Fort Myers Blog #1

As we enter into the middle of our time here at ECHO, I feel pleasantly exhausted. I walked into this trip with few expectations and little knowledge about what life on the farm would entail, but feel overwhelmed with all that I have learned and experienced. As I let go of the worries and stresses of back home and immerse myself in the dirt and life of the earth, I am continually brought back to Genesis 3 when God tells Adam that through hard work and the sweat of his brow he will eat from the ground. I have read this chapter many times and have never quite experienced it in its true form until this week.

BB08D360-61E2-4485-93B5-AFC8EA357EB1.jpegOutdoor work is not easy work. The weeds reappear, your hands get dirty, the sun hides behind the clouds, and the outcome can be less than ideal. While this can feel discouraging and frustrating I have been struck more with the beauty that comes from good work. After a long morning of weeding and pruning in the pouring rain, I am able to look at the plot of land and see all that was accomplished and how the toil of our hands has brought life to an overgrown garden.

Through the long and tedious research of trial and error, ECHO farmers are able to find solutions to agricultural problems in all climates and areas of the world. Through this hard work that seems mundane and tedious, we are making a small footprint in the life of someone else.

76C2633B-2A54-4584-8278-2F30BC880291.jpegAs we will soon be returning to Upland, I hope that this trip will transform my perspective of work and life around me. As I am among the trees and landscape of campus, I long to stop and take time to appreciate the work and care it takes to produce that life and the glory of God that is represented in its uniqueness and splendor. As I study, write papers, and complete assignments, I hope that I will focus on the beauty of doing work well for the glory of God instead of focusing on crossing things off my list. I hope that as I interact with the people in my life that I will be able to see how God is producing life in them, like he is on this farm and the world around us. That is my prayer, that this trip and all that it has taught me will not stay in Ft. Myers, but change my perspective and transcend my everyday life back in Indiana.

Sydney Peugh

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

Meet the Tucson Team!

imageMeet Team Tucson! As pictured from left to right, this team includes Amanda Heggem, Courtney Embry, Alex Gallup, Noah Riggs, Emily Bender, Brianna Kinsey, and (not pictured) Hannah Gumbert.

Partnering with Gospel Rescue Mission– a non profit organization directly focused on serving the homeless and needy for their spiritual, physical, and mental wholeness in Jesus Christ, the team will aid in the construction of their new rescue/community shelter in Tucson, Arizona.

Here are a few ways in which you can be praying for this team:

  • For safety and health as we travel
  • For our hearts to be prepared to serve and pour out to others
  • For boldness in Christ as we step outside our comfort zones

Team verse: 1 Samuel 12:24

“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.”

If you want to contribute to the Tucson team, please prayerfully consider giving at http://www.taylor.edu/give-online, click “give to Taylor World Outreach,” and select “TWO Spring Break – Tucson.”

Meet the Daytona team!

imageMeet Team Daytona! This team includes. . .

Back row from left to right:
Ethan McNeil, Andrew Rieck, Jack McNeil, Tali Valentine, Danny Magallanes, LeeAnna Davis, Steve Mortland, Daniel Korrie
Middle row:
Sam Jones, Lily Walter, Abbey Russell, Abby Pepin, Stevanni McCray, Teagan Kauffman
Front row:
Jesslyn Ridge, Micah Hardesty, Natalie Rupp, Patience Korrie, Erika Mortland

(Not Pictured: Drew Jordahl)

This team will be engaging in intentional conversation with those in the Daytona community, as well as showing love towards those who are homeless. Their ultimate goal is to seek authentic moments to share the love and truth of Jesus.

Here a few ways the team has asked their friends and family to be praying for their time in Daytona:

  • Pray that we would be unified as a team
  • Pray that we would clearly hear the Lord’s voice.
  • Pray that we would lose all judgements of others and see them as the Lord see them.
  • Pray that we would listen well to others and speak only when the Lord prompts us.

Their team verse is Micah 6:8, which says, “…But to do justice and to love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God.”

If you want to contribute to the DR team, please prayerfully consider giving at http://www.taylor.edu/give-online, click “give to Taylor World Outreach,” and select “TWO Spring Break – Daytona.”

Meet the Memphis Team!

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Meet Team Memphis! (From left to right) This team includes Ela Alvarado, Jen Cline (Co-Leader), Jacob Gerding (Co-Leader), Sienna Luttrell, and Luke Sorrell.

The team will be partnering with Service Over Self (SOS) to practice the ways of Jesus in the Binghampton and Orange Mound neighborhoods of Memphis, TN. They will partner with local homeowners to provide full roof replacements, examine God’s call to be His people, and the way He uses community in His Creation-caring and Kingdom-building objectives.

Here are a few areas in which you can be praying for the team and their time in Memphis:

  • Safety working up on the roof
  •  For the relationships we build with the homeowners we partner with
  • That our work would glorify God and not ourselves
  • That we would help further the mission of SOS
  • That strong relationships would be built within our team, as well as with other people we meet

Their team verse is 1 Samuel 12:24 which says, “Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”

If you want to contribute to the Memphis team, please prayerfully consider giving at http://www.taylor.edu/give-online, click “give to Taylor World Outreach,” and select “TWO Spring Break – Memphis.”

 

Peru #3

The past few days have been incredible. Each morning we wake up to roosters crowing and many dogs barking. Then we meet for a delicious breakfast and devotionals led by our team members to start our day off well. Next, we jump on the bus and make our way to the learning center of the day where we are graciously greeted by the staff.

Typically, at the learning centers (which are housed in churches), we start by helping with various tasks around the facilities which would usually get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. We have completed a variety of activities including: preparing meals, scrubbing toilets, cleaning quinoa, mopping floors, wiping tables, and much more. In addition, our team has completed three beautiful murals at two locations.

Around noon, we take a brief break for yet another delicious meal created for us. After this, kids start arriving at the learning centers. We typically begin our time with them by trying to engage with them through broken Spanish and laughs. Once everyone has arrived, we start our VBS-type program. We usually begin with a few songs and then move on to our skit about the Easter story. After this, we split up and do games and crafts. Usually the younger children do the craft and the older children play games. This time is typically crazy and incredibly fun! I think we enjoy it almost as much as the children!

After our time at the center is over, our group splits into two and we visit homes of some of the children at the learning centers. The families are incredibly gracious, always making us feel welcomed and appreciated. As we view it as a privilege to be welcomed into their homes, they view our visit an honor to have us in their homes. While they may not have many material possessions, they have a wealth of hospitality and deep love. We are able to learn more about their lives during this time by getting tours of their homes and asking them questions. We end the time by praying for the needs of the family and thanking them for being such wonderful hosts.

Usually we have a bit of free time to relax before yet another incredibly yummy meal. The time following dinner has varied from night to night. We have played soccer, visited look-out points in Ayacucho, gone to the market, and experienced some of the Holy Week festivities in the main square. Finally, we end the night by reflecting on our experiences each day as a team and then going to bed.

One of the best group experiences so far on this trip happened yesterday at one of the learning centers. After lunch, we went to the roof of the building to take a team picture. We were able to see much of the city from this place. After our picture, we took time to pray for the people of Ayacucho all at once and then our translator ended in prayer. God’s presence was so evident and beautiful. God has been here, God is here, and God will be here in the future. We are grateful that God has allowed us to be a small part of His intricate plan for Ayacucho, Peru.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our time here. Please specifically pray for the youth camp that will be beginning soon and that we will be a helpful support to the locals who are working hard to provide this for the youth in the community. God is showing His power and blessing us in mighty ways! Each day we are amazed of the ways He is revealing His great love for His people.

We love you all lots! -Katie and Team