Watch here for regular updates as the team's ministry continues.
April 14, 2012 - Greece team is scheduled to arrive into Calgary at 9:18 pm tonight.
April 10, 2012 - Greece is amazing......amazingly cold. God is really doing an amazing work here in Greece and it is so amazing to hear all the missionary stories and to sit down and chat with them. My students are amazing and are doing a great job! Keep praying for them as a lot of what we have done has challenged and stretched them. Serving here in Greece is tiring but rewarding! Loving Greece but looking forward to sharing all that God is doing here! God is good, all the time!
Wow Greece... it is an amazing time so far! My favorite is the refugees kids but it was also heartbraking. There were two girls that impacted me alot. After the three hours we were with them there both girls gave me a hug and told me they loved me and gave me a kiss. I broke down, I wanted to take them home with me but I knew that I could not. Ohhhh, and my first flight experience was fun/interesting. I had to use the washroom and when I was washing my hands I could not turn off the tap soooo one of the flght attendents came over and he told just leave it. After trying to turn it off for probably 5 minutes all I had to do was leave it and it turned off. I did sleep for three hours on the plane which was the highlight. The property is amazing, I love it. I have worked in the kitchen and also with the kids and I look forward to lots more good experiences.
Hey everyone, Matthew here. Wow! Greece has been amazing so far. Other than today, we have had great weather and its been pretty warm, today and last night took a downfall and it rained a lot. It has been exciting to see the work that God has done here in Greece at Porto Astro and in Athens (Love Meals and Hope Center) through Hellenic Ministries and its people. Today I was working with the kids in Porto Astro and they were amazing. They are funny and polite, and have been brought up on the Bible so they know it well. It has been a blessing to hear about the progress that Hellenic Ministries has had working. All their stories and prayers mean so much. They have been so nice and respectful of us, including us in their sessions, playing games with us and just hanging out to talk. Today four people were baptized and it was so cool to watch because the way they do it reminds each of us that a baptism isn`t just someone getting dunked, but rather a declaration of new life in Christ. Something that I happen to forget sometimes. Anyways, this is getting long, so please continue to pray for us and know that we are all enjoying Greece a lot.
April 9, 2012 - Because of the time shortage I am left approximately one minute to explain my time in Greece, which is too short for Hope. However I will try to summarize so far my time and experience in Greece in four significant words, not two or three but four: tough, busy, adventurous, growth.
We are at the property right now, about 2 hours out of Athens. It is an unbelievable scene I am looking at as I type this. Sitting in the warm sun, looking at the mountains, trees and the beautiful Agean Sea. We are all doing very well. There is very little internet access so, parents dont worry about your kids, they are exhausted and working hard but doing well and today....healthy. Love to you all.
April 7, 2012 - I really don't know how to start this but here it goes. Yesterday we spent the morning and most of the afternoon with a group of refugee kids and their mothers. The group was able to play with the kids and have a lot of fun. It was a great learning experience working with these kids because we don't speak the same language so it was really hard to communicate with them. The kids were so happy to just play with the balloons that we blew up for them and all the crafts that we had set up for them. It really touched my heart to see how much the kids loved to have us just sit beside them and colour with them or throw a balloon or ball around with them. It was so hard to say goodbye to these kids because you know that you are most likely never going to see them again and it was so easy to get attached to them. They seemed so happy even though they have nothing. We fed the group of refugees lunch and gave them gift bags and all of the kids got tattoos. Once we were done cleaning up we packed up all of our stuff and left from the hall in Athens and took a bus out to the property at Porto Astro. The scenery on the bus ride out was amazing and when we got out here the people were so welcoming and happy to have us here. It is going to be an amazing next couple of days here at the property and I really hope that God can work through us as a group. I'm not sure how to end this either so i guess its just a goodbye for now.
April 4, 2012 - Today, we spent the day touring Athens and Corinth! It was amazing to learn more about where Paul had preached and what he preached about. Our tour guide, Voula, did an amazing job! She referred to alot of scripture (Acts 18 and the letters to the Corinthians, which Paul wrote) about where we were standing and I was complete blown away by what I had not read yet! It felt like I was standing in a place where a celebrity was standing but so much cooler! This experience in Greece has already been completely different from my last visit, even though we haven't done much missions work yet. I am praying that our next few days, our time with the refugees and at the property, will be a life learning experience. I am also hoping that we can change the lives of the people we work with. I am looking forward to coming back to Three Hills and sharing stories with what we will be experiencing over the next week.
April 2, 2012 - PCA Greece team just left Three Hills on their way to Athens, Greece via Frankfurt, Toronto and Calgary! We'll let you know when they arrive safely!
March 29, 2012 - Today in chapel, the 4 staff members and 10 students who comprise the Greece 2012 team were commissioned by local pastors. They leave on Monday, April 2 and arrive in Athens, Greece on Tuesday, April 3. May they go in God's Power and in His Strength.
Sunday, February 20, 2012
The Colombia team was scheduled to arrive home today. However, due to a flight delay in Bogota (fogged in), they will not arrive in Calgary until Monday morning.
Friday, February 17, 2012 (AM)
Today when I was telling the team that they needed to be packed up tonight for departure, I was having a hard time really believing it myself! It is hard to imagine that it's time to come home already. We have truly experienced so much of the amazing country. I have heard talk of losing passports, and hijacking Juan (our fabulous driver) on the way to the airport. The kids really don't want this to end. We have all seen and done things that have made a deep impact in our lives. Some we will share over and over with you all when we return - others will be too difficult to put into words. Our hearts are full, tears are always close to the surface, and smiles are plastered on our faces.
Thank you for praying for us. There have been challenges and victories, highs and lows, but overall - God has been HERE with us! Pray for the last few hours here in Colombia. We are at ACOINPREV today (a school in Suba) and tonight we are splitting up and having a meal with Colombian families. Tomorrow we head to the Jungle - a YWAM ministry for streetkids who are "at risk". This is a challenging ministry and we are praying for prepared hearts as we show Jesus love to these kids that have experiences so much of life that they never ever should have. After that we spend a couple hours as tourists - buying souvenirs and taking the cable car up to Monserrate for a view of the city and a 5 star meal at Santa Clara restaurant (Randy - that is the one that we were at the first year:)
Tonight will be the last updates before we return home. Please pray for safe flights, good connections and speedy times through customs. If you want to meet us at the airport we will be there at 12:18 pm...most likely ready for some Canadian food. Hasta luego!
Thursday, February 16, 2012 (PM)
Today we taught in a school called Bethel. It was a very nice school, great teachers and staff and the kids were just awesome. After, we split the guys and girls. Us girls went back to the Teen Mom's home and did a craft with the girls. They didn't know we were going at first, so it was a tad stressful...but God did AMAZING Things through it! We were very blessed to haev Steve Bartel come share with us tonight. I do not want to leave! ♥
Thursday, February 16, 2012 (AM)
Greetings from Bogota where the sun is shining and skies are blue, at least for now. If you have not heard, we have no internet connection at the house as there was a storm and the phone line was struck by lightening. Who knows when it might be up and running again.
This morning we arrived at a school called Bethel which is a new one for us. Right from the start we were warmly welcomed and told to make ourselves at home. Ranging in grades from Transition (year between Kindergarten and Grade 1) to Grade 11, at this moment they are all eagerly awaiting for our students to come to their classes. I am enjoying watching our students develop in their confidence as they continue to teach in different classes and hang out with people, especially children, in all the different ministries that we are a part of. Parents, you would be proud of your kids if you could see them in action and might even be surprised at all they are doing.
Last night we adults were involved in a workshop for the parents of kids who come to an afterschool program. Many of these parents are not very well educated themselves and while they desire to help their children they are not sure how to go about it. Using an interactive approach we played a game similar to Scattegories, 21 questions and also used dice to show them how they could have their children practice their math facts. We had a blast and the parents were so appreciative. I started out with a translator but had to rise to the challenge of doing it in Spanish myself, after my friend, who is the Director of El Camino and whom I have known for years because of our connection when I was in Bolivia, challenged me to do it in Spanish without a translator.
Please continue to pray for us. Sheila and some of the kids are not feeling great. So far it has not kept anyone from participating in the activities today. I, myself, am feeling very much at home in this Latin culture and am enjoying speaking spanish and reconnecting with friends that I have gotten to know over the last 4 years.
We are going to try and connect with the Secondary chapel at 11:30 this morning by phone.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
We are alive...Lightning struck the line going into the telephone line last night so we have been "uncontactable" for a while. I am using an internet stick that belongs to our sweet housemates from Michigan that are adopting a sweet little Colombian girl. Hopefully we will have internet back up again, but then again - this is Colombia! We are doing really great. Tired!!!! Everyone says hello and will get on line as soon as they can. Love you all. Thanks for praying!!!
Monday February 13, 2012
So today we went to Golden Rule school to teach the kids there some english. The school is a kindergarden to grade 11 which is as high as they go because they have a transition grade from K to grade 1. We were split up into 3 groups and each had different topics we were teaching. After we were done at the school we headed over to a place called fertile soil, which is somewhat of a daycare center for kids whose parents are too busy to take care of them. Before the day was even over we were all just wiped from the playing with all the kids there. It was a very good day and I am very excited to see what tomorrow has in store for our team.
Wow. How should I even begin? So many things have happened in the last four days. Every single day has been jam packed with action; one day feels like 48 hours! Anyways, before I ramble on and on, let's get down to the dirt! Today was busy. Here's a quick overview...
5:45am Alarm clock went off
5:50am Alarm clock went off again
5:52am Out of bed
... 6:15am Breakfast
7:00am Left to teach our first official day of English Lessons
7:30am Arrived at Golden Rule
7:37am Forced to dance with some of the Colombian students (this was great because we are all white and awkward when it comes to moving hips)
8:00am Began teaching English (Ages ranged from 3-18)
10:00am Break/ Recess... they fed us more food
10:30am Resumed classes
12:45pm Ate lunch prepared by the school
1:30 pm Resumed classes again
2:15pm Finished up our last class and left for Fertile Soil
3:00pm Arrived at Fertile Soil (a daycare for children who have no one to look after them during the day... one child was there because his mother is in jail, other kids are there because their parents are out on the street trying to make a living.) We were able to play with the kids and share a Bible story with them through drama. I can say with confidence that we all came out of that day care completely spent and exhausted.
5:00pm Left to go back to the Guest House
6:00pm Ate an amazing meal prepared by our WONDERFUL cook, Berta
6:30pm Celebrated Bruna and Clint's birthdays with cake and sparkly candles that just WOULD NOT GO OUT!
7:00pm Finished up the dishes and RELAXED! (Now this is a word we are not familiar with!)
7:30pm Finished our day with a wonderful team meeting full of emotion and laughter!
Thanks God for this amazing oppourtunity to bless the people of Colombia and to BE BLESSED by them as well. We love you so much!
Tomorrow will be fairly similar... another early morning at Golden Rule! I can't hardly wait, but I suppose that I should sleep... so, goodnight world.
Dios De Bendiga
Sunday February 12, 2012
Today was a long time coming... and just as heart-wrenching as I thought it would be. After church today, we headed to a home for disabled children (some orphaned and some not). People with disabilities are very close to my heart through family circumstances and where I work. For so long I have found it hard to attach to people if I have only known them for a little while, but today my heart's walls fell down. I left without shedding a tear, but during our team meeting tonight, the tears flowed. These children have no hope, no future, no place to belong. They have grown up knowing only rejection and I long so much to pour into their lives and show them how lovable and valuable they are. Through it all, He speaks to me, showing me where my passions lie, but even more importantly, where His passions lie. It's painful, but my heart is starting to break for what breaks His.
Seeing rejection is terrifying. Even for a second time. Today we visited niño Maria, an orphanage for handicapped children and young men and women. One would think that placing a group of people with similar struggles would encourage a growth between them. The sad reality was that the one thing these men and women learned from their parents in their brief time together was the one thing they are here to escape: Rejection. Watching a young crying boy being banished by a group of his older peers from the games yanked on heart strings I never knew I had. I befriended 3 young men: Jesus, William, and Julio. But Jesus ironically enough was the most memorable. He took my hand and threw his arm around my shoulder and treked me down tone farm on the orphanage for my lesson in foreign animals like rabbits. When I first saw Jesus he was sitting alone on the sidewalk, all I did was approach him and say "Como te llamas?" (what is your name?) Boom. That was all it took for him to behave like we had been best friends for years. Just and acknowlagmet of his presence. Goodbyes were hard.
Today was another unbelievable day full of many highs and lows. After debriefing at the end of the day as a group, it was amazing to see how these people in Colombia who we are trying to impact have turned the tides and impacted each of our team members individually in many ways. I'm incredibly excited for the rest of my days in Colombia. The first 3 days have been so memorable and packed full of so many moments and lessons that I never wanna forget. I think each member on this team would agree with me when I say that. Tomorrow we start our classes! Thx for all your support through prayer! Dios de bendiga!
Wow what an incredible day, my heart hurts for the people who are here, but rejoices that there are people down here willing to give everything they have into helping the people of Colombia. I have fallen in love with the people down here. They are so full of love and shine for God so brightly. I am encouraged by everyone that I have come into contact with so far. I am so blessed to be on the team that I am. God has blessed me to the extremes so far I can't wait to see what happens in the next week. Love from Colombia ♥
Today I once again realized how much God has given me and how it is given to me so that I can share with other people. Playing with the orphans was fun but it was heart breaking. They were so excited to see us and play with them. They just loved talking to us. Who needs languages when we have a body to communicate? Today God taught me how small I am, yet how much I am able to do for other people. I am very excited for the things that God is about to show me as this trip goes on, and also for how he is going to use me for his people and his kingdom.
Today was hard. My prayer was for God to break my heart for what breaks His, and let me say...God answers prayers. I had a great time at the orphange spending a couple hours with a girl, learning how to play jacks, learning new Spanish words and teaching her English, including counting to a hundred. It broke me to leave...and I rejoice in how blessed I am.
my heart = completely broken. today we were at an orphanage for handicapped children. There are 238 of them and only 100 staff. Some of these kids need 24 hour supervision and help...it seemed like holding cells that they were kept in. We had the wonderful opportunity to play games with them all, and just love on them for a while. God must delight in their souls just so much...yet here on earth they are viewed as the lowest members of society. Our God is a God who provides.
February 11, 2012
~Feliz cumpleanos Bruna~ (Happy Birthday Bruna)
Today was the most incredible day I think I've ever lived. We saw some of the most dire situations many of us had ever seen. Our day began with uno desayuno muy sabroso (a very tasty breakfast) made by Berta. We went to the Recyclers; these people live in pretty much nothing - boards for shelters and they "recycle" what many of us would consider to be complete worthless junk. This is how they make their living, and last year the government was going to shut them down, but they have given them an extension. I just thought...if (when) they shut them down, where do they go? What do they do? It was so heartbreaking, but we had the opportunity to love on the kids, bring them breakfast, play games with them and bring them candy. Seeing their faces light up and getting hugs from a precious little girl named Maria Alexandria made it all SO worth it.
Next we went to a home for unwed teen mothers. This was by far the hardest thing for our whole team. These girls are aged 11-19 and all have children, some have more than one (children under the age of 4). These girls come from the street and can't take care of themselves let alone a child. It seemed utterly hopeless, except for the fact of the dedicated followers of Christ that head up this ministry. Pray for Isabel and her team who work with these girls on a day-to-day basis.
Next stop was lunch: a long drive UP higher yet, I felt SO sick because of the high altitude! We ate pollo y carne y mais y salchichas y arapas con queso (lots of meat and these AWESOME cornmeal patties with cheese inside) plus THE BEST GUACAMOLE EVER! We had a couple hours to hang out, take pictures, hike down to a river and just have a lot of fun as a team.
Then we headed to the YWAM Base where Steve and Evvie Bartel live with 8 adopted street children. This couple is so incredible- so focused on living for the Lord. We played with the kids, brought supper and heard their story.
Our team came together so well today. It is so cool to learn so much about each person and just see what God has for us. Thanks so much for your prayer and support. This is SUCH an amazing opportunity!!!
Que Dios te bendiga (God Bless You)
February 10, 2012
Wow! What a day! Today the Columbia team went through alot. As a team we traveled to "el camino" (a school) where we all split up into groups and took on the tasks from teaching and doing crafts with the kids, to plays and skits and fun games such as FIFA!!!!! Lol
We did so with every class from pre K to gr.4 ya it took awhile....but it was fun! The kids all showed their great appreciation towards Canada with a warm welcome from every class to all of our groups walked into.
Towards the end of the day we were given te opportunity to spend time with the kids from gr.5-8 by joining them in their chapel aswell as partaking in it! With fun skits and songs! From then on we played fun and creative games with them. In the end many of us were very exhausted! But we still had enough energy to learn a new food song from Floyd Cotton!
Saying good bye was difficult because of all the connections that were made throughout the day! But there may be a chance that we are going back later. From then on we got to spend time at the Sante Fe mall and do some browsing with some new and old Colombian friends. It was great! So after a very long day and a ton of food, we are all ready to get some rest and are looking forward to tomorrow. (other than my Spanish disability!)
So in closing I just thought I'd say that all is well and we are having a blast so far and are making some great memories!! Bye for now!
Wednesday February 8, 2012
PCA's Colombia 2012 team leaves Three Hills on Wednesday, February 8 at 8:00 pm. They will fly from Calgary to Toronto at 12:30 am on Thursday, February 9, and then after a six hour layover, fly directly from Toronto to Bogota. The team initiated content on the facebook page "PCA Colombia 2012 - Live as it Happens" will be placed here on the Colombia 2012 blog for you to read.