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Soo soo close…

Well the rest of the Greece team and I are exhausted. We have had one huge wild ride on this trip home we are currently sitting at 26 hours in the airport/plane. And we still have 2 more flights, so just over 8 more hours all together. And we were suppose to be home 4 hours ago. Anyways, If you want to hear our crazy airport experience your going to have to ask us in person trying to type it all out here might take me a while.

The last week in Greece went by too quickly. We flew out to Thessaloniki on Wednesday, we were suppose to leave at 6:30 AM, our van didn’t show up so we didn’t make it to the airport on time and missed our first flight, we got on the next one. In other words all the original flights we booked before this trip, we were on none of them. We have had awful luck but just a few more hours! We arrived and went straight to our first tour spot, then we toured around Thessaloniki and looked at a few spot around the hotel since we happened to be right in the middle of several things. The next day we got up and drove almost two hours to Phillipi we toured around a lot a saw several different things. After we got back to Thessaloniki we walked the East wall the was still up and standing tall.

Honestly this trip has been amazing!! Even with all the crazy flight situations. Now I don’t think any of us will fly or anything but we all had pretty good spirits through everything. We are ready to be back in Kansas, but we also already want to be back in Greece!!

– Sarah


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Time to move

Hello!

(Pictured above: a bunch of turtles)

The Greece Gang is celebrating and mourning our last day in Athens. It’s amazing how the last three weeks have flown by, yet also taken their time. Tomorrow morning at a bright and early 5:15 am we leave for the airport to head to Thessaloniki for two days.

Over the last few days we have had our share of adventures in Athens. With many miles of walking we have managed to cover almost all of Athens via train and bus, some of it not on purpose.

On Saturday we got to experience the Sea and took a day trip to the beach. It was hot, humid, and overall a good experience. Also, McDonald’s in Athens tastes pretty much the same as Pratt. Just no sweet tea.

On a more sad note we had our last day of service at Helping Hands. With a lunch day, we helped serve the meal and then had time to do dishes, help in the kids and baby room, and overall have a good time of fellowship.

As we continue our journey in Greece, it’s sad to say that it is coming to an end. Yet we constantly have to rejoice in the fact that we are coming home to share the news of these People to others. And through that, we find comfort in our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.


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God’s Beauty in Ireland

Ireland has captured my attention and heart more than I thought it would, and seeing God’s beauty in numerous ways has revealed things within me I never realized. For instance, while in Dingle, by far the most beautiful location I’ve been in my life, I felt a connection with the Lord in a few ways that made me appreciate Him more. Visual appeal from the luscious green colors all around me, then the variety of blue colors the ocean displayed made me see how vibrant and creative God is.

 There was a time one day when everyone in our group split up to just be alone. I walked down to a cliff near to the house where we stayed and sat on the rocks listening to the water flow in and out of the cracks. I thought much about life, how far I’ve come, what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve screwed up, about my future, family, friends, but something the Lord kept placing within me were the words “Trust in me more.” I didn’t quite know yet what this meant to me personally, and it still lingers in my mind. “The voice of truth says do not be afraid, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.” These song lyrics by Casting Crowns came to my mind multiple times throughout the week. It made me think, I’m so selfish. I try so hard to do things on my own and without the help of others, especially God, whom I need to listen to the most. Various situations this week have made me realize how much I need to trust in God’s plan. I have so many questions, and not near enough answers, but knowing that the Lord cares about me and won’t ever leave my side helps me push myself further into believing His will for my life. 

Bonding with the team, whether praying, laughing, or crying together; heck even when Josh gets on to RL and I all the time for being too loud and crazy…these  are a few ways I’ve felt the presence of God, not just with me, but with the people I’ve grown close and special to in just a few days. Getting to spend every hour every day with these people has been exhausting at times, but rewarding as well. I’ve loved growing and learning alongside with them and will be sad when we have to leave. 

Last week we helped at a ministry organization called Storehouse, located in Belfast. Storehouse offers food, clothes, rehab, community, and most importantly, staff who love Jesus towards all sorts of troubled people. Getting to learn about their ministry made me eager to step in and help out as I could. We made food for a while, and then engaged with the people there. I felt nervous and awkward at first, probably because I could barely understand their deep Irish accent, but also because they were total strangers to me. But why did that matter? Isn’t that what we’re called to do as believers and followers of Christ? To show the love of Christ to all who are able to receive it? After talking with a few people, I felt encouraged by simply engaging in a totally normal conversation with them. Not shoving Jesus down their throat, but just offering myself as someone they can listen and talk to. Getting to share my life and pour into these people was a blessing and helped clear my mind from all the distractions I tend to have. 

Hope everyone is doing well. With love, 

-Tanner T. 


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“The Lord is my shepard, I shall not want…” Psalm 23

Ireland is so beautiful, breathtaking, green as far as the eye can see, with hills and mountains and housands of sheep roaming around, and just altogether a true sight to see. That being said, during this endeavour I have learned and experienced so much, especially with this being my first time out of the country. I have learned to be patient, that the smallest thing can leave the biggest impact, but most importantly to lean into God.

Being patient: This can be challenging for me when it comes to certain things like working. When it’s to work, I’m ready and want to work. I learned things are different when we went to Storehouse to help serve breakfast and work in the warehouse in Belfast. Storehouse is a ministry to help the broken, homeless and those struggling to get back on there feet. They are focused on three things: provision, community, and growth. Before we did any sort of work they had a prayer time following a time to get to know each other. They provided tea and coffee with some cookies while everyone socialized for about 30-45 minutes then on to work. It was so amazing to see how I’m so used to getting straight to things and not taking the the to socialize with the people I’m working with or coming in contact with. Sometimes I just need to be patient and soak in every moment. To slow down and make that connection instead of rushing through things. This goes into the next thing I learned in Ireland, the smallest thing can leave the biggest impact.

Smallest things make the biggest impact: At Storehouse we went to work in the warehouse cleaning furniture they have recieved so they can take a picture to put into inventory. We all went to work wiping down and cleaning all the furniture inside and out then ran into a problem with the software. The software they use to put the furniture into inventory kept booting them off and not working. We felt bad since we knew there was more we could do but couldn’t. While we felt like we could so much more, they were so grateful for what little (in our eyes) we did. Its amazing to see how God uses those who trust in him.

“And we know God works for theose who have been called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:28

Lean into God: Cosan Na Naomh, or The Saints’ Road is 18km in length and a little over 3,000 feet tall with important heritage and ecclesiastical sites along the path. There is 14 or 15 crosses along the path as you make your way to the top. Starting off just looking up I didn’t know if I could make it with my ankle. I came prepared with my hiking boots to go up this mountain and it seemed that my ankle wasn’t as much of an issue as I though going up. Instead it was the fact that it was hard to breathe. From the beginning it was challenging for me to keep up with the others and by the time I got to the second cross I didn’t know if I could make it any farther. Josh pushed me to make it one more before throwing in the towel and I made it to the third cross. There I stayed for a bit while the others went on. I felt defeated, lost, confused, but that was when I started to pray. I prayed for God to help me keep going and for my ankle to not get in the way. I wanted to make it farther, I wanted to say I made it farther, I was determined but couldn’t do it on my own. As I kept climbing up this huge mountain and between asking God for strength and breath then reciting, “You are my rod and my staff, you comfort me,” I made it to the next cross! But I wasn’t ready to stop there. I started again and again and again and finally I made it to the 7th cross! Oh the view was spectacular with the piercing blue ocean, the sheep around me, the bright green grass all around me, and that cross staring back at me was truly a site to see. I couldn’t of made it half way without leaning into God fully. I didn’t think I could make it past the third cross on my own, but with God I made it further than I thought.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4

Heather

 


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A Day in Dingle

On May 21st our group was visiting Dingle, Ireland, and the trip is coming to an end and I had not felt like I had bonded with everyone until that day. On this day, we all took on a challenge to climb the second tallest mountain in Ireland called the Ballinknockane Mountains! We were all very determined to climb this giant hill, we were reading a description of the hike before we started and it was suppose to be a causal stroll with seven crosses for a checkpoint! Well, we all started the hike together and we all did not finish together. This was not just a casual hike it was a body ache waiting to happen! We all eventually made it to the top, but the one thing I learned from it waste need to sacrifice for what my I have pride in. I always have to be the first one finished like I’m in a race but this hike I was humbled. 

I really felt connected when I stayed back and it was just Madi and I left to make it to the top. At that time I realized helping others and being there for them is more important than worrying about myself. When I got to the top with her I felt very accomplished that we made it. This was probably my favorite part of the trip so far! 


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Hallo Guten Tag

Today we spent our day at Samaria’s Ministry. We began by preparing the meal. The girls all helped by preparing the salad and sides, while the men cut chicken. We all enjoyed this aspect because we were able to be busy and continuously find tasks to do. We even had a break between the time of cooking the meal and serving the meal. Brad, Sarah, and I switched around playing checkers (the game took forever…we are all competitive). As we just sat and talk we were able to discuss some words in German and English. We all laughed because of the way we all pronounced certain words. When it was time to serve the meal we all had certain tasks in order to fill up 160 plates of food with only 6 people in the kitchen and about 5 others serving to the refugees. With having not that many workers everything was fast paced and it felt very rushed. It was hard in some ways because we wanted to interact with others but it’s also our duty to serve by making sure they get a meal so even though conversations were very little we still did our part. It was so much fun working with the interns, Helga, and Heinrich in the kitchen because we were able to make lots of jokes, and sing country songs. After we cleaned up we ate our lunch and any leftovers that we had were packaged up and given to homeless people on the streets. When we arrived back to our place we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather (it’s been in the 70’s all week!!!) and just played card games as a team. Again the competitiveness is never-ending and yelling at each other in UNO and Dutch blitz is normal. LOL.

-Marissa💕


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Look at all those chickens!

Yesterday was an eventful day for us! We started with devotional time at our ministry-of-the-week, Samaria. We met with the German team to find out how we would be serving this week. After a lunch of gyros, we headed to Helping Hands to help gather things for our park day. We made the metro trek to the National Gardens where we met with several refugee families. A few games of ultimate frisbee (which I heard was pretty brutal, but the best), some “cake” making in the sandbox, Uno rounds, some people getting soaked with water balloons, and plenty of fellowship rounded off our second to last time working with the people from Helping Hands.

We ended our day with crossing all of Athens to have dinner at Ken and Lisa’s house, (our leader here in Greece). Their porch has a breathtaking view of the Sea and mountains. After eating our #1 meal so far, we watched the sunset and videos about Helping Hands.

Today was another ministry day, but our first day at Samaria. Sarah was worried she was going to trip and have to buy us gelato so she “conveniently was sick” and chose to rest today. (Pray for her stomach though and that she feels better for the days to come).

We helped make Greek salad and Ryan and Brad chopped up many Greek chickens, all the while a German class was taking place in the same room.

Brad and Marissa quoted the famous vine as the cooked chickens came out of their final resting place, “Look at all those Chickens.” And I will agree, there were a lot of chickens.

We served lunch, cleaned up, ate lunch ourselves, and then headed back for the evening. With plans to go see the Olympic stadium and eat crepes tonight, we look forward to our last week and a half here in Greece.

*Gelato updates to come*


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No Free Gelato Yet!

Hello once again! It’s has now been over a week since we made it to Greece! We have had one exciting adventure. After our first week of service with Helping Hands, Ken, the missionary from Greece, took us and a few others to Corinth. We saw many different things. We didn’t walk as much as we did the first tourist day but we definitely made up for it. Our first stop of the day was at the Corinth Canal. We were able to walk across a bridge to the middle and look down the canal. Afterwards we went to the end of the canal and were able to walk on an actual Roman road, where slaves were once forced to pull the cargo on and across to the other end of the canal. After this we hiked up to Acrocorinth, where we were able to gaze upon the marvelous Greek costal view. After climbing down the Acrocorinth we went to a restaurant and had some amazing souvlaki (you’ll have to look it up). We drove to ancient Corinth and walked in the footsteps of Paul. We were able to look at several statues and old jars that were found while digging in this area. Also we were able to actually stand on a Roman theater stage in Corinth. At the end of our trip before heading home we stopped at Cenchreae, a first century church, where Paul got his hair cut before heading back to Jerusalem. Acts 19. During this entire time of walking/hiking it was said that if I, Sarah, fell at any point I would buy everyone Gelato. The bet is still going on today. (It’s Cianna’s opinion that it is only hours until we will celebrate Sarah falling with gelato-we wait longingly).

Sunday we were able to go to the 2nd Christian Church (which is actually the name) and we were able to wear headphones where they translated the sermon to English. On the way home we dropped Brad off at Helping hands to play bored games with some of the refugees that got together. The girls and Ryan continued home and Mwerearissa and Cianna played card games, I took a nap after not feeling well for several days, and Ryan was able to catch up on some emails. When Brad was done we went back to the acropolis and shopped around a little more and then found somewhere to eat. We also found a McDonald’s!! Brad wasn’t too excited but the rest of us enjoyed some fries! On the way home from the metro I tripped and was falling until a old man popped out of nowhere and stopped my fall. He was very scared while the rest of us where laughing about how they close to getting Gelato.

So far this has been an amazing journey. The rest of this week we will actually be serving elsewhere besides helping hands which you will hear more about later!!

See y’all later!!

Sarah


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Wow, what a week

Thursday June 2nd, 2016 – Day 21
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty. Who was, is, and is to come. Who is all powerful. Who is all knowing. Who is the One who sees all, who spoke everything into existence. I cannot imagine what I would do if I was not called by Him. He has demonstrated His power and glory in front of me today.
After the morning session, we broke into our normal small groups. It felt like the other small groups, which was a bit slow, about half were believers of Jesus Christ, and the normal demand for the Muslims to be made known. The Muslims would often challenge Jesus and His message against the Koran. Today’s question that was brought about was: “If Jesus was God and a prophet, why did He not prophecy about Mohammed? Why did Jesus not warn us that another would come and misinform many people?” These were good questions. The first thing that popped into my head was that He did, He just called them Gentiles and false prophets. Having established credibility over the last few days, Matt took them to a passage about false prophets that would come and distort truth and tell lies and that many would follow and listen to them. What this did was bring about an anger from a different Muslim who did not ask the question that was also in the group. There were a lot of words exchanged in Farsi between him and the translator for the group. I did not understand, nor did the translator translate before what happened next.
Devod, or Devot, pronounced Day-vode, began to convulse uncontrollably. Most of us realized that what he was hearing about Jesus had just shattered his paradigm of how he lives life. I think he was given a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. Well, he is possessed by a demon. At first, we were all gathering around him in Jesus’s name to cast out this demon. It was crazy. Then, other Muslims were coming in trying to snap him out of what he was experiencing. They were quickly escorted away from him to allow for what Jesus was doing to him. I am telling you I have never ever seen anything like this. This was a real demon that was now in my presence being casted out right in front of me. We all prayed, hard. All the believers were swarming around him and praying like never before. We all demanded that Jesus would remove this demon from his body and set him free. He was convulsing. He was squirming. He had the weirdest look in his eyes that I had ever seen. He kept holing onto his head, like there was something in there that was being demanded to vacate the premises. Other Muslims kept coming up to him, trying to get passed the Christians who were praying and laying hands on Devod. It did not stop for hours now. We kept praying and praying.
We did not stop praying for him. Some went to talk among other people, but some of us kept praying with him. We prayed in Jesus’s name! Over and over and over again. The war that was waging in this guy’s body was unbelievable. I cannot hardly believe that I was witness to it. This was directly related to Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed Himself and the evil spirit freaked out. The spirit did not know what to do. This is what happens when you hear the gospel. Matthew 24. Galatians 1. There is no other gospel. There is nothing else that is real. Anything apart from Christ’s message is false. Wow, what a warfare.
People are still praying and cheering for him. Devood has fallen asleep. Now he is awake. I have not gotten close enough to hear what he is going through and he only has his son and a friend who speaks his language present with him at this time. I am confident that the Lord has now been established within him and has now seen the light. There is no more walls to hide behind. From what I am hearing, he is in the direct line of Mohammed the prophet. Devod actually receives money for being a part of the family line. Very much like the Indians back home. They all have money that is given to them at the age of eighteen for being an Indian. Crazy. This is an interesting story developing. More to come. I need to head down to the water for kayaking duty.

 


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My Green Adventure

When I heard that Ireland’s nickname was “The Emerald Isle,” I didn’t think much of it. However, when I arrived here, I was completely overwhelmed by the vibrant rolling hills, trees, and greenery that were brilliant green. I have never seen such a lovely shade of green in my life. Yesterday was the perfect example for me of how the color green has change my life here in Ireland. 

First, our team traveled to Malahide Castle. The castle itself was stunning. It was built in the 1200’s and was occupied until the 1970’s by the Talmot family. A lot of original artifacts that belonged to the family were there too, which was fascinating. The castle tower it over us and it was covered with dark green ivy. My favorite part about the castle, however, was the gardens. The gardens were absolutely stunning. I have never felt the presence of the Lord like I did in this place. There were forests, wide open spaces of perfectly trimmed pure green grass, wildflowers that carpeted the floor of the forest, bushes erupting in with blossoms, massive, towering trees with branches so long and heavy that they dropped and grew along the ground, and hills to roll down (yes, I rolled down the hills giggling like a child). The best way to describe how I felt in that moment was simply: free. For the first time in my life, I felt my soul sing praises to God and run wild with Him. I felt like a wild, untamed horse, running with my savior. I felt like all my life I was created to feel this way. I literally ran around and flung my arms with tears of joy in my eyes like a child. I felt young, alive, free, and perfectly in tune with my God. I didn’t care about what my team thought of me, what anyone else thought of me, or anything else on earth. All I could think about was that moment of pure bliss with the Lord. I have never felt such freedom in my life. 

I felt the same way when we visited New Grange later on that day. It is a burial site that looks like a massive stone dome and it  dates back to 3200 BC. When I was on top of that hill, I was so humbled that the God who created the landscape around me even noticed me. I felt so insignificant and small, yet I knew God was watching over me even in that moment. I whispered, “Thank you, God. Thank you for this gift,” aloud to myself and to Him. These are two moments I will take will me all my life.