Monday, April 29, 2013

Kenya, East Africa - April 29 - Flood and Rift Valley Academy Visit

I left Kampala on Saturday, April 27 and flew to Nairobi, Kenya. I was in Nairobi for a few hours before heading out of the city by car to Rift Valley Academy. Originally, I was going to head directly from the airport to the school, but our departure was delayed due to major road damage heading to the school and in the local village of Kijabe and outlying areas. They have received more rain than usual during the month of April, but that was added to on Friday night by 5 inches of rain falling. This resulted in a huge mud slide tearing away part of RVA's fence and clearing a huge portion of the woods above and next to the school. The mud traveled down the roads depositing trees and other debris in the path of destruction.

I was able to make it to RVA campus, meet up with our 9 MKs as well as many more students. It was a great couple of days of fellowship giving me an opportunity to, not only see the campus, but pray with each of the WGM MKs individually.

I watched them play rugby, attended church with them on Sunday, experience a wonderful student led worship time, attend a chapel service and share a couple of meals together.

 Sunday Night Live - student led worship with over 150 students voluntarily attending

 Chapel service for the junior high and high school students

 Campus courtyard between classes

A few of our WGM students during morning Chia break

Uganda, East Africa - April 27

I had a wonderful time in Uganda. I was able to visit with all but one of our missionary families. One of the highlights of my visit happened on Tuesday, while on an outing to the town of Jinja in Uganda. I had the privilege to share my faith with a family I met and then with the bus driver on the return trip to the capital city of Kampala. Please pray with me for this family and also Juma, our bus driver.

Another great opportunity was getting to know the students at Heritage International School. On my last evening in Kampala, I was able to be involved leading games during their youth group all-nighter. There is a fantastic ministry to a truly international student body.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Uganda, East Africa - April 25

It's been a great week here in Kampala. On Monday, I was able to hang out at Heritage International School with the students and then help out after classes with their volleyball practice. Then Wednesday afternoon, I attended their first scrimmage game where they asked me to fill in as referee. Not my calling, but it was fun.

Wednesday morning, I spoke for the junior high and high school chapels and then was able to fellowship with the students during their lunch break.

Each evening, I've been spending time with the different families working here in Kampala. Tonight (Thursday), we have an all mission dinner to celebrate the ministries of 2 missionary families preparing to leave for their Homeland Ministry Assignments in the States.

This morning I met with Annabel, the school director, and she picked my brain about 'cross-cultural transition' and how they can continue to build that ministry to the students and their families.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Kampala and I'll spend some time at Heritage helping out. In the evening I'll be involved in the first part of a youth all-nighter. Josh Hallahan, the youth leader, asked me to head up group activities. I won't be staying the entire evening as I'll need to get some rest before my early morning departure to Nairobi, Kenya.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Uganda, East Africa - April 17-27

I arrived in Kampala, Uganda on Wednesday, April 17. I've had the opportunity to meet with our missionaries located in the city and have visited ministries at a local university and Heritage International School.

I was able to attend a chapel service at Heritage the other day and then speak for the youth group on Friday afternoon. Then on Friday afternoon, I had the privilege to attend a play put on by the middle school students.

On Sunday morning, I spoke at the United Faith Chapel which meets on the campus of the Kampala International University with more than 150 in attendance.

Then on Sunday evening, I had the privilege of eating out with the WGM junior high and high school MKs. We had a fun evening of fellowship and I appreciated getting to know them a bit better.

Kenya, East Africa - April 9-17 - WGM Kenya Retreat

On April 9, headed to Kenya, East Africa via Columbus, Ohio - Cleveland, Ohio - Washington DC - Zurich, Switzerland and then, 22 hours after leaving Columbus, I landed in Nairobi, Kenya... All the flights went well and I was even able to bring medical supplies for Tenwek Hospital.

I then went to join the World Gospel Mission staff from Kenya, South Sudan and Zambia for their annual retreat. My assignment, which was a total blast, was to work with the youth during the retreat. In addition to our daily activities and sharing times together, we celebrated at the baptism of one of the young men.

On the last evening, the staff celebrate a time for their graduates and they asked me to bring the address for the 4 young people. What an honor!

We have a great staff in Kenya and I can honestly say they have a wonderful group of kids. They were fun to get to know a little better or even meet for the first time.

Bonus - visiting Espajillos one more time!

For one of the student's birthdays, he wanted to invite several of his classmates to spend a Saturday at Espajillos, a waterfall just 40 kilometers outside Santa Cruz.

We had a great time seeing God's incredible creation and jumping into the base of the waterfall.

I was able to borrow my old truck and we only got stuck once while crossing the river on our way home! :)

No worries, I returned the truck in great condition after a short trip to the mechanic to pull off the front right tire, brakes and wheel bearings then clean everything, repack the bearings and put it all back. I feel like it was $20 well spent! It was definitely a fun adventure.

Servant Day - March 20

The Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center sponsors a servant day each year for the youth to get out into the community and serve through various means.

The Freshman class went to the campus of Berea Bible Seminary and painted the outside of the chapel building as well as helped to maintain some of the grounds through clean up and cleaning out the flower beds.

The Sophomores worked to move a community medical consultation office from one neighborhood to another.

The Juniors and Seniors worked together to sand and paint he inside of a community police station.

No matter their assignment, the youth worked with great attitudes conveying their concern for the community and their desire to serve.


SCCLC High School Camp - February 25 - March 1

Just 2 days after the junior high camp, 75 high school students headed out for their 5-day camp. The theme of high school camp was 'Not a Fan' based on the Kyle Idleman book by the same name. It was a great time of deepening relationships with the Lord and several students committing their lives to God.

 On Wednesday evening, the Freshman guys allowed God into their cabin devotions in an incredible way. There was reconciliation and forgiveness found within their own relationships and 3 of the young men committed their hearts to Christ! When they shared in the morning devotional time, the Spirit of God moved in other lives and our morning flowed into a great time of fellowship with the Father.

Junior High Camp - WISEGUYS! - February 20-22

Our 3-day camp with the 42 junior high students went really well. Our theme, Wiseguys, focused on encouraging the youth to follow Christ in their own walks. It was a great time of fun and fellowship. God worked in many of the young students' lives and helped to bring more unity within those classes.

Back in Bolivia - February 4 through March 29

On February 4, I headed back to Bolivia to help out at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. The main focus of ministry was to speak at and direct the junior high and high school camps. In addition, I was able to be involved in other ministries at the school including the weekly Bible studies and chapel services. The school asked me to lead the Servant Day for the high school students on March 20. My final activity with the students was to lead a time of communion along with Emily Barlow and Ryan & Pam Parsons, who are serving this year as the school youth pastors.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was building relationships with the young people and spending time with them in personal accountability. 

Overall, it was a wonderful trip with multiple times of service and participation. I returned home to Ohio on Good Friday and enjoyed Easter with my family.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Speaking & Ministry Opportunities in January

I had the opportunity to speak at Central Christian Church in Springfield, Ohio; at the Ohio Christian University WGM Student Involvement Center and for the WGM/Asbury Ski Retreat.

There were almost 250 MKs plus others in attendance at the MK Snow Camp in Northern Indiana. It was a great weekend of fellowship and challenging the young people in their walks with the Lord.
11 Students from Indiana Wesleyan University's ISA (International Student Association) were among those in attendance.
Also attending, were friends and former students of the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center.
On January 26 & 27 I spoke for the junior high and high school services at Cypress Wesleyan church where I attend. Then, just before leaving for Bolivia, I spoke for the Asbury/WGM Ski Retreat. There were approximately 50 in attendance for the 2 days together with 5 also joining us from Indiana Wesleyan.
In addition to these activities, I was involved in two events at the mission, a Re-Entry Seminar for returning missionary families and a CMS Conference for families heading out to raise their support. During the CMS Conference I worked with a 'new' WGM family who will be heading to Kenya. Two of their 6 children attended, so we had a great time working with the family in preparation for their service at Tenwek Hospital.

New Years and Wedding!

I started out 2013 with great friends near Lexington, Kentucky. It was a fun & relaxing time catching up!

On January 3, I flew to Maine to be in Ben Cooper's wedding. Ben lived in my home in Santa Cruz from 2005-2007. It was an honor to be a groomsman in the wedding and a great time of fellowship with his family throughout the weekend. I even had the honor of sharing with his youth group briefly before heading home to Ohio.