VISION 2011 - Israel
This year the VISION Team of SDCC took a three-week journey (May 11- June 4, 2011) to multiple regions of the central and northern part of Israel. Read about their life changing journey in this special edition publication... read it here!
For more information on the VISION Team, visit their page at: sdcc.edu/vision.aspx
The VISION XVIII team is coming to the end of its ministry in Ukraine. They will have their final public presentation Sunday morning (around midnight Saturday night Pacific Time). The team will return to their apartments to pack, then catch an overnight train to Kiev. A day of sightseeing is planned there, followed by a short night in a Baptist missionary apartment and and extremely early arrival at the Kiev airport Tuesday morning.
All flights below are on Tuesday, June 1, and all times are local to the indicated cities.
The main group consists of Mike Alvarez, Daniel Ciccarelli, Elizabeth Converse, Caleb Davies, Amanda Graham, Francisco Guerrero, Emilie McDonald, John Townsend, and Val White.
Here's the main group's itinerary:
Lufthansa 3233 dep
Kiev 6:45am, arr Munich 8:10am
Lufthansa 9280 dep Munich 11:40am,
arr Dulles 2:40pm\
United 240 dep Dulles 5:30pm, arr San Diego
Heather Lawton travels to Jacksonville, FL on the following itinerary:
Austrian 7172 dep Kiev 7:45am, arr Vienna 8:50am
Austrian 93 dep Vienna 11:30am, arr Dulles 3:15pm
United 7308 dep Dulles 4:55pm, arr Jacksonville 6:48pm.
has the following itinerary:
Ukrainian Intl. Air 101 dep Kiev 6:20am, arr Amsterdam 8:20am (returning to San Diego on June 11)
Lizzy Byrd will remain in Kiev, joining with a group from her home church for further ministry with Little Lambs Orphanage. She will return to San Diego June 20.
Please pray for the team's safety through the remaining miles of travel, both on the road, on the rails, and in the air. God has been gracious over the years, and we know we are in His hands!
Thanks so much!
VISION Faculty Adviser
P. S. I hope to post ministry updates for these last few days of the trip, so please check back!
Being the Last Link in the "Operation Christmas Child" chain!
Our last big orphanage day took place on Friday, this time at the Saltavka Orphanage. This facility is run by the government, but the local Slavic Christian Ministries (SCM) people have a relationship with the director and staff that allows for an ongoing weekly ministry of sharing love, attention, and above all, the gospel message with the children here. This facilities tends to be used as a transitional place, so most children stay only 2-4 weeks before being moved elsewhere in the system. As Vova, our host pastor, put it, "Your presentation may be the only time some of these children come in contact with the gospel in such a direct way in their entire life."
Donations from our VISION supporters go not only to pay our trip expenses. They also provide gifts directly to the orphans themselves and to the institutions that care for them. We were able to give out personal gift bags to the kids, but also to donate much needed playground and sports equipment, as well as food supplies to the orphanage...all in the name of Jesus Christ, and thanks to the generosity of those of you who helped with this trip!
An exciting and unexpected part of our visit to Saltavka was the opportunity to be the ones to place Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes from Samaritan's Purse into the hands of these orphans. Most or all of the team members come from churches who have participated in this ministry at home, packing the shoe boxes, and to be on the other end of the process and see the kids' eyes light up was a HUGE BLESSING!
Ministry at Work
On Thursday, we headed out to the northwest edge of Kharkov to give a boost to a church building project with Pastor Sergey and a crew of his church people. The first photo is a panorama of the work area. The church building will be beyond this yard and the houses on the far side. The trenches are dug and the concrete forms and rebar grids are being prepared.
The girls, aided by two of our translators, formed a "bucket brigade" to move and stack all the lumber you see in the foreground as it was dumped by a truck. Mike and Daniel (center back) build dozens of wooden frames to be used as concrete forms for the pouring of the concrete foundation. The rest of us guys laid out and tied together many grids of rebar for reinforcement of the concrete. John, our missionary traveling with us, assisted in all operations.
Here are the four neat piles made from the chaos of the dumped lumber. Great job, girls! (and John)
Dr. Cheryl Fawcett, former SDCC prof, now a missionary in a variety of countries, joined us for the afternoon and evening. As the Lord worked it, she "happens" to be in in the same country and the same city we are in, teaching Bible in another ministry. How amazing is that?
The day concluded with pizza along the Kharkov River, having fellowship with young people from Pastor Sergey's church. It was a good ice-breaker, because we'll be with them again Saturday afternoon and evening, and our last VISION concert will be in their rented facility Sunday morning.
All are in good health and the team unity has been a tremendous blessing.
Keep us in your prayers!
VISION Faculty Adviser
Ministry at Play
After our rainy Tuesday, Wednesday dawned cool and windy, but turned sunny just in time for a ministry with Calvary Chapel in a playground near Pastor Viktor's apartment. They had never tried this before, but it proved to be a big hit with the kids and parents that frequent this area. They plan to have these regularly with their own students and youth, building trust in their neighborhood and paving the way for more ministry in the weeks to come.
In the afternoon and evening, VISION participated in a Sports Center ministry with the Calvary Chapel group. Several visitors joined in, some who had been invited at the park on the previous day.
Two young men, both Arabic speaking (and probably Muslim) students
taking Russian at the nearby university, were invited in from outside
the sports facility. We had a chance to teach them some ping-pong, and
they stayed through VISION's songs and dramas. (One is visible in the photo below, being shown a printed program by one of the Ukrainian women. We trust that seeds were
planted leading to better understanding of Jesus Christ and His
sacrifice for sin. Pray with us and the Calvary Chapel members that
these two young men will come back to the regular worship services and other events held
at that same facility.
Thanks for sending us and supporting us!
VISION Faculty Adviser
Tuesday started pleasantly enough, as VISION assembled with Pastor Viktor of the local Calvary Chapel church (the one we sang for on Sunday morning) to strategize for the day's park outreach events.
We then headed to Gorky Park, one of two major parks in Kharkov. Though it was cloudy, we had no idea of what was coming. By the time we had sung a couple of songs, it began to sprinkle. By the end of the first drama, it was raining. We took some shelter under the trees in time for the massive downpour that followed. God apparently had other plans for us!
We "hung out" in the Calvary Chapel rented assembly room until late afternoon when the weather was clearing up, then split into three groups for the evening ministry. Daniel, Lizzy, and John went with one translator to pass out invitations to a sports outreach for the next night in a nearby apartment complex. Caleb and Valerie went with an American who runs an English Club as an outreach, and the rest of us went to Shevchenko Park (the other big park in Kharkov) to "open" for the Calvary Baptist mime team. (VISION couldn't do a lot of their program due to having only six members on the scene.)
Though the weather was still damp and rather cool, by the time the mime team began, there was a pretty good crowd of onlookers.
Before and after the presentation, team members walked around, distributing invitations to the upcoming sports outreach and engaging passers by in conversation, with the help of Ukrainian interpreters.
We pray that many who were invited will come to Wednesday night's activity to hear a fuller presentation of the gospel!
Pray with us!
VISION Faculty Adviser
Being part of the Harvest!
VISION's ministry often involves opening doors and planting seeds for follow-up by local pastors and missionaries, but on Monday, we rejoiced over seeing the Lord bring a harvest of eight souls into His kingdom through the team's ministry!
We spent the morning at a rehabilitation center called "Kingdom of God, playing volleyball, sharing names and background information, and presenting our program of songs and dramas. John Townsend, the missionary from San Diego who is traveling with us, gave a clear gospel message, and afterwards four of the residents came forward in public, one by one, to pray with John and a translator and receive Christ! What a joy that was for us!
In the afternoon, we went to "Hospital 17," and took turns holding and playing with babies and toddlers who were abandoned or taken from troubled homes by the government. SCM people here go every week to give a little love to these precious ones beyond what the nurses can provide.
In the evening we drove to a Baptist rehabilitation center for another concert. Alcoholism and drug addiction are huge problems in Ukraine, partly due to the high unemployment rate, but mostly due to the lack of positive influence from God's word in this society. We appreciate the work being done to put these people back on their feet, but most of all, we admire those that provide the real answer to these problems in Jesus Christ.
Thanks for continuing to pray!
VISION Faculty Adviser