Jake Grasser’s Togo Update

Togo has presented challenges but also has been a wonderful encouragement.  Here are two instances.

A couple of weeks ago I encountered a preemie (in the hospital/pharmacy where I serve) who was incredibly small. They all said that it’s the smallest one that they have seen which a little less than 2lbs. The baby was born outside the hospital and then brought here for treatment because the parents were worried about it. One of the nurses said she was surprised that it was brought here given that it is a girl. In this culture, it is normal to let a girl baby die if she is weak and doesn’t stand much of a chance of survival. Maybe this is a wealthy family that can afford the treatment to keep her alive. I have never seen one this small either, so I ventured my way into the NICU and looked at the little tyke. There were two nurses surrounding her trying to get an IV in. They were really struggling, as the smallest size IV that we have is bigger than the baby’s veins. The attending physician had tried for an hour and a half to put a line in through the umbilicus, but was unsuccessful, so another option was needed. The poor baby just laid there, struggling to breath. You could see her chest cave in and out as her lungs exhaled, and then inhaled. She eventually died.  She kept losing weight due to not being able to eat. She was getting some caloric intake in the form of dextrose, but it just wasn’t enough given how much energy she had to expend to breathe. Even after giving her multiple doses of surfactant, her lungs couldn’t handle the stress of life, and the little one just died of exhaustion. While I didn’t personally care for her or hold her, I was invested in her care- regularly asking how she was, verifying orders for drugs that she needed. Death is a part of life, and it is especially visible here in Togo. If this little one was in a NICU in the states, she would have had a much higher chance of survival.

Over a week ago, a group of us went to a village around 45 minutes away where there was a baptism service being performed. We loaded 9 people up into an SUV and headed off at 7am. It was raining slightly, so the weather felt great! We were greeted at the village church by 120 or so kids who came running out to us, thrilled to see white people, but they were also excited to get to travel in a car (it is around 3 km until the river where they were getting baptized). It took 3 or 4 trips with 3 vehicles to move the whole village to the water, so there was an hour and a half that I just stood around and waited. I asked them how the church here got started, and the story is cool! There was a patient from a neighboring village who was treated at the hospital here. After they got treated, they accepted Christ, and started a church at their own village. As word spread of the way that God was changing hearts, the villagers from neighboring villages traveled to hear the Good News. Eventually, a church in all of the surrounding villages was needed to hold the size of the congregation. A pastor from Mango goes there once a week to preach, and they have elders and such who help lead during the week. THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH! Gatherings of brothers and sisters in remote parts of the world who are PASSIONATE about Jesus. Who leave behind their old ways and seek HIM. I was struck by their willingness to forgo the old, and take on the new in stride.

Praise God for new spiritual life in the midst of physical death.  #CUGO

Anna Johnson’s Update From Bolivia

Hello everyone!  I spent the first week of my trip in Charlotte, NC for training and since then I have been living
with a wonderful Bolivian family who has been so very kind. My Bolivian familia has welcomed me into their family and
have even included me in family celebrations and outings.

For the month of June, I have been taking some language classes 3-4 times a week which have been very helpful.
I look forward to being able to communicate more fluently with the people around me and more easily form relationship with others. In the afternoon, I go to the Camp Kewina office and help in any way that I can. Monday and Thursday evenings I participate and help another Serving in Mission (SIM) missionary present ways for local Sunday school teachers to use puppets to teach children about the Bible. On the weekends (Friday- Sunday), I will be going to Camp Kewina, which is a Christian outdoors camp, to help with the camp itself and to help with some maintenance work such as painting, cleaning, etc.

The people here are kind and busy, but always make time for family and others. They are very relational- based and have taught me that, after God, people come first. Coming here to serve and help, I realize that I have much to learn and little to teach. I must daily remember that I am here to humbly learn. Servanthood is both a challenge and a burden that, by the grace of God, we must fully embody to effectively minister the gospel of Christ cross-culturally. However, servanthood is culturally defined and first I must learn.

Pray for compassion for the people here, understanding of their culture, and for the gospel to be proclaimed whether in words or actions.  Pray also for the Quechua people groups who still do not have God’s word in their dialect.  #CUGO

 

Church Connections in France

We are excited to share what God has done these last two weeks in France!  We started our trip in Senots, France. It is a small village but God has used our time there perfectly. In Senots we had two events, a youth group event and a BBQ. During the youth event, we played games, prayed, worshiped, and prepared a song to perform at church the next Sunday. It was a great opportunity to meet these young believers because most of their friends at school are non-believers. Encouraging these children and teenagers was significant because they got to experience Christian community and recognize that we are all members of the same body, the church, even across nations. The next evening we had a BBQ, shared American s’mores and played Christian music. Our prayer was that more people would come than the last time we had a trip to Senots in 2017 and that it wouldn’t rain on us. God answered both prayers. At the end of the night a woman accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and one of the missionaries prayed for three people! It was amazing! Before we left the camp, the community in the campsite invited us to a dinner. We were given a woman’s address to be pen pals and she gave us photos from the last time we had a team in Senots. It was great to continue to love the people and see how God has worked through our ministry and is continuing to keep doors open for ministry (even when we go home). We connected the woman who accepted Christ with a pastor and gave her directions to a nearby church.

We then left for Paris to support a church plant in the city. So far, we have attended Bible studies with a spectrum of people, from curious non-believers to young Christians, alongside the full time missionaries. We have offered food, coffee, tissues, prayer, and the gospel to the homeless people in the area. We held a painting event which had a theme of restoration or renewal and the people were to paint what that meant to them. One of our team members, Beth Oldham, shared a poem about how her renewal comes from God. Seven women attended the event and we were able to form community and share about our beliefs in a safe space. The woman I sat next to was a Greek Orthodox woman who was encouraged to see young people involved in the church since people are not religious in Paris.Tomorrow our team will be playing music, sharing testimonies, and explaining our artwork from the previous event at the house church in the city. Not everyone who will be at church are believers and we are asking in prayer that God will use us to help soften hearts and bring people to Himself.  We will also attend the Paris Prayer Connection which is a prayer conference that is incredibly important for ministry in France. France is generally closed off to God and prayer is an incredibly important tool for missions in France. Please pray that all of the attendees will have safe travels and that our team will help facilitate the conference efficiently. #CUGO

 

 

 

Ecuador Reflections

The Ecuador team had a busy agenda. Upon landing, we visited the Word of Life facility in Quito. Then on to Otavalo where we held medical clinics.

As you can see pictured, one of the girl’s dogs decided to sit on the table with her as she got her pulse taken. Emily was not even phased as the dog licked her arm while she worked. Another funny moment was when @kayak_cliff began taking pictures with the Compassion ladies who were half his height!

Today we saw the Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) Camp. Because of our connection with the Compassion ladies doing the clinics they asked if they could take the kids we provided care for to this camp. This is an important connection for the Gonzalez’s and those children may have the opportunity to go to camp and learn about Jesus who otherwise would not be able to.

On our last day, we took a tour of PUCE, a university in Quito, and were able to make connections with the nursing facility. This was crucial because this faculty knows best how healthcare in Ecuador functions and may be able to collaborate with us in the future! We are very very sad to say goodbye to the missionaries we have had the blessing to work with. They truly are special families with hearts to serve. Please pray for the Gonzalez and Luzuriaga families and their ministries as they continue to do important work in Ecuador! #CUGO #cedarville

Italy Orchestra

A short reflection on the Italy Orchestra team:
We were encouraged in the effectiveness of our ministry and were an encouragement to the missionaries because our concerts were the first step for starting gospel conversations with the Italian people. We also got to reconnect with some of the returning student’s hosts from last year, which was a blessing on both sides. We left Italy grateful for this wonderful experience in sharing our music with people who love it and praying for a transformation in the hearts of the Italian people.  #CUGO
Claire

South Africa Update

We’ve learned so much during our time here, both from the kids and from the missionaries who’ve made this incredible place their home. Here on the property, our favorite activities have been making jewelry with the kids as part of their livelihood project, helping out in classrooms and in PE, and spending lot of time getting to know the foster families. One of the girls had a birthday party the other day and they taught us a call and response happy birthday song that cracked us up!! 

We’ve also been able to go off the compound to an after school daycare where they feed the kids and keep them out of trouble. What a fun but exhausting experience; it’s crazy to realize people volunteer most of their day to this ministry! 

Pray with us for continued energy and sensitivity towards the needs of the missionaries and the kids we’re spending time with. We’re thankful for good health (except for a bit of altitude sickness!), absolutely gorgeous weather and the amazing opportunity to play just a small part of such a great ministry.  #CUGO

China Connections

The China team has been building relationships with students in and out of the classroom. One activity involved discussing the true meaning of Easter. Playing card games and basketball have proven to be other effective ways of getting to know one another. Teaching English is a great way to connect. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. #CUGO