East Asia 2011


Dates:  June 20 – July 4
Ministry Partner:  Grace Missionaries
Ministry Focus:  Outreach to university students

The Grace team will help our hosts build relationships with English-major college students.  This will be done through cultural exchange sessions which hopefully will lead to outside activities between university students and the missionaries.  Due to the sensitive nature of the work, printed material about it must remain vague.   

Updated Wednesday, July 13
Summary from the team
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers as our team journeyed to East Asia to work among the people there.  God has answered your prayers abundantly as we traveled, ate new and strange food, and interacted with the students.

A few examples:
1. God used the Russian, Turkish and Arabic speaking skills on our team of two in order to enable us to engage with people and to share stories of His love and care.
2. We were protected from sickness or food reactions through our entire trip, and we never had jet lag there.
3. God did some amazing things:  one afternoon while beginning to share with two students, one opened with the request: "I've heard of the song 'Amazing Grace' from America.  Would you sing it for me?"
4.   We were able to take a few students out horseback riding in the country, and get into some very interesting discussions with them.
5. At the end of our time, God opened a door for very clear sharing of the Gospel, when there was an evening get-together.  The students were allowed to "ask anything you want" of us, and God led them to ask an open question about our faith, enabling a response of a clear Gospel presentation to the assembled group of students.
6. A couple of times, God led us to be very circumspect and discreet when strangers oddly asked very detailed questions about why we were there.
7. All in all, we were able to share far more openly with the locals we met than we ever expected. God answered your prayers way beyond anything we realistically expected!

Please continue in prayer for our hosts, as they continue the long journey of building relationships.  Also, please pray for the following fruit from our journey eastward:
1. For L & D, who are very close to making a decision to follow the Lord.  Pray for safety as they consider their decision, as one of them rooms with a person who could be an informer.
2. For J and C and others, who heard the Gospel for the first time, and seem curious. Pray for their continued curiosity.
3. For B and L, whose interest in spiritual things is growing.

Updated Friday, July 8
E-mail from the team
I’m sorry that I’m late in getting this posted.  My partner and I returned from our trip late Friday night of the holiday weekend.  As we look back on our ministry, we would summarize it as being very successful in what we set out to do.  At first, we were trying to discern the line between what is acceptable and safe vs. being able to tell our whole story.  As the time progressed, our opportunities became more obvious.  On the evening before we left to come home, everyone was able to hear our good news.  We will be sending a letter by snail mail and hard copies will be available in the mission office.  We are very grateful for your participation with us!

Updated Sunday, July 3
Our East Asia team returned home late Friday night.  Thank you for praying them through their delicate ministry in a nation that is hostile to Christianity.  More details will be available in verbal reports at the Summer Missions Celebration in September - watch the Grace Weekly for details.

Updated Tuesday, June 28
E-mail from the team
Your team in East Asia continues to follow through with planned daily opportunities to spend time with college students, get to know them, and talk about differences in cultures and beliefs. It is Monday morning here, and I have access to internet again for a few minutes. 

Our long trip on Saturday with a couple of local girls to guide us was very hot, but it was a wonderful day.  We took a long distance bus, the other team member sat with one girl in the front and my seat assignment was in the very back.  We had wonderful discussions, learned about their families, more about their culture.  When we arrived in the very historic city, we had a local driver who took us to a famous tower, huge grape vineyards that extended throughout the entire valley, and an ancient city excavation.  Throughout the day, we had a good time with the girls, and their English had a lot of practice by the end of the day.  We came back to our hotel exhausted but happy, having made two new friends.

Yesterday was Sunday here.  Our hosts took us on an outing to a cemetery high on the hill above the city.  It was an amazing place to get perspective.  After our best lunch, our hostess took us to a local shopping mall that was like Saugus Swapmeet times 100.

I'm out of time to use the internet, so we will write again later.  Please continue to pray for us! Just three days left in our time here!

Updated Friday, June 24
E-mail from the team
Greetings from Asia!    Thanks for your faithful prayers that we would meet new friends here and that we would connect heart to heart with the people.  Please forgive the shortness of our letters to you.  Letters are so difficult to write, because 1) I'm not a good writer 2) there is not much I can say in light of the security issues, and 3) this is the first time I've had Internet access.

Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet different groups of students, had a typical food for lunch, saw some local cultural dance, and learned to cook potstickers.  It was great! Yesterday, we were taken to a shopping area, had another lunch with typical food (but totally different items), were taken to a very nice downtown park, had a lesson to speak the local language, and dinner.  Each time we would ask our new friends to share about their lives, so that they could practice their English and so that we would understand more about this culture and people.  We would show them pictures of our families, talk a little about our lives and American culture.  I had opportunities to tell them about my friend Marcy, and her new home where she has now gone to live. These have been wonderful times because it is a good cultural exchange for both of us.

We are looking forward to our afternoon today, because we will have a lunch, and then go to the minority people's Bazaar. Tomorrow will be my favorite day, because we will be going on an all-day outing to a town in the desert where there is so much cultural heritage.  But it will be HOT, maybe 110+  They keep saying, "Are you SURE you want to go?". Yes, we want to go, to understand, and to connect with the culture and thinking of the people here!   Keep praying for us,

Updated Tuesday, June 21
E-mail from the team
I think we are on day 4 of our trip.  It is Tuesday evening here.  Last night I didn't have access to the internet, and the night before I kinda fell into bed exhausted. 

Our second day in country, we joined a group of people who were doing some sightseeing.  We enjoyed our time, learned a lot that would help us understand the people and the culture.  We also had a providential meeting with a new acquaintance.  Again, we still haven't had jet lag, thank you. 

We met a young lady from our hometown for dinner, who is doing an internship here for the summer.  She seemed to be doing very well and we were delighted to spend the evening with her.

Yesterday, we did a lot of walking in the morning in the neighborhood before leaving for the airport to our second city.  On the airplane, one of us had the opportunity to sit next to a couple and was able to communicate with them in Turkish !?!  It was another unique opportunity. 

We were picked up at the airport and arrived at our hotel last night, which is very comfortable.  This morning we met our friends who are helping us make arrangements to spend time with people in this city.  He came to pick us up at our hotel, taught us how to take the local city bus.   Then we spent the day learning more about the local culture, so that we wouldn't make any gross mistakes that might offend someone.  This is a wonderful city that has cultural diversity, yet people live together in harmony.  We are looking forward to meeting people, learning new things, seeing new places, having significant conversations.  Tomorrow we will begin some outings with local people.  Please be praying about this with us, knowing what to communicate and when to communicate with wisdom.

Updated Monday, June 20
Phone call from the team
Our team has arrived at its final destination city, met up with our hosts, and is eager to come alongside them for a few days of ministry together.  The time spent these last couple of days should pay off well as they move into this week of interaction with students.  Thanks for praying for good connections and open hearts.

Updated Saturday, June 18
E-mail from the team
Thanks to all for your strong prayers this past week.  Both of us were able to complete our work at home and at our job, so that we could leave with joyful hearts, not having loose ends.  That alone is a big answer. Just three days ago, the pile of tasks to be completed seemed insurmountable.  

Our flight was delayed out of LAX by several hours.  We are grateful that the airline chose to repair the engine trouble.  By the time the plane took off, we were so tired that we both slept well, another big answer.  The hotel sent a shuttle to get us from the airport, and we spent the day getting acclimated (hot and humid) and learning more about the culture, and getting used to the time change.  Some of the things we learned today will be very useful in conversations, so it was time well spent.   

A small item to think about:  one of us has some kind of rash or insect bites around her ankles.  It doesn't seem serious, however, it is itchy and unusual.    

We are very grateful for your participation with us, and will look forward to telling you more tomorrow, so you can intercede with insight while we are on site.

Updated Friday evening, June 17

We received word this evening that our team has arrived safely in-country.  They have not yet arrived at their final destination, but will spend a couple of days sight-seeing in order to blend in better as tourists.  Thanks for praying for safety and eventual fruitful ministry.

Updated Friday morning, June 17
Our East Asia team was sent off last night by an enthusiastic group of supporters and friends, starting the first leg of what will be a couple of days of travel before arriving in the their ultimate destination.  The security situation in their host country will not permit us to post pictures or give many details of their location or activity.  Keep checking back here for updates, though they will need to be rather vague.