Thursday, July 24, 2014

Extraordinary and Unusual China Trip!

June 18 - July 2, 2014
Gayle, Angela, Mary
under "Emmanuel" sign in Shenyang
Packed with new experiences, meeting many new people, and ministering in new places is a very simplistic description of this awesome trip!  Angela Smith, Gayle Sharp and Mary Waring worked and traveled alongside our Chinese sisters, Hope, Grace, and Rebecca.
While we did teach, mentor, and encourage throughout the trip, the Father's focus seemed to be for us to meet new believers and develop new relationships outside of Beijing.
Beijing Main Train Station - It's Huge!

 Four train trips took us to four cities in eight days.
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified,     
just as it did also with you.   2 Thessalonians 3:1
Overnight train:  It was very cozy sleeping with hundreds of strangers.  Actually it was a fun adventure and the Lord favored us enormously!  Our tickets provided that four of the five of us had tickets on tier three, and the fourth was on tier two.  Grace and Hope used their pretty smiles and charm and managed to get Gayle and me a bottom bunk and Angela got a middle bunk.  Angela is younger, slimmer, and more agile than Gayle or me!
It was a joy to be invited to the
Christian Chinese wedding of Hope's college friend.
The beautiful Bride and Group came to our teaching
for the two days after their wedding!  Amazing!

Angela teaching a group of leaders
Proud Grandma

New friends in new cities!

… and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  Acts 1:8

For eight days we traveled
to three cities in several Provinces
Small village church
in church leader's back yard.
Another small village church

Small village church

Exercising in the city plaza

Visit to Grace's and Hope's village! 
Hope and Grace are and have been our GPiH interpreters, guides, and dear friends in China for years.  We were honored to be invited to visit their home village and meet their families.  This was Hope's first visit home since she left last September to study for her Master's degree at Baylor University in Texas. 

Not only did we meet their loving and generous relatives, we saw some of China's spectacular countryside near the Mongolian border.  The mountains, bright green fields, and the gracious people are truly a representation of God's majesty, creativity, and beauty.
Hope and Grace in their lovely home village

Hope with her mother
Welcome home from America little sister!

Walking the mountain near the home village

Some of Hope's and Grace's family

Beautiful Grace with flowers

Hope's parents - Grace's parents with EFCC team
Return to Beijing
Angela - Gayle - Hope
Gayle teaching at the Vine
His divine power has given
 us everything we need for life and godliness
through knowledge of Him.   2 Peter 1:30

Worshiping at a favorite house church

Team with friends
Teaching break backrub

Angela at gift table
Small Group at the Vine

 Visit to Special Friends' Pre-School 
This new school is remarkably progressive when compared to normal schools in China.  We spent Q & A time with the parents, played with the children and enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Debra.

Debra and Boaz
All the teddy bears were made and donated by Barbara Pillsbury who has made several missions to China.
Meeting a new friend

Discussion of teaching techniques for children
New Best Friend

New friends and dear old friends
Farewell Dinner
 Any dinner at Grace's apartment is always special! 
Fun and laughter with delicious food ... Perfect!
A feast with special friends!
Grace the Cook
Farwell until the next time!  (I can't wait!)
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”   Isaiah 6:8

Mary Waring for the Team

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Preparing Our Talks

Dear Friends,

In less than three weeks we will board our plane for Beijing, China!  How could it be June already?  The weeks of preparation for this trip have gone so quickly.  We are finishing the last gifts, preparing the last teaching materials, and taking a long look at packing "lightly" for the very warm weather in China this time of year.  As the team treasurer, I have been keeping close track of our budget and the contributions that have been given to our team.  We are so grateful to God and to all of our faithful supporters for making this trip possible.  We have received prayer support, encouragement, and financial help from many loving and generous hearts. We are filled with gratitude for all that God has provided through you--thank you, thank you!

This has been a "sweet" Sunday afternoon for me as I have been going over my talk for this trip.  I have changed and rewritten my outline, my aim for the talk, and basically much of the talk over the past few weeks.  Angela, Mary, and I have constantly been praying for God to show us what our audience needs to hear and to help us be sensitive to their needs.  The three of us will be teaching from the Gospel of John:  Angela..."I Am the Bread of Life; Mary..."I Am the Good Shepherd; Gayle..."I Am the Vine and You are The Branches".  Our Chinese sisters we will be connecting with in Beijing are going to be teaching from Genesis.  Would you please pray along with us that God would prepare the hearts of the people we will meet and serve in China?

"Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."  II Corinthians 5:20

Blessings to you,

Gayle for our team

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gifts for China

Hello Friends,

Friday was a good day!  My team members and I spent the afternoon making beaded necklaces strung on leather cording to give as gifts to our Chinese sisters.  Making the necklaces was so successful we decided to meet again to make more.  The women love to receive anything made by hand.  They are always so appreciative.  The necklaces were easy to make and turned out to be very beautiful and elegant.  We were very pleased.  We have an excellent variety of gifts to give thanks to those who have made bible book covers, hand crocheted shawls and hats.

As the time draws near for our departure, plans are being finalized and our itinerary in Beijing, Shenyang, and Chengde are pretty much in place.  It looks like we'll be off to Shenyang shortly after our arrival in China.   It will be a 4 hour train ride from Beijing to Shenyang.  I love traveling by train and am sure my team members like me, are excited to see some of China's beautiful countryside.  We will be attending a wedding while we are in Shenyang.  We are excited and feel privileged to be invited.  After several days of teaching in Shenyang, we will be off to Chengde, also by train.  Returning to Beijing for more teaching and reconnecting with believing friends until we depart for home.  
Throughout this trip we will be teaching and ready for God's leading and looking for many divine appointments.

Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support.  Please pray that our team unity and bonding would continue to grow, multiplied time to plan and prepare with excellence everything that needs to get done, and that we would not be hindered in doing God's work by the weather or any outside forces.  
Beijing will be hot and humid.  Shenyang is closer to the mountains, so we are expecting cooler temperatures in the mid 70's, but we may have some humidity there as well.

Thank you, again for all your support and for partnering with connecting with China.  We couldn't do it without you!  
Angela Smith for the Team


Friday, May 16, 2014

Introducing Team 8 - Bi-Cultural Crew

Mary Waring - Gayle Sharp - Angela Smith

We are excited to tell you about our next visit to China!  An exciting new adventure awaits!

Angela Smith, Gayle Sharp, and Mary Waring have all served our Lord in China during at least two previous visits to Beijing.  During the next trip we will team up with precious Chinese sisters and travel outside of Beijing to Shenyang and a small village.  Shenyang is about a five hour train ride north of Beijing.  Our work there will be similar to what we do in Beijing which is to teach, encourage, and mentor our Chinese sisters and brothers. 
Since none of us on the EFCC team have been to Shenyang, I thought it would be interesting to research it a bit.  Here are a few facts from Wikipedia:
Shenyang, is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province, as well as the largest city in Northeast China by urban population.  According to the 2010 census, the city's urban area has 6,255,921 inhabitants, while the total population of the Shenyang municipality is up to 8,106,171.  In the 17th century, Shenyang was conquered by the Manchu people and briefly used as the capital of the Qing dynasty.

Along with its nearby cities, Shenyang is an important industrial center in China, and serves as the transportation and commercial hub of China's northeast—particularly with Japan, Russia, and Korea.  

Shenyang has a monsoon-influenced humid continental climate characterized by hot, humid summers, due to the monsoon, and dry, cold winters, due to the Siberian anticyclone. The four seasons here are distinctive. Average high in June = 81, average low = 63, rainfall = 3.6"
Prayer requests:

·       All the pre-trip planning details will go smoothly

·       May the content of our talks and conversations be pleasing to God.  We are very aware of the great responsibility we have to represent our Lord correctly. 

·       May all team members stay healthy and strong during our rigorous schedule.

As for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.  Psalm 73:28

Mary for the Team

Monday, May 12, 2014

Team 7 - Wonderful Wrap Up

April 9 - 21, 2014
John and Mary - Grace - Joseph - Rob and Karlene
Karlene's Report ...
It is late and yet I still have China on my mind.  It is not easy to forget what God did and how it felt to be there.  We have been home now 3 weeks.  It amazes me how time files by and how busy we become wrapped up in everyday life.  I know that for me, I will forever have the people I met in my heart and in my prayers.  I am eager to return. I am trusting God to provide Leaders and Educators to Teach and equip these precious people.  I just know that God has many more Blessings to pour out upon China and I am anxious to hear about future teams and ministries that come back telling of the Miracles that God has done and is doing.  We serve a Mighty God my Friends!  I am so Thankful for the opportunity to have gone. It has forever changed my heart.


Mary's Report ...

Spring on the Great Wall

Fabulous Architecture - View from our hotel

Our schedule was very full with teaching almost every day and/or evening.  It is always a joy to rekindle the precious friendships that have developed over the past four years of serving our Father in China.  Another special joy was getting to know Karlene and Rob better.  They did a great job interacting and teaching our Chinese sisters and brothers. 
Sign on seminary wall

The first Sunday we were in Beijing, John preached at the service of a house church of dear friends.  This is the first house church I was privileged to visit in China and it always feels like home to me.  After the service they fold up the chairs, roll out a big table, and everyone eats together like a big family. 
Sunday lunch with The Family
While most pastors deserve our admiration and gratitude for their challenging calling and work, to be a house church pastor in China takes a special determination, courage, and dedication. Many (most?) house church pastors also have secular jobs because their small congregations cannot financially provide for them and their families.  Often these pastors work tirelessly with no one to mentor, encourage, or support them.  It is outstanding that our church recognizes the great need to work with house church pastors in China.  Pastors Dennis, Dave, and Jeremy have made multiple trips to Beijing to work with pastors.  It is our prayer that this link will grow strong and long.  

John Teaching
John and Rob greeting a new friend

 Because John and Rob Campbell were with us, we had access to several new men’s groups.  There is a great need for men to minister in China!  One primarily men’s group meet in a fifth floor walk-up apartment.  The very tiny living room also served as the kitchen.  Fourteen of us crowded into the dimly lit room.  John taught about listening with our hearts.  Then Rob led teaching of the men in the living room, while Karlene and Mary talked with a few women in a tiny bedroom. 
Esther and Mary looking at "Selfie"
Mary teaching a small group

These small intimate settings and the one-on-one Divine appointments are some of my favorite work in China.  It is during these sessions that I most feel the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit.  Our efforts in China require much prayer and dependence on God.  It is His agenda that we follow and His plan we strive to accomplish. 
John teaching Easter Sunday service
One of my most memorable mornings ever in China was attending Easter Sunday service in a house church in Beijing.  To make it perfect, John preached the excellent sermon.  He began by sharing a beautiful and emotional story that illustrated the incredible love our Lord Jesus has for each of us.  Enough love that Jesus chose to die an excruciating and humiliating death to wash us pure enough to become precious adopted children of the Almighty God. 
EFCC team with China friends
Thank each of you who supported us through your prayers and/or financial donations.  We truly appreciate  your contributions and know that we could not do this work without your help!  Bless you!
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory now and forever!  Amen ... 2 Peter 2:18

Mary for the Team