Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas is past, one week to go!

As Christmas has come and gone and everybody has taken some time to spend with family and friends, we draw near to our departure for Colombia. We continue to pray for a safe trip and for a fruitful time in Medellin.

We have already received great news and one answer to all our prayers:
As we discussed in previous items on this blog as well as in church, there was concern about our use of the conference facilities at the Commercial Center in Sabaneta. This center was sold to new owners and there was significant uncertainty if we would have been able to still use it without cost. God has answered all the prayers! We recently received news from Diego that the new owners has given permission for us to continue using the conference rooms! Praise the Lord, for He is almighty!

This week ahead is our last week of preparations. The final things that needs to be done is really just some packing of bags. This will include many gifts that we use during the ESL sessions, as well as gifts to our hosts and host church.

God willing, on Friday 06 January 2012 we will depart by car from Revelstoke on our way to Seattle. Please pray that God will provide a window in the weather that will allow us to make it out of here safely.

Please also continue to pray for the outreach in general: for salvation to come to many people directly or indirectly through the work that we will be doing there. We may not even meet the people or know that they are drawn to Him, but just being there opens doors for individuals to be reached by the local church in Sabaneta and Poblado.

Also pray for our work and the work of the Colombians in El Pacifico, the poor barrio in the hills on the outskirts of Medellin. This is where a volunteer program is reaching out to local children who live in poor conditions and often with poor parental care.

As you visit this blog, please feel free to join by signing up. This will help us to know how many people are actively following our posts.

Please pray for our team members individually, by name. This includes the group from Ottawa that will be joining us this year. The names are on the bookmarks that were handed out at church, but here are the pictures again (Barb is not going anymore, but will be involved in our weekly prayer group chain, please contact her for information):

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last of the final preparations

As Christmas is approaching we are in our final stages of prep work for our outreach to Colombia. We have several things to do to round off our ESL teaching sessions. We need to build PowerPoint files which will help us do our general lessons. We also have to start packing all the STUFF that has to go with us. This include all the ESL material, several gifts and donations and, off course our own things.

We continue to need lots of prayer for this trip:

There are still concerns about the venue for the ESL. Diego stepped out in faith and sent out advertising indicating that the course will happen at the Commercial Center. He had to do this as people will be leaving on Christmas holidays and there will not be enough time after Christmas to make the event well known. Please pray that the center will be available.

Pray as we all make our final preparations that God will touch us and lead us. Please pray that He will fill us with His Spirit. That He will touch our hearts so that we will be able to hear His voice and that we may walk in His path.

Also pray for the Ottawa Greenbelt team. Pray that our Father will protect them and also help them with their preparations.

Prayerfully consider if you would be willing to join a prayer team to pray for us while we are away. We need people to join in these small groups that will pray on rotation every day while we are in Colombia. The leaders of these groups have been posted in the last blog entry. We still need a leader for the Thursday group and will appreciate your prayerful consideration.

This Sunday during the service we will discuss the prayer groups some more, and we are hoping to find enough volunteer then.

God bless!

Monday, December 5, 2011

We need your prayer

This week we want to start focusing on the power of prayer and how it can support us during our last bit of planning, and also during our outreach to Colombia.

The Colombia Outreach team has been meeting and praying regularly for months now, and we believe with all our hearts that our Father hears our prayers. He promises in His Word that where "two or more gather in His Name, He will hear their prayers".
He also promises us that he will hear our prayers when we pray according to His will. When we pray that he will guide us to the people who need His Word and who need Jesus, we believe that we are praying according to his command in Matthew 28:19-20 to make disciples of all nations. Therefor we are within His will, and thus we claim this promise as our own.

In the next few weeks we will be approaching the church to seek help. We need you to pray for us now and during our trip to Medellin. We are hoping to provide different opportunities for people to pray for us. This can be done individually and/or in groups.

During the two weeks that we are going to be away small groups of persons will be meeting to pray daily. We want to give everybody and opportunity to be able to attend and be part of the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus. If you believe that through faith your prayers can make a difference in Colombia, then please get involved. Remember, the one who sends is as important as the one who goes.

Tentatively the leaders of these groups will be as follows, with the days of the week they will be leading:

Sundays: Prayer in huddles during the morning service
Mondays: Barb Eby
Tuesdays: Noeline Mostert
Wednesdays: Nelli Chikwula and Stoked Youth in the evening
Thursdays: Still open
Fridays: Fred Weatherby
Saturdays: Niki Hills

These groups can potentially meet anytime during the day or evening, and the time will likely be a decision made by each group once they are made up. The length of the prayer meetings can also be determined by the group, but typically should not be more than one hour.

Can you please prayerfully consider if you may be willing and able to pray, not just as an individual, but also in one of these groups? If you feel the Lord leading that you can be a leader of one of these groups, or if you have an existing group that can also pray for us, please let us know.

If you feel that you can be involved, please contact Barb or any of the team members for further information.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Preparing the ESL lessons

This past week we have spent some time to prepare the lessons and games we need to take along with us to Medellin. We  have five lessons, one each for five days, each with a number of games and tasks that will help the ESL students in Colombia learn a little more English. We are expecting around 200 students in each of the two weeks we are to be there. Many of the learning games revolve around card games, and we had to make enough copies of everything and then cut out all the cards and sort them into the right numbers and packs. All of this will then travel with us to Colombia in a suitcase. Who would have thought that cutting out paper can still be fun and help with team building!

The team looking seriously at work

Eleanor, Gerald and Sonya looks busy
Eleanor and Christine

Dries handling the finger cutter, sorry, the paper cutter
Jen's back is sore from all the sitting. Barb and Brenda still enjoying themselves   

We need prayer this week for the following:
  1. Pray that the team in Colombia will be able to find and secure a suitable location for the ESL. We may still go to the same center we had last January, but the complex is being sold to new owners and so there is some uncertainty.
  2. Also pray that the Colombian team will be able to find all the volunteers they need to help with translation. We will likely need around 15 to 20 persons. They are also looking for families that will host us for the two weeks.
  3. Pray for our team members who are preparing there testimonies. It looks possible that we will be talking about our faith and give our testimonies in front of the large ESL groups. We hope and pray that this will lead to good discussion in the smaller groups at the tables. The aim is to help the people talk and use English, the purpose is to open doors for individuals to talk about God and faith. The latter discussion will not happen at the tables, but we are hoping for individuals to come forward and talk to us during other times in the day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preparations for our January 2012 mission trip to Medellin, Colombia

As the year draws to an end the team is hard at work making our preparations physically and spiritually. We have been meeting to plan and pray once a week now for months already. We also had a wonderful retreat weekend (at Pastor Rick's house!) during which we focused more on our spiritual readiness, but also could do some of the preparation for our ESL (English Second Language) classes.

There is still quite a bit to do! Becky, Rick and Barb's daughter, who is a trained ESL teacher has been working really hard to write and design new lessons that we will be using when we go in January. She joined her father to go there in August, and gained wonderful insight in how these lessons will work the best. On our side we have been going through each individual lesson to see how it works and to make any necessary changes as we try out the games that comes with it. The whole concept is based on playing games that will allow the students to use specific target language, while making the learning fun. At the same time it gives the students opportunity to get to know each other and the teaching team. This has shown over the last two outreaches to lead to unique opportunities to have personal meetings that may open the door for spiritual discussions. We depend upon God to make this happen, as we do our best to present a quality program.

Please pray for us as we prepare ourselves. Pray that God's mercy and grace will keep guard over us and our families, and that everything will work together to allow us to go to Colombia in January.

Pray for open hearts and open doors in Colombia. Pray that the people will be receptive to the Gospel.

Also pray for the new church that is being planted in Sabaneta. Pray that our Father will bless and protect the leaders, Diego and Claudia,  Jairo and Jennifer.

Mealtime during our retreat weekend
Rick explaining to our families how well our retreat is going...