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Update #5 Eastern Europe

By | Eastern Europe, Uncategorized

Hey everyone,

Ben and Breeya here. Sorry we haven’t posted in awhile, our team has had a busy few days. We spent the weekend sight-seeing at the beautiful St. Isaac’s cathedral, and we went to see the ballet Swan Lake, on Sunday we got to go to church and fellowship with other believers. It was really neat being in a room with people who speak different languages yet worshiping the same God. 
 Overall the trip has been exhausting, always on the move but it’s been amazing to work with the kids at the center. Today the big kids and little kids got to go to the park together and it was so much fun being able to have both groups in the same place. We got to play tag with some of the little ones and a teen from the older group.

They have so much energy it’s unbelievable.
We are coming to our last few days here and continued prayer for our team is always needed. God has been working us hard down here but it’s been worth it to see the kids having fun. Please pray for strength and rest for us as the trip comes to an end.
Much love,
Ben & Breeya Shade


Update #5 Southeast Asia

By | Southeast Asia, Uncategorized

Sadly today was a rough day as we visited two historical sites that were mainly focused on the 1975-1979 Cambodian genocide during the Khmer Rouge reign.

We started the day with a devotional led by Morgan. We were able to focus on the importance of prayer and praying fervently. This was especially important for us as we knew today was going to be hard. Many of us were not emotionally prepared for what we were going to experience, but we knew that this tragedy was a significant part of Cambodian culture and history.

First we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or the S21 Prison. Our tour guide had a personal connection with the Cambodian genocide because during this time she escaped with her mother to Vietnam. Unfortunately, her sister and father were one of the victims of this tragedy. It was inspirational to hear her story as she explained each building of the prison. She says that in the past she would cry everyday at work, but now she is able to share her story and educate the younger generation. She tells her kids this story to help them understand this so that history doesn’t repeat itself. As we walked through the cells we learned about how they were tortured and interrogated. We saw how poor their living situations were. They were hardly allowed to take showers, maybe once or twice during their three months, which caused deadly skin diseases. We also learned about the horrible ways that were used to torture. There were only seven survivors from this prison. We were fortunate enough to meet three of those survivors. We cannot imagine how strong their will is to stand in the same place they experienced those horrific life events. We left with so much respect for the older generation in Cambodia. We were thankful to be able to learn more about the history.


Next we visited the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, one of the many killing fields used by the Khmer Rouge. All 10 of us had the audio guides which walked us through the history of what occurred during that time. At the beginning of the tour we learned how many of the victims were taken from the prison blindfolded, without knowing where they were being taken. A lot of the buildings that the Khmer Rouge used during this time were not still standing, so there were signs in the exact location of these buildings explaining what each would have been used for. One of the areas we saw was a chemical storage space, for chemicals like DDT. This chemical was used to cover up the smell of the bodies in the mass graves. Some of them were mass graves with people that were beheaded or with women and children. The women and children mass grave was especially hard for some of us. It was next to a killing tree decorated with bracelets. On this tree there were so many innocent babies killed for no reason. There were also graves of foreigners involved with trying to stop the Khmer Rouge. One of the most impactful stories we heard was from one of the survivors that wanted to preserve this historical site as a way to educate and pay respect to the victims. He was taken at 13 by the Khmer Rouge and he survived because another man sacrificed his life for him. Another moment that made us sad was hearing the exact music that would play to drown out the moans of victims that were being killed. This was for many victims the last sound they would ever hear. The last area that we were able to go into was a Memorial glass-walled stupa filled with so many skulls. Many of the skulls were marked according to the evidence of torture found on the victims. They keep the stupa sacred by having visitors take off their shoes and with having incense and offerings at the entrance. Once inside the stupa, just looking at the overwhelming amount of the skulls was heartbreaking and devastating, especially with looking at the smaller baby skulls.

After visiting both areas we could not comprehend why such tragedies had to happen here. What is even more surprising is how recent all of these events occurred. Visiting the sites, looking at body fragments, seeing stains of blood on the floor at the prison, hearing the music and taking in the smells of each site was hard to process for all of us. After lunch at a delicious Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Cali and going to The Coffee Bean across the street we all needed time to rest. We worked on our crafts for Kids Club and then relaxed after being exhausted physically and emotionally. Some of us were grateful to take a nap and others enjoyed the swimming pool on the rooftop.

At dinner we were really able to fully debrief the day and express what we were feeling. We realized that God did answer our prayers to have our hearts break for what his breaks for. Even though we don’t understand why all of this had to happen, God is very present in Cambodia healing the darkness and restoring something tragic into something that creates appreciation for how much Cambodia has overcome. Even though this day was hard for us, we still managed to keep our fun-loving spirits. We had a dance party in the bus with flashing disco lights. Morgan and Bethany had a dance off and we all bounced to the music so hard that the bus shook. We could not help laughing when people driving by us were pointing, laughing and waving at us.

We are so grateful for your prayers and we ask you to please continue praying for us and the people we will be serving at AIM this week through Kids Club, Leader Disciple  and Young Disciple Bible Studies. We are excited for what God has planned for us in the next few days!

With love,
Daija and Tif


Update #2 Southeast Asia

By | Southeast Asia, Uncategorized

We woke up and a had a stealer breakfast at our hotel on the rooftop! After getting all nourished up, we went to the AIM headquarters. After driving through the crazy streets alongside a few cows we arrived. We had a debriefing on AIM’s mission and the history behind the organization. After we got to see all of their different ministries that are run, like the school, the church, the rehabilitation home, and the Lord’s gym. It was amazing seeing all the redeemed buildings as they call them because they all started out as brothels or had been built with the intention of being brothels instead they are now being used to spread the love of Jesus Christ. Next, we dived into painting the rehabilitation home. We all have never sweat so much in our lives, but loved getting to serve alongside each other while rocking out to some fun tunes. It started pouring so it was a cool opportunity to dance in the rain and share a few laughs. Finally, we came back to our hotel, had some dinner, and are about to hit the hay!

So far this has been an amazing experience and we can see God’s hand in this community and it is amazing that we can  play a special part in that. We are excited to see what God will continue to do in and through us. Please continue to pray for our team that we could serve the people of AIM and the community well, that we would work together well, and that Satan would not get us discouraged. We love you all and thank you so much for your support!

Update #2 East Asia

By | East Asia*, Uncategorized

“Happy Belated Mother’s Day to our mamas! We love you! 

Wow! What a wild trip this has been so far! We have had some of the craziest changes, unexpected turn of events and surprises. From the minute we pulled up to the airport in the US, our plans had already changed. We have gone through a complete city change and our first four days in this country we were in 3 different hotels! We have been on planes, trains, subways, and buses for hours upon hours and this team has been stretched and pushed and challenged to be so flexible, and if I can brag on them, they have been AMAZING. 

We’ve tried lots of interesting foods, explored in a couple different cities, have had several awkward encounters and some long long days. We’ve gotten our steps in (25k today!), and through it all our spirits are high!! 

We’re in an entirely different place than we thought we would be less than a week ago but today’s day made every single minute of the traveling and craziness worth it. Today was our first full day on a campus and we already met so many sweet and wonderful people! I was able to meet two kind and awesome girls today with Emma who told us all about their experience at the university, showed us around campus, and bought us lunch. They want to meet up again before we have to leave so we’re very excited! Another group met a girl and they’re having dinner with her tomorrow night! We are advised to not have any spiritual conversations on the first meeting but we are praying that our second meeting with them will be fruitful! 

Another thing that brought us so much joy today was the campus’s international cultural fair! This was probably one of the best experiences I have ever had. There were so many booths of people from all over the world sharing food and culture and dancing and singing! We met some amazing people from probably 20-30 different countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. There were singing and dance performances and the dances were very interactive! We all got moving and danced like no one was watching (despite how many people were actually watching).. they even had the US represented and we got up in front of everyone and did the electric slide to Sweet Home Alabama! Apparently this is their view of the US! Haha! It brought us all so much joy though to see such a wide range of peoples and tongues and nations represented today in a way that we have never experienced before. We all felt it was such a beautiful representation of what heaven is going to be like some day for us.  Everyone was being fully themselves, embracing their culture and the culture of everyone around them and dancing with some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen in one place. I am still in awe of how precious and beautiful those hours were today. None of us wanted to leave that moment. (But don’t worry, we have more pictures and videos to show you once we come back!) 

The rest of our day consisted of a bit more exploring of the city and also trying to find food. Finding a restaurant and ordering at restaurants is always a funny challenge! Thank goodness for Zach and his language skills!!

We appreciate all of your prayers SO much! This team is just so flexible and amazing and has undergone all of these changes like champs! We know God’s hand is in all of this and today that was so clear!! Please continue to pray for health and safety and for the Holy Spirit to guide us to the people we are supposed to meet and continue to open up opportunities for us! And also pray that the rain we’re experiencing here goes away soon! It’s scheduled to rain almost every day for the rest of our time here and it has definitely not been fun to walk around with wet shoes! 

Thank you all so much for all of your support! We are loving our time here in East Asia but we miss you all back home a bunch too! See you soon!

– Kayla and the team”

Update #1 – Chile

By | Chile, Uncategorized

Hey, everyone!

Team Chile is doing great and loving our time here. We had a short break, just enough time for me to send out a quick update and some photos that were taken during our ministry time this afternoon. Mario and Maranda have been hard at work laying bricks and cutting studs for a new church building in Santiago. They are natural pros! We’ve spent the last four days mostly off the grid visiting villages about 700 kms to the south of Santiago – meeting with with remote folk, doing some more construction, etc. It has been incredible to see the variety in this culture and to interact with people who have such limited access to the Gospel.

We have loved the relationship we have built with the local church here. Tonight the students participated in different youth Bible studies. I have started teaching pastors, which will continue tonight. Please pray for this aspect of our ministry, as these are the people who will be continuing on in the work long after we leave.
Miranda and Mario have been spectacular in their adjustment! They are staying with different host families and navigating the language barrier and cultural differences so well. You should all be proud of them; they’re both having a rich experience!

We are so blessed.

More later. Love to you all!

-David & the team

Eastern Europe A is Home!

By | Uncategorized

We are back!!

We have made it home! Everyone arrived safely (with all our luggage!) and we are excited to connect with family and loved ones to share stories and photos with everyone!

Thank you again for following along with our journey, praying over our ministry and loving us well as we served overseas! If you want to hear more about our experience, please reach out to us and we would be happy to meet up with you. We also hope you will continue following the other teams as they update us on their time overseas and what the Lord is doing in and through them.

Thank you and we hope to see you soon!

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 #4 – Eastern Europe A

By | Uncategorized

Hello all!

These past few days have been jammed packed with activity.

We have been progressing so much in our friendships with the students and have been able to also explore more of Eastern Europe! This past Sunday we were able to visit a church service that was done entirely in the local language; it was such a neat experience and we were able to meet so many wonderful people. After church on Sunday we did some sightseeing of more historic places around the city and got to enjoy a traditional home-cooked meal.

On Monday evening we enjoyed a night of fellowship with the youth from the church we visited Sunday morning. We played games, had a spoons tournament, ate pizza and had good discussion. It was such a blessed experience to commune with other believers and make even more connections.

And also on Monday and Tuesday we returned back to the camp and had very successful days with the kids! We performed skits, broke off into groups (kids/teens) and continued with our schedule. God has been so good and has continued to open the hearts and minds of the students we are working with. Each day we have been growing so much closer in friendship with them; it is incredible to watch the bonding that has unfolded in such a short period of time.

We have been able to engage in very thought provoking and deep conversation with the teens; they pose excellent questions that get us digging deep into the subjects we are challenging them to discuss.

With the younger kids we have enjoyed making crafts with them, spending more one on one time and getting to know them better. Though there is a language barrier, we are still able to connect with the kids. We have been playing so many new games with them, such as heads up seven up (which they really took a liking to!). We also had the chance to go swimming with them and got to play games in the pool today!

After camp today, we went souvenir shopping at some very traditional booths nearby and then got to visit a children center for kids/teens. At the center we spent an hour or so with the kids and teens, played games, had tea and desserts. It was such an incredible experience meeting more kids and being in their presence!

All in all time is flying by! We are all so in shock that our time is coming to an end here; though time is moving so quickly, it has felt as though we have been here a lifetime! The Lord has guided us along the way each and every day, drawing us closer as a team and closer with the kids. He is doing such incredible things over here and we are soaking in every bit of how He is using us.

Thank you all so much for the continual prayers and support- without you this is not possible!

We miss you and will be seeing you again soon!

Emily and Dot

(Here are a few pictures from the week)

Update #3 – Eastern Europe A

By | Uncategorized

Hello readers! It’s been 6 days since we’ve left for Eastern Europe and so far it has been an amazing and beautiful experience. It’s the end of the third day of the camp and a couple days since the last update.

First off, we’d like to acknowledge the loved ones and those who are waiting for us back home. We are doing well and would like to thank you for your love and support for us here. Your prayers have moved mountains, we love you and miss you. Slowly we are adjusting to the time change, but by the grace of God we are doing well. Every morning we wake up early to get to the camp in time, walking and taking the bus in order to get there.

The skit creates a good opportunity for great conversations and opens doors into the lives of the students we are working with. The teens have opened up to us in amazing ways, their love and acceptance baffles me. The younger ones have opened up in the same way, although yesterday they weren’t with us because of international children’s day.

All of yesterday we hung out with the teens all camp and during the sport games, we had a bit of an accident, where our fearless leader collided with one of the girls and ended having to get 3 stitches on his eyebrow. Yet by the grace of God the girl came out with only a small bruise. (By the way, the way that they had to wrap his head in cotton looked pretty funny, hopefully we have a picture of it somewhere) he has healed up nicely and is doing well, (maybe we’ll have a picture of that as well).

Today we split up again and half the team was with the younger children and half with the older, although because it was a Saturday there wasn’t as many students in attendance. The conversations have been great between the teens and the younger children have heavily bonded with some of the team members.

We look forward to our next day with them on Monday. The team spent a lot of time planning and want to deepen our relationship with the students and create opportunities for His light to shine and seeds to be planted and nurtured.

We would like to ask for prayer: energy for the team in order that we may finish strong, for opportunities to share our testimonies, for courage and faith as we approach our halfway mark. For the hearts of the students to be opened up, and for the impact we make in this short time not be quickly forgotten but for God to work miracles.

-K & A on behalf of the team

We are on our way!

By | South Asia, Uncategorized

Thank you for your support as our team heads to the field! We have departed 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!