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Birthdays and Vacation - Briana's Team

The beginning of the week we celebrated Connor and Katie's birthdays. We were in Mexico for Connor's, and Katie's was April 1st. Obviously we had to give Katie a hard time since her birthday lands on April Fool's day. Stephanie made two pies, one raisin and one peanut butter. We gave Katie the raisin pie having her think it's yummy peanut butter pie. We were hoping to get a reaction out of her and only got "my mom's peanut butter pie is better." She was a good sport about it even a good sport after she got cake smashed into her face.

Thursday began our team vacation. Briana and I chose Tucson for our destination. We wanted to make sure we still had nice warm weather and have access to a pool. Our vacation consists of movies, the show Parks and Rec, the pool, reading, puzzles, and lots of yummy food! Our first full day of vacation was by far the laziest for me. I regret not wearing my watch to see how little of steps I took that day.

Since I'm on vacation it has given me a lot of time to think. I think about how we only have almost a month left and how bittersweet it is. I have been really missing family, friends, and of course my cats. But, I have also been thinking about how I felt the first time I finished the program 2 years ago. I had a lot of thoughts about how I wish I would have worked harder in Montana (my outreach location). How I wished I would have spent more time with this person during training or this person during outreach. Or how I could have inserted myself more with others who don't know my Father. I'm sure I'll have these thoughts and more when I'm done this time around. We as humans are hard to please. Those sad wishful thoughts of me doing more my first time through the program helps me to live in the moment because some day I will look back and cry about how much I miss my time here serving with Aim Right. Missing all these wonderful people I have grown to love even through short conversations.

Prayer requests for team:

- we have always been more of a kidding around group. So, more realness and respect for one another.

- having almost one month left causes so many emotions. It leads to thinking about how sad saying goodbye to everyone will be, emotions about seeing the other teams, family, and other friends, and also leads to thinking about plans for the future.

- continually showing the Father's Love to everyone around us

-Kelly

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Mexico! (Part 2) - Briana's Team

Hello everybody, its Rey Rey!

So what did we do for spring break?? Well, what every teen loves to do – go to Mexico. But it wasn’t all beaches and vacation. We were able to help an organization build houses and were able to be a part of changing lives.

We left Thursday afternoon around lunch and picked up a girl who had wanted to come since her brother was already down there building houses. It was about a 4 hour trip down to Mexico and the time passed by fairly quickly, despite the fact that most everyone was quiet. We arrived there around 5 that night and got there just in time to see the group that had been at the center leave. Let me tell you, that group really scared me. The one kid I talked to the most of the night talked about how he’d only had maybe three showers the whole three days he had been there and how the tents they slept in had not been great. However our group got lucky and were named interns for ten days, so the guys and I got to sleep in the guys’ intern house and the girls got to sleep in the girls’ intern house.

On Friday we started our first house. The group that was supposed to help us had said they didn’t want to dig the hole for the septic or lay the concrete for the floor, so we got to do that ourselves. We spent that first day until around 2pm working on those tasks. The next day the group was supposed to be there around 1pm, so we just leveled the ground around the house and did some work on a bakery. Well, 1pm rolled around and the group didn’t show up, so we started cutting the boards for the frames; however, the place we were at didn’t have any power tools so we did everything by hand. After about two hours we had everything cut and ready to go, and right when we were about to leave, the other group showed up. The director let us go, though, and had the other group start putting the frames together. After we left the construction site, we went to the beach and chilled there for a while.

The next day was a big day; the other group was there and it was time to raise the walls. We got the walls raised, wood put on, and a bit of tar paper put up (if I remember right). The next day we put up the rest of the tar paper, then the chicken wire, and then started doing the stucco.

That night we had the fiesta night. Let me explain what fiesta night is. It’s the night that we get together with the family we’re building the house for and have a small party with a piñata, music, and dancing. All in all, it’s a blast.

The next morning was the dedication for the house. We sang songs and had communion in the house as its first meal – it was a great experience. After that we finished the house, then went back to base and slept. The next day was Wednesday, which is their Sabbath, so we went to church. After church we visited a dirt mall, which is a street lined with souvenir shops, and then we went to the beach and relaxed all day. On Thursday the next group arrived, which was actually a group from here in the valley. They didn’t do any work that day as it was just our group getting the site of the house prepped. We laid the floor and built the frames the first day, then the second day we put the walls up (for the most part the septic was in the back of the house and was too close so we had to wait for that task).

That night was the fiesta, which was again great. I love fiesta night.

Sunday was our last day there, so we helped out with the house once more. Then we packed up and went to the dedication of the house before saying our goodbyes to the interns that we had met down there. That was really hard because we had all became really good friends.

Getting back over the border went really well and we got back to Phoenix around 5:30pm. At 5:45, we had to say to good-bye to the girl we had picked up. She was a blast to get to know and we were all really happy she got to come with us. She should be reading this, so shout out to her! Also to the interns that we met down there, you’re awesome and we love you!

-Reylyn

Mexico! - Briana's Team

Hello everyone! Team Phoenix is in Mexico!!

Before we get too excited about Mexico, let’s go back to the beginning of the week in Phoenix. Sunday afternoon we were joined by a group from Texas. They were in charge of VBS for the week, and we were there to help if needed. VBS was Monday- Thursday in the afternoons; before VBS the group joined us in doing work projects. Most of our time in the mornings was spent repainting the majority of the main floor of the church, excluding the sanctuary. Right after painting we loaded up the bus and vans with kids and brought them back to the church for VBS.

Wednesday night, a couple hours after VBS, we had what was called a block party. All of our kids were invited to bring their families for a party! We had bounce houses, cotton candy, hot dogs and even a dance party. The night was a huge success!

Thursday, right before VBS, the team loaded all of our things into a fifteen passenger van and headed for MEXICO!! After a four hour drive and a slight mix up with the directions in Mexico, we arrived at our destination.

Friday we started off by laying a foundation and digging a septic hole for the house we will be helping to build this next week. After we were finished working at the building site (and got cleaned up of course), we headed to grab lunch (Mexican quesadillas are my new favorite thing) and then went to the beach. We stayed at the beach for hours and then explored a Mexican store. Needless to say our day was very nice.

We are all very excited to be in Mexico and can’t wait to see what stories we come back with. You’ll have to wait until next week to hear more about our adventures from Mexico.

For now I will say goodbye and until next time.

-Katie

Update from Columbus - Briana Byler

Hey Everyone!

I am writing you all from Columbus, OH.  What am I doing here you might ask? Well I am currently going through the REACH program and I am co-leading the Phoenix team.

The first 3 months of this program in spent in OH at the training facility where we sit in on sessions every morning, volunteer at local ministries, have book studies, team debrief times, fun team times, intercession and many other things.

The next 6 months will be spent in AZ where we will be helping Aim Right Ministries with their different children's programs and various other things. I don't have exact details as of yet as to what we all we will be doing, but I will keep you updated.

I am on a team with 5 other people and there are 31 in the program this year.  My co-leader is Kelly Kauffman. Fun fact, she was on Trent's team when he led a team to Montana. And then we have Reylyn Yoder, Connor Oren, Karlee Lehman, and Katie Byler (no, we are not related). So in total our team is made up of 4 girls and 2 guys.

I arrived in OH 3 weeks ago now as Team Leaders arrive 2 weeks before the other participants.  We have had a little over 1 week now as a full team, and it has been going so great! I am enjoying getting to know each of my teammates and the fun times as well as the serious times we've had together have been really good.

I don't have any pictures to post yet, but we will be taking team pictures here shortly and then I can show off my team.

Blessings, Briana

 

Prayer Requests: 

1) That our team would continue to bond well and become really good friends and support for each other.

2) That I would have energy as I lead and plan and schedule different things.

3) That I as well as my team would be drawing closer to God and be listening to what He wants us to learn.

4) For excitement for our outreaches here in Columbus, and then in Phoenix as well.

Settling In - Trent Miller

We have arrived!

After 3 nights of staying in stranger’s houses thanks to Airbnb, and 4 days of driving we have arrived in Polson, Montana! We averaged about 8 hours of drive time each day and traveled 1,629 miles, and we were very thankful to not have to be stuck inside a vehicle any longer. Thankfully nothing too eventful happened while we drove. The weather was mostly cooperative for us as well.

After arriving and getting settled in on Friday, we met the people we will be staying with. Christian and I currently are living at the YWAM / Tribal Waves base in Polson while the girls are staying with a family in Ronan about a 10 minute drive away. Most of our days currently are spent in the classroom going through orientation about what the reservation is like and about what we will be doing for the next 6 months, playing basketball and volleyball at the college, and hanging out playing games with the interns who are here.

Currently there are three Samoan interns who we have been working alongside. We’ve had a blast the past two weeks joking around and getting to know them.

For the most part it has been slow due to those who we are working with are on break for the holidays. In January we are planning on picking up speed with our work here. It’s been good being here and meeting the different people we will be working with, and I’m excited for all that is in store for us. 

 Prayer Requests:

– Pray that we will continue to be unified and be able to have good team times as we are living in separate locations

– Pray that we will be open to where the Spirit is leading and directing us. 

– Pray that the Father would be opening up doors for us to walk through.

-Trenton

The Father's Heart of Love - Briana Byler

Hey everyone, sorry it's been a while since I have written an update, time has sort of slipped away from me recently. It's hard to believe that I only have a month left here. The time has intermittently flown and crawled by. 
    I got back a week ago now from a mini vacation with all of the other girls who are volunteering with me here at the Foundation and we are in Baños (pronounced bohn-yos), which is a small city situated in a valley surrounded by gorgeous mountains that practically shout about the creativity of our Creator.
    It was a refreshing time for all us to connect as a group, share stories and struggles from the Foundation, and do some crazy adrenaline filled things.
    My mother always asked me if all of my friends jumped off of a bridge, would I? And I can honestly say "yes" to that question now. We went 'puenting' which is 'bridge jumping' in Spanish. It's basically like bungee jumping except you have a body harness on and when you jump you don't bounce up and down for a little, you just swing back and forth. I screamed like I was about to die, but thankfully I didn't :) 
    We also went on a hike to a waterfall and up a to a cross, swung on some really high swings out over the edge of a mountain and went to a natural hot springs. Needless to say, it's been a great time.
    Okay, so as far as how things are going at the Foundation, I am glad to say that they are going better. I have been feeling a lot more love and gratefulness from the kids lately, they may not always know how to say that they appreciate us being there, but there hugs and want to spend more time with me has been words enough lately, it is going to be so hard to say a forever goodbye to each of them.
    I feel so selfish for wanting the kids to love me back, because that means they are getting attached to me, and then when I leave it's not only going to hurt me but it's going to hurt them as well.
    God has been teaching me about the Father's love and it is more of a continuous learning about it than a new revelation. In the past couple of years in Spain, Columbus, at home and here God has been showing me different aspects of his love. He has shown me how He still loves me even though I run away from Him and tell Him I hate Him and to shut up. God has shown me how He still loves me even though i fight against the corrections that will help me to better understand how life works, and how He still loves me even though I bite and scratch against His embraces that I so desperately long for
    All of these lessons God has taught me through the kids that I get the privilege of loving and helping to take care of. 
    I have been hit, bit, slapped, swung at, almost beaned by a rock in the face. I have been yelled at, cursed at, and run away from. I have cried, anguished and have had my heart broken all because of these kids. But you know what? I wouldn't trade any of those moments for being at home in my safe comfort zone, because it has shown me how to love without always feeling that love back, it has taught me that love truly is a choice, and no matter what they do, I will always love them. And that is exactly how God loves us. 
    I wouldn't say that I want to come early but I think when the time comes I will be ready but when I have to say goodbye to these kids who hold my heart I know that there will be may tears, but I am excited to be at home with my family and all of you again.
    Thank you again for all of your prayers, you have no idea how much they have helped, it has been easier knowing that my church family is standing with me in prayer.
  Talk to you all later, with many blessings, Briana

- Trent Miller

This past week has seemed pretty crazy with Practicum coming up and having a full schedule. The sessions this week were on discipleship and also about the unseen epic. Something that I was really thinking about Monday was about how I was really ready for heaven and being with our Father. I’m really looking forward to the day when I get to see him face to face and be able to worship him. I’m not really sure what it was that got me thinking about it, but it certainly fit in for what was being talked about in the teachings. We talked about how heaven is a real place and that it isn’t just some boring wispy cloud in the sky that we sit on for all eternity. It isn’t just a forever long church service. There will be worship but there will be lots of other things too. We won’t be bored there, that is for sure. I am so ready for that day when I will be able to meet the King face to face and experience what was intended from the beginning of creation. This is the third time going through these teachings and this week is always one of my favorites.

Another thing that stuck out to me was on Monday, when the speaker was talking about discipleship, he said something that I thought was really interesting. He mentioned being a “Spiritual Grandpa.” He said this referring to be a disciple who makes a disciple who then makes a disciple. This was just a great reminder to be looking for those people who are open and that you can speak life into their lives and they can in turn do the same.

We have been continuing life here and doing our normal outreaches and being our normal goofy selves. Here is some proof from one of our fun nights out…

Thanks for reading!

-Trent

Young Disciples - Trent's Team

This week we went to our first Young Disciples… it was pretty crazy but the kids are so sweet and lovable. What we do first is set up and then prayer and then go get the kids. Next we divide into boys and girls and start again with prayer and look in the Bible or story book for a story, which the kids pick, then either act it out or draw an illustration or both. After that we have snack and game time and present our stories. Last we send the kids home and debrief and leave ourselves.

Thanks for reading!

-Amy

Silent Retreat - Trent's Team

Dear Readers,

So far DTS has been awesome, This week I’ve learned a lot about how to worship God in solitude and silence which was something that was hard for me to do before. I think as a team we really have started to connect well and our outreaches have been going really well! This weekend everybody went to Camp Buckeye for a silent retreat, we left on Friday at like 2 and starting then we were completely silent and fasted until Saturday night. I think a lot of us really connected with God including myself, and it was just a really refreshing time. We left Sunday then at about 1 and got back at 3 and then that evening Polen came and led us in worship which was a huge highlight for me.

Some things you could pray for:

  • Team unity and openness
  • Boldness for everyone
  • That our team would be able to connect and create relationships with people on are outreaches

-Christian

Peace - Briana Byler

Galatians 5:14-15 "The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
As I was reading today, this verse stuck out to me in a new way, this is what happens at the Foundation.
How often I feel like i am fighting a continuous uphill battle, full of frustration and hopelessness. I try to teach the kids that it's not right to hit, smack, and punch each other, and that they can't call each other horrible names. But they don't stop, they don't change. I can give them black beads* and make them sit in the punishment room* but if there is now heart change, there is not change in their behaviour. 
That is what makes the difference in my life and in their lives. I have the Love ofGod in my heart, I have a living and acting conscience, and I have have the word of God in my heart, a living and active word, a word that is sharper than any double-edged sword, even to dividing soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12).
And that is why my frustration mounts every day, when the kids are calling me names, telling me the f word (albeit pronounced very badly) and hitting each other. 
For all of my begging, pleading and punishing they can't change themselves. They need the redemption of Jesus Christ in their lives, they need the love that sweeps over you when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour, they need the peace that is beyond all understanding, they need JESUS!
So pray with me, in the days to come, that I wouldn't get frustrated with the bad outward behaviours that I see daily, but that I would remember to pray for the kids, myself and for the battle that is whirling around me. A battle so great that I have no doubt if I could see it with my physical eyes, it would send shivers down my spine. 
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Galatians 6:12
That is what God has been reminding me a lot this past couple of weeks, I have literally had moments where I have recognized that it isn't the kid acting out against me but the evil spirits that have one way or another surrounded them trying to get me riled up.
Let me explain, there is one particular instance where one certain child, who always gets my dander up, wasn't actually doing anything particularly bad just sitting next to me doing her thing in a slightly annoying way but not actually doing anything bad and I just kept feeling frustrated towards her. But when I stopped and realized she wasn't doing anything, it was just the normal feeling of frustration that always rises up inside of me when I'm around her, I stopped and prayed about it, and the frustration left. 
So back to the verse in the beginning of this small rant, "The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed." That is what I see, not just in the Foundation, not just here in Ecuador but also in America during these election times and the chaos that is happening with the race issuse, and in the whole world as country turns against country. Now I'm not saying that if we just all love each other everything will be ok, it won't! 
But if we would all turn back to the Maker and Creator of Love, through Him comes the love for our neighbors, and then we can stop destroying each other.
The only thing that can ever bring peace to this broken and hurting world is God. 
Thank you again for your prayers and for reading this.
Blessings, Briana

*black beads- little beads they get for being bad, they also get colored beads for being good and with those they can buy things on Fridayfrom the "store"
*punishment room - one of the bedrooms they have to sit in by themselves if no other punishment is working for their misdeeds.