Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sharing About Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday is November 4, 2012. If we can help your church with a special speaker, Sunday School lesson or orphan project please let us know! Contact us at lisaholbrook@carolinespromise.net or in South Carolina at rebeccamoore@carolinespromise.net (If viewing in a RSS feed, click here to see video.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Down Time On An Upbeat From Angie

Our PAL summer session officially closed off this past Friday in order to give everyone a week to prepare for school to open back on September 3rd.   While the lessons sessions are closed we will still be in the area enjoying some down time and broadening our ministry outside of the walls of PAL.

Vreedenhoop Wesleyan church, (our partner church) raised funds to clothe Thirty children from the community in school uniforms for the 2012-2013 school year.  Sister Pam, our future sewing instructor in PC, went to work measuring the children and sewing 60 uniforms in the month of August.  So while we are “down” for the summer we will end with an upbeat time on Friday afternoon as parents in the community and members of the church come together under Liz’s house to cast the vision for the future and take PAL to a next level.

Members of our partner church have also been walking the community and talking to families whose children attended VBS in July.  I was thrilled to make introductions to six families in recent days and watch Teacher Seeta and our cell group leader, Ms. Neibert talk with families about their children’s decision with the Lord.  All of the parents were encouraged by their children’s choices and were interested in attending our new cell group on Wednesday nights.  These upbeat meetings will begin from this Wednesday, August 29th at 6:00 pm.  You can certainly pray with us as we now move into the arena of Biblical Teaching and Community Health.
To read the rest of Angie's post, click here!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jetty Walk: One Team Member's Thoughts On Guyana

"One of the jetty walls leads to the Atlantic ocean. I walked it. It broke me.  When I stood at the end of it and looked out into the only ocean I have ever seen, it didn't even seem possible that it was the same ocean.  We taught the kids in PAL about the planets the whole week, and in that moment it felt like the Atlantic ocean I have visited my whole life must have been on another planet.  In front of me was a blank ocean with no signs of life besides steel ships that marked the opposite bank.  The waves didn't even seem to have any desire to crash on the shore.  Behind me was a community with unbelievable inner and outer beauty.  Smiles that would make stars seem dim.  In perfect harmony with my feelings I was standing over the gap where two huge pieces of the jetty wall had broken apart.  I was part of the wall.  I want to lead them all to something beautiful.  A new life. Free of the mud, crabs, abuse, drugs, alcohol, and generational poverty that they have known. In the midst of that, I realized that only God's plan could change the scenery at the end of their jetty.  My plan would more than likely lead them back to the same settings they have come accustomed to. God's plan could take the end of that jetty and turn it into Myrtle Beach. I have to be willing to listen. I have to be willing to obey."

 
 
Guyana was Brandon's first overseas mission trip and while he cannot "fix" everything gone wrong here, he has certainly not returned home to rest.  He returned home to be a voice for the voiceless.  He is now using that voice to make others aware of our push to sponsor thirty children with school textbooks for the 2012-2013 school year.  He has currently found 10 sponsors at $25.00 each.  If you would like to join him in this $25 endeavor click here to be taken to the donation page.  Type "Guyana textbooks" in the comment box so your funds can be channeled correctly. Thank you for partnering with us!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Christmas in Guatemala

What are you doing for Christmas Break?  If you've ever thought about a short term mission trip, this one may be for you!  For the past several years, we have taken smaller teams to Guatemala City to work with our partners at Casita Adonai.  This little school has quickly grown from 50 to 125 students and Iglesia Adonai, the church that started the school, has now expanded its ministry to another community called Herona.  Children walk for miles to attend the weekly services on Sunday afternoons.  These few hours a week are a departure from the poverty that they live in.

Iglesia Adonai has asked us to come the week after Christmas and assist their young adult leaders with a Vacation Bible School to the kids at Herona.  We are excited to once again partner with them and invite you to join us!  This trip is open to adults and teens (with a parent) ages 15 and up.  Please do not sign up for this trip if you don't enjoy working with children. Dates:  December 26 - January 1, 2012.  Cost for the trip is $1900.  Application and $100 deposit are due no later than October 1, 2012.   Please email for an application:  LisaHolbrook@CarolinesPromise.Net.  You will be required to attend monthly meetings prior to the trip.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From Plastic City Jetty to Furintureland USA


Nathan served as the team leader for the Caroline's Promise - NC West Youth Team.  He has served many years at Providence Wesleyan Church in High Point, NC.  While he is called to serve as the youth and young adult pastor, he has also stepped up to the plate to be a presence in his community as a teacher in his local public school.  God is using him in both venues to reach the lost and disciple those who are found.  God has also now added Guyana to his
ministry focus and he has wasted no time in creating sea glass jewelry and selling necklaces to benefit the ministry in Guyana. He shares his thoughts about his experience with us:

"I have been emotionally and spiritually deflated since I gave hugs and waved goodbye to the 6 PAL leaders on a red dirt road, just down from the bustling intersection known as "The Junction" in Vreed en Hoop. Before parting ways, I told the 10-15 year old leaders over and over, "I am proud of you." Since my return to life in the furniture capital of the world, I cannot say the same for myself. Its not that I believe a trip to Plastic City would instantly turn me into a super Christian, or make me sell everything and move the McMurphy 6 to PCJ, but it seems like something should be different. When I look at things here, my grass is still overgrown (no machetes, just a push mower that needs some pushing), my kids still get tired and cry loudly anytime I'm on the phone or in an "important" conversation, my mini van still might need $1000 of work on it (that's $205,000 Guyanese dollars), I still eat way to much Double Dunker ice cream in one sitting, and I still have bills to pay, errands to run, and a presentation to plan on standard-mode-of-dress when I return to the middle school in a week (tuck in you shirttails).
If everything still seems the same, then what might be different? It has to be something in me. I feel like I am trying to connect my experience in Guyana with life at home and go about the difficult task of drawing important lessons from the fusion of the two. When I hug my kids, I am also hugging the PAL kids. When I read my son a story about Darth making things right with his son Luke, I am also reading about the pauper, Tom, making things right with the prince. It reminds me that good can prevail, we want it to prevail, but we can't make it prevail on our own. There has to be a "force" that is with us that will never leave us nor forsake us; one that will see injustice, and bring a reckoning, so that the good people that have had bad things happen to them can one day have good things happen to them and then live happily ever after.
Since our team's return late Sunday night, I constantly ask myself, "How can I make these wrongs right?"; "What can I learn from this?"; or"?How can I be different?"
Part of me says, "But if I am like I've been after any life changing event, the impact will wear off." I will fire up the ole "Routine Machine" so I can get back to paying the bills. Yet before I re-enter the monotony of the daily grind once again, I will pause and spend time reflecting on the perspective I gained while in Guyana.
Upon initial review, I move to metaphors to help develop my thoughts. While life in High Point is like seeing with rose colored glasses, where $25,000 (US) armoires line endless furniture showrooms flaunting excessive-ness that people don't really need, Plastic city is like seeing through a single piece of sea glass left over from years of destructive habits. While the rose colored glasses say Gucci or Ray Ban on the side and cost a month's wages in Guyanese dollars, the status symbol frames come with built in blinders making it nearly impossible to see the marginalized who are in plain sight. Conversely, the piece of sea glass, while scored and dimmed with age, sheds a glimpse of light on the greatest needs of a forgotten people.
Meeting poverty face to face on the Jetty was disturbing, and seeing it made my mind jump to quick-fix solutions. It was like I tried to make their reality more palatable for my brain if I could just come up with several options for them to make it out of PC. Twelve total hours spent in Plastic City will not make me the expert on what should happen to the people there. I would definitely go to the "easy button" on this one if I could, but there are no easy answers for this type of poverty (generational, cyclical). This, combined with some honest and at times angry, struggles from a fellow "fixer friend", along with a well-timed devotional challenge from James 2, to put my faith to work, made my brain shriek at the thought of leaving PC the same as I found it.
Joining the work that God is doing in Plastic City was difficult, rewarding, spiritual, awkward at times, fun, maddening, and most important binding. It was like falling in love and getting married in a single week. This type of ministry is not something you leave behind. It is not another spiritual experience with the impact slowly wearing off. You can't drown out the "Sir please Sir" and "Ms. yes Ms." with the deafening drone of the ever-churning Routine Machine. These voices must be heard. As my teammate and friend said upon reflection on the trip, "I must become the voice for the voiceless." We can't be silent. I can't be silent. So I will toss the rose colored glasses in favor of sea glass or "see" glass, and let the ache in my heart drive me to action, starting here in Furnitureland USA, yet all the while with the ends of the Earth in sight, PCJ and beyond."

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Can See!

Last Christmas many of you participated in our "Gifts with a Purpose" and sponsored eyeglasses for a student at Casita Adonai.  We wanted to show you how your support is changing lives!

This summer our teams were able to sponsor an eye clinic so that the students would have updated prescriptions.  Over 30 kids needed glasses and the teams participated with their parents, who payed a portion.  By the end of our first week there, the eyeglasses arrived and in typical Guatemala fashion we made a big deal of presenting the glasses to the kids.


At first they were a little self conscious and we wondered if they would actually wear them.  The responses were "I can see!"  "Everything is so clear!"  "I can read better!".  Words can't describe the feelings the following week as we saw the kids wearing their glasses.  THANK YOU!!  As our partners in Guatemala say, "It may seem like something small to you - but to us it's huge!"




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sewing Ministry is Changing Lives in Guatemala

For several years our partners at Casita Adonai in Guatemala have dreamed of offering women in their community opportunities to learn a trade that would allow them to support their families.  After much discussion and prayer it was determined that sewing classes would be a perfect fit!

In the Spring of 2012 Shady Grove Wesleyan Preschool in Colfax, NC wanted to use their annual Trike A Thon to support a project at Casita Adonai.  We told them about the need for a Sewing Ministry and they jumped at the chance to help!  This little school raised almost $1000 which enabled us to purchase 6 sewing machines, tables, chairs, and supplies to get the ministry started!

Around the same time Mackenzie Campbell-Hunt was looking for a special project for her 10th Birthday Party.  Instead of bringing gifts, Mackenzie asked her guests to bring new pillow cases to be used by the Moms in the sewing class.

Sherrie, Oneida, and Lea Ann
Our Summer Family Team partnered with our friend, Oneida who is a leader in the church, Iglesia Adonai, to offer a week of classes to a total of 12 ladies. Most of them have children at the school, (Casita Adonai) and are in desperate need of learning a trade so that they can support their families. We were all shocked at how quickly the ladies learned the machines and by the end of the week they had made pillow case dresses and draw string bags!  They also worked together to sew a new banner for the church. 

The ladies will continue with their lessons for three months, taught by Oneida.  They will meet several times a week for prayer, devotions, and lessons.  Oneida's heart is to teach them to pray before they start sewing so that when they start their own business they will be in the habit of praying before they start working!

Each lady will make a certain amount of product that Caroline's Promise will purchase from them.  A portion will go into their account and the other part will be donated to the construction of the new school building.  Money from their account will be combined with money we receive in sponsorship and at the end of the classes each lady will receive a new sewing machine, Women's Devotional Bible and supplies to get her started on her own business.

A Mom from the first class with a pillow case dress she made!


This is a beautiful image of partnership....several groups working together to provide a life changing ministry to the moms of our kids at Casita Adonai!  You can be a part of that partnership by sponsoring one of the ladies.  Visit our Donation Page and choose one time gift of $100, Guatemala Orphan Project Fund, and put "Sewing" in the comment box.  Our first class will graduate in December and we will gladly send you a photo of the woman that you sponsored!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Worry About Backpacks?

In the Spring we found a deal on the cutest backpacks for our younger kids at Casita Adonai.  The administrators wanted to use them as an incentive for parents to register their kids early for the 2013 school year.  Our teams delivered the backpacks this summer and put them in storage.  While they were sorting through them I wondered, "How are we going to get backpacks for the older kids?  We only have enough for the little ones."

Thirty minutes later I received a text from my friend Linda Nance who attends Mt. Zion Wesleyan Church in Thomasville, NC.  It read:

"We have a team going to Guatemala in a few weeks and we wanted to do something to help Casita Adonai.  We were thinking of bringing backpacks.  Could you use those?"

Their team leader, Dr. Ed Reedy of Thomasville Pediatrics, found a deal on backpacks and Mt. Zion was able to purchase and deliver the exact amount we needed!  Their original plan had them serving kids in another part of Guatemala, but they decided to help Casita Adonai in this God-ordained way. What a blessing!

Thank you Mt. Zion for giving so much to the kids of Guatemala!  God used you to remind us that He cares about the details and often provides before we even ask!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

From Angie - Guyana Country Coordinator





There will be more words from the NC West team in coming days.  There will
also be more words from me.  We are all still walking on clouds and a little
in shock at all God did among us this week.  Perhaps the children need to
speak for now so I will be their voice...
Saturday as we gathered for our final session we focused on "Who we belong to." As I asked the children about some of the things we did this week I was amazed at how easy God was going to bring home the point.
"Miss Angie we play together?"
"Miss Angie we walk together?"
"Miss Angie we eat together!"
"Miss Angie we ride together?'"
"Miss Angie we read together."
"Miss Angie we be together."

As I listened I naturally heard the word "together" spoken by every child.
Our team (and even myself) were barely holding it together emotionally, but
what a beautiful picture God gave us through our children.  In six days of
constant contact with our PAL leaders they not only learned about influence
and being loved by a Heavenly Father - they saw it in the team and they FELT
it.  Oh, how they felt it!

There are so many little things that are such big things that I am just
holding onto right now and trying not to just pop them out!!
Finally they got the picture of God's love and being in a loving, caring,
fun, free, family.

I asked them about shame and what it meant...because here is what I knew.
Every youth from this week had issues with shame...and this week just having
fun and feeling safe around Godly men, broke through their shame!
In a week's time we had become a family larger than the one we were born
into.

It's all about seed time and harvest.
This team reaped the harvest of many teams before them who have been
planting seeds...
Seeds of trust
Seeds of love
Seeds of acceptance
Seeds of encouragement
Seeds of silliness (which is a real stretch in Guyanese culture, but boy did
we get a belly full of it this week!)

These six leaders received Bibles and they have notes from six big brothers and
big sisters who live on the other side of the ocean written inside of them.
Their big brother and big sister showed them how to use it and look up
verses.  Their big brothers and big sisters read to them the Father's Love
letter.



The connections are deep
The roots are digging deeper into the earth and trees of righteousness are
taking root in Plastic City.
While we are together no more - we will be together again because we have
all been adopted into one family.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Big Day Of Influence

Thoughts from Nate, Sarah and Victoria from the NC West Team….
To feel both deep heartache and share in the joy that only comes with salvation in the same day is a rare occurrence. Today our team joined Angie and the PAL Youth leaders on an excursion that included a trip to the market,  a state park and St. George’s Cathedral.  It was at the park that we played, shared lunch, ran races and fed sea manatees (you read that right, check back for the videos). We also engaged in a conversation that both broke hearts and saved souls.
The subject for the conversation was influence. Our two ladies on the team (Sarah and Victoria) were especially impacted by the conversation that happened in a small blue shelter surrounded by exotic trees, dancing yellow finches and even the occasional chicken hawk (as one youth described it). Shrouded in this beautiful backdrop the Holy Spirit descended and brought about a harvest in the life of one of the PAL leaders
In the first part of the day Sarah felt pricked by the Holy Spirit that one of our young ladies just needed some total TLC. However she waited to see if this was something truly led of the Holy Spirit.  A while later the connection began as the young teen wanted to do her hair.  Six hours later Sarah had a tremendous talk with this young lady about influence as they sat under a tree.    Sarah led her to the Lord in a meaningful way that assured the young lady that she was now a new creation in Christ.
Another team member, Victoria, shared a few simple words about who has influenced her to follow Christ.  Then as the children opened up about their families Victoria was impacted by them.  She totally realized how good she had it and how she takes her parents kindness for granted.
So in the midst of difficult conversations there was the triumph of salvation and a triumph of cohesiveness among our PAL Leaders to be influencers of change – and to start right now!
To see the video that connect with this post, click here!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Teen's Thoughts On Her Trip To Guatemala


Hello! For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Anna. I am 15 years old and just got back from my first missions trip by myself to Guatemala. (That's me in the striped shirt on the right, in the picture below.) The Lord taught me a lot on this trip. One thing He taught me was how to get out of my comfort zone. I was put in numerous situations where I needed to use my Spanish. I also had to step out of my comfort zone when I shared my testimony in front of a Spanish speaking chuch. And then I was put in charge of putting 7 little Guatemalan girls to bed when we ran an overnight camp for kids. Here is a picture of me and the 7 little girls I shared a room with: 



But God taught me more than just how to get out of my comfort zone. The big thing He taught me was that He gave me my values and gifts for a reason and I am to use them for His glory. I would like to share with you 2 different times where God showed me why He gave me my unique values and gifts. 

While we were down in Guatemala we helped a school/church by painting the walls, cubbies, railings, etc. The school and church is called Adonai and is located in the middle of a community called Hurricane Village. Here is a picture of me and a team member painting the railings:



In addition to painting the school/church, we hosted a 3 day overnight camp for the 3rd-5th graders from the school. These kids became a big piece of the trip and a big piece of what God had in store for me. On the second night of camp, we separated the girls and boys and we were going to talk to the girls about purity. Yet the Lord had other plans for the night. We had 2 members of our team share their testimony and during the second testimony which involved a father dying, the young girl sitting next to me grabbed my hand and by the end of the testimony she was crying.

This elementary age girl started trying to tell me something. I think she was telling me either why she was crying or what she needed; I couldn’t understand. I didn’t know what to do. I began praying for her in my head and soon I was praying for her out loud in English. Even though I was praying in English, I felt like she understood every word I was saying. Which taught me God’s Love is bigger than any language barrier.

Here is a picture of the village this little girl was from. We took the kids 45 minutes away for overnight camp:



Sometime during that night, I realized there is a lot of hurt and sorrow that has to do with fathers. It was hard for me to sit in a room where there were so many girls without fathers, and here I have an amazing dad. But that night I realized why family is so important to me. Most 15 year olds don’t have their family as one of their top priorities, but the people in my family (I am the oldest of 5 kids) are some of my best friends and I enjoy hanging out with them. God taught me that one reason He gave me the value of family is so I can give children a family love and show them that God is the best father they could ask for.
I want to share one more time God showed me that my gifts and values are important. It is very simple and short, but means a lot.

During the camp I taught dance class to the kids. We worked hard. We sweated a lot. But there were smiles on those kids' faces. Something as simple as a dance made those kids smile. The Lord gave me dance as one of my gifts for a reason. He let me use dance as a way to connect with the children. And something as simple as me, kids, and dancing is able to praise God. Here is a picture of me teaching the kids. Do you see their big smiles?


Before this trip I knew what my gifts and values were, but by the end of this trip God taught me that He gave me my values and gifts for a reason and I can use them to serve Him. Most of you, just like me, probably know very well what your values and gifts are. But you may not know how God is going to use them. I encourage you to ask for His guidance. I know He will guide you as He did me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dude, We Are In Guyana

Thoughts from the team as they spend their first day in Guyana:

Arriving in Guyana generated a feeling of jubilation. We sat inside the
airplane on the tarmac in Port of Spain (Trinidad; we had to look it up) for
two hours wondering when we would make it to Georgetown. Exiting the plane
and walking to the immigration line at Timehri Airport was not only a
literal breath of fresh air (because we scooted out of the plane and across
the tarmac into the Guyanese night), but it brought the promise of good
things to come during our time here. At the airport, we had to work out some
issues with checked bags that did not make the flight, so after some
paperwork, we were on our way to the mission house with Angie and Colin, our
driver and new friend.
Our ride to Georgetown brought the smells of a local rum factory, livestock
milling about, and evidence of the Guyanese fishing industry. We passed a
cab that smashed into something big (couldn't figure out what), a man
standing with a knife, homes with Hindu shrines lit up with Christmas lights
(ironic huh?), a police check complete with officers and a shoulder strapped
AK-47. We heard the sounds of the local dance clubs and bars still hopping
even at 1am mixed with mopeds, dirt bikes and other vehicles of interest
(like our awesome bus) traversing city streets on the left side of the road
at 80 kmh.
Taking it all in after a day of travel that started at Piedmont Triad
International almost 24 hours before brought a surreal feeling that was
accompanied by several members of the team making awe-filled statements
like, "Dude, we are in Guyana." While that was obvious, it was more than
just a five word phrase describing where we would find our current location
on Google Maps, it says something about leaving the norms of life in America
where brownouts are unheard of and we don't think twice about leaving our
eyes open in the shower to a place of discovery and promising ministry. God
has huge things in store. I can feel it in my gut. It stirs emotions and
thoughts inside me that words cannot express, so for now we will stick with,
"Dude, we are in Guyana." 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Team Heads to Guyana

From Angie:

Twenty-four hours from now I will be on my way to pick up a team of 5 youth, ages 16-25 and 1 youth pastor from the NC West District.  These six energetic young people are going pack in a week of memories and I am sure we will not want them to leave us a week later.  The trip has been in the works since youth camp 2011.  Our week together is firmly focused on helping 7 of our core youth in Plastic City understand what it means to be a Christian just a little bit better.  Additionally, the youth will be a part of our educational program called PAL.
We will all work with our children on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then just spend time playing sports and being in the community.  On the alternate three days we will spend the entire day with the seven youth from PC. The NC West youth will be stretched in sharing their faith and life with others.  So, pray for our health to stay strong and pray, in a big way, that all the youth from PC can come without struggles from home.  Also pray for us to stay in step with the Holy Spirit and follow His lead as we look at four key topics during our day outings.
To read the rest, click here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Team Member Share Their Story

 Kaitlyn and Chelsea joined Caroline's Promise this summer in Guatemala. Kaitlyn served this year as a leader in training and this was Chelsea's first trip with us. They shared their experiences with their home church in Charlotte and wrote about that experience. 

"We felt right at home as we listened to the International Service at United Wesleyan Church on Sunday morning. What a privilege we were given to be a part of this awesome service. With the Latino praise band, Spanish music, and translation of languages, Chelsea and I felt as if we were back in the much loved country of Guatemala. It was only a few weeks before, that we were doing the same things at Iglesia Adonai.


During the middle of the service, Pastor Jeff Haynes invited us up to the stage to share our testimonies and a song. I shared about Caroline's Promise and what we do in Guatemala and other countries. I also shared my sentence of what God has done in my life since the beginning of our trip to Guatemala. I was able to tell the congregation about how God broke chains and freed not only the children of Casita Adonai, but my friends and team members. Chelsea was able to share about how God's plan is greater than hers. She talked about giving her testimony during church and the girls' service at camp. She gave the congregation an awesome example of how God is sovereign and takes control of our lives.

To finish our time, we sang the song "You'll Come" by Hillsong United in English and Spanish. We were honored to sing this song in testimony of what God has done for the people of Guatemala and both of our teams that attended this summer. Gracias a Dios!"

Submitted by Kaitlyn