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…..it 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

Lviv!


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 ;)

Love,
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 Joy_Mikles@uss.salvationarmy.org 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 camp....so 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! :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jesus is doing some amazing things in Portugal

Greetings from Portugal!

I'm sorry it has been some time since our last post but here we are to say we are having an incredible time here in Portugal! Our first week in Lisbon was spent with getting to know the area, the people, and the culture. We had the awesome opportunity to go to The Salvation Army Homeless Center called Xabregas. We met a man named Angelo who was mourning the loss of his fiance. She was run over by a car here in Lisbon just last month. We were able to pray over him and give him encouragement in the name of Jesus. The language barrier is no barrier for our Lord. He is proving to be much stronger than that.

We went to a town called Porto this week and led VBS there with the Salvation Army children. It was so lovely to get to know the beautiful children and teach them more about Jesus. We celebrated Abby's birthday on Sunday...it was very enjoyable! She gave her testimony at church and Bethany preached. We were all very proud of our teammates and what the Lord was able to do through them! After finishing VBS on Tuesday, Wednesday was spent celebrating the city wide holiday called Sao Joao (celebration for St. John of Porto). This was an event like no other we have ever experienced! The whole city buys plastic hammers and goes downtown to watch an amazing fireworks display at midnight. You may be wondering what the plastic hammers are for???

TO HIT RANDOM PEOPLE IN THE HEAD!!!! Yes, I said it. You can hit anyone you want and of course, they hit you back. It was probably the best day of our lives. There were thousands of people just laughing, walking, hitting, and defending themselves as best as possible! We watched the fireworks and danced to music with 5,000 of our closest friends.

The Lord is continuing to bless our team (well, we're more like family to be honest). We continue to grow in Him and He is showing us more and more every single day. Thank you all for your prayers! Keep it up!


Abby here! i just wanted to say thank you to my amazing team, scratch that, FAMILY that gave me a wonderful 21st birthday! We had an awesome day in Porto, we all went out to lunch after Sunday school that day and they surprised me with a cake and gifts! Y'all are amazing! It really made me feel at home so thank you again!! I love you guys!!
OH and shout out to the fam! I love y'all and miss you!!

We love and miss you all!
The Portugal Team (Kendall~Journalist)

Here is a video of the madness that was St. John Celebration in Porto, Portugal!!
video

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Team Ukraine, Live from Kirovograd

I greet you in the mighty name of Jesus with all the saints here in Kirovograd.

Our week is progressing nicely. We have a relatively small crowd of children this week comprised almost entirely of girls. As I type I can hear "Shout to the Lord" playing over and over and over again. The participants in VBS are learning it to present to the corps on Saturday and Sunday. They are so eager to learn more and more things. Everything we present, they want us to teach. It is very encouraging to come across such willing and open children and young adults. The let's-get-this-over-with-as-fast-as-possible-scowl to earnest-desire-to-participate-and-learn ratio is far lower here than in the states. Something to ponder, I reckon... (side note: that's the first time in about two weeks that I've even thought the phrase "I reckon". :]) Aside from the pantomime of Shout to the Lord, the children are learning "King of Kings" in English as we learn it in both Russian and Ukrainian. It's easier than it sounds, trust me. Also, they are learning "This is the Day" in English as we learn it in Russian. It is so much fun. The constantly smiles and stream of giggles whenever we speak in Russian and/or Ukrainski indicates to me that our pronounciation may leave a little to be desired. Still, we all love learning the language(s).

Now to less (and more) jovial topics. Yesterday was a very challenging day. We visited an orphanage for severely disabled children. I (Eddy) had never experienced anything like that. There is a huge problem in this country with the treatment of people with physical, mental or any other disability. They are basically hidden, not integrated into society like in the states. This orphange we visited is the very best in all of Ukraine and still they suffer from a lack of funds and outdated equipment. It is heartbreaking, yet encouraging. The director told us that in the last ten years such tremendous strides have been made. We were informed that ten years ago, 90% of the inhabitants of this home were not mobile, and now, through improvements in equipment, training and funds over at least 70% ARE mobile. Some of the children are now reading. Most are communicating. Some are able to feed themselves and wash their own clothes. It is very encouraging, the strides that have been made. Still, my heart is in my throat even as I type. The smell was not pleasant. The equipment desperately needs updated. They need more well-trained staff. And the hardest part is that this is the very best one in Ukraine. Each of the 24 Oblasts (regions/states) in Ukraine have one such orphanage, but only around 10 are even close to the standards of this one. Pray for a change of mindset in these people. They need to know that these individuals can function and deserve respect and love. I have video of the experience that I will share when the trip is over.

I also have video of the Kirovograd hospital which services the entire Oblast. In both of the institutions, the Salvation Army provides an enormous amount of help and aid. Lives are being saved because of the work of God through the Army. I am very proud to be associated with such an organization as this. It almost inspires me to use the slightly arrogant "Doing the Most Good" motto. Almost ;).

Well, the pantomimery is over and the water balloon toss is on going. I better go out there and goof off.

My love and thanks to everyone.

Grace and peace be with you.

Sincerely,

Team Ukraine - The Seed Planters, Path Cutters and Ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Permiso….checking in from Chile

Since our last update, we finished our first full week with a great Sunday meeting. The Haulpancio corps has an amazing worship team, and the participation in the meetings are intense, especially the prayers. Our team participated in each of the three meetings of the day, including playing in the corps’ band (Gabrielle & Morgan), giving the children’s lesson (Morgan), Gabrielle gave her testimony, and presenting a timbrel drill, performed by the entire team! (For our non-army readers, these are similar to tambourines, only better)

Our second week has been spent mostly in planning. The rain here is immense, which prohibits our work in Santa Clara. Still, today we took advantage of our time by taking a prayer walk around the neighborhood. Through it, we were able to share a moment of witnessing with a man walking close to the corps. In addition to this, we have been taking advantage of our time at home to pray and grow personally in God.

With that, we ask for your continued prayers for not only our team, but also the country of Chile….

Hasta Luego

PS. Chile has advanced to the next level in the World Cup. We were able to witness the explosion of screams around our home when there was the only goal of the game made, as well as the history making victory….VIVA CHILE! (the next game comes Friday, you know where we’ll be.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Much Needed Day Off

For the first time since we have been in Ukraine, we have a day of rest. We have literally not stopped going since we arrived. It is exhausting, but it's well worth it.

Our time in Karkiv was incredible. The children there are so amazing. They make the best of what little they have. Many of them never changed clothes the entire week we were there, but they were not concerned with such things. They were just so very happy to see us and laugh with us and sing with us. The young adults of the corps and surrounding area were also very warm and welcoming. We had an ice cream social werein we introduced them to the wonderful world of Ice Cream floats. Regrettably, root beer is no were to be found in this country, so the float were made from Pepsi. Rather interesting.

My apologies for the brevity of this entry, but internet is pay-as-you-go, so I am going to go. This is just one quick update, but there is so much more to say. I hope to have more time to update in the upcoming days.

Thank you so much for the continued prayer and support.

Grace and peace be with you all.

Team Ykpaina - out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chi-chi-chi....le-le-le...VIVA CHILE!

Hola, from Chile! We apologize for our delayed post, but will strive to be more informative from this point on.

We arrived in Concepcion all together, and with no problems. We were WARMLY greeted with hugs and kisses by not only the corps officers, but also staff from DHQ. We were given a slight rest before being taken to a welcome dinner, were quickly exposed to the language barrier we would be crossing. The corps officer of the Cuerpo Hualpencillo (pronounced “Wal-pan-seeyo”) would not allow us to speak English. “No, no ingles!” he would continuously say. Even still, the fellowship was great and we felt more than welcome.

Our second day was spent partly in sleep, but we awoke to find a warm lunch of soup, bread, chicken, and noodles. We must say though, there will be no way we come home smaller than we arrived. The food here is very good and is given in large portions.

After this we were taken on a tour of Concepcion. We could never begin to describe the differences we have seen in Chile from our country. As we drove through the streets, Major Marin pointed out buildings that had been destroyed from the earthquake and were still not restored. The people, though, seemed to be returning to their lives. As we walked through the streets there were vendors selling everything from fruit to Chilean flags (all in preparation for the World Cup game against Spain), and even saw a clown entertaining a crowd of at least 150 people-but the silliness would soon die down.

In the four days since our arrival, we have spent our mornings in Santa Clara. This is a small community outside of Concepcion. Here, there once stood a fish factory as well as a port. Senora Claudia took us on a tour of the depressed area. Places where there could have once been a house are now only piles of mud. We were told that in that area the most destructive thing was not the earthquake but the three tsunami’s that followed. Our work there has consisted mostly of encouragement. The people there are still very much entranced by the loss of their community and lives, houses are still being rebuilt and lives restored.

We have been working within an outpost of The Salvation Army in the community, where workers and citizens alike gather for lunch. Our Spanish has grown in leaps and bounds through our work there. Our first day on the job, many doubted our ability to witness, but the Lord is providing the Holy Spirit for assistance.

We are currently planning for our first “hora de goza” or hour of joy. This will consist of songs, games, a bible lesson, and warm milk- all for the children of Santa Clara. Please pray for the success of this program. This could be a very good start for the Salvation Army in this community.

Other minor details/events to share include our first experience of an earthquake after shock. Now, please calm yourselves-these are completely normal, and even necessary. If the earth does not release its energy it will only be stronger when it finally does. The tremor occurred at about four in the morning on Thursday. Some of us were a little more worried than others (Gabrielle and Melanie), while others of us quickly returned back to sleep (Fabienne, Morgan, and Beracah).

Other things include the witnessing of the victory over Spain in the World Cup in South Africa.

We have also rearranged our furniture to create our common area around the wood stove we have in our living room. They supplied a television, but the fire is our priority. Honestly, it has brought us closer as a team, and can be granted credit for many good times thus far, including devotions, planning, and simply hanging out.

Continue to pray for us, for our work is just “heating” up! We love you all and miss you!

Dios vendiga y VIVA CHILE!! (God bless and long live Chile)

El Equipo de Chile

(written by Morgan Irish - team journalist)

PREVYET!

Greetings from the Ukraine! The team is all doing very, very well. We went to McDonalds today (18 June 2010) with the children from the after school program her in Xapkib. Our time here in Harkiv has been incredible. The kids are so warm and loving and accepting. Many of them come from troubled backgrounds with only one parent due to alcoholism or abandonment. Still, they are full of joy and gladness. It is a beautiful thing to see. 

We have eaten SO much good food here in Ukraine. Last night four of the young adults from the Harkkov Corps came over to our flat and cooked vareniki and draniki. They were similar to pierogi and potato pancakes. It was an amazing time of fellowship and food and discussion. The team and I are REALLY going to miss them when we leave this city. We may not miss the metro, though. We are crammed in there like sardines every morning for about 30 minutes. Not that I am complaining. It is better than walking mile after mile. Who knew my first time on a subway would be 6,000 miles away. 

On the whole, the team is adapting very well. Our hosts are so very kind to us. The Home League here in Kharkov is for both men and women. They put on a special presentation for us yesterday and presented us with many gifts. It was very heartwarming. The brotherhood of all Christians worldwide is readily evident in situations like this. 

Grace be with you, and peace.

From the Ukraine,

Team Edward - Out.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What day is this again???

Well we have made our exciting arrival in Lisbon, Portugal or Lisboa, if you are Portuguese! We had a very long flight but all baggage and flight times went well, so praise Jesus for that! We were graciously greeted with open arms from Majors Serém and their daughter, Débora and her boyfriend André. These two, Débora and André, will be new additions to our team because of their beautiful English/Portuguese. They will be incredible translators and a wonderful blessing to our small team of four. We had some yummy McDonalds after we landed in the capital then we were sent to our beautiful apartment to get some much needed rest!
Our first official day was spent with grocery shopping and lunch at the Senior Day Center in Lisbon. It was very nice meeting some of the older demographic of Portugal. We met one woman who was 95 years old and laughing and joking with us like a young person would....it was a very fun lunch to say the least. We then took a relaxing trip to the beach and played games and enjoyed the lovely weather of Portugal. The weather feels like 75 degrees Fahrenheit here during the summer....so basically, perfect spring weather for the States. We were all happy about this!
We are still adjusting to the time change, seeing how this post is going to be going up at 2 in the morning, which is about 9 in the evening at home in the States, but it is all worth it!

The Lord is going to do incredible things this summer and we all cannot wait to see what He has in store!

Until the next post, be blessed and keep praying for us!!

With Love,
The Portugal Team
(Kendall, Jounalist)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chile Team has landed!

I just received a phone call from Chile letting me know that the girls have landed in Concepcion and that they are doing well. They are currently napping, then going for dinner and will then go back to sleep.

The next few days for them will be a bit lazy so that they can get acclimated.

Hopefully all of the teams will get a chance to write an update soon. Please keep checking back to see where they are and what they're doing!

Thanks!
Joy

Chile Team in Santiago

Just got an email from Beracah letting me know that the girls are in Santiago, Chile awaiting their flight to Concepcion. This is a long layover for them and they are all very tired. Please keep them in your prayers.

I will update when they have reached their final destination!
Blessings!
Joy

Portugal has landed!

I have received word that the team serving in Portugal this summer has landed with all of their luggage etc.

He has provided a phone number for the apartment where they are staying. If you would like that information, please email me at Joy_Mikles@uss.salvationarmy.org and I would be glad to pass that along.

Please remember that they are 5 hours ahead of us.

Blessings!
Joy

Ukraine Team

Dear Joy,

The team has survived their international flights and Kiev traffic. Most are finishing up some showers and then we're off for dinner. Looks like a good bunch! as we knew...

Blessings,
Maureen

I got this note just after lunch today letting me know that the Ukraine team has landed and are doing well. I love getting good news like this.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

And Away They Go!

So, today all three teams are heading to their respective countries for 6 incredible weeks of ministry and growth.

I'll keep updating as often as I hear from them. I'll especially try and post when I hear of their arrival.

Blessings!
Joy Mikles