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Update #2 – Southeast Asia

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Hi, loved ones!

Nate and AJ here, bringing you our first full blog update!

We Started the day off bright and early eating breakfast at our hotel by the river with an amazing view of the sunrise and some amazing people! We then had the opportunity to attend the church we’ll be volunteering at; so incredible to see many worshipping the same God in their own language. Following worship was a sermon preached in Khmer along with an English translator speaking into our earpieces. One of the church members gave her life to Christ and to symbolize her freedom from sin, the leaders cut a small rope tied around her waist, then threw the rope away!

After church we had our first cup of the most refreshing iced coffee! Let me tell you, this iced coffee will change your life. We then were humbled when visiting a former prison, now museum, which housed between 12,000 and 20,000 prisoners (only 12 confirmed survivors) during the genocide that took place here from 1975-1979. It’s heartbreaking to see how these prisoners were mistreated, dehumanized, and tortured. What’s even crazier is think of how recent theses events occurred. Walking through the cells, seeing where and how they lived, along with hearing their stories, brought an emotional shock to our team. It just so happens to be that we visited the museum on the a day known nationally as “A Day of Hatred” which was to remember the 3 million innocent lives lost and to remind the people of the hard times this country had endured.

On a brighter side though we enjoyed thrilling rides throughout the fast-paced city on a three-wheeled motorbike with a carriage, locally known as a tuk tuk. (Don’t worry, moms, it is totally safe!) The rule of the road here is, “if you stop, you stuck!” The streets are always busy and always moving. From the streets to the food, we bonded while grubbing on our meals and a stroll throughout the city. The night life is popping and lively. We took a walk through the crowded market where everything you could think of was being sold and ended the night at a little restaurant by the hotel. The mango smoothies, amazing! The fried frog legs, incredible! This fieldworkers here team, the absolute best. This is a beautiful country full of life, entrepreneurs, and tuk tuks! To say the least we had an amazing first day and blessed to be apart of what God is doing here!

Thanks for praying along with us! Continue to lift us up as we prepare to begin our ministry and our work with AIM!

We’ll check in soon!

-Nate, AJ & the team

Click here to see a video from the night market!

And click here to see Farmer and Emma being…well…Farmer and Emma!

Update #1 – Southeast Asia

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Hello, from Southeast Asia!

We have arrived safely in the capital!  It was a long day of travel (including time for one last American meal before it’s all chicken and rice!) but thank God we are here and ready to serve. We will be up early tomorrow for church at 7:30 at AIM, then off to learn more about the history of this country and its people at The Killing Field/S21 Prison museum. It will be a crazy day 1! Monday, we start Kid’s Club at AIM.

Everyone is very excited for what God has in store. It is hot here, but we are grateful, and we are tired.  Please be praying as we learn and are overwhelmed by this place during our first few days! We know God has work to do and we are ready. We look forward to updating in the next day or two!

Love to you all!

Farmer & the team

Update #3 – Czech Republic

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Hi friends and family!

Krista here, with the latest update from Team Czech Republic! Since the last post, we have continued to settle into a routine both working in the library and visiting Czech elementary and middle schools to help teach English. Jon and Miraya got straight to work photographing and documenting books for the library book sale – quite an undertaking considering the number of boxes to work through! In the next room, Andrei began painting the doorways of Jim and Laurie’s flat, while I (Krista) continued the process of preparing new books to be used in the library. At the same time, Lana, Becky, and Paul went to school, each with their own classes to converse in English, playing games. The work was very challenging, but also rewarding.

Later that night, Andrei and I (Krista) made dinner with the fresh fish from the market that morning. Afterwards, our team split up so Paul and Lana could explore the city a bit more while the remainder of the team stayed in for a relaxing evening, complete with face masks, brownies made by Miraya, ice cream, and card games. It is such a blessing to have team time each evening to let loose from a long day of work, both to appreciate Czech culture and the unique traits of each team member.

On Thursday, Paul, Andrei, and I (Krista) took our turn at visiting a school, talking in groups of 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It was fun to meet the students and learn more about Czech culture through conversation, as well as cut loose during the singing and dancing lead by Jeff – who regularly goes to the schools as a ministry opportunity. At the library, Lana assisted Meredith – the children’s director – with a children’s event, “Time for Tots.” Becky picked up where I had left off preparing the new books, stamping them and beginning to cover them, while Jon and Miraya continued the extensive inventory process. In the evening, we went to dinner at a Czech restaurant and explored more of the city, including a beautiful cathedral, Prague Castle, and Charles Bridge.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayer and support! Please pray that we continue to demonstrate love through words and actions throughout our time here, both to the people of the Czech Republic, the field workers here, and to our team members.

Much love,

Krista

Update #2 – Czech Republic

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Greetings from Europe!

Miraya here, bringing you the first official update from our team! After a long 26 hours of travel we made it to Prague! After arriving late Sunday night, we went straight to bed to attempt to sleep with the drastic time difference from back home (9 hours). Monday morning we enjoyed breakfast as a team before beginning orientation in the Prague Christian Library with Jim and Laurie, the long-term fieldworkers here, and Meredith, the Children’s Director, who is from the states on a 2-year contract. Though we all felt a little jet lagged, we were excited to finally be here!

We then went on a short walk around the neighborhood to get to know the area in which we would be living for the next two weeks, where we saw local coffee shops, the grocery store, and a local mall. After returning to the library to learn the specifics of jobs we’ll be doing over the next several days, we jumped on a short tram ride to exchange some US dollars for Czech Koruna in Prague 1. There are several districts in Prague, distinguished by number, we are staying in Prague 3. We then walked to the store for groceries to have a home-cooked meal for dinner that night. We played a few cards games before getting some sleep so that we would have some energy the next day for our first official work day.

Tuesday Paul, Jon and I (Miraya) went to a middle school to assist with an English-speaking class from early morning to afternoon. The others, Andrei, Becky, Krista and Lana, spent the day in the library working on tasks such as putting books on the shelves in order, labeling new books, and prepping for painting upstairs. After a long day, we went to dinner at a restaurant called “Little Mexico” and took a metro to meet up with Meredith in the city for a fun evening. There was a festival celebrating St. John of Nepomuk at Charles Bridge where we enjoyed Trdelnik for dessert and a firework show. We are all enjoying our time here in Prague 3 and can’t wait to continue to serve God with each of our gifts and talents!

Continue to pray that we would be helpful to the ministry here and that our fieldworkers would be blessed by our presence! Love you all! Enjoy the photos and we promise to send another update soon!

-Miraya and the team

Update #3 – Kenya

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Jambo! (Hello!)

Since our last update, the team has continued to wholeheartedly interact with the people and culture in Kenya. Many team members have been mentioning their appreciation of the incomparable hospitality being shown to us and the kindness that is being expressed at all times. During our beautiful and picturesque morning walks to the Kimbilio Hospice Center with Living Room, we pass by people of all ages who always shake our hands and want to engage with us. I (Lauren) have loved walking everywhere, even though the roads may be uneven and bumpy, everywhere I turn my head I see lush green land that is absolutely breathtaking. Also, Cam and Justin have been getting up early in the morning to go on runs with a Kenyan friend named Benjamin and have been able to see some amazing sunrises.

We finished one week of ministry that included mornings with Living Room and giving lots of love to the guests and afternoons with Brook of Faith students for VBS. The team has lots of highlights from the week and have been having many discussions of people they are connecting with and being impacted by. Sam has been connecting with one of the missionary’s kids at Brook of Faith named Ryan who has loved connecting with her and being vulnerable with her. She has been making a huge impact on the people here! These students have loved interacting with the songs the team sings for VBS and we hear their sweet voices performing the songs and hand motions as we pass by them outside of VBS. There were so many smiles during this program that went very well and was enjoyed by everyone involved! The team switched up their roles each day between teaching the story, crafts, and sports/games throughout the VBS program and that gave everyone a chance to interact with the kids in different ways. I enjoyed watching Cam and Jordan be surrounded by children who loved chasing them and hanging on their arms. Overall, the team bonded well with the Brook of Faith students and are enjoying meeting them for devotions before dinner now that the VBS has ended.

Saturday was a great day of wrapping up VBS and relaxing for most of the afternoon. The power went out while everyone was taking a nap and made for a shower that turned cold immediately! It happens! That night we started our first night of devotions with Brook of Faith where we sang a couple songs and heard a great message from Max on the word “Joy: Jesus, Others, You.” We finished our night with a great discussion over dinner with our hosts, Professor Brian Albright and David Tarus, on the topic of “God’s Mission.” Sunday was another relaxing day of experiencing a lively church service at UPEC (United Pentecostal Evangelical Church) Chebaiwa where the team led a couple worship songs, experienced some Swahili worship songs, heard a wonderful testimony from Mariah on how God worked in her life through her college journey, and a powerful sermon on the prophet Jonah and how we should not flee from God during seasons of fear and difficulty. Later that afternoon we had some time to shop at the Widow’s Collective Gift shop, run by amazing women through Empowering Lives International (ELI), and then we toured the children’s home at ELI. After meeting the parents of each house, filled with 25-30 kids per home, I (Lauren) left with tears in my eyes because of their service and love for these children.

Every night we have been enjoying many great stories from David Tarus, who has brought so much wisdom and laughter to the team through sharing stories about Kenya and being intentional with each team member. David Tarus is an amazing man who is the Co-Founder of both ELI and Living Room and a well-respected community leader in Kipkaren, Kenya. This week we will continue to serve at Living Room in the mornings loving the guests and helping out in different parts of the ministry as well as visiting several different empowerment projects in the afternoons. Thankfully, the team is in good health and adjusting to the culture very well. While we are all missing home, God is doing an amazing work here and will see to its completion. If you feel compelled, spend some time reading Ephesians 4:1-6 (our team verse).

Here are a couple of impactful moments to share:
-Janet, a Living Room guest who was in a severe car accident, told Sam that our team “is helping [her] not give up” and for us to “be blessed.”
-At the end of VBS, many of the kids said that “this isn’t a goodbye, but welcome again.”
-At Living Room, a guest had both legs amputated and had a family that left her. She majorly impacted Jordan and spoke life into him even though she was at her lowest of lows. Jordan has continually talked about her amazing faith!

Tunawapenda ninyi wote (We love you all),

Daniel, Lauren, Sam, Cameron, Mariah, Max, Jordan and Justin

Update #1- Czech Republic

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Hi, everyone!

We wanted to send in a quick update letting you know that we arrived safely, have all our bags with us (yay!) and have connected with our fieldworkers. After months of preparation it is so exciting to finally be here! It’s very late in Prague and we are coming off of a long day of travel, so please pray that we would adjust quickly to the time zone so we can hit the ground running tomorrow.

Our first few days here will be orientation to the culture, the ministry and what our role will be while we are here. Pray that we would be quick to learn how we can help the ministry in Prague and that we would connect with people who need to hear the Gospel!

We will send a longer update in a few days! Love and miss you all!

-Andrei & the team

Update #4 – East Asia

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Hello, everyone!

Thank you for continuing to pray along our team’s work here! Everyone is doing well and loving the ministry, as well as the people we are getting to meet. We apologize that our updates cannot be as detailed (or photo-filled) as some of the other teams, but we have to be mindful of the ministry’s security measures while we are here. We promise to talk your ears off with stories when we get home!

Earlier this week Mark, Zach, and Anna reconnected with a university student for lunch and broke the ice. It was great to go a little deeper with this friendship! Another student took Mark, Zach and Josh to an old Roman Catholic Church and, while they were out, the Gospel was shared to him that afternoon! Please pray for this student and that the Truth of the Gospel would become real in his heart. A female university took a few of the girls to a Mexican restaurant here! God’s placement is purposeful and our meetings with these students were not coincidental. One of the students who we all have gotten really close to wanted to take us all out for lunch. We tried a sweet plum juice with a spicy main entree, a perfect balance as most of the DELICIOUS food here is!

Continue to pray for our team to have wisdom in the relationships we seek out, the conversations we share with others and the way we support the ministry here! Just a few more days of ministry, some debrief and then we head back to the States, so please pray that we wrap up well!

Love you all!

-Josh & the team

One of the amazing meals we got to share with a new friend!

Gotta love team photos.

Mark, John & Zach being toured around the city with one of the university students.

Update #2 – Kenya

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Greetings Friends and Family!

Habari zenu? (How are you all?) We are all fine, and I’m sorry it has taken a bit to update you! Our “new home” is about 1 hour’s drive outside the Western Business capitol of Kenya, Eldoret. With that, we have intermittent electricity – and no internet at our Guesthouse. There is limited internet at the Living Room Hospice, about a 10 minute drive or 20 minute walk. I (Daniel) have very limited cell coverage here, and can get a text out occasionally. The community of Chebaiwa (Che-bye-wuh) here is one of the most welcoming places you will ever find, and so is Kenya in general. Most homes around us are mud huts, with thatch or corrugated metal roofs. Typical Kenyans here have no electricity, piped water or other usual amenities we take for granted. Wherever we have traveled, whether airport, vehicle or ministries, almost everyone we meet says “Karibu sana Kenya” – you are highly welcome!

We arrived in our village at about 5pm Monday, settled into our beautiful guesthouse, took showers and hit our beds. Our journey was almost 48 hours, with 4 airplanes, 2 shuttles, 2 trains (a brief trip into Amsterdam on layover) and not too many hours of sleep! But God is faithful and we arrived safely – even with all our luggage (this cannot be always assumed). On our first morning here, we jumped right into ministry. Our morning was spent at the Living Room hospice, where we received the most beautiful welcome ever! As our vehicle arrived, the entire staff and several patients were outside singing Swahili and Kalenjin (the local mother tongue). We each received a bouquet of roses, and enjoyed a little ceremony where leaders shared their excitement for our arrival. We then toured the Living Room facilities: the 24-bed hospice, a mortuary, physical therapy rooms and offices. We then spent the remainder of the morning fellowshipping with the LR patients, especially about 6-8 kids who are guests there. The kids immediately connected with us, and we sang, played and had a great time. Max especially connected with a young, charismatic boy named Manuel (probably 8 or 10 years old), who had suffered from multiple sclerosis (or something like it), but had received surgeries and helps to get him walking around again, albeit with the use of leg braces. Manuel is full of joy, walking back and forth asking our team “unaitwa nani?” (What is YOUR name?)

After lunch at Living Room – we drove back up the road to Brook of Faith School, where we kicked off our VBS program for the week! Again, the school and students received us with singing, a welcome ceremony and a “ribbon cutting” as we walked through the gate. All of the team jumped in head-first to their various activities: Mariah and Daniel did stories & snack; Sam and Max did crafts; Lauren, Jordan and Cameron did sports & games on the soccer field and Justin was our roving photographer. The kids were both attentive and energetic, and we were surprised by how well-behaved they were, especially as compared to our U.S. context. We taught them Swahili and English songs – including a song called “Imba Wimbo” which is like a “Father Abraham” in Swahili – motions and all. Our program ran pretty smoothly, and the team did awesome! I (Daniel) was so impressed with how each one fully engaged without fear or hesitation. After VBS – the school headmaster (principle) invited us for tea in typical Kenyan style, then we walked back to our guesthouse, many of us pretty tired from giving our all. We then enjoyed dinner and debriefing with the Tarus family – David and Allison – who are key community leaders and co-founders of Living Room.

This week, our schedule will be similar through Saturday – Living Room ministry in the morning and VBS in the afternoon at Brook of Faith. We are so excited for all God has in store for us! Thank you for your prayers – we feel them and appreciate them greatly. This week, you can pray for: stamina and strength as we adjust to full schedules, warm sun, higher altitude (about 5500 feet) and lots of activities! We are all healthy, but you can always pray for continued health. We are so grateful for your investment in our ministries and your support of this good Kingdom work! Love you all,

Daniel, Lauren, Sam, Cameron, Mariah, Max, Jordan and Justin

Justin being chased by kids during sports time! He is also our team photographer, so you can thank him for these great pics.

Our team took a quick tour of Amsterdam on our 8-hour layover!

Sam, Lauren & Mariah in front of our airplane from Nairobi to Eldoret (western Kenya).

Practicing songs outside of Nairobi airport.

Our new home, Shiloh Guesthouse – this is the living room where we relax and eat our meals.

Cam playing with beautiful children.

Lauren, the kid magnet. She is smiling with kids wherever she goes, and was given the Kalenjin name “Chep Bai Bai” – which means girl who is happy/smiling.

Jordan leading sports activities – the kids LOVED it!

Our welcome to Brook of Faith Academy. David Tarus, in the blue shirt, is our main host from Living Room staff and a Director of the school.

Touring Living Room campus and facilities.

Daniel greeting old and new friends as we were welcomed to Living Room. On the right is Pastor Ijeji, the Chaplain for Living Room, and one of Daniel’s old friends.

Our welcome to Living Room Hospice facility – Mariah had the honor of cutting the ribbon for our team.

Update #3 – East Asia

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Hi friends and family,

The East Asia team is here checking in! We have had an awesome few days since our last check in! Tomorrow it will have been a week since we departed from Jessup – that is CRAZY! It is hard to believe that we are almost halfway through our time in this beautiful country. We are having too much fun, so we are definitely not ready for it to be over.

Our schedule for the past few days has consisted primarily of ministry (and eating some delicious food). Our ministry mainly looks like walking around the college and local hangout spots trying to meet different people, get to know them, become friends, and ultimately, share the Gospel message with them. It can definitely be a challenge approaching people you don’t know and trying to strike up a conversation, but we have been doing our best and trusting God will lead us to the right people!

Our first day, we had a a little bit of a hard time meeting people. It felt a little awkward at first, but it didn’t take us too long to get into the swing of things. By our second day of full ministry, we had already made multiple friends! Zach and I had met one guy studying in a coffee shop and he talked with us for hours! He was so nice, he even got us lunch. Later, Zach was taken out to dinner by another student we had met on campus!

Overall, everything has been really fun and everyone we’ve met has been so nice. We have really enjoyed the local’s presence and willing hearts to help us out as we navigate the city. Already, we have had many amazing conversations and have learned so much about these people and their culture.

Please be praying for our team – for courage to continue to approach new people we meet in the city; for continued follow-ups with the friends we have already made; for God’s guidance and boldness to share the love of Christ in all of our conversations and interactions; and for energy as we walk around the city looking for people to engage. We love you all and are so excited to see how God will use the rest of our time in East Asia!

– Rachael, Zach, & the team

Update #1 – Kenya

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Hello from Nairobi, everyone!

Kenya Team just touched down after a LONG few days of travel, but everything went as smooth as we could have hoped for, so praise God for His mercies over our travel! We spent a few hours in Amsterdam on Sunday during our layover. It was great time of connection for our team and so fun to finally see them in-action outside of the US.

Everyone is going well and is so excited to be here. We are now headed off to our ministry site and will begin a few days of cultural orientation and getting acclimated to the time change (pray for that!) before we kick it into high gear with ministry.

Thank you all for your love and support! We are hoping for good Internet at our ministry site, but you just never know here in Kenya, so please be patient with us if it takes us a few more days to post an update! We promise to send one as soon as the Internet allows us to! For now, know that we are all healthy, safe, and so grateful to finally be here!

Love you all!

-Daniel and the team