Thursday, July 22, 2010

Christmas in July

God has been doing great work in and around us. The cold has been heavy over the past two weeks, but our times with the children have increased, for they are on winter break. Still, we would to share the personal time our team has had this week.
God blessed us this week with a vacation. The officers of the Concepcion corps invited our team on a trip with their family to see snow. Tuesday morning we arose bright eyed and bushy tailed at the hour of 6 a.m. to begin our journey.
The team was in one van while the officer’s family and our things were in another. Still, our vehicle didn’t make it far….it broke down with a flat tire, but our spirits would not be broken. While waiting for the new car to arrive the majors joined us with hot coffee and the singing of songs. After a short time, a new van arrived for us and we started the journey again. Slowly we began to see a powdery substance coming from the sky… was SNOW!! We were stopped after a while and were required to put chains on the van. While waiting Melanie couldn’t stand it, she jumped out of the van and began to enjoy the snow! We all followed and began making snow balls! Now, how many summer service corps teams can say they played in the snow on their trip, but wait, there is more (much more)!
We arrived to our cabin after a little bit of a struggle on the driver’s part (they got lost), plus the snow was coming down heavier! There was already about fifteen inches of snow on the ground when we arrived and it was impossible for the cars to pull into the drive way! We all got out and had to start hand shoveling snow out of the way so we could park the cars. We had to push cars, move snow and wade to finally get into our cabin.
After a while, Morgan, Beracah, and Melanie couldn’t stand it anymore….we ran outside and played in the knee high snow. Despite the snows inadequacy for the perfect snow ball, we still had fun running around throwing it at each other, tackling the others into the snow, and making snow angels. It was cold, but worth it!
As the night progressed the team was called for family games! Despite the language barrier we had an AMAZING time playing and singing LOTS of songs. The night ended with plenty of laughter.
We awoke the next morning to even more snow, and a bit of a problem…..the cars wouldn’t start, the snow had buried the vans, and the owner of the cabins was requiring us to leave. What were we to do but to start gearing up for the snow? We quickly packed the cars and began pushing, digging, and shoveling to get the car out. We had to walk in front of the first for a short distance to get it back to a semi-cleared road. Thankfully, that car at least started on the first try, but we were not so lucky with the second. This one took much more effort and time. Thankfully, one man was kind enough to pull it with his truck to get it started. We can honestly say that as a team we prayed the hardest we’d all every prayed in our lives. After hours of pushing back and forth we finally started our slow journey back home. The van we traveled in (which was revived only through the awesome power of God) had many problems along the way, and what was supposed to be a four hour trip ended thirteen hours after we started. Over all, we had an amazing time, and had the unique summer service corps experience of snow. Today, our arms are tired from it all, but our toes have begun to finally be warm again, and our spirits are unwavering. We want to finish our last few days strong.
Can’t wait to be home soon and share more of our stories with you all. We love you all!

Oh, and here is a picture of the mountains we saw, and hwere just over them lay Argentina.

Want to know what the Holy Spirit has been up to lately? Read on!

Hello from Portugal!

I hope you all are sitting down and ready for what this post has to say! I'll give you a moment to do so just in case....

Okay so now you're ready!

As our last post stated, we had the incredible opportunity to participate in Portugal's Youth Councils this past Saturday and Sunday. Throughout all last week, the Lord had been giving us so many visions, scripture passages, and words of specific instructions on what was to occur on Sunday of the Youth Weekend. I am ecstatic to report that the Lord came through in a mighty way! All four of us had a specific role to play and the Lord told us this two days before it actually happened. Bethany was to be the Spiritual Wisdom, Phillip was to be drawing the Lord on a big poster, Abby was to be showing the youth how to praise the Lord in the front of the room, and Kendall was to be the Holy Spirit's intercessor and touch the crowd one by one to give them the Lord's love. Yes, these things actually happened! Bethany preached the Word for almost two hours, in English, and they all understood everything she said through the Holy Spirits power. Phillip drew the most beautiful picture of the Lord, just to give Him more praise and glory. It was breathtaking. Abby sang songs over and over again and praised the Lord in the front of the room for everyone to see the glory of the Lord shine through her. I went around the entire crowd and hugged every single person, as the Lord led me to. I also spoke in perfect Portuguese through the Holy Spirit. Because we were willing to have faith in the Spirit and be used as the Lords vessels, every single young person came to Christ for the first time or recommitted their life to Him. I wish with every single bone in my body that everyone could have witnessed this beautiful piece of heaven that was Sunday morning. Praise God for working in Portugal in mighty ways!!

We left for Sintra (where the camp is located) for the last time this past Tuesday. We just got back to Lisbon today (Thursday). We went to camp for the last time to have a special three day camp for children who live at a Childrens Home called Novo Mundo (New World). These children are special and beautiful creations of God. Novo Mundo is a Salvation Army sponsored Childrens Home for children who are taken by the government from their families because their parents are not able to care for them properly. The government then gives the children to Novo Mundo where they live and are taken care of. While the children are there, the government tries to help the parents get back in society and clean themselves up so they can receive their children again. It was such a blessing to love on these beautiful children! We went to the beach with them and the swimming pool here in Sintra. It was hard to know that they have parents who cannot take care of them or, for some of the children, parents who abuse them. On the other hand, we praised God for having those precious children in His hands and directing them to the loving arms of The Salvation Army. We gave hugs, kisses, and the love of the Lord to each and every child. The older children invited Jesus into their heart this morning as well! Praise God!

We are now back in Lisbon and have Friday and Saturday to rest and relax after a taxing summer here in Portugal. We have church for the last time in Lisbon on Sunday and then have an early 5:00 AM flight back to the States. I cannot tell you how much this summer has blessed all four of us. We have learned and loved and been a blessing to others as well. We will never forget the faces and the love we received during the summer of 2010 in the beautiful country of Portugal.

Thank you all so much for the many many prayers! We love you all and will be back in America on Monday! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Here is a digital image of the team, along with the two young ladies (Iana in blue and Lucia in pink) who will be continuing the work of the Army in Lviv. We're on top of high tower that overlooks the entire city. We had to climb approximately 37,000 stairs to get to this vantage, but it was so very worth it. Enjoy our smiling faces!

I Promise We Are Alive!!

Well hello again! Team Portugal has had some internet connectivity problems recently so this is the first time in long time that we are able to post! When I say "internet connectivity problems" I really mean that Philip broke the internet so we are having to post from the Divisional Headquarters here in Lisbon. Its okay though, we forgive him ;)

The last post told you all that we were going to a Childrens Camp to lead games and fun and to teach them about Jesus. The Camp went perfectly! We were able to connect even more with the children that were at the Music Camp, the week before Childrens Camp, and we met many new children as well. There were a total of 42 children in one house (not including all the staff members and the SA Officers who ran the camp). The team had the incredible opportuity of being counselors in the actual rooms with the children. You may be wondering how we managed to control 42 Portugese children without knowing their language. Well, we learned the important words like the following: sit down, be quiet, go to bed, and STOP! These words were much appreciated :) The best part about the Childrens Camp was on the last morning they were there. The Lord had been putting something very specific on our hearts all week about this last morning the children were going to be there. He told us all how important the decision making meeting was going to be and that we needed to pray over each child. We were a little worried about how to do this, seeing how our Portugese isnt the best quite yet. BUT! The Lord is stronger than language. We were able to break off into groups with the children and have a translator in each group. When we asked, "Whoever would like Jesus to live in their hearts, please stand." Tears came to our eyes as we watched every single child stand up boldly to answer the call. The Lord, through us, led 42 children to Christ that morning. Praise Him!

Last Sunday we traveled 2 1\2 hours to Castleo Branco, Portugal for their Sunday afternoon meeting. Some Corps here in Portugal do not start their Sunday meetings until later in the day so one day of sleeping in a bit was very nice! We showed up in the hot, beautiful city of Castleo Branco and quite a sight was awaiting us! We were not only perticipating in a Sunday afternoon meeting, but we had front row seats to a wedding as well! The hall was decorated, the candles were lit, and the groom grew more nervous as each second passed. Major Sarim spoke after the wedding about relationships and how important a God centered marriage and relationship in general truely are. We enjoyed the day very much!

We are back in Lisbon for this whole week. We have been leading meetings at various Community Centers around the country this week ministering to the older persuasion of Portugal. We met one woman who was 104 years old! Their sweet smiles and lively spirits were such a blessing to us! We were able to bless them with The Word but they blessed us by just being themselves!

On Saturday and Sunday we will be helping lead Portugals Youth Councils back at the big camp house in Sintra. The Lord has been sending visions, words of encouragement, and specific instructions on what is to happen on the Sunday morning of the Youth Councils. The Lord is preparing the way for something big and I cannot wait to tell you all what He is going to do through us four, as His vessels. Please bathe this weekend in your prayers this week and especially Saturday and Sunday. We will tell you all about it in the next post. Expect great things!

Overall, please rest assure that the Portugal team is continuing to do Gods work. We have not quarreled one bit. We have not been discouraged. The Lord dwells inside us and it is evident that His will is being done in this beautiful country!

PLEASE KEEP PRAYING! We love you all!! Miss you! Be back in ten days!

P.S.- Tonight we are going to watch a bull fight because the Divisional Commanders wanted to show us something "cultural"!!! We are all very excited! We will post pictures of the blood bath next post ;)

Kendall and the Portugal Team

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm Not Procrastinating, I'm Waiting on the Lord!

AHAHAHA. Sorry, I was still laughing at the hilarity of the title of this update. Sometimes I have to just sit back and enjoy how incredibly witty I am.

Just kidding. I'm actually not as arrogant as I am witty.

Moving on ... Yesterday God showed us a thing or three about waiting patiently for Him and His timing. The work we are doing here in Lviv is unique in that the official Salvation Army presence here was all of one week old when we arrived. So, our mission is to get out and spread the word that the Army is here and ready to integrate into the community. Our first day was okay, but difficult as the weather was non-cooperative. (I was equipped with many tools as team leader, yet failed to receive a simple weather-control machine? Ridiculous.) However, we did make a few contacts in the time we spent in one of the parks. We were able to lure them in with the gift of that fanciful, if temporary, toy - the balloon animal. So the line was cast and we had a few bites. Good stuff. We set up a time to meet them the next day, in the same place. We arrived the next. In the same place. We waited. (On the people, and possible the Lord too. Still researching.) They did not show. We did not lose heart though. We simple grabbed our various satchels full of handcraftery and balloonage and headed off in a random direction. As we neared the exit of the park, (Which, sidenote, is gorgeous beyond words. Like something out of an old timey movie film.) the group of kids we had met showed up! It was nifty. We busted out the parachute, which induced incessant laughter from the kiddos, I tied off a few more balloonskis and the day was won!

Well, the day hadn't ended yet, Eddy, you're getting ahead of yourself. Indeed I am, inner-monologue. Indeed, I am.

So we moved on. Regrouped and went to attack another park in hopes of drawing children nigh unto us. We arrived, and lo, nary a milechik or devotchka to be found. Dude! Weak. We thought this was going to be a treasure trove of kiddos! Take that confidence and hope! But alas, again we did not become discouraged. There were girls rollerblading who rollerbladed their lil' selves over to us and struck up a conversation, at which point I hit with a one-two punch of intense balloon art, action-packed awesomeness. I was all like BAM - Flower! BOOM - Dog! And they rolled off into the sun, happy as a bowl of borscht (Editors Note: "Happy as a Bowl of Borscht" is an uncommon saying in Ukraine, as no one ever says it in Ukraine. It's origins are unknown, but can be traced back to the fact that I have had some strong Earl Grey this morning, making happy as a bowl of borscht. The More You Know!) We decided that being in this park at this moment was just not right for the outreach we needed to do. Even though it actually was right. More on that at 11. We told the Rollergirls that we'd be back that evening, and to spread the word.

From there we went and acted like tourist for a few hours. I bought a gift for a very special lady in my life (you know who you are [hint: it's my Mom]). Even while we were on our way to the homewoven handicraft section of town, the Lawd was a-workin'! Amen? Amen! On the bus ride, a woman asked me what we were doing here. Not that unfamiliar a question, except for the fact that it was in English. That was surprising to me. We ended up having a short conversation about what the team and I were doing in Ukraine and so on. Maureen then talked to her and told her about the English language club that the Army would be offering. She was very interested, since she said her English was waning in recent years due to lack of use. It was just another example of God working in His perfect time. We actually missed our bus stop because of that conversation, but it was "all good" as the kids say. A few extra footsteps for the chance to spread the word of the work going on here is totally worth it, ya feel me?

Following the touristy stuff, we headed back to the park we had visited earlier and busted out the ol' trusty 'chute again. Immediately, even before the parachute was unravelled, I started twisting balloons. I didn't stop until over 2 hours and 4.7 million balloons (out of which approximately 3 are still inflated and shaped like a recognizable figure). The parachute and the supposed former carnie (me) attracted TONS of people. The word of our presence here spread. People we extremely interested in the programs. It was very, very cool. The parachuting only started though because the Roller Derby Queens came back and brought a couple of their friends. How cool is that?

We all left that place, my fingers twisted into the shape of a dog and flower and the girls upper arms aching from parachute play, feeling on top of the world.

We waited patiently, God inclined His ear to us and He heard our cry. Awesome.

Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

-Team Ukraine

PS. Photos are forthcoming!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wow, time seems to be flying by us. We have already finished our first week in our second location. It is as cold as ever, but the Holy Spirit’s fire keeps us warm at night (wow, that’s deep)….

The Concepcion corps is a very traditional corps, but the people are just as welcoming as the Hualpencillo corps. We have spent the majority of the week with the officers, Majors Carlos and Patricia Aguilar. They are new officers to the corps; arriving to the appointment from Peru just weeks before the earthquake happened. Still, they’re mission has not wavered. We were driven several times throughout the week to the devastated town of Dichato to work in the school, and meet with a women’s group. It takes about an hour of bumpy, curly roads to find this community. We have given several “hora de gozo’s” (or hour of joy) to the local school. The kids have been amazing and so tentative, listening to us assure them of God’s love for them. Other opportunities have been playing a pick up game of soccer with kids. The area around them is terrible, but the kids have still found a way to keep being children.

While in Dichato Thursday, we met with a women’s knitting group (which all of us enjoyed, considering we have been learning). We performed our choredrama for them, and it was amazing the outcome. Major Aguilar spoke a few words after our performance. When he made an invitation for the accepting of Christ as ruler over their lives, seven women raised their hands! Major asked each of us to pray over them. The Spirit of the Lord was truly working in that room. The picture included was taken on the beach of Dichato, one thing the community can have unwavering pride for their community.

As a team, we have felt this week has been one of our most instantly productive weeks. Don’t get us wrong, the past three weeks were wonderful outreach, but the fruit from it will probably not be seen while we are here. Where as our work this week, and the next two weeks, have a bit more fruit that we can see now.

We have also had the great chance to simply hand out War Cry’s. (For non-army readers this is literature produced by The Salvation Army.) We have found ourselves standing in the middle of the city handing them out. As in the States, some avoid all eye contact, for fear of being caught to talk, yet others have given us conversations and even chances of attending the corps. This activity has definitely been a highlight for us.

As usual, we request prayer. This week we would like to specifically ask that you keep the officers of the Concepcion corps lifted up. They are far from their home and family. Their spirits are sweet, and we pray that their spirits would infiltrate the city of Concepcion, so that it may be a city on a hill…..

You're Invited

The Salvationist Service Corps will return on Monday July 26 full of stories and testimonies of how good the Lord has been to them. They would like to share those stories with you!

Please join us for a time of story-telling, picture-sharing and special numbers as the teams inform us about God's goodness to them in the countries of Chile, Portugal and the Ukraine.

Where: Atlanta Temple Corps Dining Room
When: July 28, 6:30 p.m.
What: Cultural Night

There will be heavy appetizers. So come as you are and hear about the awesomeness of God.

Please R.S.V.P to if you plan to attend.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, July 09, 2010

God is a Cool Guy

The title of this post is true. I have confirmed it here in Ukraine. God is so cool. His timing is perfect. His compassion is endless. His grace is free. His love is boundless.

I walked along the riverside here in Dnipropetrovsk and I had an overwhelming sense of peace. I also had an overwhelming sense of being way to hot for it to be 9 in the morning, but apparently that's Ukrainian summers for ya... Back to the spiritual stuff - God is in control. Here in Ukraine. In the States. In Haiti. In your fears. In your life. In everthing, He is working for his divine purpose. Whatever it is that is troubling you, stressing you, causing you to lose sight of His plan and His omnipotence, may you know that He is working in it and that He'll be there on the other side of it as well.

It's been awhile since the last update, but our internet access has been scarce. We spent a week in the small village of Rulykov. It was absolutely idyllic. Along with growing potatoes, zuchinni, cabbage and other vegetables, they keep chickens at this TSA Outpost and these chickens (from my understanding) are a big part of keeping the place open (in addition to saving them tons of money on alarms clocks). Their operating budget is very small, but they make the most of it. I cannot express how necessary this Army installation is. The children spent most of their days there. They got a delicious butter bread with cheese and glass of tea when they arrived, then another meal before they left. Besides eating (which was one of my favorite parts of life there) there was a time for Bible study and handcrafts for the kids. Oh, and I cannot leave out Football (Soccer for you weirdo yankees). I played more football in the first day there than I ever have in my entire life (no exaggeration). This fact, along with the manual farm labour that we took part in for the entire week and the all-natural diet we have been eating may explain why I can't keep my pants up and my shirts are starting to look too big on me. No complaints here. :) I will not mention Rulykov without talking about the officer who is in charge there. Vera Nikolaivna is another one of those amazing one in a billion people that you meet in life. Her heart, love, compassion and kindness was poured out everyday in abundance. The way she interacted with the children, her hospitality to us, her love for the work to which she has been appointed - it all exemplified the Christ-likeness that all of us are called to and so few of us truly achieve. I want to be like Vera Nikolaivna when I grow up.

Our week in Rulykov was capped off by the Divisional Youth Camp wherein approximately 60 young adults from all over Ukraine descended upon Rulykov for some camping, seminars, bonfires, fun and fellowship. It was a very relaxing weekend. Copious amounts of UNO were played. And by copious, I mean COPIOUS. Other than UNO there was also some water balloon fun; some excellent food; Avatar, Almost Heros, and Rat Race on the late night cinemas (all in Russian, naturally); roasted marshmallows; volleyball; football and one severely overused outhouse. It was great to get to meet the youth from all over the coutry, especially since we're here for such a short time and we are not able to go everywhere and meet everyone. This weekend also let us reconnect with some of the friends we had made up to this point, which was a nice bonus.

Our weekend ended in Rulykov and we travelled to Kiev to catch a nighttrain to Dnipropetrovsk. Night trains, up to this point, have not been kind to us. This one however was incredible. It was airconditioned, newly remodeled and comfortable. I slept for almost 6 hours on that train, which is precisely 6 hours more than I have ever slept on a night train. Someone was praying for us and the prayer was answered. We all needed the rest after an intense week like that.

The week so far in Dnipro has been excellent. The young adults that make up this New Horizon (not an official Corps yet) are among the most hospitable and friendly people I have encountered, not only in Ukraine, but in my lifetime. We have visited two Children's Shelters while here. At the first, one of the guys from the corps and I assisted the some military types and police officers in doing some manual labour around the orphanage. It was dirty, exhausting work, but it made a difference. The ladies on the team did some weeding that made a big difference as well. We also spent a lot of time with the kids palying with a parachute, doing balloon animals, handcrafts and just getting to know them. It was hard to leave at the end of the day, which is a feeling we are all experiencing more and more as each week ends. The next day was spent at the home of the grandmother of one of the Dnipr youth. It was a great day. We ate homemade borscht (which was the best I've eaten in Ukraine so far), then went for a picnic on the countryside. Few times in my life have I seen a landscape so beautiful. While on the picnic we played some UNO, had some conversation, ate Ukrainian style shish kabobs, and just enjoyed the scenery. The following day we visited another children's home wherein we sang some songs (King of Kings, which we all now know in Russian, Ukrainian and English and one we learned here called L-O-V-E that has been a big hit wherever we go), did some balloon animals and handcrafts and just got to know the kids there. Again, it was hard leaving them behind, but we know that they are in good hands, spiritually and physically. Following that, we made more Vareniki with the people of the corps and spent some time with them. I got to satisfy my craving for table tennis by playing for a few hours at the corps. Good times. The evening ended with an English language class at which Christi gave a presentation on American Art and Gessica taught a few praise and worship songs in English. We also played some intense charades. (Some people think taxidermy is a difficult and not an often enough used word. I disagree.)

That brings you up to date! God is doing great things here. He is still in control. Continue to pray for us and all of Ukraine.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,

Team Ukraine

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July to our fellow Americans in Portugal, Ukraine, and our families at home! Things are going well here in Chile. We are wrapping up our last week working with the Hualpancio corps, and we will all be sad to see it leave.

Both last Saturday and yesterday we held a play time with kids from around the neighborhood. Yesterday was a little more organized than the first simply because the catch was….we’d have to find the kids we’d play! Some of us went around the streets looking for children to play with, while the rest stayed behind to plan games, activities, songs, and a devotional. The outcome for both days was about ten kids and lots of fun! We started with a parachute and simply learning each other’s names, followed by lots of fun games. There was a devotional and even crafts. Futbol was a big attraction, for especially the boys, while the girls made beautiful sidewalk art. Each set gave lots of fun laughs, and created bonds. God blessed each day with beautiful weather, which is rare here, with a norm of cold and wet. The picture included is of the first Saturday, playing with the children.

We were put in charge of planning the past two Sunday meetings, which consists of three a day. During the meetings our team lead songs, performed our choreodrama and introduced pieces of the program like offering and prayer. Last Sunday we also joined the people of the corps on a visit to the local nursing home. It was amazing to watch as roughly 20 people walked to the nursing home to sing, dance, and speak with the elderly.

One treat we have had was our international television debut. While visiting in the devastated community of Tumbes, we were spotted and asked to be interviewed for the advertisement of a local restaurant that had been destroyed by the tsunami. We were honored, and were interviewed for the local news!

We ask that you continue to pray for this corps, with a specific emphasis on the leadership. The officers here are very blessed to have soldiers who work extremely hard to share the love of Christ with others.

Next stop…El Cuerpo de Concepcion

Viva Chile!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saving Souls in Sintra

Well hello again!

The Portugal team is continuing to do very well. We have moved out of Lisbon and are now in Sintra, Portugal. It is only thirty minutes from the bustling city of Lisbon but it is a completely different world. We live in a three story house left to the Army by a man who had a passion for TSA and its youth programs. It is a three minute walk from the powerful Atlantic ocean and we have been there since June 26th. We led the Junior Soldier camp with 23 children on Saturday and Sunday. We taught them the Armor of God and they enjoyed it very much. It was so rewarding to hear them memorize the long Bible verse in only one day. On Monday we started helping lead a music conservatory for 40 Portuguese children. We have had the challenge of teaching beginners music. They have been learning on horns, timbrels, and guitar. We have taught theory, ombiture and tempo. You would think it would be difficult teaching Portuguese children music and all the complicated terms without a translator but you would be wrong on that one! Our Lord is continuing to be stronger than language. Through Him and our efforts, we taught beginners how to play a whole song within two days. It was incredible to see the Lord answer prayers we have been praying for months now.

We have been doing more than complicated music though! We have been leading night programs, playing games and singing songs. I can't forget our day trips to the beach with the kids as well! (Those are important of course) :)

The team dynamic is continuing to grow and strengthen. We are family and help each other grow Spiritually. The Lord is answering prayers daily and He isn't stopping anytime soon. This whole next week we will be in Sintra leading a Children's Camp. We heard through the grapevine that there are even more kids scheduled to come to this please pray for us! It will be great and we will let you know how it goes next week!

Love from the Portugal team. Keep on praying! We love and miss you all! :)