A Walk through Missions

Hello! I am creating this blog to share my experiences in preparation for my current mission trip to Haiti. Throughout this journey, I will be recapping my experiences from Galveston in 2009 and Jamaica in 2011, drawing from scripture, and the psychological/cognitive processes behind everything. I pray that this will be a way that I will be able to share what God has done , what He is doing, and what He will be doing in/through me.

10:00 PM
September 7th, 2011

Bezalel Movement

Hey everyone!! I’ve had like 5 weeks back in the states and here is a video of the ministry that I worked with all summer. All the pictures in this video are from this summer. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KddEfzFldaQ&feature=player_profilepage

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8:07 PM
July 28th, 2011

Some lessons I learned from Bondye

1) Just because you have patience, this doesn’t mean you have the knowledge on how to use it - one of the key things that God kept reminding me this summer is that the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23a) don’t come with instruction manuals and you learn how to use them on yourself, others, and even God is by trying and sometimes failing. For me, this started with using my patience, which was followed by love, gentleness, and forgiveness. So many things showed me all this so there is no way I can tell a story pertaining to this without going into all of my frustration and confusion, which without vocals is extremely hard for me to do and unwise.

2) I am only as great in God as I allow myself to be/the power in your life is only as strong as you allow it - I learned both of these things mainly through two stories. One is hinted at on my team’s blog at http://interns.nmsi.org/?page_id=73 The other I will elude to here. One night, I was wrestling with God in prayer about lesson 1, when I heard some nose outside our complex. I don’t want to ruin thus story since I haven’t told anyone outside of NMSI about it, but it resulted in me being affirmed in the legitimacy of the power of voodoo and seeing that there is still hope for some; the others in this particular story are too consumed by Satan that only God Himself can save them (even then God wants us to chose Him and not make us follow Him, so this is why I say they are too far gone).

3) I know my immediate role for international missions and for my immediate future - there where times this summer when I got to use some of my psychology knowledge to help counsel some Haitians. These experiences showed me that I need to go and get fully trained in counseling so that I, personally, can love the LORD, my God, with all heart and with all my soul and with all my strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Also for me to do this in the realm of international missions, I am to be the person praying for certain missionaries and paying support for others (this will come once I get a more consistent job that does not depend on whether classes are in or not). God has already blessed me some great ministries to continue praying for, or start back up since I have dropped the ball on a few. God has also connected me with some actual missionaries, whom we have only just recently started our relationship together. I will not share any more specifics here because that would be bragging and boasting and showing favoritism and that is exactly what James warns against in James chapter 2 & 4.

4) The importance of my past (both the good and the bad; the major events and the smallest details) - I have only this last week started to understand and realize just how much of an importance it was for me to be put on this team. I know why it took me almost 9 weeks of living with my team to start to understand this and I want to say thank you to everyone in my team, right here and right now for allowing these things to be brought out of me through your actions and inactions this summer.

5) Just how present God is in the here and now - Through both the personal prayers of everyone on my team and the public prayers of BM, God should that He hears us exactly when we call out to Him. If we call out with the right heart and correct yearning, God can and will answer those prayers immediately. God also used minor, inconvenient health issues to show this to me personally.

I know that I numbered these lessons, but that is because that was the order in which I recalled them. They are all tied for #1 and there is so many more lessons that I learned and I know some of them (but they are more just for me to reveal at the correct time); I also know that I don’t know a lot of them yet. I can’t wait for God to show them to me in His perfect time.

With Grace and Respect,
Andrew, Bondye Ben Ou

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6:20 PM
July 28th, 2011
O Li si renmen nou (How He loves us)

Bondye m’nan, jalou pou mwen. 
Lanmou tankou siklōn, mwen son pye bwa.
Ki koube anba Gwo van ak pitye’w.
Men lē samm pat atann, mwen wē pat okoran
de aflikson m’yo k’parēt non Glwa ou
e mwen reyalize kōman ou mēvēye
e kijan afeksyon w’yo Gran pou mwen.

O Li si renmen nou
O Li renmen nou
Li si renmen nou

Li renmen nou
O Li renmen nou
O Li renmen nou
O Li renmen’w

O Li si renmen nou (How He loves us)

Bondye m’nan, jalou pou mwen.
Lanmou tankou siklōn, mwen son pye bwa.
Ki koube anba Gwo van ak pitye’w.
Men lē samm pat atann, mwen wē pat okoran
de aflikson m’yo k’parēt non Glwa ou
e mwen reyalize kōman ou mēvēye
e kijan afeksyon w’yo Gran pou mwen.

O Li si renmen nou
O Li renmen nou
Li si renmen nou

Li renmen nou
O Li renmen nou
O Li renmen nou
O Li renmen’w

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4:21 PM
July 28th, 2011

Week 7 on update

So the last week in Haiti was eventful and emotional for all. Our team started the week off by deciding to cook the whole committee of BM a “traditional” Southern meal. Yes, Steve and I were the Yanks and were out voted on the Southern part, but in all honesty I had the meal we made often at home and at school.

Megan and Brittany made a double layered cake and twice baked potatoes. I was given the charge of deep-frying chicken and macaroni-and-cheese. Thankfully I watch the Food Network A LOT at school and I have worked in fast food for going in 6 years now, so I “know” how to deep fry chicken. I adapted some breading recipes that I have used in the past for the chicken and I have paid attention to my mom when she makes mac-and-cheese from scratch. Michelle and Liz tried to help, God love em, but they only knew how to make biscuits (which turned out great). So it took me a whole hour to deep fry about 55 pieces of chicken and 40 minutes to adapt and make the mac-and-cheese (we ran out of propane right when I was going to put it in the oven. After the whole afternoon cooking, the BM committee thoroughly enjoyed their first taste of American food.

The rest of the week went to planning and putting on a youth conference in a nearby town. At the beginning of the summer it was supposed to be at three day conference, it due to our departure time Nego cut it to 2 days. When the first day came, we had to work out some transport issues and it ended up only being a 1 day conference. The first night we got there, we had a revival service where we performed the Good Samaritan drama that we performed week 4. Friday, Steve, Brittany, and Megan talked on self-worth for the conference and Josh gave a sermon. That night we did another drama that I wrote specifically for he conference.

This conference was supposed to be a youth leadership training conference and what Nego and us wanted to teach was that God can use anyone to be a leader. This second drama that I ended up writing was a combination of the book “Leading with a Limp” by Dan Allender and the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the book of Luke. It told of a time of crisis in which two candidates (one arrogant and one humble) were put through tests by the people they were to serve. The lesson behind it was that God chooses leaders who are not perfect, who are least likely to be in a position of power, and that godly leaders embrace their weaknesses and trust God to provide for them.

Then it was time to prepare to leave our home for the past 7 weeks. Nego’s mom made us a going away supper and the girls decided to stay up all night and hang out with the guys, since we had to leave at 3:30 to make it to the airport in Port-au-Prince for our flight at 9. The travel time between Jacmel and Port-au-Prince is 2.5 hours through the mountains and the international flight rule of arriving at least 2 hours before your flight was the reason for our early morning departure from BM. Almost all the guys from BM went with us to the airport, so we didn’t have to say our good-byes until we had to.

Thankfully we got through security and to our gate in about 40 minutes upon arrival. Josh, Charles, Megan, Brittany, and I all left before Steve because of him being put on the team late, and just like when we left for the summer, his flight was delayed; this time for 12 hours. Thankfully we all arrived on Florida safe and sound and met up with the teams from Southeast Asia, Malawi/Zambia, and Ukraine for debrief.

I will be adding more when I get to Atlanta during my 3 hour lay over, but I will finish with this. There is so much the God used me for and so much he taught me in Haiti. My one reservation about this summer happened and now being on this side of it, I can say that I am glad, blessed, and thankful that it happened. It was this: the person I was leaving school in May died in Haiti. I am no longer the same, but I am forever changed. And as I am typing this on my first flight from Florida to return to my life in Indiana, I am crying out of joy. Joy in God; joy in Haiti; joy in my team; joy in you, my supporters. If I don’t get a chance to personally thank y’all for what you did for me this summer please know that God used you to get me ready to be used by Him. For this and so much more than I can ever express in this blog, I thank you with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength.

With much Grace and Thanks,
Andrew, Bondye Ben Ou

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10:43 PM
July 15th, 2011

Week 5 and 6 updates

Week 5 was actually pretty slow. Nego took another American team up to Seguin to build two houses for the church BM works with up there. Since Nego was gone, we partnered his sister and brother-in-law, Georgette and Mikey, to run a VBS from Tuesday through Friday. They run an organization here in Jacmel called “Joy in Hope”.

At “Joy in Hope”, Mikey runs the construction/development part while Georgette runs the children’s ministry part. They help build houses for local people and they have also partnered with a couple from North Carolina, who are now running an orphanage. Their goal with this part of their ministry is to take in children from ages 8 - 16 and help them acquire the necessary life skills to succeed. Many children this age are already sexually active, have been on their own for some time, and/or have been abused. Right now in the “Joy in Hope” orphanage there are 13 children and they are being broke of their bad habits and are being out through school.

So the VBS went well. I was in charge of crafts with Megan. The first day we did macaroni lions to go along with the lesson on Daniel and the lions’s den. The second day we made paper mâché masks that we painted on day three. The fourth day was just a field day, which here in Haiti means a long day of soccer. Thankfully I won’t have to do crafts again while here. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but the language barrier was a nightmare.

This week went went up to Seguin. A friend of Michelle’s, Liz, has joined us for the rest of our time here. She has been in Haiti for a few weeks more than our team. At Seguin, we held a VBS for the children there Monday and Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday, I helped Michelle run a free clinic for the local-ish people. It went on for 8 hours and a good majority of the problems we encountered were do to dehydration (which we fondly called the “Haitian disease of sickness”). While up their we also painted the two houses the team last week built. One functions as a bedroom and the other a kitchen.

Now Seguin, is in the mountains that are about 1.5 hours away from BM.  That time is an estimates average of our trip up the on Monday and down on Wednesday. Also, the trip is longer by truck than by motorcycle. I got to ride up and down on a moto (Creole for motorcycle. Real hard to figure out, right ;P). The ride up was beautiful and enjoyable while the ride down was alright. Going up was sunny and clear skies and going down was overcast and foggy. In Seguin (and for the most part in Jacmel), the sun was out in the morning and overcast/raining. Overall, our stay in Seguin was very fruitful and enjoyable.

Yesterday, Nego’s wife, Ellen, arrived and is staying until Monday. She has been in Canada working on paying off student loans and supporting her and Nego’s ministry. Today, Brittany and I taught on self-worth/ the biblical aspect of sex (well Brittany taught on self-worth and I taught on the biblical aspect of sex). I would like to personally thank Rob Schrumpf for his sermon on this subject this past semester, since it was what  based my talk off of today. Tomorrow and Sunday, we are traveling up to the first mountain town we visited this summer to host a VBS and another free clinic.  Next week, we will be helping BM host a youth conference for a lot of the youth in south Haiti. 

This will be my last post from here in Haiti, seeing that we only have 8 more days here. I pray that they will be fruitful, but fast. I will post more when I get back to the states ( and my ridiculously missed phone). I thank you all for the love and support you have given me this summer. 

Peace out.

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8:14 PM
July 4th, 2011

Week 4 Update (written on July 2nd, 2011)

This week our team welcomed Michelle the Canadian to our team. Her background in medicine and her new faith has been a huge blessing to our team and to me. God had this planned all along and I thank Him for that.

Every night this past week, BM held revival services. Monday we went into the community to invite people to the services. Each night, a different visiting pastor gave a message and some of us on the team shared something. Friday night, our team did a dramatic reenactment of the Parable of the Good Samaritan for the service. The idea came to me one night when I couldn’t quite get to sleep. I transformed the parable into a more modern version that was relative to the local community here in Haiti. Since our team cannot speak a lot of Creole, I decided to make it into a narrated drama. It went really well, especially since we only had about 5 minutes to rehearse before we performed it. That wasn’t by choice; we were just that busy this week.

Tuesday and Thursday we visited the local prison. On Tuesday, we went there to get notes and prescriptions from the prisoners to see what they needed/wanted. I was with three guys from BM (Tony, Senteniya, and Davidson) when I went in. Right before we got to the cells, they warned me not to give my hand to any of the prisoners. I soon found why. As soon as we got to the cells, everyone that could were reaching out of the cells to us and once they got a hold of any of the BM guys’ hands, they didn’t let go for at least 5 minutes. Then on Thursday, we returned to give them soap, Bibles, and the prescriptions that we filled for them.

Wednesday we visited the local hospital. We started off in the ward where people who had just had surgery/were needing surgery were housed. There was a woman about my age there who had been walking with her brother and another friend when they were attacked by four guys. No reason; just because they could. The attackers broke one of her forearm bones and killed her brother. The other friend was there, but he didn’t look hurt at all. You could see in their eyes their pain while they relived the attack. The woman seemed lost without her brother.

We went into two more wards. The first was where long term patients were housed. Their problems ranged from paralysis to unknown spinal pain to non-contagious yellow fever (meaning that the person was past the contagious period). The second ward was the baby/woman ward. Here the girls went to talk and pray with the women while the guys talked with the families of the babies. It was here that I broke.

There was a 35 year old woman who had her first, and only child, about 1.5 months early. The baby had been doing good but had recently started to get weak. I was the only person that talked and prayed with her. Her prayer wasn’t for money for tests or medicine or for anything like that. She asked for me to ask God to save her son; to allow him to live. Her eyes and the baby was too much for me. My soul cried out for them. I knew then that if we had to choose who to help and who not to help that day, I would fight tooth and nail for them. Thankfully it didn’t come to that. I know that God will save this little boy, but I also know that he will eventually die. Just like Jesus knew that raising Lazarus from the dead would not save him from eventually dying again. I say this because only Jesus and God are Eternal. 

This next week, we are running a VBS in the morning and the following week we are heading to Seguin. It’s kinda hard to believe that there are only 22 more days here in Haiti. I’m saddened by this yet I am also happy. I know that I am not to be here much longer and that I have a life that God and I have created for me to return to, but 3 weeks doesn’t seem like enough to finish what God has put in place for us. Oh well, at least we are starting this last leg with a celebration. What I mean is that we are going to a Haitian wedding tonight. Nego’s sister, Rachel, is getting married to a guy from Trinidad. The preparations that have been taking place this week and today have been quite enjoyable to witness. It kinda reminds me of my brother’s wedding a little over two years ago. 

Prayer request: Energy and unity amongst the team and the BM staff; for a quick, yet fruitful, three weeks; protection as we head to Seguin and during the VBS; for more appreciation on how God has named me, called me to serve, and for the Haitian experience still to come

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8:13 PM
July 4th, 2011

Week 3 (as written on June 26th, 2011)

Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, we visited some local elderly. I really enjoyed just going and just being used by God as a sign of His love and provision. There was a feeling in the group of just being put on the spot because we are Americans, but I know that it was because Nego and the BM staff see us as part of their ministry and they wanted us to experience this one part completely.

While doing these visits, we were a blessing but I also felt blessed. The first lady that we visited and her mother literally blessed us the whole time that we were there. We then visited a man who has been legally blind since birth, a couple of crippled/handicapped people, and a pair of sisters and their neighbor. The three that effected me the most were the following.

We visited a 112 year old woman!! She wanted us to pray that God will grant her more years to her life, but all I could do was thank God for allowing her to be alive so that we could be a blessing to her before death. Then there was the old married couple. The wife was a parapalegic and her husband was about 4’10”, 150 pounds soaking wet. He could barely help her get around, but it was what they said to us that took a piece of my heart. They said that they may be black and we may be white, but our blood is the same color so we are naturally related. Then the husband proceeded to call us family because of our connection through Christ. The last influential person was one of our last visits. This lady has some back, hip, and knee issues (which was very common for us to hear) but that’s not what broke my heart. She doesn’t have anyone who visits or cares about her. Her family has abandoned her and her neighbors reluctantly help her. You could see in her eyes the pain and loss. If I could, I would bring her back home with me and I would take care of her. I pray that one day all of these people we visited and I will be able to rejoice and meet again in the presence of our Lover, Comforter, Provider, Friend, and Father.

The rest of the week was pretty slow. Thursday we had an informational meeting/follow-up session with some youth leaders that had been trained by YouthHope. This really showed me and the rest of the team that American ministry and Haitian ministry face very similar issues. It also showed us that the biggest opposition to youth ministry here in Haiti is the pastors of the churches. The pastors hold all the power and many don’t want to give up their power over the youth.

Saturday, Josh treated us to some American food at a local restaurant. Cheeseburgers, fries, ice cream, and free wireless internet was a welcomed treat to us all. Michelle also arrived at BM Saturday night. She is from Alberta, Canada and gave her life over to Christ only in January. I have found her encouraging and inspiring to be around and just by getting to know her. I pray that our month together plays out so that she will be able to grow as wells as teach me (and the team) through her story, insights, and faith.

Prayer requests: Praise = I don’t have cramps in the morning anymore!!! (there are some exceptions but still); pray for strength and energy for the last four weeks; team unity; for me to fully appreciate what God has set before me here in Haiti

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8:08 PM
June 25th, 2011

Week 1 and 2 post-script

I know that my last two posts were somewhat negative/downers, but in the mist of my homesickness God did answer my prayers, cries, and showed me that I am making a difference here in Haiti. In Manze-Marie, the last night we were there, a woman gave a touching testimony. She said that she had been praying to God for Americans to come an visit for a long time now. She knew that they would be able to give her something that her church might not be able to. She then went on to say that she could believe that we showed up and sacrificed to get here just to see her. This was God’s first sign that I am doing good here.

Also in Brittany and I’s English class, we have an middle-aged lady that comes to everything at BM (like the Wednesday night services, English classes on Friday, and the Bible studies on Saturday and Sunday). I have seen her furiously taking notes on what we are teaching the class and once she understands what we are saying, her eyes light up with love and thankfulness for us. It really hit me week 2 when we taught them numbers and the alphabet. After class she kept thanking me and Brittany over and over. The simple fact that a middle-aged lady is so excited in learning the bare basics of the English language blows my mind. She no doubt has a family or a job and she definitely has a passion to learn about God, but English? Really? The little things I take for granted are always being shown to me here. I will always care this woman in my heart. 

So the purpose of this post is to show y’all that even in the mist of my personal struggles, I am doing God’s will for my life and I am helping Him write my story by simply being an American in Haiti. Thank you all for the prayers and words of encouragement. They have helped me get out the funk from weeks 1 & 2. I still long to be home, but now it is so I can completely share what is being done here. Yes part of that is returning to my shalom (peace) but it is also to share.

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5:14 PM
June 17th, 2011

Week 2 Update

This was written today, June 17th.

I thank God for this week so far. Even though we didn’t go up to Manze-Marie on Sunday night, we did go finally on Monday. Nego (like LEGO but with an N instead of an L), the missionary that is the director of B.M. and a part of NMSI, said that it was going to be only for the day, but I had a feeling that we would stay until Wednesday as originally planned. Guess what…I was right! Megan and I went back to the house with a few of the B.M. staff to get our stuff to stay until Wednesday.

Thankfully it didn’t stay hot for too long when we where up in the mountain. It would get hot a little sooner than back at the house, but it also got cooler sooner. This was a blessing because Tuesday morning we went with the B.M. staff up to a historical fort that was close by. It was about 2.5 miles away from the church we were staying at. The kicker was that it was up on a neighboring mountain. I enjoyed the hike up the mountain and back down and the fort itself. It was really cool with a lot of beautiful scenes and I’m glad that I went, especially since the B.M. staff said that we probably couldn’t do the hike. Afterwards some of us went to the local bathing hole in the river, which felt sooooo good after the long hike.

Our outreach while in Manze-Maire was good, but some of it feel on deaf ears. Mainly I think Brittany and mine’s teaching on counseling was pointless because we ended up talking to little children and older adults with no real middle ground. The other two teachings were good for this group because Steve and Charles’s teaching was easily turned into a Bible study and Josh and Megan’s teaching actually had the audience we all were expecting. Yesterday, Brittany and I taught some basic counseling techniques to the leaders at B.M. It was a really good thing for us to do and I enjoyed using what I am going to school for to help these people. I believe that the fruits from that session will be good and that it will be long lasting.

Wednesday and yesterday mornings I really, really, really wanted to go home. Its bad for me in the mornings because I never sleep super well and I wake up not able to breathe because our room gets super stuffy after the power goes out and I wake up at 4 or 5. I always end up spending about 2 hours trying to sleep outside, which never really helps, but it is cooler than our room. I can’t help but think about what I have given up to be here and feel so miserable when I wake up. I know that this, plus the cramps due to dietary changes, are the work of the Enemy. It takes a couple of hours for me to come out of this, usually. I do know one thing: if I am to do long term mission work, I will need a more regular escape than just four days throughout two months. I would also prefer to be in a more developed country than Haiti, but this is mainly because of the severe loss of luxury and comfort this summer.

It also doesn’t help being here with 5 Americans that are all different and that I have only known for 6 days prior to coming here, and that have attended/attending Christian colleges. I have noticed a divide in our humor and music preferences and philosophies because of the fact that I am the only one of us that chose to go to a secular school. I believe this trip would have been easier for me if I had more people like me here in Haiti (I say this just as an observation and I mean nothing against the team that I am on since I think that we get along pretty well despite the above mentioned). I also can’t help but wonder if this trip would be easier for me if the host missionary was from the United States or Canada and not a a local. I say this because then they could actually empathize and help us (or just me) with adjusting. Yes Nego is great and he is married to a Canadian and has been in Canada for 3 months, but he was there with his wife and he went for Haiti to Canada. I feel like that is not the same as going from Canada/U.S. to Haiti because we have to deal with loss of luxury and comfort, while if you flip it around the struggle would be with gaining luxury and comfort then returning to normalcy.

{[Again I want to make this clear: I love my team and am thankful to God for putting us together this summer and I thank God for the sending us to Nego and the Bezalel Movement because I believe in what they stand for and I have no personal grudges or issues with anyone I am working with this summer. I said the above because that is my thoughts and my ideal trip. God doesn’t deal in our ideal situations, but in His perfect will and plan.}]

I keep thinking about what I’m going to do when I get back to Florida and then when I get back to Indiana. I’m definitely going to call my mom and then a few close friends when I get back to Florida. When I land in Indy I know that once I see my family I’m going to go running into their arms and cry with joy. I’m then going to watch TV and movies like its no one’s business. I will sleep without many problems and then leave for school. I long for the day that I return to my shalom; my life. 38 days until I leave. I pray that they will be good, but I pray even more that they will go by quickly.

Prayer request: team unity, water (its been on the fritz this week. We still have access to it, but its just inconvenient), morning cramps (dietary issue), homesickness  

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4:18 PM
June 17th, 2011

Week 1 Update

This was written on June 12th.

I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into Haiti, but those that I did have haven’t bee close to reality. Sometimes its been good but there have been also times when its been bad. It all started when we left from Pre-field Orientation to go to the airport. Early, early, early morning flights and I don’t like each other. Josh, Brittany, Megan, Charles, and I were on a flight one hour earlier than Steve and when we got to Port-au-Prince we expected to meet up with Steve and hour after we landed. We ended up spending two hours in baggage claim and then seven hours at a gas station that had a restaurant in it, and an hour in the airport parking lot. Thats 10 hours in Port-au-Prince just killing time. Thankfully Steve got in safely after all his delays and we got to Jacmel in one piece. That also was a blessing since it was night and the mountain roads were foggy and it was raining.

Upon arrival and getting settled in, we really didn’t do much this week. We visited the local market on the first day. It was fun seeing all of the different produce and other items for sale. The second day we had our first Creole lesson. I’ve picked it up quickly because of all my prior knowledge in French. We also started making appointments to visit the local prison and hospital, which are going to happen during week 4 of the internship, to do evangelism.

The third day (Wednesday) we finally did something for more than a hour or two. We went out into the community where the Bezalel Movement (B.M.) house (our base of operation for the summer) is located and invited the people to the weekly Wednesday night service that night. I was amazed at what I saw and it made my heart break a little, but I gained more of an appreciation for the way they live. It was nice to actually do something and not just sit around the B.M. compound all day. That night, I gave the teaching at the service. I taught over spiritual perseverance by using 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Thursday we didn’t do anything really. Josh talked with the youth leaders at B.M. and we all started to do

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