Monday, May 31, 2010

...Smarter than a 5th Grader

Our first day with the Youth Group at Freedom in Christ church was a great time. It helped that we got to know many of them already at the reatreat last week. We showed them a video of our life back in Wisconsin (lots of snow, cows, etc.) We also played the always-exiting Telephone Pictionary...
Today we began testing the potential students for Shofar Learning. This is our first of three days of testing, and things are going well so far. Our friend's from the Lutopan church helped us with translation. We all agreed that we Americans would have had a tough time with the test.... "What is the consonant digram in the word "chill"...? Yeah.
We took the new jeepney for our drive down the mountain. It seems to be running well so far. Some of us applied the new "Shofar Mission and Learning" decals on the sides and back, and it looks great... We're all looking forward to the arrival of the short term team tomorrow. They're currently somewhere between LA and Hong Kong. We look forward to seeing their reactions as they see (and hear and taste) this place for the first time.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dili Joe Dinhi

It's Saturday afternoon. The youth camp ended this morning, which means that we had to go home to Shofar and take care of things, like laudry, cleaning, burning trash, etc. The youth camp was a huge blessing to us, because we really had a great opportunity to get to know the youth in Freedom in Christ Church. We are really excited for tomorrow to go to church and to youth group in the afternoon and show them the video we made of Menomonie places and things. Now that the youth camp is complete, we turn our attention to the school and meeting with the children and their families. We also look forward to the team coming on Tuesday, which reminds me....we have not had rain here in a long time. This could potentially turn into a big problem for us, because we get our water from, well, the roof and it is then collected into a cistern. We are doing our best to conserve water, but without rain, we will eventually have to take time to get the water from somewhere else and haul it in. So please pray for rain. In lighter news, I have yet to see a spider at Shofar and have only seen geckos, some which are huge, but that's ok by me. I'll take a gecko any day and I am sure that Ryan would agree.... Ryan, we heard a story from Nathan that you neglected to tell us??!!
The pics are of the youth camp. Tim hula hooping, Our group pic, and then enjoying a cold Coke.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hey Joe!

Yes, we are here finally... after 24 hours of traveling by plane and waiting in various airports we have arrived to the beauitful island of Cebu. After walking up the mountain we were at Shofar! To say the view from Shofar is breathtaking is an understatment we are truly in a tropical paradise. Later that night we all drove to Lutopan and ate with Lando and Evelyn at their home and got our first taste of Biko and Roasted Chicken.

Last night we began the Youth Camp in Lutopan with Freedom in Christ Church's youth group. This year we are watching the video series Crazy Love based off of Francis Chan's book. Each video poses various questions at the end of each segment, to keep with the dicussion style study we split off into groups to discuss further the concepts presented later the youth got to get up inb front and give their group's answers. Today we have another full exciting day at the camp with more discussions and videos.

No trip to the Philippines is complete without the truck breaking down it seems. Last night right after leaving Spring Park a loud pop was heard and immediately after pulling over we found that a belt broke in the engine. Luckily Lando was nearby and Tim and Lando were able to take Lando's motorbike up to Shofar to get a replacement belt, only to get to Camp 7 and get a flat tire. Luckily they were right by Edwin's house so after waiting an hour we had a new part and were back on our way home. Please pray for us, that we have strength to get through the day and that we continue to meld into a closer group. Well thats all I have We love and miss you all :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Game TIme!

Well, I have come to realize the importance even though I have not mastered it living with a willing attitude. Much in this life is new to me and certainly this mission, I have had to train my mind to live with a willing attitude and to react on the truth. I expect this trip to challenge me, and I wish I could tell you in what way's. I have my ideas of what those challenges may be but funny enough God seems to reveal a whole different plan and purpose. I would be lieing to you if I was to say that I'm not kind of apprehensive of what to expect. I cant really fathom the whole idea right now, it's very much to strange to explain. I know what I know through the knowledge that I have gained, now its time to put to action. If I close my eyes I can see myself in the locker room preparing for the game, geared up, helmet on not knowing the fullness of what to expect but knowing what my team is expecting out of me. Now its time I put to practice the things I have been taught, to be the athlete that God has made me into . Game Time!

Getting sober

Looking ahead to the next three months is a little... sobering. Realizing that such a great opportunity lies before myself an the rest of the team makes me sit back and consider the gravity of it all.
It's been fun over the past few years to watch the long term teams as they gave us their weekly updates at Wednesday services. But, it's going to be quite different this year as *we* give the weekly report to the church as to how things are going in the Philippines.
I'll be sure to face the challenges of heat, language, personality conflict, as well as experience correction, be faced with my own inability, and possibly even fail at times... However, through all this, I can also look forward to God's mercy, grace3, comfort, power, guidance, stability, and vicotry. I have no doubt that I'll come to understand my need for God's presence at a greater depth than I know now, and it will likely come through some difficulty.
I think we as a team has quite an opportunity to do a great deal of work for God's kingdom and do damage to the work of the enemy. I look forward to working alongside this team of people, and pray that we'll grow to be greater soldiers and worshippers of God this summer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Didn't the last team just get back??

That's what it feels like at least. In less than two weeks we will be boarding a plane and heading to a few of us on the trip into the "unknown". You can learn as much Cebuano and cooking skills as you want but the real final lesson and test hasn't happened yet. I can say I am looking forward to seeing the sights, sounds and smells, more important is meeting the people I have yet to meet.

What will this summer bring? New experiences, a new school, concerts, new friends and a new changed person. I can't wait to see how God strip off layers of things that hold us back from really knowing him; the things that distract us here will be gone, our willingness to lay down our lives put to the test, the willingness to learn and to be pushed. This reminds me of Paul's words to the Romans:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation .”

I pray that we develop the strength of character in each one of us.

To Do's and Not To Do's, that is the question...

How do you prepare to go over to a country you have never been to, let alone go for three months? A lot of prayer, a lot of advice, a lot of reading, and a lot of lists. It doesn't seem real to me yet and people that have been there say that it is not real until you get on the plane. So I am preparing for something that I have never seen, smelt, tasted, or touched. But God is in control. I am putting my life in His hands because He knows what is going to happen even if I don't. There is plenty of things to do but what not do is more important:

Not to do:
Freak out
Stop talking to my Savior
Stop reading God's word
Think about myself
Leave everything until Saturday before we leave

God is the center of my life, my Lord, the most important thing not to do, is to rely on my own strength and forget God. I would not be going on this trip and would not have such a blessed life if it weren't for Him. So like Tiff and Erik said, I am looking forward to growing closer to Jesus this summer, to loosing a few spiritual pounds so I can run faster and do more for God, to growing closer to the team we are going over there with, and to meeting in person, our family on the other side of the world, faces of people that I have only seen on Facebook.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

My New Summer Weight Loss Program

Some people who have recently spent 3 months in the Philippines say that they lose a few pounds due to the healthier diet, the opportunities for much more exercise, the lack of temptations to eat what one might crave, and of course ALL the sweating going on! With that in mind, I wonder how much I'll lose. I also wonder how many "pounds" I'll lose spiritually speaking. So what is it that I really want to lose? Well, in short: my me first attitude, my tendency to think that "Hey I'm alright", my inclination to freak out, and my ever consistent laziness. With that being said, it almost pains me to say that in order for me to lose this extra weight, several things need to happen in sync: Holy Spirit and imminently (meaning: hanging threateningly over one's head) challenging situations.
So, yes, I know its gonna be tough, but in the end I wanna be closer to Jesus. Please keep me in prayer that I would specifically lose "weight".

2 Weeks before takeoff...

It does not seem like it was all that long ago that Tiff and I were at Shofar for the three week trip last summer.  The last year has gone by incredibly quickly.  Day by day I have a mixture of nervousness for the upcoming trip as well as excitement. I realize that I will have struggles on the trip, that there will be many difficulties but I am also nervous that I will go through the trip without growing as much as Jesus wants me to grow and in the areas that he wants me to grow.  I expect to come back a different person in some way, maybe not largely visible, but more confident in my relationship with Christ and more of the man that God wants me to become and who knows what else.  I am also very exited to see the people that we met last year again and to see the changes that have happened at Shofar since last year.  There is a lot to look forward to this summer but as we prepare to leave those two things are on my mind.

I am excited to see what will happen on this trip and very excited to be going with the group of people that will be staying for the summer.  Please pray for us this summer and specifically these last two weeks as we make our final preparations.