I’m Leavin on a Jet Plane

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Final Blog
We are leaving debrief today to head home and see our families and friends. Its hard to believe I’m preparing to board the last flight of Global Journey. Debrief was a great time to reflect on all the things I’ve experience and the things God taught me and collect my thoughts before coming ban to the real world. I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of this trip this summer. I have learned so much about God’s character as well as my own. My prayer is that I never forget all the people I met, the places I saw and the ministries I served with and that I continue to walk in all the things God taught me this Summer. Thank you so much for being a part of this experience with me. I couldn’t have done it without your prayers and support! I’m excited to share all the stories and pictures with y’all when I get home!

Thanks Again!
Erin

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Hasta Luego Honduras

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HASTA LUEGO HONDURAS
I can’t believe today is the last day in our final country! This trip has flown by! We have been working with a ministry called Heart to Honduras. They have a discipleship program that sends Honduran people into the rural areas of Honduras to start a small church group. As the small group grows HH sends in teams (generally North Americans) to build a church building. Other teams theb come in to the church and offer medical care to the community or conduct building projects for the church and people in the community who can’t afford it ( such as houses and roof repairs). We worked with two different churches in two different villages which offered different community support. The church in La Sabida had a large garden and chicken farm. The taught people in the community how to cultivate the land for produce and sold their own vegetation at a really low price along with their eggs. They offered a place for learning and growth and care in the community. The other church focused a lot on the children in the community. They offered classes for kids in the community and were constantly working to better their facilities for the kids to play. We painted the inside and outside of La Sabida and did several building as gardening projects at La Concepcion. I loved the picture of an active and loving church this organization promotes.
Everyone at HH was so welcoming and accommodating. We had a driver named Leo and an interpreter named Jose that we all grew to love during our time here; they both said we were one of their favorite teams but I’m sure they say that to everyone!
This trip was probably the most physically demanding which in ways feels the most rewarding.
We are in Orlando now waiting for the other team to arrive to begin debrief. This will just be a time of reflection and sharing; a time to process all that has taken place and all Gods done this summer. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and family! Thank for all your prayers that have gotten us safe thus far! Can’t wait to share more stories with y’all in a few days!

Erin

L.I.C.E

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L – is for the lice we brought from Uganda
I – is for International Baptist Church (in France)
C – is for our campsite.. where we sleep at night.
E – is even more beautiful than I imagine

Lice. Beauty. Surprising. France.
It might sound weird but these are the 4 words that I think best describe this stop. – the song was just my attempt at entertaining you.

France has been surprising in a lot of ways. I am continually surprised by the beauty everywhere around me, in the landscape and the old buildings, it’s gorgeous!
We also had a lice breakout in our group! Our leader, Sarah, kept making me check her head for lice and I kept telling her she was crazy and didn’t have it. She decide to have the pastors wife, Jen, check her and she found multiple lice in her hair as well as mine and eggs in another’s. We ended up spending a whole afternoon washing everyone laundry and treating everyone’s hair for lice. Sarah and I had it the worst but we caught it early enough that we think it’s all gone now ( we also think we got it while on the campsite on the Nile in Uganda). Speaking of camping, that’s another surprise. We found out we would be camping, which I was ok with but I was pleasantly surprised by how nice our accommodations were. Not only were tents already set up with sleep mats inside but their was a pool and a small shop, nice bathrooms and showers with electricity.. It’s been one of our most comfortable stops- and the weather has been perfect!!

I’ve also been surprised by how much I’ve learned on this stop. I’m not gunna lie I was the least excited about France mainly because it seemed the least likely to be a country in true need of our help. I was so wrong. Despite all the beauty in France this is SUCH a spiritually dry place. I’m been amazed at the amount of spiritual warfare I’ve felt in this place; Satan definitely has a strong hold here and does not like our presence. But He has already been defeated and as the kids in India sing, ” we are on the winning side”.
France has been such an important stop to me because it reminds me of home. The church isn’t limited here because people have not been told the gospel; it’s limited because people choose to look for meaning in things of the world instead of the gospel. Just like in America, everything you could desire is at the tips of your fingers and people here are too consumed with the images of this world to be transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. I also appreciate this stop because it’s practical. Not every Christian is called to long term/overseas missions but all are called to Glorify the Lord with their lives and to be an active member of the body of Christ. Working with the church here is a good reminder of the things we can do back home to strengthen our body of believers. It’s also been a great reminder that when we choose to follow the Lord we are choosing to die to ourselves daily whether we are in an orphanage in India or a classroom in College Station, Tx. The Lord has reminded me here how important my role is back home, especially in a culture where people are clearly looking in all the wrong places for their fulfillment.
We have spent a lot of time with the missionaries here ( many are from Denton Bible Church in Texas) doing various things. We decorated the church for their bilingual kids camp (one of their largest community out reaches) we have done prayer walks around several towns, handed out sandwiches, helped clean/garden various locations, served and spoke at church on sunday, etc. It’s been a really nice time of mutual encouragement and fellowship with our fellow Texans and believers.

We leave tomorrow morning to meet with the Grey team in Venice for debrief, which should be a nice time; then we come back Sunday night and fly out monday morning for Honduras. I can’t believe how fast this trip has gone and I pray that no
matter where God take me I will always keep the people I met and the things I learned with me.

Here are some pictures of France and the decorations we built at the church – mostly out of chicken wire and tissue paper.

Thanks for your prayers a support!
Erin
P.S. I am currently trying to memorize Isaiah 12.. It’s a great passage to look up! The first part reminds me of my own relationship with Christ and the 2nd part on the call Christ has put on my life to live a life that proclaims his name! Just thought you might like it as well!

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Uganda Love Africa part 2

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Even though I’m in France I want to take the time to tell y’all more about Uganda. As you know, the ministry we worked with was called Zion Project. Zion Project started as a counseling/rescue center for child mothers. Child mothers are young teenage girls who were taken by soldiers in the Lords Resistance Army. These girls were not only forced to become child soldiers for this rebel army but were used by the other soldiers, leaving them with children of their own. One of the original Zion Project girls said she returned home after being abducted for 2 years by LRA. She was 14 with two children of her own, her father had died and Nobody wanted to take her in. She was tainted and seen as worthless as she could bring no income to the home. She was forced into an abusive marriage with an older man. Many of these girls are forced into prostitution to provide for themselves and their children. Zion Project came and brought 10 or so child mothers in, along with their children. They lived together and received counseling and the gospel along with different vocational trainings which allowed them new means to provide for their families. All Of these women are now Christ-loving contributors to their community.
After these girls graduated out of the counseling and vocational program, Sarita -the founder of the Zion Project- was made aware of a group of Congolese refugee women living in Uganda. These women were brought to Uganda by Ugandan soldiers who promised them love an a new life. They were then abandoned by these soldiers and forced into prostitution for means of support. They were outcasts in Uganda as Acholi and Swahili people do not have good relations and the women couldn’t return home. Sarita took in a group of these women. ZP believes that the heart is the root of all things and so they concentrate on healing the heart first. These women have received psychological counseling and Christian love. ZP started a program called Imani, which is a jewelry making business. These same women learned how to cut, form and fashion paper into beads to make jewelry. They sell the jewelry online ate www. imanilove.com to people back in the United States. The proceeds go to pay the salaries of the Imani women so they can continue providing for their families and ministering to the community.

Some of the Imani women asked Sarita if their was a place for their children to go as some of their clients were sleeping with their daughters. This opened Saritas eyes to a whole new danger within the sex industry, child abuse. A girls home was formed that houses girls who were either in harmful situations or were abandoned by mothers who were prostitutes. There are 17 girls ages 5-15 in the home now. ZP is the legal guardian of all of these girls.

Saritas willingness to listen to the direction and voice of the Lord ad expand ZP is a great example of obedience. The growth and expansion which has taken place at ZP has left much room for support. If you’d like to be a part of this ministry you can either support them financially in terms of donations, supporting a girl in the girls home, becoming part of the Imani club or throwing a jewelry party back in the states. You can also send your prayers and pray for some good people to be sent to fill their log term positions.

We got to spend our mornings doing devotionals with the Imani women and makin jewelry with them. We also spent some time at the girls home getting to hang out with them. We taught each other songs and dances and got to teach them some new games and bible stories. We also helped them with their homework. One day we taught them about Christs servant-heart and his desire to put others first. We were able to follow this story up with a physical act by washing their feet as giving them all pedicures. It was awesome!! They loved getting their toes painted and it was a really sweet time for all of us. I even got the special privilege of pampering one of the Aunties that takes care of the girls, Joyce. She was a real encouragement to us as she is only 21 and choosing to spend her time loving these girls and speaking truth into their lives.

Throughout this trip and even before the Lord had been Reminding me of the desire he placed on my heart to work with teenage girls. I was originally planning on going to school to get my counseling degree to work with teenagers but let various things change my mind. The Lord has shown me during this journey and reaffirmed in Uganda his desire for me to pursue a degree in counseling.

It’s crazy when I left for this trip I knew God was going to work in me and through me and teach me a lot of great things. I never thought he would completely change my plans in terms of a career. God has also been showing me a lot about His glory. How my testimony is not a story of failure or shame but of Christ and His infinite compassion and grace which were displayed in his faithfulness and redemption. Failing to share and use my story is only robbing God of His glory and myself of His freedom.

On a lighter note 🙂 We were blessed with the opportunity/ability to go on a little trip for our debrief time. We drove out to a state park that serves as a location for safaris. On the drive in we saw giraffes, monkeys, some African deer, wart hogs… The Nile river runs through the park and we went for a ride on a barge down the river to spot hippos and crocodiles and water buck and eagles. It was really amazing! At one point or another I think all of us said aloud, ” I can’t believe I’m in Africa in the Nile river right now”. It was a really nice time to reflect on the beauty of Gods creation and the things He had been teaching all of us during our time in Uganda.

I know this is a really long blog but Gulu has been one of my favorite stops so far and I feel as though Zion Project takes a little explaining. I also want to let everyone know what the Lord is up to and what I’m doing too! Here are some pictures of my time in Africa!

Thanks for your prayers and support and reading this super long blog 🙂
Erin

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Uganda love Africa!

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Sorry im having to post two blogs at once. We havent had access to the internet and I wanted to tell you a little about Africa too! I’m here in Uganda and I LOVE it! The weather is great, the place we are staying is nice, the country is beautiful, the people are kind, and the ministry is AMAZING! The Zion project is such a beautiful picture of Gods redemption and Grace! I feel so blessed to be a part of it!
I will have to give you more details and stories later but God is definitely present and showing me a lot here.
The ministry is still fairly new, with that comes a lack of awareness. This has caused an understaffing and underfunding issue within ZP. Im trusting that with God behind it this ministry will not fail but also praying that God will provide the funds and workers ZP needs to continue and thrive! ZP serves to rescue women and girls forced into the sex slave or sex workers industry. They offer hope, healing and love through counseling and community and their girls home.

I wish I had more time to tell you about all the amazing things going on here! I will update you ASAP and in the meantime you can check them out at http://www.zionproject.com and http://www.imanilove.com!

Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers!
Erin

Jesus is the Winner Man

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I just wanted to write a final blog on India before I switch gears to Uganda. An update on my friend segrive with the abscesses on his neck and armpit – The hospital we took him to decided they wanted to do some more blood tests of their own before they did any type of operation. In the meantime they went ahead and started him on meds for TB. The tests came back inconclusive. The medicine however has been working tremendously well and his wounds are drying and closing up. We are blessed to have a fellow aggie in India! He is going to be taking segrive to his other appointments and insuring his illness is treated well! Thank the Lord for him! He just graduated from A&M and will be working in Houston. He was born and raised in India and helped Sarah by delivering the Christmas presents to the orphanage last year when he went home on Holiday. He is not a believer but seems very curious, God is obviously working on his heart and we are blessed to have him as a contact.

Throughout our time there the amount of kids increased, some returning for school but many were new to Emmanuel Childrens Home. Our days went a little something like this- give or take an hour or so due to “India time” – (nothing ever happens according to schedule).
Our days started at 5:30 with morning prayer. The kids would then work on chores and brush their teeth while we spent time with the lord either individually or as group until breakfast was ready. Early morning/afternoon we would coordinate game time. We were all split into teams with the kids and we would switch off leading games. From about 11:30-4 it was far too hot to play many outside games (110-115 degrees) so we would color, play Indian games, do hair/nails, just talk and hangout with the kids. We also had afternoon prayer during this time. The kids were so faithful to do this prayer time, as no adult oversaw it. They would all gather, a few would lead some songs, an older boy would lead a prayer time, and then the kids would recite memory verses. Each prayer time ended with the Lords prayer. In the evening we would have another programming time which we coordinated. We took turns leading this time which consisted of worship, a skit, and a lesson. Then we would eat dinner, shower and go to bed around 9:30-10:30.
I loved the prayer times the best. The children there have so much joy! They continually pray for others and look for ways to serve us. They LOVE singing worship songs and playing games. The kids taught us a lot of songs, one of our favorites was “Jesus is the Winner Man” Which says, “Jesus is a winner man and satan is a loser man.. We are on the winning side”.
Their joyful, generous, faithful living was such an encouragement to me.

We took everyone to pizza hut one day and adventure island another day. All of the kids got dressed up and showered for pizza hut and loved the bus ride there (even though there was no AC). They put ketchup on their garlic bread and pizza, which was disgusting to us but hilarious. Adventure Island had a bunch of carnival-like rides, including swings, bumper cars, spinning rides, a log ride and a small water-park section.
Adventure Island was the best part of the trip to me. We had spent enough time with the kids to know them well and found such joy in their excitement – and they were so excited to share it with us! They would run up saying “Auntie Auntie!! Come ride this with me!”.

We also got to go see the Taj Mahal, which was beautiful! This was a fun time to reflect as a group and get in the AC and take a real shower, not a bucket bath! Our leader Sarah was proposed to at the Taj Mahal by her boyfriend Steven who joined us for the India leg.. She said yes!
When we got back to the orphanage all the kids came pouring out screaming YAY!! Auntie and Uncle are back! They were so so happy to see us and hug on us, it melted my heart. One of the older boys, Simon, said he had been waiting for us all day at the gate asking God when we were going to get back. I was really touched by that, I knew the little kids Loved having us there but to hear that the older kids/boys were missing us and praying for us to come back soon melted my heart and brought me to value my time here even more.

If the children choose to attend the Bible College after school they graduate signing a martyrs oath, saying unto death they will proclaim the gospel to their country. Some of the older boys were talking with my teammate Brian about the persecution in India. They showed him a video of a man being beaten for proclaiming Jesus. When Brian asked if this could happen to them they said it definitely would. They said some christians deny or don’t proclaim Christ to some Indian people in order to stay safe. The boys said they would NEVER deny Christ or not speak his name, they said they could never do this after all the things Christ has done for them. That hit me really hard; these orphans, the lowest of lows, cast aside by their family and society are so in love with and loyal to their savior. I began to see these kids as the future of India, as doers of the Word. God prompted me to start praying for their protection and their hearts, along with the hearts of the people they would encounter.

The Lord taught me a lot about simplicity and humility in India. I have been praying for simplicity and joy in the small things. I’ve also been praying for humbleness/selflessness; that I will think of others before myself and that I will serve others in a way that brings glory to God’s name, not my own.

I’m so excited to see what God has planned for Uganda. The Lord has always placed a desire in me to work with teenage girls/women and He has been reminding me of that desire a lot on this trip. I’m looking forward to seeing how he moves and what He shows me!

Sorry it took so long to get a blog up for India.. We were just now able to get to a place with Internet!

Thanks for reading and praying!
Erin