Short Term Missions Opportunities 2014

 We have several short-term missions trips opportunities this year:

ANDROS YOUTH CAMPS:

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In August 2013, we did a youth camp for about 40 kids in Mastic Point (you can see pics on the website and blog). We had basketball, soccer, outdoor games and VBS. We’re hoping to do TWO youth camps this year, one in late June in Nicholls Town, and one in either late July or early August in Mastic Point. It’s a one-week trip and includes some fun stuff, too. Last year’s cost was about $950 for the week (the airfare is the main fluctuating factor). We will take kids 14 and up, but it’s a great trip for families, too – Last year it was 3 families and me. 🙂  For the Mastic Point trip, the max we can accommodate is 10. I’m still waiting on some info for accommodation in Nicholls Town. (NOTE: You do need a passport to travel to the Bahamas.)

SLUMS AND BABIES HOME, UGANDA

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I don’t usually take groups to Uganda (we did a basketball camp in 2011 that was great, though!), but I’ve had several people express interest this year. If we get at least 6, I’ll take a group in September. It would be a minimum of 11 days (it’s 4 days of travel), and we’ll work with women and children in the slums of Kampala, and go to the Arise Africa Babies Home in Bukaleba. We can also spend time with hospice in Jinja and/or Tororo is that’s of interest. And we’ll go on a 1 night (2 game drives) safari at Lake Mburo. The cost will be around $3000 a person – I’ll get more precise if we do end up with enough people. Minimum age is 16 without a parent, 14 with.

(NOTE: You will need typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations to travel to Uganda, and will take malaria meds while there, which isn’t included in the cost quoted above. You’ll also need a visa, which is $50, and a passport if you don’t have one, also not included in the cost above.)

MONTHLY ANDROSELDERLY DAY CARE

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We are trying to start a very short term, monthly program in Andros to work with the elderly. The elderly in Andros is a hugely underserved population and in desperate need. We were hoping to start in january, but the accommodation fell through (twice) and we’re still working on a plan B. Participants would fly to Andros, spend 3 days working with 3 groups of 15 elderly per day, then leave the following day. The cost (depending on airfare) would be around $750-800. We only need 2-4 people per month.

If you’re interested in a trip, use the comments or the Contact section at our website  – and feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who might be.

If you’re interesting in hosting a fundraiser, let me know! We are in fairly desperate need for 2014, after our largest donor was unable to contribute for 2014 due to the economy.

the whole camp balls up

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Andros Youth Camp – Reflections

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We spent the last afternoon at this beautiful beach, at the Andros Island Resort in Nicholls Town. The beer was cold, the ocean was crystal clear and cool, the weather was perfect, and the food was delicious. It was the perfect way to unwind after a week of much activity, much pouring out, much laughter and sweat and love. We talked, we walked, we sat, and, most importantly, we rested.

So what are the take-aways from the trip? Well, I’m not one to write eloquent spiritual essays, as much as I’d love to. I live my life very much like the Jews were supposed to in the Bible, seeing everything, secular and sacred, as spiritual. I go where He sends me, obey to the best of my ability, try to always listen for His voice, and be ready to do “the next thing” (TNT, in my house).  So while others on our team may have wonderfully deep spiritual insights, I’ll have to pass those along to you here, and write what God’s put in my heart.

First, it was definitely a God thing to go. He put together a great team, gave my daughter great insight while she was putting the program together, and kept all of us in the palm of His hand. There was never any inkling of a feeling that we were doing anything other than what He sent us there to do. You can’t ask for more than that!

Second, it was definitely the beginning of our work in Andros, not a stand-alone event. I think we will do at least one, and possibly two, camps next year. (Yes, for those of you who know me, I did just say that!) We will definitely be starting the elderly day care in January, 2014 (or soon after). If you are interested in volunteering for any upcoming Andros adventure, contact me and I’ll put you on the mailing list for future trip information. Somewhere down the road are eggs, hospice, a guest house, and then some business things… In some order!

Third, God gave me, personally, a great gift with the make-up of the team. I was expecting — and was willing — to have a team of 9 or 10 teenagers. To have families (5 teens and 5 adults, in fact), was truly a blessing for me, and was really a sign of the great care and love God has for each of us, and how well He knows us.

Finally, Andros has incredible needs. Food. Jobs. Transportation. Decent health care. Decent schools. Hospice. Organized youth sports. Church based youth groups. Infrastructure. Home repair. Plumbing. It really boggles the mind. And we can’t do everything. No one can. But we can do something, and we’ve now made a start.

My son leaves Wednesday for an extended stay in Uganda. I join him on September 12. The needs there are even greater, but our support base and programs are in place. Leaving again so soon is a strain on my husband (and pets), but he’s got a few business things that should keep him going while I’m gone. I’d really appreciate your prayers (and financial support if you can) as we try to obey and follow Him, wherever He leads.

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Andros Youth Camp – Last day!

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The kids started arriving early – we were all pretty excited! The chairs had been moved out, so Jason and some of the other staff played some games until the ball got a bit crazy. After that, the Sharpies came out and the tee shirt signing began!

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After singing and worship, all the team gave their testimonies, sharing a time in their life when they didn’t think they were enough, but God brought them through and His will was accomplished. It was really great! Several of the team really didn’t want to get up in front of everyone and share, but they did, and God came through again!

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One of my favorite parts of the day was next, when we had the children come outside for affirmations. We’d worked all week writing them, and each child and team member got to choose 3. Our prayer is that the verses and other words of encouragement and affirmation will continue to speak into the kids’ lives long after camp is over.

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But we weren’t done yet! We got out the face painting supplies, and a surprising number wanted their faces done. With three of us being artists, we moved through them pretty fast, while the other kids learned to make paper airplanes from the pilot’s son, Nathan.

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Next… water balloons! The guys found another pump near the church that we hadn’t known about, and filled about 150 water balloons. It was supposed to be an organized thing (they even formed lines!). But as soon as the first balloons started to break, it became a free-for-all. With much hilarity and fun!

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Finally, it was time to hand out the tee shirts! Everyone got a Ten Eighteen shirt, and we got them organized for a group photo. I say “we,” meaning Mark, who, being an engineer, FINALLY got the kids into a line.

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And then… the Andros version of the color run! The kids LOVED the holi powder, and it was a great finale to our camp. Daryl and Tyler led a huddle at the end, and then it was the time we’d all been dreading… The time to say goodbye. It was hard… But I know we’ll be back, maybe even for 2 camps, next year. I’m thinking, maybe, one in Mastic Point and one in Nicholls Town. We’ll see what God says as we get closer, and if we can get enough volunteers. For now it’s on the back burner, and makes saying goodbye a little easier…

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Andros Youth Camp – Days 3-4

AUGUST 14:

There was a huge storm in the night, but that cooled it off somewhat. (Mrs. Murphy nodded when I said it was better, and said, “Yes, it was cool!” Okay no… it wasn’t COOL. But it was probably 8-10 degrees cooler, and that was a lot better!) We had 40 kids, between those that came early and those that joined along the way, and we ran four full, separate stations. Cross the ocean was pretty chaotic, but otherwise it went really, really well. The kids were starting to really get into the songs and motions (digging holes, scattering seeds, stomping the devil’s face, and, the favorite, leaning forward and backward) and worship. Many were making huge progress in the sports, too. Mark, our basketball coach, was really surprised at the lack of experience with any organized sports, but they began to get better at following directions – although they were still unable to form a line! We had a group of 16-18 year olds join us, and that made for some fun soccer and basketball scrimmages. We’re keeping the little guys inside in the afternoons, which is going better. And they are all really starting to grab onto the theme and feel comfortable with us. Overall, a great day! Back at the ranch, we had another great dinner with Mrs. Murphy and made 76 more PB&J sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.

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AUGUST 15:

The last day of stations! Wow! How did the week go so fast?? The kids were really great, although everyone is a little tired by this point, including our team. We introduced Project Friendship to the older kids, and many took thread home to make bracelets for Uganda. While we did more of the same today, we really enjoyed seeing the growth of the kids and especially in their comfort level with the us. There is a lot more laughter and joking around, and everyone participates in the stations now. The singing is great, and there is a LOT of leaning, digging, stomping and scattering of seeds. In short – it’s a blast!

It was also overcast all day, so a lot more pleasant in temperature. I spent the afternoon inside with the 4-6 year olds, and they defeated me. Totally. I ran out of ideas and was bribing them with candy. What can I say? It was the best I could do!

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Tomorrow is a half day of all fun stuff. We’re all tired, but really excited about the last day, most especially about the holi powder “run.” (It’s what they use in the Color Run.) We can’t believe it’s our last dinner with Mrs. Murphy… How did it go by so fast?? After a group photo, we headed back to make more PB&J sandwiches for our lunch. I know I’m sleeping really well by this point!

Andros Youth Camp – Days 1-2

AUGUST 12:

Day 1 of camp! We arrived at 7:30, to make sure that we could get everything set up. We had a meeting at breakfast, just trying to get our priorities in order. I shared what I journaled earlier in the morning: that we were to be God’s hands and feet, eyes and ears, heart and tongue. We were to reflect His glory for the kids to see, to model our theme of “Are you enough?” Everyone was in a great frame of mind!

Turned out the basketball court is about 1/4 mile away, but since there’s NO traffic (the few cars there are swerve all over the road to avoid potholes, but at least they can’t go fast!), walking isn’t a problem. Soccer is at the primary school in between the church and basketball court. We pull the van up to the basketball hoop to replace the net, the check out the soccer “field” (a field of mown grass that will be our field for the week). We unload everything, get our supplies organized, and prepare a registration area. Pastor Barr has to pick up most of the kids, so we wait…

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IMG_8373 IMG_8366 IMG_8364 IMG_8315 IMG_8220 IMG_8195 IMG_8194 IMG_8193We only had a dozen kids on day 1. Pastor Barr was very upset, but we weren’t — God had the kids there who needed to be there, and it was a great group. We added a few as the day went on, and kids who didn’t want to participate in things in the morning were loosening up by the afternoon. It poured rain in the morning and was overcast until lunch time, which was great as it stayed cooler (not cool, but cool-ER!). We weren’t supposed to have kids under 7… We had 6 that were 6 and under. Those younger kids were supposed to leave at noon… They didn’t leave until 3:30. So we had to make adjustments to the stations and schedule. We all played Cross the Ocean after lunch and that was a huge hit!

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The day went really well! We were all well pleased when we got back to Mrs. Beneby’s. And, of course, dinner at Murphy’s was great.

AUGUST 13:

I’m from Central Florida. I know hot. But I’ve never, ever been as hot as Tuesday. Ever. With no rain to cool it off, we just suffered through it, drinking about 15 gallons of water, plus the kids using the pumps at the basketball court and school. But today we had another dozen, and kept adding all day, so we ended with about 28. The kids had a great time, and really began loosening up, engaging in the sports and games, and having fun with the stuff inside. They are, however, completely incapable of forming a line. Totally. And the kids under 10 were… okay, let’s be honest. They were pretty unruly. We determined we really needed an adult with Natalie (15) and Nathan (18) at soccer for them to get anything done. Fortunately, my Androsian friend Denise was there, and she was very helpful!

We cut out hands today with the smaller kids, making them form a heart. On the left side of the hands, they wrote prayers for themselves. On the right side, prayers for their family or friends. Three of the six kids whose prayers I wrote prayed that their family would have enough food… That’s just heartbreaking.

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Several of us had headaches on Tuesday, and it was so hot we just took it easy after we got back to Beneby’s. Dinner was great, but it was a mellow night – and a lot of prayers for it to be a lot less hot!!

Andros – Team Weekend!

Our team came from the US in two groups, because one of them works for American Airlines, and her family was flying stand-by on Friday. That was four people, and the other five came on Saturday. The Rays got to the airport in Nassau for the Western Air flight at 2:30, and were boarded on time at a little before 4:00… But the Delta-flying group was delayed by equipment issues in Atlanta. Western Air, to their credit, did wait for about 40 minutes, but they had a pretty full flight and had to leave. Of course, our group on the ground watched the flight taxi and take off…

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Fortunately, Western Air has 2 charter planes, so they sent one to pick up the stragglers. However, because they were prepaid, the pilot brought another load back first in order to not lose the money if they went with another pilot, so our crew didn’t get there until after 7:00. For those of us on the ground, we were happy to learn that the airport has great internet! Obviously, everyone was quite tired by the time they finally arrived. We packed about 13 bags and 13 people (plus the groceries we’d run and gotten while we were waiting) into the 15 passenger van and headed to Mastic Point. Since we were all starving, we basically threw the bags in the door and walked down to Murphy’s Chill and Grill for the first of 6 delicious meals made my Mrs. Murphy – and it was cracked lobster! Bummer, right?

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Needless to say, everyone slept well! The next day was busy with fun stuff. We went to church at National Church of God, Pastor Barr’s church in Mastic Point where the camp was held. We had an absolutely delicious lunch at the Barrs of snapper, crab and rice, crab,  and slaw, then headed to Uncle Charlie’s blue hole. I’d gone to the blue hole back in April, but it had been way too chilly to swim, so I was ecstatic that it was hot and beautiful, and we could jump right in – which I did! We were there a long time, and it was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to do it again!

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When we finally got out (somewhat unwillingly, but there were members of our group who didn’t get in, so we felt we had to!), we headed to Henry Morgan’s cave to search for buried treasure. Henry Morgan was a pirate who frequented North Andros and is (of course) supposed to have buried treasure in the cave. No luck so far, but I’m not giving up!

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Ghosts?

Ghosts?

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Across the street and through some woods is a gorgeous and deserted cove, so we spent some time there, enjoying the cool, clear water and gorgeous view.

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Home for a quick (and minimally watered) shower, and prep time! We got all the bags opened and organized for the camp. We pumped up about 35 balls, organized crafts and outdoor games equipment, and made 76 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Monday’s lunch. (There was a bit of a misunderstanding, so the kids didn’t know they were supposed to provide their own lunches!).  After that, if was off to Mrs. Murphy’s for another delicious dinner, then bedtime, full of anticipation for the week.

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This was a really fabulous team. As an introvert, I was fully prepared to retire early to my room each day, but the only day I did that was when I had a migraine on Tuesday. We got along great, everyone was fun (and funny), and there was just a wonderful sense of camaraderie throughout the week. It was really a blessing to me to have not only some great teens along, but some really great adults, as well. I’d go on another trip with this group any day!

 

Guest post from a team member going to Andros!

You’re going WHERE on a missions trip?

It’s happening. I almost can’t contain myself. In six short days, I will do something I’ve longed to do since one cold November night in college over 20 years ago when I handed out bagged lunches to homeless people in the poorest (read scariest) parts of New York City in the middle of the night. From that moment, when their grateful looks with humbled eyes melted my heart and awakened an awareness to a world that existed outside of my own, I’ve wanted to be part of something bigger. Now I have that long-awaited opportunity. It’s going to be pretty amazing. I might not come back.
I’ve done my share of serving those less fortunate than I over the years. From raising or donating money for other people’s mission work to regularly serving meals at a rescue shelter, leading our American Heritage Girls troop in collecting thousands of diapers to packing school supplies in backpacks for kids in the projects of Durham, NC, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve and personally get to know the meek and the poor. I cherish this part of my life, and I believe God calls us all to do these things (Matthew 25: 31-40). Probably more for our own sake than the sake of those we are serving. There’s something eloquently humbling about loving on those in whatever ways they need at the moment. I think Jesus called us to do these things for our own hearts, because the meek are already going to inherit the earth anyway (Matthew 5:5).
And now, at the age of *cough* for- *choke* -ty *gag*, I will embark on an adventure I’ve dreamed about for the better part of the last decade. On Saturday, I will set comfort aside and head to the poor (and stifling hot) island of Andros on my very first-ever missions trip. Our mission for this trip is hosting a youth camp (along with any other ways we find we can serve while we are there.) Nathan (my 18-year-old son) and I will be leading worship and our team of 10 will be putting on a Vacation Bible School and sports camp for the week. I’m super excited to be able to share this journey with Nathan, and am excited for him to be able to experience this at a young age in hopes that it will change and mold him to become an even better servant than he already is.
So, where is Andros, you ask? (It’s okay if you have to look it up. I did. And I taught world geography to middle schoolers last year.) I’m a little afraid to tell you, actually. When most people hear “missions trip,” they usually think of desolate places in third world countries far away where kids are living in squalor and are lucky to eat once in a day. And that IS where the majority of mission trips take place. But when I tell you that Andros is in the Bahamas, you’re probably going to change your vision of what this trip will be like. Don’t.
Before you go rolling your eyes and leaving this post in disgust, let me give you some facts about this little-known island. (The fact that you probably had never heard of it until now should tell you something.)
Andros:
*5th largest island in the Caribbean (largest in the Bahamas)
* 90% of the landmass of the Bahamas but only 2% of the population (around 4,000 people)
* Main source of income: Commercial fishing and crabbing, mostly for export to markets in Nassau
* There is very little infrastructure, very few jobs, and no elderly or hospice care.
* Farmers live on less than $9,000 per year (the maximum amount the government will pay them for their crops.) Most quit farming for the year as soon as they reach this amount.
* If you aren’t a fisherman, a farmer, or employed by one of two of the island’s “big” companies (The Bahamian government and the Navy’s AUTEC base), you likely don’t have a job and thus don’t have any income. This is the reality of most people living on the island of Andros.
Farmland. Not what you think of when you think “Bahamas.”
There are no resorts. There are no hotels. There are no steakhouses. There are no big grocery stores. There won’t be any tourists or tourist gift shops. If we want to eat “out,” we’ll likely have to find a family-run “restaurant” where they will probably have to go catch our dinner first before they cook it for us. We could wait up to two hours to eat supper from the time we order it. This, apparently, is life in Andros. I might not come back.

Beach in Nassau
Beach in Andros

We’re staying at a “Bed & Breakfast” run by Mrs. Beneby, a native woman with a heart for helping the people of Andros. Her daughter sends food and goods from Florida about once per month for her to sell or distribute among those in need and she runs this little inn for the comfort of the few visitors that do come to the island. We will have air conditioning. I’ve heard we’ll have to run around in the shower to get wet. (I might not be washing my hair the whole week.) I won’t have phone service. We might have internet. Ms. Beneby will make us breakfast every morning and I’m sure be filled with stories and tales of island life. I cannot wait to meet this woman. I really might not come back.

I do feel a wee bit guilty heading off to such a beautiful place on my sponsors’ dime (er….thousands of dimes. And, thanks to ALL of you who supported us, whether financially or in prayer!) At any given moment, there are permanent missionaries and people on a short-term mission trips alike facing dangerous situations in unheard of living conditions. Their lives and their health are at risk. They likely spent many hours (if not days) on airplanes to get to where they were going and have, or will, experience a tremendous amount of jet-lag on both ends. I didn’t have to get any shots, get to remain in the same time zone, will be at my destination in less than six hours, and can walk down the street at night without worry. Oh, and with this view on my way:

Yep, feeling guilty.

One of thousands of “blue holes” in Andros.
But just because the location looks like this from the air does not mean the people living there are any less in need or deserving of help or the love of Jesus. In fact, I would venture to say they are in even more of a need than places with regular mission team visits. There are currently no missionaries doing work in Andros, nor have there ever been. The island has beenlargely overlooked; it’s existence forgotten since Jacques Cousteau first explored its “Blue Holes” in 1970.  I get to be part of an inaugural team who hopes to bring a little bit of Jesus to the people of this island. That is coolness.
Blue Holes are a vertical cave, of sorts. Largely unexplored, their depths are widely unknown.
For more information on the non-profit I’m teaming up with for this trip, go to the 10 Eighteen Website. My friend, Jennings, heads up this organization. She’s awesome in more ways than I can count. Check her out here and be inspired. And maybe buy one of her books.
I’ll be journaling and blogging throughout the trip. You can also follow our Andros Missions Trip Facebook Page for updates and pictures throughout the week. I’ll be hashtagging on Twitter under #androsvbs. We’ll be gone 8/10-8/17. I’ll post when I have internet….and energy. And, hopefully, I’ll come back.

You can find more from Cherilynne at her blog here!