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Eastern Europe B

Update #6 – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B

Preevyet from Eastern Europe!

Bristol, Hannah, Shaynna here with our last update! We are coming to the end of our trip here in country, however we are trusting that God’s work will still continue on long after we have left and are back in the United States. Our team time has been filled with laughter, quality conversation, and wonderful experiences with good food accompanying it!  We truly have cherished all of the amazing memories that have been made and the connections that have been formed while we’ve had the opportunity to impact the least of these on the streets of Eastern Europe, and we can’t believe the time for us to return home is very quickly approaching.  These last couple of days have been very eventful both in our ministry here as well as around the city. As we began to familiarize ourselves with the underground metro system, our big test came when our fieldworker sent us on an excursion.  This excursion consisted of teaming up in groups no larger than three and, by way of the Metro and city maps, navigating to a church and market in a specific location somewhere in the city.  This was not only a fun and (in some ways) relaxing activity but a cultural learning experience as well, because it allowed our team to immerse themselves into the daily life and culture.

Our ministry has been going strong here as well.  As stated in the previous update, our team split into two separate teams; one team works with the younger kids and one works with the teenagers and older kids.  The younger kids team has been teaching the little ones through skits while dressed up as Inside Out characters.  These skits get the kids excited and give them something to look forward to each camp day.  After the skit is finished, our team summarizes a book that was read to the little ones; subsequently, one of the team members gives a talk to the kids and they have progressively gotten deeper as camp has gone on.  Every day the team has shared stories about themselves and their life experiences, and in response the kids have been able to connect with the team on a deeper level.  This is possible by way of our amazing translators, who have done an incredible job working with us.  There have been a lot of jokes going back and forth between our team and them and it has been such a pleasure working with such sweet and compassionate people.  Recently, there was a trio talk with Devin, Bristol, and Shaynna, showing that the kids are not alone and that others have gone through tough times as well.  Their talks all pointed toward finding safety and security in our Heavenly Father.  Within the younger kids team, Ethan, Devin, and Sammy have taken on the role of working with the older of the younger kids, while Bristol, Shaynna, and our fieldworker’s daughter work with the littlest of the youngers.  Splitting the kids up has not only kept the chaos down but helps us connect with the kids on a more personal level.  During the split up time, the groups participate in various crafts and games.  Kristen holds a game room each day as well, which allows the kids to let loose a bit and get their energy out!  Though there have been long nights due to preparation for the next day, it truly is a blessing and brings joy to the team as we see the smiling faces of the lives we get to impact and spread the overwhelming love of Christ to.

The other team, as mentioned above, works with the older youth and teenagers.  This team consists of Loran, Max, Shae, Kyla, Dave, Nadia, and myself (Hannah).  Our daily ministry begins with a game or two to bring the teens into our time of connections and friendship.  Following the games, one of the members of our team will give a small talk on the subject for the day, like joy or patience.  This allows the teens to hear what these topics mean for us personally as well as how it can impact their lives as well. Following our discussion as a whole group, we decided to split the teens up into guys and girls to allow for deeper connections and meaningful conversations for both parties involved.  We found that splitting the teens up has worked tremendously.  It makes it more comfortable for the girls to share with the girls on our team how they felt about a certain topic of discussion without any sort of pressure from the guys, and vice versa.  Following our discussion topic for the day, both the teens and the older little ones have the chance to go outside and play with our entire outreach team.  Playing outside generally consists of games like Blob Tag and Link Tag, and unsurprisingly a football (soccer) game will start up within the older kids.  Members of our team have joined in the games with one of our two translators, who by the way have done an incredible job working both with us and helping us understand and begin to read into the lives of the youth we have the pleasure of working with.  It’s in games like soccer that remind us that the love of Christ is shared in every aspect of our lives, not just in a sermon or confined to church walls.  Overall, we have found that friendships have begun to forge and our ties to these teens have grown so much stronger as these two weeks have flown by before our eyes.

We are excited for our last few days here, but are also looking forward to sharing our stories, excitements, and memories with you all personally!  We want to thank everyone who has supported us on this incredible adventure and we could not have done it without you all.  By God’s grace we were brought here safely to do His work and the joy that has come from serving Him is meant to be shared.  Continued prayers for health and safe travels back home as well as God’s continuing work in the hearts of the children and teens we met would be greatly appreciated!  We love you all and can’t wait to see everyone upon our return!

–          Bristol, Hannah, Shaynna, and the team

Friends and family y’alls rock!  I miss you all and can’t wait to share this experience with everyone soon!  See you in a few days! – Hannah

If Jamie is reading this, I just want to let you know that I found my Eastern Europe Jocelyn – pouty face and all. 😉 Sam, Squid, and Momma: I love you all SO much and can’t wait to tell you all about my adventures in a few days. – Love, Shaynna

Update #5 – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B

Hi, everyone!

This is Shae & Nadia updating you about our first full week in country. We have really enjoyed this week and truly treasured every second we had to spend with the kids. Every moment spent away from them is time spent planning for the next days activities or reflecting with our team on what has happened. We cannot believe it has already been a week since we’ve been here, but we are thankful for each day we’ve been given to the kids.

In the beginning, our team of 13 people split into two subgroups. One team works with children ages 2-12, and the second group works with the teenagers ages 13-17. Both Nadia and I (Shae) have been working with the teenagers. At first, we felt a little challenged and worried we may not connect with them. However, it is truly a blessing that we have managed to build such unique and strong bonds with the teen girls during our time with them. Each day after discussion, we split into separate groups. Dave & Max meet with the boys, while Loran, Kyla, Hanna, Nadia and I meet with the girls. Despite our initial worry, we’ve seen such openness with the girls. Even though there is a language barrier, on only the second day most of them opened up and shared their stories! In our time sharing our personal stories and lessons, the Lord has provided us with the perfect opportunities to share of His worth in our lives and how He has helped us through our struggles. It’s amazing to see how God used our personal stories of struggles to reach the girls. These girls have become our motivation to get out of bed each morning, and they truly brighten our days.

Besides working with the children on a daily basis, we had a chance to explore the city a bit and go sightseeing. This past Friday night a group of seven of us went out to experience the city at night and watch the bridges open up. As the city is full of rivers and beautiful bridges all over watching them rise at night for boats to pass is a big celebration for all the locals here, and it was a great opportunity for us to join them on the celebration and connect with the culture. We also had the chance to visit a famous palace which is now a museum. Filled with art, artifacts, sculptures and other amazing things, some of us got lost in the hallways of history. However, this was such an important part of connecting and better understanding the culture. We ended the night by seeing the ballet. Our favorite part about all of this was coming back to the girls and sharing with them everything we’ve seen. Their faces lit up when we share things we’ve seen in their country and how much we enjoyed it all.

As we start a new week with the children, we are trusting God to lead our conversations, discussion and the time we have with the teenagers. God has moved so much already, but we know His work isn’t finished yet. We are open to be His instruments and to be used by Him to reach every teenager.

We appreciate everyone’s support and prayers. Thank you for praying for our team and reading our blog. We feel so blessed! Our prayer request for this week is to be bold in everything we do and dive in deeper with the teenagers to accomplish God’s work.

-Shae & Nadia

 

Update #4 – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B

Hello friends and family!

Max & Ethan here with the latest update from our team! The past few days have been full of energy and excitement as we experience culture and show Gods love to the kids. Each day that we spend here is another of falling in love with these kids.

While spending time learning and growing, I (Max) have been able to connect with the older boys as they are a rough and tumble group with strong spirits. Each day I see them they are showing love in their own little way. It has amazed me as to how much I have learned from they and they from me. The first day we got here their response to a playful hit would have turned into hard punching quite fast, however in the past couple days I have seen the toughest of guys stand up and be the bigger man to stop the hitting. If I had to sum up the past couple days into one word it would be RESPECT. Respect for the girls has gone way up, respect for the leaders in the home, but most importantly each person that I see has gained more respect for themselves. It is really amazing to be apart of something so big and that is just working with the teenagers. However there is more that happens with the children.

The little kids group has had its ups and downs as well. We have had kids fighting but then turn around and be best friends with each other. We have some kids who don’t even speak the language because they were picked up off the street and are from totally different countries. This can be especially hard as some kids have to leave unexpectedly and we watch as friends are being separated. All in all though our time with them has been a success. These kids love all of the arts and crafts we have done, like giving them a box to paint to fill with the treasures that we are going to give them soon. I (Ethan) have been a human jungle gym for a couple of these kids, and with them jumping on by back and arms I see that they have opened up more since the beginning of our time with them. These kids sing songs and play games with all of their heart and soul, sometimes even running around the room multiple times while they sing. To sum up, we are having a blast!

Our prayer request is for health. Some of us are still very jet lagged and we are all very tired, so prayers for time adjustments and good sleep would be great!

Best wishes from the team, and thank you so much for the prayers! We feel them every moment!

-Max, Ethan and the team

P.S. – To Ethan’s sister: I have officially played volleyball in more countries/continents than you have! Love, Ethan. 🙂

Update #3 – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B

Preevyet! We have only been here for two days, and words cannot explain how much we have already experienced. Yesterday, we took the metro to two cathedrals and one had beautiful mosaic murals all across the walls.  Out of respect, women must wear scarf coverings over their heads.  After lunch, we walked outside and were surprised to see a parade happening with marching bands and floats. Everything is beautiful in this city! We were glad that we all got to see the culture, before diving into the work we have planned with the kids.

Today, we met the kids who we will be working with while we are here! I (Kyla) am a part of the teens group. At first, I was nervous to meet them, but now I absolutely adore them! I was surprised how open they all are. I did not expect that, especially not on the first day. They kept asking us questions and were as interested in knowing us as much as we want to know them. Their first question was about the fast food in America. Good thing that I know all about that! Leaving today was so hard, and it was only the first day! These teens are one of a kind, and I wish you all could meet them. I am excited to get to know them more throughout our time here. We also have two translators, which has not only been extremely helpful but also inviting. Because of them, I felt comfortable being me, even in a new and different culture.

We met our little ones today! My (Sammy) team dressed up with colorful wigs to do our introduction skit as characters from the movie “Inside Out”. Today, Sadness (Ethan) was featured and we learned about including others. The kids were full of energy and excitement, ready to play. My favorite part was playing freeze dance with them. We danced to the music, spinning the girls around and watching the boys break dance. Seeing them smile and laugh filled my heart. We read the book “You Are Special” by Max Lucado to the kids and Shaynna shared that she is special because God made her and he doesn’t make mistakes. Then we went outside and ran around, playing games like soccer- we will sleep well tonight! We are so excited to see what God has in store for the kids this week!

 Thank you for your prayers, we love you all!

-Kyla & Sammy

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Update #2 – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B, Uncategorized

Hello friends and family back home!

We have just wrapped up our first full day in country after a long couple days of travel. We are so thankful to be here and are continually reflecting on what a blessing it is to have this amazing opportunity! Today was all about cultural immersion. We had a quick review of the language and learned how to communicate basic statements like “what’s your name?” and “where is the bathroom?”  We also learned more about the children we will have the chance to meet tomorrow.

A highlight for many of us was a chance to explore the city a bit and learn more of the history of the people here. We are struck by how much we can sense an emptiness in the hearts of the people. A void only God can fill. We hope to bring a light into this city. Our team time tonight was sweet. We enjoyed worshipping together in song and Dave encouraged us all to remember that He who called us will equip us and has already prepared the way for us. There isn’t a thing we need to worry about except loving God and others!

Thanks for your prayers. Tomorrow we begin our work with the kids. Pray we are flexible and hold our own expectations and plans loosely.

-Kristen

Update #1 – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B

News from the field!  Eastern Europe B arrived safely at their destination!  They were pretty happy to be off an airplane at long last!

Eastern Europe B team was able to meet up with our other Jessup members of Eastern Europe A team for a meal and some story swapping.

Eastern Europe A team is scheduled to arrive back in the US tomorrow afternoon, and Eastern Europe B is just getting started.

We are on our way! – Eastern Europe B

By | Eastern Europe B

Thank you for your support as our team heads to the field! We departed at 1am this morning for the airport and will update you when we have arrived in country (hopefully with all our luggage!). We look forward to updating you on our trip and hope you will check back soon for news from our team!

If you would like to receive text message updates every time our team posts a blog update please text the word GO to the number 51400.

Thanks, and we’ll write you soon!