VBS Day 4

VBS Day 4

Thursday, July 25, 2014

So last night after our group talk, Kathi pulled me aside. She asked if I would lead they bible story for today. I said of course, why not. The message was the gospel message. The message of Jesus’s sacrifice. Asking kids to give their lives to Christ. I was honored! I felt blessed! I would have never guessed I would be asked to give the gospel message. I had never done it before. It was an awesome experience and I can’t wait to do it again.


VBS. This is usually a target for younger kids. It might be better to say that it reaches younger kids easier. Typically toddlers to elementary school. Once the kids hit junior high, they start to lose interest.


Before leaving for Jamaica, Dan and Kathi got some of the guys together to talk about a curriculum for the older guys. If any were going to come. Over here, its rare seeing men in the church. Why? I’m not exactly sure. If I had to guess, I’d say it comes from a place of pride. A place of thinking that church is for weak people. Which in my opinion, is spot on. The church is a place for weak, broken people. The problem is recognizing that we are all weak and broken without Christ. No matter who you are or where you come from, you have problems. Face them or deny them. That choice is yours. But if you choose to see reality, then you’ll understand that we are all weak and poor. We all need Jesus. Take a step back and recognize it.

So at Dan and Kathi’s house, we were trying to figure out what to teach the older guys. After brainstorming, we started thinking.. what if we dont have any older guys? How do we get them to come? The girls? Hopefully not but if they guys saw the girls on our team, they would probably come. Let’s not take that approach though. Sports. We figured if we had a futbol, a hacky sac, or something that had to do with sports, they would come. Sure enough, they came.


Theses guys were awesome. From day one they welcomed us, respected us, and basically treated us like brothers. But they didn’t talk much. Nothing more than a surface level conversation. They wanted to play futbol, and thats about it.

Today was a breakthrough. After the music and bible story, they guys actually sat in a circle with us and started making conversation. Basic. But it was something. The pressures of being a male in Jamaica. Fighting. Guys like to fight to show their dominance. Its manly, and it proves how tough you are. Typical and universal in men. So we emphasized turning the other cheek. Instead of engaging in a fight, walk away from it. They didn’t like it. To them, its weakness. But if walking away from a fight is harder to do, then only a real man can do it.


After VBS we took a trip down to the beach. Beach futbol, and the ocean. Perfect afternoon. The locals were darting for the water busting out front flips and back flips. So we did too. Might have landed on the back once or twice but eventually got the hang of it. Then they’d climb onto each others shoulders and back flip off. We did too. The gopro came in handy for these moments.

Today was rad because we got to hang out with the locals in their hometown. We got to do what they do and experience a bit of their lives. They dont have much, but they make the most of what they do have.


Please keep our team and Jamaica in your prayers. So many amazing things happening. I’m excited to share the rest.

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VBS Day 3

VBS Day 3

Wednesday July 23, 2014


The place we’re staying at has security guards. Every night, at 6pm Calvin comes strolling along. This guy is rad. We started talking to him asking him about Jamaica and how he likes it. He loves it. He’s never been out of the country but he loves his country. Calvin has a few kids and a partner. Most Jamaicans seem to have a partner instead of a husband or wife. And typically, the men leave the woman. It’s pretty sad. But talking to Calvin and seeing how he sticks around his family and supports them is uplifting. 

We got into some deep conversation. Talking about religion and of course the Bible. He reads the bible and believes in God. RAD. I immediately assumed he was christian. Reads the bible. Belives in God. Sounds good. Not exactly. We got talking more about what he belives. He emphasized peace, love, and unity. Sweet, i’m all for that. Calvin is Rastafarian. 


Rastafarians. Bob Marley was Rastafarian. Here’s an extremely brief run down of their beliefs from the conversation we had.

King Selassi of Ethiopia is king of kings and lord of lords.

Smoking weed reveals the truths in the Bible. 

If you do good you go to heaven.

If you are bad, you go to hell.

Jesus was a prophet, not God.

Satan tempted Even into having sex with him in the garden, hence Cain.


I was listening to everything he had to say. But I wanted to argue. Its my nature. Something im working on. God kept telling me to meet him where he’s at. What does that mean? Sit here and listen? Yep. So that’s what I did. I wanted to understand him. I wanted to understand his beliefs. Calvin is a really nice guy. Genuine and enjoys having a good conversation. So out of respect and obediance to God, I listened. 

He amazed me with the amount of Old Testament knowledge he had. He had me lost and asking questions. This was convicting. And a little worrysome. I didn’t want to listen to another man’s interpretaion of the Bible especially a man from a different religion. So now, I have alot of reading to do. Stoked. But the conversation ended well. I respect the man. He lives a life of love and respect for others. He is all about letting go of negativity and keeping a positive mindset. He’s also open for knowledge. He loves learning. He loves reading. 

God put this guy on my heart. I’ve been looking into the Rastafarian religion on my free time. Wanting to find flaws and points to argue with truth. Then after talking to Dan, one of our group leaders, I realized I was taking my eyes off of what matters. Jesus. Learning and understanding people is great. We need to understand others. But we can’t lose focus on Jesus. If I want to help Calvin, I need to help him understand Jesus and who He is. 

During our packing party, where we packed all the tools and supplies we needed for the trip, we packed a bunch of bibles, hymnls and one specific book. More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. This book approaches Jesus from 3 different perspectives. Them being that He could be either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Josh writes the book for people who are skeptical of Jesus’s diety. I personally have only read a few pages of the book. I’m not sure how impactful it is. But our team leaders gave them to us for a reason. We brought them for a reason. So I gave him one. 


I pray that God opens his eyes to truth. That the true diety of Jesus Christ is shown as the one and only Son of God. That He is God. I pray that the love from Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross overflows in his life. Transformation. I pray that God blesses Calvin and uses him in a mighty way. I pray that God’s Will is done in his life. 

Please keep Calvin in prayer. Thanks guys. 

VBS Day 2

VBS Day 2

Tuesday July 22, 2014

VBS Day 2.

This week is dedicated to the kids. Each day we wake up and start VBS around 9 in the morning. Kids are always waiting at the steps of the church 15 minutes before it starts. They have the biggest smiles on their faces and can’t wait. You can easily tell this is the highlight of their week. Once we clear the church of any wood, or tools that are being used for construction, we get started.


Music. Kids love the music. They love to dance and sing and shout praises to Jesus. We typically go through 3 songs in the morning to start the kids off and then we all huddle around for a bible story. Every day is something new. Today’s was about Pharro and the bad man that he was. Some of the kids love the story time and looking at the big pictures, while others can’t wait for arts and crafts. The boys just can’t wait to get there hands on a futbol.


Soccer. Futbol. Honestly, futbol is starting to grow on me. It makes more sense. The ball is played with your feet the majority of the time anyway. Futbol. Foot ball. Soccer. Sock Her. I don’t know. That’s the way my mind processes it. And it makes more sense to call it futbol. The kids are ridiculous. They can juggle for days, and fake you out before you realize what just happened. Maybe that’s just me though. I am pretty slow. Soccer was never really my sport. Regardless, they have talent.

Yesterday (Monday) after VBS the younger guys stayed back at the church and helped build a book-shelf while the rest of the team visited a local infirmary. The older guys gave us our own project while they worked downstairs building a kitchen. We had to measure spaces, mark wood, saw boards and hammer the frame together. Overall we killed it. Minor mistakes every now and again but nothing the whack of a hammer couldn’t fix.

Today though (Tuesday) after VBS some of the team stayed back for a game of futbol. We walked down the street about 10 minutes with the local guys and were at a full size soccer field. We played a good hour of futbol before heading back to the villas.

These fields are nothing like home. Here, they are lucky if they get to play on a field with dead grass. Most fields have dirt, rocks, and glass. Earlier in the week we played on a field like that. Bare foot. That’s the way the locals do it. That’s the way we do it. It hurt. We soon found out how manly we really were. Kids, I’d say around 6 to 7, were running through straight rocks bare foot. There we were, college guys, holding back tears, thankful to reach the sand. The struggle was real.


Overall, today was a great day. One thing that was mentioned during our discussion at night that shook the group. Christopher. 6 years old. Every time you have a group of kids together, there’s typically a trouble maker. A troubled kid, with something deeper. This kid was him. He likes to punch, bite, kick, pull your shirt, do anything he can to irritate you. We all experienced him on day one, but today was different. Graham, one of the guys on the team saw something deeper than a troubled kid. This is what I got from his story.

Graham was outside playing with the kids and Christopher was with him. Christopher was beating up on Graham and was asked to stop. He didn’t. Instead he picked up a stick and started hitting Graham with it. After being asked to stop, he wouldn’t. Graham grabbed the stick and took it from him. Instantly fear overcame Christopher. Graham didn’t raise the stick or threaten him, but he was scared as if he was about to be hit.

We don’t know for sure, but it looks pretty clear like Christopher is being abused at home. This kid doesn’t know anything more than violence. He lives in fear. That explains His actions around VBS. Since hearing this, we have all tried pouring out as much love as possible to Christopher, hoping to show him different. God has a plan for Christopher and wants to walk with him every step of the way.


Sometimes, I wonder why kids have to face these life styles. Why do people have to suffer? Why am I so blessed and these kids are so unfortunate. Why can’t we switch places? A lot of people ask this question: “If there is a God, why would he allow so much pain?” So far after this trip, my response is this. I don’t know why God allows pain and suffering. But I do know that God created me to do something about it. Instead of sitting around trying to answer pointless questions, do something. Then you will know God is real. Serve others. That’s how you experience God. Give back. There’s nothing more fulfilling. It’s what we were created to do. Do it.

This experience so far continues to bless me more and more each day. Please keep Christopher in your prayers.

I pray for healing in his life. I pray for God’s perfect love to cast out all fear. I pray for a change in his family. I pray he has an encounter with God. At the end of the day, I pray for God’s will to be done in Christopher’s life. 

Church and the Start of VBS

Church and the Start of VBS

Sunday July 20, 2014

Today was rad. We went to Rio Bueno Baptist Church for service. The church was small and only a handful of people from the community came. One was a little boy who was 8 years old. His name was Kevin.

He was sitting in the back of the church dressed up nicer than any of us were. And he was sitting by himself. Kevin’s in the 2nd grade and likes to play futbol. He was quite, and shy. He didn’t say much but what he did say said a lot.  I asked him where his family was and he said they were at home. This 8 year old boy came to church without his family. I was shocked. At 8 years old you wouldn’t find me at church. Shoot my parents still wake me up for Sunday morning church and I’m 21. This little boy wanted to be there. He chose to be there. This gets me STOKED for vactaion bible school (VBS). Even if one kid came, and we are able to touch that one life. That would be enough.


After the service, we took flyers, broke off into groups and went out into the community. One of the most humbling experiences. Homes with no roofs, windows or doors. Beds stacked outside the walls. Kids carrying buckets of water from a main water tank to their own homes. Clothes hanging on clothes lines. And even with all of this, they were some of the nicest, most sincere and genuine people.

We were walking through the streets passing out flyers and we came to a dead-end. We made multiple turns, and ended up somewhere that we were unsure of. I approached a home hoping to have someone help us get back to the main road. There were 4 people in this home. A father, a mother and 2 children. All of them were laying on the same bed. The only bed in the place. The man stood up and asked if i was ok. I simply asked if he could point us in the direction of the main road. His response, “No problem mon.”

The stereo typical word “mon” is more than 100% accurate. Everyone here says “mon” after almost every sentence. Forget dude and bro. “Mon” is gunna start replacing those words in my vocabulary.


So this guy, (his name was Raasch, if that’s how you spell it) didn’t just point us in the right direction. He walked us the entire way and showed us through the neighborhoods so we could pass out more flyers. Genuine kindness.

Where is this kindness to stangers back at home? What happened to southern california that even a simple conversation between strangers is rare.


Monday July 21, 2014

Woke up late for breakfast. Whoops. 8:15 rolls around and the vehicles are loaded with all the necessities for the day: tools, art supplies, footballs, soccer balls, hacky sacs, etc. So we load up and head off to the church. Rio Bueno Baptist Church.

Before we even have time to stop and get out, kids are standing on the stairs waving at us. This was amazing. The kids were so excited for VBS they actually got there early and waited for us. It showed me how much these kids enjoy having people to hang out with. People to talk to and play games with. They had something different to do today and they were excited.


When we got started today, I’d say we had about 20 kids. Slowly this grew. 25 kids. 30 kids. And then out of nowhere, we had about 100 kids. I don’t even remember it happening, nor do I understand how it happened. I take that back. God happened. He called all those kids there for us to pour out love to. Kathi was stressed. I would have been too trying to lead the madness. It immediately went from a structured setting to chaos. The music wasn’t working. Kids were running from group to group jumping on leaders. We could barely get all the kids attention at one time and things were just hectic. We even had a couple of troublemakers who thought it would be funny to pinch us, slap us, bite us, you name it. But through the midst of it all, it was fun. The kids were having the time of their lives and learning about Jesus. This is what really matters.


One little girl asked me to pick her up, so I did. Her name was Djohnee. She was 4 years old. After a few minutes I tried to put her down. Not happening. So sure enough I ended up carrying her around for I’d say a solid hour. Great workout. Mom’s with kids, props. Mega props. But while I was holding her, I asked her about her friends, her family, school, anything I could think of. And sure enough I had to ask her about Jesus.

“Do you know how much you are loved?”

No response.

“Do you know how much you are loved?”

Nothing.

“Djohnee, do you know who Jesus is?”

(Shakes her head yes)

“Who is he?”

(mumbles under her breath)
“Can you say it a little louder?”

(singing)
“Jesus, loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones from here below, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

She had the biggest smile on her face. And then I got so excited I think I scared her..

Before that, I was speechless. This little girl was singing to me. Singing about how much Jesus loves her. Shoot, I thought I was going there to fill these kids up with God’s love. I didn’t think I was going to be filled up. Not as much as I was. And am even right now.

Djohnee was the biggest blessing to me. And this was only day 1 of VBS. 4 more days to go.


So many times, we are scared to go into certain situations. We scared because we don’t know how to react. We don’t want to feel helpless. We want to do something to help people but what and how? And what if it doesn’t go as planned? What if things get crazy? I can’t control the situation so why should I go? When these starts start to flood us, aren’t we putting our feelings before other people feelings? Aren’t we saying that I’m not comfortable so I don’t want to.

What people miss, is that just by showing up, we are making someone’s day. That is helping them. So many kids, and people just want someone to talk to. Someone to tell share their story with and what they know or learned. Listening to someone shows more love than we understand. Listening, processing and understanding them and through that responding to them. Love.

It’s not just physical need. Its emotional need. Whether we realize it or not. People young and old feel loved just by seeing a smiling face. It was so awesome working with these kids and being able to talk with them, play with them, and love them.

Day 1

Day 1

Saturday July 19, 2014


Travel day. I got home from work around 3pm and started packing. I have 3 hours to get my stuff and go. We were only aloud to take 2 carry on bags with us for an 8 day trip (we gave up our checked bags to take clothes, bibles, sheets, blankets, tools for construction, etc.). Packing wasn’t too hard. I grabbed some shirts, shorts, bathing suits, and the other basic necessities.  And then I realized, I don’t have toiletries.  A few months back, I had given my travel bag of toiletries to a friend who was homeless and needed help. So last minute, I ran to Target grabbed what I needed, loaded up on beef jerky, gold fish, and starburst, and left.

Before heading to the airport, my mom dropped me off at our team leaders house (Dan and Kathi) where I met up with the rest of the group and got free chipotle. Already an amazing start to the trip. Free chipotle. Come on. We loaded the busses and trucks and left for the San Diego airport. 10:45pm our flight takes off.

We traveled a total of 10 hours. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad. A 4 hour flight to Detroit, 3 hour layover, and a 3 hour flight to Jamaica. Jamaica. Flying over it was amazing. The water had about 4 different shades of blue and the land was covered green. This country is beautiful. Back at Dan and Kathi’s house, before we left for the airport, Kathi gave me a book. Crazy Love. She told me to read it and reflect on it. So during the flight I started reading. I didn’t get very far, but from what I read, I was able to appreciate Jamaica so much more.


Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, starts by addressing who God is by describing his characteristics. Which to me, was common knowledge but ALWAYS a good reminder. And then He touches a point, which hit home.

I used to always ask God to reveal himself to me in a crazy radical way. I’d stare off into the sky hoping He would pop His head out of the clouds and say “I’m here, trust me.” This obviously came from a place of doubt, which I have no shame in admitting. I know He is there, I’ve seen the work He’s done in my life through my testimony and I’ve felt his presence. But why wasn’t I able to see him.


“If you want to see God, look around at his creation. He is in everything.”

His creation. God created the earth and all that is in it. With a word, He spoke it all into existence. Take a look around. If you want to see God, look at what he created. Not made. But created. There’s a difference. Making something is taking something already created and turning it into something else. Creating something is taking nothing and turning it into something. I hope that makes sense. So, flying into Jamaica and seeing the ocean’s different shades of blue and land filled in with green, made me realize I was admiring God by admiring is creation. I saw God because I saw His creation. God IS here.

An answered prayer. Peace has come over me and joy has filled me up. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this week ahead. He is ready to move through us. We are His vessels and we are right where He wants us to be.


The busses picked us up from the airport and took us straight to lunch. I already forgot the name of the restaurant/bbq but it was good. Jerk chicken and bearfruit. Jerk chicken’s got a little kick, you have to be ready for it. And Bearfruit, tasted like artichoke heart. It was so tender you could cut through it with a spoon. It was also drenched in butter. Authentic Jamaican food is a two thumbs up.

After lunch, it was about an hour drive to Runaway bay. We pulled up to our villas and ran through the houses. This place is WAY nicer than I had expected. We have a kitchen, a side pool, a couple hammocks and the best part, a beach front ocean view. If this is what missions trips are like, sign me up. I could do this the rest of my life. I’ll post some pictures later when i get a chance.

 


Its sunday morning and i dont have time to fill you in on all the details of the day. But it was a relaxing one. Please continue to pray for our team.

Thanks and God bless.

 

Pre-trip Prep

With 4 days left, I’m just now starting to prepare. Procrastination. One of my many desireable traits. But by prepare, I dont mean by physical essentials; shopping, organizing, packing. I’ll start those later. I’m preparing spiritually.

One of the first truths God has opened my eyes to is this: A pouring out first requires a pouring in. 

I used to be a server. Great money, great experience. If I were to go to a table and try to refill their drinks with an empty pitcher, I would fail. It’s not possible. I would first need to fill the pitcher then fill their drinks. Common sense. Now filling up the pitcher in a total of 4 seconds wouldn’t leave me with much water. I’d have to steal someone elses pitcher.

With 4 days left, I want to spend as much time as possible in prayer and His word. I want to have a servants heart.

I pray that God overflows my cup with His love so that it reaches the people on my team and in Jamaica.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit –John 16:27