Nigeria - Susanna Homes Summer 2016

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

July 28, 2016
Chief Bonadies and Howard!! Live from Susanna Homes in Nigeria

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July 23, 2016

Pictures of Greg and James in Nigeria! Thankful for a safe trip!!

Hello all, we made it to Port Harcourt and are settling into the Novotel Hotel.  Experienced about an hour delay leaving Atlanta, but had plenty of time to catch our plane at JFK in New York.  Nice flight to Paris with some delay.  Food is quite good on Air France.  At Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris, we took a long bus ride to a remote part of the airport to board our flight to Nigeria.  But the airplane had problems w/ its computer, so after about 2 1/2 hours, buses came to take us back to the terminal.  After another hour or two, we were put onto another plane and departed for Port Harcourt.  We got through immigration w/ minimal friction and took a half hour van ride to the hotel.

Julius (one of Chi's brothers), his wife, Messi (sp?), and a driver picked us up at the airport after waiting here 6 hours for our delayed flight.  We are so blessed to have such dedicated people to support the work here and our visit.

All the items for the children made it through the trip, so we are looking forward to starting our work tomorrow at Susana Homes.

We thank you again for all your prayers and support for this endeavor.  It is an honor and pleasure to have this opportunity to be of service.  Please give our regards to all in the Buford Church.

- Greg Bonadies

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July 21, 2016

Please pray for two of our members, James Howard and Greg Bonadies, heading to Nigeria today. They will work at Susanna Homes to expand their computer lab as well as other needs. Pray for their safe travel and that God will be glorified.

Find out more about Susana Homes at http://www.rightsteps.org/susanahomes/

China Mission Trip 2016

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

SPECIAL BULLETIN INSERT - Click here

China Mission Trip OVERVIEW By Stan Burnette - Click here

TEAM MEMBER BLOGS:

JOSIE JIANG (BURNETTE) . . . I am different from others that went to China this time. For them it’s a mission trip, but for me it means I got to go back to where I was born, where I am from, where I love and miss with all my heart. As a member from my care center, I should say the kids there are very nice and friendly! They are willing to hear about God and are willing to be baptized. I remember that every year we have some kids baptized! I am one of them! We are very prideful Chinese and we love to show Americans about our beautiful country! l love China! I love all the kids and I love Buford church of Christ!

BETSY BURNETTE . . . China was my first ever mission trip. I did not know what to expect besides the heat, squatty potties, and lots of rice. What I didn’t expect was how beautiful the country was and how quickly I would fall in love with the people. I saw children so eager to obey the Lord; they were willing to get baptized “secretly” in a very public place. One of my favorite things was worshipping together and singing praises to God in two different languages at the same time. I made friendships that distance won’t tear apart. I hope God was glorified through us! Please continue to pray for the Christians in China! We love them so!

ABBY GIBSON . . .I love China! It is a beutiful place. It is so different from America and an amazing experience!  My favorite part is walking to the care center and playing with the kids! It is unlike anything you have ever seen; those kids have never seen white people before...much less like John Iverson. The teams does an amazing job with the kids! I think I could speak for everyone that the food there is very different from what we are used to! Leaving is the most difficult thing! I hate saying our goodbyes to them. I can’t wait to go back next year to see the familiar faces and make new friends!

BEN BURNETTE... Each year that I have the opportunity to return to China, the children I have gotten to know and love the year before are 6 inches taller and are able to speak more and more English. It’s special to get to build relationships with them that are now more than just playing ping pong or other sports. Spending time in Bible studies with the Care Center’s staff and translators is truly a blessing as well. They have different questions and and concerns, so the Bible studies have helped me grow in directions I hadn’t considered before. China holds a very special place in my heart and I hope to be able to help grow the Lord’s church there in the future.

JENNY BURNETTE . . . We have been to Luxi, China for several years now. It is a joy to watch the children grow each year! This year, several who have been shy in the past, were very excited to see us. We witnessed 3 sweet souls obey the gospel! They had their Bibles in hand and were ready with questions from our first day there. We were blessed to worship the Lord with our Christian brothers and sisters. Praying, communion and singing praises (each in our own language) always make me emotional.
      China in July is hot, humid and certainly not without challenges... but the chance to spend time with the children makes the trip wonderful. God is good!

KIM GIBSON . . . LOVE...It was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet new faces at the Refuge of Grace Care Center in Luxi! I love to imagine what a JOY it would be to present a vacation Bible School ( a wonderful VBS like Buford enjoyed) and watch the children learn about God and Eternity. If we could openly teach the Bible (Good Book) to the children, learn songs of praise in Chinese and English, act out Bible lessons, crafts that have a true Biblical meaning to help them remember, have children asking questions and KNOWING there is a God that loves and cares for them. We pray our smiles and love, attention and indiscreet lessons will share and spread His love. We pray the director and teachers are encouraged to carry on knowing there are Christian brothers and sisters that will meet them in Heaven, even if we cannot worship together on earth. Please let this be your prayer for the people of China.

July 13th, Wednesday

Day 7 was our last day at the center with the kids. We brought 2 Polaroid instamatic cameras with film and divided the kids and adults into 2 teams. We sent them to town to do a scavenger hunt. They had never heard of this and they had so much fun. Games like this help the kids with their English which is very important  over here. If they don't pass the English test at the end of middle school they are not allowed to attend high school. This is very embarrassing for them and their families.  We ended the hunt at a local fast food chicken place and we got each of them an ice cream cone.      

IMG 1809IMG 1817After lunch and rest time we made dream catchers with the kids. These were our parting gift for them. We explained the myth of dream catchers but emphasized that they were to follow their dreams and achieve great things.

After our last dinner together we held separate studies, one for the adult men led by our men, and one for the students led by our women. We talked about being created different but all coming from the same creator. It was meant to encourage them to dream big and do great things in their country in His name.

IMG 1749We were to catch the bus the next morning at our hotel at 6. We opened our hotel room doors to find some of the center's children waiting for us in the hallway. They came to say goodbye again and had written us notes. It was very sweet and it touched us so much they they got up so early and came to the hotel to see us.

We have arrived in Beijing for a day and a half of sight seeing. We visited the Pearl Market on the afternoon we arrived and the ate at a Chinese restaurant. On this last day in Beijing we are visiting the Great Wall.

We look forward to seeing everyone back in the states on Sunday!

In Him, Connie Burnette for the China Mission Team

July 12th, Tuesday - Day 6

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July 11th, Monday

13631601 108272809609807 4480590684577438074 n13626335 108273272943094 3366037729844967071 nD13659177 108273322943089 2929788036995852643 nay 5 in China was a fun day. We took the kids and workers from the care center to a cave. It is a beautiful cave that is a two mile walk down in and back out. It showcased the awesomeness and power of a great Creator. We packed lunches for the kids and chartered a bus. It was a fun day and exciting time for the kids to get to go in a "field trip".  We played uno, colored in adult coloring books and played ping pong to end the day. Everyone was so hungry after the days outing that the care center ran out of food at dinner. Several of our people walked to town to eat noodles (which we live doing!). Stan and John went with the care center director after dinner to visit a sick sister who is homebound.
   We have had the opportunity this visit to study with several adults and that is very rewarding.

In Him, Connie Burnette

July 10th Sunday

13654281 2041685606056845 5044660442033575918 nDay 4 in China was Sunday.  Our hotel has a breakfast buffet every morning. I use the word buffet loosely!  Anyway, this morning when our group came in for breakfast they started coking and brought hot noodles and dumplings to our tables just for us. It was a pleasant surprise and we started our day with smiles and full tummies.
    We met with the care center family for worship.  It was a very uplifting (but extremely hot!) time. There were so many of us we couldn't fit in the room and some were having to sit at the doorway. The small space crowded with many bodies and no air conditioning made us miss our nice auditorium with cushioned seats and air conditioning. John Iverson preached in the service.
    Stan went with the care center director early this morning to a local family study. Then we had our meeting. After lunch Stan and John went with the director to a country family study in the afternoon. The rest of us spent some downtime in the afternoon resting, playing, and shopping.
    We have 3 days left at the care center before we head to Beijing for a day of sight seeing and then we head home. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at home. 


In Him, Connie Burnette

July 9th, Saturday Day 3 Photos

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Nicaragua Mission Trip 2016

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

SPECIAL BULLETIN INSERT (Includes photos) - Click here

Nicaragua Mission Trip OVERVIEW By David Lovell - Click here

TEAM MEMBER BLOGS:

HEduardo HallieALLIE WHITESIDES . . . Over the course of the week I learned many things about love! We should love God, love yourself, and love others. There was one person that specifically showed me love and his name was Eduardo. Eduardo has one of the kindest and gentlest souls that I have ever met. He had so much love and joy to share. Eduardo always had a smile on his face even though he had nothing. The song “Every Time” has a verse that says “every time I see a child, I see the gentleness of my Lord.” Children are a blessing and a beautiful creation of God. I could see God through Eduardo, even at the age of 9. God puts people in our life for a reason, sometimes to teach us something. Eduardo did just this to me. He taught me LOVE. The Bible says, “ Three things remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Eduardo, he is love.

ABBEY HOWARD . . . My favorite memory from Nicaragua were the three times we went to schools in the neighborhood. We had the opportunity to go into several classrooms, act out Bible lessons such as Noah or Daniel in the Lions Den, sing in English to the kids, and play outside with them! It was so much fun interacting with so many kind and sweet children.

CHRISTI HOWARD . . . My favorite part was the beautiful children. Did you know that 39% of the population in Nicaragua is under the age of 13! What an opportunity to reach these young hearts. Also, it was a blessing to see how involved Buford Church has been over the years with the Leon Church. So many of our members have gone multiple times to Leon, and the support given is incredible and long lasting!

JENNIFER FANCHER . . . I’ve always heard how mission trips will change the way you view the world and that they will have a huge impact on your life... and that’s the truth and nothing but the truth. This trip contained a lot of firsts for me such as my first mission trip, first flight, first time out of the country and my first time cooking spam (by the way, I’m an expert now). The excitement I had building up for this trip was huge, I’ve heard nothing but great things about Nicaragua. While working in the kitchen, I learned so many things about cooking, skinning fruit and about the way of life in Nicaragua. Once every pot and pan was scrubbed after lunch, we got the chance to interact with the locals. That’s when my life was put into perspective. I have always thought that I am a content and happy person, but when we visited the school to play with the kids, the first thing out of my mouth was a complaint that the soccer ball was flat. It took me about 2 seconds to realize that the only person who was bothered by that was me. Once we started running and playing I realized we could be kicking a marble around and the amount of fun we were having would still be the same. The happiness and joy came from each child was infectious and it’s something you would have to experience to truly understand the power of it. Coming back home and realizing you might be an ungrateful person was a lesson I was not planning on learning, but it’s one that I will never forget.

STAN QUINN . . . A benefit of returning to the same location in Nicaragua every few years is the opportunity to build relationships with fellow Christians and those in the community. Connie and I were able to work together directly during this campaign moreso than on any prior campaign due to her prior VBS responsibilities. Our primary focus this time was to work with those who had fallen away. In addition to this, we were able to evangelize several family members who had never been converted to Christ. The influence that families have in a congregation is profound and we see the great potential in several families there in Azarias (Benito, Clarita and Bryan; Francisco and his family; Petronas and her family to name a few). Additionally, God blessed us with the opportunity of studying with a young couple. We not only studied about the Good News but also on what God desires in marriage from both husbands and wives. These studies ended up with a decision on their part to marry and the wife (Kenia) made a decision to be immersed into Christ. Follow-up studies continue with the husband (Lester). That family (including two little girls) is now on a different path. We were blessed to work with German Guevara from the Hispanic congregation that meets in our building during the week. German and I were invited to a study on the last day of the campaign. It was with a family who had several members attending a denomination with others attending the congregation we support. We noted during the study how these folks were literally starving for the word of God. A short time later, they set the table and provided us with lunch. I consummed the largest bowl of Chicken Soup that I have ever enjoyed. What a great trade! Thank you all for your generosity and commitment to the Great Commission! Romans 10:14-17

Thursday, 7/14

Let me describe in numbers what happened yesterday at the medical clinic. From 8-5 in one day 290 patients were seen. 1096 prescriptions were filled. 33 teeth were extracted. Reading glasses were given to the elderly. 63 Bible studies occurred. 7 people were baptized and 60 children came to our evening class. What an amazing event to behold!

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Day 3 at the medical clinic and we act out Bible stories in the evening. Abbey picked a cute partner! Any excuse to hole these precious little ones!! - Christi Howard

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Day 2 I am in love with these children! - Christi Howard

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July 9th, Saturday - Arrived and setting up for the clinic

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July 8th, Friday

During the week of July 8 - 16, twenty-five members of the Buford congregation and Igesia de Cristo en Buford traveled to Leon to assist in an evangelistic and medical campaign conducted by Latin American Missions.  Through the planting and watering of God's word and with His increase, the Azarias congregation will be strengthened spiritually and in number.  Through our medical services, the physical needs of many will be met which will provide an avenue by which we can share the true need that we each have - a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Please keep our team in your prayers!
They will have limited internet to send updates. More will be posted upon their return.

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Scotland BYG Mission Trip 2016

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

SPECIAL BULLETIN INSERT - Click here

Scotland Trip OVERVIEW By Todd Newman - Click here

TEAM MEMBER BLOGS - Click here

July 11, Monday

Greetings from London!!!

image1 copy 7The team has completed 2 (1.5 hour Mini bus ride from Perth to Glasgow and 1.5 flight to London) of 4 legs of our trip back to Buford from Perth!!!  We are excited about returning but also very sad to leave our Perth family. 

We started at 8am Perth/3am Buford time from Perth and are scheduled to leave London at 4pm London/11am Buford time.  
For those who want to track us, we are on British Airways flight 227 from London Heathrow to Atlanta.

See you in about 12 hours!!!

Greetings from Atlanta!!!

image1 copy 8The 2016 BYG Mission team is landed and on the bus to Buford!!!  After about a 1.5 hour delay in London due to thunder storms, we made the 8.5 hour fight home.  We are tired of airplanes for now.  In total we have traveled about 15 hours today with bus plane plane and bus.  

We are excited to see our families and share all that we did for The Lord in Perth the last 11 days.  We had a super group who worked hard and long hours, walked/hiked some days 8+ miles and never complained.  As we left Morris and Polly stated they have worked with many mission teams and they have never seen one like this full of teenagers who were mature and hard workers for The Lord.  He stated all are welcomed anytime in Perth to work!  Scott also echoed to many of us Buford missionaries work hard and go go go.  

In the end, Becky and I we honored to serve with the BYG missionaries and Landen for The Lord in Perth.  The only thing we wish could change is the looooooooong flights.

May God be the glory!!!

In Him
Todd

July 10th, Sunday

All
Well, the day has come to end on the 2016 BYG Mission trip to Perth.  It was bitter/sweet today closing out of our trip with our brothers and sisters in Perth.  We all were able to sleep in for the first time since being in Scotland as worship was at 2:30pm, we all needed and enjoyed it, our 16+ hour days caught up with us.  At the building, we worshipped then hugged, cried, laughed, took pictures and enjoyed out last fellowship together in Perth.  The weather was grey and rain but our spirits were joyful and warm knowing how much love we have seen while here in Perth. Plus how much we all have grown during this trip for The Lord and planting/watering of the seed.  May God be the glory!!!

image1 copy 9We had a great worship service today with 19 in attendance.  Katie, Calvin, Layton and Leon from the Robinson family all were there and continued to warm our hearts for their attendance.  The Body in Perth made up of Morris & Polly Charlton, Annette, Scott and Allana (Scott's girlfriend) attended with Norma out of town this weekend.  Morris started the service off with scripture reading, Jake and Isaac led us in song, Morris presided over The Lord's Table, Scott brought us the lesson based on Spiritual Living water and I closed us out in prayer. 

image2 copy 5After our tea and biscuits fellowship, hugs and goodbyes to the Robinsons, we all headed to our final dinner together at Wetherspoons.  It was good to enjoy one last meal together reflecting on the great week and seeds planted.  Plus we enjoyed sharing all of our stories from the week as it related to HBC, Bible studies, activities, food, how we became a Christian, etc.  it is so wonderful to be able to share in common Christ anywhere in the World, no matter our backgrounds.  May God continue to be the glory!!!

image3 copy 6We closed the evening in devotional singing in a tunnel under one of the Perth's bridges across the river Tay due to the rain.  It actually was beautiful due to the acoustics and all of us knowing this would be our last time in devotion with our Perth bothers and sisters.  May God continue to be the glory!!!

Finally, we are scheduled to leave Glasgow at 12:10pm Scotland or 7:10am Buford time.  We have about a 2.5 hour layover in London and scheduled to take off at 4pm London or 11am Buford time.  So, pray for our safe travels and we are excited to see our Buford and physical family.  However we are very saddened to leave our Perth family.  See you tomorrow!!!

In Him, Todd for the 2016 BYG Scotland Mission Team

July 8th and 9th, Friday and Saturday

image1 copy 6image2 copy 3We have had another great 2 days sight seeing together, learning about the reformation/restoration connection from St Andrews, connecting the dots of King James from Scotland who had the Bible translated into English and just enjoying God's creation in this great country of Scotland!!!  
Friday (Day 7) we journeyed to St Andrews via train and 5 of the Perth youth club went with us along with Morris, Polly and Scott.  Saturday (Day 8) we journeyed to Edinburgh to enjoy Scotland's caption city.  See below pictures from our trips.

image12 copy 4image17 copy 2Saturday Day 8 was a free day in Edinburgh where the team toured the castle, saw where King James was born, the Scotland Crown Jewels, the crowning stone, John Knox home/burial spot and the wonderful sights of the Capital city. Fun was had by all and we closed the night back in Perth seeing a rainbow and having a prayer.  It was sleep in for Sunday morning since Perth worship would be at 2:30. Continue to pray for us as we worship with The Body in Perth today, see some of the Perth youth club at worship to say good bye and close out our spectacular trip for The Lord in Perth. In Him, Todd for the 2016 BYG Scotland mission team

Friday Day 7
image3 copy 4image6 copy 3image5 copy 5image9 copy 3St Andrews trip, Carvery Dinner and Devo next to the River Tay at Sunset (Devotional on the stone jetty into the North Sea where we had 2 ladies as tourist join us for signing (they said we sounded like angels), another group stand and listen and others recording us sing.) St Andrews cathedral and castle where Scotland's Reformation started by John Knox around 1559.  Notice the cathedral is missing the stones, after the reformation speeches against Catholicism, the people wanted their own personal relationship with God and not through a man made path or pope.  So they reformed by taking down the cathedral stone by stone to the foundation only leaving the main tower and a few walls as a reminder to others in the future. Reformation martyrs monument who stood for the truth (see one stone where supposedly the face of one who was burned at the stake near another cathedral) and notice see the stone buildings/homes the people built after John Knox speeches from the cathedral stones. Sights from St Andrews many know about today, the castle ruins where John Knox escaped from, St Andrews university where William and Kate met/went and famous golf course where golf was started at St Andrews Links/where British Open is played every 4 years/where the rules of golf started. A Scotland Carvery dinner back in Perth and sunset (10pm) devotional led by Scott by the Ruver Tay where we discussed from Joel that each soul counts, one by one and not to get discouraged.  God wants our soul and heart, one by one. Friday as you can tell was a special day for so many ways and impactful for us knowing we were brought the Word of God by someone who we can trace way back through the Scotland Reformation movement.  Alexander Campbell and his father was connected to the Reformation movement but realized they needed to "restore" to the original.  Hence the Restoration movement in the USA began and how many of us had the Word of God brought to us and the Church of Christ in USA.  Now the 2016 BYG mission team is teaching others and bringing the Word of God to the people of Perth and building the Church of Christ.  A complete circle for Him and impactful for our team realizing their role for Him.

July 6th and 7th, Wednesday and Thursday

Day 6 (Last Day of Compassion What are you doing for The Lord, Hightower castle visit/coffee Shop Bible Studies, Pitlochry Highlands foothill visit and fellowship). Class Time; Armor of God Crafts; HBC Closes.

image2 copy 2image5 copy 4image6 copy 2image1 copy 4image4 copy 4image11 copy 3image9 copy 2Continue to pray for us as we are busy about The Lord's work in the classroom, in the coffee shops, in Perth amusement park/castles/city centre and in the hearts of each other/Perth youth/Perth congregation and them in ours.

In Him, Todd for the 2016 BYG Scotland mission team

Day 5...We have been sooooo busy from 7am to 11pm every day and I have had no time to even send a quick update.  Forgive us as we are super busy for The Lord and have been given a special opportunity to spend 13+\- hours a day with 6 to 10 Perth youth.  This has been so special and allowed us to really get to know these great youth and hoping to be our brothers and sisters in the near future.  The seeds of The Lord, Compassion and Love we are planting in what we believe is fertile soil we are praying will bare fruit soon!!!

See some pictures from day 5 & 6 for some insight.  I will send updates from today, day 7, from our trip to St Andrews where we had 5 of the Perth youth go with us.  It was another amazing day!!!

image1 copy 3image2 copyimage4 copy 3Day 5 (HBC Compassion What the Lord does for us, end of Gospel meeting led by Landen and fellowship activities) See photos of Class time; Jesus Paid a Debt craft time; Get my Strength from God relay; Noah's Ark Amusement Center; Dinner at Morris and Polly with Annette helping; Last night of Gospel Meeting of 40 in attendance and Quaich for Landen

July 5th, Tuesday

image1 copy 2Tuesday was one of those banner days if there is such a term for a mission trip.  All days working The Lord is wonderful but some have that extra lift when you experience growth and see the power of love.  Tuesday will be on our minds for me for many days to come.  You will see why as the days progresses.  God is good.

We started this day off with a devotional led by Jake and beautiful songs of praise to God.  We then went into our HBC morning session of lesson on Feeding of the 5000 and songs led by Isaac.  Olivia challenged the team by a word search focusing on the price of about compassion and the feeding of the 5000.

image2-1image3-1The group then moved to crafts where baskets were weaved out of construction paper and paper plates.  The team then used a local fish and chips snack to represent loaves and fish delivered in baskets to the 5000+.  Alexis, Rebecca and Rachel did a great job leading this session. 

 

image4-1The group then moved to our activities team led by Jake and Noah where we had a relay race caring boiled eggs from point a to b to represent the careful carrying of compassion to all.  Then a toss of the boiled eggs to instill trust in each other.  After the activities some of the Perth youth ate the boiled eggs.  
In the and HBC was another great day teaching 8 with 2 new girls attending about compassion.

image5-1After our group lunch, we headed to the city center to conduct Bible studies where we still continue to have different people inquire about what we were studying but no one attended yet.  We're not discouraged because we know that people are recognizing us and what we are doing.

image6-1After the Bible studies we broke into 4 teams for a treasure hunt competition in the city of Perth.  The hunt allowed us to spend more time with the youth club members as many have been staying with us from 9:30am to 10:30pm everyday or 13 hours.  All love it and many bonds of friendship have formed. 

image8-1After the treasure hunt we all loaded up and headed towards a local Perth Council park for a BBQ.  6 from the Cumbernauld  congregation cooked for us at the BBQ and enjoyed the fellowship.  The sun came out and blue skies for about an hour and a half or so, perfect timing for our BBQ.  We threw the frisbee, walked the trails, played in the rubbing brook and spent time getting to know each other even more all in the great outdoors. Even the people of Perth said the day was one of the greatest weather days they had this year, it was great to be outdoors talking about God and laughing and just having fun.

image9-1image10-1What came next was icing on the day as we hiked Kinnoull hill, a 800 feet hill over looking the river Tay valley.  The hill has spectacular panorama views of Gods  creation where you can see for miles and miles and miles.  The clouds were separated enough to see a beautiful sunset touching and coloring the sky and landscape.  All explored the ridge and an old ruined castle before just sitting and reflecting on the beauty that we were witnessing. 

image11-1Katie, Calvin and Laden from the youth club had just recently spread their great-grandparents ashes on this hill, so it was an emotional time them.  However at the same time they had all of us to encourages them and to show them love, they were amazed by the love shown by people they had just met only days before. Katie even mention that she felt like she has known us forever and was wanting more of what we had in love for each other, love for Jesus and just in general very very happy people.  Katie, who is 15, has been studying with Scott the last few months about baptism.  She brought about being baptized as she knows the importance of it, wants to think really hard about it in the upcoming days and keep talking to us about.  What a great opportunity this excursion gave all of us to discuss such an important subject.  Continue to pray for Katie and her heart.  On top of this, Calvin was a big encourager to his big sister in time of need plus to his little brother who wanted to hug his great-grand parents.  Calvin is 9 and has the heart of gold, he gets what real compassionate love is all about.

We also remembered many who have lost loved ones recently or in the past, reflected on how we have been touched by them and for our brother Michael Ilardi who is having digestion issues and was going to the hospital.  As we began to sing praises to God watching the sun set colors paint the spectacular landscape and having caring/compassionate hearts, we sang with much deeper purpose.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.40.19 PMOur lessons on compassion since Sunday was being demonstrated on this hill by everyone for all those in need, we sang for 20+ minutes as the sun disappeared.  May all who were encouraged on this hill be strong and courageous and may the glory be to God!!!

Compassion for Christ with action in your life like we experienced Tuesday will make life changes happen.

In Him, Todd for BYG Scotland mission team

 

India 2016 - Billy Simmons

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

Billy Simmons departed for India mid-April. He goes annually for a few months. On this trip, he is teaching Greek in the school there and is working with other area congregations.

Trip Overview (written upon his return) - click here

As of June 14th, he sends this report with photos and information. - Click here

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Nicaragua Mission Trip 2015

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

Team Member Blogs . . .

Pat Owens - First of all to all the ladies who helped prepare materials, you had a part in this trip too.  To everyone who donated supplies you had a part in this trip too. Every mission trip to Central America is unique. This year was no different. We had a team that came together from Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, Alabama, Nicaragua, and Georgia. We all came together for one purpose to serve God. Our team  worked together as though we had known each other for ever. Each person was constantly fulfilling his or her assigned roll. Everyone was flexible and adjusted to our task. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with these fellow Christians and learn from each of them.
 
The children are my heart. Both of the two places we worked had precious children who wanted to learn about God. On the first night, I asked John Farber where the VBS team was to teach. He showed me an area on the street/sidewalk with the two vans separated. We strung caution tape to define the area. The children were off the street and the teachers were between the two vans. There is always a first and this was it for 2015. For the next 2 nights that was our classroom. April Peden talking to a neighbor across from the building volunteered their front of their yard for our class. Two days and 1 night that was our classroom. The last night the rain came and a neighbor to the left of the building offered us their large garage. It's a good thing because that night we had 91+ children with their mamas too. I can't say enough about Silvia our translator, she was so enteric in helping us teach the children. Hallie was so valuable in stepping in wherever she was needed.

But the best part of this trip was we treated the physical needs, we taught the children and souls were saved. The preachers proclaimed God's word and now there are 4 new souls added to the kingdom. There was no congregation  in Somoto, Nicaragua and now God has given the increase for this new congregation. A special thank you to Buford Congregation and ourElders  for  the opportunity to go. Pray that the work in Somoto to grow as God would have it to grow.

Laura Nichols - There is great work being done in Somoto, Nicaragua! I had the privilege of assisting with the medical campaign to help meet physical needs while a new congregation was started to reach spiritual needs. Throughout the course of the week we saw hundreds of patients and prescribed thousands of medicines! The gratitude and attitude of the locals was so encouraging. The new brothers/sisters we now have because of the growth during that week need our prayers and continued support; but are focused on keeping the light in Somoto shining. It was a privilege be a part of the team.

David Lovell - In Ephesians 4:15-16, Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus to again focus on growing in their relationship with each other found through Christ.  Verse 16 of this chapter reminds each of us that the church will only function as God intended when each member recognizes his role and works together in a proper manner to accomplish the goal of spiritual growth.

As we began our week in Nicaragua, we focused on the words of these verses during of first devotional together.  You see, it is only through the power of God that He is able to bring strangers from many different backgrounds and many different parts of the world together to accomplish His work.

God brought 43 individuals from various parts of the States together in Somoto, Nicaragua to work along side of the brethren there to carry out the work of a medical campaign.  But, the physical well-being of the people of Somoto was not our primary focus.  It was simply an avenue which allowed us to assist with the most important aspect of a individual's well-being - their spiritual health.

Despite a few obstacles, we were able to serve almost 1100 people in our medical clinic and provide over 3700 prescription medications over a 3 day period.  More importantly, almost 500 Bible studies with over 550 souls were conducted leading to 5 baptisms and 2 restorations.  Additionally, the cumulative attendance of kids participating in the day and evening VBS-style classes was almost 500.  

As many know, there was no church located in Somoto prior to the campaign there.  Thanks be to God that He provided the increase to our efforts! The Somoto iglesia de Cristo held its first ever Sunday worship service on the morning of July 26 with an attendance of 9 precious souls!

 Please continue to pray for the church in Somoto and for William and Luis, the ministers proclaiming God's word there.  On behalf of the mission team, thank you to the Buford congregation for sending us "into all the world." And thanks be to the Creator for allowing us to use our God-given talents, each "working properly" together, to accomplish His work!

Becky Strickland - I would have to say that the thing that stood out to me the most on this campaign was the welcoming attitude of the people of Somoto. All the neighbors of the new church in Somoto were all so willing to help out in anyway with whatever we needed. They allowed us to use their front porches, garages and front curb areas to hold our children classes, and bible studies. I was always so uplifted when I would hear how many people were willing to open up their homes wanting to have a bible study. One day I was able to go on one of those bible studies when we weren't having a children's class. So, I'm including my favorite picture which is of of the little lady we studied with. And then, the children are just amazing! Can't wait for next year! I pray that God continues to bless the efforts of the new congregation in Somoto. I know I was blessed by being a part of it!

Juan Garcia -

The week of July 17-25 has come and gone but the experience of attending a Medical Campaign will stay forever.   This was my first Medical Campaign. I have attended so many Gospel Meetings in the past but never both at the same time.   I felt I was really serving my God as our Lord Jesus. Mark’s Gospel describes Jesus’ ministry, Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. (Mark 3:20). When the word got out that Jesus was a Great Healing, people were lining up to see him. The lines were so long that a group of men decided to jump the line and opened up a hole in the celling so Jesus could heal him (Luke 5:17-20).

            Every night we were dragging our tired bodies back to the Hotel. Jesus once said, Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). He said this in reference to sinners whose sin is heavy and burdens them. I took Jesus saying word per word and was coming to him every night praying the weariness will disappear next day. I liked the way Steve Miller, another member of the Nicaraguan Mission trip emphasized his tiredness, “I don’t speak Spanish, but last night I couldn’t even speak English.” As I went to bed every night in Somoto, I imagined Jesus also going to bed, two thousand years ago, telling his apostles of how his body ached everywhere. I thank God for allowing me to experience that kind of similarity. I felt humbled because I was following Jesus footsteps in helping the physical needs as much as the spiritual. I felt humbled because I was placed in a servant position similar to my Jesus, but I also felt ashamed because I came home after a week’s work, when my Lord did it for three years. I felt I left Jesus back in Somoto doing all the work by himself. As I came back home and resumed my Bible Studies and on Monday, 27 of July I was able to baptized Yumarlene Romero. Yuma and her family are the first family I encountered from Venezuela last November. Buford COC has helped greatly in helping this family and others that have come since then. I thank the Buford congregation for aiding my ministry and I want you to see that none has been done in vain. I thanked God for Yuma and that is when I realized that I didn’t leave Jesus in Somoto, he came back with me. I saw him in Yuma when she put him on through baptism (Gal. 3:27). Our God is good, our God is awesome.

July 22nd

Our first two days were spent just a few miles outside Somoto in a community called San Issabel. We had 268 patients on th first day and 311 on the second day. We were able to give out close to 1,900 prescriptions to the local people. Throughout the day we had evangelistic teams working in and outside the compound. We had a teen mission group out knocking doors and going as far as climbing what felt like a mountain to reach one family to share the good news with them. The same team came across the local well and was able to speak to several people there. Our team also noticed the old worn out 75 foot rope used for the well. LAM was able to assist in purchasing a new rope for the well. Then it took SEVERAL gringos to figure out how to "install" the new rope. (Crazy Americans...lol)
baptismWe had one baptism on the first day with a man who studied most of the day with our preachers. The next day we had to pack up the clinic to move to a new location. As we were leaving, literally just about to load buses, we had a man show up wanting to be baptized. He had been there earlier in the day and came back to be baptized. We had already emptied the pool but we happened to have a barrel of water. So, we made lemonade out of lemons. The man got into the barrel and we baptized him!
Today we were at our new location but because of complications we were unable to open the medical clinic during the day. We focused on evangelism. We broke into teams and assigned blocks to knock on doors and we hit the pavement and were out for most of the day. Many home Bible studies were conducted today resulting in some of those people then coming to the gospel meeting tonight! Today was filled with hitting the pavement and sharing God's word. Looking forward to the clinic being open tomorrow! - April Peden

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July 19th

Sunday2Sunday at Somoto Hotel Colonial

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Sunday3Day 2 - We arrived in Somoto around 2:30am and most were in bed by 3:30. Our hotel is has all the amenities we need along with a beautiful outdoor courtyard. We arose this morning to the sounds of Somoto's town clock. We were very tired after such a long night but after a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast of beans and rice (and other sides) we were ready to get to work. The location for our clinic is about five miles away. Due to the long distance we will only be at this location for two days. We traveled a short distance on narrow dirt roads with some tight turns but our excellent bus driver got us to where we needed to be. Once the medicines were delivered to us we got to work. Placing medicines in bags, labeling, and organizing them in the pharmacy room. The location itself is fantastic. We have rooms where we can take patients for privacy along specific place to safely keep the medicines. We finished the work for the day around 4pm and headed back to the hotel. Right now we have a few minutes of downtime but plan to have Sunday service in just an hour and dinner after that. It has been a long day but a very productive day. Even with the lack of a full night's sleep everyone was up and willing to get the work done. Please continue to pray for our efforts here and also for good nights rest!

"Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving."
Colossians 4:2 - April Peden

July 18th

Day 1 - We landed safely in Managua last night with all of our luggage! We've already had quite a few memorable moments that have kept us laughing. Like Pat bringing a bubble maker GUN through TSA, Laura being pooped on by an owl during our short devotional last night, or when David froze Juan in the hotel room to the point his water bottle froze! Today we will await the arrival of the three other groups. The latest group will arrive after 8pm. Once we all gather at the hotel we will load our buses (or whatever our Nicaragua transportation will be) and head to Somoto. John believes we will arrive around midnight (2 am Georgia time). All medical supplies are in Somoto waiting on us. In the meantime, we have awoken to a beautiful day here in Nicaragua. We will take these few hours of down time to rest for tonight's journey to our destination. Thank you for your prayers and continued prayers of safe travel and open hearts. Please pray that each member on the team can use their gifts to the fullest extent to give glory to God. - April Peden for the team

"These are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all" 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

TravelSelfieJuly 17th

NicaraguaTeam2015webPlease pray for our Nicaragua Mission Team headed today to Somoto to assist in an evangelistic and medical campaign conducted by Latin American Missions. Through the planting and watering of God's word and with His increase, a congregation of His people will be planted, as there is currently no congregation is in that local area. Through their medical services, the physical needs of many will be met which will provide an avenue by which they can share the true need that we each have - a relationship with Jesus Christ. Check back here for more updates as they serve.

Scotland BYG Mission Trip 2015

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

See the complete blog page for all details (click on continue reading). Daily summaries, team member blogs and photos have been added to you can share in the excitement of the opportunities in Scotland for the Lord's church! Continue to pray for the Christians serving there and people to hear and accept the Gospel.

Team Member Blogs when asked:

1. Spiritually, how or where did you grow the most from this trip?

2. What did you learn the most about yourself from this trip?

3. What did you learn about God and/or His Church on this trip?

4. How will you continue to be a servant now that you are home?

Isaac May

This was my 2nd year in a row going to the UK but a much different experience than the first. With only half the people and not nearly as much time, the goals, missions, and memories were definitely a change from last year’s trip. We had more breathtaking moments this year with the mountain overlook, waterfall, and small room to sing loudly and amazingly to God, which really gave me a new perspective as to the power of God and what he can do for us and what he has already done for the world. I pray that I can come back for years to come and continue to help Scott and the Perth Church of Christ continue to grow.

-       The thing I grew the most with on this trip was how to really sit down and study the Bible in depth whether I am by myself or with a group. I had multiple amazing Bible studies throughout the course of this trip and I truly believe I can continue to strive with the knowledge I’ve gained on how to study the Bible during my time in Scotland.

-       The thing I learned the most about myself this trip is that I love working with kids and they tend to like me (for the most part) so I should spend a lot more time reaching out to the younger kids at Buford. I had a great time with all the kids that showed up for the HBC Bible Camp and I feel I can build relationships with the youth at Buford.

-       I learned that God and His church will strive no matter how much resistance there is or how many people are fighting against it. Last year we were grateful enough to meet Annette in one of our coffee shop Bible studies and to have her join the church and continue in the church as we saw this year. Her two grandsons (Blaze and Diesel) had come to a bible study with her one day in which she told us that she’s been trying to get them to come to the youth club at Perth but their mom wouldn’t let them. After months of their mom keeping them away, Diesel came up to Todd and asked him what time HBC would be the next morning and him and his brother ended up coming to serve God with us. No matter how much people try to extinguish the Lord’s church, it will continue to grow and strive.

-       In one of our Bible studies, after studying a few verses at a time, we would always close out the set of verses with an “I will…” statement. So my statement after being on this trip is “I will always acknowledge God and His power/might no matter how much resistance I receive from those not a part of the Lord’s church.

I can not begin to explain how much this trip, the adult leaders, and my peers have meant to me while being in Scotland this year, but I know that it gives me an extra “spiritual boost” that I will always try to carry with me during my life no matter where I am. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read these messages and keep us in your prayers while we were gone, the trip wouldn’t have gone the same without everyone’s support.

Hannah Read

Like a couple of other people, this is my 2nd year getting to come on the Scotland trip and I’m very grateful that I did. This year has been very different from last year, but I think that is for the best because it means that things are actually starting to change. On my first trip, there wasn’t an established church in Perth yet and we were there to help promote the church to come. This year we were able to meet and participate with the few members and got to help with HBC, which is like our VBS.

-       1. The area I think I grew most spiritually from would have to be the coffee shop bible studies. Every day we talked about something different and most of the time it was things that I was curious about. The first day we talked about Mark and continued a study I had started when I traveled abroad in Greece. I also liked the fact that the groups were so small. It was either one on one or 3-4 in a group. This made it easier to let everyone speak and ask questions. I know back home we don’t really do this kind of thing a lot so I really enjoyed the experience.

-       2. Being away from home all summer has really made me realize how much I’m going to miss everyone when I go off to college. Not just my family but my church family as well. Getting to spend time with all my friends in a different country spreading God’s word is one of those memories I will cherish for a lifetime.

-      3.  It was hard to see at first how what we did last year was helpful but coming back this year really showed me that we were actually making a difference. This year there were a few people that actually came to church on Sunday and a lot of people who came to the gospel meetings that we had. Slowly but surely the church in Perth is growing and I’m just glad I could’ve been part of that.

-      4.  I will continue to have a keep at it attitude when talking to people about God. Even though going out and finding people and trying to talk to them about God isn’t really my forte, I think that if I just don’t lose hope and give up I will be help more people. Another thing that I would like to continue is studying the bible like we did in the coffee shops. I got so much out those bible studies and I think that a lot of other people would too.

This trip has been an amazing experience and I loved the group of people that got to go this year. We had so much fun and we really bonded with the people in Perth as well. Our night time excursions were probably one of my favorite parts of the trip just because it was fun and relaxing. Being in Scotland was great but now that we are heading home I’m glad to share everything we’ve learned with our family and friends.

Jake Davis

1.This mission trip was divided into many sections. There was the HBC (Holiday Bible Club) which every teen was involved in. My section happened to be the class section which is where I worked with Isaac and Mikayla May on teaching a children’s Bible class for four days in a vbs type setting. Being that this Bible class was for very young children, I didn’t necessarily learn the most during that section but I feel like I’ve grown the most from it. I’ve taught classes before but those were with people who had a decent amount of Bible knowledge. Here in Scotland, only one or two of the children had some amount of Bible knowledge. Jesus was just a far off thought or a concept to most of them that they didn’t really understand or even think about. Because of that, I think that spiritually, I grew the most during those four days of teaching than I did anywhere else on the trip. If I had to pick a second, it would be our personal Bible studies. We would have Bible studies every day after the HBC in Starbucks and Café Nero (another coffee house) and during these studies we had people wandering the streets of Perth outside the coffee houses inviting the people to the HBC and to the coffee houses to have Bible studies. Doing this I gained a lot of experience talking to random people and striking up conversations about God that I might not do every day in my normal life. When I wasn’t on the streets I was having Bible studies with a few others of the group and those were some of the best Bible studies I’ve ever had. It wasn’t two people debating a topic or talking about a matter of personal interest, it was just two or three Christians talking together and just diving right into God’s word and learning new things.

2.I learned a lot about myself on this trip. The main thing I learned is that I’m pretty good at talking casually to random people about God. In the very beginning of evangelizing the streets of Perth, it was a little disheartening because after three or so hours, we didn’t get a single response out of anyone. However, by the latter half of the trip I learned to adjust to the culture and developed my conversation style to where I was getting a response almost every time I would talk to someone.

3.In respects to God and His Church, I learned that it’s not the same in other countries as it is in America. Since Scotland is a fairly advanced country and since it has many Christian ties I assumed most people would know at least a little bit about the church and God. However, I was very wrong. So what it boils down to is I learned that for the most part, the people the people of Scotland honestly don’t know God. The church is tiny. Not the congregations, but the church. The church as a brotherhood is very small in Scotland as compared to America.

I will treat every day of my life as if I were on a mission trip. There’s the sign on the inside above the front doors to the Buford Church of Christ that says “You are now entering the mission field.” I’ve learned that there is no truer statement. This mission trip in Scotland was eye opening for me. It was also extremely encouraging for all the brethren of Scotland we came in contact with but I must remember that just because I get home from a “mission trip” doesn’t mean the mission work ends. I will treat every day like I’m on a mission trip, because I am.

Julia Upchurch

            Though this has been repeated many times, it has found a new meaning in my life. God is good. God is good. GOD is good. “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1) Before this, I was new to evangelism and travel… actually anything to do with a mission trip. The thought was so surreal to me from the plane ride to meeting the kids for the first time. It was eye opening. None of these kids grew up with the kind of knowledge I have nor did they grow up learning about the Creator. However, every one of them had a kind, caring heart. I changed at HBC since most of the time I ended up learning from them. It was a mutual relationship where we both discovered new outlooks on life and on each other. Even though some of those kids came from a bad part of life or a worldly home, they acted positively and making the most of it. I realized that I have a tendency to speak before thinking, and this trip helped me to hold it and think because our goal was to draw people near and not push them away. God helped me through this by the patience He gave. Without it I would not have been able to talk to the people on the street with a sincere attitude and mindset. And I will say that I was not the first that became discouraged from those days. Instead, it made me feel strong and empowered. I will flourish over the temptation of Satan. I will live my life in accordance to God’s plan. I will be the best I can be to live up to His standards. As commonly stated, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Alexis Smith

1.There were so many different places we went and things we did so it’s hard to choose one, but if I had to choose it would probably be the mountain. To be honest there is no way to describe it. Up on that mountain I truly realized that God was in complete 100% control over my life and over everything. Any way you turned all you could see was God’s glorious creation. We sat on the edge of the mountain and sung praises to God, the creator of everything. It was just such a humbling experience that made realize that I am not my own but I am God’s and I am here to work for Him.

2. I learned that I am capable of a lot more than I think I am I just have to actually try. For me that ranged from doing things like talking to people on the street about God to playing soccer. Yes, I realize that those two things are very different. This trip has helped me to realize that I can truly do anything with God.

3.First I learned that God is in control of everything! Absolutely everything! I also learned that sometimes the smallest churches can be the most passionate. I have never heard singing like I did that first Sunday at the Cumbernauld church of Christ. It was so inspiring to see all of the people who came to the worship services or the gospel meetings and how they were just so eager to learn about God.

4.I will try and tell as many people about God as I can no matter where it might be. Because of this trip I got to see a city that didn’t have God and honestly it was heartbreaking knowing that they don’t have God to lean on. While we were talking to some people on the streets, a couple of the questions we asked were “Do you believe in God?” and “Do you believe in heaven?” and almost everyone said that they didn’t. When they said that they didn’t believe I wondered what they thought they were living for. If not for God than for what? I heard them say that they didn’t think that there was anything after this life and honestly I don’t understand how they deal with it all. We as Christians know when we wake up every morning that God is there and He will always be there. We know that we have this incredible thing called eternal life together with Him if we follow Him. So with all of that being said, I am going to tell everyone I can about God because as Nicholas always said “How much do you have to hate someone for you to not tell them about God?”

Jared Davis

            As a couple of people have mentioned before this is my second mission trip to the UK. Because this was my second trip it had a different meaning for me and affected me differently than last year.

1.I grew the most on this trip probably from the coffee shop bible studies that I was a part of every day. Just being able to block off two or three hours a day to sit down and delve into Gods word with the intention not only to draw other people in but to further our own knowledge of the scripture was truly a blessing.

2.Over the duration of this trip I have learned that sometimes I have a hard time keeping a positive attitude. When going to a country to teach the word it is difficult to stay positive when you receive negative or no reaction. The best way I have found to cope with that discouragement is in the scripture that I chose to do my devo on. Isaiah 41:10 Fear not for I am with you, Do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

3.I learned on this trip that Gods church is truly alive and well in Scotland, and the people there are ready for God to work through them. Every member of the lords church in Scotland that I have met in my two years of doing mission work there is zealous for the Lord’s work and are great examples not only to the people of Scotland but also to us as visitors. I truly believe that they were more of an encouragement to me than I was to them.

4.I will strive never miss an opportunity to serve. I will strive to live the life that God commanded me to live. I know I will fail because I am not and never will be acceptable to God on my own, But Christ’s blood clenses and covers me from all sin, so that I might be able to stand in Gods presence one day as a clean and sinless creation.

Danyon Maugeri

1.I think that I grew the most during this trip from the times I had to pray and song lead. I am not used to praying in front of people and definitely not leading singing so those two things I think kinda pushed me to grow spiritually.

2.I think that the song leading also helped me to find out more about myself. I did something that was out of my comfort zone and doing so stretched my limits beyond what I thought they were.

3.One big thing I learned is that no matter where you are in the world you will feel at home when you are around other Christians. When we were headed over to Scotland I was a little worried of the people and whether or not I would get a long and build relationships with them or not. From the moment I got there though I felt welcomed and I felt like I had known these people my entire life. I learned that there are Christians all over the world and we are all connected, so no matter how far apart we are from each other we are still one giant family.

4.During this trip I had to try a lot of new things such as song leading and even a devotional. Though they were a bit shaky and could definitely use some improvement I would really like to continue to work on them and serve in ways I haven’t been able to serve before.

Katelyn Newman

1.This is my third trip to Scotland and every time I go I grow even more and in totally different ways. This trip I learned that I can do anything I put my mind to. For example, spiritually I was apart of the craft group for our VBS, and physically I hiked two mountains which taught me that the path to what ever the destination is maybe be hard and long, you may not get to see what the end looks like but once you get there you never want to leave all you want to do is sing praises to our Lord.

2. This year I am going to college and this trip has helped me see that I will be ok in a place that I am not used toIt grew my independence and took my teammates and turned them into my family.

3.On this trip one of my favorite things was when we would go into the town and we would split up into different groups. Last year I participated in the surveys so I changed it up this year; I joined the coffee house bible studies. Usually I am not one to want to do that but it was the best decision I made. My favorite day was the last day of our VBS Jared, Jeremy and I talked about what happens after death. After three hours of talking about it I left much more confident about where I stand with my Lord.

4.Coming home from this trip I realize that this probably be my last time attending the Scotland mission trip with the church. As that is saddening it means that I have grown up and as I may not be young anymore I am still in my youth. I am starting college and although I am going to a christen school I have chosen a career path that will put me in situations that will give me the opportunity to tell more people abut God and shine my light as bright as I can.

Mikayla May

1.I think the way I grew most spiritually from this trip is in a way I didn’t expect to grow. I learned to appreciate God more and to see Him and His power throughout my everyday life. I learned to take time each day to sit back and just think about God and all He stands for, and that He can be seen in my life every day if I would take the time to look for Him.

2.What I learned about myself is that I really need to step back and stop nit-picking myself so much. I have a bad habit of having to be in control, and if I would just let go and go with the flow every once in a while my life would be so much better. I am definitely not in control, God is, and I learned that there are times when I don’t honor that and I don’t allow Him to have His way with me.

3.What I learned about God’s church is that it is alive and well! It amazes me that there are so many groups in the UK striving to worship God the way He wants to be worshiped. The churches there don’t have the numbers that Buford has, but they sure have the heart and spirit. It also amazed me how comfortable it felt to be with them. I think that’s the way God intended it to be, that you can come together with a group of people you’ve never met and feel so at home because you both share a special bond in and through Christ.

4.I will show others the love of Christ through my everyday actions. I will take time each day to reflect on the beauty of God and all that He is. I want people to look at me and know that I’m different, and that I’m different because I know I have a Savior who laid down His life for me. How powerful is that! “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love!”

Alexa Sherman

1.This trip has had a huge impact on my spiritual growth. Everyday we faced new challenges that helped me go out of my comfort zone. From approaching strangers and asking them about God, to teaching groups of children about the Bible, I definitely grew in my relationship with God. Not only did this trip let me learn more about the Bible but also it put some things into retrospect. I realized that I have no idea how much longer I will be on this earth and that I must start studying my Bible and focusing on my spirituality much more than I have been in the past. I also learned that God is truly in every aspect of the world and that it only takes a few seconds to take a break from the chaos of the world to appreciate His great power.

2.I always knew I wanted to pursue a career that would guarantee the ability to help others and this trip has just proved to me that it is what I am put on this earth to do. I realized that I am best in situations that allow me to comfort and provide care for others.

3.Being able to work with people who truly love God and want to dedicate their life to spreading His word show me how great and powerful of a God we have. Not only the people I got to spend the trip with but also the fact that we were constantly surprised with beautiful landscapes God created was insanely reassuring that heaven is going to be no doubt the most beautiful thing ever to exist. I learned that God is a merciful, powerful God that is ceaselessly working wonders in our lives and that He has the awesome ability to bring us all to tears at the sight of His creations.

4.I will, for as long as I’m given life, work my hardest to follow The Way and shine God’s light to all the souls I encounter.

Todd Newman

This is my 2nd mission trip to the UK and 1st with sole focus in one city. In 2014 we worked in Sheffield/Loughborough England and Perth Scotland since Perth had not yet established a congregation. However since the 2014 mission trip there is fruit being produced via two congregations started in November from our visit in Loughborough and Perth. Because of these fruit bearing congregations, I was able to grow by

  • Being a better spiritual encourager for my brothers and sisters in the UK who are keeping the Body of Christ alive and my Buford Christian family on the trip to keep planting the seeds and watering so the USA will not fall into the same traps Satan has built for the UK and other countries. God is in control and more powerful that man, man’s laws, Satan or any other forces.
  • For Scott in Perth at 24 years of age, he needs so much encouragement as only 3 or 4 are members at the Perth congregation with 18 to 20 youth from Perth attending the weekly youth clubs. I can’t imagine how hard it is for a young man only 5 years being a Christian continues to press on for The Lord with so many other temptations from Satan to follow society trends vs God.
  • For Paul Hill in Leicester (who visited us in Edinburgh on Saturday) who left being the preacher for Loughborough for many years and many of his physical family to start a new congregation with his wife Janet and 3 of 6 children. Since November, 15 Christians have been restored in Leicester and others moving into the city/region has grown from 9 Christians worshipping to almost 50. The amount of effort to lead a new congregation, secure funds for the facilities, making visits to members, canvassing the city of 500K where there is only 1 Church of Christ and continuing to do his secular job is taxing and the Hill’s need all the encouragement we can offer.
  • Encouragement goes both ways though. Seeing how Scott, Paul and others are continuing to work for The Lord encourages me to keep shining my Light for God like Christ no matter what is thrown at me by Satan to distract or divert me from serving, planting and watering for God! Seeing the BYG youth and chaperone team work long hours with no real complaints, adjust where we needed for plans and pressing forward even though no one from Perth community attended our Gospel meeting/Bible studies encourages me for who they are and what they stand for God.  

As for what I learned about myself, the old sayings are true, if there is a will there is way, mind over matter, 98% sweat equity vs 2% inspiration and I can do all things through God.

Katie May

My heart is soaring after reading the blogs written by the kids, MY kids as I call them now. I feel as I felt that whole time we were there....that I should just be silent and let them talk. They amazed me each day with their willingness to serve in any capacity thrown at them, their genuine love and compassion for the sweet kids who came our way, their zeal for God and His ways, and their humbling support of each other. I was truly blessed to be able to sit back and take it all in. We were awe-struck at God's beautiful creation so many times on this trip, but I realized that there is something far more beautiful than anything that nature has to offer. That's His people. God's children following Him, working together to serve Him and spread His love, and exhorting one another as we look forward to that glorious Day. When the church comes together and follows His plan the way He intended it to be, it is most certainly a beautiful thing to behold.
I was most humbled by the church in Scotland and their courage and strength to keep pressing on despite the adversity and apathy they face on a constant basis. It can be very discouraging I'm sure, and Satan would love nothing more than for them to throw their hands up in defeat and say it is hopeless. Yet they keep going, keep sharing, keep showing Scotland the love of Christ, and remain faithful week after week, day after day. That is all God calls us to do, and that is what I will take away from this trip the most. I need to remember that here in my day to day life. Being in Scotland could cause one to come home feeling completely hopeless, that this world has fully forgotten God and is doomed. Yet, it did just the opposite for me. My cup is overflowing with hope and joy. Scott's life and passion, along with the others before him who led him to Christ, simply exude hope. The gospel is still alive and sharp, and it can pierce the hardest of hearts in Scotland, the US, and anywhere across the world. We just need to do our part and share it. We got to see so much history of the Reformation and the courage those saints had and what they were up against, that we realized we can do anything with God on our side. So let's get to work! I WILL "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Rayleen Upchurch

                  This is my first mission trip. This trip was the most amazing thing for me. I felt God’s presence from the green landscape to the incredible people that are residing here. I was pretty nervous coming to a foreign country and not sure how the trip was going to work out. However, the moment we met Scott, Adam and Graham I knew we were in good hands. Scott has done a lot for God in Perth. He is on fire all the time. It was nice being in his presence and wanting to be fired up too. I felt that God was already soothing my fears by letting me know things will be okay. I found myself walking up to strangers (Cumbernaud Church of Christ) and having some amazing conversations. I found people who I consider lifelong friends now and I know that is God working in my life and theirs. I met Annette who is a strong woman on faith. She has shown incredible perseverance even when it would be so much easier to just give up. She has two grandsons who need our prayers to continue on the right path. I also met Leah and Sheila. They were easy to talk to in our short time together. It’s wonderful to have a connection with someone you just met. I feel like God’s guidance was with me daily to be a part of His bigger plan. The children were very special as well. They were very eager to learn more about God from us. I hope it will continue even though we are gone. Our own BYG kids were just amazing. They stepped right up and did any task that was necessary. All the lessons, crafts, and games went well and enticed the camp kids to want to come back the next day. All of our BYG kids are special but I noticed these things from the trip. Jake, Jared, Isaac and Danyon can all lead songs, prepare thoughtful devotionals, and pray from the heart. The girls encouraged the lessons, made crafts fun and played games with the children. It warmed my heart to see the kids want to come back every day. One sweet boy, Luke, said he was glad he didn’t go to camp and came to our Holiday Bible Camp instead. He also was sad that it was ending. This proves to me that God was in our midst daily working and using us as vessels.

                  Being around the gorgeous nature that takes your breath away daily, I felt like I was walking with God. I felt like I could talk to Him and He was with me. I am challenged to read more and find Him so I can get closer to Him. I learned that a mission trip is about the relationship you have with people. You can change your home, work and church relationships by being a light for Christ. I have learned to be an encourager and be thankful for what we have at home. We are very blessed at Buford and in America. I never want to take my spiritual relationship for granted again. It is important to be aware of scripture, prayers, and just going to church. Our team had a common goal to bring connection into Scotland. I feel like we did that by planting the seeds for God. I want to strive to plant seeds here at home as well. This trip has changed me. I am forever grateful to the Buford congregation and the BYG for allowing me to grow spiritually, get out of my comfort zone, and spread the word of God wherever I am.

Jeremy Pate

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Scotland with 10 teens from the BYG (Jared & Jake Davis, Isaac & Mikayla May, Alexis Smith, Alexa Sherman, Danyon Maugeri, Hannah Read, Katelyn Newman, and Julia Upchurch) and 3 other adults (Todd Newman, Katie May and Rayleen Upchurch). We left on July 3rd, and returned on July 13th. Our group went to Scotland for several specific reasons:

 1.To support and encourage Scott Tominey as he strives to plant and grow a local congregation of God’s people in the city of Perth, Scotland

2.To put on a 4-day VBS-style day camp for some of the youth of Perth. This involved crafts, games, and Bible classes and was done entirely by our BYG teens. The theme was “CONNECTION”

3.To do a 3-night Gospel Meeting for the church at Perth. Our young men led the singing & prayers while I preached each night. The theme was “CONNECTION”

4.To do some sightseeing in the UK

 As with every mission trip I’ve ever been a part of, my experience may have ministered to me as much or more than it ministered to those we went to help/serve. I was challenged, encouraged, stretched, and blessed in ways that I couldn’t have expected. I’d like to share some of my experiences in this week’s blog post.

First of all, I couldn’t be more impressed with or encouraged by the 10 young people we took on this trip. They worked hard during the months preceding the trip; they worked hard while we were in Scotland; and they had a fantastic attitude during the entire process. We did not have ONE SINGLE PROBLEM while we were in Scotland together, and this is a testament to their parents, grandparents, and the teens themselves. We laughed together (a lot), we cried together, we walked together (a lot), we worked together, we flew together, we played together, we ate together, we sang together, we prayed together, we witnessed God together; in short, we did everything together. It was a privilege and an honor to serve our Lord with these outstanding young people during this trip.

I was also greatly encouraged by the congregations at Cumbernauld and Perth. Although the Perth congregation is very small, and still in its planting stage, I know that the Lord will give the increase and bless His Church in Perth. These Christians are so warm, inviting, and filled with love for God and for one another; they are truly an inspiration. In a culture that is almost anti-God, the body of Christ in Scotland is truly a tight-knit family that seeks to spread the Gospel to everyone around them. It was a joy to spend time with them and to worship our Lord together with them.

Although there were many “moments” on this trip, I suppose my favorites would have to be these two:

1.We hiked up a hill together on Tuesday night and found one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen. It took our breath away, inspired us in inexpressible ways, and provided the kind of perspective that only God can provide. Our group bonded on this hill in ways that we could have never planned or foreseen. It was an unexpected blessing and an unforgettable experience.

2.On Wednesday night, we hiked to a waterfall and found a small room (called a “folly”). We sang praises to God for nearly 45 minutes in this dark room with some of the most beautiful acoustics I’ve ever heard. The group sounded like a legion of angels as we praised our God together and encouraged one another. I know that some of the teens recorded it on their phones, but trust me when I tell you…you had to be there:)

Words fail to capture these kinds of experiences, but let me say this: if you ever have an opportunity to go to Scotland and work with the Church there, you should definitely go. It was a huge blessing and a life-changing experience.

Daily summaries:

July 13th

Headinghome webGreetings to you from somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean!  We are on our last leg of flights for our journey home to our Buford and our family!  

All are excited to be coming home but also saddened to leave our brothers and sisters in Perth/Cumbernauld and Scott.  Goodbyes are never easy, especially when we have grown to love Perth, the youth there, Annette and Scott.  However, we know because of our Christian faith if we don't ever get back to Scotland, we will see Annette, Scott and hopefully others we planted the seed with for God in Perth in heaven.  A part of all of our lives will now have a special place forever in Scotland from the last 10 days we spent there.  

We will all soon forget the
• long flights
• pains from walking many miles a day
• discomforts of our hotel with hard beds/low water pressure/some with cold showers on our last morning
• no hand wash clothes
• things and comforts we really did not miss from home
• hours without WiFi
• hills/stairs we climbed
• ever changing weather (which by Scotland terms was spectacular week),
• frustration of trying to figure out what coins to use or the exchange rate for a cup of coffee
• small cars and tight quarters
• getting directions somewhere when a motorway = our interstate, dual carriage way = our 4 lane highway, a single carriage way = our roads, a round about = our traffic lights, etc
• walking up/down stairs on the left, walking on the sidewalk on the left and riding on the left side of the road
• importance of looking left vs right when crossing the road or when a traffic light turns from red to yellow it means go for cars before it turns green
• unthinkable of having no ice for drinks or air conditioning
• paying for plastic bags at the store
• eating out of a bag paper bags vs on plates for take away
• confusing words/terms/signs like chips = fries; crisp = chips; biscuits = cookies; scone = looks like a biscuit; queue = standing in a line; pants = your underwear, our peace sign = something vulgar; to let = rent; mind the gap = watch your step; toilet or water closet = our rest/bath room; the meanings of alight/rubbish/bin/aye, the pronunciation or spelling of some words like organise, enquire, Scottish drop their "T" when not at the beginning of a word Scottish = Scuoish or computer = compuer, Eric making it hard to understand them, especially when they talk fast, etc
But replace them with all the warm, refreshing, joyful, friendly, caring, loving, etc memories we have of our Christian brothers and sisters of Scotland, the beauty of the country and the experiences we all grew from HBC, surveying, Bible studies, Gospel meeting, singing from the heart, our unexpected journeys, our sightseeing excursions and the laughs/tears/hugs/growth we all shared together as BYG.  

Scotland is beyond words for beauty which God shaped for all, the spirit of the people is alive and joyous, the water is as cold and pure as you can ever imagine and the weather is always changing to accentuate the countryside with a touch of briskness, freshness and water.  But more importantly a beautiful mission field for the workers of The Lord to plant, water and harvest.  Scott, the Body of Christ at Cumbernauld/Perth and the 10 to 12 other congregations in Scotland are full of hope, readiness and desire to bring others to God.  The real beauty of Scotland is in these brothers and sisters continuing to hold to The Way in a mission field with promise.  The youth in Scotland want something better than their parents and society have left them and are willingly open to hearing The Word.  Please include in your prayers for the hearts of these youth to be opened for the seed to be planted by the workers, accept the watering, sprout and grow in due time according to God's plan to bear fruit. Also pray for the adults there to allow their hardened hearts against "organized religion" to be opened through the youth and workers in Perth.  

The seeds we helped plant over the last 10 days we might never see the growth or the fruit but we all know the  power of God is greater than anything we can imagine.  Let His Will be done through Scott and the others workers in Perth.  Let the encouragement and growth we gained from this trip allow us to be stronger for The Lord upon our return.  Let our Light shine brighter for Christ in an ever darkening USA where God is being removed so we don't fall into the same traps of Satan as many countries around the World.  

As I close, a few fun facts -- 8 had never been on an international trip, 2 have never flown, 8 had never been on a train and all of us collectively walked on average 110 miles a day or over 1,000 for the week!  Next I want to thank you for allowing me to share from my perspective as 1 of 14 my experiences from the 2015 Scotland trip.  I have grown!  Finally, I encourage you to talk to each about the trip when you see them next and check out their stories on social media and the BCOC Mission sight for blogs.  You should be very proud to serve side-by-side with these brothers and sisters at Buford for Christ and ask you to continue to pray for their growth.  Time will allow all to realize how they have grown from this focused effort and hopefully pay it forward in the future for another mission trip. 

Thanks again for your support, love and prayers!  See you soon!

May God be and receive the glory from our efforts and fruit to come!

In Him

Todd

PS. The group arrived home safely. Thank you for the prayers during our trip!!

PIBC New Zealand Mission Trip 2015

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

NZ2015 Photo4
david-vickerscrwebpapamoa-churchwebOverview . . .

Hawkes Bay & South Auckland, New Zealand

    This year Pacific Islands Bible College classes were taught in Auckland by my dad, Richard Harp. I made my way down to Napier, New Zealand, in beautiful Hawkes Bay, and taught classes to the small group of Christians who worship at the Hawkes Bay church of Christ. There were five people in my nine day class on three New Testament books of Philemon, James and Jude. The classes went well with good attendance. I was able to teach classes and preach to the congregation there on one of the Sundays where seven were present.
    After the close of the classes, I was able to make my way to Tauranga to spend a few days with our family who lives there. I had not seen some of them for a couple of years, so it was a good reunion. We also had our daughter, Rebecca and granddaughter Emma to fly in and meet us in NZ. Brooke and William were also in the country for the time, so it was a nice family reunion of sorts. We spent about five days together, and during that time we were able to go and spend Sunday with the Papamoa church of Christ nearby. William taught the Bible Class that morning. I led the singing and did the preaching. Nine members worship there regularly. The Harp presence nearly doubled the attendance. In the afternoon Jenny and I were able to spend valuable time with old friends and co-workers, John and Dee Redmayne. John is the local preacher for the group.
    The church in New Zealand struggles like many small and outlying churches. However, they are some of the most wonderful people in the world. The people there are genuinely starved for the gospel, and for the encouragement that trips like this are able to provide. Thanks so much to our leadership here who has a vision for world missions.
-Scott

LadiesDayJenny1LadiesDayJenny2LadiesDayJenny4Our trip to New Zealand accomplished a lot. Scott encouraged several struggling congregations. His dad taught successful classes in Auckland. William Mc Curry taught a Bible class that encouraged and uplifted a small congregation in Papamoa.
And my family who are not Christians received my book, so even though they have resisted studying with Scott or I they have access to the gospel.

There is an incredible feeling when you look out at an audience and see faces from your past; my cousin, my children, the lady who's husband baptized me, my childhood friend of forty years and people we had worshiped with over twenty years ago. This was a special reunion and Ladies Day.

There I stood with a blackened sprained foot and an arm in a sling but you know I hardly felt those things. I felt a sense of gratefulness and peace.

We imagined ourselves to be on the mount Tabgha overlooking Galilee and I encouraged the ladies to be poor in spirit, to mourn their sins and to be meek. We had a break and then we learned more from Jesus' sermon on the mount, in two more lessons.

It was such a God filled day. It was an honor to launch Sister's at Sea, the book I wrote about great ships of the Bible. These ships are Partnership, Membership, Hardship, to name a few. And they didn't even have to pay shipping because that was provided. I felt peace because the beautiful Christians there now have a tool to help them evangelize. It is sobering to think that in my home country there are only about as many Christians as Buford has!

Thank you to the elders at Buford who have made the Pacific Island Bible College accessible to New Zealand. They need it so much.

-Jenny

 
July 4th & 5th
 
Day Five & Six

Kia Ora - again!

Waking up at 10 to 6 in the morning provides wonderful options in a beautiful country. Until yesterday, I have been waking up to beautifully clear skies and temperatures in the upper 40s. Getting out for a nice walk has been a good option. The marine parade that is about a mile in length provides a great way to get a glimpse at the rising sun. And just that was the outcome of my walk day before yesterday.

Fast forward to Saturday! Jenny is convalescing from her earlier in the week. She made the extra effort to get to Auckland for the Ladies Day sessions she taught. Over seventy ladies from area congregations were in attendance for the day’s festivities. A text during the sessions from Rebecca, our daughter, seemed to sound as if she was doing her things marvelously. She will have to send an update on the day when she gets some time. But I’m very proud of her for mushing forward through pain to do what needed to be done.

Sunday was a wonderful day here. I taught their class in the morning and preached the lesson at the worship period. My sermon was twice as long as usual because it was translated into Samoans present. The Hawkes Bay Church of Christ is small, and a struggling work. Seven members attend regularly. They desire greatly to get some help in the way of workers to come and guide them in a good way. They are meeting in a community hall in Napier, but are wanting to branch out to nearby Hastings. They desire that we bring a campaign back next year. So, we will have to discuss the possibilities.

PIBC classes are going well. We finished the book of James yesterday in an extended session. We will finish Jude on Tuesday evening, and have a final exam on Wednesday.

More to come!

 
July 3rd
 
NZ2015 Photo2NZ2015 Photo3Day Three

Kia Ora! (Maori for Hello!)

New Zealand lies about 17 time zones to our west. We crossed the international date line to get here, so we lost a day in transit. We left on Sunday and arrived Tuesday having only been in transit for about a day. No worries! We will make it up on our return, Lord willing!

On a disconcerting note, Jenny had an accident yesterday afternoon. Her sister’s family lives in a deep bush setting near the city of Tauranga. Their driveway goes through an area where, just to the side of it there is a drop off into some thick brush. It so happened as they were out for a walk that she lost footing, twisted her ankle and fell headlong down into the bush. With her sister’s assistance, she was able to make her way back to the driveway. Debbie drove her to the doctor’s office. After a lengthy wait (it seems to be a universal experience) the doctor told her it looked as if she had sprained her ankle and dislocated her shoulder. She was sent to the hospital emergency for assistance. At the hospital, X-rays confirmed their fears, and the shoulder was put back in place while Jenny was being sustained by laughing gas. (Those that know Jenny can only imagine what that must have done to her! LoL!) Anyway, she was release with a sling, and told to not lift or reach for anything for a week.

Now, this has happened just as she is to make her way to Auckland where she is to speak three times at a Ladies Day function. They expect above seventy women at the event on Saturday morning (Friday afternoon, home time!) So, be praying for her. She is in a lot of pain, but she is committed to getting the job done.

Meanwhile, a couple hundred miles south, I continued my class last evening. We began our study on the book of James. There were six of us in the class, but the study was successful and encouraging to all. While there I noticed a book that belonged to one of the brothers there. It was a sermon outline book by Robert Martin, our missionary to the Pacific Islands. Seeing the frayed outer cover reminded me of how important the work he has done over the years has been to the good folks in so many places in this region. It is an honor to build upon the foundations he and others have laid.

More to come!

China Mission Trip 2015

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

Team Members Blog about the trip:

childrenfacesKim Gibson . . .

Every trip to China has been so different. We never know what to expect with the people, the small vans, new friends, the translators, the shopping, the food and the fellowship.

The fellowship never fails. The children and the caregivers are ready for us with smiles and hugs. We sing together, play together and sometimes pray together (while realizing that our teaching these children the Word of God is illegal).  We try to share an unspoken love of God hoping to let them know there is so much more in this life and after for them.

To describe the food I only say "rice".  We have rice with potatoes, spicy beans, unknown bony meats, slimy okra and stewed tomatoes. We went through many bottles of soy sauce our 7 days. John and Ben did find a open market that would make stir fried noodles for a $1. We became regulars visitors mornings and night at the end of our week.

Our translators this year were answer to prayers. We had Rebecca from a private school volunteer her time and knowledge as she will be a great help with visas if we are able to begin the exchange student program. Our friend Lana joined us from Beijing and stayed with Abby and I in our room. She is a Christian converted while she lived in the states in 2005 and has a sad story. Leo (a Chinese accounting teacher) volunteered from a college many  miles away. He led singing in our services which was so amazing that I believe we few singers totally competed with the Angels.  It was so beautiful.  Max also came for the third year to be with our group.  I don't really know what Max does.

Last year we met a group from Texas and they joined us again this year. This is their 5th year in the care center. We all work so well together and truly bonded.  We had classes on the fruits of the Spirit.  We shared the left over VBS t-shirts and kids wore them all week. We played many games including spoons, basketball, games with beach balls and badminton. We had a class with just girls while the men took the boys and we talked about caring for our bodies as God wants us to.  We had crafts, books, how to draw books with supplies for art.  We made bracelets with beads to represent Christ, blood, learning and eternity along with purity.

We ended most nights (and  our rainy afternoons) to project movies on the wall speaking in English and subtitled in Chinese. We considered this another English lesson each day. The kids were mesmerized with frozen, mulan, big hero 6 and bolt.

We love China and want to share our Lord with the people. Stan is hoping to have a retreat with the caregivers from the centers in the near future. It will be a great help for them to know how to teach their people and spread the Gospel more effectively within their very different culture.

And there was NO shopping

friends2friends3Abby Gibson . . .

The thought of going to China was awesome but also gave me butterflies in my stomach thinking about how bad it might be there. When we arrived,  I realized it isn't  bad at all but very different. I loved going being there and playing with the children and experiencing the food. Where we were stayed was not smoggy so we were lucky to not have problems with the air.  We could see how heavy it was as we flew out of Beijing The weather is normally in the 90's but we didn't get anything over 80 degrees and it was amazing. Now the language barrier.... That was a huge difficulty but we worked through it with our translators and LOTS of hand signals. It wasn't easy for us to teach the word of God but we found  ways by teaching them English words like kindness, gentleness, friendship, ....The Fruits of the Spirit. We had a few devotionals with those that had been baptized in private and any of those that wanted to join to sing and listen to God's word. The singing was beautiful when we sang our own language and put them together. I can't wait to return on 2016!

gamesshoppingTaylor Jansen . . .

The trip to China was one full of different kinds of emotions: happiness because these kids were filled with so much joy and kindness, sadness when it was time to leave them, admiration in the kids because they had so little but they were so happy with what they had, and so much love for the kids. The kids had such big wonderful hearts and were so willing and happy to be spending time with us. They loved the games and crafts we brought for them and they showed us some of their games, as we taught them English they would teach us Chinese. We were very lucky to be able to have a worship service with some of the kids, we sang in unison in English and Chinese- to me this was probably the most inspiring thing from the trip. Hearing the songs we sing (Jesus Loves Me, Thank You Lord, When We All Get To Heaven ) and being able to hear them sing while sitting next to some of these kids who live across the world from us was showing that we are never alone and it was a bigger inspiration to keep striving to get to Heaven. Leaving the care center on the last night was a bittersweet moment because we were leaving these wonderful kids who had all made a special place in our hearts but we were so blessed to be able to meet the beautiful people over there and come back with a greater appreciation for all that we have. –

workingfriendsJohn Iverson . . .

The experience in China was once again an amazing Journey.  I am reminded of a quote by Mark Twain who wrote, 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime”.  

When I see the struggle and the sorrows of the millions of Chinese who have NO knowledge of a Loving God, the All Mighty Father in Heaven and His son, Our Savior, my life is forever transformed and my mind renewed (Rom. 12:2).  I realize that the knowledge of Christ gives me power to rise above my circumstances and provides me with an opportunity to live the life as a child of the Almighty King who has given me the opportunity to invite others into the realms of HIS kingdom.  Thus it becomes incumbent on me to share the GOOD NEWS (Mark 16:15) that Jesus Lives.  I am humbled by children (and Adults) in China who are searching for the meaning of life.  Through this experience, I have learned that God is the answer to all of life’s struggles (2 Peter 1:3).  With God, all things become possible (Matt. 19:26).  Now what I have to do is learn how to convince others.

Ben Burnette . . .

benThis year's trip to China was very different the year before!  Compared to the gallons of sweat we lost last year, the weather was perfect the entire time at a cool 70 degrees and we only saw the sun once! The kids bonded with us a lot quicker than last year and we were able to play games and call them by name from the first full day there! My favorite experience was a hike we went on one afternoon. The kids led us first to a cave, where all of the men of Luxi play mahjong, and then up a mountain to the local Buddhist temple. Seeing an ancient culture so close and personal is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. Worshiping with the brothers and sisters in both English and Chinese was also a very wonderful thing to be a part of!

Julie Jansen . . .

worship8Our trip to China was unforgettable and an adventure the whole time.  The food on the Air China flight was interesting, most of it a bit of a mystery but could always recognize the rice lots of rice.  On the way to the Care Center we Survived a VERY crowded van ride that couldn't possibly have held another thing, calling out names for wellness checks to some who couldn't be seen because of luggage or having to find a sitting spot by squeezing your body to make it work.  At one point wishing we were in a boat as the driver passed a car stuck in some rushing water (needless to say we got out feeling much closer) :)   At the Care Center I was glad to see the sweet faces of the kids, remembering many from last year.   Loved our translators Max (helped 3 years in a row) & Lana (2nd year) we were blessed with meeting more Christian translators there that made communicating nice & easy.   School was out, so there was a smaller number of kids this year but realized that I would be able to give the kids more individual attention.  Everything done gave the kids something new & fun to do everyday (loved watching everyone getting involved (even the teachers & translators) making bracelets, drawing, coloring, word search (words only in English-if it were Chinese words, I would still be sitting there) and an attempt was made to teach us how to knit & crochet.  
Kim brought a projector to watch movies on the big screen (which was the lunchroom wall & a sheet in the hall). I have never seen so many kids (teachers & workers) so mesmerized by watching a movie speaking a foreign language (CC-in Chinese). She was also asked to teach the girls about hygiene.
Our BYG were So involved with everything involving the kids, playing badminton, basketball, dodgeball, ping pong, making chalk art, singing church & fun songs, playing charades and making crafts.   Addie & Taylor were busy playing many games (Addie's favorite was badminton)  Abby kept the boys in shape keeping them running.  Ben was the sport guru & Katie was a class teacher, bracelet maker & crocheted everyone a headband for that asked her.
Connie taught a bible lesson using colored beads to remember the life of Christ, & always had a snack when anyone wanted.   John, Stan & Ben did an awesome job with our church services.  I was proud to be a part of a group of Christians singing praises to God & worshipping God together but could only do in a private place.  Every year I come home with a New appreciation of being able to worship God without FEAR of the law.    
We ate most meals at the care center :) every meal we covered our food in soy sauce.   John & Ben found a street vender that cooked Wonderful food with rice noodles, egg & spices which became a breakfast meeting place. I came with a smile :).
We met 3 Christian ladies from Texas last year that were back (4th yr for 2 of them), all were great at helping the kids better understand English & had so much love for the kids.  The last night at the Care Center was both happy & sad. I enjoyed playing games & coloring with the kids ending with a fun firework show lit by John & Ben, a gift for all was made by Taylor for hot days (water bombs made from sponges) Kids & teachers saying Xie Xie or thank you!   Candy, snacks  & glow bracelets were shared-photos together were taken it was time to go so the hugs & tears started.  Leaving is Always SO Sad.  I become so attached to those awesome kids (translators, teachers & workers).
I came home as always knowing God is So Good, giving God the glory for everything that was done!   Wondering how I was So Lucky to have been raised by Christian parents in a loving home, also Thankful & lucky enough to have been born in America.   I Love & Have a stronger appreciation for everyone that went on this trip & thanking God for our loving family, homes & life.
I want to say a HUGE Thank You to the Elders for allowing my girls & I the opportunity to go to China to share & show God's Love.  Hopefully helping them to see what a difference he can make in life.  
Appreciating Our Life Much More!

Addie Burnette  . . .

addie2My favorite part of China was playing with the kids. I liked playing ball with them, chasing them with Abby, doing bracelets with them, and eating with them. I will always remember having fun with them.

 

 

Mission Trip Overview

We had a successful trip in Luxi, China visiting the Refuge of Grace Care Center. This is a work of the Chinese Agape Foundation under the leadership of Ron Brown. The Buford church supports this work and some members of the group have been blessed to have made their third summer trip to visit and work with children in the care centers.

The group included Julie, Taylor and Katie Jansen, Kim and Abby Gibson, Ben Burnette, John Iverson and Stan, Connie and Addie Burnette.

airportWe left Atlanta on June 30. The fun began when the John Iverson family all showed up to send John off to China. His father, sister, daughter and niece were all at the building to say goodbye. Unfortunately, John didn’t come to the building and went straight to the airport. But it was nice of the Iverson’s to show up for the rest of us! Connie was quickly detained at the airport for carrying size “D” batteries in her carry-on bag. Fortunately, she was released when she failed to break under intense interrogation.

We arrived in Luxi a little after lunch on July 2. The trip wasn’t that long but you lose a day traveling 12,000 miles around the world from the East to West. We joined with three Christians from Dallas, Texas in Changsha. The final two hours were in a small fifteen person van that did not include space for luggage for fifteen or thirteen. We had suitcases of clothes and supplies stacked to the ceiling and people stacked on top of each other for the ride from Changsha to Luxi. In China, this is considered perfectly safe and probably the optimal way to travel.

busselfieBefore we left, we were told that the Chinese Communist government had been cracking down on non-profit religious groups in China. They also have demolished over 300 Christian church buildings in China. The pressure was on to stop Christian efforts in China. The Chinese government realizes that freedom in Christ undermines the Communist agenda to exclude God from all walks of life. So we were asked to cut back on biblical teaching with children for the safety of the care center directors and children.

centerChina1center2This year we had about 24 kids stay after school let out for summer break. Plus there were about five more kids that were the children of the Chinese workers at the center. The number was down from last year but that meant more time for each child. Of the 16 that were baptized in 2015, only about four stayed this year.  That was a disappointment. Last year we worked with more girls than boys but this year the group consisted of mostly of boys. Our days consisted of games, sports, crafts, English lessons, studies on the fruits of the spirit, hygiene lessons and just spending time showing love to the children who don’t get much attention. Kim, Julie and Connie did a great job planning and supplying the team with materials for projects every day. Kim had the idea to take a projector and show movies to the kids at night. The movies spoke in English but had Chinese subtitles so we considered this English lessons as they enjoyed animated movies.

We were fortunate to have several Chinese Christian volunteers contribute their free time to help us as translators. We appreciate Leo, Max, Rebekah, Hannah, and Sophie’s efforts to help us fit in.

In China, all middle school students take a test for advancement to high school. It is a huge event. Those who are successful advance to high school and continue their studies. Those who fail are mandatory drop outs and some have been known to commit suicide as a result. If the kids who pass have money, they can go to technical school. If they don’t, they probably are destined to taking a job at 14 or 15 years old with no future and their chance for advancing out of the lowest social class is virtually non-existent. They have to leave the care center when their school options end. Chinese Agape has a work program and a Bible training program available to the kids who fail the test but they usually decline. They are ready to leave the center and are too embarrassed to stay around as workers. They really don’t understand their bleak future.

This year, several who we worked with last year failed the test and had already left the care center. A couple of them stayed around to spend time with us. This was a very difficult thing because we know this was probably the last time we will ever see those kids.

One who did very well on the test and had one of the highest scores ever from a care center was Jiang Xi or Josie. Due to her high scores, she is on the fast track for early entry in to a University if she can pass the University entrance exam. This is another big day for the kids in high school. We are looking into the possibility of her coming to the United States as a foreign exchange student. More on that later.

One day John and Stan went on a tour of the local High School. While we were there, we saw some of the kids who had passed the test. If they advance to High School, they are moved to dormitories and become resident students at the High School. The local school is about 80 years old and very run down. There isn’t any air conditioning. There are no sports teams. It is all study six days a week and goes from morning to night with a few breaks in the day. They take their study seriously!

Another day, we were invited to visit the home of one of the girls that was about two hours away by bus, taxi and a one mile walk over a mountain. That was a real taste of China in the countryside. On the way, John and Stan caused a traffic jam in downtown area. They are both very different from what they normally see in China!

Listen to the Mission Team Sing - Click Here

worshipOn Sunday, we enjoyed a beautiful multi-language worship service. John preached and was translated by our old friend Max. Leo led us in singing in English, Chinese and combined simultaneous singing in our own languages. When we finished singing “When We All Get to Heaven,” the Americans were in tears. What a blessing It was for us to worship with them in a home church situation. And I think the Chinese Christians really enjoyed it as well.

We had other combined devotional Bible Study periods on Wednesday and Thursday. Next year, we will probably try and start every day with a combined devotional. It really was the highlight of our trip. Especially since the translators were Christians and they asked us to spend some extra time in study and song.

It was great to see members of our Buford Youth Group so involved. Taylor, Abby, Ben, Katie and Addie were very active and right in the middle of everything. The kids really connected. For the most part, they ate their rice right along beside the care center kids. Until the end of the week when they discovered fried noodles at a little place by the hotel for under $1 a meal.

The Lord blessed us with unbelievable weather. The high temperatures were in the low 70’s and it rained every day. In past years, we have suffered through mid-90 temperatures and no air conditioning. The only place we found relief was in the administrator’s office and back at the hotel. This year, the low temperatures and rain made it much easier on us physically. The water in China isn’t drinkable for outsiders so our bottled water requirements were much more reasonable. This week we are receiving notes from the kids telling us about the hot weather that followed our departure.

After a teary goodbye on Thursday, Friday morning we checked out of the hotel and were on a bus back to Changsha and the airport. We were able to upgrade to a 19 person van and it was perfect for our size group. The return trip was without any surprises and we arrived back in Atlanta around 10:30 on Friday July10. Our families were there to welcome us. Well, except for John Iverson’s family who ended up at the Valdosta airport looking for him. Just kidding!

July 10th

The China team has arrived back home. Your prayers have been appreciated and more blog posts from members fo the team will be updated soon so check back!!

July 6th

Hello!
Another busy day here in China, it feels like time is flying here.  We got up to go eat breakfast at 8 and walked to the care center by 9. This morning we played and did crafts with the children and relaxed as we have had a very busy past few days.  We ate lunch and relaxed just a bit longer and then decided to climb the mountain.  For those of you who remember, this is the same mountain that we walked up last year.  We started our walk with about 20 of the children from the care center (a few stayed behind to watch a movie) and most of the American adults.  (Connie, Addie, Kim and Julie all stayed at the care center).  We followed the children through the back roads and into the farmlands where rice fields and corn surrounded us.  All the children go to the mountain pretty often, so they all know their way around.  It took almost one mile to get to the foot of the mountain.  We stopped at what looks like a welcome center (we could be totally wrong about this, but it had bathrooms) and used the restroom and looked at a cave! After that we grouped up and started our one mile hike up the mountain.  The hills were extremely steep and my calves were already sore from the uphill one mile hike we took to get to the foot of the mountain. (i know, i'm a wimp).  As we continued to the middle section of the mountain, I kept a steady pace and kept up with several of the kids.  But as the middle of the mountain hit and the hills got steeper, I needed a break.  Ashley, Taylor, Janaye and I took up the back of the group as several of the kids literally raced up the mountain.  A few kids stayed behind with us using encouraging sayings like, "walk quickly".  David, a cute 13 year old kid grabbed phones and took pictures of everything and everyone as the Americans huffed up the hill. Although I felt like I was dying, all in all I only took 2, 1 minute breaks on the way up to the mountain.  
   We arrived at the top (or a few feet below the top since the very top isn't easy to get to.  There was the pagan temple and karate place we visited one before.  The temple is huge and it looks like there are apartments around it?  We walked inside the temple and it is still just as huge inside.  The walls are at least 20 feet high with high vaulted ceilings and statues of idols sitting in the center of the room.  I tried to take pictures of everything this time, but when I took a picture of a mini shrine the kids suddenly all jumped towards me screaming no! They took my phone out of my hands and deleted the picture almost instantly.  I was a little shocked and found Max, a translator, to tell me what was going on.  Apparently in the picture there was a picture of a woman who was real and had died and the shrine was devoted to her, the kids thought i was being disrespectful by taking a picture of the dead woman's picture.  Shawn, one of my favorite kids seemed very upset about this and I went and apologized to all the children saying that I didn't see the photo of the dead woman, and meant no disrespect.  Max seemed to find this whole event pretty humorous, as did I but I didnt want to have any of the children upset so i made sure to apologize.  
After we explored the temple we started our two mile hike down to the care center.  A little mist had started (thank goodness for the cool weather this time) and we were all trying not to slip down the hills towards the foot of the mountain.  I did much better going down the mountain than even trying to go up it.  Once we got to the foot of the mountain the kids saw this place (we called it the happy fun place) and they all sprinted up the hill to find it.  So off we went to go climb some more hills to figure out what this happy fun place was.  I never found the happy fun place, in fact no one told me but I think they are in the process of building it.  We climbed up a small hill which looked like the entrance to the happy fun place , but turned out to be a bulldozed hill with an amazing background view.  We all stopped and took pictures here.
   On our way back to the care center (officially) David led the way with Me, Taylor, Ashley, Ben, and Jenaye taking the lead of the group.  David lead us fast to the care center as we tried not to slip and slide on some of the steps.  Once we got back we rested for a long while. Connie and Addie step up Big hero six for the kids and all of the Americans went to abrahams office and layed down to cool off and relax.  The rest of the day we just relaxed and played games with the kids.  I played volleyball with a few and taught crocheting to a few as well.  Around 8:35 we left the care center that night to head back to our hotels and rest for the night.  I am so thankful for days like these where we get to do fun things with the kids, and relax afterwards. I cant wait for the next few days to continue to have an impact on these kids lives and to love, teach and play with them.  These kids are so precious and we have been so lucky to work with such a great group of kids!
Thanks again for all of your thoughts and supports!
Love,
Katie

china9china5China1china2July 5th

Today was a VERY long day- so be prepared for a long email. I don't think Day 3 sent, so I will just skip over that. We woke up early so that we could go down and eat at the little street corner shop, mom and I split spicy noodles and they were amazing. When we got to the care center I blew up 20+ water balloons, today was a ' Field day' for the kids so we had different activities for them. I helped keep score and take pictures rather then play games- I'll try to send my best pictures. The kids had an absolute blast with the games, everyone was laughing and having such a great time. We had a sac race, a water ballon toss, sitting on the balloon to pop it, jumping rope, and many other games. A lot of the kids smacked on the ground pretty hard but no one cried and no one sat out, during a three legged race Shawn fell on his knee really hard but he just walked it out- the kids here are very tough. After that we ate lunch and played some card games, mainly spoons, then we  went to Abrahams house to Meet, it was very nice to see that some of the kids from the care center came too. We sang some songs and John gave a lesson, it was very inspiring and eye-opening to be singing with them, during some songs we sang both English and Chinese at the same time and that was very moving to see two completely different cultures come together to Study. After we Met walked back to the care center and watched as some of the people took apart a tree that had fallen yesterday ( it was a very very big tree and thankfully no one got hurt and nothing in or around the care center was broken ). The tree was a Camphor (?) tree and the wood smelled so good, almost like  pine, when David- one of the younger boys - realized that it smelled good he ran inside and got some of our plastic bags and filled the bags with tree shaving so that the Americans could take some it home. We then decided to go into town and try to do some shopping, after walking a long way we found a place called Happy Cooky, though it did not sell cookies and the type of ' candy ' they sold did not make me very happy - they did have the best ice cream in town ( that's what Max told us ). We then made our way through the shopping and food markets, in the food market I saw a fish getting scaled and then gutted ( the man wasn't wearing gloves ), we also saw a dove get its throat slit. We thought it they were going to cut its head off so we all waited in suspense and the Chinese people were laughing at us when they slit the dives throat because we were all slightly disappointed in the suspense building up for nothing. It was very funny because we were walking and some girls ran up to Ben and go "Hello Handsome boy, are you from America? Can we take a picture with you? " After some more shopping we ate at a place called Happy Chicken, and unlike Happy Cooky this place actually makes people happy, it's like a spicier version of Wendy's  . After we ate at Happy Chicken we went to a mega grocery store thing and started looking around but we had thought Sophie and Leo ( our translators ) had gone back to the care center before we ate happy chicken and when they found us in the grocery store we asked Leo how he found us and he said ' I asked the people walking around where the Americans were, everyone knows where the Americans are.' On the walk back to the Care Center ( it was a VERY  long walk ) we passed these exercise equipments one of them was like four ladders connected  by a circle at the very top and so we climbed on and had Leo ( A translator ) take our picture and so many people, even people in the roads  stopped to watch the ' Crazy Americans'. It's nice here, you feel like a celebrity almost, while we eat people try to discretely take our photos or when we're walking they'll try to talk to us and people love running up and asking to get their picture taken with us. 

South Korea Mission Trip 2015

Written by Pam Newman on . Posted in Mission Trip Blog

In May/June, 6 members from Buford travelled to South Korea to teach the Bible and assist with Evangelism. They visited the Kyungjoo, Kyungsan, Jeumsan, Chungjoo, Incheo and Seoul church of Christ.

Jaewhan Seo, our Korean Minister, held a seminar on “Do Not Deteriorate The Church.” There continues to be a great need to teach the Christians and congregations there about the New Testament church, as given to us in the Bible. The Bible translated in Korean has had many mistranslations because of the four languages it goes through to reach its final translations. Continue to pray for the understanding and teaching in that area.

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