Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Partnership


We climbed in a taxi at 7:30 am this morning to go to church. The message spoken by Pastor Marlon is what stands out to me even now.  He spoke on reaching our communities and taking on the very nature of God. His message dug through Romans 1:1-7 and really touched my heart. His message made me think, “Do others see God’s own nature of holiness through me?” He made a cultural reference to how people here might excuse their behavior by popping off the popular phrase,  “I am a Christian, I ain’t no saint!” and called us all to not just be Christians – but saints.  I have never thought of it this way, but God is calling us to strive for His holiness! We are His Saints and when we choose to take on God’s nature of holiness then we can reach our communities. Our communities, which can be where we work, live or meet up with others, need us, the saints, to share the love of Jesus!
One thing I never saw in Sunday morning service before was the use of a visual object lesson.  However today Pastor Marlon brought out a jar of olives and poured them on a tray.  As he spoke about how olives were symbolic in Biblical times he began crushing each olive with his fingers.  Then a person brought him a bottle of virgin olive oil and another bottle of extra virgin olive oil. He used this illustration to tie together how holiness is a process of transformation that takes place in difficult times or times when we are “crushed.” As Angie, Amber and I sat around talking about this tonight we realized how this message has left a lasting impression on us. 

We also talked through some things that were culturally different as we worshiped with fellow Christians at Vreedenhoop Wesleyan this morning.  Here’s a few….
·         No time restrictions – service flowed for three and a half hours.
·         Children of all ages were in service with their families and contained themselves the entire time.
·         Sunday School was at the end of service with classes divided in different corners of the sanctuary.
·         Everyone is dressed up in what we would say in our culture is a more traditional attire.
·         An altar call was offered at the end and three people came into a relationship with Christ while many others responded to a call of holiness lifestyle. Those responding were then anointed with the olive oil.
·         Visitors were asked to stand and be recognized and welcomed into the fellowship and we were greeted warmly and felt very comfortable – not out of place at all. 
[Written by Sydney]
Farewell Surprise Lunch
There have been so many things that have happened today that has stuck out in my mind. But one that has stuck out the most was what I walked into tonight. Tonight when we got back from the Children’s Home we wound up sitting downstairs in the living room talking. Then it hit me that I was sitting in a room with four full time missionary’s here in Guyana. There is three of us upstairs (Sydney, Angie, and Amber and there are three more missionary’s living downstairs. Those downstairs all live in the interior part of Guyana full-time.

One of those full-time interior missionaries is Doris and she has been in Guyana as a missionary since she was 22 years old. Tomorrow May 28th will be her last day in Guyana because she is retiring and moving back to the States. The more I sat there and thought about what I was witnessing I had this overwhelming feeling that I was truly blessed to be a part of the conversations taking place this night.  I feel so honored to get to know these wonderful women who gave up everything at home to come serve the Lord in a third world county. Doris has served for over 40 years and lived in a remote village learning their culture and language to translate the bible for these people. So because of her hard work and dedication to serving the Lord these people now have the bible in their own language! While we were talking tonight she said “I can leave tomorrow knowing I worked hard, and did all I could, and I’m going home with no regrets.”  That just blows my mind to sit here and think that Doris was only two years older than I am now when she moved her life to Guyana to serve the Lord. There is no better place to be other than the center of Gods will, and I know I’m right in the middle of his will for my life.
[Written by Amber]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Interns' First Day in Guyana


 Sydney's Thoughts:

When I first heard about Plastic City I literally thought it was a city made of plastic homes and buildings. Now that I have seen it for myself I know that it is not that at all, it is so much more. When we first came into plastic city I could immediately see the poverty that we were about to enter into. Shacks are people’s homes and wooden planks are used as pathways so you are not walking in the mud. Weeds and plants cover the ground, so without the path it is very hard to walk. Most people, especially the kids, walk around without shoes on their feet. But this doesn’t even compare to where we were about to enter into the jetty.  When we walked into the jetty I was in complete shock! 

 
Angie had told us that the jetty is the “poorest” part of Plastic City, but I obviously had no idea what poor really meant. As you walk through the jetty you walk on an above ground rock wall. This path is in a straight line and takes you right to the Atlantic Ocean. The wall is maybe two feet wide which makes it difficult to walk on and it is nearly impossible to pass people. On each side of the path is standing water filled with mud and trash. Because there is so much standing water and trash covers the ground, it smells like raw sewage. Mangroves surround the jetty so you feel like you are in the middle of the jungle. People live in shacks that are raised up so that when the water comes through it doesn’t completely destroy their homes. These shacks are basically scraps of wood, metal, or anything useable. Walking through the jetty was unlike anything I have seen or experienced. This way of living was completely shocking to me. I have been on mission trips before and I thought I knew what helplessness looked like.  However, after this experience in the Jetty, I realize what hurting really means and what it truly looks like. This experience opened my eyes to true poverty. My heart hurts for these people and their situation. All I want to do is help in any way I can. [Written by Sydney]

Amber's Thoughts:
 
Plastic City was unlike anything I have ever experienced or seen in my life. I didn’t really know what to expect walking into Plastic City other than the pictures I have seen. But I can now say that today’s experience has shown me that pictures come nowhere close to what in looks like first hand. Walking through the city I felt like I was in a different world. It was very hard for me to wrap my head around how I live where I live, and how these people live where they live
·          I have a bathroom; they have an outhouse.
·          I have a water bed; they have a blanket on the floor.
·         I have a kitchen with a refrigerator and they don’t even have electricity.
·         When I’m in the United States and hot, I go inside the house to get cool, in Plastic City they go outside to get cool.
·         When I want to go out into town I jump in my truck, when they want to go somewhere they use their feet. 
I can honestly say it shocked me to realize how much I depend on electricity in my daily life and what I take for granted every day. Walking on the jetty wall and seeing the poorer houses of the area - it was all I could do not to cry. It really struck home to see that people just like me and you could live like that.
Once again the Lord has just showed me how blessed I really am to live where I live and how much he has truly blessed me with everything that I have. While we were in Plastic City yesterday I also realized that children who had a father or male figure in the home were living better than children without that male figure. In Plastic City when the child has a father {or male figure) they have income.  When a man is in the picture they have a better place to live. When I understood how the lack of a male figure impacts life in Plastic City it really it home, because I am blessed with a wonderful father.  I have a father who loves and supports me.  Finally, Plastic City also made me think that if my family lived there then we would be a minority simply because my father is in the picture.  Fathers or male figures have a major role in a child’s life.  Knowing this and seeing it in real life now makes me want to pray.  My prayer for Plastic City is that, men from the church here in Vreedenhoop will step into PAL and give these young children the role model they need in their life. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day One in Guyana


The past two days have been long and exhausting.  Today Sydney and I where given the opportunity to budget our own money for our time here in Guyana. Angie is giving us the opportunity to learn how to handle money when you’re on a small missionary budget, she is also allowing us to handle the cab fees and pay for our own meals with our budget money. Angie is allowing us to get a glimpse of what life on the mission field is like day in and day out.

Today we met the Wesleyan District Superintendent Reverend Ivan Williams at the Wesleyan District Office/Bible College in Georgetown. He asked some pretty direct and straight to the point questions to Sydney and I, which I have to admit at first I was a little stunned. In America we don’t ask these kinds of questions in the first five minutes of a conversation. He asked us point blank “what are your plans while in Guyana” and “what do you feel the Lord has called you to do with your life”.  While talking, he brought up a subject that was completely from God straight to Amber. It was a random topic but it was exactly what I shared about this morning that I wanted to hear from God about. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Rev. Williams also shared with us about dropping everything to follow Christ, not “Okay, I will follow but let me go say goodbye to all my family,” but Jesus wants us to follow him whole-heartedly. While I am giving up what seems like a lot to come to Guyana for seven weeks the Lord is going to reward me for dropping school, work, and family. He already has blessed me for dropping my life back at home to come serve him. The Lord never said it would be easy to follow him - but why should it be? We were created to be his hands and feet. Mathew 16:24 says “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  We as Christians are supposed to die daily and pick up our cross and follow Jesus.      [Written by Amber]

Today was my first day in Guyana. This morning Angie taught us how to budget our own money while we are here. This is to teach us how to handle these things for ourselves. Amber and I thought we were rich when Angie handed us an envelope with $40,000 in it for the week! Then she told us that we really were only given $200 in American money! Today, I also tried Guyanese food. I had fried rice & baked chicken. Yummy! We also spent time walking through the city and going to a few stores. But my day got more exciting when we went to Ruimveldt Children Home & Care Centre (RCHCC)
Today was my first experience at RCHCC and it was my favorite part of our day. As soon as we pulled up to the home the kids were standing at the gate ready to see us. Since the kids haven’t seen Angie for a while, they were overjoyed to see her. They ran to her and all of them hugged her at once. Then they did not hesitate to rap their little arms around us and give us big hugs too! While we were there, I got to spend time playing with the kids. I was taught new games and learned many new songs. Stephanie and I spent a long time sitting in a wooden box singing songs with the kids. They loved this because we were all in this wooden crate having a great time of fun! They would teach us a song then we would teach them a song. The whole time was full of joy and laughter!  I also was able to help do some physical therapy with two of the children that are physically handicapped. Their smiles went straight to my heart! I loved being able to do this therapy with them since I want to be a Physical Therapist. This opportunity and experience is exactly what I was asking God for! He truly knows how to touch my heart and let me see Him in every situation. Working with these two boys was a true blessing from God and I look forward to going back to the children’s home very soon!

To read Angie's perspective on the girls' first day, click here!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Can a Pillow Case Change a Life?

One of our summer mission teams will help start a sewing ministry with the Moms at Casita Adonai in Guatemala City.  Their first project will be to make an adorable pillow case dress!  Our hope is that God will use this ministry to encourage these women, open their hearts to Him, and help them learn a skill they can use to provide for their family.  The end result will be Mamas keeping their children instead of abandoning them!

If you would like to contribute to this project you can donate new pillow cases in solid or cute patterns or make a donation.  Our deadline is June 1.  To contribute financially choose Guatemala Orphan Projects and put sewing in the comment box. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Caroline's Promise Interns Headed to Guyana

Our first interns are headed to Guyana today!  They departed Greensboro, NC early this morning and will arrive in Georgetown, Guyana late, late, tonight.  Amber Gravley and Sydney Fletcher are both college students who have been on short term trips with Caroline's Promise in the past.  We are thrilled that they are choosing to spend part of their summer vacation serving the children of Plastic City.

They are accompanied by CP Board Member, Stephanie DiMora who directs our Guyana Program and is passionate about the work there.  These three ladies will join our missionary Angie Hemric and assist her as she partners with the Vreed N Hoop Church.

Please keep them in your prayers this summer!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Not Home Yet - Thoughts From Angie

Our missionary to Guyana, Angie Hemric will head back tomorrow after 10 weeks at home. We've attached part of her thoughts on what God has shown her. As she continues to serve and represent us to the people of Guyana, will you join with us in praying for her?

 From Angie:

Not Home Yet…

Ten weeks have come and gone and you know what, leaving is hard!!  People have been asking if I am ready and I don’t know how to answer that except to say that I am prepared.  My mind is set and my emotions are topsy-turvy, but they will catch up soon.  And, really if it takes them a while then that will be okay too because it is not supposed to be easy to transition, right? Right!  So…I am prepared.
I anticipate amazing days and months ahead as I return and the partnership with the local church and the people of Plastic City is strengthened and enlarged.  It really is going to be two more great years together, but honestly, I am still holding onto those I love here and wanting those moments to last a little longer.
Relationship transitions will be the hardest transitions to accept, but I also must celebrate answered prayer. And upon my return I will prepare for two interns that will arrive on Monday.  They will mark the first wave of international short-term individuals and teams that will give me much-anticipated company and lend support to the ongoing ministry in Plastic City.  My house will be a revolving door for the next two years and that is major prayer answered!
The other adjustments are minor in comparison like….
  • Hot water, Oh how I have so loved that!!
  • Being overwhelmed by endless selections in giant-sized grocery stores
  • Real milk – can’t get enough of it!
  • Driving….the days of being a passenger again are almost upon me.
  • That lovely full-strength blast of AC whenever I want it.
  • Texting friends…even if I am slow.  It’s been wonderful!
  • Christian Radio played loud and proud…reggae, hip-hop, and explicit rap is near.
Oh, but it is time!  Time for my cell phone and instant life to be turned off and my Skype life, whistle while you wait life to resume.   [Deep Sigh]

In recent days I have found myself living between two countries.  One minute I am calling Guyana home in response to a question and the next minute calling North Carolina home.  And it should not be that confusing! After all did I not grow up in America?  But here I am living out of suitcases every day and sleeping in borrowed beds.  So am I really home?  I hang my clothes up in Guyana.  I find myself wanting to sleep in my own bed – but it is in Guyana. What is wrong with that picture?? It’s not that one is bad and the other good…..it is more like God just keeps driving home a continuous lesson on perspective.

To read the rest of Angie's post, click here.