Monthly Archives:

hi archyive

July 28, 2015

by Matt Kenutis, Youth Ministry Assistant

Matt Kenutis

Matt Kenutis, Youth Ministry Assistant

One of the difficulties of being a youth leader is that you don’t get to see your students much outside of the church setting. Occasionally you’ll get to see them at one of their sporting events or other extracurricular activities, but you don’t get to see them at school or in their home where most of their life is spent.

The difficulty about this is that we never truly know how much they are learning and growing in their faith. When Jesus called his disciples he was always with them and was able to teach them along the way. So, one of the joys about leading a mission trip is that we get to spend an entire week with them living life and putting into practice what we have been learning throughout the year. The story that I believe best describes our trip is found in John 6:1-15 where Jesus feeds the five thousand.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.56.39 AMThe first comparison to this story is that Jesus and his disciples were tired from travel. After a long 23 hour bus ride to Philadelphia and a late night of watching fireworks on the fourth of July our students were exhausted. Staying in a church all week with no air conditioning and sleeping on the floor only made things worse. When the disciples were tired they wanted Jesus to tell the people to go away so that they could rest. As a leader, I was encouraged to see that our students didn’t have this same attitude but instead they were eager to serve each day. The next thing that we can learn from this story is that Jesus was willing to change his plans in order to serve and love others. Jesus brought his disciples to a solitary place to rest but when he saw the people in need he changed his plans to meet their needs. One of the biggest challenges of this trip was that we were not in control of what we did. We were serving with an organization called Adventures in Missions and each day they would tell us where we were going to serve and what we would be doing. This was a challenge as we never knew exactly what we were going to do and couldn’t mentally prepare. Multiple times we had to change our plans last minute and serve in a different way than expected. One example came on our first day of service. We were prepared to help lead a VBS with children in the area but due to a lack of registered students we were asked to help clean up the church instead. This wasn’t an ideal start to our trip as we were stuck cleaning out a dirty closet instead of playing with kids, but it was amazing to see our students step up to the challenge and serve with a positive attitude. The last thing that we can take away from this story is that God can take our small acts of obedience and turn them into something great. In the story a little boy gave up his 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and Jesus used it to feed over five thousand people. Unlike our past mission trips we did not serve in the same place all week, but instead we got to serve a variety of different organizations. This was both a blessing and a challenge. It was rewarding to be able to experience many different ways to serve and use all of the different gifts that God has given us. We were able to sort and package meat at a local food drive, organize clothes at a non-profit thrift store, play with kids at the Salvation Army, and paint rooms at a transitional housing center. The challenge of serving in all of these ways is that we never got to see the end result. We were bouncing around from one organization to the next and we had to have faith that God was going to use our small acts of obedience to accomplish his great will.

It was a blessing to be a part of this group and to see our students serve in such a positive and loving way. As a leader it was encouraging to see them overcome obstacles and grow in their faith. They did a great job and I couldn’t be more proud of they way they represented this community and loved like Jesus all week.

Matt Kenutis, Youth Ministry Assistant

November 25, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 24, 2013 Hello to all, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATime has flown by and we’re back home as of this morning. We missed our connection in Miami yesterday afternoon so they sent us to Chicago. We spent the night there and came home today. I have been remiss in writing as the time has flown. A group of children at two rural schools received the baseball equipment for two new teams. Kris brought two duffels full of these things that have been donated. This is an ongoing project of ours. If you have any new or used equipment to donate please let us know. It can be found in the garages of friends and family, at stores selling used sports equipment, or at garage sales.

Many thanks to those who were out scouting for the equipment! You’ll never know what a difference you’ve made in the lives of these youngsters!

God Bless!

November 19, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, and the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 19, 2013


Has it really been almost a week since I’ve written? Time has flown since Kris arrived. We picked her up at the airport Thursday night and got here late. Then up at 6:00 to be at the hospital at 7:00 to meet the ortho surgeons from California who were operating. Kris was invited to observe at the hospital and she learned a lot about how things are done here. The surgeons said they use older techniques because they don’t have the technology here that we have in the US but they said they work quite well.

We spent the rest of the day getting Kris oriented to the city once again. We had time to just hang around town. We’ve met some North Americans who are making Jinotega their home. It’s the first time I’ve really seen them hanging around town. One person we talked to said she only has $657 of social security per month and she can live here without a car on that.

Nica Nov. 2013 054I visited the nursing home before Kris came. The picture  is Lolo with his new shoes. He’s the one with both feet facing backward. He is so happy to finally be in a place where they take care of him. I also talked to Memo the alcoholic from the gutter that we put there for the second time maybe 6 months ago. He is so happy to be there he told me.

I’m going to jump over the weekend and continue with yesterday. We spent the weekend hanging with the locals. My friend Ranae came to town from her farm and she’s still with us. We found out our meeting in Managua with FMSC was postponed until next week. Sooo we have one more day to complete our work here. We were in the warehouse yesterday taking out some boxes of food to give to a rural pastor when Fr. Eliar entered and surprised us. He’s a difficult one to connect with. So we spent time looking at the current renovations of the church which began with the new roof which we helped with. So again St. Ed’s planted a seed. They have many youth groups of all ages as well as marriage encounters. He was very proud of the condition of the rooms and all the groups using them. They will continue to renovate and soon all the deferred maintenance will be repaired.

We were all invited to go to the hospital so Kris could have a tour of the maternity wards and the neonatal ward. The had to put on an addition to handle all the babies. They use to have 2-3 mothers with their babies in each bed but now they let them go home after 8 hours with a normal delivery if everything is OK so there are less. C-sections still stay 2 nights. We visited the Casa Materna that houses the women from the countryside with problems until they deliver. One 14 year old was having her 2nd. She was sexually abused by her father. He’s now in jail. We will try to help them with some food. Maybe some eggs and veggies. They only have rice and beans right now.

So this has gotten long… I’ll sign of and hopefully come again tomorrow


November 13, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 13, 2013


These past days have been full even though when I wake up in the morning I have almost nothing on my agenda. Monday I spent a better part of the day working with Victorino on the FMSC report we needed to submit. We have to do reports each time we receive a container. So we’re in good standing once again.

Yesterday I was invited to a workshop hosted by the European Union organization that is funding AVODEC’s chicken project. It had to do with teaching nutrition to the families in this area. Leaders of other organizations were there to observe and learn. As was I. This is a 1 million dollar project and AVODEC was selected to participate in it. They do LOTS of training. They teach the people how to raise and take care of the 6 chickens they receive. They build coops and mix food so the chickens have a good chance of survival. They lay eggs and new chicks hatch. They then pass on baby chicks to other families and teach them how to raise them. There is a lot of follow up. AVODEC has to invest some of their own funds.

The project manager, a Belgian woman named Maite’ is very impressed with AVODEC. She has worked in central America for 5 years and they are her favorite group so far. Such hard workers. It’s good to have this feedback.

Nica Nov. 2013 065Today I went to the basketball court to see the 30+ peasants who came to receive their wheel chairs. These were brought in by a Rotary group. The people were diverse, some just old with failing limbs, some had congenital deformities, some were single or double amputees due to diabetes or the war. (the photo above is a war casualty.) It really had an impact to see them all together. The wheel chairs came from The Wheelchair Foundation.

I made plans for Kris when she gets here so she can use her nursing and midwife skills. Our meeting in Managua with FMSC was postponed until the following week which is a disappointment to me because that was a big part of why I came at this time. But Victorino will go. We did inventory at the food warehouse and checked for mice. So far so good… So life is good. Tomorrow Victorino and I will go to Managua about 2 and do a few errands one of which is to drop off some water to be tested. Then we’ll meet Kris at the airport at 8:20 (if God wants which is what they always say here.)

So that’s the high points. Stay tuned. There will be lots more coming.

Love, Sue

November 9, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 9, 2013

I arrived here in Nicaragua on Wednesday night late. I hit the ground running with a Baptism and birthday party on Thursday. My good friend Leyla from Miami was here visiting her family and we’ve had some special time together.

I met with Victorino and Vilma yesterday  and we have a sketchy plan for the next 13 days. There is a lot to accomplish with FMSC. We’re increasing our programs because there is going to be a crisis coming. The coffee harvest will be bad again this year or maybe worse and the poverty is becoming extreme for many families. So we want to be ready to help where we can.

Vilma went to a lawyer to have a contract drawn up for our friend Jobina to sign. It gives her the right to live in the house we got her for the next 2 years. We had to get her fingerprint because she can’t write. Good news… She’s working at her own little business selling coffee from thermoses on the street. She has regular customers she returns to each day. She said she makes maybe $50 per week! We are very proud she is finally independent and taking care of herself and the 4 boys. Some of the boys also work but she’s looking good and feels good about herself.

Kris McCullough a nurse midwife from St Ed’s will join me on Thursday the 14th and will hopefully be able to see how the hospital here works and the challenges they face. I on the other hand will stay in the background. There is a brigade of doctors, nurses and an anesthesiologist coming from an organization called Esperanca in Arizona and will be doing surgeries for 5 days.

There will be a lot more on the agenda soon.

Pray for all of us…

August 2, 2013

The week of work has come to a close today but that doesn’t mean our time on this mission is over yet! Finishing the week we spent of these houses was an incredibly powerful time for us all because it meant that either the home owner would soon be moving in after inspection or that the tools would be passed to the next volunteer group to further our work and others on a place that will one day be a home.

2152028_orig 5470878_orig 5917402_orig 9207343It is an indescribable feeling we all are sharing that at this point in the week is unique and special to this group of people at this place and point in all our lives. We got out early today around 2:30 and got to spend our last house of day time New Orleans wandering, shopping, and eating our way through the French Market. A memorable moment of this event was that we all split into different groups based on what we wanted to do but yet with no communication we all ended up at Café Du Monde eating Beignets and taking over one of the most famous cafes in all of our country. Matt Detloff led us in our reflection and discussion of “How God Loves Us” back at the fellowship after we were all full up on Po-Boy Sandwiches. An amazing moment to be a part of this night was before Detloff’s talk we sang the song How He Loves Us and all with arms wrapped around each other swayed and belted the lyrics that follow out to God as our prayer;

“And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all”

The Next day we got an early start and said a sad Goodbye to the City of New Orleans. From our time here we’ve learned to be loving, share love, except love from others and God and to treasure everything we have in our lives because you never know what will happen the next day. The hospitality from Pastor Randy, SBP, and the rest of the city is something I know we all will miss, especially the girls, since they treated us like Southern Bells. Instantly in the car everyone fell deep into a much needed nap, except for the drivers and co-pilots of course as we stayed awake by the allure of a hot McDonalds breakfast in our near future. Some cars after our spectacular breakfast had regained energy and sang and danced it up for the second leg of the drive while others fell right back to sleep. We stayed in St Louis that night where we heard from Patrick on the topic of how to go back to the reality of our lives and remember all we learned this week about love. He killed it naturally of course, and with his message moved the kids and leaders to think deeply in reflection about our trip and how blessed we are for it all. There really was nothing too exciting to report on from the drive home the second day which makes sense since a lot of it was spent in Iowa. This week will leave an impact on all our hearts in ways that, to outsiders of the mission trip will never understand. When I can’t stop smiling I know that God has left me with a gift that I will never forget, and I’ll be the first to admit that the drive home and now being home… I can NOT stop smiling, as I know others are feeling the same way. NOLA 2013 is now over but the marks we left in others’ and each other’s lives will last forever.

August 01, 2013

Almost reaching the finish line, last leg of the race, on the home stretch… or the 2nd to last day of working with The St. Bernard Project. Today the excitement was unbelievable when we all got back from our work sites.

1352288_orig 4349511_orig 6750895Everyone was ready with stories to share about how far along our houses are coming and what little left we have to call it complete for the owners. In one group the T-Swift and Miley Cyrus jams were playing to encourage our door framing, touchup painting, and moping. Other groups finished insulating an entire house today and will be moving onto sheet rock tomorrow, I’m sure they will all be missing the fiberglass in their limbs so much… A group today got to meet the home owner which I know from them was a very impactful and made the week of work hit home in their hearts.

Back at the fellowship we had another to die for homemade meal from Pastor Randy which was Shrimp Créole over rice. We then went to a haunted horse and buggy ride through the city pointing out all the local ghosts’ sightings and hearing stories of what has previously gone on in buildings. Monica led our reflection for the night on the NOLA topic specifically “God Loves Us” and we discussed where we saw God in the day and how that was an act of his love.




July 31, 2013

Its Hump Day! Meaning we are just over half way through our trip.

1358101_orig 9309455 9337367_origThis adventure is never ceasing to amaze us all and continuities to teach us more about our faith, New Orleans, and our selves each day. Today was the second day at the work site and you definitely could tell the difference in our skills level. We cruised through the work and were able to accomplish a lot more and move our houses closer and closer to completion. One work group moved to a new house today because theirs was so close to being finished the day before that SBP wanted our speedy work crews to extend that skill to help new people. Another group that is in the starting phase of the building process insulated the ceiling today which was a great step forward for the house and for the humidity in the house to rise, but sweat has been bonding us all thus far and will keep continuing to do so. The night’s activity, after a huge and I mean HUGE dinner at Rocky and Carlos, was taking the street car down St. Charles street and hitting up an ice cream shop called non-other than “Mckenzies” Filled with Italian food and ice cream all of us were in food comas and slowly made our way back to Aribi for reflection. The topic of the night was “How We Love Others” which Matt (Booty) gave us great insight on, setting us up for fabulous small groups. After one more rendition of Seasons of Love, from rent, we hit our bunk rooms to get some much needed sleep.

July 30, 2013

First Day of working with the Bernard Project is finally here!

666358_orig 5203728_orig 6719631_origAlthough it feels like we have been here for a few weeks after the amount of New Orleans culture we soaked up yesterday. After an orientation at the organization’s main warehouse to learn more about their motto and mission for why they serve, we then were split up into the work groups and headed out to our site builds. Some groups were working on the start of the build and doing sheet rocking and insulation while others were working on grouting tile and painting walls. Each work group was given a bio of the person(s) they were serving and building this home for which, for the kids, was a key thing to read to help them feel connected to the service work they were sweating off all their water weight to complete! We hit up the snow cone shop for the 3rd time on the way back to our housing before an authentic New Orleans jambalaya dinner made fresh by Pastor Randy. The Night event was pure and simple relaxation, it was well needed after all we have done. Card games and naps held us until our worship and reflection for the night on the topic of “How We Love God” lead by Megan Webb.

Moving into tomorrow please pray for us to stay healthy in this hot weather and stay smart as to not over exert ourselves too much but to put forth the best we can as well to continue growing together in our faiths.


July 29, 2013

NEW ORLEANS! We finally are here, alive and living it up as stand out tourists today.

2741875 4358725_orig 7271444_orig 9841144_origThe day started by attending a Jazz Brunch at The Court Of Two Sisters restaurant where there was everything and more to eat, from Jambalaya, Creole salads and bread pudding to your typical omelets and bacon! No one left hungry and we got right to burning it off as we toured the rest of the city. At the WWII museum we saw a 4-D movie and then walked over to catch a horse and buggy tour around the French Quarter. Our next form of transportation was a Ferry Boat up the Mighty Mississippi, landing at Chalmette Battlefield to be greeted with a southern fried chicken lunch. Our final tour of the day was through the canals and swamps to see gators in the bayou. Our evening reflection started strong with great harmonizing on the worship songs. Matt Kenutis gave a talk on “Why We Love” and Mackenzie gave one on “When We Fail to Love.” After a time to journal and reflect we had small group discussion and then hit the hay!

Pray for us tomorrow as we venture for the first time to the work sights and start our service. Our theme for the day will be, “How do we love God daily?”