Thursday, July 30, 2015

Firsts and Lasts

This past week has been kind of bitter-sweet as we head into our final few days here at Shofar. We have been really blessed to have some new experiences. On Wednesday, were able to be at Southern Bethany School for the last time this year, but we were able for their first time to work with their youngest students. We showed them the video that team two had made about Wisconsin. They laughed watching Mandy milk the cow, they laughed as screamed watching everyone sled down the hill. We were also able to teach them about loving God and their neighbors through the parable of the Good Samaritan. (None of us are really sure why there was a strawberry girl there that day, but who are we to judge…)

After this we went on to the Children's Shelter in Cebu City where in another first, we were able to teach some art classes showing the kids how to paint a native flower (Hibiscus) using watercolor. They all had an awesome time, (and so did we). It's cool how God allows us to use our specific skills and interests to serve the kingdom.

The next day when we arrived back at Shofar, we held our last Adult English class of the summer. We have been working on past/present/future verb tenses with them, so as a final exercise, we held mock-interviews. Answering the questions gave them a chance to practice a lot of verbs in very practical way. After this we held the graduation ceremony where the students were able to receive their certificates of completion. And it just wouldn't be a graduation party without cake, so we all indulged a little in a rich and savory chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

It has been a full and busy week, with plenty of things left to do before we come home. Please continue to pray, you are having an effect.

See you all soon

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Meet the New Teacher!

After a few months of searching, praying, poster hanging, and newspaper posting, we're excited to introduce you all to Gladys, our newest teacher at Shofar Learning Center! Gladys comes from Lutopan, a nearby town, and is part of a church there as well. She'll be teaching English at Shofar, which is her area of expertise. She likes the fact that our school is Christ-centered, technologically advanced, and small enough to really get to know the students here. Please continue to pray for Gladys as she begins this new venture of teaching at Shofar.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rain or Ulan? Which is it?

We can't always have sunny weekends, and sunny days. Like the photo of Toledo bay last Saturday morning. Today was a rainy one.  School got going and our daily tasks started to tick by.  And then it rained, for most of the day.  The kids here are great though, as the rain was coming in I could hear the kids thanking the Lord for it.  Its amazing what we can take for granted, and these kids see the rain as a gift, even though they couldn't spend much time in it, or outside.  When we did get a break or two before most of the rain, we took the kids outside to use a bit of the ropes course, unfortunately it was back to class when the rain drove us in. 

Gearing up for our week ahead and finishing projects and repairs is what is on our plate.  Our days are flying by now.  Wrapping it up is on our mind too, but also stopping to enjoy what God has given us is something that needs to be done.  Keeping up these relationships that we have built over the last few months is something that is also on our mind. And so when we have the time to sneak away from a task, ill be honest, its being spent with the kids at recess.  Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.  Team 3 out.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Not a Weak-End

We got to see a lot of both west side and east side Cebu Island this weekend. We started out Saturday morning with a trip to the Toledo City Jail. We were blessed to join with a group from a local church and teach about God's plan of salvation through Jesus to about 150 inmates. We also had the joy of reconnecting with some inmates we'd met on 2008 and 2009 trips, and we were encouraged by the fact that they're still following Jesus even though they're in jail.
Then we headed into Toledo for some shopping for new Shofar projects. On the drive home, we learned that there's more than one way to bike up a mountain!

On Sunday, we headed to Tabunok to join a church there, and enjoyed meeting new people, reconnecting with some new friends, and also being surprised with a visit from a long-time friend and ministry partner here.We're looking forward to a full week of ministry, adult English class, and Shofar school involvement, as well as beginning to close up Shofar as we near the end of our time here. We're trying to remember to take time to enjoy the beauty and the people here even as things get busy. Thanks for praying that we finish well!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy world!!!

Happy world indeed. This morning we were invited to Sothern Bethany school to conduct the morning devotions with the older grades. We showed and discusses a video clip on "Standing Firm", and then broke up into smaller groups to discuss. It doesn't seem to matter where in the world you are, high school students seem to all face similar struggles and temptations and need the help of God and the support of Christian friends and family to have a real and growing walk with God while they are in high school.

From there, we joined up with the older students from Shofar on their field trip to Happy World :) This is an art museum on LapuLapu which contains fantastical art of optical illusions. As you can see from some of the pictures, it is a pretty awesome place. The kids had a great time interacting with the art and taking pictures. Okay, the adults had a pretty fun time too. This was a super great place for the field trip this year.

Later in the evening, we were blessed with a beautiful sunset. Just a reminder of who the greatest artist truly is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What a good day!

So, to say the least, it was a good day. But actually it was a great day.  Laura Sperl started her day early along with Jeff and Junrey to attend the CEM Test Conference in Cebu City. It was an opportunity to learn how to pull data from the achievement test that our students take every year. And also a chance to meet teachers from other private schools.

At Shofar we filled in the gaps for the missing teachers. The oldest kids, during devotions, shared how they see God working in their lives and that it's not just lessons they have to read about for school.  We also had GREAT parent involvement today. They helped the students with computer lessons, Filipino history and anywhere else they could help out. At one point, I peeked outside during lunch and saw both of them playing dodge ball with the kids!

The kids here are awesome - it's always one of the greatest parts of our time here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

We've Got All Kinds of Class

With a full, blessed weekend in San Carlos behind us, we were excited to step back into action at Shofar today with our students during the day, and the adult English class tonight.
Repair work continues on the exterior of Shofar, as the building's getting snazzy new rain gutters. Our awesome neighbors have been spearheading the work, and they set up impressive bamboo scaffolding -which they cut down themselves- in half a day.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekend Update

Here are a few pictures from this past weekend's events. Team 3 traveled by ferry to the next island, Negros, to help out with a church in San Carlos. One outreach was an hour hike in the mountains! This was a beautiful walk and we were able to see far arcoss the island to the ocean. We had kids programs both Saturday and Sunday in which we showed videos about the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son from Luke 15. We also taught the kids new worship songs and played a couple of games reinforcing the lessons. Both Nate and Andy also had opportunities to teach at the pulpit. It was good to see other ministries committed to reaching people that want to know Jesus. I know that you pray for us, but please pray for these ministries as they continue to diligently work to spread the gospel.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Shhhh... it's reading time!

If you've ever been wrapped up in a good book, you'll be able to put yourself in the shoes of the Shofar kids devouring the books from their library. Thanks to faithful, yearly donations from JFB church and Wisconsin schools and libraries, our kids have access to a wide array of books: a rare treat in this area. Recently, they can't get enough of Junie B. Jones and the Ripley's Believe it or Not titles. Reading time at the end of the day is earned by students who have spent the whole day working diligently on their computer coursework. For everyone who's donated books to Shofar Learning, thanks! They're being put to good use.

As a team, today we continued to train the kids and teachers in how to use the new ropes course, taught in the school, coordinated projects around Shofar, taught adult English class, and prepped for ministry on San Carlos Island this weekend. We've been blessed with not only a lot of opportunities on this trip, but also a fun team to experience it with. We're thinking of all of you back home and praying for your full summer as well. We know you've been praying specifically for the details of what's going on over here, and we see the evidence of that!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Motorcycle Diaries and English Klase

We left Argentina on an exploration of our great continent of South America... 

Just kidding, but i did travel by motorcycle, riding behind our missions coordinator, Jeff, yesterday to get my visa extension, pick up some more supplies for some projects and take this really awesome selfie.

We continue to stay busy here. Our time is up only after three more weeks. We continue to make connections with believers and chuches in Cebu city, the crazy thing is that it feels so much like the book of Acts. When Paul would go and meet believers where they were at and encourage and minisiter and knit groups together. For instance we were able to have a bible study on Saturday where we meet with a couple of members from Street Level Global. After a really cool discussion and getting to know them, i heard the desire of one to start a medical mission in the hospitals of Cebu. My mind went immediately to one member of a church in Cebu, and we were able to get the ball rolling on that connection.  I dont know if anything will ever come from it, but its definitely worth praying about.

Today brought a lot of work around Shofar here. We've got a lot of upkeep of the grounds that i helped on today. The projects here can be endless, but that doesn't discourage, because we are making a lot of headway. The English Class after school is in full swing. The students that are coming do find it difficult but its encouraging because they have a desire to learn. If only we could build some relationships with these people. Wait for it. It is happening!
Thanks for your prayers.  And continue to keep our search for a teacher in your prayers.
Take care out there.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

It's Time for the Weekend Update

We rolled straight from the week into the weekend - no stops. Saturday morning we started our descent from the hilltop into Cebu; making our first stop at the Children's Shelter. They have a great facility with oodles of people working to support this ministry both Filipinos and Americans. We had fun playing with the kids. I was making pretend hot dog adobo out of leaves, flowers and other found objects. Saturday afternoon was spent finding places for Word on the Street magazines. Either we'd hand them out to people waiting for the jeepney's or had retail shops and sari sari's display them on their countertops. After dinner we had a fun study at a coffee shop where we had a great discussion about engaging people right where you are. Sunday we were able to attend our Missions Coordinator's (Jeff) church celebrating their 26th anniversary. Also attending was a group of Missionaries from a seminary in Texas; with all the individuals coming from countries in South America. Also we met a Japanese student learning English at the university. I have met many people from other islands and other countries, coming to Cebu and surrounding areas to serve God in their own unique way. I think it's great that God allows us to take part in this, too. Thanks for your continued prayers, it makes all the difference.

Friday, July 10, 2015

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

After a week of blustery winds, rainy days and cloudy skies, the sun broke through and God blessed us with a beautiful afternoon full of long shadows and warm light.
The Shofar students had a half day today, and at 1pm their parents came up for the bi-annual parents' meeting. We really enjoyed talking with them, and we were encouraged at the great turnout. They expressed their thanks for all the opportunities Shofar School is giving to their children.

When the parents and teachers headed home, we decided it was the perfect night for a walk to the local sari sari store to get some Coca Cola, and to stop and play a game of pick-up basketball with the neighborhood kids.
Along the way, we witnessed some of God's artistry Philippines-style.

We are thinking of and praying for all of you. Here's a team selfie to show our appreciation of your prayers. (That's Nate's "thank you" face.)

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful...

It has been a windy, rainy couple of days here at Shofar. The storms going by have kept the kids inside for most of the day. Do you remember having "inside-recess" when you were a kid? During the day everyone is kept plenty busy with their computer curriculum that covers; Math, English, Bible, and Science. When they are not working on their self paced computer work, the students attend lecture classes covering English Grammar, Filipino Grammar, and Filipino History. It has been a lot of fun helping thekids out with their studies. Although I have to admit that my brain froze up one or two times when I was trying to help a boy figure out how to express a mixed number as an improper fraction #%&??? I thought that I had put all of that math behind me.

The big question is, what to do at Shofar while we wait for the bus to take the students home. As you can see from the pictures, reading, playing Uno, and learning guitar are some of the popular options.

It is such a blessing to be able to spend time with the kids here. Many of your sponsor students have pictures of you hanging up by their desks and will ask questions about you and your families. You are making a difference here in the lives and future of these kids. What an awesome thing that God is allowing us to be a part of.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Out Towards Balamban

Where have we been? Where have you been? We've been right here. Ok, I take that back.  I mean we have been working in school here at Shofar. Which has been great, some of us have been working with the kids and their computer work.  Some other team members have been able to go over some test data that returned. We've all been able to be apart of devotions in the morning and we continue to bring in ways to encourage these kids on their walk with Christ.  We even got back into the swing of things with our Community Outreach after school yesterday, that being the Adult English Class that we offer.  So yes we've been here.  But we also went today to Balamban.  Have you heard of Balamban?

Balamban, Balamban. What is in Balamban?  Well, the funny thing is that Balamban is where we have our Shofar TV station located, but that wasn't why we headed in that direction. Hopefully that ministry continues to expand to other cities around the area, so we can always pray for that. Today, Balamban was the direction we went to hang up posters for a new teacher.  It was a blessing to be able to drop in and meet pastors and members of local churches from the surrounding areas.  We even got to play a little basketball along the way, all the while we were there with a purpose.  We made it back in time for the students at Shofar to get out of school.  The kids were oh so excited to leave, (kids will be kids, or maybe it was the fact that I had a camera.)  So, continue to pray for the school, new teachers to help join in our work here, and our team, for health and the ability to finish well. Thanks again for your support and prayers!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

We dove into a full week in the school today bolstered by your prayers and a generous amount of mid-day coffee. Between the four of us, we were able to tutor kids during their computer classes, sit in on English class, read books with the kids, and work on tracking their progress in their classwork.

The kids are learning Psalm 150:6, literally, step-by-step. But... who can say it backwards while walking DOWN the stairs?

Finally, a shady-looking character was found rummaging through our garbage this evening. We tried to shoo him away, but it turned out he was just looking for aluminum cans to recycle. :)

To those of you who have been here before, or who are praying for us, or are supporting missions, every day we see signs of the work you've done here over the years. Everything from the pictures the kids have of their sponsors hanging in their work spaces, to the fact that they're still obsessed with Uno after learning it last year, to the facility itself. Thanks for allowing God to use you here: it's a lasting legacy in the lives of the Shofar kids, and you've helped keep this mission moving forward in the vision God has for it. We were reminded today in our team devotions that we're one small part of a bigger picture of God's masterful work here.

Sunday, July 05, 2015


Today we had the chance to go to two different churches for Sunday service. It was good to see that there are many  churches working to share the gospel and the see the need for discipleship. The four of us had a good time sharing our experiences from the services. This afternoon, we had a chance to walk around the mine and we made it back to Shofar before it rained. We spent time this evening preparing for school tomorrow. We had a chance to see the kids Friday when we arrived, but it will be good to be back in the school helping out. Please continue to pray for the Shofar students as they're settlling into a new school year; that they would grow in their academics and most importantly their relationship with God.