Category: Compassion (page 1 of 4)

Would you dance at your bank?

Our ALT: Youth Edition team member Rachel, has written a blog on her experiences from the first few days in Malawi! Check it out-

“Today we had the opportunity to observe the Savings & Loans program that World Vision has implemented in the Mposa community. As I plan to attend university in the fall for Commerce, I was intrigued and very excited to learn about this project. I expected to sit in an informational presentation, but what we saw was so much better. We drove about an hour out, through many fields, to a woman’s house. Out front, there was a group of approximately 40 women and children gathered in a circle, singing. Our translator explained to us that the women were in the middle of their weekly meeting. Their songs translated into phrases such as, “saving is good” and “buying shares is good”. We learned that their meeting was actually the process of the women purchasing shares in the bank. They went around the circle, and as each woman got up to buy a share, the group would continue to sing. As each woman handed over their money, the woman who owned the house, the Money Counter, announced how many shares the woman purchased in the bank. A cheer erupted with each announcement, and as each woman turned to sit down once again, the songs would continue. The immense joy of each individual was so early seen.

When I think about buying shares back home, and even conducting regular banking, it can be a very impersonal act. With the use of online banking and mobile apps, one could complete all their banking without speaking to a single person. Business transactions are simply that, business. Here in Mposa, through the Savings & Loans program, banking becomes a celebration for the whole community. It was beautiful to see each woman partake in the meeting and be celebrated for what they offered, whether it be $5 or $15.

Following the meeting, several of the women shared about how the program has helped them. The implementation of the program has eliminated many of their challenges. Before, purchasing basic household items was a problem. With the program, the women have been able to purchase items such as mattresses for their families, food and clothing for their children. They have also been able to buy bicycles so that their children can attend school and a sewing machine to make their own clothing. They were able to start their own businesses such as selling tomatoes, donuts and fish. We learned that these Savings & Loans groups are present in many of the communities, but often are separated into men and women, because the men tend to dominate mixed meetings. This further empowers the women as they are in control of their financial and business decisions.

The pure joy and transformation that I saw and heard about in these women’s lives was so inspiring. At the end, the Money Counter announced the total amount and the number of shares purchased. Once again, the group broke out in song and dance, and even included us in their celebrations!

As we continue to travel to the many villages in Malawi, and meet so many people, I am continually overwhelmed by the sense of community here. These women have taken something as simple as banking and have strengthened their community both relationally and economically. The contrast between our cultures amazes me, and I hope that when I return to Canada, I can begin to model my interactions in my community like those of the people of Malawi.”

-Rachel

Africa Learning Team: Youth Edition

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The Africa Learning Team: Youth Edition is heading off to Malawi tomorrow morning! Here’s some thoughts from Rachel White- a newly graduated grade 12 student from our Oakville site, as she prepares to head off with our Team! Don’t forget to track with the team through our social hub www.africalearningteam.com

 

“As I pack for our trip to Malawi, I realize that no matter how much hand sanitizer and sunscreen I pack in my suitcase, I don’t think I could fully prepare for what this trip holds. This is my first time travelling internationally, and I could not be more excited!

When I was first approached about the Africa Learning Team opportunity, I was immediately interested in applying. Since I was young, I have always wanted to travel to Africa because of the many stories I have heard from my mom growing up there. When I heard we would be working with World Vision, I was even more excited because my family has sponsored children with World Vision for many years. I knew that this opportunity was a once in a lifetime chance to learn and grow as an individual, and in community with my brothers and sisters in Christ, both from the Meeting House and in Africa.

As I have been preparing for this trip, I have felt joy for being offered a part in this incredible opportunity, anxiousness about all of the things I have never encountered before that I will on this trip, but mostly immense excitement over the chance to learn and be in community with other believers on a global scale. Recently I have begun to see the beauty and importance of faith-based communities, through my personal relationships at church, youth, summer camp, as well as through learning alongside others. I am so happy to be a part of this experience, as I believe it will provide me with the opportunity to grow in my relationships with others in my church, with people in the places we travel to, and in my relationship with God as we learn from and partner with other faith-based communities.”

-Rachel White

Kenya Training

Just over a year ago I visited Kenya in Africa. It was there that God revealed a few important things to me. He taught me that here in North America we have our wants and our needs very confused. He showed me that I don’t fight for my passions as hard as I could. He told me that I need to appreciate and not take for granted the family, things, and opportunities I have.

Leigh Janssen and I visited Kenya to film some of the youth curriculum that we have been watching at theUNDERGROUND. Neither of us had been overseas, and we had no idea what to expect. We visited a running academy in the western highlands of Kenya. Here we met really incredible teenagers who are gifted in running, and hope to attend the school to get an education so that they may take whatever opportunities their future successes may bring. Many of them want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, and engineers. They dream big, they don’t let their circumstance hold them back from hoping and trying. They know that God can work miracles. We spent a few days there, training alongside them and getting to know them. We got to see their homes, meet their families and see how different their circumstances are from our own.

These kids have no choice but to run. They live in the most rural parts of the highlands, they have to run to school, train before school starts, focus on academics for a few hours, and then train again after school before running home. The endurance, passion and motivation that these kids have is inspiring. They run in hopes of winning races and marathons in order to get money for their families to improve their living situations.

I don’t have to raise up gardens and livestock to eat. I don’t have to run for 30 minutes just to get to a store to buy necessities. I don’t have to wear shoes with holes in them that have been worn by someone else previously just to be able to train for what I want to do to.

These teenagers showed me that they are just as hardworking, responsible, and disciplined as any adult I have ever met. They don’t have iPods or play video games, they work the land and take care of the livestock. They take care of their siblings, and pool any money they get into their families funds. They spend their race winnings on things like trees for shade, vegetables and their siblings school tuitions.

After being home for a year and thinking back on my time spent at this academy, I realize I’ve needed this reminder again to work harder at my passion and my relationship with God, and be more self disciplined.And I will be reminded yet again when I see their faces on TV after winning an important race or marathon, or an olympic gold metal. They deserve it, and I will praying, and cheering them on from over here on my side of the world.

 

– Rachael Bawn

Sledgehammering, Springtime & Speeches – Compassion Trip Update!

Hello from sunny Wilmington! We’re alive, well, and having a fantastic week! We have had vague and slightly shady memories of white stuff falling from the sky as we enjoy the spring weather, love the people around us and love Jesus.

Our days have been [in the words of various members of the team]: full, inspiring, fun, loud, rich, encouraging, joyful, eye-opening, heart-breaking, exciting, groundbreaking [as in one of our work projects literally involved breaking a sidewalk that needs to be replaced at the UrbanPromise school… ;)], adventurous, heart-warming, challenging, straight-up-awesome, and filled to the brim with Jesus.

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We’ve spent our mornings sorting thousands of pounds of food at the Food Bank, doing yard work at the UrbanPromise school, and mulching a local park in Wilmington.

After eating lunch, showering at the local YMCA and taking a midday break at the coffee shop across the street, we split off and head to one of UrbanPromise’s four elementary school after-school programs. The stories we hear from both the staff and kids about the families involved with UrbanPromise’s programs are both heart-breaking and hopeful. They are stories of brokenness and restoration – the type of restoration that only the love and hope of Christ can bring.

You’ve probably heard it before, but really believe this – UrbanPromise is making a radical, eternal, and world-shaking difference in the lives of the children they serve and in the city of Wilmington as a whole.

Please keep us in your prayers as we head into the second half of the week, and join us in praying for the UrbanPromise staff, kids and their entire ministry.

Lots of love & see you Saturday evening,

theUG Compassion Team 2015

 

PS: At the after school camps we’re helping the kids work on their upcoming speeches. We think they’re doing pretty awesome… you?! 🙂

 

Updates from our compassion teams!

Camden Update:

Camden has been such a blast so far! We arrived at around 7pm Sunday night and had pizza for dinner and our first worship night as a team. Monday morning we were up bright and early to meet the other work teams and get some orientation from the urban promise leadership. After an intro to UP, we were given an interesting yet thought provoking and challenging tour of the city and its neighbourhoods, a mass grave of still born babies from a heroin and cocaine crisis in the mid eighties, UP’s Boat Works where kids learn how to build canoes and kayaks, and general information about the city and its history and demographics. The afternoon was spent preparing for Junior High Olympics and we closed with another evening of worship.

Tuesday we opened the day with a devotional led by the principal of Urban Promise Forward School, then work projects before lunch and the first day of Olympics – Spirit Day – consisting of team building challenges. Our evening was filled by a screening and discussion of The Sunset Limited.

Today, Wednesday, was begun with more work projects around campus before kicking off day two of Olympics – Mental Day – featuring fear factor style challenges. We are now preparing for Youth Night (similar to The Underground).

We look forward to Physical Day of  Olympics and meeting up with the Wilmington team tomorrow before wrapping up Olympics and a trip into Philadelphia and the journey home.

 

Wilmington Update:

We’ve had such an awesome week so far!  We’ve been serving with the kids at camp freedom and doing various projects around the city and the camp.  Here’s a little glimpse of what we’ve been up too!

IMG_1937 Here’s Alison and MIchael scrubbing the grease off the doors of camp freedom on tuesday morning

IMG_7046Here’s Alison and Rahman doing after school program homework

IMG_2002 Matt Wells getting beat at a game of pickup basketball!

 

IMG_7756 Our team having lunch in the park yesterday.  NO SNOW HERE 🙂

 

March Break Compassion Trip!

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We’ve raised money, planned the details, packed our bags and now the day is here to head down to Urban Promise for a life changing week of serving others.   Our grade 9/10 students head to Wilmington Deleware and our grade 11/12 students head to Camden New Jersey.  The mission of Urban Promise USA  has been to equip children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and leadership. They strive to fulfill this mission through after-school programs, summer camps, schools, experiential learning, job training, and a host of other programs that challenge youth to develop and realize their potential.  The neighbourhoods in which Urban Promise find themselves are economically struggling and the kids don’t have access to many resources to better their future, this is where Urban Promise fills the gap.  Our teams will be doing a variety of different jobs around the city as well as building relationships with children at the march break day camps.  

Ways you can pray:

– amazing attitudes of selfless service for God
– the children we will be working with
– that God uses this experience to grow our students spiritually
– that we get many opportunities to love people in the neighbourhoods we are serving
– unity in our teams
– safety

We have limited wifi but we are going to do our best to do more updates from both trips this week!  Check back!

Jr. High Compassion Update

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God is pretty awesome. He has given us an amazing team at camp this week. We are well into day 3 of camp, and as this is being written a dance party is on in full force in the next room. Just prior, we had some time of singing in worship with the kids…actions and all! Each of our students has been a superhero this week in serving, loving, and developing relationships.

Our theme for the week is superheroes, and our team has done a dynamic job of presenting superhero skits each morning to the campers with Ironman making an appearance this morning! Our Bible stories have been about the superheroes in the Bible too. And kids have dressed up like little superheroes this morning. All that to say, it’s all pretty super.

Last night, our girls were able to get a little down time after they made dinner; they watched a movie and had ice cream sundaes. Our boys had the opportunity to spend the night with some sr highs from the Oakville site during a musical worship time.

Our students and leaders have also been working hard at encouraging one another in intentional ways. We have an “encouragement tree” where they are writing encouragements to one another on leaves and post them to the tree. It’s a beautiful aspect of community to see their encouragements to one another.

After a full day of camp today, our students will be heading to one location together to have a bbq and swim time. Please pray for them as we journey through the day. Today seems to be a day of some fatigue, and the campers are extremely high energy. Pray we are able to match their energy and enthusiasm!

Our students have begun to really grow together in connection, community, and hilarity. It has been an awesome week of togetherness and God is definitely at work in and through our students.

Jr. High compassion trip week 2 update

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We are half way through another incredible week at Kerr Street Day Camp! As we wind down for the night, there are lots of things to reflect on! Today was a great day as we had the opportunity to walk the campers over to The Dream Centre and share in a BBQ that was being hosted at Kerr Street Ministries. The kids were well fed, played lots of fun games, and even participated in an exciting talent show! Our team of Jr High students come from all across the GTA, and beyond! We have students from Parry Sound, West Hamilton, Waterloo, Kitchener, Downtown Toronto, Uptown Toronto, Oakville, and Burlington too! It has been an incredible privilege to watch our students interact with the Kerr Street students and staff, see them perform in daily skits, become more comfortable among the other students, to see them light up as they spend time playing with a camper, and to hear them express their hearts for service and the Lord. We have been blessed by another incredible group of students to be serving with! We look forward to another great day at camp tomorrow! We have worship and a dance party to spice up the day before we wrap up the week with a carnival Friday! We would love your prayers for our students, and especially for the staff that works every week this summer with the campers. The love the staff pours out is truly inspirational. Join us in asking for patience and perseverance for them as they round out the summer at camp! Thanks for joining with us in this exciting week!

 

–Your Jr High Compassion Team | Week 2

 

 

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Jr. High Compassion Trip – Day 2 update

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Today was a hot one!  Although day 2 at camp was ridiculously hot we had an awesome day connecting with the kids in our groups and building some great relationships.  Its been incredible to watch our own youth learn what it means to lead and set an example for the kids and to see them responding to their leadership in great ways. 

As always with these types of serving compassion trips there is an element of stretching that we go through where we are pushed out of our comfort zones and into a place where we are vulnerable and able to be used by God in new ways.  We are seeing all kinds of that happening this week in our midst.

As the guys prepared for bed we asked them to talk about:

–       what they were excited about this week

–       what made them nervous

–       how they wanted God to use them

It was incredible to hear them share their hearts about their desire to see God work through them to reach people. 

Tonight we had the opportunity to spend time together as a team and bond over an awesome meal and a movie.  Tomorrow will be another incredible day!

Jr. High Compassion Trip – Night 2 update

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Night two! We had an awesome first day at Kerr Street Day Camp! It was amazing to meet and start getting to know the campers and the camp staff. We started the day off with the first “Morning Meeting” skit which was a hit – the kids loved Curious George! Then we split up and got to meet all the kids in our groups. In the morning, we played soccer and taught the kids about the armour of God – today was the belt of truth. Then we had a refreshing afternoon either swimming with the 11 & 12 age group, or having a giant water fight with all the other campers.

Following camp, we headed back to our host homes for separate Guys/Girls nights. We all got to swim again and had some meaningful time of reflecting on the day.

Our…
– Highlights (Like, meeting and connecting with the campers and having some pretty cool moments) 
– Things that surprised us (How exhausting is really can be!) 
– and what God is already teaching us. (Patience, to serve in His strength and not our own, etc.)

As we head into Tuesday, please be praying for continued strength and energy and that we take advantage of the opportunities we have to love on the kids at Kerr Street, to hear their stories, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the way we love and serve them this week.

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