We’re Here!

Hola!

We arrived safely to the beautiful Jarabacoa Saturday evening and spent the night settling in our cabins and getting a full night of rest after a long day of travel. The staff at SI (Students International) are wonderful and deserve a big shout out. They’re so welcoming, hospitable, and really good cooks.

Sunday was a day to relax and prepare ourselves for a full week ahead. In the morning we went to a local church in Jarabacoa where we enjoyed worship and a sermon that was very applicable to our purpose of being here this week. The message was about loving people 100%. Often in our relationships, we give back what we think we’re receiving. But as Christians, we need to give all of ourselves. We need to pour ourselves out to those we love and those we don’t love. And we shouldn’t expect anything in return. Christ demonstrated this on the Cross. He gave Himself. ALL of Himself. He died for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice. And it was all because He loves us. This message was a reminder that we owe ourselves to Christ. He is so deserving of all of us- wholly surrendered and recklessly abandoned. It also was a reminder of our purpose of being in Jarabacoa. We came here to serve and love and pour oursleves out to these people- 100% of ourselves.

Our day started early-6:00am. Today (Monday) was our first day on the sites. We met with our site leaders and all headed in our different directions. Each site had a different experience, but overall we experienced a taste of the community and life in Jarabacoa. We’ve had plenty of opportunities to test our little knowledge of Spanish and try to best communicate with the people in the community. Most of our morning and afternoon is spent at our sites including siesta (noon-2). We head back to base around 3:00 and by the time we get back we’re pretty tired, but we don’t let that stop us! The rest of our evening is filled with fellowship and time with our team. Later this week we’ll experience more of the city.

Keep us in your prayers as we continue to pour ourselves out to the people in Jarabacoa and reflect Christ’s love. We ask for serving hearts, joyful spirits, good health, and lots of energy.

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” -Colossians 2:2-4

The Start of Something…

We have arrived in beautiful Daytona Beach….and have settled into our home away from home at the El Caribe. The trip took a little longer than expected (thanks to more road construction than usual) but we arrived early afternoon on Saturday. For most, Saturday was a chance to relax, catch up on some rest and soak up some sun. Sunday started with a great time of worship (including sunrise singing on the beach), some sharing and then a chance to express our commitment to each other as roommates washed each other’s feet.

Last night we headed to Sun sunsplash-parkSplash (our ‘base of operations’) and spent time prayer walking, asking God to show up in powerful ways during the coming week. The night ended as we went for some ice cream and the team spent time talking to people in the mall area…We met a number of individuals, including some believers who prayed for and with members of our team. Those prayers remind us that we have friends and loved ones that are praying for us each day…THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!

Today is the first ‘official’ day as we head out to the beach and into Daytona expecting God to lead us into sacred appointments with those He would have us connect with. Pray for boldness, wisdom. But most of all, pray that our love of God, each other and those we meet will be irresistible to those we encounter throughout the day!

Arrival, Orphanage visit and Camp prep

Hola! We made it to Santa Cruz late Thursday night and to Monte Blanco camp on Friday afternoon. Despite a long day of travel, God was gracious as we had no problems with flight times, layovers, or customs. We left Santa Cruz at 7AM Friday morning and began the 5 hour trek to the Andes Mountains where the camp is located. Compared to the claustrophobic feel of the city, driving through the rural mountain range felt like a scenic tour. Even though it was a cloudy day, the low fog resting in the mountains made for an incredible view.

It was a little hazy once we arrived to the camp and we moved into our respective dorms. After eating lunch, we were put right to work cleaning out the dormitories the campers had just moved out of. We swept, flipped mattresses, took out trash, and mopped. We then did the same for the chapel. Once we finished, we met as a team and made a plan for what we were going to do at the orphanage the next day.

After a needed full night of sleep, we headed to an orphanage about 20 minutes from the camp. We traveled through the mountains to Manos de Amor and were quickly greeted by 30 kids. We sang songs and acted out the scene of Jesus and the lepers. It was fun to watch the kids react to the story! We think they enjoyed the entertainment. Each of us got to work in groups with kids on coloring pages and a word search that related to the Bible story. We brought lots of games and toys for those who worked at the orphanage to hand out to the kids, so we headed outside and played with them for about an hour. There were groups playing soccer, Frisbee, baseball, jump rope and other groups making bracelets and drawing with chalk. Before we left, the kids gave us bracelets that they had made.

We got back, ate lunch and had an hour to rest, which was needed! The art majors (Hannah) were whisked away to paint a mural in the chapel while the rest of us worked on the obstacle course. Half of us painted (Kelsey) and touched up tires and other parts of the course, while the other half hoed (Ashlee) and cleared the path. This was more intense work than we anticipated and we really felt the altitude and hot weather. But once we were done, it was something we came to call joyful fatigue. It made it worth it to know that kids (some without shoes) would be using the rigorous course we just spent several hours cleaning up.

We had a slower morning because it was Sunday, with devotions before breakfast and a rest time after breakfast. We also had an informal service in the chapel with Spanish worship music and a message from Tim, our team contact for Bolivia. We talked about forgiveness in light of the prodigal son and how the father was truly the protagonist in the story, portraying incomprehensible love that is magnified through Christ. The sermon was given in Spanish and also translated into English, uniting the two cultures. Because it was municipal election day, Bolivian citizens are not allowed to be on the roads or congregate in large groups.

After our service, we had some time to rest and enjoy the sun and Sabbath, bonding as a team over crazy volleyball games and reading. We will be hiking Monte Blanco, the mountain the camp is named after, later this afternoon.

Thank you for your prayers and support! We are so grateful to be here. Please keep praying for our continued health and stamina as the camp week starts on Monday. Also, keep the Bolivian kids in your prayers that their time at the camp will impact their lives.

Kelsey, Ashlee, and Hannah

Sunday Funday

Hola Family and Friends!

The sun is shining and we are loving Cancun! We arrived yesterday with no complications, but we were very sleep deprived, but also ready to get going!

We arrived at the Back2Back ministry house and began to learn about the different places the organization works with. We headed out to ” Bonfil” which is a place where kids come Wednesday’s and Saturdays to learn about Jesus. We had the opportunity to use the things we prepared before the trip at Bonfil. We sang songs, did skits, taught them about David and Goliath and celebrated some of their birthdays. We were able to make great connections with the kids despite the language barrier.

Today (Sunday), we had the amazing opportunity to attend a Bilingual church (Vida Life). We were able to sing and be taught in both Spanish and English. It was amazing to experience a little piece of Heaven as there were many cultures and languages represented and how we were able to find complete freedom in our worship.

We spent the afternoon at the marketplace where we were able to buy souvenirs and barter with the store owners…it was a lot of fun!

Today could be summed up by the word “JOY.” There was a lot of laughter and excitement and our team bonded together really well. We are excited to see how the Lord will continue to move this week! Please pray for safety and stength as we head out to a construction site tomorrow to do some work.

Hasta Luego!

Lauryn & Chelsea

Day 1 (Sunday)

Hello, friends! Today we went to church at DECC and then to the Henry Ford Museum with international friends. Johnny, Jeff, and Debbie are our contacts at DECC, and also we are spending time with three interns named Sarah, Christine, and Josh. The most important part about the Friendship House, the ministry with which we are working, is that they use English as a tool to reach Muslims for Christ. Schools and mosques also teach English, so the fact that these people choose to come to DECC means that they have a friendly relationship with these teachers. Pray that we are able to learn from those who already teach ESL as tomorrow we will be sitting in on classes. We are thankful for the love that our international friends have already shown towards us. Thanks for reading!

Periwinkle People

Hello from Indy! Yesterday and today, we have been wandering around the city to get our bearings. We went to the Indy Art Museum, grocery shopping, city market, and church. Indy is so close to home, yet we have already learned about how much we don’t know about its people, places, and history. Out of the many things we have already done, my mind keeps circling back around to a painting we saw at the Indy Art Museum yesterday. It was hanging on the 4th floor-the contemporary art section. The painting was periwinkle. At first, I didn’t even notice it; my eye tends to be attracted to the vibrance of bright contrasting colors, so a canvas with only periwinkle was not that interesting. Then a group of us asked the vested expert about her favorite painting in the section. She instantly pointed to the periwinkle. Then she said, “If you get close to it and focus, there are a bunch of tiny pictures in it.” Our group huddled around the painting and sought for the hidden pictures. First a flower materialized, and then a whole spring scene complete with mice around a campfire walked onto the periwinkle paint. After just breezing right by it, I think that was my favorite painting in the whole museum.

In church today that is who we saw-periwinkle people. People who had been overlooked or written off finally being seen. We were served by them; we celebrated with them as they shared their Palm Sunday with us. Pray that we might keep our eyes out for the periwinkle on our trip, and that we might be strengthened to take a couple of seconds with everyone we see to look past our first impressions. God has been painting here for a long time before we came, and now we get to experience His art.

Prayer Requests:

Tomorrow we will start some work projects: cleaning, construction, and some other surprises. Pray that we might use the time of exploration and rest that we had to fuel our work. Not to us, but to Him be the glory. Pray for flexible hearts, as we still don’t know many of the specifics about we will will be doing.