BC Juniors Global

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The harvest is plentiful.

Every Wednesday is shower day for the women at Helping Hands. This is a time where they let women and children come in to take showers, do laundry, spend time together and eat lunch. This is a less structured day, but still a lot of fun (and tiring too!).  Since today was only for women, Nick wasn’t with us, but he helped at a men’s shower day at another ministry center a few blocks from us.

Similar to yesterday, we could work in the kitchen, spend time with kids, or sit with the adults. While Bekah served in the kitchen, Liz and I spent most of the time with the kids. Since they do not have a structured program on Wednesday, we are in the main area with all the adults as well. It is nice to be able to interact with everyone as well as watch the women interact with one another. This is one of the only times these refugees are able to simply spend time together and have their heads uncovered for a period of time.  I enjoyed being able to play and laugh with the kids while playing with playdough or trying to teach them Uno when neither of us can understand the other persons language.

As much as I enjoyed the day, one of my favorite parts was during our debrief time. All of the staff gathered to share how they saw God at work and then we ended our time in prayer. There are two stories I wanted to share: 1. There was one refugee who came to know the Lord a year ago. During the devotional time, she got up and shared her story with the women and said how she found Jesus and Jesus is the Truth. She was also to tell the women that she used to be Muslim but how God changed her life. She was very brave!  2. There was another woman who had three precious little boys. There is a chance that this is the last time that they will come to Helping Hands because they may be going back to Afghanistan. One of the staff members asked if she could be forward with her. The staff member proceeded to tell her about Jesus and why they do what they do at Helping Hands. The lady kept saying that she sees the difference. She sees how we are actually living out our faith and not just following something blindly. She asked questions and talked more with the staff member and another one of the ladies. They prayed for her and laid hands on her.  While she is still unsure, she is questioning and willing to listen. Pray for her with us that she may come to know the Lord and the depth of this love.    The boldness of the staff and their deep desire for the refugees is amazing.

There is more that I could share about the stories we are hearing, but know that people are hungry. The refugees are physically hungry and it truly is a blessing to help them in such a practical way, but it is evident that they are also spiritually hungry. So many of them want to know more about God. They want to understand how is it different from what they have been taught all their lives as Muslims. Some are starting to sense God’s presence and feel his peace which is so different than a lot of what they are dealing with.  The harvest truly is plentiful and we have a faithful God!

 

 

 


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Clothes, Food, and Lots of Babies

Today, we were finally all able to go to Helping Hands as a team to help out for one of the normal meal days. We got there earlier to join in the prayer time with their team and to help with meal prep. We were expecting about 16o refugees, so after we prayed, we got right into chopping tomatoes and cucumbers for the Greek salads. Once we got most of the food prepared, everyone was gathered together to go over what the schedule was for today and to volunteer for the different jobs before we pray and open the doors. Nick volunteered to work in the kitchen; Tiffany volunteered to help with the kids in their program that included songs, crafts, a lesson, and play times; Liz didn’t volunteer for a specific job as there was already a lot of volunteers for most of the jobs; and I volunteered to help out in the baby room to play with the toddlers and babies so the moms could stay for the Gospel presentation(maybe selfishly but I love babies and toddlers so I didn’t want to miss that opportunity). After we prayed for the day, we got some clothes racks out and opened up the doors! I guess it got pretty crazy down at the entrance as there was a few people who got in fights.

As soon as people walked in though, everyone was smiling and saying “Salaam”(hello) to us as they walked by. You could tell that most of them had been there before and appreciated what Helping Hands was doing there. We waited for all of the refugees to come in, find a spot to sit, and grab some clothes for all of their family there before we started serving lunch. It was kind of fun just watching some of the kids pick out clothes and trying them on, especially when the clothes were definitely not their size. Serving lunch reminded me of waiting tables like I normally do as my summer job, but it was different this time. This serving was not for my personal, monetary gain; instead, we were serving for both these people’s physical health and give them an opportunity to reach Christ. It’s amazing to think how God will use your past experiences for something new and unexpectedly in the future. Once lunch was finished, we all went to the areas we volunteered to help in along with all the kids and babies. In the baby room, unlike the kids room, there was no specified program; instead, we basically just watched and played with the babies. I loved seeing their smiley faces as I played with the toddlers and babies as the time just went by so quickly. As much as I enjoyed playing with toddlers, I was exhausted after they had all left.

Once all of the refugees left, we cleaned up the place and had a time to debrief. Some of the thoughts from those who shared during our debriefing time were so simple and yet so incredible as well. Those who were involved with opening the doors also explained why a fight had broke out downstairs. The whole day made everything we had been talking about before we came more real, and it opened my eyes to  what is really like right now for the refugees. It makes me want to keep serving though and to keep helping wherever I can. So I am excited to see what tomorrow brings as us girls will go back for the women’s shower day! Please pray for the families we have met and will meet tomorrow as well for all of those who have been serving at Helping Hands! God bless!

– Bekah Palmer


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Safe Home

Well, our time in Ireland is officially over.  It is amazing to think that we have already spent our three weeks in the beautiful country of Ireland. First, let me tell you about what we have been up to these last few days. On Friday, we spent our last day in England by visiting Lancaster Castle, which was also the prison that many famous Quakers spent time (George Fox and Margaret Fell included). Our tour guide did an absolutely amazing job in showing us the different functions the prison was used for. He told us many stories that brought the history to life. A lot of the stories really struck me with how melancholy they were. It made me think about how much faith so many people must have had to be willing to suffer in order to do what God wanted them to do. I am amazed at how much God shows up in every place we visit, as well as showing me the fact that He has always been there.

The next couple days were our last days in Ireland to say our goodbyes and do the last minute stuff we wanted to make sure we did before we left. I cannot stop thinking about the people in Ireland that I would see walking down the street that I will never see again. I would have never even known they existed, and yet, God is in them! This trip has just really opened my eyes to how huge God really is. He is so big and powerful, but still cares about the little things. I am overwhelmed when I think about how God loves me so much when He has so many more people to love and care for. God is so so good!!

Our team has been immensely impacted throughout this trip as well. We have completely fallen in love with the culture in Ireland, the people, God’s beautiful creation, and each other. I think that we will all miss living life together. We had way more hot tea than we could have imagined, ice cream basically every day, sandwich after sandwich, played more Skip-Bo than you could even fathom, went on so many long and steep hikes, and just laughed and laughed all the time. Each member of our team brought something different and special to our experience. To let you in on our fun a little bit, I will give you a little insight about how our team worked together. We had Bethany, who was not only a comedic relief throughout the whole trip, but she was also the one who asked questions that helped us all grow and learn together. We had Marcus, who was the easiest one to pick on because of how good of a sport he was, but also was the one who brought an excitement in everything that we did. Amber, who cracked us all up with her particular ways she did things, but also was so willing to share her heart and make a safe environment to share our hearts as well. We had Chris, who cracks his own jokes at the most random but perfect moments, and also drew us all in when he would talk about his own experiences to bring substance to our conversations.

And then there were our fearless leaders: Kathi and Josh. Kathi was so sweet and caring. She made all of the plans and all of the connections for us during our trip. Kathi was the reason I got some insight in the Irish culture. Hearing her joys and her struggles as a missionary brought a reality to my view of ministry. Kathi truly invests in the lives God places in her path. I feel incredibly blessed that I got to be one of those lucky people! I don’t think we will ever be able to thank her enough for her time and effort she spent in order for our experience to be the best that it could be.

Josh Bunce. Poor guy does not get enough credit for all that he has done on this trip! Again, we were so so blessed to have him be the one who brought us to Ireland. Josh was so intentional in getting to know each one of us on a deeper level. He made every experience we had a spiritual one. Whenever we were having bad days, he was there to lift us up. When we were rejoicing, he gladly rejoiced with us. There is something about Josh that makes you automatically know that he genuinely cares for you and loves you so deeply. I believe that is a total gift from God. It is amazing to see how faithful Josh is and how much he has impacted each one of us on this trip.

Well, here I go again rambling away. Overall, we have learned so much in Ireland, and this experience will leave a lasting imprint on our hearts. We are overjoyed that this trip was so grand and are all excited to return to our families. Thank you all so much for your support and your prayers as we journeyed together. As the Irish say, “Safe home.” (Goodbye.)

 

Sharese Smedley


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The Weekend Full of Paul

On Sunday and Monday, we all went to Thessaloniki, Lidia, Philippi, Berea, and Vergina. They were all great to see, but my favorite part of the whole trip was seeing the river and being in a peaceful atmosphere after being in Athens for what seems like a lifetime. I had a lot of space to think and re-learn the importance of solitude and finding God through nature. (It’s hard for me to say that, because I’m basically allergic to everything that involves photosynthesis.) After being exposed to the serenity of God’s creation, I felt more aware of the messages Ken had for us this weekend. 

Our whole weekend was full of Acts, Paul, and his letters. We experienced the road Paul traveled on, which is called Via Egnatia. We saw the podium in which the Greeks think Paul spoke at in Berea. We had lessons on Paul from Ken. It was literally a weekend full of Paul! I loved every second of it, and I’m glad I got to experience all of it!

The hardest part about this weekend was all the walking we had to do. Before you say “walking isn’t that hard to do,” it was difficult for me. Long story short, I had ankle surgery about 7 years ago, and I still have problems with it even today. It was fine the first week we were in Greece, but lately, it’s been hurting even walking in a straight line. Prayers are greatly appreciated, and I will do an update in a couple of days on how I’m feeling and how God is working in my life. 

Elizabeth Herbel


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Can You Hear Me Now? …Now?

Greetings from Thessaloniki!

 

Today, Team Greece got to explore Philippi! What an awesome time this was. We had a spectacular tour guide, our very own Mr. Dirrim. Our day started in Athens, but we got on a plane and flew north so we could visit Philippi and Thessaloniki. We landed in Thessaloniki around 11:00 am and drove straight to Philippi. The scenery was very beautiful. North of Athens is very lush countryside. Everything was so green, I almost felt like I was back in Hawaii again, only in Greece. The lake we drove by was so blue and looking very good. I wanted to stop by and take a dip, but we had a schedule to keep if we were going to see everything we wanted.

The cities that were right before Philippi looked like some sort of vacation resorts. We entered into the towns well above them and we had a bird’s eye view of what looked like some gorgeous homes and even more stunning beaches. We got to see where the apostle Paul came to shore at Troaz on his way to Philippi. It looked majestic. Paul probably had a different view. Ha ha. Arriving in Phillipi, we stopped at a little church with a baptistery. It was beautifully made. I will put a picture up with this post. Someone disrupted the flow of this creek to make it flow where they wanted it to go. It was cool, they built a couple walls and steps down into the water in the shape of a cross. That is where they baptize people. I got baptized in a pastor’s pool in Vancouver Washington. So, a little different than a flowing creek, in the shape of a cross, in Ancient Philippi! From here, Mr. Dirrim taught a little bit on Acts 16. Mr. Dirrim did an excellent job at opening the text and showing us some stuff that is kind of hidden within it. Learning about Lydia, Paul, and the Philippians was seen in a new light. I love how God continues to open more and more to us through His word. I hope I never think I have got all I can get out of a passage of Scripture.

Then, we journeyed down the road a bit to the ruins of Phillipi that were still intact. One site of which was the theatre. It was my first time in a theatre like this and it was eye opening. The craftsmanship of this place was truly amazing. These theatres were constructed to capture the voices that came from the bottom of theatre and project them all the way to the top which was easily 100 + feet. Below this paragraph is a picture of Tiffany standing on a white square. This square is the best spot and it is the most efficient spot for this parabolic theatre to project noise. It reaches the top without even thinking twice. We had an experiment to see just how much different the noise was in other spots. The results were shocking. Starting from 20 feet in front of Tiffany and ending at Tiffany has many different sounds. There is nothing like making noise than where Tiffany stands than all of the theatre. In that spot, your ears ring such a different tune than the rest. I am having a very difficult time trying to explain it, but I hope you are gettin it. It may appear to be difficult to hear the performers from all the way up top, but that is just not the case. I could hear Tiffany with ease from where this picture was taken. Simply incredible.image

Next, we kept walking until we came upon an old part of the Via Egnatia. This is a road that was constructed by Rome to connect important cities. Ultimately, this road served Paul and early missionaries to spread the gospel! What was intended for profit and gain by Roman Empire, was used to further the Kindom of God. God knows what He is doing and how to use evil for good. It felt amazing to stand on the Via Egnatia literally where Paul walked! Again, Mr. Dirrim opened up some of Scripture to us, giving us a more full look at what it meant back in the first century. You must visit this yourself! We looked at the ruins of Philippi and were fascinated by how much still stands and the brilliance it took to construct the village. What a special day it was. The  picture below the top picture is Ancient Philippi. Incredible, right. Below is the Via Egnatia. image

This picture is piece of history. Paul could very well of stood where Mr. Dirrim is standing. What an amazing picture to think about in your mind.

Here is a picture of the remains of Ancient Philippi.image

After this, we headed back to Thessaloniki. We walked down to the water and it was crazy packed with people. It appeared mostly local people. Thessaloniki sure knows how to enjoy the night life. There was thousands of people. We did not explore Thessaloniki. That is on our agenda for tomorrow. More to come. Below is a picture of our team at the baptistery spot. Just in front of us is the actual baptizing spot.image

That is four cool cats!

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Can you see the cross?

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned.

Blessings

Nick LeMonds


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Boys will be boys

Today we spent the day at The Meeting Place, a refugee ministry of Samaritans Purse. This organization was a place where primarily Afghan refugees could come to drink tea, rest, and spend some time indoors. Our job was simply to be with them. Nick was downstairs talking with the men. Bekah, Liz and I spent lots of time with the kids. It was a blast! We drew pictures with them, tried to teach each other our languages, and we laughed a lot.   One of my favorite times in the morning was teaching some of the kids English and they taught me Farsi. Let me just say that they were able to repeat English way better than I could repeat Farsi!

When we returned from getting lunch, the center was already filled with several families. Bekah and Liz served the tea so I was on my own with the kids for a while. It was precious to walk back in the room and be greeted with huge smiles once some of the kids saw me sit down. There were definitely more people and kids in the room, and it was more chaotic than the morning, but we had fun. I was reminded that kids are kids no matter where they are from. Boys will always be boys! Several were very mischievous as they took the crayons and hid them or whispered and laughed, knowing we couldn’t hear them. We later found out that they were drawing pictures of each of us and found it quite hilarious. We played a continuous game of keep away throughout most of the afternoon.

One of my personal favorites in the afternoon was playing with one of the kids across from me. He started blowing a crayon on the table, which soon became us blowing it across the table to one another trying not to make it fall off the table.   His face lit up when he smiled. He would get so focused and into the game. It was so simple but so full of joy.

As I sat there with the kids, I started to think about how much instability is in their life right now. The younger ones probably have no idea, but I’m sure the ones that are a little older do. It was fun to have this afternoon to see them in a peaceful environment where the kids can be kids. Everyone has a story, and this is part of theirs. I pray that God would help them so that throughout their lives they can grow up knowing the Lord and his great love for them.

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Serving Dinner to those Hungry for Christ

Today was the first day for each of us on this trip to serve any refugees hands on. For us girls, we had a nice relaxing morning to read, sleep in, and just breathe after our walking and site seeing from the previous day. Nick, however, got up early this morning to go to Helping Hands to help with the men’s showers day that they have every week. He had the amazing opportunity to reach out to refugee men and children by serving lunch and playing games like ping-pong, chess, and uno. Later in the day, we left to go the Glyfada Christian Center to help the team there to serve about 100 or so Iranian refugees dinner. Everything that need to be cooked had been finished, but we got to help the put together the pita wraps, wash some fruit, and prepare the tea table. Apparently Iranians love black tea with lots of sugar, so it was kind of like hot sweet tea. But it was pretty tasty!

Once we got dinner all put together, we sat and waited for the majority of people to arrive. People at this point had already started showing up, but the small space was filled with so many people that it would have been difficult to find a place to sit. Each of us were a little bit surprised, because of what we were told about most of the people that we will encounter, to find that many of them were wearing normal clothes like ours, and many of the men and women were interacting with each other and with us even though that is unusual. Also, we were pleasantly surprised that there was a evening worship service that we got to participate in before the dinner. Frank, one of the leaders at the center, gave a teaching on the story of the adulteress women from John 8, and there was a translator who communicated with the Iranians throughout the service. Even though I have read and heard many teachings on this passage, it was really cool to rethink through this passage from a new Christian’s view again as I have personally taken for granted the details I have glanced over and had not process through. After the message, there was a time saved for Q&A for the refugees to ask questions that they had on the passage or about anything as this was known as a seeker group, who are a group that have expressed interest in getting to know more about Christ. The response of this group was incredible! You could tell just by their questions that some were new Christians where as others were almost ready to accept Jesus into their hearts. Their questions were so good and some quite challenging, but you could see their passion and desire to know more and more about Jesus. Not only did Frank respond to their questions, but there was also two other guys from England, John and Matt who had helped us prepare dinner earlier, that responded to the majority of questions. The excitement that you could see in asking their questions can hardly be described as they just kept coming.

Unfortunately, Frank had to cut off the question time as it was starting to get late, and we still needed to serve dinner. However, he left the door open to them to ask questions after dinner. So, we got back to work and continued with serving until everyone had a plate in front of them. Eventually after everyone had finished eating, we had to leave for the night, but it was an experience that none of us will ever forget. It amazed each of us by their questions during that Q&A as you could see their desire to know more about Christ! I hope we get to see more things like this as we serve other refugees in the near future! Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for the refugees and for ministeries like the one we worked with tonight to be able to keep serving and blessing others around them. God Bless!

– Bekah Palmer

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