Bolivia Team Closing Thoughts

Over the course of eight days our team experienced something truly miraculous. Twenty-six of us boarded a bus in the wee hours in Newtown, PA to travel to one of the poorest communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We left with a singular purpose – to bless the children and families of two Child Development Centers (Unidos en Cristo and Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina).

You can find summaries of our trip in our two-part series here and here.

Little did we know that it would be us who would be blessed beyond measure. Words cannot describe the feelings and love that we have for the Bolivian people. They possess a joy and a contentment that is not based on material possessions, luxuries, Starbucks, or everyday stuff. The joy these people have is based in the Lord and His divine provision for their needs.

Over the course of the week we saw God “show up” more times than we could count. From little unplanned encounters to a few encouraging words that were perfectly timed by God, our team has been forever changed by this trip.

My heart is forever changed

Each evening we would have a “debrief meeting” at which time I would ask each of our team members to reflect on something that God taught them that day or something they experienced. But, they had to do it in 3-5 words. Some words that were shared included, “My heart is forever changed”, “God bless the translators”, “You guys get it”, “Miraculous divine appointments.”

Early Tuesday morning we caught a fight from our beloved city of Cochabamba to the busy city life of Santa Cruz. The two cities are like night and day, but both still lovely. Once we arrived to our hotel, we enjoyed lunch with some special guests. One of our teammates, Stacey, had an opportunity to meet her 4 year-old sponsor child in addition to his 17 year-old mother. They joined us for lunch and a sight-seeing tour in Santa Cruz. Having had a full schedule all week of work at the Centers, church, VBS, home visits, and all the emotions with it, it was nice to have a bit of a “slow day” – even if it would end up being the longest day with travel.

It was clear that despite having a good night’s rest into Tuesday, our team was tired. Tired from ministry. Tired from the emotional rollercoasters of meeting new beloved friends and then saying goodbye. Tired from the wear and tear of a full schedule. But, it was good tired. The opportunity to see firsthand the impact that our love and sponsorship has for these children was incredible.

The journey home was to be a long one. Our 2:30 AM flight from Santa Cruz to Panama City was smooth, or at least it seemed that way – most of us were able to get some sleep, even if it wasn’t restful. With a three-hour layover in Panama, we were reminded of God’s work in our lives and our team. Many of us, again, shared stories and pictures from our phones about our experiences and the various “God sightings.”

What seemed like the longest day ever, Tuesday/Wednesday (whatever day it was) was a day of reflection and contemplation. What will we do differently once we return home?

Will we continue with life “as is?” Or will we see our worlds differently? Some have already said that we “live with too much in Pennsylvania.” Some have shared that they will get more involved in missions or global endeavors, whether at church or elsewhere. Some have shared that they will start now to train and educate their own children about life in another culture, how blessed we are, and how much we take for granted.

What will we do differently once we return home?

Some have already made an impact as a result of our trip. At least four additional children have been sponsored by our team alone. I can tell you that this team is passionate about what they experienced. Informal recruitment for future trips has already begun. Regardless of whether or not you sponsor a child through Compassion, this trip and trips like this one are life-changing and God can/will use these trips to open your eyes to what life outside of our bubbles is really like.

We’ve all seen that sponsoring a child is one simple step, though an important one. It is the building and nurturing of a relationship with your child and their family that can last a lifetime.

Silly Faces!

My experience this week, and I’ve been to Bolivia before, was such that I came away with a bigger heart for God’s work and what He’s doing. Bolivia has become like my home away from home.

One of our fantastic translators, Jacob, made an endearing observation on Saturday when spending time with me and my sponsored kiddos. He said, “You have two boys in America, and you now have two daughters in Bolivia.” While I hadn’t made that realization myself, I knew instantly that it was true. Our Dayana is so special to us, she has become like a daughter to me and our family. Visiting her home, having fun together on Saturday, seeing her at church on Sunday, then VBS on Sunday, this guy’s heart is full.

Me and the Girls

Then to meet Deysi, a young teenager who is sponsored by the Grace Point staff. Joan, Chuck and I got to meet Deysi at her home, spend fun day with her on Saturday, worship with her on Sunday, and then party at VBS. I quickly learned that there was more genuine love to go around. Being the Missions Pastor, and most likely the guy who will write most of the letters to her, I found that Deysi, just as Jacob observed, quickly became like a daughter to me. I don’t know that I’ll be able to easily share the letter writing responsibility with the other staff. Deysi is a dear young lady who I’m certain will grow to be a strong woman of God.

At that evening’s debrief meeting, my 3-5 words were simply, “two sons and two daughters” – a phrase that even now causes my eyes to tear up.

Is there more to share? Absolutely. Is there more work to be done in Cochabamba? Absolutely. Do we have an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child, in a church, in the surrounding community, and in the country of Bolivia? Absolutely. And it is humbling.

It is our turn to step forward and answer the call of Jesus. To minister and love the poor, to step out of our comfort zones and make an impact in the life of a child. How will you respond and what will be your 3-5 words?

Bolivia Team Update – Part 2

This is Part Two of our Bolivia Team Blog update. To catch up, read Part One.

Day 4 – Saturday

Today was our fun day and it lived up to its name. We woke up (a little later than the past few days!) to rain and a forecast that did not permit us to go to the amusement park we had planned, but in God’s grace, Plan B was even better!

Fun Day!

Through connections of one of our Compassion Staff, we were able to go to a retreat center that was much more intimate and because of this we could all see and even interact with each other throughout the day. It was very cool here today but the rains stayed away (Praise God) and we could be outdoors playing volleyball, parachute games, soccer, frisbee, and just hanging out.

Parachute Games!

Each of us who had a sponsor child were able to spend the day together with the total purpose of having fun and building bonds. The children’s tutors were with them and many of our children brought along members of their family as well. It was really special!

We received a bagged lunch from Chicken Kingdom with french fries and yummy sauces. All of this is such a treat to many of these families and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

Later this afternoon we had a few hours before dinner to rest or shop and then we walked to a local steak restaurant called Paprika where we were served an awesome dinner and dessert. It was a nice treat to be outside of the hotel and experience some local flavor.

One of our teammates description of the day was very appropriate and resonated with each of us: “church picnic/family reunion!”

Day 5 – Sunday

Another amazing day in Bolivia!  We boarded two separate buses—going to two different churches—for worship this morning. Grace Point headed to Unidos en Cristo while Restoration Church headed to Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina.

The GP Crew at Unidos en Cristo

We were warmly welcomed by the congregation at Unidos en Cristo and as the worship music began to play, the church started to fill.  With a God-inspired message, Steve Weir shared from the heart to trust God in and with ALL things. There were special musical performances by the dear women of the church and the youth.  And yet another special, impromptu musical performance by our team when asked/told, “Grace Point, don’t you want to sing us a song or something?” Sure we do!  And we did. To end the service, all 16 of us were asked to stand in front of the church to receive a heartfelt prayer from Pastor Angel and a beautiful, colorful vest as a gift, as well as kisses, hugs and handshakes from the entire congregation.

The RC Folks at Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina

Restoration folks had a similar experience today as we visited the Marquina church.  This is the first time that a team has ever visited this center and church.  The smiles, hugs and kisses, tears of joy, and overwhelming warmth of welcome was something that I will truly never forget.  We had the opportunity to listen to Pastor Jhonny [different from the Pastor Jhonny at Unidos en Cristo] preach from God’s Word as well as play the guitar during worship (remind you of anyone we know at RC?!).  Our entire team was greeted by every member of the congregation – from the smallest babies to the kindest little old ladies you have ever seen.  Our entire team was so blessed to be a part of this church this morning.

We enjoyed a delicious and filling lunch with the pastors and leaders of both churches before we headed off to visit the Cristo de la Concordia statue.  The views of this beautiful city were absolutely stunning and it is certainly a scene that will never leave our memories.

The Team at Cristo!

This evening our team continued to prepare for the two sessions of VBS tomorrow.  We are so excited to share God’s love with the children – sharing the message that “When you worry… Jesus rescues!”

Day 6 – Monday

What an amazing last day in Bolivia!  We showed God’s love through a day of VBS at Unidos en Cristo. We broke into four stations – Music, Bible, Crafts and Games – in a morning and an afternoon session.  There were about 40-45 children in the morning, ages 6-9, and the afternoon session had about 80-90 children ages 6-12.

Music Team Having Fun!

The Music Team taught a Bible verse in Spanish, Psalm 34:19, which says in the kid-friendly version: “The Lord comes to the rescue each time.”  They also taught two songs with motions.  The theme for today was: When We Worry, Jesus Rescues.

The Bible Team taught a lesson about Mary and Martha.  Katie Beth was able to deliver the story in Spanish. The Craft Team made a toucan out of foam and feathers.  This was the Bible Buddy for the day. The Games Team was able to use the beautiful turf field a block away from the Project.  The kids enjoyed playing dodge ball with multiple beach balls.

Games Team on the Turf

We gathered back as a large group to perform the songs together and create a rainstorm using only our hands.  And then it was time to say goodbye to sponsored children and new friends.

The team traveled back to the hotel in our two trusty buses and some tears were shed as we said goodbye to some of our beloved translators:  Jacob, Evelin, and Peter.

Thirty minutes later, we headed to the hotel restaurant and enjoyed our final dinner in Cochabamba with Pastor Angel, Pastor Jhonny and their families.  One of the Compassion translators, José, created a highlight reel of our time here in Cochabamba.  It included almost everything we did, everywhere we went, and every cheek kiss we received!  This video reminded us of all the ways that God is at work here.  Yes, there were a few tears as we relived our experiences in a place that we will hold forever close to our hearts.

The evening also included comments and prayers by Pastor Jhonny, Pastor Angel, Pastor Angel’s wife Dina, and Steve Weir.  Each one expressed their gratitude and appreciation for our mutual love for the children and service to the Lord.

Day 7 – Tuesday

Tuesday morning we headed to the airport to begin the first leg of our journey home. After a short flight from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz, we ate lunch at our hotel and headed out for some sight-seeing and souvenir shopping. It was quite the experience to learn about the rich history and architecture of Santa Cruz, and to get to try on some traditional Bolivian attire. After a fun-filled dinner out, we headed back to the hotel for the last remaining hours in our beloved Bolivia.

Cathedral in Santa Cruz

Twenty-four hours before our final bus delivered our team to the Grace Point entrance, two Bolivian buses left with our team members heading for the Santa Cruz airport.  Every connection on this trip was smooth, every passport and visa in order, all of the means of transportation on time (or very close—our bus was delayed at the beginning on July 17) until the very end.  We had some delays in customs upon our return to the U.S. (it seemed that most of the airplane-riding world converged on Dulles at the moment that our plane landed) and then the “monsoon” weather in the DC area led to flooded roads and accident-related delays.

Flooding on I-495 Getting Home

So, ultimately, we arrived at Grace Point at 11:00 pm, which was a few hours later than we had hoped for.  Having traveled over 4,000 miles in the past 24 hours, we were all ready to be climb into our own beds and get some much-needed rest.

You could say that the trip is over and that our arrival home is the last of this tribe of very close sisters and brothers.  But that would be wrong.  We are already planning get-togethers and reports to our sending churches, Restoration Church and Grace Point.  And I can tell you from being a part of this Spirit-unified, cohesive team that we are going to be looking for fruit of transformation that will come from the seeds that have been planted in two relatively small churches perched on the sides of the hills surrounding Cochabamba, Bolivia…and in the hearts of each of our team members in the process of serving Jesus faithfully.

Thank you for supporting and praying for us!

Bolivia Team Update – Part 1

In the wee hours of Tuesday, July 17 a team of 26 people (a mix from Grace Point and Restoration Church) headed to Bolivia for 8 days; and it was amazing. It is difficult to share all that our team experienced while in Bolivia – including the many God-sightings and the emotional roller-coaster ride of visiting our sponsored children and their families, our friends at Unidos en Cristo, and making new friends at another Child Development Center. Our trip with Compassion International was incredible beyond words. Our schedule was full and hectic at times, but we had a great team that was flexible and willing to adapt.

The Team is Ready to Go!

Compassion’s mission statement is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name, and we saw that firsthand. Below are small snippets from our daily prayer updates, in case you weren’t on our list, or you simply want to relive our trip with us. 🙂

Day 1 – Wednesday

Lots of Letters to be Translated and Processed!

Today was nothing short of amazing, encouraging, emotional, and inspiring. Cochabamba is a fantastic city and sits at the feet Cristo. After arriving at the hotel and grabbing some lunch, we had some time to refresh before we made our way to the national Compassion office for all of Bolivia.

Our team split into three groups and heard all about the ministry, philosophy, and process that Compassion employs in Bolivia. Each of these wonderful Compassion employees view their work as a much-needed ministry to not just change the lives of these children, but to ultimately to bring about life change to their entire country. Next was dinner at which we were joined by Pastor Angel and a few members of the governing board at Unidos en Cristo. After dinner, Pastor Angel shared his vision for ministry and church planting. He closed by providing an update on his and his son’s recovery from an automobile accident several weeks ago.

It was long day, but worth it.

Day 2 – Thursday

Today we visited Unidos en Cristo,  the first of what will be many gatherings planned for this week. Here we received a warm welcome complete with waving flags and handmade welcome signs! We had a service together in which we sang and prayed. A young lady at the age of 13 spoke to us of her favorite verse (Rev 2:10) and how we must be faithful to God in all circumstances. Then, the pastor’s wife prayed for us, their visitors, asking that God bless us and protect us. She gave thanks to God for our love of her community and home country of Bolivia. She prayed all of this through tears of love and appreciation. It was truly humbling. We came here in hopes of being a blessing to the community and these people beseech the Lord to bless us!

A Warm Welcome at Unidos en Cristo!

There were two teaching opportunities this day. The first was for the women of Unidos en Cristo in which Barb Brown spoke about the importance of living in community as Christian women and developing relationships that provide support and spur one another on to growth in Christ.  Then Sherri Wolf spoke candidly about the kinds of things women and mothers struggle with and how we can seek forgiveness and ask the Lord to help us sow good seed into our children and families.

Pastor Chuck Teaching the Adolescents

The second teaching opportunity was led by Chuck Arnold who spoke to the teenagers about what it means to be an adolescent and how to succeed even while they face many pressures growing up.

The Ever-Enthusiastic GAP Students in Concert!

Dinner tonight was pizza spent with fifteen of the 48 students enrolled in the GAP program.  GAP is a selective program in which students, age 18-22, apply to develop leadership skills.  These young people were so excited to meet with us.  They greeted us with music, provided a concert for us during which they implored us to dance.  We later met in small groups and learned about the various experiences of these sponsored children.  GAP provides small group connections and support. It was awesome!

Day 3 – Friday

The Kids at BO-707 Welcoming the RC Crew!

Today was the first day we split teams; Grace Point went back to 703 (Unidos en Cristo) for a service day, and those of us from RC had the amazing opportunity to visit a center that has never received a visit before. As they pulled up to the gates of Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina, we could see the children and staff had made a beautiful welcome banner they strung along a second floor balcony. The children all ducked behind it when they saw us approaching and when we got off the bus they all popped out to shout “BIENVENIDOS! (Welcome!)” As they walked down the stairs, each child holding a brightly colored balloon, they sang a song for us. They let the balloons go as they reached out to embrace us each, one at a time. It was a beautiful, heart-warming welcome!

The RC folks had a day filled with home visits, a special opportunity to tag along with the Compassion staff for a home-based program visit for mothers and infants. Then, they had a chance to meet with the staff at BO-707 and enjoy games and activities with the children.

The GP Crew Hard at Work
The Newly Installed Computer Lab

The GP folks helped to sand and repaint the furniture for the classrooms at Unidos en Cristo. We also installed a new computer lab for the students, with 12 desktop computers. Additionally, we brought seven laptops with us for the students to use for homework and other computer training. The staff and students who were there on Friday were extremely grateful and excited about these new resources!

 

Be sure to read more about our trip in “Part Two.”

Staying Connected During the Summer

Summer is here and vacations are in full swing!

While we and our families are heading to the beach, the boardwalk, and other great destinations, there’s a lot happening at Grace Point this summer. With VBS quickly approaching and Greg Shelton (our new Youth Pastor) and his family soon to arrive, you won’t want to miss a thing!

Here are a few ways that you can stay connected:

  1. Subscribe to our GP News List – This is the primary way that we send out announcements and other key news items. You can sign-up for GP News or any of our other email lists using this form.
  2. Listen Online – Each week (typically on Mondays) we post the messages
    Watching Jesus in His every day life helps us find Him in ours.

    from our Sunday morning services on our website. You can stay current with our current series, Every Day Jesus, and listen while your cycling down the boardwalk, sunbathing, or watching the kiddos in the pool!

  3. Follow us on Facebook – On our Facebook page, we’ll often post updates, events, pictures, and other encouraging posts to help you along the way in becoming more following Jesus.
  4. Follow our Blog – You’re here already! Great!
  5. We’re also on InstagramFollow us on Instagram for updates and pictures of encouragement and events.

Know that our staff are praying for you and your families this summer! Have a great week!

GP Kids – Important Tel Hai Camp Info

Dear Families and Friends of Grace Point,i-bdvmq8z-l

I am writing today to share with you about Tel Hai Adventure Camp week.  Over the past 11+ years that I have been at Grace Point, Tel Hai has been a highlight of ministry for GP Kids.  This away-camp week for students 8-11 years old began as a thriving opportunity for our families to send their children to a Christian camp.

Similar to many ministry endeavors, the week has had high points and low points throughout the time Grace Point has led it.  At its start, about 14 years ago, we had nearly 50 kids from Grace Point and our local area that would attend.  The week served not only our students, but local children from Honey Brooke who wished to attend, so it became an outreach opportunity as well.  Over the years, while I have led the camp, I have taken time each year to pray over and evaluate the program.  This year, when our Tel Hai leadership team (comprised of both Grace Point and Crossing Community Church leaders) evaluated the program, it became clear that God was indeed directing us to reconsider leading this program.  After much prayer, I brought these considerations to both the staff and elders and decided, with their feedback, that we would not move forward with offering and leading Tel Hai Adventure Camp as a Grace Point sponsored ministry.

i-cgp8m3b-lHere are some factors that brought us to this decision. Of the 130 kids who attended Tel Hai Adventure Camp week this year, only 8 of them were from Grace Point.  Another few students were from Crossing Community Church, but the majority of the children were from the local area of Honey Brooke, PA.  While I loved the opportunity to outreach to the Honey Brooke area, it became clear to me that continuing relationships with those students we did reach was difficult due to our removed location in Newtown, PA.  And despite our efforts over a number of years, we have not seen the number of GP children increase. In a nutshell,  the amount of time, energy, effort and finances it takes to make this one week happen were a cost outweighing the gain.

I realize this ministry has become very dear to the heart of the many leaders and students who have been a part of it, and I assure you much prayer and deliberation has gone into this decision.  I, myself, am sad to close this door.  However, I am, at the same time, excited at what we will see God do in children’s ministry at Grace Point with more time and energy to invest here.

You may be asking yourself, what’s next then?  What could we offer by way of the camp experience some students will miss?  These are important questions I want to answer for you.  Our efforts will be poured back into the overall ministry of GP Kids at Grace Point.  It is my prayer to see the freed up time, leadership and finances used to further the ministry within our program here where the impact can be greater and lasting. Beyond that, I have begun researching other camp experiences that Grace Point would recommend for families.  We will not look to lead a week of camp as we did with Tel Hai, but we do want to offer options and opportunities that may serve you well.  To check out some camp opportunities and further updates, please use this link: https://gracepointonline.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/elementary-and-family-camp-ideas.pdf.

I care deeply about your family and any questions you might have.  Please email me questions at cdewitt@gracepointpa.org.

In love and prayer, Cassandra DeWitt

Fall Ministry Update!

Dear Grace Point family,

It’s hard to believe, but summer is nearly gone, school starts in a few weeks, and fall is upon us! Though we often hate to bring the vacation season to a close, the good news is that there is a lot going on at Grace Point this fall to help you become a more fully committed follower of Jesus Christ. I am excited to share the following update to inform your prayers and scheduling.

Youth Director Search Team – As Nate Korpi concludes his tenure as Youth Director at the end of August and prepares to go to the mission field, a search team is beginning to seek God’s next leader for our Grace Point Youth Ministry. Scott Leuz will be heading the team of elder-confirmed members, who will be introduced on Sunday, August 28.

A celebration and send-off for Nate and Jendi Korpi is being planned for teens and parents in September – date and time TBA soon. We will also hold a church-wide celebration and send-off nearer the time when the Korpis leave for their missions assignment, likely in early 2017.

Youth Ministry: Our Youth Transition Team led by Bill Wright has a full fall schedule planned. Here are the highlights:

Sundays: September 11 – new Sunday morning format will kick off during second service at 10:30 am with a pancake breakfast. Beginning September 18, teens are encouraged to join adults in second service for the singing portion of worship, and then will be dismissed at sermon time to go to class, where they will discuss the same sermon topic.

Thursdays: On September 15, the GP Youth midweek program begins from 7-9 pm weekly, with a format similar to this past year: food, fun, and Bible lesson.

Retreats: four retreats are scheduled for the school year, beginning with the Fall Retreat October 28-30.

More details on youth events will follow soon, with direct communication to teens and their families.

Children’s Ministry: Cassandra DeWitt and her team are ready for a new year of ministry!

Sunday September 11 – Sunday morning fall kick off.

Wednesday September 14 – Wednesday Kids Club begins, weekly 6:30-8:00pm.

Wednesday September 28 – Block Party at 6:30 pm for all families with children through junior and senior high school. This is a great time for families who are new to Grace Point to learn more about what GP Kids Ministry is all about!

Young Adult Ministry: For high school graduates through age 29, a new weekly meeting time will be offered this fall:

Wednesdays, beginning September 21, at the home of Glenn and Lynn Ely (419 Woodhill Road, Newtown), with a light dinner at 6:30 pm, followed by Bible discussion from 7-8:30 pm. This will run for ten consecutive weeks.

Social events are also planned during the year.

8/28 – Lunch ‘n Learn: There is a place for YOU to serve and be part of what God is doing this fall at Grace Point! Sunday, August 28 following second service, join your GP staff for one hour as we enjoy lunch together and find out about volunteer serving opportunities in all ministry areas. 11:45 am in rooms A4-6.

9/4 – Bridesburg & Bolivia Missions Trip Highlights – Be encouraged as Missions and Communications Director Steve Weir calls our missions teams to share what they experienced this summer as they stepped out of their comfort zones and saw God at work. Highlights will be shared during the Sunday Service on September 4, followed by an in-depth look over lunch at 11:45 am in rooms A4-6.

9/11 – Marriage Ministry Kickoff – Learn more from Chuck Arnold, Pastor of Congregational Care, about Grace Point’s new initiative to strengthen marriages. Mark your calendars for a new marriage class that begins Sunday, October 23 at 9 am, and the Great Date Night event on Saturday, October 22 at 7 pm.

9/18 – Fall Groups Launch: Find a new group in your neighborhood. Many new groups will be “sermon-based,” that is, their discussion will follow the topics from our Sunday sermons and meet for ten consecutive weeks. The fall sermon series, also launching 9/18, will focus on foundational truths presented in Genesis 1-3.

So there you have it – something to help everyone become more fully committed followers of Jesus. Looking forward to what God has in store for us all this fall!

In Christ, Dave

Summer Playlist

One of my favorite things about warmer weather is driving with the windows down and my favorite tunes playing on the car radio (sometimes louder than it should be). Backyard BBQs and summer parties tend to be a whole lot more enjoyable with some “tunes.” I love music.

NEEDTOBREATHE - Hard Love
NEEDTOBREATHE – Hard Love

Music has always resonated with me, and helped me to come to terms with some of the darkest times of my life. The song, “In Christ Alone” has a special significance for me. Music can help us relax, process, or simply “be still” in the midst of life’s storms. That’s one of the reasons I love that we incorporate music into our worship services.

This summer, I’m spending a lot of time with NEEDTOBREATHE‘s latest album, “Hard Love.” It came out while I was away from home, and so track 8, “Be Here Long” means a lot to me. The chorus goes like this:

Close my eyes and think of you
Go to sleep and dream of you
We don’t get to be here long
I gave you the best of me
Loved you more than anything
But we don’t get to be here long

At the risk of sounding all mushy, it made me think of my wife and my boys when I was 3,000 miles away.

What songs have meaning for you? What are you listening to this summer?

Adventures at Adventure Camp

This is a special week for many of our kids at Grace Point. There are 130 kids ages 8-11 having a great time at Adventure Camp at Camp Tel Hai. Cassandra DeWitt, our Children’s Director, Liz Coffman, our Nursery Coordinator, and 50 other leaders are leading the charge to “Walk this Way” – which is this year’s theme.

From archery to crafts, from riding horses to sitting ’round the campfire, Tel Hai is always a life-changing week for these kids. Below is a portion from earlier this week on the Adventure Camp blogCheck out the blog for a daily video!

One of our favorite meals today was tacos for TACO TUESDAY of course! To top that, as if you could, we had a treat of terrific apple crisp today too!

An even more fun treat, was our evening special where the kids got to rotate between an evening swim, hayride and mini-golf under the lights! This is a favorite night for many of the campers getting to swim under the lights, and also, having the hayride back was a special treat. You could [hear] the kids singing tunes from miles away I am sure!

Bolivia: Not What I Was Expecting

Let me be candid: my trip to Bolivia was not what I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong – I was expecting to learn. But most of the things I learned were not what I had in mind ahead of time.

I did not expect to learn that joy really is possible in the midst of seemingly hopeless circumstances. We met friends who have so very little in the way of material possessions, yet their faces beam a joy that can only come from the Lord.

I was not looking for evidence to prove the old cliché, “If you can make a difference for only one, it still matters to that one.” Turns out that “cliché” is really a profound truth, and is happening over and over again, one child at a time.

I did not know I would witness a drive to spread the gospel that often gets lost in the busyness of our first world pursuits of “success.” That drive is alive and well in Bolivia and people are being rescued every day from a Christ-less eternity. (May it be so in Bucks County!)

I did not expect the clarity that ministry is about people and not programs. If at the heart of ministry we are not about loving and serving others, we have missed it completely.

I did not know my daughter could instantly have such love for a little boy from another continent who speaks a different language, yet who in three days came to call her “Tia” – aunt. I am thankful that we can stay connected through letters and pictures – they mean the world to sponsored children. Here are some great ideas to write a letter to your child right now.

I did not expect to become so attached to people I knew for only a week. But the truth is, I’ve left a piece of my heart behind on a dusty hill outside Cochabamba.

Our team had an amazing time and look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come.  Thanks to our great God and to all who made this trip possible.

Beach Vacation With Our Toddler – What Were We Thinking?!

As I’m packing up our car for our family beach vacation, tucking items in every little corner, under each seat and in the roof cargo carrier, I ask myself the question most parents with small children ask: How much stuff does this kid need?!

Of course, the reality is that she doesn’t “need” most of it but rather it’s our attempt as parents to our almost two-year daughter to be prepared for any possible scenario…..and provide opportunities to create fun, meaningful, “perfect” memories that we will cherish forever.

Then hits the reality of the endless chasing, sand eating, can’t sit still, temper tantrum and downright tiring days. My wife and I will look at each other with those eyes that say, “What were we thinking?  This is exhausting!”  But we also know that there will be many laughs, hugs, pictures and all around sweet moments together.  The combination of these not-so-perfect moments with the unplanned amazing moments, will not only strengthen our bond as a family, but turn into some of the best memories of our trip together.

Too often we consume ourselves with planning the perfect occasion or vacation and get upset when things don’t go as planned.  We say things we don’t mean or act in anger when we know we are better. We forget that these imperfect moments are what may become some of our fondest memories of our time together as family or friends.  Some of my greatest childhood memories with my dad involve trips where the boat sank, the tent blew away and the raccoons stole our food at the campsite.  In the moment, we weren’t very happy about what was happening, but now they are the fun memories I still talk about today.

What are your plans for the rest of this summer?   Whether it’s a family vacation, BBQ with friends, or a day trip to a park, I hope that the greatest memories are made not just because everything was planned and went perfectly, but that you and your loved ones are able to stop and laugh at the not-so-perfect moments.

So when you are in that situation where you ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” shake it off and just roll with it.  Life can be messy.  Have fun with it!