As we’ve wrapped up our trip this week, we recognize that each of our experiences have been quite individual. We have all shared the same setting for time with God, but He has surely used it in unique ways for each of us. We have had separate insights, both general and specific, from our time spent in silence, solitude, and stillness.
This being said, it’s difficult to condense our time into a final blog entry. However, we still wanted to give you a glimpse of the time we’ve had. The following is a list of questions we’ve been reflecting on this weekend after our week at the monastery. Feel free to apply some to your own contemplative life.
- When you left campus, you left a list of things to leave behind.
- What are things you’ll be taking back with you from this week?
- How will you re-enter into the space of campus?
- How will you pick up the original list?
- Do you have any new reactions to that list?
- What contemplative practice feels most possible to implement upon return?
- What practice didn’t seem to “work”?
- In what ways do you detract from others experiencing silence, solitude, or stillness?
- Who models these practices well for you?
- What was the hardest thing you faced this week?
- What was a specific moment of clarity?
- What was a moment when you were aware of God’s presence?
- Reflect on Isaiah 30 : 15-18. How is it different now than at the beginning of the week?
- What are some new questions you have or some questions that you’re still asking?
You’re welcome to reference any of the above questions when inquiring about our trip. We also wanted to give you some resources to practice silence, solitude, and stillness in your own life.
The following are links to practices that’ve been helpful for us :
Spiritual Location Exercise: https://www.fallcreekabbey.org/resources
New Seeds is Contemplation by Thomas Merton
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
Today we are heading out to do our final day of ministry here with devotionals for elementary, middle, and high school students. We’ll also do a prayer walk this afternoon, which the team is looking forward to! We have been so blessed to partner with Back2Back and learn from them this week. Yesterday we enjoyed a partial day off and went to the beach, which was gorgeous. Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our team!
It’s amazing to me that Oceanview with its yellow walls, people smoking cigarettes on the porch outside, and constant flow of individuals crossing the road to grab a soda at our beach chairs have become such a profound image of the love of God. Wednesday night, we went over for worship. The Oceanview employees put up streamers and bought cupcakes to celebrate what this was. It was simply us being with them and choosing to see them for who they are – image bearers of our God. They told us that the residents had been asking when we were coming over so often that they made posters with the Taylor logo announcing the “spring breaker’s” arrival. A parade of Oceanviewers streamed into our front room where we waited to sing and dance with them. Jesus loves me, amazing grace, I will dance in the river. As silly as it was to watch and sing and get pink cupcake icing all over our faces, I could feel we were entering something profound. It was ridiculous and fun, but my question became, how could this be so simple and yet seem to touch something so vast? Nicki brought his tambourine, Vincent sat thoughtfully to the side and smiled wide, Pat sat quietly singing in the back, Eric clapped through tears of joy. Being with them, your heart overflows.
Amongst mental illness and poverty there is so much fear. If I were walking by on a normal day I would have honestly been fearful, but perfect love casts out all fear. We were there because of Jesus, and there was no fear in that room.
I wanted to articulate this idea somehow, and only barely did it justice. We continue to embarrassingly walk up to high school students and families and people who are homeless around Daytona and get blown away by how much people need to be seen and how powerfully God moves. We will sit one more day with Carnal and Vincent and Larry and Justin and Sheryl and John and sip sodas and know that we love them, and if we love them how much MORE does the Lord. He has shown us his faithfulness and our team feels challenged on something much bigger than us – the tender love of Jesus. As today is our last day, pray for the finishing conversations, the small moments, and the unity forming in this sweet team. This is a special group of people and this is a brave, counter-cultural, hard to explain, yet way-to- simple thing we are doing here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello from the Cancun team! We are safe and well in the warm weather.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
The Memphis Spring Break Team
Sienna, Ela, Luke, Jen, & Jacob