Saturday, July 19, 2014

One more reflection from the airport

Hi, OSLC senders!
I first want to thank everyone who has supported our trip with prayer, finances, and messages of encouragement. I feel very blessed to have been able to serve in Jackson, MS now for my fifth year, so I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the many blessings I received on this specific trip, my first as a leader.
·      - I was blessed to see such spiritual growth throughout the week in our church’s youth. Each one of our students prayed often from the heart without hesitancy, and were able to see different ways that the Gospel can be proclaimed in a much different culture.
·        - I was blessed by challenging sermons/talks from a variety of people. Specific themes stuck out to me from these talks that permeated through the trip: leaving the ninety-nine to save the one; helping people out of poverty is important, but saving souls is eternally more important; we do not need to get on a plane and travel to be missionaries, but we should be missionaries every day of our life.
·        - I was blessed to be able to connect with the teenagers at VBS. This was my first trip to Jackson where I worked specifically with teenagers and it was a much more fulfilling experience than I could have imagined.
·       - I was blessed to be able to meet and hear from two influential Civil Rights leaders. Hearing from John Perkins and CJ Jones, two Godly men who marched with MLK, was an amazing experience. Both men encouraged us that our generation will continue to pursue justice for all, through the power of the Gospel.

I ask that you pray with me that God will nurture the many seeds that were planted this week in the citizens of Jackson, the children and teenagers that come in contact with Voice of Calvary Ministries and We Will Go, and the youth of OSLC. 

Thank you again for your support,

Joel Trunfio

A few photos from our last week together

We have so many photos and stories to share with you when we return, but here are a few that I have some time to post as we sit here at the airport.  We hope you will join us next Sunday, July 27th, at 9:30 a.m. as we share our experience and the ways God was at work in our lives and in Jackson during the education hour at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

All of the above photos are from our week long Vacation Bible School with We Will Go.  On our last day, we had almost 60 kids come!

Sam Pollard, the volunteer coordinator with Voice of Calvary

John Perkins speaking with students during lunch at Voice of Calvary one afternoon

One of the work sites that many of our teens worked on this week.  They worked hard to clear away these boards, bricks and the rest of what remained of this house that had burned down.

Joel & Jessie at their worksites

Reflections from the airport

Greetings from Atlanta International Airport!
In a couple of hours we will be boarding our flight back home to Boston. After a long van ride from Jackson to Atlanta last night we are all tired and looking forward to a good night sleep in our own beds. Although the van ride was long and tiring I thought of It as a huge blessing. These long hours in the car gave me time to reflect on the amazing week I had. Looking back a little over a week ago I remember myself sitting in the same terminal I am in right now with the whole trip ahead of me. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but one thing I do know now is that what I did expect is not what happened on the trip.
A week ago I was thinking I was going into Jackson to help the needs of the citizens there. But now I know that was not the case. I mean yes I cleaned yards and painted and helped out at the VBS, but these small tasks I did for the city and people of Jackson are nothing compared to what Jackson did for me. Throughout the trip I met some very inspirational people. One person that really stood out to me was Amy Lancaster, one of the founders of “We Will Go Ministries”. Amy showed patience that outweighed anyone I’ve ever witnessed. Her love of Christ was inspirational and her lessons were very thought provoking and answered many questions I have always had. One of the big points she made was “God Provides” if you put your trust in God he will provide. This lesson stuck with me and I know that whatever the situation is if I trust in God he will provide. I may not know quite how, but God works in mysterious ways. Seeing this idea work in her life really encourages me to always trust and keep faith in God because I know he will provide. Also I’d just like to thank all of you for your donations and prayers that enabled me to take this life changing trip.

-Casey Reale

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Some thoughts from Matt & Jessie about our trip

Greetings to all of the supporters (prayers) for the mission trip to Jackson Mississippi. First off, thanks for your prayers for safe travel as we all arrived safely on Friday night at about 11:00 local time in Jackson. I walked into this trip thinking that others would receive all of the benefit.  God says one of the most important commandments is to “Love your neighbors as yourselves,” but to me I think that I have received a lot of benefit from the people I have met and been able to share the Gospel with here in this city. These kids and adults are in serious need of prayers, so please pray for the kids and the adults so they can become a follower of the one and only God. The people at We Will Go ministries are amazing! Amy and David Lancaster (Co- Founders) have probably helped me in my spiritual life the most… They aren’t just changing the lives of people in the community, they have changed mine! I am moved by their prayers and their extremely devout belief in always following God’s path for them, no matter what it is. Amy shares the gospel message with EVERY word from her mouth. She follows God’s path in that she received a closed, YMCA building for $1/year, where her family and friends have created an after school program for the youth in the neighborhood.  Several years ago, she and her family moved to the inner city and built a church in their backyard. Once again, thanks for the prayers and I will finish saying this quote by Amy, “we are not just missionaries when you are at a foreign place, you are/can be a missionary ANYWHERE you go.”   
-Matt Klouse

Hi all! Thank you for your support and prayers. We have been here for six days and God has really blessed us. First, it was very easy to get through the airport and onto the plane. Then, we had a chance to meet Amy, from We Will Go ministries. She taught us to not just pray for our needs and the needs of others, but also to ask God what he wants to say to us. She is great with the kids at the VBS, because she is patient and has so much compassion for them. It is a blessing to have her as an example for how we should act at VBS.   We were also blessed with the chance to hear John Perkins speak. He encouraged us to accept each other’s differences and spread love to everyone.
 We have been working on a house that burned down for the past three days. I felt very tired on the first day and I didn’t know if I would have the strength for VBS. I just stopped and began to pray. The Lord gave me all of the strength I need to serve him! The Lord absolutely answers prayers.
It is amazing what the Lord is doing in Mississippi. The Voice of Calvary bought some land near our house, and they fixed it up. Since then, the crime rate has gone down 50%. It is so amazing to see how the Lord is working through We Will Go ministries. Two teenagers were arrested, and they were let out on Monday. Two hours after they got out of the detention center, they came to the VBS! God is working in amazing ways here. Thank you again for your prayers!

-Jessie Anderson

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Flexible Tuesday"

Today started off with a bit of a change of plans.  When we looked out the window and saw how hard it was raining, Jon made the executive decision that it would be too dangerous to work at the work sites.  While it was a little disappointing that we couldn’t continue our work from yesterday, it was a blessing in disguise because we now got the opportunity to go on a tour of the different neighborhoods of the city of Jackson, led by Voice of Calvary Volunteer Coordinator, Sam Pollard.  This was an extremely eye-opening experience because it was unbelievable to see the difference between the poor side of Jackson, made up of rotting, dilapidated houses, and the rich side of Jackson, composed of huge, beautiful houses.  It was even crazier to see the houses that the Voice of Calvary used to own but had since been bought by the JSU campus.  Voice of Calvary turned these houses into houses that people would actually want to live in, but in only the three years that Jackson State had purchased it, the houses fell back to a state of extreme disrepair.  We are praying that someday these houses will be restored to their previous condition that VOC put so much effort into.
After the grand tour of Jackson, we went back to the Voice of Calvary church for lunch.  After a delicious meal (fried chicken and macaroni and cheese!) we were blessed to have the opportunity to listen to Dr. John Perkins, founder of Voice of Calvary and author of the book that we read, Let Justice Roll Down.  Even though Dr. Perkins was 84-years-old, he had the vigor and power of a 20-year-old.  The first thing that he told us was that we are the generation that is going to make a difference, to turn a world of hate into a world of love.  Dr. Perkins said, “The only love you can keep, is that which you give,” showing the importance of living a life of love.  He emphasized that we have the opportunity to use our love of God to better the world in which we live, and it is important that we take advantage of that opportunity.  I am extremely grateful that we got the chance to see Dr. Perkins speak in person, and I will certainly be praying for him as he continues to spread love around the world.
We went back to We Will Go Ministries for our second day of VBS after the lunch.  I help out with skits that we do at the opening of each day and am a grade guide for the older kids.  To be honest, I was nervous when I found out that I was in charge of these teenagers because I just didn’t think that they would want to participate in anything.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The first thing we did yesterday and today was a craft, and seeing the teenagers make beaded cross necklaces and coloring coloring pages of Jesus made me so happy.  I knew that God was at work in their lives.  Today’s bible lesson was about Jesus and Peter walking on water and calming the storm and I am praying that those teens love and trust God just as much as Peter did.  We ended the day with a quick game of basketball, Mississippi against Massachusetts.  While I thought that it would get way too competitive, the teens just played a fun and fair game (with me obviously cheering on the sidelines instead of playing on the court), which helped strengthened the relationships that were developing between us.  It is sad to think that VBS is already half-way done, but we are hoping to teach these kids as much about Jesus as possible in the little time that we have.  With God’s help, we can truly make a difference in these kids’ lives. 

After a hard day’s work, we got home to a dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs and are about to leave for another Walmart run and then a special trip to Krispy Kreme for Max and Nora’s birthdays, which we are all very excited about.  I am so blessed to have been able to be a leader on this trip as I am having a truly amazing experience and am strengthening my relationship with not only the other people on this trip but also with God.  Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers.      

-Taylor Reale

Monday, July 14, 2014

Our first full work day completed

Today we had our first day of working! My group and I had the privilege of working for Yolanda, a woman who needed help with her yard and garage due to her recovery of cancer. In Yolanda’s yard, we helped to weed the side of her house and clear out any brush. In the garage we organized many lost items that Yolanda had. When I felt God’s presence he told me that what we were doing was going to impact many people. Later that day our group ran the first day of Vacation bible school. I believe that as a group, instilled a new picture of God’s love for them. During the day some children opened up to telling us about their lives. A young man named Craig told me how his mother is working on how to help his mother with her addiction. At that moment I knew that this camp was doing something and how great I have it back home.
                After you read this blog post I ask that you can pray for Craig and that his problems will go away and that his mother can lead a better life and support Craig. Overall ,today was great I got to meet new and interesting people and I feel I like my relationship with God has grown.
-Marcel Anderson

Here are a couple of photos from one of two work sites that our group went to this morning.  

Hi all!
Today was an awesome day! The day started off with an amazing breakfast, and then we proceeded to split up into two groups. The first group was working at an elderly woman's home, doing yard work and cleaning her garage. The second group went to a house that had been in a fire. There we sorted through rubble, took down burnt brickwork, and salvaged as much wood as we could. Although we were all very hot and sweaty, the day wasn't finished. At three o'clock in the afternoon we headed over to The Fountain, which is one of the ministry buildings for We Will Go. There we successfully held our first day of Vacation Bible School for the week. Before the VBS participants came in, we all prayed and asked for Holy Spirit to be with us as we ministered. The people who came ranged in ages from seven all the way to thirty one. Even though the VBS program had crafts such as coloring, and sports such as basketball knockout, the adults still participated with full hearts. The amazing part is that they didn't want to be there to help with the younger children- they were there so that they could learn and worship.
 Another wonderful addition to today's VBS were two preteen boys who joined us who had just been released from a juvenile detention center the hour before. God worked in their hearts to come to learn about Him, even in the darkest of times. Over all, the day was very productive. It was clear that the children in the neighborhood didn't come from the most supportive homes, and didn't have the most secure family lives, but yet God was working in their lives.
My sister, Alexis, and Emma Sidell were inspired by “I Am Second” videos to make one of their own with a lady who was battling cancer and other various sicknesses. In this video she shared her life story, and talked about her journey with God. Many people on our team said that the part of the day that we could feel God the most was when we prayed with a woman named Gloria. She had been crying over a situation, so all of the girls hugged and prayed with her. It was a really sentimental moment. The Holy Spirit has been present in everything that we do; from praying to working with the neighborhood children and adults.  Thank you for your prayers for our team.


This first photo is of some of our group at a park we went to tonight. This park is kept up by Voice of Calvary in Jackson and some of our teens went running on the trail there together, while others threw a Frisbee or played other games. This second photo is back at the house tonight for worship & a debrief of our day together.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A great day in Jackson!

Hello Everyone,

So far things are going pretty well. It’s amazing that during the meetings leading up to the trip, no one from both churches would socialize with each other. For the most part, we only talked within our own groups. Now, most of us have become very close. I have met some great kids that I think we can have a great relationship with in our walk with God.
Now about the trip. Today, we went to two different church services of the two organizations we are working with. The services were very different from what I’m used to at our church. At We Will Go, it was amazing to see all the people that they welcome with open arms. Most people are in serious poverty and have a sad and rough background. The couple that run the organization, David and Amy Lancaster, are the nicest couple. They have heard God’s calling and they look at the best in people. Today, Amy welcomed everyone that walked in with open arms, greeting all the children that came in with hugs or some greeting. When we were at dinner, I got the chance to meet this man. After he graduated from high school, he went on to join the Air Force. After his service, he went through the struggle of two divorces. Through this difficult time, he still kept his faith with God. In fact, he started teaching us about God’s amazing and miraculous power. That was something that I wasn’t expecting.
VBS starts tomorrow, please pray for all to go well and give us the strength to strive through despite the heat or whatever challenges we face. I’m excited for what the week will be like, I can’t wait to share more about my experiences when I get back.
Max Mogavero

Today our group spent the day worshiping God. We visited two different churches, neither of which were a style we were used to at home. At the church from “We Will Go”, we sat under a gazebo and sang for a long while. It was such a different experience than what we were all used to at home. In our churches in the north, we tend to keep to our selves, but here in Mississippi the people raise their hand while singing, the singers in the band break out into different parts and people talk out loud while the pastor is delivering the sermon in agreement. The occurrence that stuck out to me the most was when we were at the Common Ground church. Towards the end of the service the pastor had us all get out of our seats, form a group with people we didn't know and pray together. This stood out to me because it reminded me that as Christians we are a community, and it’s amazing to be able to gather together under one roof, not knowing each other and all worship the same God and not be afraid to talk to one another. When we had dinner later in the evening with members of the community, we dined with prostitutes, thieves, missionaries, and believers. We all were together, talking and being open about who we are and what are story was. But the most important thing about all of that was that nobody judged, but we prayed for each other. I feel as though often times in our world people forget that they need to support one another. As Christians we need to remember to do this too, whether it’s saying “hi” to a neighbor or its letting a person with a colorful life into our church doors, loving and accepting them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

-Alexis Smith

We also made a quick stop today in between worship services for the best peaches any one will ever eat! :)