Haiti, Mission Work

Think Like A Missionary

One of my favorite thing in Haiti this past week was hearing more stories about Haiti.  Stories of the peoples’ lives, stories of God at work, stories of past trips.  As Dan was sharing some stories one night from a previous trip he kept bringing up the phrase, “Think Like a Missionary.”  I loved this concept and have to say that as the week went on, there were multiple times “think like a missionary” popped into my head and forced me to think outside the box a little.   I thought I’d share a few examples:

The first situation that comes to mind is during our first VBS.  We had brought a craft to do with the kids that involved making an angel necklace out of Ideal clamp paperclips a bead and some string.  We debated back and forth whether to do it all at once to or to separate out groups of kids to go do it a few at a time.  We ended up trying it all together since it was such a simple craft.  This may have worked fine… if there were only 150 kids there.  We only brought half of the supplies the first day because we knew we had other churches to go to later in the week but forgot to count how many kids were there before starting the craft. Opps.  We very quickly realized, as kids were swarming us for more supplies, that there were MUCH more than 150 kids there!  While very exciting, we had a problem on our hands.  “Think like a missionary” popped into my head.  The end result was cutting some of the longer strings in half with Pastor Allen’s pocket knife and using some of the extra “heads” (beads) we had to give to those who did not get paperclips.  In the long run, it ended up with some kids only have heads and others having decapitated angels, but hey, the gospel was proclaimed and we chose to give God the glory and ask him to give us better wisdom to handle the next VBS in a better way.

400+ Bracelets... now on the wrists of children all over Haiti

The thing with going on a mission trip is that you plan and plan and plan… and then are flexible when plans change.  On the schedule we had, that first VBS on Tuesday did not exist.  This meant that we needed to figure out what we would do on Thursday when we were back at the same church, in Les Cayes, with some of the same kids, but also a lot MORE kids.  We already didn’t have enough supplies the first time for a craft so we needed to figure out what to do.  “THINK LIKE A MISSIONARY.”  Our first task was to figure out a skit.  Through prayer, a conglomeration of previous skit ideas, and some brainstorming sessions, God provided us with a fun way to present his saving grace in a way kids, who didn’t speak English (with missionaries that didn’t speak Creole), could understand. We also decided to make friendship bracelets for the kids because we had a ton of Embroidery Floss.  So Wednesday night we set out to make 400 bracelets (we wanted to make sure we had enough).  My camp experience had taught me the quickest, easiest way to make many bracelets in the shortest amount of time.  Wednesday we set at our task and made close to 200 in about 45 mintues.  But this wasn’t good enough for some of the guys on our team.  After dinner, Dan broke out the drill.  We perfected our system and before we knew it we had nearly 450 awesome bracelets ready to hand out to excited children the next day.  🙂  Now that’s what I call, thinking like a missionary. (Video of the process to come soon!)
The "Manly" way to make friendship bracelets

One last example is simply in communication.  We tried our best to learn some Creole before heading to Haiti, and some of the children have picked up some English here and there, but often, “communication” did not come in words.  I am reminded of passages in the New Testament where Paul talks about doing whatever it takes to communicate Christ to people.  Often on our trip, we were forced to “think like a missionary” and find new creative ways to communicate with the people we came in contact with.

The more I think about this, as I’ve written this post, I’ve realize how much I want to “think like a missionary” more and more in my everyday life.  So often we keep God in a little box, we do things the same way because, we’ve always done it that way before.  I am reminded again of the story that I talked about in my last post of the feeding of the 5,000.  Jesus wasn’t asking the disciples to do some impossible task by feeding this people, though that is how they felt.  Rather, he was challenging them to “think like a missionary” and turn to the one who has an abundance to give.  Did Jesus feed the 5,000 people in the ways the disciples were originally trying to solve the problem?  No, but there was enough food.   Did we have enough supplies to make the craft the way we originally intended? No, but we had enough beads and string to send the kids away with something to remind them that God is always with them.

What is it in your life, and in mine where we need to start thinking like missionaries and turn to the one who may not always do things as WE think best, but always has more than enough?!?

Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights, Joy

30 Hour Famine – Recap

Hello All!

Well, we made it to the end!  The 30-Hour Famine was a success (in my opinion at least).  22 youth and 4 adult participants from four area churches gave up eating for 30 hours so others could eat!  I hope to tell more specifics in the days to come about our experience.  But for now, here are some highlights:

  • Anne Miller and Jon Whited making our “Tribe:Haiti” experience come to life a little more by sharing stories from their trips to Haiti.
  • Celebrating Jon’s birthday on Friday night with a candle put straight on a plate (since we couldn’t eat anything) and then with the treats his parents brought for dessert when we broke our fast this evening. 
  • Lots of laughter and games!
  • Going door-to-door collecting food, coats, and blankets for those in need. (Yes, in the wind and the snow). 
  • Later in the day, a man showed up at church with 7 more blankets that he wanted to donate to our collection for people to keep warm this winter.
  • We left some of the food we collected to the First Trinity Food Pantry and then took nearly 70 extra pounds of food to the Food Bank of WNY where we toured their warehouse and learned more about those in need around our area.
  • The Canfield Family cooked us an awesome spaghetti supper to break our fast and helped clean everything up!

Thanks to everyone who helped out and especially a big thanks to all the youth participants who gave up their time, money, and food for 30 hours so others can have what they need.  You’re AWESOME!

Bekah's Heart, Blessing, Devotional, Joy

Joyfullyblessed… By God’s GREAT love!

34 MILLION gallons of water….


That’s how much water can pour over the edge of Niagara Falls each MINUTE.


The sights, sounds, and just general experience of going to Niagara Falls is beyond amazing. 


My friend, Jenn, came to visit from PA this weekend and we ventured into Canada to explore Niagara Falls, Niagara On The Lake, and just enjoy life together.  I have already seen The Falls (from the American side) before, but a new realization hit me as we walked up to them Saturday. 


I thought about how the 34 millions gallons of water/minute that flow over the Falls is a beautiful picture of God’s ABUNDANT love. 


Just picture all that water pouring over the rocks as God’s love pouring into our hearts… even to the point of being overwhelmed at times.


After walking along and looking at the falls for a while, we decided to do the Journey Behind the Falls.  There are some portals you can look out and are literally behind the giant wall of water that makes up the Horseshoe Falls.

  Then, we went out on an observation deck which put us right next to the edge of the falls.  Here are some pictures from the observation deck:

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(There is no zoom on this picture… that’s really how close we were!)


It was during this time RIGHT next to the falls that Jenn and I had some cool faith conversations.  We talked about how this was a BEAUTIFUL reminder of our baptism.  We stood in awe for a while at the beautiful creation and God’s mighty power.  I also mentioned my thoughts about it being kind of like God’s love just pouring over the edge and how if you’re anywhere CLOSE to it there’s no possible way to stay dry.


Just as this beautiful sight, Niagara Falls, draws in hundreds, probably THOUSANDS of visitors each day… God’s amazing love draws us in.  And once we’re close, there’s no way to stay dry.  The analogy continues even farther as we think about how we left Niagara Falls.  Sure we had those bright yellow ponchos on, but we were definitely still WET and the people around us knew EXACTLY where we had been.  That’s how God’s love is meant to work too… He drenches us to the point that his love becomes obvious to the people around us. 


Even after seeing Niagara Falls a few times, I still don’t understand it… it still evokes a sense of awe in my heart and mind.  It’s the same way with the wonder of God’s love.  We can’t understand it… many times we even try to put on a “poncho” and escape it, thinking that we should have to do something to deserve God’s love… but no matter what we try, God is waiting for us to come close… He draws us in… and then he pours His love on us and get us drenched all the way through.


Awesome and loving Lord, show us the wonder of your great love each and every moment of each and everyday. .  For Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice is like the great deep… how priceless is your unfailing love. Lord, we trust in your unfailing love.  Please remind us that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so GREAT is your love for us.

Lord, we pray that being rooted and established in your love we may together be able to grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH and DEEP is the love of Christ.  To know this love is truly beyond our knowledge and understanding.  Fill us to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Teach us to rest in your love today and always. That we may be drenched to the point that your love is obvious to those around us as well.  In Jesus’ precious name,  AMEN!

(Psalms 17:7, 36:5-7, 13:5, 103:11-12; Ephesians 3:16-19)


(More pictures from our Canadian adventure to come!)

Blessing, Crossroads, First Trinity, Joy, NY Adventures

JB… Two months of Joy and Blessing!

Well, as of yesterday, I’ve officially been in New York for 2 months.  In some ways it’s hard to comprehend it’s been that long and in other ways it feels much longer.  In any case, I truly am loving life here.  As Jason pointed out though, it’s crazy to think that 1/6 of my internship is over.  What’s even crazier is that it seems like everything is just now getting ready to begin!


Fall programming starts tomorrow (well kind of today with Youth Band) and I’m excited to see what God has in store for this year.  (Another post is coming about this). 



In the mean time, check out some more exciting adventures and blessings that happened recently:


On labor day, the Whited family invited me to go hiking/geocaching with them and I had a wonderful time!  Here’s a picture that Wisken took of me by The Eternal Flame (I think that’s what it was called) at Chestnut Ridge Park. DSCF6624 Natural gas comes up in the rocks behind a waterfall and someone lit it at one point. 




It was a beautiful day hiking, geocaching, picnicing and just enjoying life together out in God’s beautiful creation.  Here is one of my favorite pictures from the day:



Now fast forward from Monday to earlier today (Saturday).  Some amazing youth that came to help around church today.  Our main task was cleaning/rearranging the youth space, but the youth are so awesome that they agreed to help out for a few minutes on the renovations taking place in the preschool. 


Here are some pictures of the youth (and the amazing Mike Zekas) in action:

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Awesome job team!



I truly cannot thank God enough for the COUNTLESS blessings that I’ve found here in New York and specifically at First Trinity in the last two months.  Thanks to everyone who’s made it so wonderful!  I’m excited to see what adventures the next 10 months bring as well!

NY Adventures

Adventures of the New York Variety #3 and #4

Yay for more New York Adventures!  This past week provided two more opportunities to explore the area and have some fun.


Past New York Adventures (In case you missed these posts)

Going to the Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival with the Mongielo Family

Trip to Niagara Falls with my sister and her fiance (I guess I never wrote about that…. hmm.)

Shakespeare in the Park with Darcy and Touring Niagara County with my friend, Mark


Adventure #3  – Elmwood Arts Festival

I’m pretty sure Buffalo, NY has more festivals than any other place I’ve been.  My personal philosophy is that we’re snowed in all winter that we have to take every excuse they can get in the summer to be outside.  Seriously, I think there’s been SOME kind of festival every weekend I’ve been here (though I’ve only gone to two) and many weekends there are multiple festivals going on at the same time.


Anyway, on Sunday, my friend Tracy invited me to the Elmwood Arts Festival.  It was a beautiful day and fun to walk around and see all the art, hear the music, watch the parade, etc. before heading back to her friend’s house nearby for dinner. Here are some pictures:


Vendors with all of their homemade art and crafts



Music and Dance taking place on a stage at one end of the festival.



All wrapped up with a giant parade with the kids waving and wearing the crafts they made!


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Adventure #4 ~ Waterbiking on the Erie Canal

I’m constantly amazed at how our God provides.  Just as I was maybe starting to get a little lonely here in New York, God has provided opportunities to get out and hang out with other people.  One of those moments was when the Canfield family randomly called up Monday afternoon and asked if I wanted to come over for dinner that night. It was a delicious meal and was nice to share with such a wonderful family.


The fun continued after dinner when we went down to the Erie canal to ride waterbikes.  When they told me about them, I was thinking more like a paddleboat, but think more: stationary bike meets pontoon boat.  Well I guess you can just see for yourself:

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Kristina joined up with us too (though sadly couldn’t do the paddleboats because of her knee).  BUT we had a wonderful time wrapping up the night down by the river (I believe it was the Niagara River) eating ice cream and sharing my pictures/stories from Uganda.


Thanks God for wonderful people, wonderful adventures, and for being a wonderful God! 🙂

NY Adventures

Joyfullyblessed… New York Adventures #2

The past couple weeks have contained a couple WNY adventures.  I’m truly enjoying the time I’ve gotten to explore this area that’s new to me.  This blog title includes the phrase “#2” in hopes that there will be many more adventures to blog about throughout my time here. (and I’m counting my trip to the Buffalo Italian Festival as #1 even though it’s not labeled that way) In any case, HERE WE GO (and yes… a lot of adventures means a lot of writing… if you haven’t figured it out by now, that’s just how I work):


DSCF6550Two weeks ago Darcy invited me to Shakespeare in Delaware Park.  Every summer one of the parks in Buffalo puts on presentations of Shakespeare’s works for free most nights of the week.  We caught a showing of Macbeth.  Quite the creepy story, but the actresses did a wonderful job.  Yes, I just mentioned ACTRESSES not actors as the entire cast was female.  It was an interesting twist on the fact that originally the play would have been a fully male cast, but it made for a fun opportunity for more females to be involved in the show (swordfights and all!).  Here are some pictures from that night:




So that was last Thursday night.  Then earlier this week (on Monday, my day off) a met up with a friend from school who’s lived in the area since he was in high school.  He had an entire tour of Niagara county planned out and I’m not sure how we packed it all in one day.  I was amazed at how much farmland and even CORNFIELDS there are out here.  Seriously, for a while I thought I might actually be back in Nebraska.  Here’s how the day unfolded:


Mark picked me up in time to grab lunch at The Silo in Lewiston. The Silo is just a typical burger/sandwich place but the restaurant happens to be in an old coal silo along the Niagara River. It has a beautiful view of the river (and appears to be a busy fishing spot).  It was a gorgeous day to sit out side and enjoy lunch.  



The day continued and we headed North.  We passed by Mark’s summer vicarage church and went on up to Wilson-Tuscarora State Park along Lake Ontario.  Here we went our separate ways and spent some time alone with the amazing God who created the beautiful sight we were seeing.  It was awesome to look out, unable to see anything but water and realize just how big God is.  It made me also think of that passage when Jesus calms the storm and the disciples exclaim, “Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?!?”  (If you look closely at the first picture you can see a sailboat). 

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DSCF6584After a short drive through many more fields, farms, and vineyards we arrived at a similar sight further down on Lake Ontario.  This was at Golden Hill State Park which is exactly 30 miles from Niagara Falls marked by the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse” which we toured.      It was awesome to stand at the top of the lighthouse, getting beaten around by the intense wind coming off the lake and once again look out at God’s creation and be at awe.  That’s not to mention that I think we DSCF6578made the day for elderly woman who got to give a tour of the lighthouse to some “young people.”

The day continued with many more adventures.  We crossed briefly over into Orleans county and visited an Amish Store called Yoder’s Country Cupboard where I got some fun homemade candy as well as fresh homemade peanut butter.

Okay, so this next part I have to explain a little more for those of you that aren’t familiar with Western New York (WNY).  What the rest of the country calls “Buffalo Wings” aren’t real wings at all.  CHICKEN wings are originally from Buffalo, NY (hence where were got the name in the rest of the country) and everyone has their favorite place which they claim has “the best wings (or DSCF6589fingers) in Western New York.”  Well, another claim was made and we ventured off to Mr. Ed’s in Middleport.  (I have not had enough experience trying wings or fingers to be able to judge any claims but Mr. Ed’s did have some good fingers).  We picked up the fingers and headed to a picnic table by the canal to eat them… yep… the Erie Canal that most midwesterners have only heard about in history books. As we were driving away from Middleport I even got to experience one of the bridges going up to allow a boat to go underneath.  (If you look on the left side you’ll notice that even when the bridge is up, there is still a “sidewalk” for people to walk across the canal.)

As our journey continued through Gasport and onto Lockport (yea, all the “ports” along the canal), I started to get a little worried.  Mark commented, “And now get ready to have a true Western New York experience.”  He pulled into a parking lot with a Reid’s hotdog stand, handed me some money and said, “Go order…. Good luck!”  Now, even more petrified than before I walked up to the DSCF6600 stand and was a little confused.  Sure, I could figured out what a Shake was or that “Hamburg” means “Hamburger” and “Cheeseburg” means “Cheeseburg”  I figured all the ones with “Hot” in them were hot dogs but what’s the difference between a “Red Hot”, a “White Hot”, or a “Hot Ham”? And did I want the special “Reid’s” sauce… I have no clue.  I ended up ordering a Red Hot with fries and a strawberry shake which the cashier called back to the cooks as a “Red Fry Straw”.  Mark got some extra onion rings with the special sauce so I could try it too.  It was pretty good and as he said… quite the experience… complete with pigeons and everything.

The day wrapped up with a few more stops at a vineyard, that was closed, the Lockport Cruise Night (basically a weekly car show…. a lot of the towns up here have them), before heading back to my home in Amherst pointing out the “cheapest gas station in Niagara county” (apart from “the Res”), the drive-in movie theater, and Niagara produce along the way.

What a wonderful, joyfulllyblessed day in Western New York.  Now all of you just need to come visit me so I can take you to these wonderful places as well!

Well, that’s all I have for now.  I’m super excited for this weekend …. I get a chance to share my stories about Africa at the VBS reunion and my aunt and uncle from IL are going to stop through on Sunday after an impromptu vacation to Niagara Falls.


Blessings from New York!