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