Monday, August 5, 2013

Thank You from Team Trinidad

Trinidad!  What a blessing to be part of a mission’s trip to this country; what an incredible honor to be used 
by God to share His message of love and salvation; and what a privilege to partner with those at Trinidad and Tobago Urban Ministries as we infused an unreached community with the Word of God! 
There are many things about Trinidad that we will not soon forget:  fresh mango, mosquitoes, cold showers, Roti, the rainy season, gated properties, colorful homes, left-sided driving, stray dogs, Fry Bake, tamarind, the obvious displays of Hinduism (flags, gods and temples), fearless bus drivers, Nuggle candy bars, our new friend Pastor Bachew, rapper Young Noah, and the smiling faces of many Trinidadians!  It was a tremendous mission’s trip that could be summed up in the use of three words:  relational, adaptable, and economical. 
Relational—We had a group of 36 individuals, ages 8 – 70, with varied abilities, personalities, backgrounds, and experiences.  This was an advantage as we ministered together to people who were equally diverse.  We enjoyed building relationships with one another on the team—getting to know each other and each other’s children at a deeper level.  However, each of us were encouraged to find one or two Trinidadians in whom we could invest and build a rapport, so we sought out some of the same individuals each day.  As relationships were established, we were able to speak to their personal needs as well as their mutual need for Jesus.   Building these relationships gave us a stronger platform for speaking about Christ and deepened our experience in Trinidad, but made it made leaving difficult!   After exchanging hugs, pictures, and contact information, we left Trinidad with images of our new friends imprinted on our minds and a burden to continue praying for spiritual growth in these newfound friends.  We will also remember to pray for TTUM as they continue to minister in that community.

Adaptable—From the beginning of our preparations to the end of our trip, flexibility became our mantra.  While we thrive on organization and scheduling at home, being flexible in Trinidad was a necessity.  Due to rain, instruments getting lost on the flight to Trinidad, folks operating on “island time”, equipment not ready when expected, tent locations being moved, food poisoning, adjustments in sleeping arrangements, carting all VBS supplies to the site each day, guest musicians not showing up when expected, etc. we needed to adapt and move forward with whatever was taking place at the moment.  We were over-prepared and ready to be used if called upon—not knowing what would be needed—and found that we could relax in the knowledge that God would be ordering our steps each day.  We were obviously not the ones in control!

Economical—One of our team members commented on the efficiency of our trip.  We were able to use our resources, our time, and our team members in a most economical manner.  Each day was filled with ministry and an appropriate amount of rest.  Our mornings were spent with children at VBS, our afternoons were devoted to mercy ministries—young men at a detention center, folks in elderly homes, and children in an orphanage—and our evenings were spent at the crusade meetings with adults and children alike.  With a variety of gifts and abilities among our team, each member was able to participate in these ministries according to their strength.  The money we raised was also used in an efficient manner as Bibles were purchased and given away, t-shirts, crafts and snacks were given to children, supplies were purchased to take and develop photos of families, buses were rented to drive us where we needed to go, some of our own clothing, sheets and supplies were left with the mission, along with all extra money to be used for the ongoing ministry of Trinidad and Tobago Urban Ministries.   

“I’m forever grateful, to youI’m forever grateful for the cross
I’m forever grateful to You.  That you came, to seek and save the lost.”

The lyrics of this song speak of Jesus’ gift to us—for which we are most grateful.   We are indeed forever grateful!  Grateful first and foremost to God who gave His Son, for the privilege of being His ambassadors, for the blessings of growing as we serve, and for the prayers and financial contributions of you who made it possible to serve Him in Trinidad.  We are sincerely thankful.

With a grateful heart, Team Trinidad

(written by Tammy Shondelmyer)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Words from Pastor Clint

Before I paste "Pastor Clint's" notes below, I just have to say how thankful I am (and I think I speak for the group in general) that God led him to bring us on this trip and for the leadership he provided.  He set the example every day as he played with and witnesses to kids and built relationships with adults at the local ministry and in the village and every place we went.  He preached 3 times (one with 2 days notice) and nailed it every time!  Thank you, Pastor Clint!

From Pastor Clint (written Sat night):
At a little before 4:00 p.m. today, July 20, 2013, our plane touched down at Reagan National Airport and we were officially home.  While we are thankful to the Lord for safe travels back to the States, we are also a bit saddened to have left our newly-made friends in St. Helena and Kernaham.  The relationships built while there, both with the Trinidadians we ministered to and those from TTUM we ministered with, will be remembered for a lifetime.

But the main thing for which I was most grateful was the opportunity to do God’s work with a wonderful team of 36 people from Immanuel Bible Church.  This mission team could not have been more diverse.  Families serving with singles, musicians with non-musicians, and people from different backgrounds and of all ages (age 7 to 70).  Yet, even with such an assortment, this team worked together seamlessly.  Children befriended other children during our morning VBS.  Teens danced, sang, and played in many venues.  Adults shared testimonies, shot video, and headed up various ministry teams.  And, of course, we sang together lifting our praises to the Lord with one voice.  Everyone was flexible as we often had to adjust our plans and did so without complaining.  The team worked very well together as a team, using their God-given gifts and strengths to benefit many.  And everyone encouraged each other to always do our best throughout the week, no matter the setting.  We began each morning with prayer together before VBS, and ended each day with group prayer before the evening crusade meeting.

I cannot say enough about our team leaders who were all terrific.  Andrea Clingenpeel did an incredible job putting together the VBS program.  Penny Wood and Lynn Tanner organized our mercy ministry opportunities in the afternoons.  Bob Welch helped put together the programs for the evening crusade outreach.  Last, but certainly not least, Lisa Hess deserves much praise for putting in months of work organizing and administering many facets of the trip from beginning to end. 

Our part of this mission trip is over, but God’s work in that part of the world is not over.  We are confident the Lord will use our faithfulness to proclaim His message, both in our words and actions, to expand His kingdom.  While we only spent one week in Trinidad, TTUM will continue to minister in the name of the Lord and boldly share the gospel.  Our goal was to leave TTUM stronger than when we arrived and I believe that through the effort of everyone on our team, relying on the strength of God’s Spirit, that goal was accomplished.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Crusades Summary!

We leave at 4:30am (in 5 hrs from the time I write this) for the airport to head home.  It is bitter sweet.  We'll continue to add thoughts about our trip, but for now, Tammy summarizes our 3 days of crusades.  Amazing!!

From Tammy Shondelmyer:  
Three nights of crusade meetings in a small community called Kernaham came to a close tonight.  Perhaps it is similar to finishing a difficult race where you feel exhausted, but satisfied?  I feel like that would describe me tonight.   It has been a long week, but many of us have developed some sweet relationships that are hard to relinquish. 
Each night we would rush from eating our dinner to hop on a bus that would take us to rural community where three tents were set for our meeting.  We would arrive around 6:30 where Pastor Bachew would begin addressing the community through a loud speaker—inviting them to come to our meeting.    A crowd gathered and we would officially begin our meeting around 7:30, but each night we found the schedule required us to exercise flexibility!  There was never an evening where we knew completely who was going to sing, give testimony, or participate in a skit, but what a blessing it turned out to be!  It was great to see how God orchestrated the events of each evening in a way that I’m sure was much better.

While tonight was bittersweet, it was also powerful!  Clint preached from John 8 about the blind man receiving sight and challenged people to obey what God was asking of them in order to receive spiritual sight.  I said that I feel exhausted, but satisfied.  God was obviously at work in the crusade meetings this week and graciously allowed us to be used for His glory.  It was evident in the smiles and hugs that we exchanged with the Trinidadians as we left tonight and the conversations that we had with various individuals as we challenged many to accept Christ’s gift of love.  As our bus pulled out of Kernaham, I smiled and waved to those who were waving good-bye and thought to thank God for the crusade meetings.  I am also asking for God to be at work in the lives of these dear people whom we relinquish into His hands and will pray for TTUM as they pursue relationships with these individuals.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday in Trinidad!+

From Marsha Powell: 
This morning was bittersweet as we wrapped up the last day of VBS.  The kids are so adorable and have been very receptive to learning about Jesus.   It has been a privilege to help lead the music sessions and work with the team in all the different stations we set up for the children.   You couldn't ask for a better team to do ministry with.  Praise God for Andrea Clingenpeel's great organization of VBS.  We began each morning with a worship session of music and learning the VBS Bible verse, Ps. 118:24  Then we separated the kids into 4 separate groups and rotated them through the areas of teaching time with Mrs. Hat (great job by Tammy Shondelmyer), games, crafts, and snacks. 
All in all, we ended up ministering to about 50 kids and we were able to send each child home today with their very own Bible. I'm sure you will agree, that is something we take for granted - having our very own Bibles! We are praying the children will keep coming back for the Crusades and bringing their parents and friends.

On another note, Lisa already mentioned this but for those of you who were concerned, I only had to go without Dr Pepper for the first day here and they didn't even have to call the ambulance. God is good!

From Lisa Hess:
Another packed tent for Crusade, even with some rain!  We have really connected to this village and are starting to realize we'll have to leave them soon.  Frowny face...  We did get lots of pictures and a chance to shop for souvenirs this afternoon...we'll be remembering them for a long time.  
Yesterday we hosted a very wet and rainy, but fun fun fun Day 3 of VBS.  Our kids were particularly helpful as they loved running from one covered area to another in the rain to move things or communicate.  Then we split into groups to visit two elderly homes—see Penny’s testimony below.  The evening was an amazing time worshiping God at the first night of three Crusades—see my testimony below.  Thanks for your continued prayers.  Last day of VBS this morning and Crusade tonight.

From Penny Wood:
Half of Team Trinidad, sporting our purple t-shirts, filed into one of our two assigned buses to travel to the Hernandez Elderly Home.  We had planned a tentative program knowing full well our vision about what would happen would easily come to naught.  Hard and fast plans are incompatible with the Trinidad lifestyle.
The bus door opened and our group of adults and children poured out of our bus like thick molasses on a cold winter’s day—slowly because of the mid-day heat and because the unknown brings a little hesitancy into each of us.  We muster our courage and enter the stifling, narrow room with a single rotary fan.  

Priscilla Berry, our eloquent mistress of ceremonies, begins our visit with prayer.  We are intermingled with about 10 residents and staff.  Each of us squeezing into a nook or cranny between the sitting or reclining residents.  Our program begins:  First, a lively sing-a-long led by Aaron and Weston Welch.  The residents and staff join in singing the more familiar songs, like Amazing Grace and Blessed Assurance.  Stephen Treadwell is next up and demonstrates his gift for backwards spelling.  Karen Winn touches hearts with her stirring testimony.  The Clingenpeel sisters sing a number, some of our young people share favorite scriptures, Jessica Mosley walks among the residents telling about her salvation in Christ, Aaron and Weston finish our planned program with a guitar and violin duet.  We have ample time to meet and interact with our new friends.  Some residents and staff asked for their favorite hymns while others pray with various team members.  Priscilla thanks the Hernandez residents and staff for allowing us to visit and says a prayer for God’s blessing on these dear people.  Then it’s back to the compound to prepare for our next adventure. 
Our other half had a similar mission at the Good Shepherd Elderly Home.  Pray God will encourage and minister to these wonderful people—some are already His children.

From Lisa Hess:
We had a fabulous night at our first of three Crusades in the same village where we’ve been hosting VBS.  It’s great to see the parents coming with their kids.  We had a handful of locals there when we were scheduled to start at 7.  Of course we didn’t start until 7:30 and by 8 the place was PACKED!  This is common for Trinidad so we had loads of fun!  The choir sang, testimonies from Marci Heppner and Kirstin VanderMolen, and special music from Hung Pho and Caitlyn Clingenpeel, then Natalie Pho solo with Hung on guitar.  We adjusted the program mid-stream and Clint Shondelmyer gave a wonderful message.  The people were begging for bibles and we gladly gave them! 

We’ve had much fun in between ministries as well…an hour is more than enough time for half the group (kids and big kids) to play in the pool, our new friend Josh made sure Marsha got her Dr. Pepper, and the Pho’s don’t have a toilet seat.  When we have a few minutes we’ll try to capture some of those fun times on the blog as well!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Another great day of ministry!  VBS Day 2 increased from the 35 kids on day 1 to 48 on day 2!  Finished the day with an amazing devotion from Pastor Bachew, who's salvation story gives great hope for missionaries.  We may never know in this life the impact we have, like the group from Michigan who came and ministered to that 12 yr old Hindu boy 40 years ago!  Below see testimonies from Youth Detention center and Elderly Home. First evening crusade is tonight.  Pray for us and the people of Trinidad!

From Aaron Welch:
Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God…nothing…today we got to see this in action.  A few days ago Penny asked me if I would be willing to share the Gospel presentation at a boys prison.  I said I would love to and began to think and pray about what God would want me to say.
We arrived at the prison and went through check-in process and I was totally unprepared for what I would experience.  I envisioned that a small handful of the 11-18 year old boys incarcerated here would actually show up to listen to us.  To my amazement the gym bleachers were packed out with what I can only guess was around 500 boys and young men who were here either convicted of, or waiting trial for crimes such as burglary, larson, rape, and murder.  
Will, a.k.a. “Yong Noah”, a hip-hop artist traveling with us, opened up the program with a couple songs.  But again God brought the unexpected.  During Will’s second song the power to the sound system went out. We immediately jumped to plan “B”. My son Wes and I played a violin, guitar duet, and due to the sound outage I jumped right into the Gospel presentation.
And here comes the exciting part where God showed his power over sin, power over incarceration, power over bondage and power over our past.  At the end of the message I asked the men to close their eyes and pray with me.  I asked if anyone wanted to receive Christ as their Savior to repeat a prayer after me.  And instead of them doing this in silence I was brought to tear of joys as 20…30…40 boys and young men repeated the salvation prayer out loud after me.
Lord Jesus, your love, grace, and forgiveness are indescribable.  I praise you that even in our brokenness you love us. I thank you that nothing can separate us from your love. We rejoice with these young men who gave their lives to you

From MacKensie Henn:
Today, we visited a wonderful elderly home, which was truly filled with God loving people. They sang with us and loved the children who sang and played. God really is working here and as I saw from the elderly, he has been here for awhile.

Monday, July 15, 2013

From Gretchen Pascoe:

What a great start to the week!  We were so excited to see familiar faces of the children that had greeted us on our “walkabout” yesterday as we invited families to join us for Vacation Bible School.
In spite of a slightly later start than planned…remember it is Island time!...we had a rousing morning of music, crafts, snacks (of course), Bible Story and especially sweet fellowship with some lovely children.
The village we are working in is one of considerably poorer, often broken, families with little financial means and even less support (financial and otherwise) from local government.  Our venue is the area outside the community center, but I use that term very loosely.  It is a setting unlike any community center I have experienced in the United States.  (Picture an empty lot surrounded by small slabs of concrete and simple shacks.)
This is a neighborhood of folks with little hope in the outside world.  What a privilege it is to have a chance to offer the hope of Jesus Christ.
The afternoon was spent at a local orphanage run by an Anglican Ministry.  It was both heartbreaking (as mom to see children without parents) and yet a beautiful surprise to hear the children join us in singing familiar songs.  Thanks to the influences of the staff and teachers there, those cute kids are learning about the Lord.
Now that we have one day under our belts, we are really looking forward to tomorrow and what it holds!