Sunday, June 28, 2015

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

After a long bus ride, we finally arrived in Myrtle Beach for the first leg of our trip; sand, sun, and team bonding.

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...mission trips provide a unique opportunity to share God's LOVE, but they are also an opportunity for each of us to grow in our relationships with each other and with our Heavenly Father.

While laying on the beach listening to the waves crashing around us was the perfect way to relax, and the sea food was certainly delicious, I think we would all agree that the best part of our time in Myrtle Beach was the time spent reflecting on His LOVE. 

On Friday night, we gathered on the beach and spent time taking in His creation, talking about the many reasons we decided to come on this trip, and singing praises. ...there is something about singing Oceans, while staring into the waves of the ocean that gave me chills. 

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

The next morning we started our day in His word. may just be me, but I always find it so much easier to listen to Him, when I'm intentional about spending time alone with Him. 

The morning was complete after a few quick rounds of butt charades and a windy game of wiffle ball. case you are curious, Vince struck out three times.

The rest of the day was spent exploring and enjoying. I know a group of people walked to the pier while others went souvenir shopping. The lazy river provided lots of entertainment and I thoroughly enjoyed my lawn chair. 

...despite threatening weather, we were once again able to enjoy devotions on the beach and time with our prayer teams. 

We are so ready to share His LOVE in Lexington!!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Let OUR LIVES be the Proof of YOUR LOVE

God is GOOD!

We are on our way to South Carolina where we will have the opportunity to use our words and actions to share His LOVE with the people of Lexington County. While we don't know exactly what to expect this week, we do know that God has a plan and purpose for each of us. 

...I can't wait to see how He uses us on this adventure. 

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes." Romans 1:16

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Abby’s God Moment

[God Moment.  ...a moment in your life when you feel God's presence and can see Him at work in your life.]  

“We think we have it bad. I feel disgusted thinking about how much I've taken for granted. Until you have seen the living conditions of the village we visited, you can't fully understand. I can't even imagine living like that.

Their houses were made of slabs of metal, poorly connected with nails. The floors were mostly made of dirt with an occasional matted down rug. Many houses were connected with very narrow, metal hallways. Which means to get to your house, you could have to go through someone's house or "porch." Many of the nine houses we brought food to were significantly smaller than my bedroom. Dogs roamed the village; every one of them were clearly sick and had fleas. Most of them had torn ears, and one of their faces was half torn apart. There was literally no sunlight where we were. It was all hidden by metal and trees.   

Before we went into the village to deliver the food, the pastor and Raymond told us about the people who live in the village; more specifically the members of their church. We were told that one of the biggest problems the people were working to overcome was child prostitution. Girls were often forced into sexual relations as young as eleven years old and the pastor knew a seventeen year old girl who had already had three kids. …I can't keep my room clean for more than a week and my mom still does my laundry, and this girl my age has three little lives to take care of. I get exhausted babysitting for a few hours!

Other problems that filled the village were alcoholism, drug addiction, and domestic abuse. One of the women we met was eight and a half months pregnant, and the man she lives with abuses her. One of her five kids had just come home from the doctor where he had just found out he had a parasite. All the children in this village lived in literal waste and disease.

As we walked through the village we were all in shock. We walked in silence as we took in the trash, the dirt, and the entire  village falling apart around us. Despite all of this, the families we visited were eager to let us into their homes. They were extremely passionate, especially when we prayed for them. One woman in particular especially moved us. She was old and sick and had fifteen people living in her small house. She was in a lot of pain and had issues with her feet, but she walked up and down the steep hill three times a week to attend all of the offered church services. She also walked to the other side of the village just to come watch her son and all the other children play with us.

The kids were so excited when we came the next day. They were so full of joy just for us to be there. …I seemed to have caught the attention of one little girl who constantly pulled me around with her and begged for me to hold her. It made me wonder what kind of attention they all get at home. Raymond told us that most of the children don’t have a stable father figure; some of them don’t even know who their father is.  I pray they know their real Father would never abandon them. Their Heavenly Father loves them, and is there for them in all circumstances. 

We planted seeds and I pray they continue to grow. There truly were some inspirational women, making every effort to live their lives for The Lord. I was amazed by the faith the women demonstrated, despite their impossible living conditions.” 

LOVE, Abby

Saturday, January 3, 2015

oh, Costa Rica

...I want to go back.

It seems hard to believe that it has been five months since we were in Costa Rica swimming in the ocean, blowing bubbles with the children at the orphanages, playing endless hours of soccer, delivering food to the village.  We were so incredibly blessed through our experience.

As I think back on our trip, there is one moment that I keep coming back to; that warms my heart and makes me so proud of the youth that were a part of that trip.

It seems like just yesterday we were visiting the poor village.  

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I still remember that moment when we walked into the first "house" to deliver food.  It was so crowed that only about half of our group could make it inside the one-room dwelling that served as a living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedroom.  ...and I remember when the woman who lived there shared her story; her story of hunger, but also her story of faith.  

She recalled a day when her family was without food.  ...they had nothing, yet she washed their dishes in anticipation for dinner.  While she washed those dishes, someone questioned why should would waste her time when there would be no food.  Without hesitation, she told that person that there would be food; God would provide food. ...and He did.  

We have everything, and there are times we struggle to believe. They have nothing, yet their strength in The Lord is sure.  

...but, that wasn't the only thing that I remember about that day.  As we went from "house" to "house" we listened to their stories and we were blessed with an opportunity to pray for them and their situations.  Each time the pastor asked us who would like to pray, another one of my youth would step forward and volunteer to pray for these families who so desperately need His LOVE as their hope.  ...they make me so proud.  

I am so very blessed to work with an incredible group of youth. I pray God continues to work in their lives and that they continue to grow in their faith. ...watching them as they walk in faith inspires me more than they can know.  

Click [here] to read more about the village we visited. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Costa Rica Mission: Day #9

It is hard to believe that our time in Costa Rica has come to an end. Our time there was incredible; there really aren't words to fully describe our experience, but Mike Tabor, the director of SCORE International in Costa Rica, said it best when he said that we are often blessed when we are a blessing to others. We came to Costa Rica to share His everlasting LOVE with the people of Costa Rica; to be a blessing. Yet, through our experiences, we too were blessed. 

Yesterday morning we piled all of our luggage onto the bus one last time to make our way to the airport. ...we should have known we were in for a long day when the bus blew a tire. Luckily, we had the best driver in Costa Rica and he was able to deliver us safely to the airport.

Everything went smoothly until we landed at O'Hare. After claiming our luggage we made our way outside to wait for the bus. ...and wait, and wait, and wait...  

Apparently the bus company forgot to schedule a driver to pick us up and take us home. We spent an additional six hours hanging out in the O'Hare Airport waiting for a bus to drive all the way from Fort Wayne to pick us up. 

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It was easy to be discouraged by the chaos of traveling. ...but I can't help but look back and be encouraged by the many ways God provided his guidance and protection.  It was nothing short of a miracle that we made it to the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica after we got a flat tire.  Then, when the bus didn’t show and I was beginning to feel hopeless, He provided us a way to get in touch with the bus company after hours.  God is good, all the time.

We may be back from Costa Rica, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to share His LOVE has passed us by.  Each day we have an opportunity to LIVE by FAITH.

“I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 
Galatians 2:20


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Costa Rica Mission: Day #8

It is hard to believe today was our last day in Costa Rica. 

Today we traveled almost two hours to Guismo to help the local church with their Bible Clubs.

In the morning, almost fifty children came from around the area for songs, crafts, activities, and the chance to hear God's Word.  Bible Club started with a welcome, a prayer, and an opportunity for the children to recite the Bible verse that they had memorized before breaking into groups for their lessons. 

Once again, we were able to share our puppet show and sing about His LOVE. This time, when we sang "Cristo te Ama" they joined in, lifting their voices to praise Him. 

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In the afternoon, we worked to help the church rebuild their youth program. Jordan, our fearless leader for the day, explained that the church had stopped offering a youth group for teenagers when there weren't enough volunteers to keep it going. Now that more church members are willing to help, they are once again offering a program for their older youth. 

We walked through the town distributing tracts and inviting teenagers to attend the afternoon Bible Club. While the group was small, there were three girls, new to the youth group, who came to hear about His LOVE. 

May those seeds continue to be watered through future Bible Clubs and may God's LOVE be known by all of the children we have met this week. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Costa Rica Mission: Day #7

We were all willing to get up early for another day at Punta Leona. 

After breakfast, we went our separate directions. Some were off to explore the rainforest, others to wander Playa Mantas, and many went to play volleyball before cooling off in the pool. 

It was a fabulous morning. 

...and then there was shopping!! On the way back to the Coronado Complex, we stopped at a street market in San Jose to spend a little money. I think everyone enjoyed the opportunity to explore the "shops" and purchase souvenirs. 

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The boys decided to break in their new soccer jerseys before dinner. 

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While we LOVED the two days we spent resting and relaxing, we were all looking forward to another opportunity to share God's LOVE on our last full day in Costa Rica. 

...we miss you, but time is passing way too quickly...