Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Challenge Team Phase 1

Hello there blogging world, I'm back!

I was going to use the summer to write allll about my time on (and off) the Logos Hope, but wouldn't you know, summer has come and gone--and we're almost half-way through October!?--without any blog updates. Whoops.

So now I'm rewinding back half a year to share about the mission work I participated in during my five weeks in Sri Lanka while the ship was having maintenance work done.

During the first 2.5 weeks (called Phase 1), I was on a "challenge team" of five gals...

From left to right: Qian from China, Ganaya from Mongolia, Emma from the Netherlands and Sarah from New Zealand. In the middle is Pastor Sasi, who was our gracious host and such an amazing guy!

We stayed at a learning center along with a dozen teenage girls who we enjoyed hanging out with when they weren't at school. We did a whole variety of things with them--from girly makeovers and dance parties to teaching them English and playing baseball...

...and jumping around in the rain! (One of my personal favorite activities.) :)

There were also other kids from nearby neighborhoods that would come over for English lessons, songs and games...

I forget what we were playing here (we played a ton of different games!), but I was constantly entertained by this guy. :)

Besides spending time with the kids, we also did ministry work by making house calls--mainly to families affected by flooding--and praying with them. This was another highlight for me--just sitting and listening to the stories of people who had been through hard times, and hearing how God was providing for them.

In addition to ministry and entertaining children, we did some practical work. A few of the projects we worked on were: washing a hospital floor and bathrooms, cleaning up outside a hospital, planting coconut trees, helping build a wall, and cleaning up an outdoor marketplace.

Pastor Sasi showing us how planting is done.

Here's a look at the nearby town, which we often drove through on a three-wheeled tuk tuk car.

Our time in Sri Lanka was all about expecting the unexpected. There was one day that we were told we'd leave at 9 a.m. to go clean the marketplace. At 8:30, they asked if we were ready to go. Fortunately, we were ready early, dressed in our old clothes for cleaning. But then Pastor Sasi told us, "Change of plans. We're going to a school for differently-abled children, and you are leading the program!"

So we changed quickly into our Logos Hope team t-shirts and grabbed some teaching supplies we'd brought with us from the ship, including some balloons for making balloon animals.

Except I popped every single balloon animal I tried to make, so ended up drawing animal faces onto regular balloons instead! haha. Whatever works, right? We taught the kids different animal names in English, sang songs about animals, and then played games with the balloons. Not bad for making up the program on the spot. :)

I really liked the laid-back culture of Sri Lanka, which is so typical of hot climate countries. Certainly kept us on our toes!

An aspect of the culture I didn't particularly care for was the spicy food. I was already burning up from the heat, so I didn't want to eat anything that would burn my mouth, too! But I was grateful for the food that our hostess, Roni, made for us, and it was fun to try some different foods...

...like this meal, which actually wasn't too spicy, but very tasty. (Couldn't tell you what's in it though!)

Besides leading some English lessons, we also led worship at a couple of church services...

The last service we attended was Palm Sunday. We paraded into the church carrying swords made of palm branches, and were surrounded by palm trees.

It's as I look back on my time at the learning center that I realize how many different things we did! It was such a special time of fellowship. As Qian said one day, "My heart is so full and happy here."

To see even more pictures from my phase 1 challenge team, click here for my facebook photo album.