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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. 


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Friyay

Today was another ministry day so we went to helping hands. Their normal Friday’s consist of serving biscuits and tea. Sarah, Cianna, and I decided to work in the kitchen this time since most of our volunteering experience was working with the children, we decided to switch it up. All we had to do was ask if they wanted “sweet or bitter tea” for the first couple of hours. Even though it was such a simple task we were grateful to learn new words while others laughed at us for trying to repeat the words multiple times until we got it down. (I already forgot the words we learned, haha).

Once we switched tasks for the next couple of hours I went to sit at the women’s table where they were coloring with their children and talking to some of the leaders of helping hands. Sarah and I tried to talk to a refugee woman but the conversation ended very quickly since she couldn’t understand English. There was one leader named Bonnie who helped us try to get the refugee woman to answer some of our questions about her life and it was neat to just see her smile and laugh because the language barrier was difficult but pointing out objects helped us get somewhere in conversation. Soon later we ended up finishing for the day and cleaning. All the leaders, groups, and interns debrief at the end of the day and discuss, “where they saw God working throughout the day?” Each and every day of their ministry they debrief and pray for about 15-20min, and during this time they discuss about the conversations between refugees. I found this very fascinating because often times in our society we go about our own days and never consider how God works through our conversations or activities. It was more different than just a prayer, but actually thinking about each moment of the day and the impact God had in that single moment.

-Marissa💕


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The start of an Irish adventure

Hello family and friends!

My team and I have been in Ireland for 6 days now and it still seems surreal to be in such a beautiful country. We’ve seen and done so much in the short time we’ve been here already.

On Friday, Kathi Perry, an EFM missionary in Greystones, Ireland, met us at the airport when we arrived and we made our way to the YWCA where we spent our first few days. We ate dinner at a local restaurant called the Beach House and Natalie, Heather and I went for a walk by the ocean to kick off our trip.

Saturday, we rode the train into Dublin and were able to spend the day exploring the city. We visited Trinity college, the Chester Beatty museam, Dublin Castle, and Christ Church. We got to try our first fish and chips and did roughly 9 miles of walking!

On Sunday, we attended Greystones Nazarene church and enjoyed fellowshipping with the people there. Afterwards, we ate delicious tacos at Kathi’s before doing work in her back garden. We painted, powerwashed, and cleaned lots of things. Our team had a lot of fun serving her together.

Monday, we spent our morning and afternoon doing some work at the Nazarene church. They allow Kathi to use their building for her toddler ministry so we wanted to do some things to help them out. We washed toys, pulled weeds, and reorganized their library. Monday was also RL’s birthday so we celebrated when we got back with crepes at the Crepery around the corner from where we’re staying. We tried to go get ice cream afterwards but the shops close at 6 on Mondays and we ended up at the beach instead. We had a wonderful time walking along the beach and climbing the rocks along the shore together.

Yesterday [Tuesday], we spent the day traveling to Belfast. We made several stops on our way here, one being Malahide Castle and Gardens. This castle was built in the 1100s and was owned by one family up until the 1970s. It was gorgeous and so fascinating to learn about the history behind that place. After that we drove to New Grange. New Grange is what is assumed to be a tomb of sorts that predates the book of Genesis and the Egyptian pyramids! The engineering it took to build such a structure that has lasted this long is incredible. I am still blown away by both of these places. Before this trip, the oldest building I’ve probably seen is roughly 200 years old. As an American, I have no concept of what it would be like to see generations worth of work put into a single structure like that.

Today we started our day in Belfast at the Storehouse. This is a ministry geared towards helping those in the city in any way they can, whether they’re asylum seekers, homeless, unemployed, etc. Their focus is to create relationships, provide people with their basic needs, and to help them grow and move beyond the things that they’ve been struggling with. I was amazed at how Christ like this establishment is. I thought a lot today about the story of Jesus and the woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She was an outcast in their society and was probably in deep poverty because of it. Jesus doesn’t just heal her and send her on her way. He stops the crowds that are around him to take time to acknowledge her and call her daughter. In doing this he’s given her dignity andnis allowing her to actually become a part of the community again. That’s what this organization is doing. They’re giving people their dignity back, helping them rejoin society, and giving them a place to be in relationship with people. I’m learning a lot on this trip that being like Jesus is often just engaging with people and learning about them and showing that you care. It was an amazing experience and I’m excited to go back and help more tomorrow!

We spent the rest of our afternoon on a tour of Belfast. It was fascinating and sobering to learn about the conflict that is still a reality for the people in Northern Ireland.

I’m so excited to see what God has for us all to learn on the rest of this trip. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I’m so thankful for this experience. ❤️

May God bless you richly!

❤️ Madi


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The ministry of the Men

Today the girls had the day off so they went shopping. The men however, had a great day of ministry. Beginning at 10am, we went to Helping Hands and began preparing lunch, while refugees showered and got haircuts. Today lunch was an Iranian salad comprised of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Which is seasoned with salt and pepper and mixed in olive oil and vinegar. This was accompanied by two boiled eggs, fries, cheese, and pita bread. While we were prepping the meal I had the privilege to converse with our head cook. I already knew he was from Iran, but I wanted to know more. We discussed how and why he came to Greece. He told me about his profession as a head chef over many people and how he had moved to the capital of Iran before coming to Greece. He has a great passion for cooking and is a joy to be around. While we discussed his life in Iran, he mentioned he was divorced and was forced to leave his home because of his belief. Then he mentioned how he was in a bad place for a time, but was given much joy as he found love from other Christians. During the conversation he reiterated the joy he now has with Jesus. “It’s okay now, I have found Jesus,” he kept saying. It is truly great that he has been able to continue forward and focuses on the joy he has been given through Christ.

As we continued in fellowship, I tried to play ping pong, but I am not very good. The guy I was playing against, after defeating me, allowed me to simply play more to get better. He believes that if anything is found to be difficult, one should continue trying until they have gotten better. This struck a chord in me. I got this feeling that no matter what difficulty comes my way I should continue at it until I master it. This does not mean I become the best, but that the fast does not become difficult anymore. I plan to use this philosophy through life and never give up, but find any way possible to work forward. After lunch, there was a lesson discussing decisions and the importance of them. It was long and after an hour or so, we took a break. During the break I began a conversation with Brad, another volunteer, and an Iranian volunteer. We began discussing more about our lives and the cultures we come from. This all began with a pot of coffee. We discussed how Greeks enjoy their coffee, while Iranians enjoy their tea. This sparked the conversation on culture. The Iranian volunteer discussed how his culture flipped over the past ten years. It was very family focused and family members would talk to one another but now that the economy declined it all stopped. He mentioned a scenario if I came over, I would be expected to stay a while and would expect to be fed. Now, people no longer feel comfortable going to each other’s houses, they do not want to be a bother on anyone else. It seems that the economy of a place gradually affects the interpersonal relationships. This conversation continued till the end of the lesson. We then cleaned the facility with help from the refugees and prayed for each other. This group of men deeply care for one another and they want to know if there is anyway to help them. God is at work in their lives and is blessing them daily. That’s all for today. Thank you everyone who has been praying for us. God is truly at work. Please pray for these refugees, for peace, safety and food. Thank you

Brad


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Women’s Ministry and Bakeries

Hello from Greece! Marissa, Sarah, and I had the opportunity to go to Helping Hands today for Women’s ministry. After setting up for the day we had the opportunity to wrangle the baby room. Today was much more laid back as only 30ish people (including volunteers) enjoyed the time of fellowship. After games of tug of war, and Sarah getting wrapped up in jump ropes by small children, there was a small devotions time with the woman and the children. It was amazing to watch some of the children’s excitement as they flipped through the pages of their picture Bibles. A meal followed of delicious rice and chicken and fellowship time after, our afternoon concluded with chasing more small children around. I love the fact that we can be there to offer our support to the missionaries so that they can have time to do the things we are not equipped for, basically anything that involves speaking. We treated ourselves to pastries from a local bakery and then coffee which I discovered I ordered straight espresso with sugar. More energy for walking I guess! Now we wait in anticipation for some gyros after a long yet fulfilling day. Until next time! Anteeō!