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Archive for the ‘Pastor Ray’ Category

The Last Morning

I don’t know if this will be the last entry or not.  My plan is to encourage the teens to write up a final entry with all of their thoughts on the weekend, but to have them do it before we leave this afternoon will be crazy.

As I sit and type at 6:09 AM after a week filled with work, fun & excitement, I can’t help but to feel content — not simply because I am so exhausted that I might not wake up until Wednesday morning.  No, my contentment comes from above.  There were PLENTY of things that didn’t go according to my plan, things that we didn’t accomplish that many of us wanted to do.  However, those things are over and out of my control and what was accomplished pleases the Lord as they were His things, His desires.

We touched lives this week … around 40 VBS kids came and heard the Good News of Jesus Christ (and found out that some white people from Buffalo, NY really love them).  Untold other stories of conversations & ministry that happened with those who walked by the church during the week.  The New Born Wesleyan congregation has been touched by our love and desire to serve our common Lord.  Also our group has been forever changed by this experience.

The church service is in a little less than 5 hours.  Our group will be conducting most of that worship time.  I can’t say that it will feel like being back in Orchard Park, but rather a little more like the eternal Kingdom of God.  Last Sunday, the people in Newark at this church were just faces in the sanctuary; this Sunday, we are among true friends and our brothers & sisters.  I believe our group has learned about true Christian community, why we call those who are Christians by the family terms of brothers & sisters.  I believe someone already wrote about how Pastor Frantz says “You visit once and then you’re family.”  I told him that he was mistaken … I believe the moment you walk in, you feel like a visitor, but you are family almost instantly.

Thank you for your prayers this week.  Don’t stop.  We covet your prayers as we read, sing & preach this morning.  We desire the Lord’s protection as we drive home today (for the parents reading this, we’re shooting to be home around 10 tonight).  Pray for our group as we process all that we have done & seen.  More importantly … keep praying for this congregation.  They are dear to us and they face so many struggles that we don’t even comprehend.  Pray that the Lord would grow them in numbers and in depth of their faith.  Pray for Pastor Frantz that he would continue his growth as a pastor and is able to move closer to his people (he’s currently living in Brooklyn, more than an hour away with no traffic).

Again thank you for your support & comments.  They have been dear to us these past 9 days.  Blessings on you … we’ll be home tonight

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Well … we’re about to begin day 6 in Newark.  We’ve had the joy of reading everyone’s blogs & your comments each evening as we gathered.  I figured that this would be a nice way to keep in touch with some of the family & friends back home, but I never would have guessed the blog would get this much traffic.  As I type this morning, we’ve had over 2300 hits on the blog!  Each day has seen more visitors … although some in the group think that there are only a few people who just keep hitting the refresh button!  If you’re one of them, please feel free to admit it in the comment section (ahem … Tammy!).  As with many blogs that capture a short term event like this one, I am already thinking about how we’ll miss it.  Through our journaling online, you’ve been able to come alongside of us and bond with us as we bond with each other.  Thank you all for being such an important part of our team … the comments are so encouraging and the prayers are what sustain us.

For all of those at home who worry about their teens (not in a safety way, but in a “I hope my kid was at least somewhat helpful” way) … you can rest easy.  There is no one on this trip that has not been helpful.  The work has been tough at times, but it has been accomplished one step at a time without complaint.  The graciousness of each home represented here has shone through!!

Our times of sharing in the evening have been great.  The singing is louder and more passionate than you can imagine from a group of teens.  The insight that is being gained, day by day, is deep.  Stereotypes are slowly falling as we realize people here are created in the image of God just like we are … needing love, craving attention, and wanting someone to help them.

A small list of what has happened:

  • Juli & Mary have been making name tags almost non-stop this week.  Not because we have unlimited kids, but because we get some new kids and the existing kids are constantly changing tribe groups.
  • Kari & Emily (T) are a ray of sunshine all day long.  What a great team they have been in the pottery shop.
  • Levi, Jameson, Tim, & Jordan are the steadiness that this team needs.  Not super-hyper like some of the younger teens are at times, but constantly helpful & willing.
  • Leah, Cori, David, Samara & Josh have done great at taking charge of little ones every morning.  Having lots of little kid climbing over you first thing in the morning can be exhausting, but they have done it with great attitudes!
  • Emily (O) has such a sweet demeanor and is patient beyond what anyone here can believe.  She is a testimony to our Savior each moment of the day.
  • Brendan & Ben have done a fabulous job in a position that is actually very difficult to hold down … games.  Sounds easy, but lots of kids in warm weather … in competitive situations is tough to handle sometimes.  And they have done it admirably … and without direct adult supervision!  Kudos, guys.
  • Eric has been a blessing in many ways.  Not only is he one of the most willing workers, he has stuck it out through some major projects.  Just ask Shaun … Eric is a great help.
  • Hannah is our youngest worker, but she is always willing to pitch in.  Helping wherever she is needed … inside, outside, with kids, with adults, with food.
  • Steve is a blast and great to have around.  We tease him (and Jameson) about being able to fall asleep at a moment’s notice, but Steve is the heartbeat of this team.  I can’t imagine not having him here this year.
  • Ryan is another tenacious worker.  Quiet demeanor, but patient and hard working.  And when he laughs, I see RT.
  • Lou is a riot to be around … as many of you already know.  Tough when she needs to be tough (not very often on this trip) and sweet always.  With an eye for detail, she is a blessing.
  • Shaun & Kelly have received their baptism into youth ministry … and have come shining through.  Kelly is great with the teens is always willing to do anything.  Shaun is a big kid (but responsible) and can literally do any project we throw at him.
  • Mark & Kellee are incredible as always.  Mark’s patience with some tough kids is impressive.  I love having him on our team.  Kellee is fun to have around, too … and her organization of the kitchen has made this trip easy for me to lead.
  • Mary, of course, is my helpmate.  Without her, I don’t handle much of life too well.  She has been a flexible leader of VBS … being strectched in new ways as the program has changed each day.  She is a great partner for me.

Keep praying for us.  We beginning to fatigue.  Emotions are a little higher … bodies are a little weaker.  BUT our God is greater than all of that!

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We Have Arrived

We have arrived in Newark.  We were greeted by a large number of church members who had gathered to welcome us.  A woman who lives next door, a recent convert and Jamaican restaurant owner, had prepared a wonderful meal for us.  We enjoyed some time eating and talking before totally moving into the church and getting organized.

The time this evening has been rather low key.  Other than an initial Bible study, no work is required tonight — rest is a must after our travels today.

We had issues with the brakes on our Suburban which was towing our utility trailer.  Pastor Frantz has someone who will look at it on Monday.  We’re praying that it will be a simple fix.

Tomorrow is church with our Haitian brothers & sisters.  I pray that it will be an eye-opening time of worship in the Kingdom.

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Well … VBS in Orchard Park is all over and the UHaul trailer is packed with the things that we need to run VBS in Newark next week.  Overall it was a great week as we ministered to an average of 74 kids every day.

Next up … we leave at 10:30 tomorrow morning.  We’re packing our lunches and driving straight through until we reach New Born Wesleyan.  To give you an idea of where it is, click here.

When we arrive, we will be treated to an authentic Haitian dinner by the ladies of the church.  Our immersion into the culture begins immediately!

Please be praying for us as we meet new people and try to rest up for another batch of kids on Monday morning.  More news will be coming each day as different kids will blog their experiences.  Any posts that are unnamed will come from me, Pastor Ray.  We’ll try to remember to label each person’s post when they start.

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