sharing a host family during our third island visit, and we didn’t realize the full level of the hospitality we received until we left the island. One of our guides pointed out how our Bapak (host dad) was always around. We lived at least a mile from the village center and any activity that we participated in during our visit we had to make the walk. Despite making this walk 4-5 times each day, our Bapak was always present. He was watching us at the work projects, watching us play volleyball, and even we left home without him, he would show up with us half way through the walk. His sacrifice of any schedule, any comfort of avoiding that long walk by riding his motorbike, and of his precious time showed a love and hospitality I dream of having. The hospitality we have received here in SE Asia has been moving, and I am honored to have the opportunity to know and live alongside these beautiful people even for just a few days. Upon leaving the last island, our Bapak and I locked eyes as we drove away on the boat, and I was instantly shocked at the level of relationship that can be reached in such a short amount of time. I realized this is why we are here, and this is how God is moving here.

 

As we wrap up this trip as a whole, Isaac and I could not help but think back to this idea of prayer. Specifically a conversation I had with a 17-year-old on our first island. We were wrapping up from our stay there and one night he randomly said to me “Though we may be far in sight, we are close in prayers.” We are all forever a part of these people’s lives that we met throughout this trip and we are forever a part of their journey to Heaven. While we are leaving, that fact can never be taken away from any of us. No goodbye is easy when you view it as a fact of life that we will likely never again see these translators, the workers at Telunas, the people who watched us from afar on these islands or the people we had specific interactions with. As one translator said, though, “I don’t give goodbye speeches, I give see you later speeches”. When we leave this comfort of this tangible world, we can finally see the glimpse of God’s great Kingdom. We don’t share so that we go our separate ways. We share so that we can be connected in prayer and finally be together in worship for eternity with our Good, Good Father.

 

Caleb & Isaac

 

Pashupatinath – Hope Is Within – Nepal (1/30/17)

Greetings from Nepal!

Thank you so much for your prayerful support of both us individually and as a team. We truly are experiencing the grace and goodness of God in a multitude of ways and I (Rachael) hope I can share a few of those things with you, our amazing family and friends!

Since being back in Katmandu we have actually been able to have some time to rest and process. Fewf! – because last week was our crazy week of teaching. We have had a few days of visiting children’s homes where we so evidently saw the goodness of God and redemption here on this earth. We were also able to spend time meeting with more of the Tiny Hands staff, learning more about  their ministries, and really wrapping up our time here. Throughout our days, many of us have had the opportunity to get to know and share our faith with our new Nepali friends and acquaintances. This time has been such a blessing and such a great time to really experience the hospitality found within the Nepali people and culture.

Finally, yesterday we had a chance to visit Pashupatinath, the largest Hindu temple in the world. At its base, what we saw was thousands of people solemnly worshiping idols and making sacrifices to images they had created. We also saw their cremation ceremonies and learned more about why they do what they do. Today, my task is expressing what this was like. I hope to give you a window into the depth of our experience there, but please realize that everyone is thinking about it in very different ways. I guarantee everyone still has quite a bit to process, and yet has had profound insight into the message of the Gospel and the meaning of hope. I am also in the mist of this processing but I have decided to include a few excerpts from my journal to give you a taste of this place and all the ideas that we are wrestling with. Please continue to pray for wisdom in our discussion and processing, even after we head home tomorrow.

A Window into Hinduism

An overload of sights, smells, and sounds were exuded from the layers of activity below our lookout at Pashupatinath, the largest Hindu temple in the world. The Hindu Mecca of Sorts. A place where every Hindu is to come at least once before their death. Nestled on the edge of the Baghmati River with an outlet leading to the River Ganges, this compound serves as the holy place of sacrifice, worship, hospice, and cremation. Essentially representing an entire cycle of both life and death. An entire cycle void of hope. Significant imagery stuck with me as I sat there, bringing me a rush of emotions but also greater understanding for Hinduism and people. These are the images that will remain etched into my mind and heart:

Coins falling – As people threw coins from the balcony in a desperate attempt for them to land on the lucky Red Stone far below, this sound was the methodic clink of the hopeless in their grappling attempt at salvation.

Water splashing – Water splashed up from the Baghmati as people adorned themselves and the Shiva Lingaa with water meant to cleanse and honor. These repeated splashes struck me as so desperate and so resigned. They were completing a task and a tradition. I didn’t sense any heart behind it all.

Woman Wailing – A woman wailed as she watched their eldest son light a torch in the mouth of his father. An ancient tradition dedicated to the Hindu culture. This woman screamed an inconsolable scream. Mourning as those who have no hope. After these wails came a quiet emptiness that crept in to settle into the air and her heart.

Drum Beating – A solitary drum beat in the background. A heart with no purpose or rhythm

Bells ringing – The quiet deed throated ring of bells sobered the mood rather than lifting it. The sounds of worship to gods so small, self-constructed and unworthy.

Pigeons Spreading – Ever so often, seemingly unprovoked, a flock of pigeons would undo themselves from their unassuming perch on the rocks below. They were the quiet bystanders. No apparent say in what was going on, yet kind of an eerie presence. As if they were the overseers of a dubious plot. As they flew they added a sense of surreal. We were the quiet bystanders as we sat helpless to the reality below us.

Carnations Adorning – Orange carnations. A symbol of peace. The peoples’ prayer for the dead bodies and phallus they adorned.

Smoke Billowing – The smell of smoke rose from the piles, instilling a slight pressure behind the opening in my nose. This smoke is ash. This ash is flesh. Our tissues came away black.

Monkeys Stealing – Set by the water was a basket. In that basket was a banana. The sacrifice of a people grasping at every attempt for a life of Maksha, or heaven. I watched as a monkey stole the banana. What happens when a monkey steals your sacrifice?

Flame Waning – A woman lit a small leaf to place in the holy river. Try and try with all her might she wafted it to enter into the current. Try and try with all her might, this sacrifice would never be enough.

Baby Smiling – A bright and shining face. A ray of joy amidst the pain.

Weight Lifting – A heavy weight seemed to be in the air. And on our hearts. The oppression of these people felt tangible. This weight is the weight lifted by the cross.

Vivid Truth of the Gospel and Hope

While there seemed to be a great darkness in this place, I also felt the Holy Spirit within me like I hadn’t many times before. I realized how lost they were and just the emptiness of it all, but I simultaneously realized the weight of my own sins and true gift of salvation. When Jesus said, “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” he was talking about me. My sins held him there and I put in that nail. This picture below me, the full cycle of life, death, and cremation without hope is what His death and resurrection saved me from. I was pulled out of the depths of death and despair and eternity in hell. And I have the Holy Spirit within me. Communing with the Father without my help. Seeing these cremations on the piles. Hearing the hopeless wailing. These are tangible representations of their souls which are eternally separated from you and today began their first days in hell.  This is reality. This is the world and the result of the fall. The gospel message is one of urgency.

Along with this, I also realized how truly intertwined the hope of salvation is within me. How set apart that is from the world apart from Christ. The power and true gift of salvation and the gospel is so vivid throughout today. I have no fear in death and instead look forward to eternity spent in worship to the one true King. And I know that even if I got to the end of my life and it turned out that eternity was a hoax along with Christianity and God and Jesus, my life spent in worship and dedication of the Lord would be worth it. I life rich in hope, service, love, and security in the Lord is such an unbelievable and truly awesome gift. To be able to celebrate in life and celebrate in death and everything in between is powerful. It is a good and beautiful truth that I firmly believe s only found in the gospel, of Christ.

This was our experience but what do with that?

Dichotomy of Justice and Mercy

Psalm 106 describes this dichotomy between justice and mercy according to what we saw yesterday, or at least begins to. It starts out by declaring the goodness and enduring love of the Lord. This is from a place of praise, gratefulness, and remembrance. It then goes on to describe a portion of the history of Israel where God’s people resorted to worshiping idols. “They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass (v. 20).” Accordingly, to God’s judgment was threated and he wanted to destroy them. A totally justified act in response to their turning away from him. This both reminds me so vividly of Hinduism and what we saw at Pashupatinath but also of my own heart. A heart so easily ready to “forget the God that saved me (v. 21).” We stand and declare that God is good.

Power of Prayer

That’s not the end, however. Verse 33 goes on to say “so He said he would destroy them – had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.” Because of my identity with Jesus, I am God’s chosen one, a deeply loved child of God. I can claim my inheritance with boldness and confidence that the Holy Spirit is within me and I have power over temptation and evil. My prayers carry weight. My intercession has power. As I stood over these people sacrificing to and praising imaged of cows and phalluses and so much more, I just begged God to save them from this. What they are doing is such evil in the sight of the Lord. They defined themselves with feeble replacements for the one true God. So lost and with trust so misplaced. I prayed and interceded. I don’t know that power it had but I know that just like Moses, my prayers are heard. I also know, because of my own sin nature and reading God’s word, how stubborn and vile we are as humans. Even after Moses’ intercession in verse 23, the people continued to defile and prostitute themselves. Verse 43 says, “many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and the wasted away in their sin.”

I think of this Hindu culture and the stagnation and hopeless cycle of fatalism, karma, and unattainable dharma. They strive and try and yet stagnate. They live in fear and sadness in death. I compare it to our culture (which is suffering and broken in so many ways) that is set upon Christian morals and founded in Biblical principles. Many times I forget that but here this stark contrast is apparent. Here there is extreme poverty, economic failure, and extensive governmental corruption. There are so many signs of redemption and God’s work, let that not be minimized. However, when it comes down to it, fatalism and pagan values reign as the large scale influencers. A culture and country resorts to selling their own daughters as sex slaves. In essence, “sacrificing their sons and their daughters to demons (v 37)” This is the harsh and horrible reality. Not one much different than the situation of the Israelites thousands of years prior.

In the case of the Israelites, “But he took note of their distress. He heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant and out of His great love He relented (v. 44)”.  Relent Lord that these Nepali people might know and understand your great love!

For His Name’s Sake

“Yet he saved them for His name’s sake, to make His mighty power known (v. 8)”. This saving, this grace, this opportunity for mercy is not about US. It’s not about me or even these millions of lost people. It’s about the Lord. Each act of mercy, love, and grace presented by the Lord is to make His name great and to make His mighty power known. This is not my choice. Nor would I want it to be. This is the nature of justice and who God is. God is a just God. How could God possibly embody love if he just saved even those who don’t ask? Those who continually defile his name, his power, and his might. This is not an easy thing to accept and something I will continue to struggle with because these people are my people. These people are my family. My friends. These are the people who smile at me and that God uses to brighten my day. His image is in them. Such is the nature of the power of God. And yet these same people that reflect Jesus and His image are also rebelling and wasting away. My heart breaks for them. It doesn’t feel fair that I was born in privilege and born loved by my family and with an early knowledge of Jesus and His sacrifice. But this is reality.  This is truth. What is my response?

Urgency of the Gospel

This is the urgency of the gospel. That I would feel the weight of injustice that people made in the image of God would be born into bondage both to man and the devil. That their souls, vividly analogous to the cremation piles, are now destined for Hell. This doesn’t feel fair. This is hard to accept. And yet God has decided to bless me as his chosen people to live in love and with urgency.

God is still a good God. If anything, His goodness is made known to me more fully after today. He is a God that deserves our lives and to be worshiped and adored, not defiled and rebelled against. My sins held Him on that cross and it is only by grace that I am made new and made free. This world is not yet complete. May I live in light of my inheritance and broken for the people who spend their entire life in bondage. Set them free.

Children’s Home – A Stark Contrast

After Pashupatinath we went to a children’s home to spend some time with the kids. They sang songs about how they will follow God no matter how high the mountain is they must climb, or how low the valley is that they must stoop. They sang in the most beautiful and pure voices. The kind that only come from children. These children were the body of Christ. This was our encouragement: a new generation of believers. These were children saved from lives on the streets and in prostitution. These children have hope. They have joy. Life. Community. Family. Belonging. Place. Access to truth. They had beautiful smiles showing that they knew their value and dignity. Their smiles showed that they knew they were loved. They were made complete, not by the works of man but of Christ. This is hope. This is this gospel. This is the kingdom here on earth.

Rachael Fuller

Home – Poland – (1/30/17)

After a long day in the skies, we’re back in the United States! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during our time in Poland. We are grateful for your ministry to us, both spiritually and financially, while we learned and served together in schools and churches across “Polska.”

A recurrent word our team used to describe the Polish people was resilience. When we visited Warsaw at the beginning of our trip, we spent time in the Warsaw Uprising Museum. There, we learned that the majority of Warsaw was decimated during World War II, leaving the city demolished. Standing on top of the Palace of Culture and Science, a “gift” from Stalin, built by the hands of Polish laborers, we felt a bittersweet sort of resilience. A building once founded on communism and the principles of darkness, could be interpreted as a big person looking down at little people – how it once was.

We saw another narrative. Today, the palace boasts a theater and several museums and restaurants. It is a center for expression and enjoyment. It is a center for the people. The view on top of the building looks out over a sprawling metropolitan area. Warsaw is a huge city with a skyline of modern buildings, many built after the fall of communism. Though many “commy condos” – gray, plain apartment buildings – still stand, so does new development and modern architecture.

This new development shows resilience. The people of Warsaw did not leave their city a war zone. They did not settle for a communist, expressionless horizon. They rebuilt their city – both in architecture and in identity – and they gave their city a restored meaning. For the older generations who remember life before or during the war, this can seem like being a foreigner in one’s own city. It can also seem like a sign of victory. Life as they once knew it was gone, but the city is rebuilt and bears witness to the stories of the past. For the younger generations, they seek to establish a new identity for the city. They want to find meaning and purpose, some creating that through street art. (Graffiti is prevalent across Poland). They are finding their voice, some through protests, others through graffiti and for some, through faith. Our prayer is that the people of Poland will find their meaning through the Lord Jesus Christ and His presence in culture and history.

During our final week in Poland, we went to a place of remembrance that remains a memorial to what once was a fateful reality for millions in Poland and across Europe. We traveled to Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was disorienting at first because several of us imagined driving through miles of forests before finding the sprawling concentration camp. We were shocked to find it in the midst of a city. (Of course, much of the city was built after the atrocities during the Holocaust).

As we walked down the uneven cobblestone streets of Auschwitz, we saw the buildings, many in good condition and realized the Holocaust didn’t happen that long ago. Each step we took carried a weight because we knew that this was a place of death – innocent lives were lost under our feet. It felt surreal partly because the day itself was perfect. It was sunny and the frost sparkled on the trees. Yet, it felt wrong to call a day beautiful in a place, dark and dismal, which serves as a warning to never forget and to never allow genocide to occur again.

We visited at the same time as Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship for the EU Commission. He told us he came to remember. We must learn history, he told us, so that we may never let the Holocaust happen again. It’s hard to describe the feeling of standing in a gas chamber and imagining what took place underneath and all around. For many of us, that realization did not sink in until later. We realized the true darkness of human nature, the destruction that one human can do apart from a relationship with Christ Jesus. We felt a deep grief for the stories of millions whose voices we have never heard. We walked where they walked to remember. It is hard to understand or try to understand why the Holocaust occurred and why genocide and evil still occurs. We find comfort, only in knowing that Christ Jesus bore the weight of the Holocaust on the cross and He knew each victim by name. Each one was created by Him and loved by Him and grieved by Him.

We transitioned from Auschwitz to Krakow where we spent our final few days, processing our trip and preparing to travel back to the Chopin Airport in Warsaw before traveling home. In Krakow, we thought of the history we learned, the people we met and the courageous, resilient culture and lives we had come to love. Krakow, unlike Warsaw, was not decimated by World War II and contains many buildings, preserved throughout centuries. We visited several Cathedrals with stunning architecture, pointing us up and into the awe of God. Much of our team was feeling better and overcame the illness that was prevalent near the midpoint of our trip. We discussed our experiences as a team and said “Do Widzenia!” to Adam and Chris. We are blessed by their willingness to take time away from their families and community to drive us around, a time and energy consuming endeavor. Yet, they blessed us with joy and smiles, often sharing their stories of God’s providence in their lives as they drove us across Poland.

On Thursday, we said goodbye to the Hatfields and to the nation of Poland. Dave and Sandy are amazing people. Their leadership and love for the people and nation of Poland is established in a deep love for Christ and hearts of worship. Their faith encouraged us, and their passion for their ministry partners and community members was beautiful to observe. We were blessed by Dave and Sandy and grateful to join with them to see a little bit of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing ministry in Poland.

Now that we are back home, please ask us more about our stories! We would love to share our experiences with you and the stories of those whom we’ve met. Please continue to pray for the ongoing work of PCM in Poland and for the local church there. Praise God for His continual work in the hearts and minds of the Polish people!

In Christ,

Katherine Yeager

Saying Goodbye – (1/24/17)

With only a couple days remaining in the trip, it’s hard to believe how quickly the time has gone. Looking back on this past week, we are all grateful for God’s strength and faithfulness. For the first three days of the week, we did VBS activities with the kids at the Getsemani church learning center. The first day we were able to meet the pastor of the church and his wife before we drove around the community to pray for the kids that attend the learning center and their families. Each day we also had the opportunity to sit with the kids while they ate lunch before starting VBS. This learning center had the most older kids, so it was really fun having conversations with them in what little Spanish we knew. This group of kids was definitely the most energetic group we’ve had, so we were glad for the energy and focus that God gave each of us.

On Thursday, we rested and prepped for the camp in the morning before taking the kids from the orphanage, Casa Luz, on an outing to the pool. It was a little chilly for the pool since it wasn’t sunny, but the kids had a blast so we were glad we had a free day to take them.

Friday and Saturday were probably the longest and most challenging days of the trip. For both of these days, we drove about a half hour out of the city to help with a camp for the older kids of the Emmanuel, Primativa, Marenatha, and Getsemani churches. Most of us were co-leaders of a color group that consisted of ten kids from all of the churches. In these groups, we played games and listened to the messages. That night at the worship service there was a group of kids who gave their lives to God. We ask for prayers for these kids specifically, that they would continue to seek God and grow in their faith.

After a thirteen hour day on Friday, it was hard to get up and return to the camp Saturday. However, once we reached the learning center, God again provided the energy we needed. Graham, Tori, and Izzy did a great job presenting a message on purity in the morning before we began the games, one of which featured army crawling through the mud. By the time we said goodbye to the kids that day, we were incredibly tired. However, were grateful to see the way that God still works through language barriers and imperfect circumstances to accomplish his purposes.

We have been able to spend Sunday and Monday resting and discussing our experiences from the trip. We’ll leave Ayacucho soon and fly home after spending a day in Lima. The trip absolutely flew by, and  while we are all sad to leave this beautiful city, we are also grateful that we had the opportunity to be involved in what God is doing here through Pastor Jorge and Mariela’s ministry. Thank you to everyone who has supported throughout this trip, and we look forward to sharing more about our time here in the coming weeks.

 

Prayer Requests:

-The health of the team

-Safe travel home

 

On behalf of the Peru team,

Rachel Pfeiffer

Final Hours in Moria – (1/23/17)

Salam, bonjour, marhabaan, yiasas, hello! From the Greece team. It’s Friday morning in Lesvos and we are preparing for our last three shifts in Moria. As the end of our time in camp approaches, I think it is safe to say that we are all experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Although I cannot speak for the other 18 members of our little family, I will do my best to give you a taste of the feelings many of us have been experiencing.

I want to start by sharing the story of a young man from Afghanistan, someone that we have had the privilege of getting to know over the last two weeks. Along with two of his brothers, he made the treacherous journey from his home to Greece in an attempt to leave behind violence and persecution. After paying a Turkish smuggler $1,600, the three men packed their bags and made their way onto a small black dingy. Even though the crossing from Turkey to Lesvos is as dangerous as it is terrifying, they knew they couldn’t turn back. There was simply nowhere to go back to. When their boat began to take on water and started sinking, everyone tossed their belongings into the sea to try and stay afloat. Can you imagine the all consuming fear every individual on that tiny craft must have felt in the face of possible death? I cannot even begin to fathom what that must have been like. Thankfully, a coast guard ship came to the rescue of our friend and his fellow travelers. When he finally reached the Greek shore, he remembers finding his two brothers and embracing them. After looking death in the eye and coming out on the other side, they were overjoyed to be reunited with one another. That was six months ago. Yesterday, our friend finally had the interview that would determine his next steps. The Greek government will now decide whether he will receive asylum in Greece or be sent back to Turkey. He dreams of going to places like England, Switzerland, and the United States. However, what he wants more than anything is to simply have the chance to find a safe, happy home. He now waits to hear if he will move forward to a fresh start or backward towards the suffering he sacrificed so much to escape.

Moria is full of stories like our dear friend’s. Many we have heard, countless more we have not. This, coupled with the heartbreaking fact that we simply cannot help everyone, makes it incredibly difficult to keep a smile on our faces and remain joyful. We have been grieving the hurt and suffering that is so present in this place. The sorrow often feels like too much to carry. In these moments, when the physical and emotional exhaustion seems impossible to overcome, we are reminded of the hope that we have in Christ. This world is not our final resting place, it is merely a short pitstop on the way to something much greater, a reunion more joyful than we could possibly imagine. It is this hope we have that sets us apart, Christ’s light within us that we are called to share with every precious individual we encounter at Moria.

Below is a short poem that I wrote after our first week in Moria. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to weep and break down. This poem is a reflection of one of those times for me, experiencing a sorrow that was overwhelming and mourning the pain of those I was trying to serve.

There’s a war behind this smile,
A fight I never win.
The dark takes hold
My bones grow cold
Get me out of this skin.
My soul is weary
From days so dreary
When will this battle end?

Yes, there is a time to mourn. But let us not forget that there is also a time to laugh, dance, and embrace. In the midst of our grief, God has put a little bit of heaven in our hearts to carry us forward. Please pray that in our final hours at Moria we are able to remember this truth and live out the love of Christ in tangible ways. We truly appreciate you walking alongside us in this journey. See you soon!

Lots of love,
Leah Crabb

Sandomierz & Sosnowiec – (1/22/17)

Chris’s van rolls down the snowy cobblestone

and out of the city of Sandomierz. Classical music flows through the stereo and Chris talks of God’s sovereignty in his family’s journey. We’ve finished our time at the Collegium and other area schools and are headed to Sosnowiec where we will spend several days before visiting Auschwitz, traveling to Kraków and taking a train back to Warsaw where we will spend the night before flying back to the United States the next morning.

We have been blessed by the church in Sandomierz and its pastor, Adam, both of which welcomed our group with open arms and piles of pastries. These people are the hands and feet of Christ in Sandomierz and the surrounding area and continually extend abundant hospitality to our visiting team. Adam and Chris drove us to Sosnowiec today, nearly a four to five hour drive, and are driving us to the locations where we need to go for the remainder of the weekend.

On Monday, several members of our team joined the Hatfields at the Gymnasium, another school with students around 14 to 17 years old and another school with younger students (5th and 6th grade) afterward. The rest of our team taught at the Collegium. Connor, Dave, Sandy and I played games and talked with the students at the Gymnasium, all with varied levels of English proficiency. Some groups were shy and talked little, looking down and avoiding conversations. When we talked as a group about those encounters, I remembered my own timidity in speaking a second language in my high school Spanish class.

Fear and embarrassment drove me to avoid speaking in a foreign language. Yet these students, who are also afraid of speaking in another language, are finding their voice in English for the first time. It is a joy to see them begin to emerge from their reticence and express themselves in a new way with new, funny-sounding American words.

On Tuesday, our group was split again between the Collegium and Gymnasium. This week, the group in the Collegium has focused on English games and reconnecting with students we first met last week. Games like “Categories,” “The Dictionary Game,” and “I Have Never” are a few favorites amongst ourselves and the students. We’ve seen shy students begin to speak up and speak out in group games whereas they would have remained silent in small group conversations. We see the students’ personalities emerge when we play these games and laugh together as the students give themselves grace to make mistakes and strengthen their English language skills. The students are vibrant and talented and exuberant and love to talk once they’ve laughed off the initial language barriers. We see the heart of the students when they share their voices.

On Tuesday evening, we returned to the church for English lessons where we partnered up and spoke with groups of students and community members. More students came Tuesday night than the previous Tuesday and Thursday night as more students connected with us at the Collegium and became interested in the classes and conversations. After snatching a few cups of tea and sweets, we met with the groups. Mary Helen, Sandy (Chris’s wife) and myself met with a group of five students of various ages. Two boys in our group brought their younger sisters and one boy was the son of a teacher in the Collegium and Marta with whom we have been connected during our time in Sandomierz. Our group was timid so we introduced ourselves and spent most of our time playing English games. One girl in our group was afraid to speak and only whispered to Sandy at first. We continued to encourage her and by the end of class, she began to ask us a few questions! Praise God for giving a spirit of courage to His children.

On Wednesday, we all returned to the Collegium and Dream Teams A and B (as we have dubbed our groups) saw more classes of students that we recognized. Some of our group met for coffee with students after class before the evening Bible study. In the evening, we returned to church where several members of our team shared and served. Cassidy shared her testimony and God’s sovereignty in her own life, in high school after a soccer injury and today. Connor and Cristina led worship and we sang songs like “10,000 Reasons.” Praise God for allowing us to speak united in one language of worship. Professor Hernandez shared a message on Ezekiel 36, the valley of dry bones as Adam translated into Polish. We are blessed to share our stories with the people of the church. We are blessed to hear and share in their own stories.

On Thursday, we had a shorter day in the Collegium, only visiting about three classes of students. It was a day of rest after class for members of our team who needed a little extra sleep to fight off illness and more time to visit with students for those who were feeling better. We were back in the church in the evening for English classes where we met the largest group of students we have seen at the church during our stay, 36 students! Praise God for the courage of students to begin to embrace the English classes and set foot in a church, meeting Adam and Chris’s family and members of the community who they can continue relationships with after we leave. Adam and Elise led a group of students studying for the Matura (college entrance exam) which included Iga, one of the the students we met last week. Mary Helen and I took a group of three students: Julia, Klaudia and Ewa who had met members of our team previously. We had fun talking about our passions and sharing experiences. Afterward, all three girls excitedly told us that they would be at the concert Friday (Kolah) which we had mentioned in their classes during the week.

On Friday, we spent our final day in the Collegium. Walking down the castle-like halls Elise and Connor had their “Michal detectors” on. Elise explained: she and Connor met a student named Michal earlier in the week. Connor connected with Michal during a class and heard some of his story. Wanting to continue a friendship, Connor got to know Michal and wanted to invite him to the rap musician, Kolah’s concert on Friday. During the school day on Thursday, Elise and Connor were joking that, “what are the odds that Michal will show up right now?” because they hoped to talk with him that morning about the concert. At that moment, they looked over and there was Michal! Elise and Connor leapt from their seats and tackled Michal, grabbing the handle on his backpack and stopping him in his tracks. Michal was a little surprised to see his two American friends so excited to see him, but understood after they explained about the concert why they had stopped him so abruptly. On Friday, Elise and Connor vowed to put on their “Michal detectors” to sense him if he came by again.

Before we finished our day at the Collegium, we were ushered into the principle’s office. Not to fear, the days of detention were not returning. We walked through the door to find a surprise party, attended by several English teachers and the headmaster himself, bestowing chocolate, fruit and souvenirs of Sandomierz.

We were overwhelmed with gratitude for the hospitality of the administrators and teachers. They love their students and see great potential in each one. It was difficult to walk out of the Collegium for the last time, even as we said final goodbyes to some students later in the evening. Many of our group connected with students over Facebook and Instagram so that we can keep in touch, even if only minimally, over social media.

Later in the afternoon, Cassidy and I visited Iga’s home for the last time. On the walk over, she pointed out several buildings that I had never noticed before. One building, a gray apartment building, blended in with all of the rest. “That building,” Iga said, “is where someone threw himself down four stories and died. He killed himself.” We paused and looked up at the stucco structure, nearly close enough to touch. The fourth floor windows were in plain sight. I shivered.

We reached Iga’s apartment where we met her mother, sister and niece once again. Iga treated us with a dessert and we talked for a few hours before excusing ourselves to go to the concert. We will miss Iga – her curiosity, her resilience and her joy (though we’re convinced we’ll see each other in person again someday). She is a blessing to our team and even took the care to bake muffins without eggs so that Connor could eat some!

Iga joined us for a Christian rap concert featuring the Polish artist Kolah in a venue under the city center. A group of students with whom we’ve connected over the past few weeks joined us for the concert as well, a time to enjoy together before saying goodbye and to hear the heart of the musician. Our prayer is that the students will experience the love of God powerfully and tangibly so that the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ might resonate in their hearts. Adam arranged for the concert to occur and serves as an invaluable resource and source of encouragement and discipleship to students. Please pray that the students will experience a curiosity to know more of the person of Jesus and the courage to ask the questions about the character of God and the resources to get their questions answered.

The students, teachers, shop owners, church and community of Sandomierz are kilometers away, but continue to remain in our thoughts and prayers. We are excited to see the ongoing ministry of the church and keep in touch with some of the students we have had the privilege to meet there.

Sosnowiec

In contrast to the lost-in-time old European village feeling of Sandomierz, Sosnowiec is in the heart of the industrial region of Poland. According to Chris, nearly fifteen million people live in this region which resembles one giant city (comprised of many cities squished together). Sosnowiec is urban and full of fast drivers and tall buildings. We settled into our hostel on Saturday afternoon. Hostel Brooklyn is appropriately adorned in New York City decor – a taste of “home.” After unpacking, we met with Adam, a worship leader who plays an instrumental role in worship ministry and training in Poland. He is a talented musician, composer and conductor. When he spoke of the ministry, his face brightened. We were blessed to hear his heart for worship. In the evening, we drove to the church where we met Daniel, the head pastor. Daniel helped prepare a delicious meal for us and shared his story afterward. Growing up in a highly dysfunctional family, Daniel’s heart is for the church and sharing how God redeemed his life and gave him hope. As tears streamed down Daniel’s face, we saw the power of Christ at work. Daniel is proof that God restores broken hearts.

On Sunday morning, we drove back to church for breakfast and attended the service afterward. The small sanctuary was filled with people and rays of sunlight bouncing off the bright walls. Ashlen and I shared our testimonies with the help of an interpreter who was gracious and invited several members of our team over to her flat for lunch and an afternoon visit. Dave gave a message about how, like the widow with the jar of oil, we can give our gifts that they may multiply in service for Christ. We worshipped in Polish and then split into groups to visit with church families.

Mary Helen and I went with Szymon and Daria, a newly married couple, to their home in the countryside around Sosnowiec. They welcomed us into their log cabin where we shared a meal, laughed, played Mexican Train dominoes and talked about life and our experiences before hiking around a local castle, walking in a Catholic Church and visiting the mall nearby. Our team is grateful for the hospitality of the church families to give up their Sunday afternoons to pour into our team. Our prayers are for the church of Sosnowiec as it grows and multiplies.

Tomorrow, we drive to Auschwitz, leaving Sosnowiec.

Please pray for tender, courageous hearts to mourn for the horrors of the Holocaust and to process our experiences in light of God’s love and justice.

In Christ,

Katherine Yeager

Island 2 – (1/19/17)

 Nolan

          This trip as a whole has felt like a good mixture of fun, hard work, and good conversation, and I would say that our second island could be described in very much the same way. I vividly remember on our first day on the island we were asked to play with the kids within an hour or so of arriving. As we were lead to the soccer field to play with the kids I remember looking behind me to see a swarm of 30-40 kids following us. I am always amazed to see the joy that we can bring to the kids faces by playing and joking with them and they have no idea that we are experiencing that very same joy.

          For our work project on this island we put up a guard rail along a path in front of the government building with a steep drop on one side. This project consisted of clearing a spot for the rail, mixing cement, and fixing the pieces of the railing together. What I find unique about the work projects is that it does more than provide them the one intended purpose of the finished project. The project acts as a unifier, bringing together people of various different ages and allows us to have a shared space with many different people. We get to work right alongside the people of the island and it creates a great experience for all of us.

         Finally, we got to be a part of great conversations with our host families. Some conversations are very surface level, but are necessary to build a good relationship with our hosts. Some conversations, however, can go deeper and feel a little more meaningful. In my home, through different events that occurred, we got into discussing about evil spirits. This gave us the opportunity to share with the grandfather of our home the power that Jesus has over evil spirits. We then were able to share the story of Jesus’ power over the demons from Mark 5. I do not know the lasting impact that this story will have on our grandfather’s life, but I know that it at least got him to think about the power that Jesus has, which to me, is a very beautiful thing. 

Kelsie

This island proved to be completely set apart from the first island for me. I was surprised by my level of hesitancy on the first island, overwhelmed by the apparent number of barriers and things to adjust to in order to relate to the people. Getting to know our translator, learning what it looks like to communicate through another person, my own hope of being relevant and relatable when sharing stories, & an incredible amount of pressure I heaped on myself to have every conversation be spiritually meaningful, left me feeling less like myself and unable to share during mealtimes. 

The acknowledgment of these lofty expectations I had for conversation and myself, provided me with the opportunity to relax on the second island. It felt like a relearning of how to engage in small talk, to talk about normal life things with the hope of better knowing and being known by the people on the island. As a result, I felt more like myself on the second island, more comfortable & even more confident to engage in conversation. 

All that said, the moment I will most remember from this island is one that I observed. The women from the other house met an Ibu and were invited into her home when they went walking around the island one afternoon. My house of women entered the conversation after it had already begun & they were already deep into sharing stories. 

When we arrived, they were about to begin sharing the story of the prodigal son. This story seems to continually reappear for me, packed with even more meaning every time I encounter it. This time was no different. One of the women on the team started the story, sharing about how hard the Father in the story worked to save up an inheritance for his two sons. An equal inheritance for both, freely & fairly prepared to be given. After this was explained the Ibu interrupted and said,

“That is a really amazing Father.”

This small sentence was so simple and so incredibly profound. It was one of those moments for me where you feel like you wake up to the reality of how amazing the Father is, & how little I acknowledge it. 

I will never be able to erase the image of her face, completely focused on the story being told, eager to hear how the Father will react to a son that chooses to squander his inheritance. At the conclusion of the story & hearing the incredible acceptance of the Father, she retold the entire story back to us, connecting the Father character to God on her own. 

I left that conversation feeling overwhelmed with emotion at the level of her wisdom. Her ability to speak profoundly about the Father, left me longing for a future for her of coming to fully know who Jesus is. 

I feel grateful to have been in that room, to be so encouraged & deeply moved by her, and to have the opportunity to continue to pray for her as she goes about life on the island. Pray that she would come to know that the really amazing Father, is hers.

Katie

Island 2 had a much different feel to it. Island 1 felt more rural and unified as a village, while island 2 felt more urban and not as tight knit. The houses the team stayed in were all in the village. Where I stayed in particular was a beautiful two story house in the center of he village. This house felt really inviting and different than the previous house I stayed in that was much different. The Ibu that hosted us was very spunky and welcoming which was a beautiful thing to interact with for four days. 

Our time on this island felt a lot more slow paced and relaxing which was good for the team. Some of the team went out on the streets and got bumbled by kids while others stayed in their homes and drank there overly sweet tea and talked to their Ibus and bapaks. Our work project was building a wall that kept the kids from falling over the edge. We mixed concrete and poured it to make the wall.

This island felt a lot more superstition which prompted some interesting conversations. There were houses that had more spiritual talks than others. In my house we actually got a chance to share the gospel with our Ibu, after she explained that in the Muslim religion there is a point system that measures how good your works are and if you have enough points at the end of your life you go to heaven. This felt like a door opened to share the gospel with Ibu. We explained that we don’t have a point system following Jesus because He took all our points on the cross. During this conversation, I could feel the emotion welling up inside of me while Grace tried to hard to help her see what Jesus did for Ibu on the cross. Not only were tears flowing but my heart ached. I never knew my heart could ache so much from the gospel. I never had seen the power of Jesus take over so much, I prayed deeply while grace used the cup analogy to describe that Jesus took on all our junk. I wanted so badly for her to know she is loved and accepted no matter what she does. The tricky thing with this is Muslims believe we believe the same thing and we are all going to heaven, so even though this conversation was rich it was still discouraging that she didn’t understand. 

Overall this was a beautiful island and Jesus was definitely present and working in these people’s hearts. 

As we set off to our next island tomorrow please pray for good health and energy as we are nearing the end of our journey. A lot of people on the team have been sick so please join us in praying against any sickness or exhaustion. 

Peru Team Q&A – (1/19/17)

What is the best part of the trip so far?

Hope: The best part of the trip definitely has to be developing relationships with the kids we’ve worked with. It’s been so cool to see the same kids multiple days in a row and see their faces light up when we arrive. They’ve really enjoyed the VBS activities that we do with them and we’ve all formulated special memories with kids at the various learning centers.

Graham: For me, the best part of the trip has been experiencing the Peruvian culture. Besides Canada and China when I was very young, I haven’t been able to experience a culture outside the United States. Eating the food, getting to know the locals, and seeing the sights has been a dream come true.

Alyssa: The best part of the trip so far has been the relationships we have made with each other, the kids, the translators, our wonderful hosts, and more. Through these relationships I have been able to learn so much about the culture here, and I love learning about their stories and their shared love for the same awesome God we serve. I’ll definitely never forget the feeling of worshipping in multiple languages with people who one month ago we didn’t know, however we are all part of the same family in Christ.

 

What has been the most challenging part of the trip?

        Hope: Since the majority of our time is spent with children, it is common for our team to be really tired by the end of the day.  The kids are expecting a day full of fun and games each time we arrive, so many days we have to dig deep to provide enthusiasm and high energy for the children to enjoy. Prayers for continued energy and health of the team are very appreciated.

Graham: Unfortunately, most of the people in Peru do not speak English. As someone who thrives on conversations, it has been very difficult for me to communicate with both the children and the adults. There are times when I want to sit down and have a conversation with the young men and women, but haven’t been able to. Thankfully, we have a God without language barriers, so His will is still being done.

Alyssa: I would agree that it is challenging when the whole team is tired, to put full energy into the VBS activities we do with the kids. God has been showing me that I can’t rely on my own strength and energy to make it through the day, however it is through His power and His love that we can rely on for all that we need. It is the days that I have been the most tired that God has taught me the most.

 

 

What has been the most surprising part of the trip?

         Hope: I have been surprised to see how quickly the three and a half week trip has gone by so far.  The days are packed and feel long, but the weeks have been flying by. Today was the last day we did VBS activities with the kids, and it’s hard to believe that we only have a week left in this beautiful country!

Graham: The most surprising part for me has been the hospitality. It must be shocking for a local to see a group of 13 gringos walking by their home, but we have only been treated with kindness. Whether it’s a simple smile and wave, or a wonderful meal, the people of Ayacucho have welcomed us as family. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say the hospitality of the people here have exceeded expectations.

Alyssa: The most surprising part for me has been how quickly the kids have warmed up to us and loved us. When we arrived at Casa Luz, right away the kids ran up and hugged us, and called us “Tia” and “Tio” (aunt and uncle). It has been so cool to get to know these kids who are so young, and yet show us the love of God so well. This has also been true in the different learning centers- the kids are always so full of energy and love.

 

 

What has been your favorite part of the ministry so far?

Hope: It’’s been amazing to see how much love and joy the children have to give; regardless of their circumstances.  I personally have learned so much about how unconditional true love really is from children as young as four years old. Before the kids even know us well, they never hesitate to offer a smile, hug, or a friendly, “Hola!”  Seeing this has challenging me to strive to cultivate a love that is pure and true in all aspects of my life.  These kids have shown me more about what God’s love looks like towards each and every person—no what their past, present, or future may hold.

Graham: My favorite part of our ministry has been the laughter we have shared. Whether the kids are laughing at a skit or our poor Spanish, their smiles never cease to bring me joy. I’ve laughed more on this trip than I have in a long time, and it is so refreshing. God is using smiles and laughter to further His kingdom, and it’s so amazing to see.

Alyssa: My favorite part of the ministry has been seeing how God is using people here to further His kingdom. Our team had the chance to sit down and listen to the stories of Mariela and Tonya. Mariela is Pastor Jorge’s wife and founder of Casa Luz, and Tonya is the women providing our meals for us, and the cook for Casa Luz. They told us how they got started with the ministry, and some individual stories of the kids who we have grown to love. It is so encouraging to hear about the work of the Lord all across the world.

 

What will you miss the most about Peru?

Hope: Besides the beautiful warm weather and the kiddos I have come to love, I will really miss the hospitality of the Peruvian people. In general, everyone we have worked with and encountered is so appreciative of our mission and incredibly thoughtful.  For example, when our team arrived at the Primitiva learning center for the first time, the faculty and staff lined the stairway singing a welcome song and presenting each woman (and Paul Jacobson 😉 with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I have felt so welcome at each place we have visited and I love the example of hospitality that is so evident in the Peruvian culture.

Graham: I will miss the relationships we have made the most. While we haven’t spent a lot of time with each group of people, our relationships are deeply rooted. Hearing your name called by multiple Peruvian children is an experience I will never forget. Distance may separate us, but the love of God will continue to keep our relationships intact.

Alyssa: Like Hope, I will also miss the hospitality of the people here. Hope and I stayed with the same host family for a night, and they welcomed us with so much love, gave up their rooms so we could sleep, and spent the whole day showing us the beautiful city of Ayacucho. One of our host sisters named Ruth also handmade knit hats for us! They made an effort to talk to us despite the language barrier, and seemed truly happy to have us in their home. At lunch, they asked us both what our favorite food was, and we said popcorn. By the end of the day, they had a bag of popcorn for each of us to have. It was such an incredible experience, and something I’ll never forget.

Imaynaya cachcanki from Peru! – (1/17/17)

This Monday evening the team is resting after a rewarding day of work. The past week was full of amazing experiences, hard work, and new friends. We began the week by painting the kitchen and dining area of Primitiva church and learning center here in Ayacucho. When we entered the learning center, the workers presented each of the women on the team (and Paul) with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. We were overwhelmed by their kindness, and extremely excited to get started. We spent two days painting both the inside and outside of the building, starting early in the morning and ending in the late afternoon. The work was taxing but completely worthwhile once we were able to see the finished product and the gratitude of the learning center staff.

Each day this week we also did VBS activities with the kids at the learning centers. The first two days a couple of us would take a break from painting to do skits, songs, and crafts with the kids. On Wednesday, we were able to visit a produce market in the morning before doing VBS with the kids after lunch. We have all had a lot of fun doing the activities with the kids and seeing firsthand how creative and energetic they are!

On Thursday and Friday, we visited Maranatha church and learning center. We met the pastors that run the learning center and church in the morning, and they shared their story with us. After they shared, we split into two groups and each visited a home of one of the members of the congregation. It was very enlightening to learn about the homes that the children attending the learning center come from, and we were very grateful for our hosts’hospitality. In the afternoons, we did VBS with the kids. In addition to sharing God’s love with the kids, we also were blessed by several presentations and gifts they had prepared for us. The kids were ecstatic to have us come, and we were glad that we got to spend time playing, dancing, and laughing with them.

For the weekend, we went on a short trip up into the mountains, and we were also able to go on homestays. On Saturday, we overcame two flat tires to go to the Wari Tombs and Museum to learn about the history of the Wari people group. We also had the opportunity to ride horses through the mountains and see some of the amazing scenery that Peru has to offer.

Once we returned in the evening, we went in pairs on homestays. Each group stayed with a family that attends one of the local churches. We were all grateful for the hospitality we experienced, and making friends with limited verbal communication, while difficult, was very gratifying. After attending church with the family, we spent the afternoon with them before returning to the house to prepare for our ministry this week.

We appreciate prayers for the health of the team, as several of us are sick, and prayers for safety and success at the kids camp that we will be helping with at the end of this week. Thank you all for your prayers and support!

On behalf of the Peru Team,

Rachel Pfeiffer

Exhaustion, Persistence, and Rest – Greece (1/15/17)

To all of our avid blog followers, hello! If you’re not sitting down, I would suggest that you do so, preferably on the edge of your seat. The past week here in Moria has been both long and quick. There is a constant battle of trying to process emotions and thoughts that seem too heavy and complex, and with so little down time between shifts we are left mentally exhausted. This coupled with the physical exhaustion that comes with the work makes for a pretty tired Greece team.

However, the Lord blesses his people and two days ago we had an entire day off work. There are few things more beautiful than a morning left to itself without the harsh blare of an alarm clock (expect when that alarm clock gets you up in time to see the sun rise over Turkey across the Aegean). A peaceful morning suited our team well. Even though we had a day off, we still had a lot planned for us.

Our Greater Europe Mission (GEM) hosts, Susie and Ernie, picked us up from our hotel around 11:30 and drove us to a refugee camp about 45 minutes away. This place was the complete opposite of what we had come to expect from Moria. It was small with only about 6 or 7 buildings, and in stark contrast to Moria, there was no one there. This place is a stage 2 camp whereas Moria is stage 3. Refugees are only placed here for a handful of hours before they are moved to Moria. After our stop here we took some time to enjoy the rocky shore of island. We spent a good amount of time here taking pictures, skipping rocks, and enjoying an afternoon of relaxed fun. A few people waded into the sea up to there waist, even though it meant coming out with sopping wet pants. The next stop on our island adventure was a trip to an old castle. Giving a group of college students 30 minutes of free reign and exploration of a castle? Yes please. It was crazy to think that a place that was once a strong fortress is now feeding our tourism. A place of prominence and might now standing in ruins. As I stood atop the tallest tower gazing out across the Aegean, I couldn’t shake one simple and yet richly profound thought; I wish capes were still in style.

Visiting all of these places on our day off was fun and full of laughter, as our team so often is. After leaving, we made our way to our last stop before eating and then making our way back. The lifejacket graveyard. Mounds and heaps of used lifejackets piled high made for a chilling sight. Each one of these jackets was once strapped to the body of a man, woman, or child crossing the sea on a boat. Each one of these jackets represents a person, a life, a soul, a human made in the likeness of God. Each one of these jackets carries a story of desperation, fear, risk, dreams, and hope. Questions fill your mind and heart. How many of these people have been granted asylum? How many of them have been deported? How many of them were with their familiy? How many of them were alone? How many of them are alive? How many of them are dead? How many of them have I met in Moria? Did I help the person who wore this jacket? Did I say no to the person wearing this jacket? Did this jacket belong to the man in Moria who put his coat on me as I sat outside in the cold? Has this person made me tea? Where are they now? Are they scared? How long ago did they wear this jacket? How recently? The air around this place was heavy, and it seemed to bring greater understanding of who we interact with on a daily basis. It humanized them and opened our hearts to their reality.

All in all, the day was restful and thoughtful. It was great to finally be able to spend time with Susie and Ernie and actually get to know them and have them get to know us. As we head into this next week of work, we have a few prayer requests. Please pray that the Lord would allow us to open ourselves up to the grief and pain of the refugees. Pray that we would meet these people on equal footing, recognizing their humanity. Pray that Jesus would shine through our actions. Pray that we would have strength and persistence in wrestling with our own thoughts and emotions. Pray for God’s Kingdom to come.

Thank you all for following our journey thus far! We love and appreciate you all. On behalf of the Greece team, this is Robert Emerson Brandkamp signing off.