Monday, July 27, 2009

Haiti Day 9



We woke up our last morning and found out Kirslyn, one of the member on the team, was sick all night! The first flight we were to get on was the 20 seater puddle jumper plane with no bathrooms, so we were thinking of rescheduling our flight, but God heard our prayers and by the time we got to the plane she was feeling a lot better. We said our goodbyes and started our day travel. It was a long day. From the small flight we arrived in Port au Prince and hung out in the airport bardering the people in the airport with last minute gifts. Our flight to Miami was delayed so we hung out with another team who just got back from Ecuador and was traveling back to San Francisco to their church back there. After getting on the plane we learned that there was a problem with our engine and another delay of 45 minutes until we could take off. 45 minutes turned into over 2 hours and people got off the plane to go get food and then finally the engine was fixed and we took off making this flight another redeye through the night. We arrived in San Francisco at 12:30 and didn't get home until around 2am. It was a long day of traveling but most of us got home unable to sleep because of excitement and a head full of thoughts. My second major prayer request beside team unity was for the reverse culture shock in transitioning. Praise God because the transitioning this trip has been very smooth. I felt like God used this trip to prepare me for my mission's field back in San Jose, giving me a refreshed renewal in truth that He is coming back and there are only two things that you can do on earth that you can't do in eternity: pray for others, and tell people about the salvation found in Jesus! I felt God call me to missions back in Peru, but I will serve him missionally where ever I am, and for this time I am in San Jose. Thank you all for your prayers for our team and for the Haitian people! God was so faithful, and we saw His power to save even the darkest and hardest heart! Our God is MIghty to Save!!! Zephaniah 3:17

Haiti Day 8





This was our last full day in Haiti. We woke up early to go down to this little river where JeanJean was going to baptize 4 of the girls from our team. The men's choir came to sing and the elders board came to share with the experience. We read Romans 6:1-14 and Acts 8:26-40. In Haiti the people wait a long time to get baptized because they believe that they have to wear their best clothes. These girls JeanJean said, were such a huge influence to the Haitian people that you can come and be baptized as you as. Acts 8 talks about the Enoch who sees water and decides to get baptized. After the baptisms we walked most of the way back to the compound talking and then once got picked up went back to eat breakfast and start the day with last touches on projects. Some of the guys went to finish up laying cement floors, others served at the medical clinic outside the compound, some painted the mural and others organized supplies that were brought. Later that day we got the opportunity to go pray for Andre, a man who has been practicing voodoo for 60 years. He asked us to pray for him and again I was humbled by the Haitians humility in asking for prayer. Andre said he wanted to become a Christian some day but he had a contract with the devil he had to complete. Through JeanJean translating we got to witness to him and tell him that the contract Christ made with His blood is a larger contract than one with the devil. Still, fear binds and blinds those practicing voodoo, but Zuel came along and got to share with him about his days practicing voodoo and how God saved him from it. Andrea asked us if we would continue to pray for him that one day he would come to know the Lord. Please continue to pray for Andrew and for JeanJean and Kristie's ministry. That night we got to pray over the missionaries and had our last night of devotions before the men's choir came. This choir consisted of a group of younger men in high who formed together in hopes to witness to others the hope found in Jesus Christ. It was so encouraging to see such faith in these young men! Most of us went to bed after packing, but a group of us stayed up playing cards to savor our last night together! (check out the group photo with Andre in the middle)

Haiti Day 7





Today was the last day of VBS. This day, 80 new kids came but to our unknowing they were a group of toddlers who were pooped out and ready for nap time half way through! :) we had the same 4 station rotation with new games, but by the end the kids were falling asleep as we carried them. Again we got to have the shoe distribution and it was so neat to see how God provided shoes for the kids with different sized feet to the end. Even when we thought there wasn't one for a girl and her size shoe, but.... what a surprise, there was one more left hidden under the suitcases that matched her outfit perfectly! After lunch and the Nutrition Center we went on the food distribution prayer walk. I think this day was one of the most powerful days for the team. With beans, rice and cooking oil we went to houses in the community and got to delivery food that would feed their families for a week and then pray for them as JeanJean translated. We were supposed to do this on day 4 but because of the rain this was the first day we were able to! It was so amazing seeing the ways that God provided when we would arrive at a home and a widow would praise God with her hands in the air at the answer to prayer when she ran out of food that morning. It was God's divine appointment that we would go this day and not 3 days earlier. With the theme of giving out shoes we got to see a man on the side of the road whose muddy shoes that were held together only in the center by his laces. I tried to give him my shoes but they were too small, so another guy on the team game him his shoes that again fit perfectly! JeanJean said that he wasn't a believer so we got to give him rice and pray for him! It melted my heart that God would use us as His instruments and that we would be able to witness His power and His answer to prayers of the people who were praying for food! More than half of the team came home barefoot that night and it was a powerful night of devotions and testimonies. God put on my heart to share, and with such vulnerability of our team, walls were broken and your prayers of unity were answered! I shared with the team that I had been feeling spiritually attacked all week long with lies of inadequacy. I learned that many on our team had been being fed those same lies. Satan's plan of attack God blessed in our humility before each other and it brought team unity through prayers by our team leader making the night end with such a close knit that they next day God gave strength to our team in a whole new way! If you remember my blog from the freedom Summit conference, my heart broke for the human trafficking in the world of 27 million today chained in prostitution, and labor not able to experience physical freedom. This night I felt a spiritual freedom from so many lies! God broke those chains and I felt such a freedom! video

Haiti Day 6




VBS was going to be this day so when we woke up had breakfast and had a time of devotions we split up into how VBS would go. There were 140 kids that came and we broke up into 4 groups.. some that played out in the fields, others that did indoor crafts, another group that did indoor games, and another that did outdoor crafts and then formed a rotation. We performed a drama about Daniel and the Lions den and sang songs with the kids. WestGate church did a fundraiser so that we could bring shoes with us to Haiti. After VBS and the nutrition center, we got to fit kids for shoes and find an outfit the would fit them. It was such a blessing to see the smilies on their faces as we took off their broken muddy old shoes and give them fresh new ones that we later found out was a requirement for kids to get into schools. I think this is what Jesus called us to do when he gave the example of washing his disciples feet. Thank you WestGate Church for all the shoes you provided and the smiles you gave to children!
Later that night some went to another night service where one of the pastors that JeanJean is training walked 11 hours the day before to get there, got to speak. Those who went said it was such a blessing. Cambri and I stayed back and played guitar and had some time to read and journal. Later the elders board came to share with us the Vision of their ministry and the ways the Lord has been working! It was so great to hear and see how they work together and their humble hearts in all there is to do in the area but their patience in God's timing! So cool to be able to witness this mission's board!

Haiti Day 5




This day we went into the market to get an idea of how shopping is like. One of our translators Dawald is getting married soon so we each put our money together to buy him a goat. After the market we hiked through the cornfield to go see the water project they people had been building and Tracy and Elise decided they wanted to get baptized while in Haiti! :) When we got back from the market we were supposed to go out and do food distributions and projects but it rained again, so we joined Kristy's English class and later went to Zuel's house to pray over his house and his family. Some people went out and did projects working on laying cement floors, others organized for VBS and others painted the new chairs in the church. At night we had devotions and more in our group got to share their testimonies and we went inside and read and journaled together around the table and we each did individual reading and devotions. I think this was my favorite night of the whole trip just everyone sitting together at the dinner table and sharing and encouraging each other with verses and singing together. Each night we would climb into our beds and check our nets to make sure no trantulas got inside during the day and then pass out until the morning. I think this night the boys woke up hearing voodoo drums and spent the night in spiritual battle on their knees praying for the witchdoctors who are still blind to the truth. I have to admit though, we had one prayer warrior of a leader and such a great influence to us all!

Haiti Day 4



Each morning I woke up at 5:30 wide awake and ready to start the day. Most people would sleep until breakfast, but the Haitians would be awake at 4 to get work done while it was still cool. This day I woke up early and play "Big Booty" with the little girls (it's like a game of signs to move up to the kings seat.. or Big Booties seat). After breakfast we all piled in the back of the truck to head over to the church where some of the translators spoke as well as JeanJean. They spoke on James 5:7-12 on patience. We sang Mighty to Save for the congregation and then after went back to the compound until we had the next service at the worship center down the street. After that service a lot of the Americans stayed and hung out with the younger Haitians and practiced English with them and got to learn about their families. We all went over to the soccer field and some played, others did jumprope and frisbee and volleyball. Sunday is considered the sabbath day so we just hung out and played games with the kids and fellowshipped over dinner and late night conversations after devotions that night.

Haiti Day 3



This day we actually woke up at 4ish to leave for our hike to the Voodoo caves at 4:30am to beat the heat. It was a 5 hours long hike through cornfield and grass higher than our heads, up rocks and into the mouth of cave which is thought to go all the way through the mountain. It was so much fun, lots of laughter and stories which I think could better be expressed through a video we are going to make! Before entering the cave there were two boa constrictors in trees right above and I closed my eyes and cried to get inside the cave. Inside the cave we saw skulls from sacrifices of voodoo ceremonies and had bats fly around are heads and we jumped from rock to rock dodging bat guano. When we got back we had devotionals and talked about the common language we could share with the Haitain with laughter and singing as we heard it everywhere we went. This is probably the day when "Mighty to Save" became our theme song and the starting point of it being sung many times a day in front of the Haitian people. In waiting for the heat of the day to pass, we played card games, maffia and chatted about Matthew 5:16 before lunch and Youth group. Youth pretty much means any age as long as you aren't married. We played so many fun games, sang songs, read from Ephesians 4 and during a game rain started to pour on the worship center so much that we couldn't hear anything as it hit the tin roof. The Haitians we use to it, but to the Americans we ran around and played getting drenched and playing slip and slide in the puddles that formed inside the church. It's funny thought because July is known to be the driest month of the year and man did it pour! That night some of the girls got their hair braided and the men's choir came and performed for us! Choir is huge hear and groups of men and women will form groups and write their own songs. It was so encouraging to hear their songs about eternity in heaven and the same language we will share in heaven when we are all there together, as JeanJean translated all that he was saying. I was so blessed by the things they were singing about and to see their joy in the way they sang their songs to Jesus! There is such joy in Christ and such a simplicity his truth that transforms lives!! video

Haiti Day 2



Day 2 we were all planning on waking up at 4:30 for morning prayer with the Hatians... but that didn't happen as none of us heard our alarm clocks and some much needed sleep after being awake for over 40 hours and lots of traveling! Instead we woke up and have devotions together where the floor was opened for people to share what God was speaking to them or share verses. Tracy's mom wrote her letters for each day to open and each day she shared them with the team. We discussed possible service opportunities for the day and the team broke up and served in different areas. Trip one got to finish a house and people in the community helped them to build it. Kristie and JeanJean thought it would be a blessing if we could build a house for a family who helped the family from trip 1 build a house. A group of us went to help them lay cement and build the walls. We made cement from dirt we wheelbarrowed in and walls out of rocks that they shaped with their machettes putting the dirt cement between them. One of the ladies there was teaching me how to balance a water jug on my head.. I wasn't very good but their lady could even dance around with it on there! This 11x11 house hosted a mom and dad with 10 children. We soon got to learn that family is a huge part of the culture and the first question people will ask you in how many brothers and sisters you have. Again I got to meet someone who was studying in the Dominican Republic who spoke Spanish! So cool! After working on the house we went back to the compound for lunch and to the worship center to play with the kids and balloons and with the parachute. After games we went over to the pavilion to help at the nutrition center. JeanJean and Kristie have a feeding center where they feed 50 kids 4 times a week. We learned that $1000 dollars covers this for a year. It was so humbling to see the older siblings feed their younger brothers and sisters first as they blew on their food and fed them. Others would eat just a few bites and then pack it in their bags to bring back to their families. What a difference in the community the nutrition center is making, Kristie said that just few years ago people use to call this a place that nothing good could come from. Now children are being fed, people are coming to the Lord, and singing and laughter just are a few of the visual signs of the inward impact that is happening. Later that night after dinner and worship and devotions, Zuel, a witchdoctor who became a believer, shared his testimony to us and gave us a little background about voodoo. Voodoo is based around fear, and belittling other people while lifting up self. I kept thinking how these practices manifest themselves in the US in different forms... fear and pride. We were all so blessed to hear his story and see the transformation of what Christ did in his life and how God used his Word to save him. JeanJean one night heard the voodoo drums going and went there to their ceremony and shared John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he have his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" with them and Zuel came to him later with questions. Just being obedient and sharing with Zuel, God opened up doors for this witchdoctor to be saved and lead other witchdoctors to the Lord. Zuel's prayer is that his children will not remember what he use to practice so they would be able to walk with the Lord. Please lift up Zuel and his family in your prayers!

Haiti day 1



Wow that last few blogs have been really long and I'm sure really overwhelming for you all to read so I will try to keep this a little shorter! Looking back on my journal entries I just want to give you an overview of what God did each day on our trip!
On Wednesday night we met at the church to carpool over to the airport in San Francisco and took a redeye to Miami and then a flight from there to port au prince in Haiti and then a smaller 20 seater plane to where we would be staying. On the flight into Port a Prince I met a man names Japel who gave a warm preview of the welcoming Haitian culture. Quoting from my journal "His smile showed a bright spirit about him and I am confident if I don't get to see him again we are family through the Lord. My eyes are being opened to God's kingdom and the people on earth whose hearts have been changes by the power of Christ. My head is just racing with thoughts and in all I feel refreshed, excited and a new sense of freedom that we are going to Haiti! What's even cooler is that while waiting o get on our flight I was able to use the gift of Spanish to help a lady find her flight. I remember praying for that gift and what a blessing it was to study and travel to Peru for 7 months and learn not only the language but the culture to parallel it. God's strength is sufficient in my weakness ad I have a feeling we'll all see a new level of weaknesses on this trip! Thank you Lord for allowing me to be able to go on this trip and to be able to meet the Hatian people and experience their amazing love and extreme faith in you! I feel all the prayers for our team and I'm excited to see what God has in store to teach us and new ways to break us!"
Our third flight landed in a small grass field where Missionaries JeanJean and Kristie greeted us and took us back to the compound where we would stay for 10 days. Dirt roads, pot holes. riding in the back of the truck, sleeping with bug nets, and a new meaning of hot... It was an exciting night as we all settled in and got ready for bed!

Home from Haiti and prayers answered!!


Wow I can't even begin to express the gratitude to you all for your prayers while our team was in Haiti! We saw God show up in amazing ways and a team bond and work so well together as we returned to the states as a family! I got to journal each day of the trip, and I will blog each day with photos in the following posts. But first I wanted to copy our amazing team leader's letter to our team in returning to San Jose! It is long but it gives a beautiful overview of all that God did in Haiti in just 10 days!

Hey Team 2!

It is with mixed emotions that I’m sitting here typing this… I felt ready to come home, but I’m sitting here with a cup of Haitian coffee in hand missing all of you. Although last night was the best night of sleep I’ve had in the last ten days (and with no mosquito bites!), I greatly miss being in Haiti. If I were still in Haiti, I would be sitting out on the patio with you enjoying a cup of Haitian coffee, breakfast and great fellowship and sharing. Haiti is a special place you are most definitely a special team.

God showed up in amazing ways on this trip! He turned a group of people into a ‘team;’ no, a ‘family.’ He stretched us all and used us to do awesome things, many of which were outside of our comfort-zones. And the Haitian people were blessed because we allowed God to work through us. I was thoroughly impressed with you Awakening folks and the community you have, your passion for Christ, your willingness to serve Him, and that you weren’t cliquish at all, but embraced everyone on the team equally. And our devotional time was amazing too. We shared our stories, God showed up, and we saw release from bondage to the enemy’s lies. You guys are truly a gift – thank you for your authenticity and honesty.

Now that we’re home and missing Haiti and our experience there, do not let the enemy of your soul rob you of your joy and victory. Following are some thoughts I had planned to share during our last devotional on Thursday night, which was shortened because the Young Men’s Choir performed for us (weren’t they amazing?!)…

You met the challenge
We all surrendered to Christ on this trip and allowed Him to use each of us. In doing so, we were each challenged – some with giving up the comforts of home, some with getting on an airplane, others with walking by faith, or leading, or giving, etc.

We had our priorities challenged – Some sacrificed financially; not only the cost of the trip but also any earnings while in Haiti.
Mt 19:21 – Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

I was humbled and inspired by Zourel’s faith and obedience. He gave up everything to follow Christ – the only livelihood he’s ever known, his home, and the threat of death. Would we be so faithful? I hope so!

We had our faith challenged – God has asked us to do the impossible.
Mt 14:16 – Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
I found myself overwhelmed with just how great the need in Haiti is when we were doing the food distribution and praying for people. But we made a difference! And, I was overwhelmed by the joy the people had, and how thankful they were for what we were doing for them. We made a difference!

We had our small thinking challenged – I think God has given each of us a greater vision
Mt 28:19-20 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Some of us did things or endured things we thought we couldn’t do. We overcame fears – weather, flying, spiders (ok, maybe Dave didn’t overcome his J ); we did warfare against the presence of evil and voodoo in Haiti; we took captive the lies some of us have been in bondage to for years; we showed love to people who looked and smelled very different from ourselves; and we shared our faith and laughter with these precious people. Expect to become more than you ever thought possible
Mk 1:17 – "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

As you settle back into our comfortable California culture, what do you need to let go of to follow and serve Christ more effectively? In which areas is Jesus challenging you? And how are you going to respond?

Be on guard for discouragement
We heard testimonies about discouragement and how the enemy has been attacking many on our team, some recently and some for years. Discouragement is the anesthetic Satan uses before he carves out your heart. Discouragement is universal, repeating, contagious, circumstantial, and deadly. I found myself battling discouragement on Thursday. Satan wants to rob us of our joy and the testimonies of what the Lord did in and through each of us over the past 10 days. Do not let him do it. Cling to the promises of God. Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest if we do not give up.” That’s a promise!

God deals with people in the Bible on their future, not their past. Jesus has paid our debt in full. Satan will try to dredge up your past and tell you that you’re not worthy, capable, or good enough. He’ll try to strip you of your faith in the future in order to rob you of your power in the present. Don’t let him do it! Fight! Claim the promises of God. Call on our Haiti team for support – I’m willing to go to battle for any one of you, and I have confidence that you will do the same for me.

Anticipate obstacles
Refuse to give in to fear, anxiety, resentment, discouragement. When Jesus entered Capernaum, the friends of a paralytic man found the crowd so great that they couldn’t get their friend to Jesus through the door, but they didn’t turn around and go home. They looked for a way around the obstacle.
Mk 2:4 – Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.

Start serving
Step out in faith. Allow God to continue to use you here at home the way he used you in Haiti. You don’t need to be overseas to be used mightily by God.

Raise your expectations
The friends of the paralytic man were so convinced that Christ could and would heal their friend that they dug through a rooftop to get their friend to Jesus. They did this with great expectation of what God would do for their friend.
Mk 2:12 – He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

Don’t let Satan tell you that you can’t do something for God. Don’t let him tell you that you’re not able, worthy, talented, valuable, brave, strong, or smart enough.
Phil 4:13 – I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

God is working in your life, but continue to allow Him to work through your life.

Become the answer to someone else’s prayer. We as a team were the answer to someone’s prayer when we delivered rice and beans to the oldest widow in the region, and she praised God because she had no food for that day (or any to come for that matter). We were the answer to the prayers of many when we provided shoes for every child in each nutrition center that Kristie had identified as in critical need of shoes so they could attend school. Praise God!


Keep praying
Continue to pray for Andre, and all in Haiti who are in bondage to voodoo and the fear it breeds. May our Haitian brothers and sisters experience the joy and certainty that is hope in Jesus Christ.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you and appreciate all your unique gifts and talents, and all you brought to our team. I miss you and our time together in Haiti, but I anxiously look forward to serving with you both here at home and on future trips (possibly to Haiti again). Thank you for being an awesome team.

Blessings!
Garth

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Idea of Events in Haiti and how to Pray


So I know this is a long post... phew! I just copy pasted in what I got in an email to give an idea of what we will be doing each day to give you an idea in how to be praying for our team! Although looking at this list may be helpful for guidance in how to pray, check out the WestGate blog (http://westgatetohaiti.blogspot.com/) that we will be updating to know what is really happening!! :)

"The following is a general guide of what we will be doing and when. There is a lot that will change and will come up unexpectedly. Please pray as the Holy Spirit leads you.

Thurs:
Arrive at approximately 1-2PM. Eat at house.
Tour and getting people acquainted with third-world livin’–orientation
Nutrition center finishes about 3:00 PM–may have time to introduce people to kids.
4:00PM --English conversation class
5:00PM–the local kids gather and play soccer, etc. Can do some organized games with them.
Supper and devotions–
May need to organize supplies
Possible evening activities: s’mores, stargazing, singing, games, movie in the community...

Please pray that…
Jetlag to be minimum
We get safely to the Mompremiere’s home
Everyone stays healthy and adjusts to the food
Our team would bond and function as a Biblical community
Everyone is able to sleep through the warm nights


Fri:
4:00AM Bible study service at the nutrition center—not mandatory!!! IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO PREACH AT THIS–LET US KNOW
Breakfast and devotions
8:30-Noon Women’s leadership class with Kristie in teaching gazebo–IF THERE IS A WOMAN WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEAD A BIBLE STUDY FOR THIS GROUP THAT WOULD BE GREAT–ALSO A CRAFT COULD BE DONE, IF DESIRED
**For everyone else–here are some work projects available:
-organize supplies brought in by team
–cement floors/putting up roofs for community
-Painting–painting doors and windows in Mompremier house–stenciling and another coat of paint on outside of dorm (first coat was water based) or in the community
-Carry rocks for road repair (basically laying rocks in ruts)
–clearing ground for basketball court
–rock walls for erosion control
~Good time to go over VBS stories/crafts with translators
Lunch
PM VBS
Prayer walk, if home in time–food distribution
Supper and devotions–

Please pray that…
We adjust to the heat and humidity quickly (Cloud cover would be nice :)
We are open to the Holy Spirit’s leading
We bond with the kids in the community which will be hanging around all week
Our translators will be blessed and able to translate effectively
We will be able to share with minimum amount of nerves both with the team (devotions) and with the local Haitians

Sat:
Optional hike to the cave in the mountain–should leave by 5 AM (bring breakfast/water) will take several hours. Wear good shoes, pants/shorts recommended. Fairly strenuous
Breakfast for those not on the hike
For those not wanting to go on the hike; continuation of above projects if desired**
Lunch
2:00PM UCI Board Meeting–a chance to talk with UCI’s board members here in Haiti–ask questions, get to know the people of UCI–in teaching gazebo
4:00 PM Youth group meets–prayer walk with them/food distribution or another activity–TEAM COULD PLAN AN ACTIVITY
Supper and devotions
Men’s choir concert at the house

Sun.:
Breakfast (team make their own) and devotions
Church in Am–9 AM Sunday School/ 9:50 AM church–PREACHING OPPORTUNITY
Children’s church during this time if group wants–can do a craft here, if desired
Lunch (team make their own)
PM Sunday afternoon informal service at around 2:00 in nutrition center gazebo–
possible soccer game or game in afternoon
Supper (team make their own) and devotions


Mon:
Breakfast and devotions
Go to the open air market
–chance to go to local bakery and maybe the public water system
Lunch
PM VBS
-4:00--English conversation class
Supper and devotions

Tues:
Breakfast and devotions
continue with same projects**
JeanJean’s pastor’s class during this time
Lunch
PM VBS
Prayer walk, if home on time
Supper and devotions
possible choir concert by a local youth choir

Wed:
continuation with same projects**
Go to the cave that it is only 15 minutes away.
JeanJean’s class during this time
Lunch
PM VBS
-Prayer walk, if not done in the morning
-Supper and devotions–

Thurs:
continuation with same projects**
Lunch
PM VBS
-Prayer walk,
-Supper and devotions–

Fri:
Breakfast and devotions
Finish packing up for trip home!!"

Yay I'm so excited! Please keep in prayer the transition back home.. I feel like from previous trips that is usually the most difficult transition and a larger culture shock!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Haiti Here we come!

Tomorrow the second group will be heading off to Haiti! We will be passing the first group in the air as they head back to San Jose. I'm so excited after reading the blog of the group that is there now! I can't wait to see what God will do in the lives of those in our teams and the Hatians there! What a blessing to be able to go and serve and experience what God is dong in another country! To keep updated while we are there check out the blog that WestGate has and that we will be updating while there! I'll update more once we get back! :) http://westgatetohaiti.blogspot.com/

I just wanted to share a cool story. Our small group this last spring semester decided to start fundraising money through recycling. Through our group of seven girls and 3 weeks we raised $68. We decided to take this recycling idea to Awakening (Young Adults Group that I intern for) and fundraise money as a group! It was a fun event with lots of fun announcement videos for it! I have to admit I found a new hobby through doing this and a new revelation that you can make money off of recycling as a fun way for a new game! After our Sunday Ultimate Frisbee games, dumpster diving became a new fascination and every bottle found was like a prize in getting one step closer to fundraising for Haiti. We got creative and raised $154 more in the next month! So fun!

July 11th Wedding!





The Wedding was so beautiful and so much fun! A lot of dancing, pictures, fun memories, and one gorgeous bride! The night before we had the rehersal and then went out on a ferry on the lake at the resort for dinner, and then the wedding party stayed at beautiful Raystown Lake Resort! Check out more pictures on facebook! I went a little upload crazy today and yesterday! :)http://www.facebook.com/jessica.birchard?ref=profile

Friday, July 10, 2009

Christy's getting married tomorrow!! :)




I would like to introduce you to my best friend Christy Cannon... soon to be Christy Junod (18 more hours). Christy and I have been great friends since we met in our 8th grade year. Although we only lived in the same state for 2 years, the 7 years that followed grew our friendship in long distance with so many fun memories and trips back and forth to see each other! She has been such a blessing in my life and such a huge influence to my faith. Her family has become a second family to me.. and now the family is growing!! Christy met Anthony her freshman year of college in a shared class where they studied together and then soon after started dating. With the wedding in Pennsylvania, where they both graduated from Penn State, they will begin their lives together in Southern California! :) It is such a blessing to have a great friend as her in my life and I'm so excited to be able to be able to witness the joining of two such wonderful lives and families together!! Yay Christy and Anthony!! :)

(Christy is in the red in the first and green in the second picture)

Meet Erik and ALysa! :)





This last weekend on the celebration of American's Independence day, my old Young Life leader, declared his dependence to Alysa in the union of their marriage! It was such a blast to have old Young Life friends together in a reunion celebrating the life of our old Leader to his new bride!

To get a brief background, Young Life was a huge impact to where God has lead me today. During a time in high school, (where some may call my rebellious year) I went to a Young Life club and got connected in going to their camp at the end of the year. It was at that camp that I learned of my relationship with Jesus as something personal and intimate and began a new journey. After that, I quickly jumped into becoming a leader for middle schoolers and embarked on a life changing experience as Erik took a group of us to Peru! Erik had such a huge impact on my life in introducing me to World Missions through our Young Life trip to Peru in 2005!! It was such a great blessing to be able to witness him and his new wife on their new wedding day! :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

First time to see the ocean!


A friend from work, after being in Thailand, had developed a heart for the country and the people there. He has been tutoring a young boy from Burma English and invited him and his father to go to the beach here in Santa Cruz. I was invited to go along as well. On the ride over I learned that this would be their first time ever that they would see the ocean! I watched in curiosity their face expressions as we drove up and got out of the car. A strong Burmise culture that didn't seem to give much emotion, expressed itself quite differently as I saw a smile come to their faces as they stood on the cliffs overlooking the water. What a sweet thing it is to witness a father and a son together. The father encouraged his son to get in the water as he skeptically walked around, and the father jumped in the water splashing around in the freezing water without a wetsuit.

It's funny how something that I learn to take advantage of began to come into a new light as I started to appreciate their simplicity and point-of-view. I felt so blessed to be able to share in their excitement and try to remember experiencing something so great for the first time! I sat on the beach reading "through the Gates of Splendor" by Elizabeth Elliot imagining what it must have been like for these men as they set foot into Ecuador and began to learn the language before beginning their ministry. Although frustrating at times, that time of preparing creates some of the best and fruitful memories. I'm so thankful to be back in San Jose for this season. I have been blessed beyond measure with amazing friends, godly older women, trials that are growing and humbling me, and a God who promises to never leave or forsake me! I pray that my eyes would never become immune to the blessings He is constantly pouring out!