Tuesday, April 1, 2014

East Africa Update Part 2

Hello everyone!  We are so sorry that we have not been able to update you all as much as we wanted to but we’re not sorry for the reason why… every. single. minute. spent has been spent well.  Our time has been so rich and full and precious.   From 7 in the morning when we ate breakfast together until 10 at night we have been non stop, literally.  We are all exhausted but have made the very most of our time with Stephen and Sarah, each other, and the other M’s here at the conference.  We look forward to sharing stories we have heard with you all about what God is doing here in East Africa when we get home.  I know we will all leave encouraged and with changed hearts.  I hope the M’s we met here were encouraged as well.   Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers!

Friday, March 28, 2014

On the ground in East Africa

(Sorry for the delay in our first post, you will read below about how it took a little longer to get here than originally expected).

10:30 on Tuesday morning our team met together at the church to pack up the bus and head to Columbia.  Everyone was coming in, excited to catch our flight and ready to get on the ground. What they did not know was that about 10:15, I had checked the flight status for our flight out of Columbia only to see a big CANCELED notice.  I quickly called our travel agent and kindly asked we have a plan in the next 15 minutes, because I would soon have to walk into our group and explain the situation.  She quickly responded, and I got our team's and their families attention to inform them of our change in plans.  I began by saying that our flight was canceled, but we had been rebooked, but it would mean flying to Houston and then to London (with a 7 hour layover) and then on to East Africa.  As I was talking I saw everyone's eyes moving around trying to figure out why we were going west to end up going east and doing a quick little geography lesson.  After a few minutes of discussion, we prayed, loaded the bus and took off for Columbia.
The one highlight out of the change and the long layover in London was that Ashley and I happened to have some very close friends who are serving in London.  So to make our time go by a little quicker, we ventured out to meet them and have lunch at place that is heavily populated with their people group (which also happened to be one of the few places in London where they serve ice with your drinks!).  It was great to see them and hopefully encourage them in their work.

Later that evening we took off from London for our second overnight flight, but driven by excitement to be landing in a few hours.  Once we landed we very quickly made it through customs, got our bags and had a great time visiting with Stephen, Sarah and family.  We loaded up on our bus for just over an hour drive to where the conference was being held and even saw a giraffe on the way. The scenery all over is BEAUTIFUL.  We were able to spend most of the day resting, getting ready for the conference and spending time hearing from Stephen and Sarah.  

Most of us only made it until about 7-8 pm before we were sound asleep.  We have had a great day that we will update about tomorrow.  Continue to pray for our team and for these workers that they would be encouraged and ready to be sent back out into some difficult places.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Packed and Ready to Go

Our team is packed and ready to go! We would love for you to follow our blog this coming week and we will do our best to update everyone on how the trip is going.  Thank you for praying for us and those we will be serving!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thursday and Friday Update

Our week has continued to be very encouraging and eye opening to our team.  Thursday morning we traveled with Marian to visit several villages that he oversaw, including a trip to Dr. Alina.  It was great to see how excited she was by the medications and supplies that our church and community generously donated.  As we were organizing everything for her, we had to finish our visit but she was needed by the several women who came to her clinic.

As we finished, we went to visit two villages that Marian is ministering in.  In the first village, we traveled up to a hill that overlooked the entire community, listened to Marian’s heart and vision for those who don’t know Christ and prayed that the Lord would change hearts. Pray for he and his wife, Andrea, as they are working to see their people come to know Christ and that a group of believers would be formed in each village.  They are currently running children’s events and small groups in homes, so pray those would grow and more would be reached.

Thursday and Friday afternoons were very similar.  On Thursday, half of our team went to work in one of the children’s programs while the other half went to bring groceries to widows in the community.  It was heart breaking again to see the conditions in which these women lived, several of which were living alone.  Friday half of our team went to visit a few other widows, while the other half went with Mariana to visit impoverished families.  These ladies who oversee this aspect of the ministry obviously love caring for these families.  At one home, the young mother was so visibly excited as she saw Mariana get our of the car.  She has built great relationships with these families and has a strong platform to share the love of Christ with them.

Thursday and Friday evenings also included a women’s ministry event.  Women from the community gathered at two of the churches and listened as Kathleen, Melissa and Jackie shared their testimony and encouraged them in their faith.  Both nights had a great turnout.  Thursday night the men went with Pastor Alexe to visit and pray for a man in his church who has been struggling in sin.  Our team was able to encourage him to follow Christ and spend time in prayer for him.  

Friday evening was a great time as our men were able to gather with many of the missionary men as the women hosted their event.  It was a nice relaxing time to just talk with one another and build relationships with them.  Although we had dinner before we left for the evening, our host, Pastor George, had prepared a small meal and dessert for us.  What was there to do?  We just had to eat it.  It really is incredible how we can sit with these men we have just meet and enjoy each other’s fellowship.  The bond between fellow believers is an amazing thing, how quickly we come to know and care for one another. 

Please continue to pray for these families who tirelessly live their lives for the sake of the Gospel and pray that we would be a small encouragement for them to stand firm for the Lord.

“13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
                                                      -2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday and Wednesday in Romania

Over the last two days we have certainly hit the ground running in Romania.  Everyone woke up Tuesday morning glad for a good nights sleep and ready to start the day.  I think most of us still were dragging a little, but the jet lag has gone away by now.  We started our morning with breakfast that the Wepplers prepare for us each day and then went to Hope Church where Pastor Raul hosted an orientation.  We were able to hear about all the work their ministry is doing and learn about those we would be working with during the week.  

After lunch we were able to go visit a great family in a village about an hour away.  There we saw their home, heard about their call to move to this new city, how they are sharing Christ with their community and what their vision is for the coming years.  We then got to go visit another believer who lives close by to encourage him and pray for him, because he is the only believer in his family. 

That evening we made our way back to Draganesti to have dinner with the Wepplers.  I had to quickly eat to go with Kevin to the church for a men’s study.  It was a really encouraging evening where I was asked to lead a discussion and workshop for men in the church on how to prepare sermons.  That evening we worked together on how to preach Christ from the Old Testament.  These men loved the Lord and desire to correctly teach his Word.  Their knowledge and love of the Scriptures was very evident.  One interesting note, I have often heard about translating books that are popular in the US into other languages, but it was great to see those works being used.  As we talked throughout the night, I learned that Raul and myself have many of the same favorite authors.  While I was at the church, the rest of our team began preparations for the men’s and women’s event we will be hosting later in the week.

Wednesday started out very similar to Tuesday.  We got ready and ventured out to a new city where we meet a few more families living their lives as missionaries in their own city.  We heard about how the Lord had changed their lives and how they now desire to use their life for him.  These people were such an encouragement to us in how they love the Lord deeply and totally devote themselves to seeing others come to Christ.  After we spent time with these three families, we went to have lunch in a Romanian restaurant, and finally ventured into a store to buy supplies for our events.  It was probably a very interesting sight for the Romanians watching all of us walk through the store together trying to find out what we needed.  Luckily we had Kevin with us who was very helpful.

Once we were done, we headed home for another great dinner, while three of our team were hosted by another family in the church.  While they were away, the other five of us went to another grocery store to meet Mariana.  She helped us buy groceries for five families in the area and then took us to their homes. There we had the opportunity to meet them, pray for them and provide for their physical needs.  Many of us had been to impoverished places before, but were still surprised to see the conditions in which these people lived. 

The last few days have left us encouraged and challenged by the way these friends live their lives for the Lord.  Pray with us for their work.  It is hard with very few believers in each community.  And pray for new avenues of ministry to open for them.  Mostly pray that more would come to Christ and then would be sent back out to reach those around them.

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

-Matthew 9:35-38

Monday, September 2, 2013

Our 30 hour journey

Sunday morning our team gathered at 8 am, packed the bus, hugged our friends and family, prayed together and then headed to the Columbia airport.  It was thankfully an uneventful trip, we got our bags checked and waited in the quiet airport.  I think the Sunday of a holiday weekend is not their peak time, in fact, we were checked in at the counter and greeted at the terminal by the same two workers.  But we made it to Atlanta, were able to find some lunch and coffee, then made our way to our gate.  After we boarded around 3 pm, you did just what you want before an 8+ hour flight, we waited on the runway.  There was a storm north of Atlanta, so all flights were headed South, causing a good case of hurry up and wait.  Thankfully the weather did not cause any big issues and we were able to take off close to 3:45 pm.  This is where we had to settle in for the long haul.  I had hopes of relaxing while watching a movie, having a little dinner and then crashing for a 5 hour nap.  The first two happened, but that sleep was hard to find for most of our team.   I kept thinking, if I fall asleep now, I will get maybe 4 hours of sleep.  Well if I fall asleep now, I will get 3 hours of sleep, etc. And of course, this always keeps you awake.  The thing that was able to save our sanity was a good selection of tv shows and movies that we could each choose on our individual mini screens.   

So the flight eventually landed around 5:50 am local time in Amsterdam.  We found a little cafĂ© with good espresso drinks and made to order omelets.  A few of us were a little shocked when we saw the conversion ratio for the coffee which was priced in euros (making Starbucks look cheap).  But we each found a little something for first breakfast, spent our layover talking in the dining area and then made our way to our gate. 

Our flight from Amsterdam to Bucharest was pretty quick, less than 3 hours, but quite a few of us finally got a little sleep.  We landed at 1 pm local time (7 hours ahead of SC), were very relieved that we found all of our bags and meet our driver.  We loaded up in his new bus, and started our 3-3.5 drive to Draganesti-Olt.  We stopped at a restaurant in Alexandria, had a good dinner (nice to not have it packed in some sort of plastic) and then finished our drive to the Wepplers. 

It is now 10:00 pm here, we have been spending some time relaxing together, getting connected to the internet (some a little easier than others), skyped our family, and got in line for a shower.  We are setting down for the night, ready to sleep in a real bed and looking forward to what the Lord has in store for the coming week!