The Mission Trip: What is it?

My original title was, The Mission Trip: It’s not just about sightseeing…and I could have made friends and enemies with my title alone! Some could mistake it for “Shame on you! Didn’t you DO anything on your mission trip besides sightseeing?!” Then those that know me better will realize I am wanting to paint a bigger picture…a much bigger picture.

So, what do I mean? What is the purpose of a mission trip? 

The Mission Trip

The Sweetheart took his first missions trip overseas when he was 18. He traveled to South America where he visited Chile, Argentina and Brazil. He went with an independent pastor who took him to see things up close and personal that would forever change his life.

Witnessing things such as satanic worship in a cemetery…at night…and out of sight…he was introduced to another world, one that most of us only read about in National Geographic back in the 1970’s.

He visited church after church, meeting amazing people who love God and are doing their best to serve Him. Privileged to witness and invite others to come to know Jesus Christ, right on the street, and get a positive response, was overwhelming.

What else did he do?

He went sightseeing. Experiencing the wonder of Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will forever be a highlight! He was privileged to bring back treasures such as a marble chess set from Chile and the ugliest sweater for me from Argentina that you have ever laid eyes on. I treasure it to this day! (I wish I had pictures to share but I am thousands of miles away from home and his “SLIDES”, yes, slides! For the younger generation, well, ask the older generation.)

Not to be outdone, when my oldest son, and his girlfriend-soon-to-be-fiancé-now-soon-to-be-wife-of-twelve-years were both 18, they took a two week missions trip to Alaska. Alaska? Yes, Alaska. America needs Jesus!

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Kyle and Rachel visited wonderful missionaries who travel distances we cannot fathom to minister to people, and met native Alaskans who are planting churches all over the 49th, and largest, state in our great union.

Their group worked, they shared testimonies, sang, preached, whatever was asked or needed in those fourteen days, they were eager to serve.

Did I mention the sightseeing? Oh, my!

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Not to be outdone, when our middle son, Kristopher was 17, he and his friend Christopher, (yes, two of them!) joined a group traveling to Bolivia. Again, they were able to meet people and see things that forever changed them. They worked, hard! They preached, sang, shared on the streets and they LOVED…hard.

They also came back with the most hideous, handmade, woven pants you have ever laid eyes on. I bet he had half a dozen pair in different colors and patterns! (Just being goofy here, thankfully they didn’t go witnessing dressed like that!)

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Obviously a mission trip brings out the worst in taste.  Unfortunately, I cannot recall a decent treasure that was brought back from this trip but the Sweetheart remembers well a beautiful leather briefcase that Kristopher had bought for him. He carried it for many years.

And…they went sightseeing…

Dangerous sights…

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Amazing sights…

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If you follow my blog, you are aware that I call my boys My Three Sons, so you are expecting me to share The Baby’s mission trip. I will not disappoint you! Korey and Kristopher journeyed to Scotland and Ireland for six long weeks of a personal mission trip…funded by Korey and Kristopher. They spent their own money but were blessed to stay in accommodations with the missionaries there in exchange for hard labor (smile).

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They loved every minute of it.

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(Okay, almost every minute. Korey is a little dramatic after helping to update the landscaping at the Bible School here. He is a musician, after all, not a gardener!) 

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And when in Rome…or in Glascow…well, doesn’t everyone try on a kilt? Kristopher does.

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They also were at St. Andrews before and during the British Open!

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(Korey slept during the tournament. Seriously. He did.)

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They took pictures, and liberties, that would probably have gotten them in trouble had anyone been watching.

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It was an amazing trip.

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Korey then joined us in Riga, Latvia for six full months of ministry. He brought his guitar and sang his heart out, along with several other wonderful young people, helping to start churches in a very difficult region of the world.  He met people he would never have gotten a chance to become acquainted with otherwise, people that have impacted his life.

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Did Korey get to sightsee? Yes and no. His six months were more work than play. He did see most of Riga, Latvia, the capital of the Baltics. We took him to Tallinn, Estonia one weekend, where we are currently serving as short term furlough replacements, to see one of the most beautiful Old Town’s still in existence.

What was his most exciting sightseeing adventure? He was asked to conduct a music seminar in St. Petersburg, Russia for about five days, accommodations in the church with our beloved Missionary, Reverend William Turner. What a privilege! Yes, he was blessed to see a part of the world most will never see and make friendships with beautiful people.

These are examples. Examples I used because I know their stories, I can talk about them, share them freely.

But, what about the career missionaries? They are overseas for long, long periods of time, there cannot be that much to do, right? Isn’t it just one big, long vacation?

First of all, do not misunderstand and think I am touting the adventures of my family. We are not career missionaries. We were Associates in Missions, or what our organization calls AIM workers. Sort of part-time missionaries in some cases, and in others, self-sponsored, or church sponsored, missionaries who are going to fill a need. They may not have felt a calling, per se, to a certain country, but they want to do something. They see that people are needed, and they are available, willing and ready to go. Sometimes that is a precursor to a career missionary. You have to start somewhere and put your time in before you are promoted to a long term overseas assignment.

Yet, many AIM workers and associate missionaries sell everything they have too! Some, like us, could not have raised the money necessary to spend a year in Europe without selling our home, and most of our possessions. We do not regret it, even though we are not overseas full time.

Now, we personally go when we see a need, when we can raise the money to do so, and the rest of our time is spent traveling for Revival By Design.

Career missionaries have much more red tape to cut through before they are on location. It can take many months, or even years, to raise the support needed to stay on location.

Naturally, it is different in every organization.

I have read many books down through the years of missionaries blazing the trail. Of those working in the jungles of Africa, walking mile after mile, facing danger, literally, around every corner. I remember stories of other Godly souls who were able to be a part of seeing thousands saved in one tent crusade! They didn’t have email, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, Face Time, or Skype. They had snail mail and some were fortunate to have telephone communication…for about three minutes due to the expense…or the connection!

They definitely had things more difficult in many natural ways than missionaries do today, but they share many similarities that have NOT changed over the years.

  • Selling out.
  • Saying, “Goodbye’s” to loved ones.
  • Being homesick for their families.
  • Severe financial hardship. (Even though you are doing it for Jesus doesn’t mean you will be wealthy!)
  • And the most difficult of all…attacks from the enemy.

But I hear no complaints. I am sure there are some, even missionaries are human, but it is temporary. It may come from frustration, broken promises, and exhaustion.

What they DO experience, and I am sure 95% of them will agree, outweighs the struggle that accompanies the life of a missionary.

They witness lives changed, hearts broken and mended again, miracles, healings, signs and wonders!
They build churches in cities and countries where there has never been a church that taught Truth.
They light the way and bring the Gospel to the four corners of the world attempting to fulfill the scripture, “Go ye, into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15.
And this one, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.

The short-term mission trip whets the appetite of the young and the old. Some will go back, they will commit and “Go ye…” Others that have been privileged to go for a short time will not go back on a permanent basis but the experience will live on in their hearts and they, in turn, give in another way…they financially support those that literally go! It’s in their heart; they’ve been there, witnessed things that impacted them, now they want to help.

They never forget.

So, do missionaries sightsee? Yes, they do, they should! Of course it isn’t JUST about the things they see and the places they get to go…if they are going for that benefit only, they won’t last. God will not bless it. But missionaries that sacrifice for the call…they enjoy the countries God has sent them to love and labor in. Another long-time missionary mentioned that it is often even a spiritual experience as they learn more about their country, the history, the people that call it home…it helps them so much to connect!

They take pictures and post them on social media so YOU can be blessed to see places that your feet may never wander through. You have helped them get there; they want to share it with you! (There are times and situations where missionaries MAY NOT post very many pictures, if any, of their congregation, house church, or people they are working with for privacy reasons.)

The associate missionary, no matter how long they are on location, are a blessing to the missionary that lives in the country all of the time. They bring refreshing, strength, fellowship and maybe even Oreo’s and Ziploc bags from the States!

Missionaries go to places we can only dream about, but they give way more than we will ever realize and sacrifice more than some of us would be willing to.

Be blessed to see pictures of them feeding children in Africa, putting shoes on kids in Haiti, singing on the streets in Europe and preaching to thousands in South America!

Then pray.

Pray for those that have, and will, answer the call to GO. Pray that they will be able to raise the funds necessary, that it will not be a financial burden on them for years to come, and that their hearts will not become weary with THE WAIT.

For those already on the field? They need your prayers even more!

Pray for those that have gone; that God would have His way in their lives. That they would hear HIS voice and know the direction He would have them to take.

Pray for strength for each new day, peace in every situation and for favor with their city, village or country.

Pray that the emptiness in their heart would be replaced by the love of God and a love for the people in their new homeland.

Don’t begrudge them a little enjoyment in the country within which they labor. Love them, support them financially, bless them when you can.

And pray.

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Plain Faith: Leaving the Amish, a Book Review!

Excited to be doing my first book review on Hope in the Healing! I received a free copy of “Plain Faith” by Zondervan through BookLook Bloggers and my review is totally unbiased and my own opinion.

Plain Faith: A True Story of Tragedy, Loss, and Leaving the Amish by Irene  & Ora Jay Eash & Tricia Goyer 2014, 208 pages, Zondervan Publishing.

The story opens with tragedy for the Eash family. Both Ora Jay, and his wife Irene, were raised Amish, that’s all they had ever known. Their families were Amish; they lived in one of the largest Amish communities in La Grange, County, Indiana. Surrounded by family and friends who shared their beliefs and lifestyle, they would never have dreamed in their early marriage that they would one day walk away from it all.

After they suffer a great loss in their immediate family, Ora Jay and Irene cannot find comfort. Ora Jay says it best in the second chapter,

“We’d grown up Amish and lived our whole lives for God…    the only problem was we did not know Him…”

This is the journey. The journey to find Jesus.

In the Amish community, you just do not leave. If you choose to do so, or begin to embrace the ways of the Englisch, you will eventually be shunned by not only the community in which you live, but even by your own family.

Ora Jay and Irene struggle with this over the course of several years, all the while the Lord is showing them that His yoke is easy, His burden light.

The Amish put a strict emphasis on a “works salvation”.

What you do, how you dress, what you do without, all earn you a place in Heaven. They also believe, according to “Plain Faith”, that Heaven is only so big, only a few can make it and most of them will be Amish. Ora says, “We spent a lot of time trying to please God, to earn our salvation by getting every little detail right – from dress to church to work. When we were living the Amish lifestyle, our hope was in what we did and what we got.”

They begin to study the Bible for themselves and what they discovered opens a whole new world for them! The more they read, the more they believed, and the more free they became. Irene says, “The farther we walked away from the Amish tradition, the more freedom we felt to hear whispers of grace from God and to know that He was in control. We discovered Christ is all in all. There is nothing made that Christ isn’t in.”

They faced great criticism, and eventually were asked to leave the Amish church. They had tried to hold on to both, in some ways, feeling great guilt for leaving but feeling even more confused for staying.

“It’s freeing not to have to look to man to decide what’s wrong and what’s right – things like the width of a hat brim or the pattern of a dress.” Irene Eash

Eleven children later, now grandchildren and in-laws included, Ora Jay and Irene are thankful that all of their children are serving God. One of eight boys now pastors the Christian church they left the Amish for and another is the youth pastor. They have no regrets because they have found hope.

Written in first person, by both Ora Jay and Irene, it goes back and forth with each of them telling part of the story. That doesn’t lessen the experience, if anything, it enriches it! I enjoyed the perspective from each of them. Irene was always more timid and afraid of what others would think whereas Ora Jay (as Irene said) had a wild streak in him and had more courage to step out in his new-found faith. (And his new-found freedom! You will enjoy the part where he takes the day to learn to drive, get his license and buy a truck all at once!)

I didn’t have any trouble staying with this story-line. It was engaging, interesting and kept me coming back for more. It is not too long of a read but very entertaining with the “peek” into the Amish lifestyle. I came to admire the courage of Ora Jay and Irene and admired their stand even when everyone was against them. I cannot imagine what they went through “inside” but the book gives you a wonderful insight into their minds and hearts.

“Plain Faith” is a story of love, the love of the Father who drew His children unto Himself so they might know Him instead of just know about Him.

Isn’t that just like our God? He knows where we are, the condition of our hearts, and our desire to know Him. If we allow Him to, He will come in, reveal Himself in amazing ways so that we can live a life free from rules but full of relationship!

This book reminded me, even though I am not Amish, that we can all get caught up in trying to please others, and judge those that are not like we are. We cannot work our way to heaven! Nothing we do will ever earn us a “spot” in Glory, and nothing we do could ever cause Jesus Christ to love us any less than He already does.

Our salvation is because of HIS work on Calvary. Nothing more, nothing less. Amazing Grace!

I can easily recommend “Plain Faith” as an uplifting, easy-to-read book. Be blessed!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Making your own coffee creamer…no cans or preservatives!

homemade coffee creamerMaking your own coffee creamer…it’s easy!

Good coffee is not hard to find in Europe. The varieties are endless and seem to change from country to country. I have had coffee and lattes in Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and France, each of them a bit different and unique. Here in Tallinn, I had a most delicious small latte this past week for one euro! What?! That is rare, to be sure, but I definitely book-marked the spot in Old Town. If you want to read about why we are here and see other pictures of Tallinn, go here, and here!

One of the main differences is SIZE.

Unless there is a Starbucks nearby, and in the Baltics there is not, I have not found gorilla-sized lattes, frappes and cappuccinos. Everything is “normal”, as they like to say here. That, friends, is a good thing. Most of their drinks are not laden down with heavy syrups or flavored creams. I can handle that too! I just need one sugar and creamer and I am good, if the coffee is also good.

I brought a few individual International Delight French Vanilla creamers with me to Northern Europe. Okay, I brought an entire box. But it is not enough to last eight weeks. So what to do? The only coffee creamer I can find in the grocery stores here is plain and unflavored. That’s no fun when you are used to a cascade of vanilla’s, cinnamon, sweet cream, Girl Scout mint, amaretto, Belgian white chocolate macadamia, Irish Crème and the list goes on and on and on! Do I dare mention the name brand names, York Peppermint Pattie, Coldstone Creamery, Almond Joy, and Cinnabon! Gee whiz!

So, needless to say, morning coffee time was going to get boring, very quickly.

I have seen countless DIY instructions on Pinterest so, why not me?

I have made my own vanilla extract overseas (super easy and soooo much better!), my own ranch dressing (decided to bring Hidden Valley seasoning packets in my next suitcase), my own cream of chicken soup (kick Campbell’s out of the kitchen!) and always have to make my own whipped topping (taste the difference!). Why not creamer?

Friends, this is too easy! Someone is making way too much money off of coffee lovers around the globe with needlessly expensive, flavored creamers!

There are hundreds of recipes using sweetened condensed milk floating around the virtual bulletin boards; mine is NOT made that way.
  • First, there is no such thing in Estonia.
  • Second, I didn’t want anything from a can!
  • Third, I am a honey fan.

No cans, no additives, no preservatives. Not only is this recipe easy and delicious, it is nutritious; if you don’t count the heavy cream. There are no “processed” sugars, powders or canned anything. (smile) Even better, you could use Almond Milk, one of my favorite substitutes for regular milk! It tastes so good! We do have that here in Estonia.

Follow this recipe and tweak it to your own taste. Then, begin experimenting with the different flavors! You can halve the recipe as well, if you don’t want to drink the same thing forever and a day.

Creamer

Did I mention that the sweet missionary’s home I am staying in also has a coffee grinder?! Yikes! I am enjoying grinding my own beans every morning as well. Coffee connoisseurs look out!

Here is the basic base recipe and then several flavor varieties.

RECIPE
1 cup Milk (2% or skim is fine)
1 cup Heavy Cream
2- 3 T. raw honey (you can also use pure maple syrup!)
1 ½ tsp. real vanilla extract
Heat all ingredients just until the honey is dissolved well. Store in Mason jars or other see-through containers. Mark the date, or don’t forget the date on your milk, should keep a week refrigerated.
Now for the extras! Begin with the base and add in the flavors.

Vanilla Caramel – 2 T caramel topping, 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cinnamon – 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 T. ground cinnamon

Chocolate Almond – 1 T cocoa powder, 1 tsp. almond extract

Irish Cream – 2 T chocolate syrup, 1 tsp. instant coffee, 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. almond extract

Pumpkin Spice – ¼ cup pumpkin puree, ¼ cup pure maple syrup, 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp. vanilla extract…whisk this all together with the milk and cream, heat just until simmering. Cool, store in refrigerator.

Gingerbread – ¼ cup molasses, 1 tsp ginger, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground cloves, ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg, 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Again, simmer until heated together, cool and store in refrigerator.

Eggnog – 1 ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 ½ tsp. rum extract.

Peppermint Mocha – 1 T cocoa powder, ¼- ½ tsps. Peppermint extract. Begin with the ¼ tsp…be sure not to get too much! Heat to simmer, cool, store in fridge.

Almond Joy – 1 T. coconut extract, ¼ cup chocolate syrup

Hazlenut – Start with the same cream base and just add 1-2 tsps. hazelnut extract.

French Toast – Combine 1 whole cinnamon stick, chopped into tiny ½ – 1 inch pieces, with the cream, milk and honey. Heat for two minutes then cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain, cool, fridge!

Be blessed!

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