Saturday, August 30, 2014

We Can End Modern Day Slavery!

Greece Mission Trip: Day 4 "In Her Shoes" 

Today we started by crossing the Greece border into Bulgaria and touring through small poor villages. We saw first-hand the life of a typical girl/women before they are trafficked. After spending the morning in the villages it was easy to understand why people from the villages are easy prey for traffickers. 

Traffickers search for vulnerable people who they can trick into leaving their villages for better job opportunities but then force them into sex slavery. In these villages there are no job opportunities, education is extremely low, and the need to make money is very high. 

After returning back to Greece we went on a red light district tour. We witnessed where human trafficking sex slaves are forced to work through street prostitution and brothels. We drove down the busy street of Thessaloniki that was covered with sex shops and strip clubs. Then we turned down a road and followed a sign with an arrow pointed right that read "sex➡️". As we made our way down the road, for several blocks, on both sides of the street, it was covered with legal and illegal brothels. The brothels all had small red lights above the door and had open signs. We could see guys walking in & out of these doors. 

I was overwhelmed by what I saw but then I was reminded of what an A21 staff shared with us. 

Annie (A21 Staff) told us that there are 27 million girls that have been sold into sex slavery but there is also 3 billion Christians in the world. That is an 85:1 ratio; for every 85 Christians in the world there is 1 victim. If the church can come together we can outnumber the amount of victims and we can end modern day slavery!  

- Gloria Solis 

Today as we toured a very poor village in Bulgaria I found this soccer ball and goalie box behind a run down school. In this village many young girls become victims of human trafficking. I wonder how many times soccer has been a place of refuge for the kids here, or a has given them joy from their brokenness. #fcaeverywhere#sisterhoodgreece2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I am back in Buffalo!  However parts of me are very much still in the DR. I learned so much in just a short time that I hope never to forget.

I learned about time, perspective, patience, self-sacrifice, relationships and LOVE. The love that I saw, felt, received and gave all points to one place. The LOVE that has been given to me even though many times I don’t deserve it; The love that came when Jesus died for mine and your sins so that we might live forever with LOVE and in LOVE.

When I first got to the Emanuel House, Adrienne and Mirqueya said to observe and that we would talk about how I could help.  How I can help?! What do I know that someone else doesn’t or hasn’t said or done?  This scared me!! Terrified me actually… what did I have that I could do or give? I met people and saw people do lots already for this ministry. What made them think that I could do anything?

I had to come face to face with not feeling good enough, a lie that the world feeds many people through different things.

The bible says,

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Phil 1:6

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8

So after getting over “myself” and worrying and be afraid of not doing something different or better or good enough I was able to build relationships with the teachers and missionaries at Emanuel House.

I am so thankful for being able to take time to get to know some very special ladies. The Lord allowed me (me???! Yes! Me!!!) to make some teachers feel special and loved, he allowed me to participate in a teacher training in the DR(how crazy is that), I was able to go into a public school and make copies and copies (thousands) to print a reading and math curriculum for EH, I was then able to present the material to the teachers. It is my prayer that it becomes so much more than sheets of paper with words that It becomes a tool to change hearts and lives to learn how to serve the Lord so that there are changes in the minds and hearts of the people in the DR.

Thank you Lord that you allowed me to be a part of this little thing. I know I will be returning to the DR, I just don’t know the details like when or how. Please pray that I follow and listen to the still small voice.

In the meantime I am not sure what this school year holds but I do know that I am going to move forward with plans to lead a trip or two to the DR. I ask you to consider joining me!  I would love to chat to any and all of you about the DR, missions both local and foreign and this little thing called LOVE. I can’t wait to see what God has already planned! Thank you to all those you prayed and supported to make this possible! I am forever changed by the love.


Friday, August 8, 2014

FBCBG Update

Friday August 8th
I write this final blog with a bitter-sweet note. It is bitter because I truly do love the Ecuadorian people. FBCBG, God has called us to minister to the people of Tabacundo and I would like to take this moment to encourage you to be in serious prayer about your personal participation in our Ecuador mission. There are six new comers from our church on this trip and everyone of them are absolutely fired up and ready to return to minister to these incredibly beautiful people. The reason it is sweet is because I will be seeing my wife tomorrow and I always miss her when we are separated.

Today, Paola again made me walk streets by myself. In fact, she put four of us men on a bus from Tabacundo to Cayambi to pass out flyers. Now remember, not a single one of us men speak spanish. Once again, comfort zone stretcher. It was such a stretcher of events that I learned where I need to get off of the bus in Tabacundo. Ask me why I know where I am to get off, because I thought the bus route went from Cayambi to Tabacundo and back. So, we stayed on the bus after our stop and finally got off of the bus past Las Esperanza and got on another bus to bring us back to Tabacundo. The point being is you ought to have seen me talking with the bus guys in my incredibly poor spanish.
We had the privilege of eating cui and it was very good. Tonight we have eaten Angela’s empanadas. We are all rolling around instead of walking at the moment.

We had our last night of concerts in Cayambi and it was wonderful. For the final time, our professional Ecuadorian clowns came and performed and shared the gospel. Our band sang and did a wonderful job. The girls once again played the part of clowns and made balloons. One of the things I have not shared with you all week is one part of our events. At the end of every performance we asked for everyone interested in knowing the Lord to go and meet with individuals in different locations around our venues. The guys would tear down the equipment and the ladies were the ones sharing the gospel with all of these people. It was an amazing experience for our ladies. 

Tonight fifteen people prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Seven kids were invited to attend the VBS at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Cayambi. As I have said so many times, the real work begins now. Paola has the big job of doing the immediate follow-up with them, but our team that is coming back in October has a lot of work to do. We need to really get these tear one believers to turn into tear two disciples that are making new disciples.

It is now 9:50 p.m. and we leave in four hours and ten minutes. We still have a good bit of work to do and to finish our packing and then we are going to just hang out and relax. Beloved, it is going to be a long long night. Please pray for us as we head home. We love you FBCBG and can’t wait to see you.

FBCBG Ecuador Update

Tuesday August 5th
It is the earliest I have gotten into the apartment this week, but this consist of only four of us. Nine others are still out at Blanca’s fellowshipping and strengthening each other in the Lord (by the time I finished typing this, the others had arrived home). The four of us went to see Oscar play soccer and we had a blast getting to know his wife as we cheered Oscar on as he played. 

I thought we stayed busy on my first trip to Tabacundo, but I think we are busier this trip than the first one. As for our day, however, it was busy and fantastic all at the same time. We spent the morning getting flyers out and doing some running around to make certain all of our permits and needs were meet. I stopped counting at 100 people today and would guess there were 150 there at the park “concert”. Once again, the Ecuadorians showed out. I told you yesterday that we had more in our band that were Ecuadorians than FBCBG. Well, to our absolute surprise, the Ecuadorians also showed up as “professional” clowns and did a fantastic job. I am so proud and impressed with our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters. They are really going above and beyond to serve the Lord and declare His name.

One of the things I attempt to do is let the Holy Spirit push people outside of their comfort zones. For example, one of our members said, “I am not going to be a clown!” When it came time to do the clowns, this person was the first one to jump up to be a clown. Well, again, I have asked Pauli to do the devotional for tomorrow morning. She has agreed and she is going to be talking about baptism and how the first step of discipleship is obedience to God’s will. Pray for her as she shares.

After the Bible study, we are going to have a frantic afternoon that will mirror today as we pass out flyers for tomorrow afternoons concert and make certain all of our needs are met. We also may have a second concert tomorrow evening at Leonardo’s church. Pray for the weather to be good. Considering I mentioned the weather, let me tell you a praise report. Today the weather was rainy and as we were getting ready for the concert we were discussing 
whether we needed to cancel the concert. Just after we decided to go ahead and have the concert, the weather cleared up and we had perfect weather for the concert. 

So, you can see that tomorrow is going to be very busy as well. Pray for our strength and stamina. We really need to live in the strength of the Lord. 

Olga has just told me the official decision number from yesterday and today. Yesterday there were actually eleven people that prayed to receive Jesus and tonight there were nine. The real work begins now, Beloved. We must disciple these individual and help make them become reproducing Christians. Good night and God bless!

Wednesday August 6th
Half of the group is back in the apartment (8 p.m. Ecuadorian Time) and the other half is playing music in Leonardo’s church. Beloved, I can not express the joy of this day. Pauli lead a Bible study this morning and I have been told it was fantastic. The reason I was not in the Bible study was because a few others and I had to begin the process of passing out flyers for the afternoon concert. I was pressed way outside of my comfort zone as Paola made me walk, by myself, up streets and enter businesses and talk with people on the road that I would come across. It was an awesome experience.

We finally “perfected” the concert/show. We had the professional clowns from Jhoe’s Ecuadorian church. He and his family put on a 30 minute show. We then put on our concert of eight songs. After the songs I gave a very brief interlude to allow the drama team to get dressed for their performance. After their skit, the professional clown gave a gospel presentation. Thirteen people prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There were over 200 people there. It was so amazing to see God work everything out today. Thank you for praying for the weather. Once again the morning and early afternoon had rain, but by the time of the concert the weather could not have been better. It was a wonderful night of God displaying His glory in many fantastic ways.

The other group just walked in and told us they had a wonderful time at Leonardo’s church. I am so overwhelmed to see how God is working this week. Our prayer for the Ecuadorians to take on more and more responsibility is taking place and it is a true joy to my heart.

Tomorrow is our free day and it is full. Pray for us to have a relaxing and enjoyable time as we experience some of the beauty of Ecuador. We are actually going to get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. The young men have just left to purchase pizza for us. They will be back in about 30 minutes. In other words, we will be eating our dinner at 9:30 p.m. We are all very tired and tomorrow morning our van leaves for our fun day at 7:30 a.m. So, please continue to pray for our energy and help us to let Christ’s love be seen through us.

Thursday August 7th
AAGGHHHHH!!!! That would be the word of the day for many in our group, Paola planned a fantastic day! We got to see a volcano lake. Not only did we get to see this volcano lake, but we got to go on a boat ride on this lake. The lake was formed from the snow that had been on the volcano before it erupted. The water was soooo clear! Words truly cannot describe the clarity of this water. The God in which we serve is amazing. His creative genius is beyond the human capacity to express. We then climbed up to a summit to see a majestic vista that the pictures we have taken will never capture. It was on this leg of the adventure today that our first member had an AAGGHHHH moment as they were playing and hurt their ankle (and for your grammar people I know I just used a plural pronoun to describe a singular person—anonymity, you know).

We then went to Otavalo and did some shopping and had lunch. We ate at a new restaurant for us and it was good. It was not the best I have eaten in Ecuador, but I did get to try Ecuadorian BBQ and it was not bad. Several of these strange gringos, however, ordered breakfast for lunch, but they said it was very good as well. It was on this leg of the adventure that our second member had an AAGGHHHH moment as they had trouble walking and took a bad step and hurt their knee.

We then returned to Tabacundo and had another adventure as one of our team members had some frustrations with a miscommunication in regards to our next transpirational departure. In other words, our third AAGGHHHH moment occurred. Once again, Paola, showed her metal as she procured us another vehicle. This vehicle, however, created another unusual opportunity for laughter. Thirteen of us, plus the driver, went up to the ruins in a little pick-up truck. We had such an enjoyable time at this location; and yes, everyone, we did bring the salt and feed the lamas. Those creatures are amazing and truly reflect the splendor of our God. On the way up the mountain, our fourth AAGGHHHH moment occurred for one our team members as they were struggling with the vertical challenges of mountains.

On our return trip, we had our fifth AAGGHHHH moment as our vehicle was pulled over by the police. I can tell you that the AAGGHHHH moment did not effect anyone on our team.

After our return from the from the ruins, our team broke up into four parts. Some of the men went back to the apartment. Bruce and Klever went and got their hairs cut. The ladies went and got their nails done and they look fabulous. One last group went and made copies for us to distribute for tomorrows last concert.

We all then regrouped and went to dinner at Chilly Willies. We next came back to the apartment for a fantastic Bible study and finally concluded the day with a soccer game in which Oscar’s team won. It was a really exciting game. His team won 5-4. We had a great time with both teams. It was a lot of fun.

Beloved, tomorrow is, as I have said all week, very busy. We have several things in the morning and then we must distribute the flyers and then the concert. After the concert we have the pleasure of cleaning the apartment and packing for our trip. Most of us will not really get any sleep because we have to leave the apartment at 2 AM to head toward the airport. It will be a LONG forty-eight hours. For the last time, pray for our strength and for the ability to let us display the love of Christ to those we minister to tomorrow.
I have one last thought to bring to you tonight. I started this evenings blog with the word AAGGHHHH, but what I want you to know is that in spite of all those things, we had one of the most enjoyable days I have experienced in a long time. It was full of laughter, fellowship, pleasure, awe, and true satisfaction in the Lord. No matter what happens in our lives, our Lord Jesus is greater. His love is beyond compare. So, in reality, today was NOT a day of AAGGHHHH moments, but a day of great memories for which everyone on this team will laugh about for years to come. God bless and good night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

FBCBG - Team Ecuador

August 2nd - Saturday
Well, it is 6:30 a.m. and we are finishing the last minute details before we head over to the church and start packing for our trip to Ecuador. Pray for our safety as we travel and pray for the Lord to use us however He desires. May He be brought glory!

We arrived a couple of hours ago. Have already meet Joe of Joe & Jill. Joey & Joanna are her now. We have to be at church at 6 am tomorrow morning. It is going to be a short night. Pray for our energy tomorrow.

August 3rd - Sunday
Well, our first day is almost over. It is 9:30 here as I type this message and we have been to two services at two different churches. Our band did very well and we ministered to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in Ecuador. We are now heading to eat dinner at the pizza place. One of the things I love about being in other countries for their worship services is the community aspect of the body of Christ. To give you an example, in the morning service we worshipped with this beautiful body of believers for THREE hours and this did not include Sunday School. After the service ended, the congregation stayed around to eat a meal together. From what I understand they do this EVERY Sunday. They probably met for another hour just hanging out with each other. Then we went to the service tonight and the service went TWO AND A HALF hours. Now, this service was a special service, so they did have a fellowship time afterwards that lasted for about an hour. The point with these examples is that we could learn a great deal what it means to be a member of the body of Christ. In other words, our real community consists of fellow brothers and sister in Jesus. Why do we so often as the believers in the United States coordinate our service to one hour or just a little more and then get upset if things go longer than the predetermined time? I know that this little rant is a typical topic of a pastor, but it is because the state of the church ought not be so confined to human forms. What if the Spirit of the Lord was just waiting for us to humble ourselves from our structure and norms? What if He was already desires to send a great revival, but because of our corporate tastes for the heavenly things which so shallow that He was unable to pour out His presence in profound was? In other words, what if the church of Americais like the synagogue in Jesus’ home town in which He was unable to do many miracles because of their lack of belief? I would love for every member of FBCBG to attend a mission trip to just have the corporate worship experiences stretch their faith.
Tomorrow we have a concert in the park in the evening. During the day we are passing our flyers all over Tabacundo announcing the event. Pray for the Lord to draw many people to the park. One of the things presently going on in Tabacunda is this festival in which the men wear their chaps, play their guitar, and drink their beer. We will be contending against this festival and we know that our God is greater. So, pray for the Lord to demonstrate His great power tomorrow night. It is now late, and I am very very tired right now, so I am hanging it up. Good night, God bless and I miss you all.

August 4th - Monday
WOW!!!! What a way to start an Ecuadorian update. It was an incredibly busy day of preparation and advertising for tonights concert, testimonial time and gospel presentation. We had forty-seven people attend the event, not including all of the Ecuadorians and FBCBG people that had parts in the event. Of those forty-seven, twelve stuck around for prayer and some of them even prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For those of you back at FBCBG, Angelica, who makes the most incredible empanadas ever prayed to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Praise the Lord!!!
Tomorrow our schedule is very similar in nature as today. In the morning we are going to distribute flyers all over Tabacundo. We will then set up and have a concert in one of the parks. After that some of us will be heading over to one of our sweet Ecuadorian sisters for dinner and fellowship. The rest of us will be heading to a soccer game to watch Oscar play.
One of the things we have been doing over this past year is to equip our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters to take on more and more responsibilities. One of the things that has happened on this trip is several of the members of Jhoe and Jill’s church have really bonded with us. Our little band of concert performers has grown. This evening for example we had three Ecuadorian brothers join us. They are going to be with us tomorrow as well. We also picked up two others for tomorrow’s concert in the park, which means we will have more Ecuadorians in our band than we have FBCBG members. Again, praise the Lord! Not surprising, Paula, is the one that shared the gospel tonight and she did a fantastic job.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A FULL week 2 in the DR!

I just want to thank everyone again for the prayers, support, encouragement and the chance to be here in the DR, without you I would not be here!  God is great!

Last Thursday while I was working the information desk at the SCORE Complex one of the translators, Hector came over to chat. I asked him where he was from in the DR and Guess what?!...He is from Guerra the first town I came to 4 1/2 years ago!! AND he is "brothers" with Samuel our translator, friend and guide from that mission trip!!! The world is so big yet soooo small!

I spent Friday at the Lily House helping to paint candle jars. It was really neat to be working alongside the women!  To find out more about this ministry go to  On Saturday I remember eating an empanada from the Lily House! It was delicious!!!

Sunday we went to church and then to the airport to pick up Kathy and Lisa from Buffalo!! It's so neat to see familiar faces and serving hearts return to the DR on mission. I then went to JUMBO(aka a Dominican Walmart) to pick up items for the teachers at Emmanuel House for Teacher Appreciation!

Monday was a day of precious moments I hope never to forget! It was difficult to take pictures and be in the moments at the same time. Adrienne, Mirqueya, Jessinia and 5 precious little girls picked me up at the complex so I could ride with them to take Jessinia to the airport. On the way to the airport the girls were sooooo excited to see the beach, they hope to be able to go one day! It was quite an experience in the airport, more than likely most of them had never been! To see the expressions on their faces when they went up the escalators, and when they saw big planes up close was priceless. We said our good byes to Jessinia ( I am hoping I get to see her gain in Buffalo in November when she comes for a wedding!) and then traveled into the Capital, Santa Domingo. We went to a huge mall and had lunch with the girls in the food court and then we took them shopping. But it just wasn't an ordinary shopping trip.... we went with purpose of picking out outfits for the girls to wear to their mothers funeral( Their mother has cancer and phenomena and was given about three weeks to live) This day was so filled with joy yet many times I would catch small tears to wipe form my eyes. Please pray for these girls and their mother, Elpidia. From the Capital we traveled back to Quisqueya and took the girls home and returned to the Emmanuel house where I will stay for another week or so.

On Tuesday night I was able to go with Adrienne to a women's bible study that she leads in one of the neighborhoods. We had plastic chairs set up in the "back yard" of one of the women's houses. It was amazing to hear the word of God studies in Spanish in the backyard with babies, children and chickens running around. This is one picture I wish I had! We stayed until dark and then walked home! The rest of the week during the day I  helped in the classrooms and with the teachers preparing for the end of school year celebration on Friday.

Friday was AWESOME!! I am so glad I was able to be their to witness their end of school year celebration.  After the students left all of the teachers met. I was able to talk to the teachers and staff of Emanuel house to encourage and explain teacher appreciation. We decided to give all the gifts to the teachers on this day! The women love, love, loved the gifts and expressions of gratitude. I am looking forward to partnering with them again for teacher appreciation week next year!

I have then been able to spend some time looking for math and reading curriculum with activities and directions in Spanish! Praise the Lord I have found a complete math program(FOR FREE) and so close to finding the right reading one! So with that being said I will be spending the next week or so printed, laminating and cutting out math and reading activities for the teachers for the upcoming year!!! I am beyond excited that God has allowed me to be apart of this!! Please pray for strength and time to make a huge dent in this project!!  With that being said I will be also spending a little extra money to create these resources please consider give to SendMeMissions (!send-one/c1y3f) to make this a quality and useful tool for the teachers and students!