Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Brief Note From the Africa Team...

This is the church that we worked on three years ago.

We went to two services and Pastor Luther spoke at both. This is where we sanded, painted and built chairs. I also made the church's cross with Phil, the old station manager and friend.
~~ Stefan

Friday, July 22, 2016

Closing Thoughts from the Youth Minister

Yesterday, Thursday, was a long, hot, fun, tiring day.  We all arrived home safely very late last night.  Some of us arrived to church later than others, and therefore I missed the opportunity to say some goodbyes and greet all the parents whom I am certain were curious about their student’s experience on this trip.  I want to take this opportunity to share, collectively, with parents and all who wish to read on, some trip highlights from my perspective.  

Eighteen youth came together (along with two spectacular adult volunteers, Lisa and Elias) and spent four and a half days being a community.  The ages of the students ranged from 13 to 18 years old.  For some, it was their first time on a youth trip because they finally turned 13. For some, Incarnation is not their home church, but they joined in as friends or family to our members.  

I saw all of them working together on the farm splitting logs, collecting eggs, cleaning animal pens, trimming trees, and laying concrete forms.  They also worked together in paired dodge ball, crossing an imaginary river, and trying to count flawlessly to the number ten.  They stepped out of their comfort zones to help at Central City Lutheran Mission (CCLM) prepping meals, cleaning pantries, and playing water games with the elementary kids.   I was witness to their patience, cooperation, teamwork, and compassion over the last four days.  

Were efforts made to make new friends, to include the new students, to grow in their faith, to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world? Were harsh words spoken to one another on occasion?  Were there times we didn’t live up to our own expectations?  The answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES. 

We are not perfect (I am including myself here too!) But I witnessed each of our group connecting to one another and growing as a community.  I witnessed laughter when we all messed up the Labyrinth in our first attempt.  I witnessed joy for the baby goats, excitement in seeing a mama bear and her cubs in our midst, pain in Tanner’s bee stings, and concern for the people of CCLM.  

These young men and women made connections with one another, the LRCC camp staff, and the community at CCLM. These are relationships that have the potential to influence their futures.  Despite how the future may look when we watch the evening news, I see our future as hope-filled and blessed because I had the joy and privilege to spend the last four days with a small community who know Jesus and who know how to love their neighbors. 

Thank you to all who offered their prayers for us over these last few days.  
Thank you to all who made this trip possible with your financial support.  
THANK YOU to Elias Symons and Lisa Dorn for giving of their personal time, talents, and their hearts to this trip. 
Thank you to the youth: Luke, Nick, Tanner, Tori, Max, Aidan, Lizzie, Logan, Erica, Karli, Brynna, Brandon, Anna, Eli, Sarah T., Will, Sarah P., and Cameron.  You are terrific!   
Looking forward to next summer, 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

CCLM on July 20

Hey ILC! It's the ladies!!!
Today (7/20) was fantastic! We went to Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino which has a 15% unemployment rate and has had 42 homicides already this year. Needless to say, we were a bit nervous. CCLM was once a congregation, that lost its purpose until it was transformed into a men's homeless shelter, a school/after school program, and a safe haven.
The 70 men they serve sleep in the church and are welcome from 7pm to 7:30am. We had the privilege to interact with the kids during their after school, once a month "water day." It was amazing because, whether we were dumping buckets of water on each other, or being attacked by hoses, it felt like there was no economic or social barriers. To see innocent children put in such a scary situation was heartbreaking and inspired us to find ways to help more.

We did various jobs such as cleaning the pantry, working in the kitchen, and folding trash bags and boxes.

The kitchen staff (mainly Daniel) was hilarious, and he showed up to help on his day off when he could have been with his kids. The kitchen's B health rating was all they could afford because of their desperate situation. The average annual income per household is $20k which isn't enough to support the average 5 kids per family, and most families have single or substance abusing parents.

Our amazing guide and the shelter's teacher, Jessica, was a motherly figure for all the kids. She grew up two blocks away, but kept her life dedicated to bettering the community. I think I speak for everyone when I say that her humble leadership was an inspiration you can't put into words.

There were under 10 children, and they were all mostly related. When their older, male relatives showed up, it was surprising to see the language and rough attitude they were accustomed to. It seemed very foreign to us. The kids were aware of the foul language and Jessica seemed to be the only one enforcing rules and etiquette.

Overall, we are so grateful for the experience, and we learned more than we could possibly say. We have all grown so close on this trip and made so many memories and friendships. I (Karli) personally, have had some of the happiest times this week and I want you to know that my life would be much less fulfilling if I didn't go on these trips. They are really life changing. Thank you for all your support.

Love, the youth of ILC at Luther Glen

Monday, July 18, 2016

Our group arrived Sunday evening at Luther Glen campground.  We were greeted by the camp staff and began our stay.  We played some getting-to-know-you games and ended the evening with a devotion time of readings and songs.

Today, July 18, the men prepared the tables for breakfast at 7:45 a.m. while the women calmly sauntered to the dining hall at 8:00. After breakfast, the squadron explored the farm which included goats, chickens, pigs, dogs, and a miniature horse, Chuck.

Next, the youth split up into four groups each with a different objective in mind. These activities ranged from chopping wood, to gardening, to shoveling manure, and building a campfire setup.

Then, the groups enjoyed a solid lunch including salad, fries, and sandwiches. Later, the youth visited the campground's swimming pool where they played a long game of Marco Polo. After cleaning up, the youth enjoyed a thoughtful Bible study where they delved deeper into Christ and explored their inner feelings.

 Furthermore, everyone participated in team building games that lead them to discover the "3 C's" (Communication, Concentration, and Cooperation). Even though these games may have caused some of the campers frustration, their intent was achieved as everyone grew in character.

Lastly, the group sat down to eat a Mexican dinner together in preparation for the rest of the day's activities.  This included more gardening, collecting fresh eggs from the chicken coop, trimming trees, and mixing concrete.
 Our time together is proving to be productive and educational!
~~ The majority of this post was written by Nick with help from the gentlemen of the group. :-) 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Our Last Days in Delhi and Kolkata

When we returned to Delhi we spent the afternoon touring the Gandhi Memorial.  This was an experience full of history coupled with messages of peace and unity.  

On the 4th of July some of the team ventured off with Sonia's Aunt Nancy to go zip lining at the  Neemrana Fort.   

We returned to Kolkata on July 5th in the evening.  Kelsey Eaton, the director for the Piyali Learning Center, joined us for dinner.  Much time was spent discussing how our church community might best assist in their continuing efforts to provide safe and transformative environments for the young at-risk girls in this region.  

Today, July 6, we are keeping busy with last minute errands and return travel preparations. We are all missing home by now and cannot wait to tell you all what we have seen and learned through this trip. Thank you for your prayerful support.  
~~ Mindy

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Morning Begins With the Taj Mahal

Today we got up pretty early so we could get to the Taj Mahal right when it opened, a little after sunrise.  We'd caught a couple glimpses of it when we were driving around Agra or looking out at it from the Agra Fort yesterday, but nothing compared to being there and seeing it up close for the first time.  It was so surreal to be there because I've seen so many pictures of it and heard so much about it.
I still can't believe I can say I've been to one of the seven wonders of the world.  It was also really funny to see monkeys walking around there, and chipmunks scampering all over the gardens.  We learned a lot from our tour guide and had plenty of time to walk around inside and outside of the Taj.  I'm extremely blessed to have been able to have this experience.

After leaving, we went back to our hotel and had breakfast, then had a long drive back to Dehli.  We couldn't see much out the window on the drive except for the agricultural area past the freeway we were on.

Our car also crossed paths with some water buffalo a couple times.

Now we're back at our hotel preparing for our next few days in Delhi.
Keep us in your prayers.
~~ Sonia

Friday, July 1, 2016

Megan Shares About Agra

We made it to Agra!  On our drive, we saw monkeys, camels, and water buffalo.  After lunch we toured the Agra Fort.  It was impressive.

Each part of the buildings had intricate designs with precious stones inlaid into the marble. We caught a glimpse of the Taj Mahal from here and learned a lot about the Emporers from our guide.

Our guide took us to a local carpet making shop where we learned how the carpets are made. It takes nine artisans, each with different skills, and about ten months to create just one carpet.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

While in Dehli...

Our touring in Delhi began at Jama Masjid.  It was built in 1656 by Emperor Shah Jahan (the builder of the Taj Mahal) and is the largest and most splendid mosque in India.  It has three majestic black and white marble domes covering the prayer hall which can seat 20,000 people.  (The women's robes pictured here are courtesy of the temple - not our own picks.)

Next we ventured into the Chandni Chowk shopping district.  Whole streets are dedicated to a type of merchandise including: weddings, jewelry, shoes, etc.  We exited from our rickshaws to walk through the the spice shops.  It was filled with unique aromas and many familiar items.   

The final stop for the day was the Red Fort.  It is made from red sandstone and is one of the most magnificent monuments in Delhi.  It was build by Emporer Shah Jahan in 1638. It was here that the National Flag was raised for the first time as India gained independence in August of 1947.  (Dave Nichols' parents were present for that event.)

It was a very hot day here in Delhi with high humidity.  In the early evening we were treated to a monsoonal downpour which we watched from our hotel windows.  In a couple days we will have another update including our visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Check back soon.
~~ Mindy