The team is led by Betty Pompell. Team members include: Chris Crosdale, Kiersten Hatch, Jeremy Mueller, Svatava Mueller, Garrett Plitt and Nathan Staherski. They will be travel to Ponferrada, Spain to help survey a new city site for a church planting effort.
Our flights landed in Madrid early this morning, where our missionary (and now friend) Jon Tempelton picked us up. Fortunately, most of us were able to grab some very delicious"cafe con leche" in the airport before packing into the 9 passenger van. Spain's coffee es muy deliciouso!
Many of the team only got a few hours of sleep on the overnight flight before, and the battle with jet lag during the 4+ hour drive to Jon's home was a tough one. We will all sleep VERY well tonight.
During the drive, and during a short "orientation time" at his home Jon taught us a bit about the Spanish culture we were now absorbed in. He told the ladies to always expect 2 kisses when meeting gentlemen, that coffee shops are called bars (it's funny to hear his 4 year old daughter tell us how much she loves it when daddy takes her to bars!) , and to not believe all the stereotypes you believe about Spaniards. He also articulated the importance of not being time driven, and how their relationship culture has an unwritten "no anxiety" policy. He told us about how he became passionate about Spain-the least evangelized Spanish speaking country in the world, and about the ministry opportunities God has been giving his team.
After meeting Lorena, and getting settled into their home, we walked around the town, interacting with the locals, and enjoying the PERFECT weather.
Update From España: Dia Dos
This morning, we enjoyed Sunday morning worship.
After breakfast, Jon drove us to Seth’s home, his co-leader, and we had church house-church style. First, Seth lead worship and Jon gave the sermon to their kids, similar to Sunday school. Then, they lead a discussion-based teaching on Luke 10 (Lucas 10) and ended with corporate worship in English and Spanish.
By the early afternoon, the team ate lunch. We shared laughs and witty remarks. Crystal, Seth’s wife, blessed us with a filling meal. After lunch, we had a sweet desert called Flan. The team put their hands behind their backs and ate this pastry with our mouths only. It was a sight to see. In fact, I will put a short video clip up on my next blogpost, featuring Jeremy Mueller.
After hanging with Seth and Crystal, we drove to Molinaseca, a quaint, charming town. A local friend of Jon and Lorena, Tere, went along with us to practice her english. We walked around the area as a group. Jon shared historical facts and culture perks. The town looks like something you would see in a Disney movie. It has a modern, European look. Nate and I would fan-girl over the narrow streets and old-fashion buildings. We visited a few local shops and took some group photos.
In Molinaseca, we also visited two Catholic churches, a popular bridge, and a bed and breakfast called “Casa San Nicolas” (House of St. Nicholas). Jon explained that the Catholic church is starting to lose its touch even though it retains a lot of its influential political power. At one of the bridges, we learned about a unique tradition: the natives would block off the river and let it flood so that the kids could play in the water.
The bed and breakfast is the event that brought the most joy. We had coffee and cake with a lovely couple that are good friends with the Tempelton’s. Also, we met another guy, Josue, who was fluent in three languages: French, Spanish, and Portuguese. He told us a short story about the word “Obrigado.” In the 15th century, Portugal and Japan would trade together. When the Portuguese would end a deal or leave Japan, he or she would say it. It is similar to saying thank you, except it actually means “I owe you one” (or “I am obligated to serve you again”). The Japanese adopted the word as their own. It has the same spelling but it is said differently by both countries.
We are having a blast across the Atlantic. Continue to pray for the following:
The group woke up and ate a yummy breakfast of cereal and homemade banana bread! We are being served beyond any expectation. After breakfast we studied John 4 and contemplated how that passage should change us. Shortly after, our dear friend Tere joined us. So, we loaded up and drove 45 minutes to Astorga. If it had not been Monday, we could have gone in those places… but the outside was a beauty of its own. There we saw a castle, a beautiful town, and an Episcopalian church. We were enriched with some history and the view of a preserved Roman wall that would have, at one point, surrounded the entire city. We ate lunch in the shade of courtyard trees and then drove to a town about 10 minutes from Astorga.
This town was made entirely of cobblestones and clay. The beautiful antiquity of the buildings and roads were perfect photo opportunities. We talked and walked front to back of the town. Fun fact: in every Spanish city there is a cross when entering and leaving so any passer-through would remember to pray. We walked back and drove home to Ponferrada where we all rested (literally, naps everywhere) until we met up to leave for one of the few evangelical churches in Ponferrada. There we met up with Israel the pastor and the original church planter. We walked into a building of red chairs and lots of stairs. After greetings, Israel talked (and Jon graciously translated) about the history of Protestantism in Spain. Discouraging to say the least. Spain missed the Protestant Revolution started by Martin Luther a just a few countries away. Spain went 400 years without the ability to read the Bible. Spain recognized the Evangelical church in 1992. To put this in perspective, in 1992 Bill Clinton was elected and Spain legally permitted a person to register as Evangelical. The Church is dividing on beliefs instead of joining together. There has been a slow growth of Protestant believers… but Israel is not discouraged.
Israel has sacrificed for his beliefs more than most Americans today. We need to pray for authentic evangelism, spiritual holiness, solid beliefs without doctrinal rigidity, ecumenism based on the Bible, and movement of the Holy Spirit. We all have a lot of work to do in transforming our own hearts and so does Spain. The Gospel is a beautiful narrative that needs to be woven into every fabric of our lives. Imagine the wildly vivid quality of the fabric of the Spanish people.
Wow! I think today was one of my favorite days of the trips so far. We were able to meet and interact with a lot of wonderful spaniards today, in a lot of different ways.
Jon is volunteering at an addictions rehab center, and we went first to hear about the establishment and the (amazing!) work that it is doing in the community with addicts of all kinds. Unfortunately, from our perspective, it is not the best it can be, because they don't incorporate faith in Jesus at all into their teaching. Good thing God has given Jon an open door there!
After the low-down, we spent the afternoon hanging out with the people of the rehab center. We made and ate lunch, played futbal and frisbee, and took a walk/hike/run of about 4 kilometers. Later that night we went out with 2 other Spanish adults, and 3 Spanish teenagers to different "bars" and ordered nonalcoholic drinks and were served [FREE] appetizers. This is a very common evening activity to do in Spain, and after doing it and having such a blast, we can see why. The appetizer things (tapas) served to us were all sorts of foods-some of which we've had before (calamari, bread, mussels) and others which we had never had (pig ears (see below), and a bunch that I don't know what they were called :))
The conversations today, despite some language barriers, were highlights for sure! We've found that the Spaniards we have been able to talk to, are very open about their faith (or more correctly, about their unbelief) and are very willing to kindly listen about our passion-the God of the Bible.
I could type SO much more about today-but it's late, and I am eager to sleep. Also, we are waking up very early tomorrow for a nice 3 hour hike up a mountain :). I am sorry if this is a bit disheveled; I blame the late hour!
Please continue to pray for good health, and encouragement to our team and to the missionaries we came here to support. Also pray for good conversations and relationships to grow for the Tempeltons and our team. The gospel travels best over bridges of relationships.
When we woke up this morning, we didn’t know if we would have any energy left. I know for me, when my alarm went off, I wanted to break my iPhone. Ha.
After a shorter breakfast time, we had our morning devotion and orientation. Jeremy started us off with a devotion from John 18. He touched on two points: Christ’ humanity and God’s forgiveness. Christ, the God-man, empathized with our humanity. Peter betrayed him, yet he pursued Peter and forgave him.
Next, we went to the rehab center to spend the day with Jon’s friends there. In the morning, we were split up in small groups. Each group was assigned to one of the guys. Our goal was to serve them. We cleaned windows, floors, rooms, and flower beds. We also fed the animals. Well, that was just Nate. Lucky.
Around 2 pm, we had lunch as one big group. This time, the guys put on a traditional Spanish cookout! The food was delicious. We sat around a table and had a great time of fun and relaxation. In fact, Kiersten and I harmonized to a Maroon 5 song. Fun fact: Spaniards play American popular music on their radio stations. We went on a 2-hour hike. It was hot and challenging, but it gave an opportunity to connect with the guys on a personal level.
Later on in the afternoon (because 7pm is still afternoon in Spain), we had back-to-back English hours with two different groups. First, we reunited with Rachel and her academy students near a local park. Instead of playing soccer, we played an information game. Topics such as stereotypes and embarrassing moments brought smiles to our faces. Second, we met up with Seth at a local bar to help some Spaniards practice speaking English. They did a wonderful job. It's been great to continue developing and deepening our friendships with the Spaniards we've met!
We ate dinner at Seth & Crystal’s apartment and finished the day with a testimony, and our reflections on chapter 5 of the book we are reading together as a team. This was our longest day on the trip. Yet, we are already seeing the fruits of our labor. Jon and Lorena have been encouraged by our team. They even affirmed us by letting us know that we have done exactly was he was hoping for us to do. That is SUCH a blessing for us! Thank YOU for your support in making this happen, in aiding these missionaries in the work God has called them too.
Here are prayer requests from our team:
Jon, Lorena, Seth, and Crystal’s need for friends' and supporters’ encouragement and care
Phew, what a week. Let’s just say we have been super busy yet God has been so at work! We woke up this morning with refreshed spirits because all of the sleep we finally got. We slowly woke up and meandered around and ate breakfast. Then we separated and did personal devotions. We learned how easy it is to get so involved with ministry that we forget our most important relationship: with God. Personal time with the Lord was refreshing as well. I especially got to have meaningful conversation with Lorena. She is an incredible woman with whom I have personally identified. She is a truth-speaker and an intelligent woman of faith who is trusting God during this stage. (Can’t we all learn a lesson from her?) Anyway, we had a really good talk that challenged me in so many ways. I am excited to see how this mentorship will continue.
We then headed into town and attended mass. We met up with Seth and Crystal in the square and they joined us for the remainder of the morning. (Fun Fact: the morning in Spain ends after you eat lunch around two.) Attending mass truly was a neat experience because it gives a view into the religious climate Templetons are living in. There is nothing like stepping out of what you define as church to grow in appreciation for what you know. I wrote these next words in response to my time in the service…
The clock chimes yet nobody winces.
The word echoes but the sound disappears into the heights of the Cathedral.
The beauty of this place becomes a façade for the underbelly of ritualism.
The standing and sitting, reciting and raising hands.
The lack of diverse generations.
The coins clink to send good tidings to those in middle earth.
The candles flicker for the peace of the living,
Because of the faithlessness of the dead.
How starving for the hope of the Gospel;
How deeply they yearn for a relationship;
How intimately the Savior loves each of them!
We left the Cathedral and ate the famous “Chocolate con churros” and discussed what we observed and felt about what we just experienced. The Chocolate was much like a runny pudding and the churros were fried deliciousness!
We then did what tourists do and went and bought things from the local stores for family, friends, and supporters. The Bierza valley has a vast amount of history and scenery that we cannot wait to share about. One friend started asking really great questions about what we believe as evangelicals and challenged me to be able to put into words what I have always assumed to be ingrained. We then rode back to the Templeton hogar (house) and ate DeLiCioUs and authentic paella made by the lovely Abby (the wife of Israel the pastor who taught us about the history of Protestantism in Spain). Another dish I am excited to make when I have my own kitchen :).
Getting back on track, we all then relaxed and hung around (I did homework for my summer class) until Jon called us together for a discussion. It was awesome to see the passion coming from Jon about Evangelism and Contextualization. Those are two pretty big words that basically mean sharing the Gospel in a way that culturally makes sense without compromising Truth. You may look at that and think, “WAH?” so let me share a smidge about what we learned.
There is huge importance to making sure that the Gospel is able to be comprehended by the people that we are trying to reach. If we use our “christianese” and assume the universality of certain words, we are at a deep loss when sharing the Gospel. You see, every culture has their issues with the Truth and therefore we need to approach it differently. And in approaching the people differently we need to individually understand the implications of sharing the Gospel in a culture. We need to be servants, adapt our lifestyles, suppress our rights and at the same time never budging on the Truth.
After the workshop we all cleaned up and prepared for the crux of our short time here. All along the way we have been making friends and inviting them to Jon and Lorena’s for pizza and a movie. Lo and behold, the time came and SO MANY of our friends came over to hangout. :D The living room and kitchen were packed. The movie aired was about El Camino; the famous Walk through Spain. We ate pizza. We laughed hysterically. We talked in English. Our hearts connected… all in time for the departure.
The apartment lost a lot of life and the stock of chips and soda sure took a hit. But we made so many friends and so many memories. We kissed and hugged and tickled Jeremy until the kids were dragged out the door. We shared sentiments (in whatever language we chose) and Facebook friendships were made to keep in contact. A special woman who we have all grown to cherish even went out of her way to purchase magnets of Ponferrada.
She said she bought them that we would not forget them…
But I do not think that would have happened, even without the magnets.
These friendships have challenged and changed me in so many ways. I have been pushed beyond my boundaries more times in this last week than the sum of my life (probably an exaggeration…but you get the point.) These people have a place in my heart and I am so excited to one-day return and see face-to-face my dear amigos.
In Spanish when you meet someone, you say “encantada” (for a female). That phrase means literally, “enchanted.” And as I am sitting on the couch after cleaning up the now empty house there is no better word to describe my sentiments.
Encantada Ponferrada, por siempre.
Today our team said goodbye to Ponferrada and started the first leg of our journey back to the states. It was sad to leave friends that we've come to love so dearly, but we leave with a lot of gratefulness in our hearts to have spent time with them.
In reflecting about the week of ministry, our team shared how grateful we were to have so many wonderful experiences that help shape our view of missions, evangelism, legalism, and more. What a blessing it was to both learn from and aid Jon and his team!
On our way to our hotel near the airport today, we stopped at a charming little restaurant and had a classic Spanish delicacie, a Roasted Suckling Pig. It was quite an experience to have it divided in front of us via our own plates, and to pick through ear and hooves and ribs for our [oh my goodness, oh so tender] meat. Though it was only roasted with water and salt, it tasted INCREDIBLE!
After lunch, we stuck around the city of Segovia, and checked out the cathedral, castle, and the aqueducts built by the Romans! It was pretty neat to see. While sight seeing, we continued having interesting dialogue and building our friendships with each other.
After a few more hours in the van, and dinner in Madrid, we're now settled into our hotels and ready for a good night's rest. We'll attend church tomorrow and check out Madrid more thoroughly, and then Monday we come home! Trips go by so quickly!
Thank you so much for your prayers. We still need prayers for our team's well-being in spirit and in health. Also pray for Jon and Lorena! If you'd like to continue praying for them and getting updates about their lives in Spain-sign up here!
Soli Deo Gloria
I asked our missionary/host/friend, Jon Tempelton, to write a final word on our trip. This is what he had to say :)
"Today we reach the final day of the trip and the nostalgia is already creeping in. In only a few hours the team boards their plane headed home. As I reflect back on the last ten days I feel we has fulfilled our threefold purpose of our missions trip.
We were all encouraged spiritually. The funny thing is I anticipated this being in one direction. Meaning our missions team would point the Journey Team towards our Savior and encourage them to be more like him in the power of the Gospel. But I found myself being encouraged and refreshed by their walk with Christ and growth in him.
We also anticipated them being pushed out of their comfort zone. We had lots of fun with this. They had to purchase a drink at a coffee shop, gather groceries at the market, sit through a catholic mas, and more. Of course this all had to be done in a different language. This enabled us to talk about what missionaries experience going into a new culture, while at the same time comprehend how our wonderful community functions.
And finally we wanted them to gain a greater perspective of the need of the Gospel in our community. They did this by serving our community, serving us, and so serve our Savior.
I was thrilled to watch as friendships were quickly forged. I pray and ask that you, reader, will join me in praying that the Gospel will traverse this relational bridge."
Thank you readers, prayer warriors, caring friends, family, and strangers-for your encouragement, support, and love that we experienced during our adventure to Spain. We were so greatly blessed by our time with the Tempeltons, and hope that you were encouraged by all you read and saw.
Southwest team will travel to Gallup New Mexico to work with Native American Indians. They will interact with people teaching, living, working and serving on the Navajo and Zuni Reservations. They will serve the homeless Native Americans on the streets of Gallup and completing work projects at the Broken Arrow Bible Camp. This team is led by Thom Starr and Mandi Wissler. Team members include Marquis Boone, Emily DeLafayette, James Eagan, Ian Ebersole, Rebecca Fochtman, Lindsey Horning, William Livezey, Danielle Sauder, and Shancie Smith.
Check each day to read the team updates.
We are having a great trip! Sunday we spent the morning at a local church where we participated in the service and then assisted in serving lunch to homeless people in the area.
We then traveled to a working ranch and spent the afternoon/early evening with a Navajo family. From horseback riding and exploring the ranch to learning how to make Navajo fry bread, we were immersed in the culture and the family dynamics. We even learned about being part of a rodeo.
Monday we spent the day working at Broken Arrow Bible Ranch. Everyone participated as we painted, mowed, cleaned horse pens and worked on the go-cart track. It was exciting to support Broken Arrow Bible Ranch and help them get ready for a summer of camp ministry!
Tuesday we got to visit/help at the first school of the trip. We traveled to Zuni Christian Mission School, learned about the history of the ministry that is established there, and then were able to join classrooms. Between helping the kindergartners read, playing basketball at recess, and assisting with math assignments, we got to meet a lot of great kids. In the early afternoon, we left the campus to go on a hike at a nearby historical area. The views were amazing!
After the hike, we returned to Zuni and put on a cook out for the teachers and staff of the school. It was great to get to know them and hear their stories of God's call on their lives.
Wednesday we arrived at Rehoboth Christian School and were divided into smaller groups according to major/area of interest. Thom and Mandi got to help in the kitchen (see photo).
After the day in the classroom, we learned a lot about Native culture, through an explanation of the cradle board used to carry babies, a presentation about the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, and a father and son who played drums and flute and danced. We ended the evening by experiencing a more vast side of God's creation in Rehoboth's observatory.
Thursday we visited a public elementary school and helped in the classrooms. We are getting a great perspective on education through seeing the different schools. After the day at school, we drove to the capital of the Navajo Nation - Window Rock, AZ where we met the Vice President of the Navajo Nation, saw the President of the Navajo Nation and hiked the actual rock with a 'window' (hole) in the middle. We also learned about another ministry to Native people, called Western Indian Ministries.
Friday began with assembling bagged lunches that we could hand out to the homeless people in the town of Gallup. On our first trip around town, we handed out 40 lunches. Later, we did a second run and handed out more lunches. It was heartbreaking to see the cycle of addiction to drugs and alcohol and the devastation it brings to families. But it was good to be able to give food and offer to pray for them.
We finished the day with another hike, exploring the incredible creation around us. God's majesty was on display!
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We continue to strive to showcase Jesus in all we do!
South Africa Journey Team will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa to work with a small Christian Boarding school that ministers to street children from the shanty towns of Johannesburg. This will include assisting in the classroom, working around the school and perhaps a Bible club after school. This team is led by Bob Dodson, Stacey Martin, and Erin Quillen. Team Members include Molly Arnold, Amanda Benton, Katia Carl, Bethany Dickerson, Amanda Ebersole, Victoria Hill, Kylie Martin, Kimberly Miller, Lydia Pepper, Katie Sugden, Kelley Villafane, and Alyssa Wesner.
The flight to Johannesburg was long but uneventful. We were able to have an orientation to the school (Aurora Primary School) from our hosts before eating and going to bed. Today (Monday) we were up early and at the school by 7:00. Our students were able to spend a full day working and teaching in the classrooms. They also led a Bible Club after school with a craft activity, leading a Bible story and a memory verse.
Please pray for us as we are still catching up on our sleep and have a full week ahead of us working at the school.
Our team continues working in classrooms. We have also been taking turns working in the school kitchen to make lunch and breakfast for the students. Some of us spent this morning pulling weeds in the school grounds. Tomorrow will will be visiting a Shanty town so our students can get an idea if the intensely spiritually dark place the Aurora students come from.
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