African Adventures

                                    “Clothe him with power from on high “ Luke 24:49

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You prayed the Lord would “clothe us with power on high” as we served on mission trips this summer – He answered. During the hot days at Boot Camp, out in the bush of Zambia, on the cliffs of Madagascar with our goat Shaniqua….we felt His presence, enjoyed His spiritual protection, and were flooded with opportunities to see the lost come to know our Lord and Savior.

Phoebe’s summer = speed. Her team rode motorcycles across Madagascar as a means to share the Gospel through soccer, puppets, and English lessons. Heading out from base camp in Mahajanga, the team spent time in the village of Ampozony encouraging the one Christian in that village whose life has been threatened for loving Jesus. Phoebe’s TMI team buoyed her efforts and assured her she is not alone in the struggle against powers of darkness.

   

 

 

Chloe’s summer = Romans 8:28. Chloe and her team lived in tents, drove out to the African Bush, and cleared 100 plus trees in order to build a soccer field in N’dola, Zambia. On weekends, they ministered to AIDS orphans via the Wan’gibisha Rescue Unit. Chloe also served as her team’s “Top Chef” cooking lunch for her entire team. One Sunday as the team shared testimonies at a local church, the teams’ backpacks were stolen off the bus. After praying for the return of the backpacks for days, the two robbers finally turned themselves in. They’d found a Bible in the local language in one of the stolen backpacks, read the Word, confessed their sin, returned the backpacks and came to Christ.

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Seb’s summer = gross. During his private devotional time each morning Seb read the “Grossology” section of his Bible - about how a dog returns to its vomit and a big knife got stuck in a man’s belly. The “Nehemiah’s Tresses” team built 14 tresses, ran a daily Obstacle Course including a Slough of Despond, and memorized the Roman Road. The above picture is not at Boot Camp – it’s in our kitchen. Because Seb took his own photos and they were all of turtles, frogs, and geckos : )

Thank you for praying for us. We didn’t go on Teen Missions to lay out soccer fields, teach English, or build tresses. We went to Teen Missions to share salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ, and we were able to use our gifts and skills as tentmakers.  As we return to school now - the day to day of homework, activities, and house chores, we pray all of us would be “clothed with power on high” for the mission.

Starbucks & the Gospel

With a population of more than 600 million people, an emerging middle class that is driving strong consumption, and a robust and resilient economy, Southeast Asia presents a compelling growth opportunity for Starbucks.” Howard Schultz

Though market potential for caffeine is clear, as Christians we see the 600 million people in Southeast Asia as more than potential Starbucks drinkers.  We see a field ripe for harvest, the Lord's harvest. This year, building on the 2016 project to Southeast Asia, the Larson family returned to work alongside a local Gospel-centered church plant and a local school to provide conversational English sessions, faith and work evenings, and encouragement to the Christian workers in this plentiful harvest. Here's a summary of the project, in pictures:

Wally Jr. led a devotional at the International Justice Mission, an organization that works closely with local government and institutions to bring about justice. Wally shared from Philemon on how Paul did justly, loved mercy and walked humbly to minister practical, incremental justice in Philemon's relationship with the returning fugitive slave, Onesimus."

Wally Jr. led a devotional at the International Justice Mission, an organization that works closely with local government and institutions to bring about justice. Wally shared from Philemon on how Paul did justly, loved mercy and walked humbly to minister practical, incremental justice in Philemon's relationship with the returning fugitive slave, Onesimus."

At a flower design session with women in sewing job-training program, Esther shared of God's love for them, more than the "lilies of the valley and the flowers of the field". Given these womens' parents refusal to allow them education, tis message especially resonated with them.

At a flower design session with women in sewing job-training program, Esther shared of God's love for them, more than the "lilies of the valley and the flowers of the field". Given these womens' parents refusal to allow them education, tis message especially resonated with them.

At the church plant, Wally Jr. preached from John 4 on the Samaritan woman with Jesus at the well, on how we go wrong when we try to quench our spiritual thirst for Jesus with anything or anyone else. At a faith & Work event in the Pastor's home, Wally,jr shared about optimizing the value of one's career. He pulled from the life of Moses to illustrate how we can be our most effective when we feel the weakest (God used Moses not as a young, powerful prince but as a much older, weaker and fugitive from Egypt), the importance of avoiding worldly short-cuts (like killing the Egyptian and valuing intimacy with the Lord above all else.

At the church plant, Wally Jr. preached from John 4 on the Samaritan woman with Jesus at the well, on how we go wrong when we try to quench our spiritual thirst for Jesus with anything or anyone else. At a faith & Work event in the Pastor's home, Wally,jr shared about optimizing the value of one's career. He pulled from the life of Moses to illustrate how we can be our most effective when we feel the weakest (God used Moses not as a young, powerful prince but as a much older, weaker and fugitive from Egypt), the importance of avoiding worldly short-cuts (like killing the Egyptian and valuing intimacy with the Lord above all else.

Wally,sr delivering the leadership address at the Investiture Ceremony.  He shared from Esther  “You are in this position for such a time as this. My hope and prayer is that your leadership makes you a better person and makes a difference in the lives of others."

Wally,sr delivering the leadership address at the Investiture Ceremony.  He shared from Esther  “You are in this position for such a time as this. My hope and prayer is that your leadership makes you a better person and makes a difference in the lives of others."

Bringjng her educational and teaching background, Margaret led English conversation sessions with teachers from a local school. The school specialized in teaching children from local slums.

Bringjng her educational and teaching background, Margaret led English conversation sessions with teachers from a local school. The school specialized in teaching children from local slums.

I Love My Mother

Knowing that every Mother appreciates being celebrated, (even if it's just for one day!), for Mother's Day this year, we gathered with about 30 residents of the local Salvation Army Phoenix homeless shelter to celebrate the resident Moms.  Picture summary below:

                                                                                                 Mother's Day event at the Salvation Army Phoenix

                                                                                                 Mother's Day event at the Salvation Army Phoenix

                                                          Miriam, Moses's mother placed baby Moses in a basket in the Nile River to save her son's life.

                                                          Miriam, Moses's mother placed baby Moses in a basket in the Nile River to save her son's life.

                                                                 Hannah, Samuel's mother, placed Samuel in the Lord's house to serve him for his lifetime.

                                                                 Hannah, Samuel's mother, placed Samuel in the Lord's house to serve him for his lifetime.

                                                                        Mary, Jesus' mother, gave birth to Jesus in a stall and lay him in a manger of hay.

                                                                        Mary, Jesus' mother, gave birth to Jesus in a stall and lay him in a manger of hay.

                                                                          My mother's favorite food is: pizza and she is pretty when she puts on makeup and smiles.

                                                                          My mother's favorite food is: pizza and she is pretty when she puts on makeup and smiles.

                                                                                                       This child drew her work of art entitled "This is my mother"

                                                                                                       This child drew her work of art entitled "This is my mother"

Her children arise and call her blessed...many women do noble things. Honor he for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.  Proverbs 31: 28-31

What Is A Hero?

Who is your favorite cartoon character?   Do you have a real life hero?

                                  June Pomeroy leading the discussion of a Biblical hero-Daniel.

                                  June Pomeroy leading the discussion of a Biblical hero-Daniel.

Daniel in the lions' den hero, who trusted God and continue to pray even when the king ordered subjects to pray to his idol rather than pray to the one true God.

Daniel in the lions' den hero, who trusted God and continue to pray even when the king ordered subjects to pray to his idol rather than pray to the one true God.

                                Our adaptation of Duck, Duck - Goose to Lion, Lion - Daniel.

                                Our adaptation of Duck, Duck - Goose to Lion, Lion - Daniel.

Hero of the day: June Pomeroy-thanks for being a hero to the kids at the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter this Saturday.

Hero of the day: June Pomeroy-thanks for being a hero to the kids at the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter this Saturday.

Today I Chose Joy

Wonderful women from 1st Baptist Church Glendale spread ‘Joy’ at the Salvation Army

Wonderful women from 1st Baptist Church Glendale spread ‘Joy’ at the Salvation Army

One lady cuddled a 5-week-old newborn giving the arms of the mother a few joyful moments of rest.

One lady cuddled a 5-week-old newborn giving the arms of the mother a few joyful moments of rest.

India16 Aventures with Phoebe and Chloe

 

“Any person who only sticks with Christianity as long as things are going his or her way, is a stranger to the cross” – Tim Keller

 

Teen Missions Boot Camp and our project in Vijayawada, India were challenging. No doubt. But looking back, we thank God for reminding us that in the fire of suffering He refines, prunes, and grows us in ways we can’t while in our comfort zone of Chagrin Falls, OH sipping Frappuccinos.

The 2 weeks of Boot Camp training exists to prepare you for the tough conditions of the mission field - no running water, super hot weather, and sleeping in a tent. At Boot Camp we also learned the skills needed to do construction work (steel tying, brick laying, mixing concrete) which our team of 30 teenagers put to good use during our 5 week work project in India.

Here’s the daily sched: we'd get up at 5:30AM to work, have breakfast, pray & the read the Bible for 30 minutes of quiet time / devotions, did construction work until lunch, and then after lunch we’d work until reading time, dinner, and evening devotions with our team.

If we had to summarize our summer in India in 2 words it would be: mix concrete. We carried 100 pound bags of the stuff and were constantly hauling it, building bricks, and hauling more. It was an incredible workout; every time we see a construction worker now we have a new appreciation for the energy required - it's rough.

Our favorite part of the summer? The 30 minutes of quiet time every AM to prepare for the day. Everyone stops during those 30 minutes, you literally can't move. The discipline of prayer and Bible reading is something we hope to continue this school year - before we pick up the newspaper , read our texts, turn on Good Morning America or do anything in the AM we hope to show the Lord He's our first priority by talking and listening to Him first.

The biggest challenge for our team? Sickness (aka “Delhi belly”), brought on by flies, the filthy conditions, and the food. I (Chloe) ended up in the hospital - though thankfully I recovered quickly and could re-join the team after 2 days. When I say hospital don't think Cleveland Clinic - the place was dirty and there were huge lines. As we were ushered to the front of the line since we were Americans I was reminded how blessed we are to hold American passports and burdened for our Indian friends who don't have healthcare and struggle in poverty.

What did God teach us? The sickness & schedule in India were intense but God consistently reminded us that He is "Jehovah Rapha", the God who heals. Sometimes that means physical healing from "Delhi belly", sometimes it means spiritual & emotional healing from struggles God places in our lives. Either w ay, we can trust He is truly working "all things for our good" as He prunes and refines us through suffering.

Love in the abundant grace of Christ,

Phoebe & Chloe Peiffer

"those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

the joy of the LORD is your strength.

The joy of the Lord (fueled by your prayers) was our strength in the wake of jet lag and new surroundings.  This past August of 2015, sent by Redeemer church of New York City, we served with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Common Ground and Jubilee churches in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town is home to Robben Island, the island prison on which Nelson Mandela was held captive in the years before the ending of apartheid.  So it represents a unique city in a country straining to move forward in unity and the church has a unique opportunity to be a catalyst for unity.  With the joy of the Lord.  In fact, the Sunday our team was introduced in its worship service, Common Ground Church began a sermon series entitled “One Cape Town.”

As a short-term, spiritual expeditionary force from a country with its own internal strife, we are quite humble about our ability to make a visible impact on our own for the Kingdom.  Which is one reason we partner with local churches, and take their direction as to how we can help (without hurting) their long-term ministry in Cape Town.  Here’s a glimpse of how we served:

                          Jubilee Community Church has several ministries in its space, a large warehouse that it also uses for Sunday worship.

                         

Jubilee Community Church has several ministries in its space, a large warehouse that it also uses for Sunday worship.

                      In addition to serving tea to homeless patients and families, Sye Kim & Marilyn Roelse prayed with families in Jubilee’s health clinic waiting room.

                     

In addition to serving tea to homeless patients and families, Sye Kim & Marilyn Roelse prayed with families in Jubilee’s health clinic waiting room.

  Dawn, Halie and Marissa Lonsdale worked with homeless women seeking to build their fledgling Hope Soap business.  The Lonsdales mixed coconut and essential oil into soap bars while encouraging the women in their faith.  The Lonsdales moved seamlessly from manufacturing to sales, convincing our team to purchase their entire output of 600 bars.

 

Dawn, Halie and Marissa Lonsdale worked with homeless women seeking to build their fledgling Hope Soap business.  The Lonsdales mixed coconut and essential oil into soap bars while encouraging the women in their faith.  The Lonsdales moved seamlessly from manufacturing to sales, convincing our team to purchase their entire output of 600 bars.

  The team helped Jubilee set up for over 600 guests (mostly non-Christians) at its Alpha Course dinner. Guests voiced questions about Christianity in a safe place.

 

The team helped Jubilee set up for over 600 guests (mostly non-Christians) at its Alpha Course dinner. Guests voiced questions about Christianity in a safe place.

  Jubilee’s Mercy Store provides donated clothing, blankets and food.  Melissa Rosado sorted books while Wally Jr. and Wally Sr. folded men’s clothing and blankets.

 

Jubilee’s Mercy Store provides donated clothing, blankets and food.  Melissa Rosado sorted books while Wally Jr. and Wally Sr. folded men’s clothing and blankets.

  Zanokhanyo and Cape Town15 team

 

Zanokhanyo and Cape Town15 team

Zanokhanyo serves the unemployed with a faith-based life training, and works with two large retailers in Cape Town to provide service personnel.  We facilitated two sessions with their training staff, demonstrating how Bible stories can be used to inform work-place scenarios like serving an unfair boss (David serving King Saul), dealing with racism (Queen Esther), finding identity and confidence in the Lord (Moses being used after fleeing the palace of Pharoah) or simply forgiveness (Joseph and his brothers in Egypt).

 Khayelitsha is a township reported to have over a million residents and to be one of the poorest areas of Cape Town.  We held an informal Vacation Bible School for smiling kids begging for some hugs.  The hero of the afternoons was Moses: the baby thrown in the river Nile; the fugitive from Pharoah; the man God selected to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land through 40 years in the wilderness.

                VBS time focuses on Bible Story of Moses: baby Moses hid in the River Nile

               

VBS time focuses on Bible Story of Moses: baby Moses hid in the River Nile

While we were making new friends in Cape Town, God brought along long-time friend, Ken Sande, who spoke at Jubilee Sunday evening on relationship wisdom.  It’s been almost 30 years since Ken and Wally Sr. crossed paths through the Christian Legal Society board and Peacemaker Ministries.

                                     Wally Larson,jr      Wallace Larson      Ken Sande

                                    

Wally Larson,jr      Wallace Larson      Ken Sande



Be a Daniel standing up for the Right

In the heat of the 'Valley of the Sun’ afternoon, 8 wonderful volunteers from First Southern Baptist Church braved 110 to serve the families at the Salvation Army shelter in Phoenix. What a blessing for 18 children and 4 moms to listen and learn from the book of Daniel: Daniel refusing to eat the king’s food and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refusing to bow to the king’s idol while God protected them in the fiery furnace.

                                                          creative artists at work

                                                          creative artists at work

A unique treat emphasized the story as the children reenacted the story in costumes the volunteers provided as ‘active learning’ experience. 

                                            string art illustrating the fiery furnace

                                            string art illustrating the fiery furnace

Crafts included string art at one table, chalkboard drawing, dragonfly clip and a ‘bug keeper’. Very popular the ‘bug keeper’!!

While the children glued, colored, manipulated clothespins for the various crafts, Margaret Warden hosted a ‘mom’ table with sharing God’s love and encouraging them in their relationship with their Savior.  Each mom left with a silk rose with Isaiah 30:18 “the LORD longs to be gracious to you”.

Decorating cookies with yummy frosting topped off the afternoon as the kids walked out with smiles and frosting on their faces.

Blessings on these volunteers and kudos to Margaret Warden for your vision and love demonstrated at the Salvation Army Shelter

Blessings on these volunteers and kudos to Margaret Warden for your vision and love demonstrated at the Salvation Army Shelter

"...with God all things are possible..."

“…with God all things are possible…” was the theme for Joni and Friends Family Retreat this year.  My family and I volunteered the first week of July with families who are affected by disabilities.

"Blue Glasses team" after the "Amazing Race" Scavenger Hunt

"Blue Glasses team" after the "Amazing Race" Scavenger Hunt

For these families, everyday brings challenges:

getting a full night’s sleep,

dressing a paralyzed adult,

feeding lips unable to move,

lifting in and out bed or wheelchair or car

listening to a voice garbled by throat restrictions

“with God all things are possible”

Being matched with my camper, Heather (my camper, not her real name) was enlightening. Heather is a 24 year old young woman in a wheel chair who has limited use of her hands.  Being with her for the week at camp, I caught a glimpse of Heather’s life.

From 7:30am to 8:30pm over the span of the week, we experienced camp together.  Eating meals together, I experienced the struggle to reach the cafeteria counters, the challenge of balancing the food tray, the frustration of not being able to take the stairs…and that was just breakfast.

Esther and camper

Esther and camper

Each day, we studied Bible lessons together, did crafts, sang praise songs and navigated her wheelchair over the grass for the outdoor chicken BBQ -- these normal camp activities took on whole new meaning when I experienced them with Heather.

Nothing deterred Heather…not the cafeteria counters, steep sloping driveways, grassy knolls around the BBQ, nor the room entrance steps. Nothing deterred her.

Her love of the outdoors and for wheeling around camp, demonstrated her desire to use her God-given abilities to their full potential.  Committed to not allow her disability hold her back, during the year, she co-teaches a second grade class and started a candy business to local stores in her hometown.

“…with God all things are possible…”

Phoebe, camper, Leslie

Phoebe, camper, Leslie

The last night of camp, the campers participated in a talent show.  Heather chose to sing the song “I am a promise, I am a possibility.”  Seeing Heather sing this song from her wheelchair truly confirmed that “with God all things possible.”

That is a truth we can claim, knowing God has the victory over whatever disability or brokenness we are experiencing in our life.

“…with God all things are possible…”

Sebby and friend as "Secret Agents"

Sebby and friend as "Secret Agents"

Would you consider joining us in July 2016 to volunteer with Joni and Friends Family Retreat Camp?   If you might be interested, pray about being part of what God's doing in the midst of the brokenness of the world, specifically by engaging with people with disabilities. 

Are you willing to believe ‘with God all things are possible?”

Please consider believing ‘with God all things are possible’ and join us as we respond to His call to be willing to serve the families at Joni and Friends Family Retreat Camp 2016.

1st Place team-Amazing Scavenger Hunt-Wally,jr and his camper friend

1st Place team-Amazing Scavenger Hunt-Wally,jr and his camper friend

Marcia with camper

Marcia with camper

Wallace making new friends

Wallace making new friends

 Esther Larson, 2015

Get Dirty -- Plant Something

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” 
― Claude Monet

Peggy Klitzke, Master Gardner, presented a flower experience for the ladies at the Salvation Army recently.  Prepared tables had mounds of potting soil, pebbles and sunny yellow and apple red flowers for planting. [Peggy emphasized importance pebbles for good drainage].

“Getting Dirty-Plant Something” was a fun time learning about flowers and planting while also hearing the name meaning of some flowers such as:

Aster-contentment: Philippians 4;11 “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”,

Calla Lily-beauty, purity . “The lilies of the field, even Solomon in all his glory was not as beautiful as one of these.” Matthew 6:28,29

Gardenia-purity, sweetness [conveying joy] “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Finished the planting experience with ‘Mud Pie’?  Mud Pie is creamy pudding in a clay pot topped with crumbled chocolate cookies and sweet & sour gummy worms hiding below the crumbles.  Bon Appetite’ to an afternoon with the Salvation Army women Major Martha Davey helping to chase the youngest planter 16 month toddler curious about the potting soil and pebbles. 

Finished the planting experience with ‘Mud Pie’?  Mud Pie is creamy pudding in a clay pot topped with crumbled chocolate cookies and sweet & sour gummy worms hiding below the crumbles.  Bon Appetite’ to an afternoon with the Salvation Army women Major Martha Davey helping to chase the youngest planter 16 month toddler curious about the potting soil and pebbles. 

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Christmas in your Hearts

Christmas angels from North Phoenix Baptist Church

God’s magnificent and indescribable gift, Jesus, was visualized and demonstrated at Christmas through the lives of the women’s ministry team from North Phoenix Baptist Church.

Pat“doing the little extra special -Sparkling cider- serving the Salvation Army guests

Pat“doing the little extra special -Sparkling cider- serving the Salvation Army guests

Amidst hectic shopping, busy entertaining and family involvements, these ‘Christmas Angels’ hosted a precious afternoon of Christmas carols, Christmas cheer ‘sparkling cider’ ,delicious homemade sweet treats[calorie free?] and personal testimony of Jesus’ gift of identity.

Donna helping women to find  Christmas  in the hearts  the women at the Salvation Army Shelter

Donna helping women to find  Christmas  in the hearts  the women at the Salvation Army Shelter

"our ending is more important and our beginning" personal testimony of finding identity in Jesus

"our ending is more important and our beginning" personal testimony of finding identity in Jesus

The Salvation Army ladies were given the gifts of love and time

These ‘Christmas angles reminded us all “ there are no strangers at Christmas time’. Thanks again to Pat, Donna and Pat for all the Christmas angels.

These ‘Christmas angles reminded us all “ there are no strangers at Christmas time’. Thanks again to Pat, Donna and Pat for all the Christmas angels.

Join Charles Dickens: Honour Christmas in your heart,                                                                               try to keep it all the year.”

A Mennonite, Lady Gaga, a truck driver and Joni Eareckson Tada walk into...

So we’re at this camp. I’m wearing a t-shirt. I’m eating Gushers for lunch. In other words, I’ve found myself in a world apart from Manhattan. Where us greedy, selfish, ambitious able-bodied New Yorkers rarely think about people who can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t tweet, can’t swallow on their own.

Here in Pennsylvania I’ve received an education and a half about disabilities, about compassion, and about how much we’re given that we never even stop to think about.

Danielle and Marcia 'crafting'

Danielle and Marcia 'crafting'

 Just because I can’t speak doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say” – Michael’s wearing that t-shirt here at Joni’s week-long summer camp for families with disabilities (He can’t say anything to me but Michael definitely has something to say.

What he has to say is what Lady Gaga sings, “God makes no mistakes.” Indeed, these children with cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries are not mistakes.

But it would be naive to think their lives don’t come with challenges. 80% of marriages end in divorce when a disabled child arrives. Siblings can quickly feel neglected when their disabled counterparts require so much time and attention. Parents grieve in knowing their child will never make it to high school, never make it down the aisle, never establish a Twitter account on which to mock the world.

Which is why we’re here this week. The volunteers here will give massages to the fathers, manicures to the mothers, lattes to the siblings, and outdoor activities (fishing, swimming) to our campers. We’re from all across the East coast – truck drivers, writers, lawyers, and Mennonites united in love for a community that’s often ignored and maligned.

Honestly, I’m scared to death.

Wally,jr and camper

Wally,jr and camper

Mostly because I’m surrounded by people who aren’t scared at all. Filled with inexplicable joy, these volunteers face what looks like an end and see instead a face. A personality. People who can’t speak but have plenty to say.

Before camp started, my mom & I drove to “Popcorn Buddha” for some snacks and got a lecture from some guy with a beard about how he makes “compassionate and contemplative popcorn.” Saving the world. One bag of white cheddar popcorn at a time: )

But his use of the term “compassion” got me thinking about the people here this week. Because there’s no performance review for compassion. No one gets a bonus for changing a disabled person’s diaper or engaging in a conversation with someone with Alzheimers.

Margaret and camp 'buddy'

Margaret and camp 'buddy'

But by being the literal hands & feet for the disabled this week I’m reminded that there is hope. A hope that remains the same whether we’re in a wheelchair, in the midst of struggle, or can’t speak.

Because we all have something to say and that something is this – God makes no mistakes. He’s created us in his image. And He loves us no matter how able bodied or disabled we may be.

Danielle taught me that.