Archive for the ‘2014 Mission Trip’ Category

Texico Day 6: Thursday, July 24

Posted: July 25, 2014 by abestratton in 2014 Mission Trip

A long day!

This was our final work day, so there was much to finish up. We actually pushed supper back from 6:30 to 7:30 in order to accomplish all that we needed to before quitting time. There was a moving crew who transported tons of items from the old school property to the new property. There was a ceiling tile crew who were feverishly trying to finish installing all of the tiles in the new building. There was a landscaping crew which was trying to finish grading, transplanting, and planting. There was a final cleaning crew who was vacuuming and mopping the floors as we all exited the building. It was quite an endeavor, and our energy diminished as the day wore on. By the time we got to supper we were beat!

I talked with Juan at the end of the day and expressed some disappointment that we weren’t able to accomplish more for them, but he looked surprised and said that we had done more than he thought we would be able to. He commented on the fact that our team worked their hearts out, and I have to add my proud affirmation to that. I was excited and encouraged by how many of our teens poured out their energy and their heart in these projects.

One of the things which encouraged us and kept us going during the difficult hot hours was thankfulness. This was a theme which we reviewed several times in our morning Bible reading times in Colossians, and so I challenged all of our team to think of things they could be thankful for when they were tempted to be discouraged or complaining. A number took up the challenge and encouraged each other with thankfulness during the day. It was a joy to hear.

Wayne Ault led our team devotions tonight, and he reminded us of the foundational truths of the Gospel – Jesus came, He lived perfectly, He died as a substitute, He rose again, and He reigns on high. The exciting and very personal truth which Wayne encouraged us with was that all of these truths are ours if we are in Jesus – if we have believed in Him and are following Him. (1) We can live in confidence because Jesus’ perfect life is ours. (2) We don’t have to give in to sin anymore because Jesus crushed our sin in His death. (3) We have new life because Jesus rose again. (4) And we will reign with Him and be with Him forever.

I told the team before we came to Texas that I think this trip may very well be about more than our service to the Curlings and their church/school. I think this trip may very well be about God pursuing our own hearts and challenging us with what our lives are about. He has been pointing us to himself and away from the fleeting pleasures of earth this week, and for that I am very grateful!

Texico Day 5: Wednesday, July 23

Posted: July 25, 2014 by abestratton in 2014 Mission Trip

A tough day!

I have to say that Wednesday was for us like it is for many people – a challenging day. It’s right in the middle of the week. Our team was tired from several days in the sun and from the strenuous labor we’ve been doing. Energy was low at first, but things quickly picked up.

A group of us were doing some grading at the front entrance to the new school property to make it look as nice as possible, and while doing that work, we discovered a rat. Well, you can imagine the excitement, shrieks, and running which ensued. Several of the braver souls decided to try to catch the evasive rodent. I was impressed that the pest control agents actually remembered to wear gloves for their heroic attempt. I have to say that it was a hilarious sight watching a group of teens run around like a group of preschoolers playing soccer – huddled around the ball and completely oblivious to anything else. In the end the rat was caught, the rat was squeezed, the rat bit, a finger was hurt, and we needed a minor doctor’s visit.

However, we carried on with our work and accomplished a lot today.

Tonight was a highlight. We actually quit work mid-way through the afternoon so that we could come back to the old school property and get cleaned up. The Redeemer Bible Church family came together tonight for a fellowship supper and for some singing and sharing time afterwards. It was a great time for us to see true fellowship lived out in the lives of these people, to hear what God is doing in their hearts, to share what God is doing in us, and to sing praise to God. It was a wonderfully encouraging time, and it was very similar to Sunday. Many of us came into it physically tired and unprepared to speak of God and His works, but He used His truth and His people to point us all to Him. Praise God for sweet fellowship with other brothers and sisters even in far-away places!

Before bed we watched the newest Dispatches from the Front dvd. This was shown at our home church in SC on Sunday, so our team missed it. I really wanted our team to be able to see it, so I was glad to get a copy before we came down to Texas. The dvd gives a glimpse into the lives of some of our brothers and sisters in north Africa who are spreading the Good News of the Kingdom. It presents the stark contrast between fear and faith, and it is a heart-piercing challenge to our stereo-typical comfortable Christianity. We had a brief team discussion after watching the dvd, and it was apparent that God used it to challenge us and to make us think.

What steps am I taking to risk for Jesus? How am I stepping into my fears seeking to believe that Jesus will do mighty things through my feeble efforts?

Texico Day 4: Tuesday, July 22

Posted: July 25, 2014 by abestratton in 2014 Mission Trip

A hot day!

Well, every summer day here is hot, but today was slightly different. A group of us went out to Gerry’s ranch. Gerry is one of the men who attends Redeemer Bible Church. He and his family have been ranching in Texas for several generations, and driving onto his property was like entering a whole new world. We drove miles out into the dry Texas brush in order to dig up some particular trees for the new school property’s landscape. When Gerry’s foreman, Ben, got out of his big truck with a big hat, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, knee-high boots, a knife, and a handgun strapped to his waist, our shorts, t-shirts, and sandals made us feel like real gringos. Yeah, we’re city slickers from the east coast. Like I said, this was a whole different world.

Turns out that we weren’t successful in transplanting the trees, but our group had some great interaction with Gerry and Ben – hearing about his ranch and the joys and challenges that it brings. (Gerry texted me the next day with a picture of a rattler that he found near the place our group was on Wednesday. Gulp!)

The rest of our team continued the jobs which we were doing yesterday – painting and sprucing up the old school property, installing ceiling tiles and doing landscape on the new property, and taking lots of water breaks. =)

Tonight Josh Green led our group devotions. Josh has been down here partnering with the Curlings for several years. He’s got a big laugh, a mischievous smile, and a huge heart for people. Although he has his own day job this summer, he has spent a number of hours with our team, and the teens have thoroughly enjoyed him. He continued the theme of God’s glory tonight, and he shared that we glorify God when we get His grace. When we dive into God’s Word, when we talk to Him in prayer, and when we allow others to dig into our lives, we are receiving grace from God; and this exalts Him – it shows that He is big and beautiful. This was another sweet truth time for our team.

Texico Day 3: Monday , July 21

Posted: July 22, 2014 by abestratton in 2014 Mission Trip

A productive day!

Welcome to south Texas where the sun is blazing, the temperature is boiling (our forecast calls for temps close to or above 100 all week), the wind is blowing (thank the Lord), and the dust is swirling. It’s a hot and dry world.

We began our work in earnest today. After a brief tour of the new school property/building for MCA and hearing more details from Juan about God’s work to bring it to this point, we jumped into different projects. Some of us attacked “the jungle” – a mass of weeds as tall as 6 feet. Some of us worked on installing A/C duct work. Some of us spread and leveled dirt and pea gravel for landscaping and drainage. Some of us came back to the old school property to power wash siding, knock down a cinder block wall, move railroad ties, and the list goes on.

Thankfully our friends here in Texas know what we need and take good care of us. As the temperature rises, they force us to take regular water breaks (I can’t say that we’re too reluctant. =) and snack breaks. It’s amazing how draining the sun and heat can be, and yet I’m proud of how our team has jumped in to dirty, dusty, hot, and grueling work. They’ve worked hard, persevered, and done it joyfully (a good part of the time).

We closed our day with devotions with Juan. He followed up on Chago’s devotions from Sunday night by reminding us that to enjoy God is to glorify Him, and we will never really enjoy God unless we take time to enjoy Him. I’m grateful that we’re not just doing work this week. Juan even mentioned that the projects that we are doing are not the big deal; they’ll get finished at some point. But God’s work in each of us is the big deal. I’m grateful for the way that our hearts are being pointed to Jesus and His beauty this week!

Texico Day 2: Sunday, July 20

Posted: July 22, 2014 by abestratton in 2014 Mission Trip

A restful day!

We enjoyed an outstanding day of worship with the church family of Redeemer Bible Church of the Valley. In the morning service a small group of our team introduced a song to the church body which was new to some of them – Rejoice in the Lord. Juan Curling asked us to do this as a way of contributing to the overall theme of the morning – that God uses pain in our lives for His glory and our good.

I think I speak for a number of us on the team: I was tired and not ready to focus on God and to worship Him on Sunday morning. However, He used the Scriptures we heard and read and the songs which we sang to awaken our affections for Him. It was a joy to see many of our teens responding facially and physically to the truths which we were rehearsing to ourselves and to one another!

Chago Curling preached about God’s faithfulness to Joseph in the midst of temptation, and it was an encouraging reminder that God’s plans are far greater than we can see or even understand.

In the second session (the members’ meeting) Chago has been spending time talking about what it means to be a vital member of a church, and he talked about a number of the “one another” passages in the New Testament letters. He emphasized that being a part of a church body means that you don’t require others to reach out to you; you become a loving servant to them. We don’t demand that others “one another” us; we “one another” them.

After lunch we enjoyed a restful afternoon. Some slept; some played games; some sat and talked.

In the evening after supper we had a brief orientation meeting, and Juan shared how God has worked in amazing ways in his family and through the ministry of Macedonia Christian Academy to build lives and to make disciples. Just as the Israelites did thousands of years ago, it is immensely encouraging to recount the great works of God today.

We finished our evening with a time of devotions with Chago, and he pointed us to the glory of God – that God is made to look great and glorious when we love and pursue Him with all our hearts. This is a theme which Chago and Juan, their families, and the brothers and sisters of Redeemer speak often to each other – God is great; Jesus has done wonderful things for us; so let us love Him with all that we are!

We were grateful for the low-key day because we know the heavy lifting is coming. =)

Texico Day 1: Saturday, July 19

Posted: July 20, 2014 by abestratton in 2014 Mission Trip

Texico: (1) The combination of two words (Texas and Mexico); (2) A term of endearment for our bi-annual mission trip to Donna, TX, on the border of Texas and Mexico

My desire is to give the parents of our teens who are on the Texico mission trip a daily glimpse into what we are doing. I hope these snapshots will be helpful for you as you pray for us, and I hope they’ll be fun insights into our lives this week.

Texico Day 1: Saturday, July 19

It was a crazy day!

Our team day started before 5 am as 2 of our teen guys and one of our sponsors headed to GSP airport to fly to Texas. They made it safely and without incident by mid-morning.

The second (and largest) wave of our team planned to meet at GSP at 2:30. But the typical (and not-so-typical) snags of travel began to build. On our way to the airport my family and I were hit by another driver. Praise God none of us was injured, but our van had to be towed. Thankfully several of our team members who were on the way to the airport as well were able to transport us and our luggage.

At the airport our group of 35 people (5 adults, 28 teens, and 2 children) had issues ranging from a forgotten ID to an almost-denied child’s ticket to a security snafu. But we arrived at our terminal on time, boarded our plane, and took off for Texas at 4:40 pm. We soon learned that our second flight in Houston was delayed by an hour. However, this allowed us all to eat supper in the airport and still board our second plane in good time. We arrived in Harlingen, TX, at 9 pm local time (10 pm ET). It took us another hour to get our luggage, fill up several vans, and drive to Macedonia Christian Academy where we will be serving for the week.

When we walked into MCA’s building and I saw Juan Curling for the first time, one of the first things he said to me was, “I’m not gonna lie; you look rough.” It was that kind of day. =)

By the time we fell into bed it was 11:30-12:00 local time (12:30-1:00 am ET), but I must say that I’m grateful for the opportunity to fly. A 7-hour trip this year took us 24 hours on a charter bus two years ago. So I think we’d still be driving. =)