DR Blog #1

We have spent 3 full days in Jarabacoa at our sites! We landed safely on Saturday, and have been serving in occupational ministry sites with Students International. On Sunday we attended the church Fraternidad Cristiana where we got to experience church in Spanish. Ministry site experiences range from dancing with older adults in the nursing home, to education, to sports, prison, and even to birthday parties for Chiquitas born in the month of March.

DR 3

Our team has two favorite times of the day. The first is when we get authentic, Dominican coffee bright and early together before devo time and worship. The second is everyone sitting on the porch after a day at our sites, waiting for other to come back so we can all share about our days. These both are special to us because it is quality time spent together, loving each other well. Our team has become so close, and any time we can spend together we make the most of it.

DR 4

Last night we ate dinner with host families in the communities where we serve. This is a special experience to learn about their culture and for both parties to be equally blessed. Hosts feel blessed to serve, while we feel blessed by their hospitality and generosity.

DR 5

The pictures are from the airport before we almost missed our connecting flight (praise the LORD we made it), the hike on our first day up the mountain at our base, a view of what the base looks like and looks out at, and a snapshot from one of the education sites.

Daytona Blog #2

The last two days were less than perfect weather days for us. Tuesday continued the theme of constant cloud coverage with off and on rain – Wednesday brought us our first sunny day, but included colder temperatures and Midwest type wind. HOWEVER, the weather did not hinder us. The clouds and rain made it easy to get people to join us for volleyball and soccer. And our friends from Oceanview were more than happy to brave the rain to hang out on the beach and drink pop together. We met really great people and had wonderful opportunities to hear people’s stories. And while the wind on Wednesday made beach goers scarce, those who braved the wind were more than open to huddling up and sharing conversation with each other.

F1D1D2B8-D98F-41EF-B78A-A155D37F5898.jpegWednesday was capped off by one of the highlights of our trip as we spent time worshiping with the unique community at Oceanview. It is hard to capture the experience with words, pictures or even video – but singing and dancing with our friends at Oceanview is always a holy and beautiful experience. After so many years with these friends, the staff celebrated with us by providing cake, cupcakes and pop (along with streamers and balloons) during our time of singing. Truly an amazing moment!

1912B0B4-8829-43F2-AF8A-11183F38DE6E.jpegAlong with this overview, here are a few stories from the rest of the team:

I quickly shoved a sandwich into my face to spend more time with John and Eric for another couple of hours.  Micah

I had the pleasure of meeting the Administration Team at Oceanview on the first day we were here. My heart swelled when seeing my friends outside…for they are so precious to me and to our Holy God. I will never forget what the Administration Team said, “After Christmas, this is the most important time of the year for them, when you come.” Our team has been deeply moved by this and I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve met there because of this trip. – Natalie

0D06FE5F-D7A4-4B22-9614-E338112875EE.jpegI met Carl at the beginning of the week, every day I am learning more about him and how I can show Gods love even a little, and also how not to give up on my dream even when I am down and in the hardest place in my life than I’ve ever been (keep going, not only with words but with actions also). –pk

It was awesome talking to high school student yesterday, I feel like student most especially high school student are people who need to hear the gospel of Christ because, a lot of time they in the process of figuring out what their place in this earth is. So it was great to not only talk to them but share a little bit about the gospel. – DANK

020ACDA2-4362-4838-88BA-70DE54542677.jpegThe Lord is faithful. That’s the biggest thing I’m growing in this week. Every encounter is just the right encounter for me in that moment. Two days ago, I met Piper, Kaylee, and Piper’s mother. Thinking I would simply help a child with her sand castle, the hour turned to also letting a woman share her heart like she hadn’t been able to in quite a while. The simple things, the silly things, they reconcile more than just material brokenness to the Lord. – Lily

Our first day out, I met a homeless man named Tommy. He was simply sitting in a chair under a cover in the park we are usually at, Sun Splash, and the instant I saw him I knew he would be aimportant aspect to our trip. That day, we talked for two hours about his life, journey, and how he ended up in Daytona. Throughout the week I’ve seen and talked to Tommy every single day, and every time he gets more comfortable with me and my teammates, and today he’s said he will even come down to the beach! These deep relationships that grow each day are a huge aspect of our trip, and I’m so glad I got to experience such an interesting person, even for so short a time. -LeeAnna

Cancun Blog #1

Hello from the Cancun team! We are safe and well in the warm weather.
Mexico 2
The team has spent the last few days going through some sessions on trauma competent care, learning how to love kids who have experienced trauma in a way that supports their sustainability. In the two community centers that Back2Back partners with, the team has led devotionals for a group of elementary age kids as well as middle schoolers and high schoolers. It’s been so fun to talk about our God with people who know Him but are from a different context.

We’ve also got to spend some time learning the way that the community centers work, from sitting in on tutoring sessions to being with parents during their parent classes. Our team knows limited Spanish, so getting out of our comfort zone is easy! While it is a challenge to navigate communication, it’s been a gift to be able to learn about our God and His people around the world through nonverbal communication and the blessing of translators!
mexico-1.jpg
We are thankful for your prayers and support back home! Keep praying for energy, unity, and comfort in the discomfort in the beautiful country of Mexico!

Tucson Blog #1

 

Greetings from sunny Arizona! Our first few days here have been such a blessing. On Sunday we were able to worship with Vineyard Community Church here in Tucson; everyone has been so welcoming and extremely kind! Throughout the afternoon and evening we spent time as a team exploring and getting acclimated to the area and culture.

AZ 3

Monday was full of great opportunities! We were able to tour two of the facilities that Gospel Rescue Mission (GRM) operates within – the women’s shelter and the men’s shelter. The wonderful staff and volunteers painted a picture for us of all the services they provide for individuals seeking assistance as well as how they operate systematically. After touring with GRM, we were also given the opportunity to tour Casa Alitas of Catholic Community Services. This is a project committed to providing services and aid to families from Central America released from ICE and Border Patrol detention in the Arizona community. They offer support by providing hospitality via food, shelter, advocacy, and travel assistance.

Today we finally got to work at GRM’s new Center for Opportunity! This is an old hotel that they are remodeling into a new men’s shelter and facility for individuals to seek out a variety of services ranging from emergency shelter, health and wellness, case management, recovery services, job training and professional development, etc. They are planning to have the place finished here in the next few weeks and fully operational by the beginning of June! Today our team worked on disassembling old chairs in the an old theater that will be the future home of a new chapel and painting some of the rooms that will be used for the shelter housing!

AZ 6

So far we have been blown away by the kindness and altruism of the individuals we’ve been working alongside. Our hosts serve others and give of themselves so willingly, and it is truly a humbling thing to see how God is using them so evidently here in the Tucson community. We are loving our time here and are eager to continue to serve throughout the week!

 

Missing our friends and family, and we ask for your continued prayers as we look for opportunities to serve this week!

Memphis Blog #1

Monday, March 19, 2019 – Memphis Day #1

 

The Memphis team had their first full work day today. Beginning with a 7:45 am wake-up call for breakfast and a quick team meeting, we then headed out to our worksite to meet Miss Annie, the homeowner of our site for the week. We worked for a total of six and a half hours removing the shingles from four different sections of the roof, began replacing some of the rotten wood, and began laying down waterproof plastic for the next step of placing new shingles. We ended our night with dinner and “exposure nights”. Exposure nights gave us the opportunity to meet with a family who are “intentional neighbors” living in the Memphis area (if you want to know more about what an intentional neighbor looks like, ask one of us – it’s a cool concept!). We were able to visit a couple’s home, sit down and hear their story, and ask a few questions of our own. They also gave us each a ½ off coupon to the Memphis Zoo (which we’re going to visit on Friday – what a blessing!). About the day, team member Luke Sorrell said, “Today, I learned how to problem solve, how to trust the Lord, and how to find Him in the small moments.”

All in all, it was a great day, not to mention the most beautiful Memphis temperatures! We are expectant for all that God is going to do in the days to come! Keep praying for us as you see fit, but pray especially for us as we continue to build a relationship with sweet Miss Annie, as well as for safety while we work to complete this roofing project. Thank you for all the love and support!

 

With love,

The Memphis Spring Break Team

Sienna, Ela, Luke, Jen, & Jacob

Kentucky Blog #1

CEF6D91B-4DE8-41BB-A32C-7EE8FD102E87.jpegWow. We are so thankful to be embarking on this journey of spiritual growth, self-discovery, and the development of spiritual discipline in our own lives. We’re about an hour away from the monastery that we’ll be at for the next four days!

835564B2-42EE-4CBC-AC71-7427027E52E6.jpeg

This weekend has been defined by its slow pace. The ten of us have enjoyed our time meeting with various spiritual directors and contemplative influences as we prepare for our time of solitude, silence, and stillness. On Saturday, we met with David and Beth Booram, spiritual directors that live just outside of Indy (Fall Creek Abbey). The team was welcomed by TU alum Chris Chang (’16) and his family at their restaurant The Oriental Inn. Our day was spent responding to a guided self-reflection; questions that moved us each into spaces of prayerful contemplation and personal discovery. We began to practice the art of giving ourselves a lot of grace as we learn and grow into this new practice that many of us are unfamiliar with.

25FEE5AF-052C-4583-8752-4ABED40DA12F.jpeg

On Sunday, we had a slow and relaxing morning, eating brunch together at Good Morning Mama’s before heading over to the beloved Hightower-Yoder’s residence to meet with Travis and Sara. There, we were given permission to get curious about what the contemplative experience was like. Travis and Sara have done a lot of work and personal development in this area, and so they were our guides and resources for the day. After asking some initial questions, we were given an hour to practice the art of purposeless time with God. We then shared our experiences, asked some final questions, and went back to the home where we are staying.

722A5C9E-1F6C-4023-823E-F8E2E8105CB1.png

After leaving the Hightower-Yoder’s, we ate dinner at BruBurger with Taylor alums Dara and Jason Burkhalter. So many great people are speaking into our lives and supporting our personal journeys.  It is amazing how this growth process is happening on an individual basis but corporately at the moment. The evening at the house we have been staying at (graciously offered to us by the Bookmyers, a family closely connected to Taylor University) was spent differently by all of us. Some went on a walk, some processed through writing, some read books on contemplation, and others still practiced the spiritual discipline of sleep by going to bed early.

This morning and early afternoon have been spent travelling down to Kentucky. We hit the road around nine, got brunch at a cute little restaurant called Le Peep, and picked up some cupcakes to celebrate the birth of one of our own (Happy Birthday Brad!). We spent three hours in the van commuting to Louisville, where we drank some coffee, ate our cupcakes, and just enjoyed one another’s presence in some of our final moments before we practice a deep solitude.

We couldn’t be more excited to be where we are right now. We are all approaching this time at the monastery from different places, and so it will be a truly unique experience for us all. We deeply appreciate all for your prayerful support back home. We are so thankful for each one of you!

9C9CAEDF-050D-494E-A4DE-12E794706238.jpeg

We have arrived! Here’s to entering into silence, solitude and stillness at the Abbey of Gethsemani! We are following the way of peace.  

Daytona Blog #1

We have arrived in ‘less than sunny’ Daytona Beach. Saturday was spent in Tennessee as we waited for our Daytona hotel to be ready for our arrival today. Yesterday we hiked up to the Appalachian Trail – and as the picture will attest it was cold (30 degrees) and WINDY!!! But it was good to do the hike together – see the beautiful view – and then hurriedly hiked back down to the warm vans. We spent time sharing and praying with each other in anticipation of what God will do this week.
Pray for energy as we recover from the long drive and that God will prepare us, and those we meet, to have meaningful spiritual conversation!
More to come….
Steve