Encouraging our Brothers and Sisters Abroad, Nov 2016

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“I’m Batman!” I shouted as I stood up slowly, my cape and mask betraying my title.

“No, put it on your head, not eyes!” E. said, his two-year old eyes staring at me with mountainous fear. He was relieved immediately when I pulled the mask up from my eyes to my forehead, once again showing who I was beneath. He smiled and skipped his way through the living room again, jumping off cushions and vaulting onto the couch as all five of us, with C. and R., laughed at his antics.

One of the precious joys of visiting the capital city was seeing C. and R.’s life together there. Their ministry has grown rich, but their family is especially full, as E. grows up and begins taking on a curious personality all his own. Certainly doing the work they do on a daily basis is taxing and exhausting, especially with the added burden of being so far away from family and friends for the first year in West Asia. Interacting with their community and meeting with the people they minister to on a daily basis was certainly sweet, but I especially felt drawn to simply sit with them in the comfort of their living room, praying, eating, singing, and studying with them for even the few precious days we shared there together.

picture1For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)

For Paul, the burden was certainly to grow, evangelize, disciple, and speak life into the churches; he was one of the church’s most prolific early church planters, after all! Yet still, he sees the imperative to build-up and encourage the workers in the field tied directly to the salvation Christians have in Christ. What a gift it was to live this out with C., R., and E. in their home, playing super heroes and sharing not just our skills and material gifts, but our hearts and lives as well.

~Ryan Bettwy (RestoGoes 2016 to West Asia)

 

 

Election Prayer: part 3

13-14-5-20-18-0-2mPlease join us tonight at 7:30pm in the sanctuary for a special Eucharist service for Election Day.

As we prepare to cast our ballots, let us join together in praying the prayer below.

Holy God, at the dawn of time you fashioned the world and set it on its course. In the fullness of time your Son took flesh and sowed the seeds of a new order, and day by day your Spirit works to bring to birth mercy, justice and peace.

We give you thanks for the United States. In this Spirit we pray for our land and all its people as the nation prepares to elect a new President, Senators and Representatives.

We pray for the women and men who have offered themselves as candidates for public office. May those who are elected set their hearts always on honorable service and the common good.

We pray for the citizens of this much-blessed country, that they may take up their responsibility to vote with wisdom and freedom, and choose what is best for the whole community.

Loving God, to listen to your Son is to be moved to speak up for the unseen and unheard. Give us hearts to heed your Word and mouths to declare your truth. We pray that after the election, Christians will continue to be a voice for the voiceless.

Bless all who are elected to serve the nation; may the wisdom and courage of the Holy Spirit guide them to govern for the good of all.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen

~Katie

Election Prayer: part 2

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On Tuesday, November 8 at 7:30pm, we will hold a special Eucharist service for Election Day. A number of churches around the country are holding prayer vigils and services and we’ve invited our sister churches to join us for this service.

In preparation for our time together, please join us in praying this prayer below this week.

Merciful and loving God, as we prepare for the upcoming election, send the light of your Holy Spirit into the hearts of all in our nation. Bring peace and hope wherever there is confusion, discord and apathy. Awaken in us a strong desire to work for the common good of all peoples, especially for the most vulnerable in our world. Enable us to differ and to dialogue with reverence and respect for one another. Pour out on us a spirit of wisdom and discernment to help us choose government officials who will lead our country in the path of truth, justice and peace. We ask this in the name of the Risen Christ, who is always with us. Amen

~Katie

Election Prayer: part 1

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On Tuesday, November 8 at 7:30pm, we will hold a special Eucharist service  at Restoration for Election Day. A number of churches around the country are holding prayer vigils and services and we’ve invited our sister churches to join us for this service.

No matter what your political leanings, praying for our nation and our leaders is something we are all called to do (1 Tim 2:1-2).  And on a day when we will name some people winners and others losers, when the pull toward power will be felt especially strongly, it is good to come together in common submission and supplication to God, to remind ourselves that He is God and we are not, and to ask for His wisdom and guidance for our leaders — whoever they may be.

In preparation for our time together, we’ll be posting a prayer for our country and the election each Tuesday between now and Election Day. We invite your prayers for our country.

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly entreat you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindred and tongues. Empower with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, do not allow our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~Katie

RestoParents Date Night!

p-580798-njnfcpo3c6-1Have you been wondering how to support the on-going international outreach efforts at Restoration?

Do you wish you could snag a few hours with your spouse to have dinner, but can’t find a great baby-sitter? Read on…..and sign up here!

Resto Parents Date Night Fund Raiser:
The West Asia small group is holding a “Parents’ Night Out” event on
Monday, November 7
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
@ Restoration Anglican church. 
Drop-off your children at 6 PM and enjoy the evening out with other friends, or a date night with your spouse, then pick them up by 9 PM.
  
Generous donations welcome: there is NO MAXIMUM! 
    * You can give cash when you pick-up your kids, OR
    * Donate here to the ‘Asia general team’ tab.
  
Looking for Sitters: If you are interested in spending the evening with the West Asia  childcare team for the Date Night on Monday, November 7 from 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM, please contact ryan@restorationarlington.org and we’ll let you know how you can help!
  
Prayer: If you would like to pray for us before the trip or during the trip itself, please e-mail ryan@restorationarlington.org and we’ll add you to the prayer team!
Thanks for your support – we love that there are many ways for us all to be on this journey together… by praying, planning, giving…  and also by going!

 

~Ryan, Trent, Erica, Natasha and Liz

RestoBolivia: a message from our hosts!

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There are moments in life when you get a glimpse of God’s love, HIS heart and HIS hands by watching others. I was privileged to have a whole photo album of these moments when the 2016 RestoBolivia team came to Cochabamba in July. I am a volunteer at Niños con Valor and spent a significant amount of time with this group who clearly wanted to share that God knows you! He’s crazy about you! He goes with you!

unnamed-2The images that fill my mind when I reflect back on the jam-packed week are ones of play, connection and devotion. I can see the smiles and hear the laughter during activities like face painting, playing at the park, drawing on frisbees, swimming at El Poncho and watching the performances at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Niños con Valor. The too numerous to count hugs and the non-existent personal space bubble are the natural result of sincere caring. I witnessed eyes lighting up when the team would ring the doorbell and the proverbial “ahhh” when it was time to leave for the day. It was a cycle of high-octane VBS mornings at La Trinidad, activity filled afternoons at Corazón del Pastor and Pedacito de Cielo and evenings to prepare for doing it all over again the next day. What struck me most about this RestoBolivia team was how each day was approached by trying to do their best and make the best of out situations that didn’t go as planned. (A common occurrence with children and in Bolivia.)

unnamedA common question I hear, is how can a bond be so deep after only a week together? In my opinion, the answer is what all mission trips should leave room for… God! He bridges intentions and actions, Spanish and English, difficult pasts and hopeful futures and everything else. When you come with a heart to serve and willingness to allow God to lead, change and challenge you, you are left with what the RestoBolivia team experienced. The team,community, church and children and staff at Niños con Valor are different because of how God works.

Thank you to the RestoBolivia team for giving of yourself selflessly and for being SO fun!!!

~Marianne Wong

(Ed:Marianne was the MOST wonderful hostess – unfailingly cheerful, helpful and wise. So grateful for her part in making it a really good 10 days!)

RestoBolivia: Hard things

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Craft time with Tia Susie and Tia Graciella!

On Wednesday, April 20th, thirteen strange people sat in my living room and entertained the idea of going to Bolivia. Every Wednesday, we met in the same place at the same time, and planned our week in Cochabamba. We met various people on Skype, and we threw around different words and names such as “Tammy,” “The Cancha,” “La Paz” and “Ninos Con Valor.” Lauren came up with the entire VBS schedule from top to bottom. Gloria and I thought of craft ideas for the afternoons. We all prayed for each other every moment that we could. Andrew brought his guitar. Endel and Kate taught us some Spanish words. We were part of each other’s lives every week. We made each other excited for the adventure that we were about to be going on together.

Before going to Cochabamba, I was not prepared for the hard things that I was going to see, experience and be a part of. Different thoughts ran through my head prior to our departure. It will all be fine and fun and exciting, I thought to myself as I was running errands for crafts that would be going in my suitcase. I am a daughter of the One True King. He won’t let anything stop me from having a good trip. My mind said as I sat in church, hearing our trip being announced to the congregation. My mom will be there. She won’t make me do anything hard or uncomfortable, I thought as I walked alongside my mother, talking about our trip together. Nothing bad will happen. I won’t have to do anything hard. It’s just being with people and hanging out with kids, right? What’s so hard about that?13606719_10154404024381424_7336581970209569256_n

As it turns out, I was very, very wrong. On our trip, we had to do many things that weren’t easy. God put my teammates and me in situations that were tough and hard to comprehend, and as a result, I became more open to different things, more resistant to different things, and able to handle myself in different ways. On top of that, out of every hard thing that we did, something good came, too.

Since returning from the sweet city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, I have been waking up every day with a new feeling of bravery and confidence. I’m able to communicate with people much better now than before our trip. I am better at corralling children and making them behave after being a tia to the ninos and ninas of Ninos Con Valor for hours at a time. I’m more open to learning a new language, and I believe that my capacity for it has gotten bigger and better. This feeling of bravery has definitely come from a big theme of our trip: doing difficult things.

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VBS skit!

First of all, communication was a very hard thing. I’m entering my sixth year of French in the fall, and I know approximately fourteen Spanish vocabulary words. Obviously, in Bolivia, English is not a language that is spoken. I love people, and I love getting to know their stories. In the US, the way I get to know other people is by talking to them and by using words. In Bolivia, I wasn’t able to do this because my words were limited. The most I could do was say things like mi nombre es Graciela and muchos gracias. I like to talk, and I like to know others through talking. It made me uncomfortable and feel so unequipped to be in the country that I would be calling home for the next 11 days. The first day that we were there, we went to both of the homes that we were going to be working with during our trip. My favorite thing to do is mentor to younger girls, and I was especially looking forward to hanging out with the middle and high school aged girls at the Girls Home, just like I love to do at home in Virginia. When we left the home that first day, I felt sad and angry. I can’t communicate with these girls, I thought to myself. How will I ever get to know their stories and get to laugh with them if I don’t even know or understand what they’re saying? The next time we came to the home, I was ready to learn. I tried my best to communicate. I danced with the girls, ran around and chased them, did crafts with them, and laughed with them. Even small actions went a long way. Although communication was hard, there was lots and lots of good that came out of my experience with Spanish. Now I know the full power of a hug or a smile rather than words. I am able to say “I love you!” to the girls just by hugging, pointing to things, holding their hands or linking their arms, and giving and receiving smiles. These actions, for me, are much better than speaking, much more powerful, and much more like Jesus loves us.

Second, our “Reality Tour” was really hard for me. We left on the Friday morning of our trip, and traveled to three different homes in Cochabamba. First, we toured a large, state-run home that was the place for children just like the kids of Ninos Con Valor. It was very spacious, with individual houses on the property, housing 10 boys or girls per house. There was a tia living in each house with the children who fed them, helped them with their homework, dried their tears, and tucked them in at night. Each house had large, high ceilings, artwork, and comfy seating. The people there were very welcoming. As I was boarding the bus to leave, one of the tios stopped me. “When are you coming back?” he asked in accented English. “As soon as possible!” I said, smiling and taking one last look at the property, the children, and their caretakers. “Good,” he said, smiling and tapping his cane on the ground. “Your house is my house. You are always welcome here!”

The second home we visited was very open with us about the things they were struggling with. The very day that we toured, they had found out that they needed to close their home down. When we arrived, one of the tios talked with us about the home, its history and its future. As he told us the news about closing, which was recent news for us and for him, he was clearly very moved and concerned about the future of the children in his care.  After meeting him, we met some of the children. We met lots of babies and toddlers, and got to spend time with them in their room, complete with cribs, artwork, and happy music. For me, being with them after hearing hard news was refreshing, and like a bright spot in the middle of a broken place. Then, we headed over to the boys’ area, and got to hang out with them. As I walked into their house, I didn’t know what to expect. Would they be loud and rowdy? Did they know what their future was going to be like? What activities did they like to do? One of the boys greeted me by running up to me and giving me a giant hug. “Tia, tia, vamos!” He said excitedly, and dragged me over to one of the couches. He handed me a book and settled into my lap. Wiping happy tears from my eyes, I began to read to him, completely in awe of his love for me, a stranger from America who he hadn’t even known for a minute.

The third home we visited was a home for children with special needs. This was the hardest home to see, and as we were walking through and seeing the place where these children were cared for, I tried to keep an open mind and a heart of love. It was in a quieter area of the city, and it was a large, comfortable property with lots of bedrooms, classrooms, and areas for the kids to live and be. The home was operated by nuns, and the staff was kind and generous to us. We met lots of children, and we saw their bedrooms, classrooms, playgrounds and other things that they get to see and be with every day. In one of the rooms for older children, I met a sweet, joyful girl who loved to dance, laugh, and be with others. She invited me to sit and eat her lunch with her, and she giggled and smiled the whole time. She introduced to her friends by bringing my hand to theirs, and she left me with a feeling of joy and peace about all that I had seen and experienced. As we were leaving, I looked around at the children who were in such tough situations, and I began to cry. It made me upset that their families were not involved with them just because of the special care that they needed. I knew that Jesus loved them more than anything, and I tried to remind myself that He would welcome them into his kingdom someday.

This tour was one of the hardest parts of the trip for me. It was hard to comprehend why these children are in these situations, and it was hard to see them and not be able to do anything about it. Although it was so hard, it was so necessary to see. I gained a better understanding of the struggles of Bolivia, and I felt deeper pain for the people there. Through the tour, I also got to see the beautiful things that had come out of these children’s homes, such as loving, caring tias and tios, beautiful space, and children who are in a safe home with people who love them.

Lastly, returning home and saying goodbye was so hard. In Bolivia, I had felt such a sense of peace from everyone around me. Working with the kids and feeling their love and affection had filled me up with joy. Meeting new friends and being with them had been refreshing to me. I didn’t want to go home and leave all of that behind. On the plane, I wrote down my experiences. I wanted to carry them with me, even though I wasn’t in that special place anymore. I was so afraid of losing the relationships I had formed. I didn’t want to lose all of the memories and friendships that I had formed during my time in Cochabamba. After returning home, I realized quickly that none of that was true. These experiences that I had would always be with me. I would always remember stories about people, conversations that I had had with people we met, the kids’ beautiful faces, the games we played, the meals we had shared, and everything else about my experience in Bolivia. My relationship with Jesus is different because of my experiences. Even if I’m not physically in the country now, I would have the memories from the trip and the opportunity to experience it again someday.

Even though parts of our trip were challenging, it was one of the best and most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. This year, I’m beyond excited to take the knowledge that I gained from my trip and use it with those around me. Additionally, I am excited to return to Bolivia one day to see the sweet faces of the children, the beautiful mountains, the barking dogs, the kind people, and the love of Jesus Christ all around me.

~Grace Brooks

RestoBolivia: the final party ….

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I enjoyed Bolivia  a lot and I loved having time with the kids playing and having fun.  I enjoyed spending time with God and hope that some of the kids will get a family.  And God will make that happen.  I was so happy to come and stay with them and hope we can go again.Photo Jul 07, 11 25 29 AM (1)

I had fun with D (note: the child we sponsor), and I did lots of cool things with him.  We were having the best time at the party in the end.  My favorite part was the pool even when I got sunburn.  I also really liked the swings and the zip line and the playground equipment.  I thank God for this wonderful  trip.

In summary:  I really had a great time at Vacation Bible School and I also had really fun with my friend D.  The thing I liked most about the trip was the party because I got to have a great lunch with everybody and I got to play with my best friend.

~ Carson Wallin

Editor’s note: The final Saturday we joined all the NCV kids, tias, tios, board members of the foundation, and other friends for a wonderful 10 year celebration. It was, indeed, a fabulous party in a little park with pool, zipline, playground and a delicious lunch. Carson is quite right – it was a great day. 

RestoBolivia: a gift

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It’s been 10 days since Equipo Bolivia returned to Arlington,  and you’d think I’d have tidied my room by now. My suitcase still holds gifts from the market in Cochabamba, waiting to be sent to friends and family. My bright orange t-shirt from Equipo Naranja (I like that there are two words for orange in Spanish….one for the color, one for the fruit) is folded but I can see sharpied signatures peeking through, of kids young and old. Group text messages from my fellow travelers that in some ways rival those between me and my siblings, complete with inside jokes, photos, and prayers. There are photos in colorful frames, from the kids at Ninos con Valor and the congregation of La Trinidad, faces that accompany my ever-widening understanding of family.

And there is my trip journal, ready to join its counterparts from Women’s retreats and Fall retreats.  I picked it up this afternoon while tidying and flipped through the pages, reflecting on the fact that the markings in this book could very well tell the story of our time:

13668730_10154412824841424_5818283949311902620_oThere are brightly colored scribbles of orange and blue and green and pink, gifted by *Tomas and *Fabian in the few minutes that they sat still before leading me on another chase around the park. Spanish and English vocabulary covering the back, the remnants of my translation session with *Natalia as we listened to Sunday’s sermon. Passages of scripture underlined with squiggly lines, reminders of our devotions during morning bus rides. Lyrics to the song “Yo tengo un amigo que me ama” which is undoubtedly now playing on repeat in the minds of my fellow teammates.

I cannot look at those pages without smiling. They are a small but tangible reminders to me of God’s goodness….of his faithfulness. I told a friend as we were leaving that the trip didn’t feel like a “mountain top/emotional high” experience, but was instead a time of being daily aware of God’s sustaining presence – from take-off at Dulles to altitude sickness in La Paz, through conversations in broken Spanish and songs sung with little voices, in times of great celebration and in times of questioning the brokenness in our world, in the saying goodbye and coming home. It was not an easy time, but it was a gift.

~Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm

RestoBolivia: Trusting God

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I’m not typically the one to be a “worry wart.” Most would say I am “muy tranquilo.” But leading up to our departure for the 2016 RestoBolivia Trip, I found myself immersed in a perpetual cycle of questions and doubts:

  • Are we really going to be able to make a difference during a one-week trip to Bolivia?
  • Will the language barrier pose a bigger problem than we are anticipating?
  • Will enough kids show up to our Vacation Bible School?
  • Will our team be flexible and adapt to a different culture?
  • Will we be able to build a genuine partnership with La Trinidad Anglican Church?
  • Are they excited that we are coming or are we going to be more of a burden to them?
  • Will we have trouble getting through customs with all of the supplies and bibles we are bringing?
  • Will our team remain healthy or will they be the victims of parasites or altitude sickness?
  • Will we be able to connect with the children of Niños con Valor in such a short period of time?
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Liz and Tammy

I won’t bore you with ALL of the questions that were running through my head. Those are just a sampling. As you can see, these questions ranged from the insignificant to the profound.  Everything from “Do we have enough beads for the friendship bracelets we will be making?” to “What does God have in store for the future relationship between Restoration and Bolivia?”

Once we were firmly planted on terra firma in Bolivia, I felt an overwhelming peace. We did what we could to prepare for the trip in a wise and thoughtful manner, but now it was simply up to God as to what would happen in the following days. And what DID happen was extraordinary.

In reference to my earlier questions, here is how God responded:

  • God affirmed that, indeed, we could make a difference by simply showing up.

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    Andrew and Endel…

  • God reminded us that the language of His LOVE could overcome any language barrier.
  • God blessed us with the perfect number of children for our Vacation Bible School.
  • God orchestrated the formation of a team in which every individual was willing to put the needs of others before their own.
  • God formed fruitful relationships between the members and leaders of Restoration and those of La Trinidad Anglican Church.
  • God gave us the wisdom we needed to be helpful, not hurtful, towards our Bolivian brothers and sisters.
  • God protected our travels and we had no issues navigating customs.
  • God shielded us from any severe illness or injuries (though many from our team did come home with some new, uninvited amoeba amigos! )
  • God created beautiful connections between our team and the children of Niños con Valor.

Each evening during compline, we reflected on what God taught us about himself that day. And almost every evening, my thoughts turned to the same conclusion, one that I clearly need to be reminded of daily.

TRUST HIM.

As you can see, all of the responses to those previous worries and questions did not resolve through what I did but instead through what He did.

We taught the children about the story of Daniel during our Vacation Bible School week.  Going forth, I pray that I can have the kind of faith that Daniel had:

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” – Daniel 6:23

~ Kate Liias

 

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