Greetings from team South Africa!

It is now only one week left of our missions experience. Crazy! This week has been a bit different than the others weeks we’ve had. As I mentioned in the other post, there has been some fires in the area that have affected a lot of individuals in Hout Bay. In the community of Imizamo Yethu, there was a fire that burnt down around 3,000 shacks. More than 10,000 individuals were left homeless. So on Monday, we headed to IY to help with registering folk to get more supplies for their houses. On Tuesday when we were helping distribute clothing on the soccer field, there was a little boy that was lying in the middle of the field who had wet himself from waist to toe. We found him some new clothes and then proceeded to try and find his mother. Long story short, this turned into a “day care” of sorts for mothers who could drop off their kids while they sorted through clothes and pick them up afterwards. Although it seemed pretty chaotic at times, the mothers were so grateful to shop baby free.

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Fire in Imizamo Yethu

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Babies at our impromptu daycare

We also had the privilege of going on a little roadie (road trip) to an area of Cape Town called Stellenbosch, to participate in a kids sports ministry. So we slapped on our shoes and joined a tennis practice, and repeatedly were put to shame by 11-year-olds. It was awesome. Playing tennis also served as a good warm-up for our hike with the youth group from Bayview Baptist on Saturday. Lead by Pastor Burt all the way up to Chapmans Peak. The views were amazing.

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Mariah’s sassy tennis skills. Our “coaches” were amazing.

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Hiking up Chapman’s Peak with the youth group.

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Breathtaking view from the peak

“What might this week have in store for us?” is probably something you are all wondering. Well, let me tell you. This weekend is a long weekend for everyone in South Africa so not too much is happening event-wise. Mostly just saying our goodbyes, having a farewell party, and preparing for our trip back. Sad. Our flight leaves on Thursday evening and we land back in Edmonton on Saturday morning. Yipes. Three days of travelling–talk about quality time.

Some things to keep in your prayers:

Health – Russell has been battling a cold, which has made its way to Mariah and I. Stay strong, Grant. Pray that we will have the energy to finish our week strong.

To strengthen the hearts of those here and create a deeper passion for Christ. South Africa needs Christians to step out of their comfort zones and build relationships with those in the poor communities. It’s been crazy the effect just the four of us have had by being willing to walk around and get to know those in Hangberg.

Thank you for all your support! See you soon, Canada!!

Over the last little while the phrase, “we’re going on an adventure,” has slipped past Derrick’s mouth multiple times with what some may call a British accent. It all seemed to find its start as we were boarding a night train to Erdenet. General anticipation, and the sounds of the trains coming into the terminal, mixed with us hurrying to our cabin, made our hearts race and excitement grow. We are on an adventure.

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She took the midnight train to Erdenet

While on the incredibly hot train, we prayed and did debrief as a team. Our main prayer became, “Father, please surprise us – take us on your adventure.” There was something in each of us that wanted to see God’s greatness as our time in Mongolia came to an end; and oh, how our God does not disappoint.

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Goat herders just before we went horseback riding, and our Swedish friend Jakob, who is one of the three short-term language students we became really great friends with.

We started off our time in Erdenet by working in a coffee shop where we met many amazing people. God granted us great conversations, lots of laughs, and surprises along the way. As much as the plan was to be in the coffee shop, we often found ourselves in other places with little warning. We ended up in a military school, a school for disabled children, a sports night with a church, a youth group night that was hosted by an American woman, and hiking and wandering around with some girls we had met through another English club. Each place God put us, he equipped us for the moment. In the times we were with secular groups he equipped us to evangelize and be in relationship, and in the times we were with local Christians he equipped us to lay down our preconceived notions of who he is in order to be a part of their lives and worship in unity. God is transforming our hearts and the hearts of the Mongolians day-by-day.

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So long ago, Solongo (our guide) was looking out onto Erdenet

One night, La Dauna noticed that we had played the card game, “three blind mice,” almost everywhere we had been. She said that it’s interesting how the game we played the whole trip defines us. We are the four blind mice in Mongolia – we may have an idea or a plan, but we never know the outcome. As we are packing up for the trip home and getting ready to leave in a matter of hours, we still feel blind. A part of us is not ready to say “bayartai” (goodbye) to the incredible friends we’ve made, a part of us is looking back with adventure still in our hearts, and a part of us is fully aware how hard and yet easy it will be to come home. My hope for this trip was to fall in love with something about this place, and I am happy to say that we leave Mongolia feeling heavy today because we started to love.

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The road leading us to camels, horses, cow/yaks, eagles, and other great sightings

Join us in praying for those who do not know Christ in Mongolia, and in praising God for the outpouring of his love.

Hello everyone!

This is Team East Asia once again. These past few weeks have been incredible. They have also been challenging at times. We have had the opportunity to visit a few local homes. This has been a great experience and a great look into the lives of the people living here. Our new East Asian Aunt Mary hosted us for a meal and we were able to see her many animals. She also introduced us to the local community. She has been a great encourager and blessing to us.

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Aunt Mary and her animals

We have also been blessed by our experience at the foreign fellowship church that we have been attending. We have been deeply impacted by the sense of community. The expatriates in this area have an extraordinary connection to one another that is nothing short of His handiwork. It is inspiring and draws us in to be more instrumental in this field and opens many opportunities for growth and learning.

We were able to spend more time with our friend Sam who used to be a staff at the coffee shop and is now pursuing outreach opportunities. We had fun at KTV doing silly karaoke and eating American pizza. He was able to tell us how the type of work we are doing has been instrumental in his personal walk.

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The Chinese meal one of the teachers Susie and Aunt Mary made for us

Our daily activities are going well. The coffee shop has offered us many opportunities to share. Julia and Laura are now finished at the local Kindergarten and have been blessed by the children’s many hugs and encouragement from the hardworking teachers. Laura has visited the children’s English training centre for the last time. Through her experience there she has been blessed by her friendship with the teacher. The restaurant at which Chad and Luke have been volunteering has been very grateful for their help and very instrumental in their growth experience here. It has also fostered much learning and interest in possible future service.

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Playing games with the children

One of the challenging things that we are dealing with is confusion over where He is calling us. We are very sad to be leaving soon and will miss the people we have met very much. We have started to say goodbye to people and are not looking forward to the rest of the goodbyes we will have to say.

Signing out,

Luchalaju

Jambo Jambo from Team Kenya,

Since our last post, we have left Samburu County, and have spent our time near downtown Nairobi, working with Heart to Heart, and at Faraja Children’s Home near Ukunda. Our ten days in Nairobi were filled with many new experiences. After enjoying the “abundant” Kenya-time, we did some home visitations and went to church in Kibera (the largest slum in Africa). This a truly marginalized area of the city, and has walls around it so that the rest of the people do not need to see. The wealthy here pretend as if it is not a problem. The poverty is simply a front to the incredible sense of hopelessness and fear many of the residents feel. Yet, God always leaves a remnant, and there are many who are faithful followers of The Lord, and God provides for them. Early in the week we attended an HIV/AIDs support group, painted an office at the Prince of Peace Academy, and participated in a feeding program that Heart to Heart puts on. We felt tired of always being the centre of attention and always being paraded around. Being lead different places, we were expected to always be in the centre of things and we wonder if, us being outsiders, that does more damage than good. Our responses were less than typical in regard to the slums and poverty as we did not feel our heart breaking for these people, but rather looked past the stigma and just saw them as brothers and sisters. Some of our favourite moments in the city were cooking our own meals, trying local cuisine, including mutumbo (boiled goat intestines), the cultural dance at Bomas of Kenya, the National Museum, and all of the cribbage we played.

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Isaac teaching at the youth rally

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Kevin and Isaac entertaining kids at a feeding program

Later, we flew to Ukunda on the coast of the Indian Ocean and immediately the air felt heavy and sticky; we haven’t stopped sweating since we arrived. Our work has involved painting, gardening in oppressive conditions, and teaching at a youth rally. We have learned the proper method to retrieve coconuts out of the trees (chucking a hunk of cement from the ground proved rather ineffective). We enjoyed every moment of our time on the beach (aside from the beach vendors), playing in the waves, stepping on a minefield of spiny urchins and having the privilege of sun burning yet again. Spiritually, we are feeling quite healthy. It is easy to see where is God is at work here in the predominantly Muslim region of Kenya. We are thankful for the plethora of delectable treats to our palates, including fresh mangoes and coconuts, Ugali, chipatis and mandazis, and even fried minnows (which taste like grasshoppers).

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Enjoying some fresh Coconuts

We are thankful for the lack of complications on our trip, and the interaction we’ve had with locals, especially the children. Please continue to pray for rain and against corruption in the church, in the courts, and in the government. Pray for strength and health as we finish here and return home. Luke 10:2 says, “The harvest is great but the workers are few.” So pray to the Lord who is charge of the harvest. Ask Him to send more workers into His field. The harvest is rich in many of the unreached Muslim areas of Kenya and in Somalia, so pray that there would people to go and show Christ’s love to these people and win them for Christ.

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Working in the tomato shamba (garden)

We look forward to seeing you all again.

Hello everyone!

As I write this I am sitting in some very bright sunshine and relishing the sunburn I hadn’t expected to get on this trip! It’s been very warm the past few days in our new location of Knin. Split was a beautiful city to spend our past week in, and we were able to work with many different organizations in the area. However, it very much had the big city feel, and diving into street evangelism was a bit of a challenge for us. I remember praying early on that God would give me a new boldness for Him–in fact, our whole team prayed that prayer. I don’t know why I would have doubted Him, but to my surprise, He slowly answered that prayer, and over time, talking to strangers became easier! It was hard not to be captivated by an overwhelming feeling of emptiness and loneliness surrounding us in the culture there. God seemed to be a distant and cold source of life – a tradition and nothing more. But His hand is moving in Split, and we continue to lift up the ministries there that are slowly restoring the Gospel to His people.

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Worshipping in the square has certainly helped us stay in tune with God during our stay here in Knin

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Turning a new page in the type of evangelism we may be used to. These are the books we’ve been able to hand out on the street

We’ve been here in Knin for a few days now (since Wednesday), and we’ve had the pleasure to work with a local church of only 14 members. Street ministry has been the focus of our time here, which has included worshipping together (in English, German, and Spanish), distribution of Christian literature, skits, and cultural dances by a couple of the Argentinians in our crew. One of the women from the church has been sharing her talent of creating animal balloons, and we’ve just added face painting to our repertoire for the kids. It’s really been lots of fun, and also very encouraging to see so many stop, listen, talk, or take books. We’ve been praying quite a bit over the hearts of these people which we’ve found to be very hardened, and we would be encouraged to know that you are lifting them up as well! As a team, we 3 have been pretty great – God continues to work in us reminding us why we are here, and we are realizing more than ever that if the only thing we leave here is encouragement to the local ministries, then that is enough. We have been very surprised to find how much our presence has blessed the ministries that we’ve been with, and I believe this has added a lot of meaning to our trip. We may see little to nothing come of the work we do here, but our prayer is that we may see even a little of what God has been doing for years.

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Cultural dances have been a part of our street ministry, keeping the whole program a little more upbeat

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Krka National Park. Just falling in love with the beauty of this place

-Team Croatia

Good morning friends and family!

Well, it is morning here in Hout Bay and a very beautiful one it is! Mariah and I (Kelsey) are currently sitting at a coffee and crepe shop just down the street for a much-needed cup of strong coffee (that’d be tea for Mariah, of course). Yesterday, our team and Pastor Deiter hiked up Table Mountain and it happened to be the hottest day we’ve had here with next to no wind. We had to walk up stairs the whole way, but the intense calf burn and buckets of sweat were definitely worth the view. I now understand why Table Mountain is such an important place in Cape Town!

This week flew by like lightning as we continued to lead Bible stories and songs at the school and hang out with kids that attend the aftercare program. There was a slight change to our regular schedule on Monday morning. The teachers at the Sentinel (the elementary school) wanted us to lead a Bible lesson at their monthly assembly. Well, it went more like this: “You must do the Bible lesson at the assembly on Monday.” So, we lead the Bible lesson at the assembly in front of 900+ kids. Talk about capital “T” terrifying. Yet, God was good, as He always is. We weren’t as nervous as we expected and the kids absolutely loved the songs. After the lesson was done, we found ourselves in a different part of the school and a very shy, small girl tapped on the back of my leg. She led us to her classroom to talk to her teacher, but we soon found out that it wasn’t the teacher that was wanting to talk to us but the small girl. She was very quiet, so I had to bend down and basically put my ear right next to her mouth. Her request was completely unexpected and blew me away. In the smallest, teensiest voice she asked, “Can you pray for me?” She wanted healing, saying that she had pain all over. After we prayed, she was all smiles and said she felt great! Amazing. When I looked around the classroom, I saw the rest of my team spread throughout the classroom praying for kids that desperately wanted prayer. The kids were literally lining up for prayer. This experience was so very foreign when compared to what we normally experience in our culture back home, but it was incredible to witness the spiritual hunger that exists here, even within the kids.

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Kids in the grade R class

This week also consisted of being involved in worship, sharing our testimonies at the Sunday morning service, and helping out with the youth group. It’s been an exhausting week, but we’ve loved spending time with the folks here in Hout Bay.

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Fire in Imazamo Yethu (a settlement in the Hout Bay area)

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A fire just right by our house here in Hout Bay

Some things to keep in your prayers:
• ENERGY. We’ve powered through the first couple weeks, and it’s starting to catch up to us. Please pray for strengthened bodies and souls for each day.
• There have been a couple fires while we’ve been here and another one started this morning. Please pray for those who are being directly affected by it. A significant number of shacks have burned down, three people have died, and there are many, many burn victims from the fire this morning.
• We could use prayer for team dynamics as we continue and gear up for another busy week.
Thank you so much to all who are holding us up in prayer! We can’t wait to tell you stories in person. Love you all!
-Kelsey

Hello all!

Team South Africa has landed and we are all finally over the jet lag nastiness. Praise the Lord. All four of us are staying with Deiter and Angi’s kids, Jarryd and Ashley, and Jarryd’s wife Khara. We live in an area called Hout Bay, just a 10-minute walk from the beach. I know, just the worst.

The first week has consisted mainly of meeting people and figuring out what kind of routine works best for the group. Some background information to the area: Hout Bay is split up into 3 different communities: a wealthier community in between two poorer communities. These places have very big social boundaries and it is rare to see anyone of some wealth inside the poor areas. As a result, a lot of our ministry is just beginning to break those social boundaries by meeting and spending time with those in a poor community.

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The Church (Bayview Baptist) we attend and encourage while we are here

In the mornings we head to an area called Hangberg, and we spend time with the Grade R (kindergarten) classes, leading songs and acting out bible stories. The kids are all very energetic and absolutely love the sheep song. Who doesn’t though, am I right? After hanging out with the kids we usually head to the church up the hill, enjoy some food, and spend some time in the Word as a group.

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Us at the afterschool program we help out with at Bayview Baptist. The kids love the mini guitar and can’t get enough of our long hair!

From there it varies from day to day. Most days we help with the after school program for kids, do street ministry, or go on hikes with locals. As you can probably tell, the culture here is very different from Canada, and at first, it was very confusing and we were a little frustrated with a lack of structure. However, we have quickly learned to just take one day at a time and soak it all in. Yes, that includes the sun and we are trying not to get too burnt, though Kelsey has not fully succeeded.

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The view of the school we spend our mornings at from the back of the church

Please pray that God would continue to provide for us and the team, especially financially. We are hoping to do some outreach events with women, and another with young men, but financially it isn’t in the books right now. Also, as we mentioned above, this area really struggles with big social boundaries, so keep in your prayers that God would provide people and opportunities to show God’s infinite, inclusive love. Pray for the people of Hout Bay to step out of their comfort zones and interact with those of different communities. As Pastor Dieter always says, “we need to create a kingdom shaped church, not a church shaped kingdom”.

Thanks for all the love, prayers and support, friends! Love you all!

Team South Africa

Hello
friends and family!

We are almost reaching the halfway point here in East Asia. We are getting more comfortable here, but are constantly reminded how different the culture is than in North America.

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Busy street full of food vendors

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A delicious dish of Wontons

Not many people know English so we have been trying to learn some phrases in the local language. Our vocabulary, while limited, has been a great help to us. We have been enjoying trying to communicate, but it still can be frustrating at times.

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Us and our new friend

We all have been stretched out of our comfort zone, doing things that often don’t come naturally to us, such as teaching kids and talking to people. We have been spending our evenings at a foreign language club. We talk to people and if they bring up religion, we have the opportunity to share our faith. Though challenging, this has been a favourite part of our time here. Many of the staff and customers have become believers as these conversations take place.

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Chad going through the alphabet at the training centre

Chad and Luke have also been helping out at a local restaurant that focuses on outreach to its staff. This has been an awesome experience to understand how different forms of outreach work and to learn from those who have experience in the field. Julia and Laura have been working at a preschool. It has been difficult to communicate because of their limited English. However, we have been blessed by the joyfulness of the children and how cute they are.

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Laura listening to a child read a book at the English training centre

We look forward every day to trying new food and exploring the city. Thank you to everyone who has been talking to the Father for us. Please continue and may the Father be with you!

Sincerely,

Team East Asia