Why West Virginia? part 2

Copy of IMG_20130705_113337 (2)You might think we go to West Virginia to help other people, which is true. Some folks in Philippi need a hand; whether to build a room for their growing family, to brighten a church hall with fresh paint, to stain a wheelchair ramp to prevent it from rotting, or to start a garden to provide food and income. Jeff Sickler, our local contact in West Virginia, identifies people who have an idea and want to make a change in their lives, but don’t have the man (or woman) power or resources to get it done. We have an opportunity to then come alongside them as the hands in the body of Christ.

But these same people also just need someone to listen to them, encourage them, empower them, pray with them, respect them, laugh with them, care about them, and love them. Some of them are ostracized in the Philippi community because of where they live or what their last name is. Some are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions or having relationship problems. Jeff tells us it’s more important to build relationships than to build buildings. So if you’re not very handy (like me), I hope you’ll come to Philippi anyways. Because we are all called to love each other, and to be the hands of Christ.

And in serving others and in loving others we deepen our own relationship with God. Over the last two years, I have learned:
…to listen. To sermons by Pastor Geneva. To singing hymns, as we painted. To a father teach his daughter how to use a drill. To squeals of joy at holding kittens. To a mother mourn lost baby pictures in a destroyed mobile home. And, as I’ve been yearning to hear God’s voice, I learned I need to talk less and listen more.
…to be patient. It’s not easy for a Type A to let go, to sit, and to wait. But Philippi moves slower than DC. We waited for wood to arrive, for tools to be shared, for paint colors to be picked, for instructions on what to save and what to toss. Last year, some team members pestered me to put down my brush, to sit with them and talk and pray with folks from Philippi. And as much as I want to see what God holds next for me, I learned I need to be more patient.
…to be content. People of Philippi don’t have a lot, by North Arlington standards, although some have more than others, but they are generally content. Sure, Pastor Geneva wants to expand her flock, and there are complaints about aches and pains, and worry about their families. But where there are complaints and worry, there is also a trust in God. And I learned that despite my endless to-do list and my worries about my career and single-ness: God has blessed me and calls me to trust Him.
…to laugh! Oh, how we laughed. At playing catch phrase. At fireworks and sparklers. At card games and clothespins and potato sack races. At Timon being Timon….and so much more. I learned new things about laugher and joy. Despite being in several small groups, I still felt on the fringe at RAC before my first trip to West Virginia. Now, my closest friends at RAC are from my West Virginia trips – couples and singles, older and younger. When you travel a distance and serve together, you get to know people pretty well; and you learn to live and laugh together.

2014-07-0084I encourage you to join us in Philippi this June. To serve and love others. And, as you do, I’m sure that you will learn more about yourself and your relationship with God in the process.

– Meredith Lloyd

 

Sign up to go to West Virginia here.

Looking Back… with Gratitude #restocambo 7

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Hunter shares about his experience in Cambodia as we continue our series of reflections. Make sure you don’t miss the invitation at the bottom of his post.

As 2014 ended and I reflect on God’s work in my life across the year, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I embraced some unique opportunities, and I am awed by the ways God encouraged, supported, and even used me. Between joining the West Asia

team in May and leading the Cambodia team in November, I found myself blessed far beyond my expectations. I better understand Paul’s description of the act of giving as a blessing: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Cor 9.15). As our team winds out our blog posts about our experience in Cambodia, here are some of the things I’m thankful for.

It was a gift…

To see the beautiful land and people of Cambodia and to meet both Cambodian and international workers who give the hours of their days to serve others with creativity and compassion. In a neighborhood once characterized by child sexual exploitation, the laughter and joy of children around a new school and the din of sewing machines worked by mothers and fathers paid a fair wage in a well-ventilated employment center (not a sweatshop) still rings in my ears.

It was a gift…

To walk the streets where Jesse and Sarah Blaine now live and work. Despite dengue fever (rare, but a risk), Jesse rallied to meet us and introduce us to his partners in their work serving orphans. Sarah stepped up to host and care for us, while caring for her daughters and ailing husband. We couldn’t have felt more loved as we sat in their living room and renewed bonds forged two years earlier in their living room in Arlington through a Restoration small group.

It was a gift…

To meet and serve our sister Anglican church, the Church of Christ our Peace in Phnom Penh. We were warmly welcomed, well taken care of, and inspired by their life and ministry. Pastor Gregory introduced us to congregants doing amazing work, and the community of CCOP is a living testimony of his love, character and commitment to Jesus. Although more populated with internationals, their dynamic and vibrant community felt much like Restoration!

It was a gift…

To grow in relationship with teammates at Restoration. Through meeting weekly as a small group to prepare and through shared time in Cambodia at meals, in vans, walking and working together, we all gained a deeper experience of Christian family. I’m amazed and thankful for their giftedness, and that everyone stepped up to serve without complaint. And I still can’t believe that a couple from Phnom Penh moved to Washington last summer, came to Restoration, joined our Cambodia small group and helped us prepare to go. They even came from CCOP and had been in small group with Jesse and Sarah Blaine! God’s ways are astounding.

It was a gift…

To bring my family. Though they don’t fully comprehend it at ages 8, 6 and 4, our children’s eyes were opened to life beyond northern Virginia — to another culture rich with history, but stung by corruption, injustice and poverty. And yet so many of the people we met were generous, kind and compassionate. Every few days our four-year-old daughter keeps asking, “When are we going back to Cambodia?”

It was a gift…

To pray, unsure of who we would meet (other than the Blaines) and how our work would be helpful, yet expectant and confident that God would guide and teach us. Through praying before the trip, God prepared my heart for the ways he would meet us there. Praying for CCOP leaders at the retreat we hosted was so clearly received as a blessing by them that we felt privileged just to pray. And despite linguistic barriers, being prayed for by young, rural Cambodian Christians fired our faith. They don’t take turns, vocalizing prayer all at the same time, and their impassioned prayers felt like thunderous waters pouring down from heaven over our team.

These are a few of the things that stir me to gratitude. In this new year, may you know the riches of God’s blessings as you continue to follow Jesus. To borrow Isaac Watts’ words from 1719 that we’ve recently sung in worship, may our Lord surprise you again and again with “the wonders of his love.”

Happy new year!

Hunter Weimer

To hear more stories from our team, see some pictures and celebrate our friends visiting from Cambodia, Jesse and Sarah Blaine, join us at Restoration tonight, January 12th. We’ll gather 7.30-9.00pm in Fellowship Hall. Child care will be provided. We hope you can make it!

SG #19 Leadership with Cindy (and Bill Hybels has something to say too)

The local church is the hope of the world.unnamed

Everybody wins when a leader gets better.

These two statements are the foundation on which Bill Hybels created the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, a 2-day conference held annually in early August. The summit is held in Chicago but broadcast live around the states and then later taken around the world. Each year the talks are published on a DVD and that’s what we’ll be using for this small group.

I have attended the summit a number of times over the years and it’s two of the most refreshing days of the year for me. I always come away pumped up and ready to tackle the world.
What can you expect? The videos will be anywhere from 20-45 minutes and we will debrief them and pray for one another. I have a few favorites picked out that have stuck with me over the years but I’m open to the group’s needs on picking the others. The few I have picked out:

  • Ever felt like this? The first video will discuss the source that helps us find our leadership vision – our “holy discontent” – the thing that we are passionate about to the point of acting upon it.
  • Do you ever have to help people get “there” – that point in the future where things will be better? The second video will talk about how to do that.
  • Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty in your leadership or just in your life? The third video will explore the dangers of this and ways to prevent it.

Hope you’ll consider this group so that we can get better together!

~Cindy Darnell

Register for your small group choice today!

Being Noticed in Cambodia #restocambo 6

Continuing our series of reflections from the Cambodia team, Scott speaks out .. plus an invitation for January 12th!

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At Restoration, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of having a mentor. Mentors are great. They help you listen to your life, ask good questions that make you think about the thing you haven’t thought of yet, and offer wisdom and encouragement. But at their core, mentors are folks who generously and selflessly take the time to get to know you – to notice who you are and who you are becoming.

In Cambodia, mentors are rare. As Hannah mentioned in her post, war and genocide have plagued Cambodia’s recent history. In the late 1970’s, the Khmer Rouge executed nearly all the educated population in Phnom Penh. Today, the median age in Cambodia is 24. Many of the people who are starting businesses, getting married, and having children don’t have a generation of elders to guide them.

So I was surprised to see such powerful mentorship on display when our group visited an Anglican church plant in Rokakos Province with Gregory, the pastor of the international congregation for Church of Christ our Peace. As Laurel mentioned, a young pastor named Sovannia led us in a worship service with 8 other folks – 7 women and 1 man.

After Sovannia’s sermon, Gregory interrupted the flow of the worship service and asked Sovannia to translate for him. Gregory then turned to the only other man in the group. Sitting hunched in his chair, this quiet unassuming young man in light blue jeans and a grey polo sat up straight as Gregory began speaking to him.

Gregory told him how significant it was that he was here; that it is rare for men in Cambodia to come to church; and he hoped he would continue to trust Jesus and to grow in faith. “God is able to able to save many through one,” Gregory said. “He is able to move mountains through those whose faith is as small as a mustard seed. He will be able to move mountains through you.”

For a moment the room stopped, and everyone’s eyes were on him. He smiled, looked down at the floor, and nodded to Gregory. It was a lot to take in.

I think of this guy often as I continue to pray for my friends in Cambodia. I wonder what he is doing these days. But I don’t wonder if he heard what Gregory told him. In that moment, it was clear that he was noticed and known – in a way that he had never been noticed or known before.

Sidenote: On January 12 from 7:30-9pm, Jesse and Sarah Blaine and the team who went on the trip to Phnom Penh will host a gathering at Restoration in the Fellowship Hall. We are looking forward to hearing from the Blaine’s about their time in Cambodia and sharing some of our experiences from the trip. Childcare will be provided.

 

loving our neighbors

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How will you get involved in 2015? The Intagliatas have loved serving with AFAC in 2014….

Prior to our first time volunteering for a summer farmer’s market pick-up/produce bagging session at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), we knew of AFAC as that building we drove by when taking our dog to the Shirlington Dog Park. Little did we know that we would come to know, serve, and be blessed by AFAC clients and workers while also becoming more connected with members of our Restoration family.

AFAC distributes supplemental groceries to Arlington residents that are experiencing food insecurity due to limited income to pay bills and feed their family. The first time we volunteered we worked behind the scenes to get food ready for distribution. We were amazed at the amount of fresh produce generously donated by vendors at the farmers market that needed to be put in bags. Eventually, we decided to help with Tuesday evening distribution. It has now become a time we look forward to each month.  Our volunteer duties have consisted of cutting mesh bags to bag produce, organizing donated food, restocking shelves, checking in clients, and helping clients find the type of food they are looking for, all while kindly keeping the distribution line moving.

AFAC Pic1We have found AFAC to be a wonderful place to respond to God’s call in our lives to serve our neighbors. In our busy lives, it can be quite easy to bypass our neighbors and those in need. AFAC provides a place for us to become connected to a diverse community of people in Arlington and experience God’s grace through relationship and provision of basic needs. While we strive to live a more coherent Christian life, AFAC is one place where we have experienced God at work and found an opportunity to practice giving of our time to connect with and serve our neighbors.

~Andrew and Diana Intagliata

Join the After-service Prayer Team – This Sunday

Praying TogetherHave you ever had a moment where you just weren’t sure what to do, or you were overwhelmed by your circumstances, and someone said, “Can I pray for you?” It’s a simple act, but so often exactly what you need – someone to simultaneously show that they care about you and help you create a space where you can release whatever you’re experiencing and feeling to God.

That’s what the after-service prayer team is all about: having caring individuals in place after the service to pray for anyone who is going through a rough time, needs guidance, or wants to respond in some way to the worship service.

Right now, we’re looking to add folks to the ASP team, and I’d like to invite you to consider joining. If you’ve gone up for prayer in the past and would like to play that role in someone else’s life, or you would just like to make yourself available to serve others, this is a great way to do so. It’s not a significant time commitment, but you could make a significant difference in someone’s day, and it’s an honor to be there for someone at a potentially crucial moment.

This Sunday, November 2nd, 2-4pm, we’re having an ASP training in the fellowship hall. We’ll go over things like listening well, etiquette, sensitivity, confidentiality, and ideas for how you might pray for someone. Even if you’re not sure about joining the team, go ahead and come out to the training – that’ll be the best way to find out!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at clay@retorationarlington.org. Hope to see you there!

Clay

Connecting with God, others and the needs of the world

6004069_origSo how do I connect with God, others and the needs of the world?

  • I go to church
  • I attend a small group

And..what – is there more?

Over the last five years at Restoration we have sought to listen very deliberately to God’s voice and to be careful about the choices we make about investing our time, money and talents as a community.   To that end we have

  • A group called the Outreach Steering Team which prays and deliberates over financial  proposals;
  • An open group called the Outreach Planning team who meets periodically to think about researching the area, action plans and timelines and helping people in our community  to connect;
  • Love Arlington a small group with a big heart, which seeks to provide an entry point for people at Restoration to find ways to serve the marginalized and talk to their friends and neighbors about Jesus;
  • We have gradually accumulated friends and partners in some diverse ministries around Arlington;
  • And we have ventured abroad, forging links in West Asia, Cambodia and Bolivia.

Want to meet all these people and partners and more?

Want to dream about where you might find a place in serving others?

Want to simply mingle after church and eat snacks?

Why not pop by the Fellowship Hall on Sunday 9/21 after any one of the services and find out more. Find out where God is at work – connecting us with himself, others and the needs of the world.

Questions? Ask Liz,  if she doesn’t know the answer, she will find it out! liz@restorationarlington.org

Our bodies matter

In our occasional blogs on small group options – here’s another very different one which starts this Thursday. Interested? Sign up here, or email Christie, christine.dondero@gmail.com for more info.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I often think back to a sermon that Erin Bair preached a few months into my time at Restoration in early 2011. I distinctly remember her sharing the poignant phrase, “Our bodies matter.” I was struck by the simple truth of those three words.

Our bodies do matter: How we treat them. What we put into them. What we do with them. What we believe about them. All of these things matter.

All too often, we treat our bodies like they aren’t a part of our spiritual self. We lament over the size of our post-baby bellies, stuff ourselves with ice cream to dull the pain of rejection, run an extra three miles to prove to ourselves we are worth something and restrict “bad” foods to feel in control. Forgetting that God allows us to birth new life, experience the highs and lows of deep relationships and enjoy food and physical activity for our health and pleasure. We are striving and stuffing and slowly cutting ourselves off from the bodies that God created for us.

God created us in His image with a mind, body and spirit. What we do to our body trickles into our spirit, and when our bodies become broken, so will our spirits.

All too often we forget that our bodies do indeed matter. They matter to us, and they matter to God.

Come explore the question of how we can return to a place of viewing and treating our bodies as God intended during Rock Recovery’s Body Image & Eating Education Series at Restoration, starting this Thursday.

More small group info can be found on the website!

Another small group option: this one is all about faith and leadership

 

photoAt Restoration we care deeply that we should each grow as disciples of Jesus in every aspect of our lives. We want to be intentional about  how we exercise our faith at home, in our neighborhoods and at work;  so  every trimester we aim to run a few small groups on these topics. This trimester Lee and Elizabeth are leading a group which is thinking about how we exercise our leadership as Christians in all aspects of our lives – from the kitchen table to the office to the gym?

We live in a town where good leadership matters.

But effective leadership is just as important inside a family as it is on Capitol Hill. Despite this, we rarely openly study or discuss the qualities of a great leader. It is easier to spot (and criticize) a bad leader. But how should you go about becoming an effective leader yourself? And what does it take to become a humble leader, one who uses his or her power to empower others rather than just horde power for him or herself? If you are looking for the ultimate answers to these questions, sorry…you won’t find them here. We are not the experts. But if you are wanting to explore such leadership questions- listening to the wisdom of others, sharing your own experiences, and looking at what the Bible and a Christian leadership book says about leadership-then we would love for you to join us this trimester!

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Contact:  Lee and Elizabeth Pitts for more info: pittspress@yahoo.com

Meeting:  Wednesdays. 7pm.

Ready to Sign up? here’s the link!

 

Fall Retreat 2014: Register today!

Click here to sign up now for this year’s retreat. We’ll be heading to Massanetta Springs October 18-19, 2014 and would love for you all to join us. The retreat will begin at 9:30 am on Saturday and will end by 12:45 pm on Sunday. Register before September 1 to get the early-bird discount. 

“I accepted Christ when I was a child and have attended church all my life. However, since joining the military over 10 years ago, I have not found a church family to call my own. That changed last October.

My brother, Isaac, and his family attended Restoration, and I would come to service with them on occasion. Everyone was nice, but I was always just a visitor. Then in the summer of 2013, I went through a terrible breakup with my then fiancé. My family helped me through the initial pain, but we all knew that I could not heal on my own, that I needed to belong to something. So, with their advice, I gave Restoration an honest try–for myself.

During my second service, I read the announcement for the 2013 Fall Retreat. It was decently local, it was supposed to be a lot of fun, and my sister-in-law, Julia, wanted to go. But, what I really noticed was the date. October 18-20–my botched wedding date. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I remember choosing that date because it is my favorite weekend of the year. Looking down at the announcement, I knew that I did not want to be alone or sad on that beautiful weekend. I remember thinking, “What a great way to spend that time. I won’t be in pain, and I won’t be thinking about myself – I’ll be with Christ and His family in the mountains… I have to go.”

The retreat was wonderful. I had never met such nice, Godly people. Julia, my niece Parker, and I shared a room–I was so thankful to have family with me. But, I left the weekend meeting some of my now closest friends. I was able to spend time getting to know them and hear their stories. We went to a pumpkin farm, a lavender farm and a winery. This was not your typical church retreat! But, I needed that. I needed to experience worldly things with Godly people. At the retreat, we sat around a bonfire for hours. I was able to get to know the people I now call friends, and probably unknowingly, they were able to help me understand the changes going on in my life and heal a little more because of it.

I realize that because of that retreat last fall, I am now a part of something. I walk into service and am able to say more than just “hello” to people. I still love that my family attends Restoration, but now I have my own identity there. I have since healed from my breakup, and I now realize that the Lord sent me to the fall retreat on that third Saturday in October in order to begin a different type of new life – one with Him and my new “extended” Restoration family, and it is still my favorite weekend of the year!”

– Lori Simerly

 

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