Friday, March 14, 2014

Yesterday was such an eventful and long day that this blog did not get written before lights out at 10 PM.  May we digress to yesterday for a moment?  We were greeted by the girls wanting to sing two songs to us to start our devotion time on Thursday.  In all five years that we have been dedicating our time to the YES girls, we have never had them want to sing to us!  Our devotion time was based on Hebrews 12: 1-2 and did skits about “fixing our eyes on Jesus”.  Following our skits, Jennifer shared her testimony with the girls.  It was a powerful opportunity for the girls to hear from a graduate of YES who has faced their same struggles and continued to persevere because she loves Jesus.  Erin (YES intern) felt led to lead us in prayer which led two more girls (sisters) to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior (Yay!!).  We just thought Wednesday would be our most moving day with the girls.  We all feel this year has been an extra special year for relationship building with the girls, and Pastor Ruth echoed our thoughts in her final thank you to us.  We just could not leave this segment out of our week’s blog.

Now we turn to Friday, and this again has been a long and fruitful day.  We have been blessed with good schedule adherence all week, but ran into a few issues today.  As the big bus (People Mover) was driving down the road to YES to pick-up the girls and staff, it ran over a nail.  Most of us stayed at the school and made wristbands with the girls while we waited on the bus to return.  So our day at Banana Bank with the girls started at lunch time with our arrival to a wonderful family style meal of chicken, beans and rice, and cole slaw.  The girls then split into two groups to go horseback riding and swimming.  For many of the girls, this was their first opportunity to ever sit on a horse, much less ride one through a jungle.  Diane was beaming upon her return as she saw a monkey while riding. 

At 8 Mile the work crew finished putting together the floor beams and thus completed all the work that was planned for this week.  It was a great day!

Tomorrow morning we head out to an island to take some time away after a very full week and before returning home.  We will have time to rest and play, but most importantly, this time allows us the opportunity to start processing everything we have seen and experienced this week and listen to God’s leading and how He wants each of us to apply what He has taught us in our daily lives when we return home.

Please pray for:
-Phillipa’s children’s church and her vision for this ministry (we worshiped there Sunday night and saw her again today)
-Over each of the YES girls that gave their life to Christ this week, that they would be surrounded by positive community as new believers and may continue to grow in their faith.

-Each of our team as we take time away to really listen to the Lord, that our ears would be open and hearts softened to his voice.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Skits during YES devotional
 “Wow!” a direct quote from Jim Cicherski. Nothing else could quite explain our day any better than that one word! We had a powerful day at YES and we experienced, first-hand, our vision of disciples making disciples. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, our devotional time focused on encouraging the girls that they do have hope in Jesus Christ. Our key verse for the day was Romans 15:13. The girls participated in skits and heard a moving testimony by one of the interns that just started working at YES. Right after this, one of the girls was moved to accept the Lord as her Savior!!

Sewing praise flags at YES
Mrs. Mimi, Gala and Michelle helped the girls finish working on their praise flag sewing project and each girl finished one flag. The flags are beautiful!  They will learn the flag choreography tomorrow afternoon.  The girls also had a great time making arts and crafts projects with Suzie, Caroline, Ann Marie and Colton. But, the big hit of the day was Mrs. Diane using her hidden talent of creating balloon animals. It was lovely to see the girls laughing and being playful with one another, which is a rare occurrence in their daily routine.

Visors created at YES
At the 8 Mile work site, the work crew completed the concrete columns to the new building! Lew, Zach and Zach worked hard to finish the last three pillars. They also removed the casing from columns poured yesterday.  Through some phone calls and God’s provision, a crane will be on site tomorrow to lift the remaining floor beams in to place atop the columns.

Please pray over:
-Jennifer (J-Lo), a YES graduate who has come back to help cook our meals this week, who will be sharing her testimony during the girls devotional Thursday morning.
-the financial struggles at YES, for God to reveal His plan for a long term funding plan for the program
-The remaining work at the 8 Mile construction site
-The YES girls, that their hearts would be softened to God’s love, that they would find their hope in Christ alone

-God’s timing for opportunities to learn about new ministries in Belize that will be information for potential future partner church involvement

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Well another full day completed!  The work (Lew, Zach V., and Zach L.) crew at 8 Mile made great progress today!  They made the forms for four more concrete columns and filled them with concrete this afternoon.  The concrete is curing overnight and the forms will be removed and put on the final four columns tomorrow.  Just before lunch they were able to round up enough extra hands from the neighborhood to get a 40 foot long floor beam hoisted up 16 feet in the air and placed on top of a row of the concrete columns. 

We were able to purchase a motor for Kenny’s concrete mixer, which was a huge blessing.  Mixing that much concrete by hand is hard work!  The work crew was also blessed by the tireless work put in by Jose, one of the young people that has been particularly affected by the love that Tina and Kenny offer those in their community.  He has been there every day, with our group and every other group, working on this community center.  What a joy to see God at work in this young man!

Work crew lifting floor beam into position
It was great to return to YES today.  It is always a bit like coming home to greet Ms. Karen and Pastor Ruth and the other staff each year!  Several of the girls were in the program last year and remember us this year.  Diane and Laura lead a beautiful devotional time with the girls this morning and it was so evident the gifts in teaching the Lord has given these two ladies.  After the worship and devotional time the girls were split into two groups, one spent the morning painting canvases and the other started the flag sewing project. 

Laura leading morning devotional activity at YES
We had some time to speak with Ms. Karen and Pastor Ruth about YES.  The school is financially struggling and in need of lots of prayer.  The situation is such that really only God can intervene and provide a solution for permanent funding for the program. 

Jim helping Jennifer and Ms. Karen prepare lunch
We are excited to return to YES tomorrow as the Lord has already been at work all day today guiding and shaping how we are to present the gospel to these girls and encourage them with the hope that we have in Christ.

Please pray for:
Safety on the work site as the guys finish the concrete columns and build the floor beams.
The YES girls, that their hearts would be softened to God’s love for them.
The YES staff that they would have an extra measure of strength and energy to continue serving.

The YES school, that God would reveal a radical plan for self-sustainment.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mixing concrete in front of the 8 Mile Community Center construction site 

Playing games with the 8 Mile young people

Today was spent at Western Paradise (8 Mile), we began the day hand mixing concrete and handing it up to the top of the forms for  three 16 foot high pillars at the community building.  This is the same building that we started last year with digging and building the foundation. It was amazing to see the progress that has been made at the site. It is an unusual building that will be a combination storage facility and community building.  The storage function will be performed by the first floor which is made of shipping containers.  The pillars will eventually hold up the second floor which will be used for community activities and a library. 

The youth group at 8 Mile also had planned a day of fun activities for the kids in the neighborhood.  It was a fun, long day of activity in the sun.  We are grateful for Diane’s knowledge of children’s games! After a quick trip to town to purchase supplies - thread and trash bags – we learned how to make kites!  It is amazing that a few coconut palm stems can be combined with those supplies to create a kite with a long tail.  Most of the kids were successful in getting their kite to fly.  Some even had them soaring as high as ½ a mile into the sky!!! It was great to see that many of the kids remembered us from last year. 

It was good to see Tina at her home. She continues to work through the healing process and progress is being made.

Things to pray about:
Pray for the sustainability of the youth group at 8 Mile and pray that each of the individual youth will develop deeper, personal relationships with Christ.
Pray for Tina, Kenny and their kids.

Pray for smooth initial interactions with the girls at YES and that God will be at work in their hearts and it would not take all week for them to open up and hear Jesus’s message of forgiveness and love.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

We’re here!  We made it to Belize this morning.   We met our TWAW partner, Tim Hagen, and settled in to our lodging for the week. 

We enjoyed an amazing time of worship at Pickstock Assemblies of God this evening!  This church is pastored by Phillipa and primarily serves children and young people.  These beautiful children lead the worship singing with such enthusiasm and heart that the whole wooden building was shaking!  We hope to meet with Phillipa later this week to learn more about this ministry.

Tomorrow our entire team heads to Western Paradise, otherwise known as 8 mile, to do construction work on the community center. 

It has been a very long day so we will post more throughout the week!

Things you can pray over:
-Safety during construction work
-Opportunities to interact with Belizeans at 8 Mile
-Renewed friendships with 8 Mile youth
-the girls at YES as we prepare to meet them again on Tuesday