Sunday, June 26, 2011

"All nations shall call Him blessed"

"His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen." Psalm 72:17-19

THANK YOU for your continued prayers! They make all the difference! "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

*Please pray also for missions in Africa (Brittany) and the Philippines (Phil)!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ocean City, Week 2

My mom gave me a book of verses and quotes before I left home that has been wonderful to flip through and keep focused each day. Love this one:

"The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." -Frederick Buechner

I am loving being in Ocean City. Only 2 weeks in and I have already learned so much and had a lot of cool experiences. As I said last week, my team is amazing and we have quickly become like a family.

Since last week we've done a lot! It's been a great week.

We hold "Surf and Sand" clubs every weekday morning in the various campgrounds. Michelle and I averaged about 6 kids last week, and they were all precious. One day we were telling them the story of how Jesus healed Jarius' daughter and the bleeding woman. A little 4 year old girl, Julia, played Jesus (she wanted a turn because her older brother had played Jesus all week) and a little 5 year old girl, Sada, played the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' robe.

Mark 5:30 "And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My clothes?'"

So we told Julia, "Say, 'Who touched me?'" and she turned around and said, "Sada did!" Priceless. Love them.

Every day we get a chance to share the gospel with these children through songs and Bible stories. One of their favorite songs is "The River of Life" (I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with it) which goes like this:

I've got a river of life flowin' out of me
It makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Open up the doors; set the captives free
I've got a river of life flowin' out of me
Spring up a well (gush gush gush gush) in my soul!
Spring up a well (splish, splash) and make me whole
Spring up well and give to me that life abundantly

Even still, it has been challenging to me to know how to share these stories with the children in a way they can understand. My awesome teammate Michelle shared these verses with me:

"Give ear, O My people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose Spirit was not faithful to God." Psalm 78:1-8

These verses reminded me that we have a responsibility and a privelege to tell these children about the awesome God we serve! Jesus Himself said, "Let the little children come unto Me!"

Sada and her sister Chamille were so sharp and it was very evident that they knew a lot about Jesus. Their mom even told us on the first day that they would love the Bible stories, and they did! Two others, Evan and Julia, loved to answer the questions about the Bible, too. Their mom gave us a donation for the ministry at the end of the week and told us how much she appreciated what the ministry was doing. Things like that are very encouraging!

When I think about the ministry we have with these precious kids I am reminded about my own life. Even as a small child (and before), God was already calling me by name. Through the teachings and examples of family members, teachers, Sunday School teachers, and others, He was leading me to where I am now, showing me who He was little by little so that I could understand. Being in Ocean City, we have the awesome opportunity to help lay a foundation of truth in these kids' lives: God loves them and wants them as His own! Please continue to pray for the Surf and Sand clubs. Pray for the children and their families, that through this ministry seeds could be planted and more would come to know Jesus as a result.

Wednesday night we had a dinner at the church and got to meet a lot of the members. It was a lot of fun--we played minute to win it challenges. They are great people, and we will be working alongside them some this summer. This chuch is a great location (right on the beach) to reach MANY people that come here during the summer.

Friday night was my favorite time here so far, and I think a lot of the team feels the same way. We held the international coffee house from 9pm-12am. Many international students come into the city for the summer to work, so we get the chance to get to know lots of awesome people! It's cool that even in the US we get to share the gospel with "the nations". It was slow enough that we got to hang out and talk with the students. I met Christina, Christina (2 of them), and Zamira from Russia and Simona from the Ukraine (I think). We played a game of Jenga and I got to know about their homes and their schools and how they like Ocean City so far. They plan to come back next week, and I'm already very excited about that! They were so sweet. I look forward to getting to know them better and I am praying for opportunities to talk to them about Jesus! Please join me in praying for all of the international students that come to the church for the Monday night dinners and Friday night coffee house. Pray that God would open doors for the gospel to be shared--many of them get taken advantage of while they are here (sadly) but that means the church has a great opportunity to be a safe haven for them in many ways.

Playing Jenga at coffee house :)

Sunday we had campground worship in the different campgrounds. Last week at Castaways we had 9; this week we had 18! A couple, Ray and Judy, are here at the end of their vacation serving with us for a few days. Ray did the message Sunday on the parable of the lost coin and the lost sheep. We have thoroughly enjoyed having them here! They remind me a lot of my Mema and Pepa at home :)

My teammates doing worship at another campground came back with an awesome story. They met this guy, Mike, who is biking across the country with the goal of increasing his faith and the faith of others. You can follow his blog and even read his account of Sunday morning here:

Last night we had international dinner and parents' night out. Tonight is the lifeguard dinner followed by the SEARCH Bible study where they can ask any questions they want to. Please pray for open hearts and for the wisdom to respond with truth and grace!

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." -Hebrews 4:12

Tomorrow we have family night, which is when we put on a program for parents and children to participate in together. At the end of the program Taylor will give a testimony as to why she is serving here, which is a great time for her to present the gospel to these families that we are already serving through the surf and sand clubs! We also have a family night on Sundays at Castaways campground that I am in charge of, but it was rained out on Sunday. I will get another chance next week :)

Thank you for your continued prayers for the various ministries going on here in Ocean City!

Love ya'll,

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ocean City, MD, Week 1

Just a few updates on what has been going on in Ocean City since the team arrived on Wednesday.

After a long day of travelling on Wednesday, we had orientation from Wednesday night through Friday morning. A lot of it was going over rules and expectations for the summer, but we also had times of prayer and asking God to prepare us for the work we will be doing. We met our team that is working with Ocean City Baptist Church and the travelling team that will be going around the area doing VBS in various churches throughout the summer. Our team consists of 6 girls and 2 guys, mostly from TN, NC, GA, MS, and one from the UK.

Wednesday afternoon we had some time to go out to the beach for a while and see the Ocean City boardwalk (only a block from the church)--incredible! There is so much beach here, much different from Tybee where there isn't much beach room at high tide. There are also a TON of seagulls. Seriously. The boardwalk is a three mile strip of shops, arcades, and food shops with ice cream, popcorn, french fries, you name it.

Ocean City Baptist Church. --

Thursday morning we split into groups and walked along the boardwalk praying over the city, over the people we saw, over the teams, over our ministries, and just over our time here, that the Lord would prepare us to do His work and that He would open hearts to receive Him here in this city.

Beautiful sunset behind some buildings seen from the boardwalk.

Thursday afternoon we passed out fliers to the international student workers advertising free meals at local churches. The international students come from all over--Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Lithuania, Moldova, etc. to work for the summer. There is an incredible opportunity to reach out to them through the ministry of the church with events like free meals and coffee hour, which will happen on Friday evenings.

Friday afternoon we went around to the 4 campgrounds in the area and Friday night we were assigned to which campground we will be working in for the duration of the summer. Saturday we cleaned up at the church and prepared for campground worship the next morning. We had time to visit the beach and enjoy the boardwalk again, so that was nice.

Sunday morning we split up at our various campgrounds and helped with worship. We do a brief 45 minute service for the campers with a couple of songs, a time of prayer, and a time of reading through the Word and discussing it. My partner, Chrissy, and I were grateful to have a local pastor lead the music and the preaching, so we were just there as support and help and to remind the campers of the kids' programs we would be leading during the week. After the service was done Chrissy and I went to OCBC to help with the nursery and then attended the 10:00 service in the morning. Great time of worship there, and a very welcoming group of people at the church. Sunday night the team attended the 7:00 service--again, a great time of worship and fellowship.

Also on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings we went to meet the greyhound bus at the station bringing in international students for the work program. We greet them and give them a welcome gift from the city and invite them to the international dinners at OCBC on Monday nights.

This morning (Monday) we were at our various campgrounds again. Michelle and I had 6 kids at Castaways campground. ( We did a program much like VBS, only the curriculum is more flexible and less planned out in advance with videos like VBS is. We did crafts, music, snacks, games, and a Bible story with the kids and I think they had a good time. We are expecting the numbers to increase as word gets around. As more kids come, we can invite the parents to the other ministries that will begin next week, including parents' night out (Monday nights--the parents can leave the children at the church for a minimum fee from 6-10pm and have a free night) and family night (Sunday nights for Castaways campground--fun for the whole family!).

We had time to relax today before the international dinner began at 6. In 2 hours 165 students came through for a free meal. I was very touched by this event tonight. The numbers last year started around 80 on the first night and by the end of the summer they were serving 400-500 students on average. We invite the students to come back on Friday evenings for coffee hour, when we can have more time to talk with them and build relationships that way. I had the privilege of meeting 2 students from Kazakhstan and one student from Russia who is a Christian. We had good conversations. The rest of the time I was serving drinks, but I was very burdened by all of the students coming through. Lately I've been reading an autobiography of George Muller (thanks, Debbi) and his words encourage me greatly regarding prayer... Already the Lord is drawing me closer to Him, and teaching me to lean on Him in every moment, believing that He is good and all powerful to answer prayers in a mighty way as we seek His will. Standing in line I began to pray for each student that grabbed a drink, asking God to use the ministry in some way to show His love to them. I asked Him to open their hearts to Him and to understand the joy of knowing who He is. It is amazing what can happen when we pray and let God do the work instead of going into a situation with our own agenda already planned out... Thank You Lord for being patient with me when I am so slow to learn these things!

Yesterday was a hard day for me... homesick and wondering how we are ever going to keep this pace all summer. I thank God for creating unity in this team and encouraging us through each other as we seek Him for our strength. I have been blessed with a wonderful group to work alongside this summer. I am also extremely thankful for those at home that send me encouraging words and let me know they are praying. I mean it when I say I can feel those prayers--reading the Muller biography makes me more aware of the power of prayer and 1)makes me appreciate those prayers all the more and 2) encourages me to pray more often and will more faith than before. Praise the Lord, and thank you all for every prayer on behalf of the team here and the work being done in Ocean City. The Lord is great!

It's going to be a busy and tough summer at times, but it's also going to be great. I'm excited about what God is going to teach me and about what He will accomplish through this team of amazing people who just want to love and follow Him. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Thanks for praying. Love ya'll.


p.s. Due to past experiences and safety of children and international students, we are not allowed to post any pictures of anyone other than our team. So that is why I've posted these pictures here. Enjoy!
On the beach Saturday afternoon.

Ashley and I acting touristy on the boardwalk.
Cooking together builds team unity--and good memories! :)