YES! Assignment to Indonesia by Katey Ebaugh

My adventure started in the summer of 2013 when God called an ordinary kid to be different and follow God to Indonesia. With a very supporting church behind me, God provided the funds I needed. Giving full trust to God for the unknown future, I along with another American girl and one Indonesian girl met in the city of Jakarta to begin the journey God had planned.

We three girls, Emily, Evi, and I, arrived at a church in the city of Surabaya after one week of intense culture and language study.

As new and strange as this place across the world seemed to be, God provided many blessings and comforts along the way. We had a great understanding staff that mentored and taught us many lessons throughout our experience.

A scripture passage that we chose very early on was Mark 6:7-13 which says, “Calling the Twelve to Him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” These were his instructions, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town…. They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” When we heard this verse we thought “oh that is cute, Jesus sent them out two by two just like us.” What we didn’t realize was that the same things the disciples did long ago, Jesus was going to do through us as well.

We spent the last four months of our time teaching English and building relationships in a Muslim boarding school on an island called Madura. This place turned our world upside down and forced us to die to ourselves and live in complete surrender to God. In this place we lived with poverty and experienced the realness and beauty of God in new ways. The spiritual darkness on the island could not hide the light of Jesus. Not only were our lives changed forever, but we also found the lives of those we worked with being changed by God’s miracles and power, giving new freedom to people bound by strict religious rules.

Some lessons I learned were that God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called; God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses; His love and peace never stops flowing even to the ends of the earth!

Angela Warfel’s reflections on her recent Mission Trip

Angela picture

I went to Burkina Faso from January 10th to March 17th to volunteer at the Sheltering Wings orphanage in the town of Yako, which is about an hour and a half northwest of the capital city. While there, one of my responsibilities was brushing the teeth of twelve children, from babies with only two teeth all the way up to 8-year-olds. I did this each morning and evening. Another responsibility of mine was to care for the babies from 9:00 to 10:00 while the toddlers had preschool. Even though I wasn’t required to, I typically chose to remain with the babies until noon. From 12:00 to 3:00, all the volunteers were expected to remain in the guest house for lunch and siesta. Afternoons were ours to use as we desired, and I often spent mine with the older kids. One of them was really good on the guitar and taught me some things. Dinner was usually between 6:00 and 7:00; those of us who lived in the guest house had dinners together and took turns cooking and cleaning up. After dinner I helped the children brush their teeth, and then had the rest of the evening to spend with the other girls in the guest house.

The leaders of the orphanage also organize relief work in the community. Twice a week there was a distribution of TOMS shoes to children in either schools or surrounding villages. Village distributions tended to be rather chaotic and required more volunteers, and took around 6 hours to complete, whereas those in schools required fewer people and only took around 2 hours. Twice a month, grain and laundry soap were distributed to 60 widows that were sponsored in the surrounding area. We volunteers were required to participate in the shoe distributions, but the grain and soap distributions were optional.

Going to Burkina was probably one of the most necessary and growing experiences I’ve ever had. I felt myself change so much during the time I was there, whether it was growing up and gaining skills for independence, or learning lessons about how friendships go through seasons, or learning to make friendships with people while I’m in a particular place even though I might be leaving again very soon. God used my experiences—distributing TOMS shoes twice a week, and brushing babies’ and toddlers’ teeth every morning and night—to teach me how to love others.

Alaska Trip with Global Expeditions – by Katey Ebaugh   (click picutre to enlarge)

Refined; the word means to be made purer by a refining process.   As I look back on the mission trip I took to Nenana, Alaska, this was the theme God had in mind for my team.   The Lord had some amazing things in store for my team of 20 teenagers.

I first flew down to Texas to the base of Global Expeditions.   For about a week of wonderful worship and intense sessions, I was influenced and inspired to be a leader and explode my belief that God was going to perform the impossible in Alaska; even all around the world!   I was chosen to serve as a Missionary Advisor (MA) on the Alaskan team; the MA is in charge of the missionaries and is guided by the Team Leaders.   The experience of being an MA allowed me to use and develop the leadership skills I had inside of me.  Time after time in Nenana, God showed my ministry group how he designed each specific person to be a light in the village.   We found it amazing how God strengthened our faith.   One night we discovered all of us were silently thinking that nobody wanted to talk to us so we asked God to prove us wrong.   As we continued walking along the street, we met four teens playing soccer and they invited us to join them.   My group was blown away that we didn’t even have to invite ourselves.   In 2 Corinthians 12:9 it says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” we experienced exactly this continuously and God always blew away our doubt.

It is truly amazing how perfect God is. He knows what the ending will be from the beginning, he is the first and the last (Revelation 22:13).   It is fantastic to look back and see how God refined me and also to see him refine my entire team in every personal aspect of their lives.   God proved to me that there is no reason to doubt; he does do the impossible.   Thank you River Corner for sending me across the U.S. to be a light in Nenana and to be myself refined.

South African Choir Tour – by Renae Gochnauer   (click picutres to enlarge)

There’s something about music that brings friends, schools and people from around the world together. After spending 17 days in South Africa, that idea makes absolute sense. Over those 17 days, I, along with 30 other singers from Lancaster Mennonite High School, gave 7 concerts, sang in 3 assemblies and participated in countless spontaneous songs in the Johannesburg and Durban area. The days were filled with song, dance, and history as we Americans got to know more about South African culture and the apartheid movement.
Our trip fulfilled a life-long dream of our director, Marcy Hostetler, to go to Africa for the music. I believe that our experience did so much more than simply teach us to move and sing at the same time. I know that I learned so much about people, hospitality, racism, and faith in the course of two weeks.

The primary part of my trip to South Africa was traveling to several different high schools and learning with their choirs. We did workshops with them, learning African song and dance and then in a few cases teaching South Africans an American song. We usually chose to teach them the folk tune I’ll Fly Away…they always loved the banjo twang to that song.
These times were both entertaining and hard, because I usually learn music by reading the notes. In Africa, however, most of the music is learned by ear without sheet music in front of you. Add in another language and dances to go along with it, and the music got tricky. But once we got it down, the music was so much fun.

We also spent time at a reservation park, relaxing and experiencing African animals up close and personal. In one instance, a lion passed our bus only ten feet away, much to the consternation and excitement of many Chorale members. That weekend was one where I marveled at God’s handiwork and also became closer with several classmates that I had not known well beforehand.
The last section of our trip was spent at a Christian camp out on a sugar cane farm with absolutely breathtaking scenery. We spent a day at their school, getting to know the students by helping them with English and simply playing games with them. It was a great time for me because it’s so fun to see how barriers come down when playing sports or singing a song you have in common.
South Africa changed the way that I see many things. Racism is still so prevalent in society today, and I now find myself more aware of what I say in regards to different cultures and ethnicities because of my experience in South Africa. Campus Chorale also became a better singing group and we became much closer as people. There were many tears our last night there, knowing that the seniors were moving on and that we now had to return to the United States. I will always carry the memories of Africa with me, and I look forward to being able to sing in choir again this fall at school.

Dominican Republic Trip – by Katey Ebaugh   (4 picture slideshow)

It is amazing how a short, one-week trip to another country can change your perspective and even your life.   My trip to the Dominican Republic did just that.   I went with a group of 20 from Maple Grove Mennonite Church, who have been going on this same trip for years.   We were stationed at the Rose of Sharon Orphanage and worked on building an office as well as building relationships with the children there.

Each day was different and filled with lots of new things to learn and do.   One day I learned how to lay block, and could do everything except lift the block.   The next day I painted some rooms in the orphanage, and still another day I helped to bake some jello cakes for the kids at the orphanage in a propane oven.   Each day held new experiences and every day I was able to enjoy the warm weather and beautiful countryside of the DR.   It was especially enjoyable, since back home they were getting a snowstorm.   We were kept busy working from 9am to 3:30 pm; it was hard work, but it was very rewarding to know we were working for the Lord and for the benefit of these kids.

My favorite part of the day was hanging out with the kiddos for a couple hours after work until dinner.   One of the most inspiring things to me was the close friendships that were shared with the children, even without speaking the same language.   When it came time for us to leave there were lots of hugs and watery eyes.   Something else I realized is how Jesus’ love can often be communicated more effectively with fewer words and more smiles.

The most life-changing moment in the DR was traveling a couple miles down the road to what was not only a garbage dump, but a home to many Dominicans and their cattle.   It was heartbreaking and opened my eyes to how many times I think I need something when I have more than enough.   I am thankful for such a supporting church family that gave me the chance to live in this new culture for a week.   This trip broadened my perspective and has better equipped me to set out for the journey God has planned for me next.

SportQuest Ministries Trip to Europe – by Megan Lehman

Megan's teamMegan (far right) with mission team

What could possibly make a seventeen-year-old wearing a lime green t-shirt board a plane with 40 other young adults that were to become her team over the next three weeks?   It’s simple, a once in a life time chance to serve on a not so typical missions trip.   At the beginning of the 2012 year I received a call asking me if I would consider going on a trip to Belgium and London to run softball training camps.   The camps would be run free of charge for kids and teens of all ages and consisted primarily of athletic training with a time of faith-based lessons to finish out the day.   Following two weeks in Belgium we went to London for a week to do basically the same.

The baseball/softball team consisted of individuals from 6 states across the United States, anywhere between Pennsylvania and California, and 3 countries, that provided me with a unique experience to get to know amazing people from all different backgrounds.   I also got a chance to meet and teach some phenomenal children, whom I hope I was a positive influence on.   The trip was also difficult at times, not knowing anybody, not speaking Dutch, the language in Belgium, and climaxing with my camera being stolen during our week in London, after I had amassed 1,200 pictures on it.

Megan's teamMegan (front right) with softball team

Overall, my trip with SportQuest Ministries was a fantastic experience.   I am not a spectacular athlete, so this trip wasn’t so much about the physical aspect as it was about what I learned about myself and about God.   By being away from home, I was able to identify and address some mental struggles that I’d been holding onto for far too long.   I realized I had been trying to control my life, rather than let the Creator of my life control it.   A close friend of mine said, “Ever since you came back from Belgium, you’ve just been so full of joy, it overflows and makes me happy too!”   This was certainly an impactful experience for me and one that I was certainly blessed by.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.   And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.     Matthew 28: 19-20 (NIV)