Arrived Back

Just a note to let you all know that we have arrived back safely in Upland Indiana.

After a wonderful breakfast at the Sugar Mill Pancake House – thanks to our good friends Dale and Barbara Murphy – we headed out for our long journey home. A number of us were still pretty sick – so a couple of the vans sounded a bit like infirmaries on wheels – but in the end, we arrived home safely.

Thanks for all your prayers. Will try to post one more entry with some pictures.

 

First day of workshops

The meetings with the different businessmen and women went very well, and we were glad to know some of them would be at our first workshop that afternoon.  We waited in the conference room the afternoon and watched them trickle in; some of them brought their young kids along, and quite a few seemed to know each other well.  Our fearless translators joined up with each one of our three groups, accounting, marketing, and management.  The tables had about 10 entrepreneurs around them at a time, and our translators, Jose, Libni, and Isaac helped us introduce ourselves to the group and have them do the same.

Jumping right into the workshops was somewhat of a struggle for some of the groups. This was expected, but, thanks to God, practice makes perfect.  The entrepreneurs were at various levels with their specific businesses, some already standing for decades with an established name, while others might have only been around a year.  This definitely made it difficult to encompass all of their businesses with what we had prepared. Trying to meet them where they stood individually proved frustrating with the language barrier present.

After going through our lesson models twice more, we began to realize areas that we could improve on and how we could smooth out all the rough pieces.  The business men and women were very interactive the entire time, sharing ideas and asking questions across the table through the duration of our time together.  It was especially encouraging to see the owners of the businesses we were able to visit earlier at the workshop, and some of us got the chance to talk to them in between sessions.  One carpenter talked about past Taylor student workshops he had attended, and how he has been able to implement what he has learned to his workspace.  Over the past two years he has been able to apply these lessons and see his company grow. He came back today because he knew that he always could learn something new.

The workshops here at Catacamas were beneficial to our team in more ways than we expected.  We learned priceless information about local business of Honduras, what was most helpful for them during our time together, and what aspects of business they simply were not ready to dive into.  All that we learned will definitely help us fine-tune our presentations when we head back to Tegucigalpa later this week.  We were all incredibly grateful for this opportunity to share some of the knowledge we have gained through Taylor University, and be able to reflect Christ through the principles we emphasized.

Over and back again

Over and back again

Our time overseas has drawn to an end with one final beautiful Greek sunset.
Over the last few days we continued to travel through Greece ministering through music and learning about the country’s culture and history.
We drove through the hills of Meteora and witnessed the beauty of its hilltop monasteries.
We sailed to Corfu Island, where we performed at the Free Evangelical Church of Patras.
We travelled to Corinth, where we learned about Paul’s experience with its ancient church, and dived into the cultural implications within his words in Biblical texts. After performing at The American College of Greece, we spent the night at the CosmoVision Center, thanks to the gracious hospitality of AMG International.
Our final day in Greece began with a trip to the Parthenon and involved us running down the slippery Parthenon steps after a surprise rainstorm in order to get to our next concert. The day ended with our concert at the Town Theater of Markopoulo, where we had the chance to sing and meet people before hurrying out so the movie theatre could return to its scheduled showtimes.
While spending one last wonderful night at the CosmoVision center, we had time to reflect on our trip, give thanks to our guides who made this trip possible, and learn a handful of traditional Greek dances.
This trip has opened our eyes to be able to witness the power of music as a real tool for God’s kingdom. Music has served as our bridge to men and women who we would have never gotten the chance to meet before. Music has helped us bridge the gap between the evangelical, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches during our time here.
While music has served as a reason for being here, our journey would not have been possible without the prayer and encouragement from all of the people who supported our trip. Your thoughts and words have made more of an impact than you know, not only on the 47 members of the chorale, but on the people we’ve had the pleasure of reaching out to across the Atlantic Ocean.
It has been a packed, sometimes difficult journey, but every step of the way taught us more about God and His children on earth. As we return to the cornfields for the remainder of the year, we will not forget the joy we found and friendships we made in Greece.image

We’re home!

After many tearful goodbyes, we all traveled safely back to Indiana. Thank you for all who contributed financially to our trip and for all those who prayed for us. It truly was an amazing week and we feel so blessed in being a part of God’s work in McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico. We’d all love to share our stories with you personally! 

Easter Sunday

Rise and shine everyone! Christ has risen from the dead!

This morning, the Indianapolis team woke up relatively early to attend the “Sunrise Service,” the Shepherd Community church hosts this service annually. During worship, we interchanged the language from English and Spanish, which was really fun and interesting.

Next, we all walked over to the cafeteria, the other side of the parking lot, and we ate breakfast. During breakfast, Cameron was showing Nicki how to do hand motions to a children’s song, but then Cameron hit Erica’s hand which caused her to spill her coffee all over the floor in epic, Disney-Channel-esque extravagance.

After we had finished breakfast, we all helped set up chairs because there was a much higher turn out rate than expected. The best part about the service was people’s testimonies. The way they shared their testimonies was by writing on a poster board who they were before on one side, and then wrote about where they are now on the other side. One person was a “crack addict,” but now they have been “clean [for] 1 year 5 months and 27 days.” One person was “homeless,” but then “God provided shelter” for them. Also, there was one person who was a “convicted felon,” but now they are a “devoted counselor.” There were too many testimonies that had been shared, and I can’t cover them all. From just reading about some of those testimonies in the church, I realized that God can make us “new” again by Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice.

After the service we passed out “spring break bags.” Spring break bags are bags filled with food products that are then given to families who need food through their spring break. Most of those families don’t even know when their next meal will be, so Shepherd provides food bags to help the parents out.

Later in the afternoon, we all went to the Eiler’s house to play with their children and eat dinner (Mrs. Eiler is a 3rd grade teacher at Horizon Christian School within Shepherd). At the park, we all did an Easter egg scavenger hunt. While we were all waiting for our leaders to hide the Easter eggs, we started singing children’s songs to pass the time. Yes, of course we had hand motions, and of course people stared at us.

Next, the team had a debrief session, which involved discussions of the highlights of the trip, reactions to returning to Taylor, and writing notes of encouragement to each other. After that we all played a new mafia game that we made up, which involves the cast of Harry Potter. And to wrap up the last full day of the Indianapolis Spring Break Missions Trip, we all decided to watch “A Cinderella Story.” It was a full day, but a great (“lit”) end to our week together.

Thank you all for partnering with us all! We have grown so close as a team and we have all learned so much about God, ourselves, and poverty. It has been a truly rewarding experience. We would love to share our experiences with you after the trip, so feel free to ask! Thanks again.

“The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!”

“Forever” by Kari Jobe

 

-Jordan Hardesty

He sure is risen indeed!

Today our team was able to reflect upon and celebrate Jesus’s resurrection and the sacrifice He made for us. We started off our day at a church service led by a group of house churches (neighborhood church) at the SOS complex. It was amazing to spend the morning in fellowship and community with the people of Memphis openly sharing our struggles and together rejoicing in the Hope that we have. Today we were able to reflect upon our week and the ways in which we saw God work within the community and even in our own hearts. Over the weekend we spent time exploring Memphis, making a spontaneous drive to Mississippi for lunch, and learning as we walked the halls of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Perhaps it’s safe to say that this trip to the National Civil Rights Museum left the largest impact out of the weekend’s events. We were challenged to step into the shoes of those who blazed a trail. We were challenged to ask ourselves: What would I do if I lived in those turbulent times? Would I stand for what is right despite the definite oppression? We were challenged to examine the ways in which, today and in our own environments, we can stand up for what is right and what fears may be holding us back. The conclusion? Jesus Christ not only paid the ultimate price for us through His death on the cross, but He also restored hope through His resurrection. And so, we have nothing left to fear.

During the five hour car ride to Jen Cline’s house where we will be staying the night tonight, James DiLeonardi spotted a convicting quote on a billboard that read: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). While, we cannot change hearts (only the Holy Spirit can do that), we can leave a trail containing the footprints of heaven everywhere we go. And it doesn’t take a lot. As Deven Watson said in discussion tonight, “God’s hand can work even in the mundane things of life.” We have been freed by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ, and so our only response left is to love others like He has loved us and to say yes to His calling each and every day.

Our Father has revealed much to us this spring break. May He continue to work in our hearts. We trust that He will complete His glorious work. 12920487_945879215519712_20812877345404794_n

Day Nine

Day Nine

It pains me to say that our time in McAllen is coming to an end. Time goes by so fast, doesn’t it? This Sunday was a special Sunday. Our Lord has risen. He is alive and all Christians come out and praise his holy name! It’s a bittersweet feeling being here. On one hand I would enjoy spending Easter at home with my family, but on the other hand it is good to see a different culture and prospective on Easter with a different culture. Easter here is incredible. Our day started out with a 6am sunrise service; starting the service pitch black and ending the service with the sun bringing out the good news. We then took some rest before our 10:30am service where we continue to worship our Lord and spend our last service at the church. After lunch we took a trip to downtown McAllen and did some more shopping. Snow cones are pretty great down here. The night ended with a beating of a piñata, cracking eggs filled with confetti on each other, and having a feast of a dinner. We did awards where each team member received an award for something the did on the trip. I won an award for eating a lot – classic. Gifts were given to the people who hosted us and we truly are so thankful for being here. Please continue to pray for the people here and pray for safe travels as we go home tomorrow. We appreciate everyone who has prayed for us and will continue to share God’s love wherever we are. -Chris Chang