Showing posts with label Mission Trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mission Trip. Show all posts

Friday, June 20, 2014

So Thursday Happened

My team had just enough stuff left to do on our work-site that I was thinking we should be done around lunch time. All we had left were a few small things painting wise like the trim and the front gable. Basically it was detail stuff. Turns out my work team is not a very detail oriented group and when it comes to doing trim they struggled. For many of you who know me details aren't always my strength either, but when it comes to painting all the years of experience I have gotten good at the details. There were many points where I had to try hard not to get frustrated. I wanted to just do it all myself, we would have gotten done a lot faster. I kept reminding myself that my role this week when it comes to the work is to encourage, equip, and teach the students to do the work... even if it takes longer than it should. After all, adults who took the time to let me do the work, is exactly how I learned to paint a house. So we are going back to the same house today and we still have a bit of work to do. 

Worship was awesome. We ended the service by opening the alter for as long as the students needed for prayer... an hour later we had to close it down 'cus they weren't going anywhere and sleep is important too. 

There were students who were grieving the death of a friend. There were students with all sorts of other baggage who just needed some time to deal with it. And certainly there were some who we just tired. 

We got a video of my sermon, I will try to upload it sometime soon. 

Last but not least there is a Facebook group for our living center with a bunch of pictures in it. I just realized that I could invite folks to it so I sent some invites this morning. If you would like to be invited and you have not gotten one yet just let me know and I will send one.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mission Trip Wednesday

Why is it that mission trip is typically a week that I put on a few pounds?

It might just be because the cooks for the week are often some of the best cooks in a church that come to make food for teenagers and they make sure there is plenty of it. We have a fresh cooked breakfast, a sack lunch, an afternoon snack, a huge dinner, and fantastic desserts served 2 hours after dinner. Anytime there isn’t food being served there are snacks out. Lunch is usually your opportunity to eat a bit lighter. Yesterday that wasn’t the case.

Our client wanted to show her appreciation for the work we were doing by grilling for us for lunch. She was an expert grill master tackling hamburgers, hotdogs, and BBQ pork chops all at the same time. She paired that with
sweet tea and caramel cake. So Brad, Ryan, Autumn, and I ate really well for lunch. I personally wasn’t hungry again at dinner time but when these lovely ladies hand you a plate of food you take it. Ryan tried to say no to dessert the other night and ended up with twice as much as the rest of us. Which lead to the quote of the day Tuesday when Matt said, “if you were my grandma, I would be really fat.”

Ian won the activity for the evening which was a 2 round ninja tournament. He beat out a gymnast who was clearly a real ninja and another student who was jumping and flying all over the place. Then Ian had to play a bonus round with myself and the music leader for the week that incorporated feet and hands. He didn’t win that but still won the prize of a ninja turtle half-shell.

Worksite updates:
This is a map of where we are working

Patrick, Ian, and Dylan’s group finished their painting project and are being moved to a new worksite where they will be building a 30 ft wheelchair ramp.

Laken and Eli’s group is still working hard on their house. It’s a huge project over there with painting, siding repair, and a wheel-chair ramp all to get done by the end of the week.

Matt, James, and Gabe’s group is nearing completion of their wheel-chair ramp and is working on a fresh paint job.

Me, Brad, Ryan, and Autumn’s group has finished the major part of the our project of new siding on one side of the house. We have finished painting the majority of the house and Thursday morning should finish. Brad and Ryan will do a minor roof and water damage repair then head over to help Patrick’s group with their wheel-chair ramp.

I wrote this post Thursday morning before breakfast because I preached on rest last night and it was midnight before I had a chance to sit and write so I went to bed. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mission Trip Tuesday - #CTCYMphilly #instahunt

As it turns out when it comes to air mattresses, firm is the way to go. My air mattress had a bit of a leak the past two nights and when I woke this morning I was sunken into the middle of the mattress that had become as moveable as a water bed but even less comfortable. So for the sake of being able to move during the day the rest of the week I got a new one.

This morning I was awake a bit before everyone was woken up, and I noticed something odd. Almost every guy in the room was awake minus one row of students and a few others. Every guy from Lake Cities was still asleep.

Yet when it came time to get going they went. The vans rolled out right around 8 again and from what I heard there was great productivity all around.

Today the stories come from our evening activity. It was an Instagram scavenger hunt, and pictures tell a thousand words so instead of telling you about it, get on Instagram and search #ctcymphilly (I would provide a link but Instagram’s online version is a bit too limited to actually do that.)

There was some amazing dessert tonight as well… I am not sure what all was in it but it was great.

Hope you enjoy the pictures on Insta. My work team is on breakfast set up in the morning so I should be asleep now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mission Trip Road Trip - Lake Dallas to Philadelphia Mississipi Edition

This morning we set off from Lake Cities UMC at 8AM on our way to Senior High Mission Trip to Philadelphia Mississippi. With many thanks of course to the parents who helped get everything loaded down on the trailer and in the vans, this morning went as smoothly as I could have imagined.

couldn't help but to feel like we must have forgotten something significant because surely getting off for a mission trip shouldn’t be that stress free. As of yet, I haven’t figured out what might be missing. I guess checklists really do just make life that much easier.

We stopped for lunch in Shreveport at one of their great cultural restaurants… Whataburger. Then, we didn’t stop for gas until Monroe Louisiana, home of the duck commander headquarters. Which was literally 2 blocks from the gas station so we let some of the students take a picture outside the offices of Phil, Willy, Si, and Jase. Shortly after we got gas we drove through a grass fire that was a really cool experience and one that I am sure the students will remember for a long time. (It was a controlled burn and only smoke was covering the highway, we were 100% safe)

One thing the students in my van did for fun was use a phone to turn our van into a hotspot. They all connected their phones to the hotspot and played a network game of MineCraft. I think at one point I overheard James say to Ian “what are you Ghandi? Hit me!” while in the midst of fighting in the game.

Perhaps the most fun during the road trip came after we got off I-20 here in Mississippi. Our van played a great game of “HEY COW” in which we came up with some pretty awesome rules and decided there should be an app for calculating “HEY COW” points with our new point system. Everyone knows that “HEY COW” is a game where you score points by driving by a pasture, rolling down the window and yelling… you guessed it: HEYY COOWWW, then counting the number of cows who turn their head to look.

After circling the town like buzzards 6 times trying to find a specific place to eat we eventually had dinner and made it to our living center by 7PM. We got unloaded, set up, and oriented all before having a worship service at 9:30. The lights are out now and the students are in bed. I think I will head there myself. 

Be sure to pray that our week is filled with The Holy Spirit. I will try to post a brief update of our trip (late) nightly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Samara, Trains, Restaurant Cars, and Escalators

So between leaving Novgorod and arriving back in Moscow this morning Not much was missed, and that was mostly covered in the quick posts to let you know we were safe and where we were going. However I will post pictures of the conditions on the train when we get back to the US and I upload the rest of the pictures. There really is not much to say about Samara except to pray for the people who live there, its pretty... ugly. Samara is a new city kind of it was formed as a hidden factory town when the Germans had taken over the western parts of Russia so it has a lot of world war 2 and Cold war era structures that make the projects in New York look fancy. The part of the city that they brag about is the river side and the beach where you will find wonderful views of crumbling concrete litter and broken glass mixed with a few sand volleyball courts and a beach soccer stadium (okay that was kinda cool)

I just want to tell two quick stories. The first story comes on the train back to Moscow from Samara. We had stopped to get food for the train at McDonald's but figured we would go to the restaurant car to have some thing to drink with it and a more comfortable place to sit for a few hours. Anastasia didn't come to the restaurant car right away and it was Alex, Bradley, Michael and I. The waitress was not happy that we couldn't speak Russian, so while trying to say not to worry we have a translator and she will be here in a few minutes she thought we were asking for chicken. She got frustrated and handed us off to another much nicer waitress. We knew the word for Tea(Chai) and Pepsi so we ordered that and began eating our McDonald's After a few hours of us sitting and drinking tea and talking this waitress had begun drinking, she had not been happy with us the whole time and we could tell. She began yelling at us that we were sitting there and had not ordered anything when in fact we had, so from that point on every little thing became a big deal. Alex went to use the restroom and she yelled "that restroom is for staff only" Anastasia got up and checked and there was nothing that implied that anywhere and we had seen many people use that restroom. Michael guessed that they just wanted to have a staff party and get rid of us and turned out to be right. Most of the staff on the train began showing up and started drinking, so we continued to sit and talk.

The second story is one of playing on escalators, now apparently escalators are serious business and fun is not to be had on them. So Friday the 24th as we were headed back the the hotel for the night after a fun day back in Moscow the group of us are in high spirits laughing and giggling Alex and Anastasia were holding hands from one escalator to the other and I made a gesture as if I were going to sit on the rail. There was an attendant lady at the bottom, and she saw me. Russians in general are pessimistic, you get bonus points if you can get a picture of one smiling. So instead of just saying, "Stop that" or "No" or something brief and to the point she proceeds to yell over the intercom while looking right at me all sorts of things in Russian as if I can understand her, luckily I knew how to say sorry in Russian which I did as I walked by while she was still yelling at me. Nastia explained to me that she was being very elaborate and trying to guilt me about playing on the escalator going as far as saying that I was going to cause the whole escalator to stop and that everyone would fall down and die not to mention the backup that it would cause in the flow of the people getting to the trains. Nastia then assured me while laughing at me that most of these women are very angry people anyways and it really is not as big of a deal as she made it to be. None of the Russians even turned their head to see what this lady was yelling about, no one seems to pay attention to the PA system or the Metro staff.

I promised Bradley I would include that last story in the blog so I wanted to do that before I fell asleep and forgot.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog so far, we leave for the airport to come home at 6:30 in the morning. I pray that we are not delayed and that we make our flight, Every time I have flown back across the Atlantic I have had to spend an overnight in the airport including 25 hours in Charles De Gal airport in France. So hopefully that does not happen this time. We should be back in Dallas by 8PM Saturday!!! I will post pictures to the blogs early next week.


I think Michael was the least happy about all the train rides on the shelf, poor guy was so tall it doesn't look like he fit.
 Yes they managed to squeeze 56 beds into each train car and there was little to no air conditioning so it kinda smelled by the time we fell asleep.
 Alex is sitting on her shelf and offering me a puff pastry with chocolate inside, it was delicious.
 Bradley fell asleep very quickly... sometimes.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

Sunday June 19th - Church in Novgorod

This happens to also be the day that Bradley and I were served caviar for breakfast.

The Methodist Church in Novgorod is very small, there are maybe a few handfuls of members. They are unable to afford and maintain their own building, so they share a facility with another church, the other church is a bit larger so they use it in the morning and the Methodist Church uses the building from 4 to 7 PM. Between breakfast and 4PM we went for a tour of the city by boat on the Volga river, it was a lot of fun and we saw many people fishing for their food. The city of Novgorod was the first city in Russian history, it was a midway stopping point on the route from Northern Europe to the Middle East so the city became a marketplace for traders and began to grow. I will try to save you from a history lesson that you could just Google anyways and find more full information I just wanted to mention the importance of the river. After taking the tour we went to McDonald's for lunch and to use the Wi-Fi a bit which is where we last posted a full story, the Honorable Breakfast post. The day flew by and before we knew it, it was time for church.

The church in Novgorod was inspiring, the Methodist church and another came together for worship because we were going to be with them. There was between 60 and 80 people in attendance, mostly women, and mostly older, but all excited to be there. They sang a few praise and worship songs in Russian, I noticed one to be by Hillsong United and asked the translator and I was right. I have never in my life seen an 80+ year old woman singing as loud as she could, raising her hands and clapping as if she were 20 years old. In every single prayer they prayed there was an overwhelming theme of thanksgiving, even though in our eyes they had so very little. I pray desperately that their energy of worship and thanksgiving would be something we are able to bring back to Preston Hollow.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

Back In Moscow

We have survived two 18 hour train rides and two 8 hour train rides and one 12 hour flight. That means all we have left is another 12 hour flight and a 4 hour car ride and we will be home. It surely has been an amazing experience. We have just arrived back at the Hotel Bega in Moscow and we are showering and eating then we will head to the Ismaliva Flea Market. The kids are very excited and tonight when we get back to the hotel we will post the story of some of our adventures. Val greeted us at the train station. It is very odd to see her in her natural setting, she is trying to act like she doesn't speak Russian.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Traveling Update - Pit Stop in Moscow

The train from Novgorod to Moscow arrived here in Moscow at 4:30AM and we stored our luggage at the next train station because the next train doesn't leave until 2PM so we are hanging out in a McDonalds for a little bit longer till more of the shops and stuff open and I am confident that the only struggle we will have with occupying this extended lay over is finding the energy to put one foot in front of the other. We are extremely tired, good thing we will have 18 hours on the next train, pray we can get good rest. There is no internet on the train so the next update will be from Samara. I will fill in more of the details of our days so far on the last day when we get back to Moscow, I will have more time a solid wifi connection and will be better rested. We are keeping track of it all with pictures and notes. Most of you keep telling us to "stay safe," we are safe and healthy (other than allergies) so pray for rest on trains and planes more than anything.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19 - Honorable Breakfast

So today was a very special day. Bradley and I were served a breakfast of kings. Apparently we are considered very special guests. Unfortunately not everything that is considered an honor to be served tastes very good. We had crepes with apple jelly that was made by our host Margarita from apples that grow in her garden, the crepes were fantastic. The special treat was what we were unsure about. It was a small pastry that kind of looked like a miniature basket of apples, but the texture looked a little off. Our host did not eat with us so Bradley and I flipped a coin to see who would take the first bite. I lost. I took a very small bite and it tasted like I bit into a cup of ammonia. Our pallets just were not ready for it. So Bradley grabbed a small piece off the top of his and decided against a bigger bite. Turns out this special treat was caviar, and it costs a lot of money here. So later in the day when we showed our translator the picture and she informed us of this honor. We asked that she would explain how much we appreciate the gesture to Margarita and that we were sorry we could not eat it.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

June 17 - The Great Novgorod

Today we arrived in Novgorod really early in the morning. We began the day with breakfast in our family homes then met back together and took a tour of a Russian Orthodox Monastery,  Alex  is getting a new appreciation for the United States and the Methodist Church because of how differently women are treated and viewed. After touring the Monastery we toured a wooden history museum that showed life in the 1880s in Russia. We then had lunch in park at a very nice little restaurant. Things in Novgorod are much cheaper than in Moscow, for example a taxi in Moscow could cost 10x what a taxi cost in Novgorod. Once we had finished lunch we toured the Kremlin which we figured out basically means fort or castle and we led on the tour by a native who teaches English and History, she was full of wonderful information. Novgorod is the oldest city in Russia and was very important in the history or Russia itself, so the 1000 year monument to celebrate Russia's 1000th birthday was built here. It is a bell shaped piece with all the influential figures in Russian history. We learned many legends about Russian and specifically Novgorod history. After the tour we headed back to our host family homes and ate dinner. After eating we all met back at Natalia's flat (the pastor of the church here) and hung out with two Russian college students and played games, charades was interesting playing with different languages. Lots of fun was had by all of us.

Day In Moscow – June 16th

We had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel. We discovered that what they call pancakes us and the French would call crepes. It was buffet style breakfast with plenty to eat including lots of fruit. The front desk of the hotel allowed us to store our luggage with them for the day and we walked about 15 minutes to take the Metro. We got all day passes and headed off to Red Square. The Kremlin building was closed when we arrived because there was going to be a ceremony in front of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We just happened to be walking by the perfect spot to witness that when we began to notice a crowd start gathering, so we took it all in. After watching the ceremony we visited the underground mall and had lunch at Sbarro. After lunch we continued into the actual square and walked past Lennon’s Tomb, and took many pictures of St. Basil’s Cathedral.  We took a tour of the inside of the cathedral and were amazed by such a wonderful church. We got to see a room of relics including a bible that was printed in 1682, and heard a men’s choir singing in the main worship space. As we were leaving St. Basil’s we noticed there was a movie being filmed right next to us. We guessed it to be an old war movie based on how people were dressed.  There is a very large Russian Orthodox church nearby called Christ Church which is where current Russian leader Vladimir Putin attends worship. We decided to go and check it out, however Alex and Anastasia did not have head covers and Bradley and I were wearing shorts so we were not allowed in. From there we took the metro to the Methodist Theological Seminary of Russia in Moscow. They were very glad to have us visit and showed us around the facility including the office of the Bishop. After the tour they invited us in to the dining room for some tea and cookies. Thanks to our wonderful translator we had some excellent conversations. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner so we went with our new friends to “MY-MY” pronounced Moo Moo. It is a cafeteria style restaurant with a big dairy cow statue out front. It was our first experience with actual Russian food. As soon as we finished dinner  it was time to get back to the hotel quickly to collect our luggage and get to the train station. We finally found a minivan taxi once we had gotten within a block of the hotel, there was plenty of room for all of us and our luggage and we made it to the train station in plenty of time.
The train ride was an adventure itself described best by the pictures that will be uploaded, it was basically a car full of bunk beds. The train itself didn’t go very fast but was surprisingly smooth which for me made it easy to sleep. We arrived in Novgorod at 6AM on the 17th and were greeted by Natalia, Sasha, and Margarita, they would be our hosts for the next several days. We are now in our host homes and getting ready for breakfast.

This is Lenin's Library, we did not go in, it was just there when we came up from the subway.
 The kids are confused again because they don't know where they are, they can't read the signs and are starting to believe the joke they started that we were trying to sell them.

This is the history building that makes up part of Red Square
 This is Lenin's Tomb, Bradley was confused as to why one of the Beatles was so highly honored among the Communist leaders.
 We were there on some sort of military holiday and they had a celebration at the "Eternal Flame" which is essentially the same as the tomb of the unknown soldier.
 St. Basil's Cathedral
 This is a former government building that even housed offices of Communist officials, During the Communist Era the churches were forced to stop preaching the gospel and to take down their crosses, yet if you notice this building this specific entrance which is right across from Lenin's Tomb has an Icon of Christ above the entrance that remained in place the entire time. On another note the building now serves as an upscale shopping mall.
 Is this what the sky looked like when Jesus got Baptized?
 The other side of the History building, could you have guessed that its part of Red Square?
 This is a statue of Alexander the Great right across from the Christ Church.
 This is Christ Church, the Russian Orthodox Church that Vladimir Putin Currently attends
 Another Picture of the church
 And another... I think I just really liked the way the sky looked
 Alex was tired of walking, and was not very happy with the Russian Orthodox Church because they wouldn't let her in without covering her head.
 These two Babushkas were singing about God while begging for money for food, not to far from the Russian United Methodist Seminary. We gave to them, but they touched our hearts.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Russia Update - A night on the town - Moscow

Tonight (Wednesday night for us Wednesday day for y'all) we went around Moscow and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Our waitress Olga spoke great English and gave great service, we will be eating more frugally for the duration of the trip but from now on our wonderful youth will be able to tell their friends "I had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Moscow." After dinner we walked the city center and were entertained by the various shops we walked by and the street performers. We are back at the hotel now and about to sleep for the night most of us are exhausted. Tomorrow will be more touring of Moscow followed by an overnight train to Novgorod. Our next update will probably be Friday in Novgorod unless we are able to find a hot spot. The weather here is absolutely prefect by the way.


This is a picture of Arbot Street it is the main tourist street in Moscow, only foot traffic and a lot of street performers. This is also the street that the Hard Rock Cafe was on. In case you were wondering, this picture was taken at like 9:45 PM

This is a picture of the view from my window at the Bega Hotel in Moscow, we were on the 11th floor. This building that you can see is one of 7 identical buildings throughout the city that are reffed to7 Sisters (if you Google it search "seven sisters Moscow")

In an effort to try and figure out the Russian Alphabet, I took this picture of a Russian blackberry with a full keyboard. Unfortunately I still haven't figured it out

Russia Update - Arriving In Moscow

So the flight was wonderful, we were well fed and taken care of. There was so much available in the in flight entertainment module for each seat that most of us watched at least two movies and a myriad of other entertainment options including music and games. I read up on the culture of the people and tried to study some Russian... I do not think it worked, it is still as if they are speaking a foreign language. Needles to say that there was so much in flight entertainment that not much sleep was had, except for by Bruce and Michael. Bradley, Alex and myself got the least amount of sleep. We collected our bags and got through customs no problem and met our translator Anistasia. We sent our luggage with a driver to the hotel and took a series of train and taxi to get there ourselves. Now, the thing is that there are 6 of us when you include the translator, and vehicles in Russia aren't like the SUVs we are used to in the states, most of the cars are what we would consider compact. So 6 of us plus a taxi driver piled in to a single taxi. Let me tell you, it was amazingly comfortable and we have pictures to prove it. I will try to get those posted later tonight. Tonight for us that is, It is already 7:09PM here and its only 10:09AM back home. We are freshening up right now in the Hotel Rooms, then we will be hitting the town for dinner and some tourism. We might even have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe tonight.

All that being said, what really matters is that we are here and we are safe, and so thankful to have a translator with us. Pray that god would continue to take care of us and teach us something new each and every day.

This is a picture of the the Youth excitedly on their way to the airport in Houston.
 This is a picture just after getting off the plane and through customs. We have met our translator, Anistasia( the one in pink) talking to Bruce (the one in grey) and we are waiting on the driver who will take our luggage to the hotel.
 You can see how awake they are, this is the WE ARE IN RUSSIA AND I'M EXCITED picture
 This is in line for the train tickets where the Youth's level of fatigue was probably at its worst... it probably didn't help that they couldn't understand what anyone was saying Bruce and I was acting like we were going to sell them to the Russians.
 This last photo is after the adventure in taking 7 people in a very small Russian Taxi - That picture is on Alex's camera I will load it as soon as I get a chance. We are in the lobby at the Hotel Bega and there is a visible difference in their body language I think they are relieved to finally be at the hotel.