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fpc bethlehem field journal 2009


To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map. william Casey

features 03

Introduction from Pastor Alf

notes from COSTA RICA 04 First Presbyterian Church answers call to be disciples in Central America 15 From Despair to Purpose: finding answers in Costa Rica Iowa & Mississippi get helping hands 19 Iowa Flood Victims Awash in Christian Caring 19 Missionaries Continue to Aid Katrina Victims notes from Malawi 20 Mission Moments shared by first presbyterian members in africa 28 A Gift from God 30 In a World of Poverty, a Faithful Treasure Gleams 32 A Winning Experience for the Home Team Youth with a Vision 34 High school mission trip to Washington, D.C. area mIDDLERS on a vision quest Middle School Mission Trip 38 to Washington, D.C. area Brainerd Weekend 42 a family opportunity to serve 44

who is your neighbor? hundreds of FPC members learn it’s not just the joneses


The Academy Award for Best picture Goes to...

FPC Mission Field Journal 2009 is a special feature publication of First Presbyterian Church Bethlehem. 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 Editor: Jill Hantz Design: Kat Groshong Contributing Editors: Dean Bartholomew,

Jerry Scharf, John Zukowski

Contributing Photographers:

Bruce Bowen, Phil Clauser, May Dudding, Becky Gorton, Kristen Halvorson, Bill Marsh, Linda Strayer, Jody Wycherley

On a rising tide of faith, our church is reaching out Dear First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem, Members and Friends, I’m convinced that Christians are hungry for renewal in their lives. They want to know what it means to be vital and mature in Christian faith, and they are calling for guidance and opportunities by which their faith may be nurtured and sustained, more fully experienced and expressed. The disciplines of prayer, Scripture reading, worship, small group ministry and discipleship classes have been extensively explored and recommended—and I am fully behind those crucial practices. However, a call I hear is that Christians want to grow spiritually but not have the church building be their only laboratory. They do not wish to read Scripture alone or simply hear about a community or world need. They do not want to pray, detached from life. They do not want to just give money. These disciples want to experience the place; they want to see, smell and taste the passage; they want to address the challenge in person; they want to not just know about God but rather experience the living God and know God personally. The old adage applies, “you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand.” People’s faith journeys can be enriched through the crucible of mission trips. Included in this magazine are mission experiences fueling personal and church-wide transformation. As Rev. Michael L. Lindvall has written so powerfully: The novelist John Gardner once generalized that there are only two plots to all the stories ever told: a stranger came to town, and someone went on a journey. The Christian faith includes both. The Bible is populated with a string of strangers come to town: Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Ruth, Moses, Mary, most certainly Jesus, and in one place after another, Paul. And the people of Scripture are the kind of folks who don’t much stay put. They travel from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land, out of Egypt and back to that land of milk and honey, up and down the Galilee, and then to Jerusalem. Finally, these travelers crisscross the known world. But it’s not only the ancients who met strangers come to town and then went on journeys, both outward and inward. The One who once came as a stranger to fishermen and tax collectors comes to us now, again as a stranger. And these ages later, he still invites us to rise and go on a journey ourselves.

you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand.

May these mission trip stories serve to fuel our own senses of call to be ‘sent ones,’ strangers come to town or servants called on a journey of faith with God and for others. In Christ’s service together, Rev. Alf Halvorson, Pastor



notes from

First Presbyterian Church answers call to be disciples in Central America


On Saturday, June 20, a team of 12 people left our church for a week-long mission trip to Costa Rica. They organized a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children of students attending the Latin America Mission’s (LAM) Spanish Language Institute in San Francisco del dos Rios, just east of San Jose. The group met missionaries Dick and Sheila Dudney, who live and work in Costa Rica, and Kim VanArtsdalen, who had been working at the Language Institute’s Sojourn Academy for 10 months. The group also traveled to Drs. Alekcey and Judith Murillo’s Cabecar Medical Mission on the outskirts of land reserved for the Cabecar people, one of 11 indigenous tribes of Costa Rica. What follows are edited excerpts of e-mails and special devotionals the group sent during its stay. Saturday, June 20 After a safe flight we settle in at our accommodations at AMCA House, a mission hostel within walking distance of the Dudney’s and the LAM Spanish Language Institute. Then we’re off to the LAM’s Sojourn Academy to prepare for the start of Vacation Bible School at 7 a.m. Monday morning. We’re using the program “Rome—Paul and the Underground Church.” We unload our supplies and costumes into the gym that we’re using for VBS, then creative minds kick into overdrive. Two soccer goals along with some landscape fabric and lots of tape applied by our young tapeologists produce a wonderful cave—complete with live plantings. Sixty-plus children will arrive Monday morning in a 10– 15 minute period. Pray for us! Pray for wisdom, love, joy and patience—and adaptability! Oh, did I mention the rain? It’s rainy season here, and it started on the way in from the airport and was off and on— mostly heavy—until late this evening. Tomorrow we’ll be up early for a trip to Irazu Volcano— the extinct one. When we flew in we had a great view of the active volcano Arenal, west of San Jose, where a huge white plume of steam rose from the mountain top. Sunday, June 21 Sunday is a day of learning some of the history of Costa Rica and its culture. It is also a day of spiritual preparations for Monday.

Dick, Sheila and Kim join us for a trip to the top of Vulcan Irazu (Irazu volcano) which has an elevation of 11,000 feet. On the way up I learn it is NOT extinct but only dormant! We enjoy the view and the reminder of the awesome power of the earth and universe created by our all-powerful God. The last eruption from the volcano was in 1963 and remained active for two years. It caused great devastation to Costa Rica. U.S. President John F. Kennedy came and saw the damage. He went home to start relief efforts. Funds from the U.S. went toward disaster relief and education. When Kennedy was later assassinated, it was marked by widespread mourning in Costa Rica. The United States is still remembered as having been a true friend in time of need by those who lived through that time. Besides the countrywide education advances financed by the U.S., one of the long-lasting benefits of the eruption was the extremely rich soil over central Costa Rica, east of San Jose. You can see it in the rich, dark, brown earth and the wonderful produce sold along the road. We try to go down the mountain and hike in the national park below. But the road becomes impassable not far from the entrance—impassable for a tourismo bus with 16 passengers. Franklin, our skillful driver, turns us around between an embankment and a ditch on a narrow road. We go back up the mountain to a restaurant Sheila and Dick located for us. The treatment was exceptional—normal for Costa Ricans (or Ticos as they call themselves and are affectionately called). It is a time of fellowship, refreshment and comidas tipical—typical and excellent food. Later, we join Dick and Sheila at their church. It is a former meat packing plant that has been creatively converted. There is now a large auditorium, coffee area, information and reception area and lots of parking directors for a large congregation. A pastor from a church in Chile delivers the message about embracing change. He uses Luke 19:1–9 and the story of Zacchaeus. The part that strikes me is the simultaneous translation from Spanish to English using wireless earphones. The translation is “Do not be just hearers of the continued on page 7


Vulcan Irazu (Irazu volcano) is a volcano that last erupted in 1963. The eruption lasted two years and caused widespread devastation to Costa Rica.


Paul’s prison cave for VBS.

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Word, but doers of the Word.” It ties in so beautifully with Douglas Feaver’s devotion on Matthew 28, which is “go and make disciples of all nations…” So pray for us as we start Vacation Bible School on Monday at 7:15 a.m. for nearly 70 children of God.

We pray and sing during our opening worship time. It’s fun to see the kids learn the words and hand motions that go with the songs. “Hello Again” and “To God Be the Glory” are the unanimous favorites. Then it’s on to family time. We have an hour to talk about Paul. We discuss his life, conversion and ministry and how he came under house arrest in Rome. Then there’s Brutus. As the week will go on, God will speak to Brutus, and he will become a believer! From the very beginning the kids love Brutus. And they will later cheer when he accepts Jesus. As the children leave Paul and Brutus, they quietly go to the underground church. Lucia and Marcus are happy to get news from the children about how Paul was doing and what words of encouragement Paul had for them. They share how difficult it is to worship in secret. Tuesday, June 23 The days are long. They start with a wakeup call at 5:30 a.m. We arrive at LAM in time for the deluge of highenergy children at 7:15 a.m. The children are in family groups which include all ages. So they are getting to know other children. We see relationships developing and growing. In one family there is a Costa Rican whose English is not that of his North American family members. So he has

Today’s lesson was that God’s Love Sticks, At least that’s the way the kids put it after we memorized Romans 8:38, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” The cave is ready. Our worship leader is ready. Our family leaders are ready. Our games leaders are ready. Let the VBS begin, and pray that we are able to share God’s love in the same way He does—individually and gracefully! Monday, June 22 Early Monday morning at 7:15 a.m. more than 70 children arrive. We divide them into five “families” with a full range of ages in each. We have family names like Servius, Aurelius and Octavius.

been left out in many ways. Today we see him volunteer to answer questions—although our very limited Spanish left him hanging. He begins to be a part of the group when the day’s craft of a decorated top leads to a lot of play between the children. We see more friendships and more relationships developing. This is wonderful because there are so many worries here for these families. They have left home to come to a different culture to study Spanish and then to move again to their field of service.

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LAM Latin America Mission, Inc. (LAM) is an evangelical Christian ministry whose purpose is to build the church of Jesus Christ in Latin America. LAM does this by working under local, grassroots ministries as ministry partners. LAM facilitates connections with qualified American missionaries and Latin American ministries, trains those missionaries for service in Latin America, and sends them to work in a particular field with one of its Latin American ministry partners. LAM supports and facilitates a wide variety of ministry programs designed to help meet needs in all aspects of a person’s life. To learn more about LAM, go to

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WEDNESDAY, June 24 Time here is going so quickly. Especially as we become attached to the children entrusted to us. Tomorrow (Thursday) is our last day of Vacation Bible School. We are preparing for the trip to the Cabecares Medical Mission tomorrow afternoon right after the close of VBS. The parents come and thank us before and after VBS each day. They ask us to pass their gratitude and prayers on to those who have helped send the team. The Director of the Language Institute also thanks us and our congregation for making this ministry possible. The day goes well. We continue to improve and adapt and build relationships with the students and the team members. The only glitch is the sound system—for the first time in my life I actually duct tape one together! Kim and I jiggle cables for the wireless microphone and the main speaker system until it works. Then we tape them into place. I think prayer and the laying on of hands helped. Thursday, June 25 This is our final day of VBS at LAM. Once again the children arrive rushing immediately to their respective family areas. Brutus listens to Paul speak of God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Brutus says he wants to hear more from Paul. Then he announces to the cheers of the children that he wants to be a follower of Christ. The day’s script is modified and all gather to lay hands on Brutus and pray for this new brother in Christ. The ending of the day is bittersweet. Many of the children are leaving for a three-day weekend (a rare treat at the Language Institute) to see the beaches or volcanoes. Others are leaving for their mission field assignments. Lots of hugs go around. We have become family instead of just family groups with names like Servius, Aurelius and Octavius. On Thursday we leave San Jose after completing the Vacation Bible School at the LAM Spanish Language Institute and their Sojourn Academy. We travel east to the Cabecar Indians to meet our hosts Drs. Alekcey and Judith Murillo who run the medical mission there. Our outstanding and careful driver Carlos is a saint. All but the very largest highways are two lanes at most. Curvy and slick with rain makes them even more treacherous. continued on page 10



the Cabecar Indians The Talamanca Mountains are host to the Cabecar Indians, the largest of 11 indigenous groups in Costa Rica, and one that retains many of its traditional customs and beliefs. In contrast to many other indigenous groups, the Cabecar do not live in villages, but prefer small family units scattered throughout this isolated region that includes the Pacuare River. On a Costa Rican scale of social development, the Cabecar are considered the baseline at zero on the scale. Their indigenous religion is multi-theistic and includes shamans and mysticism. They have been reached by many evangelical groups, but some attempts at translation and use of their terminology have caused problems. The government, sociologists and anthropologists advocate a preservation of their culture, social structure and religion. Although they are covered by Costa Rican medical services, there is little in the way of teaching the attending medical technicians and providing health education to the people there. So, there is much work to be done, spiritually and physically, in a widespread area.


A Cabecar House continued from page 8

It is pouring rain when we leave. It continues most of the way to the medical mission. In the rain we go from a well-paved, two-lane road, to a not-so-well-paved road, to an unpaved road and eventually to two ruts and a steep drop-off. It looks like it has not seen a bus loaded with people and luggage for the last millennium. But that isn’t the most interesting part. About 30 minutes from our destination we come to a bridge under construction. A work crew is power washing the frame and replacing the roadway boards. We are told it will be about an hour wait. Our motto is never hurry a bridge repairman! But just a half an hour later, as darkness descends and the lights on the bridge come on, they give us a signal to go across. The bridge spans the Pacuera River which flows very swiftly, especially in rainy season. Our bus driver Carlos inspects the bridge on foot. He says we all have to walk across the bridge ahead of the bus. When we start walking we discover the reason. For the first few feet the roadway boards are replaced. But the ones ahead are rotted and full of holes. They will be fixed another day. They don't replace boards until they really need to! After getting safely over the bridge, we climb back in the bus and say a prayer of thanks. We go off now in darkness, but in God's beauty nevertheless. We finally arrive around 6:30 p.m. at the medical base. The beauty of the building and its comforts surprises us. There are real showers, real toilets and almost enough beds and mattress pads for all. We share Austin Sullivan’s devotional based on Proverbs 3:21–28. “…You’ll travel safely; you’ll neither tire nor trip; you’ll take afternoon naps without worry; you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises or predictions that Doomsday’s just around the corner because God will be right there with you. He’ll keep you safe and sound.” Yes, that’s true!

Lights go out at 9 p.m. That’s when the generator is turned off and we depend on flashlights. It’s a good reason to go to bed early. So we do. And we appreciate the security God provides. Friday, June 26 The medical base is located just alongside the rushing Pacuare River. Since it is rainy season, we hear the sound of the rushing water all night long. This provides a backdrop to the sounds of the birds and insects. There are all kinds of flying insects but few mosquitoes. This is not a malaria area. So we don’t have to take any antimalarial inoculations. We need to be outfitted for the work in the wet soil of a tropical rain forest. So off to the work-fashions boutique we go! Friday is our work day. One crew along with the facility manager, Giovanni, helps set posts and string barbed wire for a fence line. About 100 meters of fence needs to be placed. But our purpose is fellowship not completion. The other crew will place a row of rock around the edge of the liner of the tilapia (fish) pond also with the purpose of fellowship. Remember though, we are a team of 15 Type-A gringos. The fence crew takes off with Bill “Indiana” Stevens leading the way. They carry tools—a long pry bar, hammers and machete—and barbed wire. We pick up pre-cut fence posts along the way. They are saplings that will grow into full-fledged trees once jammed into the moist and fertile soil. The crew climbs the trail above the facility and its plantain orchard. They string barbed wire to install the fence posts. It’s hot and humid, but the work isn’t that difficult. There’s just the danger of falling down the slope into the barbed trees because many have spikes or thorns protruding from the bark. There is also the possibility of getting whacked by Indiana and his amazing machete. Bill is really into the machete work and very good at it! Meanwhile the Rocking Team places rocks around the tilapia pond. Only one smashed fingertip—Sheila’s—and no lasting back pains. By lunch both projects are completed. In the early afternoon our attention turns to clearing the loose rocks and sticks from the area in front of the lodge. That’s like saying you are going to clear the beach of sand. This is a rocky area! And we’re in a forest! Then comes some much needed rest time. There is even some time to enjoy the cool river. They both feel so welcome and refreshing after the week of hustle and the day of physical work. Judith and Alekcey are right alongside us. After dinner we share Jenny Scott’s devotional on unity. Each of us picks out a strip of fabric that in some way represents us. Each has a card attached for others to write affirmations on during the day. After receiving our fabric and reading our affirmations aloud, we weave the fabric together into a tapestry, much as our lives have been woven together in unity this week.

We need to be outfitted for the work in the wet soil of a tropical rain forest.

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Crossing on the cable ferry

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the medical mission

Alekcey and Judith Murillo are both Costa Rican physicians who run the medical mission for the Cabecar Indians. They received their medical school training in Costa Rica and served their residencies at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. They are not only providing medical services to the Cabecar but are also addressing some of their infra-structure needs, such as building bridges to span the river to allow people to cross safely. Why would bridge-building be part of a medical team’s priorities? Drowning is the number one cause of premature death here! What do they plan for the future? They would like to purchase a farm bordering the reservation to construct first a youth center and then an agricultural teaching center. There is need in this area for a helicopter for access, building and emergency evacuation to hospitals. And there is a need for continuing partnerships with those able to support these efforts financially.


Saturday, June 27 This is a day of hiking. We first hike downstream from the medical base to a cable ferry we take across the river. Then we walk up the west side of the river and cross back over a suspension footbridge and head toward the Cabecar Reservation. We go a short distance into the reservation and stop at a house to speak with the family in Spanish. Then we visit the schoolhouse where a teacher conducts classes three days a week. The students walk up to an hour and a half each way to come to this school. They are taught many subjects as well as Cabecar culture taught by a Cabecar teacher. Later in the evening we share devotions led by Manuela Kauer. We also share the Lord’s Supper with our team and our hosts. Our devotion is on transformation: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”…“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Manuela urges us to take some time and reflect on how we have been transformed this week. That will take some time. Not just now but overnight, on the way home and in the weeks ahead. Sunday, June 28 We don’t even wait for dawn this morning. Our bus arrives at 5:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. departure to San Jose. We will collect our luggage at Dick and Sheila’s house and then go immediately to the airport to catch our flight home. We pray the roads are passable during this rainy season.

We have indeed been transformed. The roads are washed out, flooded or mired in mud. We also pray the bridge is passable and not under early construction. Breakfast is ready, and the bus arrives on time—a good sign regarding the roads and bridges! We pack the bus and hold our morning devotional led by Jan Marsh. After saying our goodbyes—or Hasta luegos—we quietly leave for the ride over the mountains and bridges and narrow roads. They are brightened by a beautiful sunrise and a much widened and transformed view. As we head west, we see the steam billowing from a distant mountaintop. It is Turrialba Volcano which is not so extinct or even dormant. Last night Manuela asked us how we have been transformed and how we have had our eyes opened. We have indeed been transformed. We came here to serve by conducting a Vacation Bible School for the children of missionaries studying Spanish before they go into the mission field. But we learned from young children who knew about Bible verses and Paul. We learned their needs and desires after their families left home and they prepared to move again to the field. We saw the commitment and willingness in their parents’ eyes to go and share Jesus’ love and salvation. We saw some of the troubles they endure and which, in God’s hands, strengthen and build them up. We have been transformed by seeing how we can make a difference and how we can be a functioning and valuable part of the body of Christ. We came from diverse backgrounds with different gifts and personalities. And we clearly saw how God called each of us for our particular gifts and knitted us together—much like the tapestry that we wove together from our strips of fabric—into a unified, caring body able to accomplish more than any of us thought reasonably possible. We were challenged by the children at LAM, their parents, and by Alekcey, Judith, Eugenia and Giovanni in the Cabecar mission. We saw their generosity in giving their lives to God’s work and Kingdom. We understand that His calling to us is not always to do or enjoy what we want, but to be obedient to Him and to do what He wants us to do.

About The Republic of Costa Rica Costa Rica, or Republic of Costa Rica, is an independent country in Central America. The name is Spanish for “Rich Coast.” Costa Rica lies between Panama and Nicaragua and faces both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Slightly smaller than West Virginia, Costa Rica ranks after El Salvador as the smallest republic in Central America. Its geography is that of coastal plains separated by rugged mountains. It has over 100 volcanic cones with two active volcanoes rising in the center of the country. One volcano, Irazu, erupted destructively from 1963 to 1965. • Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama • Capital: San Jose • Climate: Tropical and sub-tropical coastal areas; mild in the central highlands • Economy: Costa Rica’s basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture and electronics exports. • Population: 4,253,877 (July 2009 est.) • Major religion: 84.3% Christian • Poverty level: 16% live below the poverty line • Life Expectancy: 77.58 years

The Go Team

Costa rica Mission Participants “Go Team” Dick & Sheila Dudney Greg Huron Kira Huron Camila Kauer Manuela Kauer Rich Knauss Bill & Jan Marsh Jannie Pearson Bill & Sue Stevens Kim VanArtsdalen Alison Wycherley Ken Wycherley


“Home Team” Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Ahern Barbara & Lowell Albright David & Ann Amidon Dean & Linda Bartholomew FPC Bethlehem Chancel Choir Mr. & Mrs. James Copeland Edward & Anne Dillon Helen Duryea John & Bobbi Edwards Bob & Ruth Entler Pam Fischel Paul & Sara Fox Greg Funfgeld Judy Kennedy Hilary & John Kinitz

Robert Kovacs Jeff & Kattia Krouse & family Juan Kauer Laura Kauer Scott & Diane Kulp Judy Lazarus Pat Leonic Carol Midei Harold & Cheryl Newton Jim & Diane Owen Kristian & Rachel Pearson Eunice & Ron Rankin Michael & Joann Reed

FPC Short-term Missionary Greg Huron

From Despair to Purpose:

Finding an Answer in Costa Rica About three years ago, both of Greg Huron’s parents died within four months of each other. It was a rough time. He went into an emotional and spiritual depression. For a while he felt like he was “running on fumes.” He was ready to give up on God. But God wasn’t ready to give up on him. At the time First Presbyterian Church’s pastor, the Rev. Alf Halvorson, preached several sermons about venturing beyond one’s safety nets. That reminded Huron of a lesson he learned a long time ago. When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, go out and give something back to the community. “God, show me your will,” he prayed. One Sunday at the church’s contemporary service, Huron’s daughter, Kira turned to him. “Dad, there’s a mission trip to Costa Rica, and it’s only eight days,” she said. “So you need to take that time off work and we’ll go together.” Huron was amazed. He began to sense the thrill of God’s call. “Wait…my teenage daughter wants to spend time with me and wants to go on a mission trip?” he said to himself. “I knew right away, whether we could afford it or not, I’d find a way. So we were in!” But they hit a couple of snags along the way.

During the team formation process, their applications were put into the wrong box. So they were lost. Ten days before the trip they found out Kira’s passport had expired. So Huron and his daughter spent a day in Philadelphia renewing her passport. Finally all the preparations were completed, and they flew with a team to Costa Rica. The team served the first half of the mission at Sojourner’s School, an English-speaking school for the children of missionaries. While they’re still in session, Sojourner’s students, most of them from the United States, have a week of free time with no school because the teachers’ contracts are up. So FPC Bethlehem volunteered to do a Vacation Bible School. “We had a blast,” Huron said. “I still stay in e-mail contact with quite a few of them. That was really an amazing experience because I love kids.” One afternoon father and daughter decided to be tourists. “My daughter told me that time was a highlight of the trip because initially she was afraid the kids at VBS wouldn’t like us,” Huron said. “And she was afraid of going into the rainforest at the end of the trip. By the conclusion of the trip, it was completely reversed.” The second half of the mission took place in the mouncontinued on next page


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tains, about a three-hour drive from San Jose. The FPC Bethlehem team assisted a group of young medical missionaries working with the Cabecar Indians. They built a tilapia fish pool and installed a barbed wire fence to protect the Indians’ crops from animals. “It was just a great experience,” Huron said. “By the time the last night came, my daughter told me she would come back to help them anytime!” Huron says traveling to assist in the mission to the Indians was really scary—especially driving on the tiny mountain roads outside of San Jose. “We got stopped on a bridge—the only bridge we could use to cross the river—and there were holes and rotted wood,” he said. “So we all walked across and let the bus follow us. We didn’t get there until dark, so we had to figure out where the mission was, and that was kind of scary. But by the next morning, I woke up refreshed and reassured of God’s protection.” Alekcey Murillo, one of the medical missionaries, pointed out that the organization doesn’t just build medical clinics. They go out to the people and ask them what they need.

One thing the medical missionaries thanked the team for the most was their fellowship. Other people come and help. But they rarely bring the short-term mission members into the fellowship. And Pastor Manuela served communion in one of the worship services. One night Huron walked outside. He saw the stars in a way he’d never seen them before. “I realized that mirrored my experience,” he said. “I got away from the noise, the daily routine, the lights and busyness of the city. And I got right next to God, as close as I’ve ever been. To share this journey with my daughter was an amazing, life-changing experience. The last morning we drove home, we did a devotional together—the same one that went out to all the people who were praying for us. I thought about all the things I love at home in Bethlehem, but they don’t fill me up the way this trip did. I told the medical missionaries I’m coming back—that God is calling me back there.” Huron has an answer when asked if he feels called specifically to Costa Rica. “Well, I think so,” he said. “It was crazy because when we got home from the airport and walked in, my wife, Ruth,

“And I got right next to God, as close as I’ve ever been.” “And, surprisingly, the first thing the Cabecar Indians asked for was a bridge,” Murillo said, “because one of the main causes of death is not disease, but drowning!” Their next biggest fear is that their young people will leave and go to the city. So the medical missionaries built them a soccer field. And they have plans to build a new schoolhouse and a youth center. Judith Murillo, another medical missionary, explained how it works. “Look, we have projects for you to do, but we’re not paying any of you, so we don’t want you to feel like you’re just here to work,” she said. “It’s also about developing a relationship with these people in any way you can, even with the language barrier.” So between work projects, the team developed friendships. Huron found the people to be very friendly. He was concerned they would be offended by his beginner’s Spanish. But they respected the fact that he tried. However, the Indians were more of a challenge. They have their own language. They often just draw symbols—almost like playing Pictionary. Some do speak Spanish but not many of them. But Huron was encouraged to hear that a 10-year project to translate the Bible into their native language is under way.


said there was something about my eyes that looked different. She looked at me and said, ‘I’ll go.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And she said, ‘You want to go, don’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ So I don’t know—I’m not going to try to figure it out, but I know God is speaking to both Ruth and me. And I really think it’s going to end up as a call to serve in Costa Rica. What’s really interesting is that now I have my own business, and I’m actually trying to make some changes so that I can either sell it or get it to a point where it can run without me.” Huron’s trip was a life-changing experience. “I think God is calling me there,” he said. “I’ve done mission before, but not outside of the country. I’ve gone to upstate New York, and we do a lot of local stuff on the South Side of Bethlehem. But I’ve never done anything as long as this and never anything outside of the country. So we’ll see what happens.” Will Huron make another trip to Costa Rica? It seems inevitable. “The two things I love to do are coaching sports and teaching,” he said. “And they need someone to coach the kids. Plus there’s a need for teaching at the Sojourner’s School. And they need someone to teach the Indians and work with the kids at the center they’re going to build— that’s going to take me more than just one week!”

During one of the work days, the crew climbed the trail above the medical missionary facility and its plantation orchard to set posts—saplings that will grow into full fledged trees—and to string barbed wire.

This house was split in half by the force of the floodwaters in Iowa. The other section of the house was found in a field a half mile away.

Iowa & mississippi get

helping hands


Missionaries continue to aid Katrina victims

Iowa Flood Victims Awash in Christian Caring B y K e v i n K e h o In April 2009 Phil Fair, May Dudding, John Schaffer, Clem Bonnell, Walt Cramer and I joined the Lehigh Presbytery Helping Hands Mission trip to Oakville, Iowa. It was part of the ongoing mission of the Helping Hands Care Team to show God’s love and caring by training and organizing members of Lehigh Presbytery churches to help in the emergency, relief and recovery phases of disasters and emergencies. On the mission trip we rehabilitated houses destroyed or flooded in Oakville. The eastern Iowa town was damaged by floods in 2008 when a levee in the Iowa River broke. The mission team installed vinyl siding on two houses. In another house we hung sheet rock and spackled. On a fourth house we did demolition work on a porch. We also insulated and installed new sub-flooring, leveled the floor in the corner, insulated part of the foundation, installed two vented windows in the foundation, framed out walls for handicap access, hung two exterior doors and framed and enclosed the back porch. John went through the village doing electrical work. We interacted with the homeowners and listened to their stories. Our contact with the local people included Phil Fair walking into the middle of an informal wedding ceremony at the end of a pier. We were lodged in private homes in Mediapolis— homes that were still intact. The United Presbyterian Church in Mediapolis and The Apostolic Christian Church in Oakville supplied tools, housing and meals. The mission experience introduced us to people in grassroots America who showed us warmth, hospitality, and Christian fellowship.

FPC Bethlehem members Mat Claessens and Clem Bonnell were part of a group of 21 people from Lehigh Presbytery churches that traveled to Diamond Head, Mississippi from March 7–15, 2009, to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief. It was Helping Hands’ eighth trip to Mississippi since the hurricane devastated the region in August 2005. Claessens and Bonnell stayed at a camp at a Presbyterian Church in Diamond Head, which is at the top of St. Louis Bay off the Gulf of Mexico. They worked in rural areas where flooding of small rivers and tributaries has caused major damage to houses. During the mission trip groups worked on several different projects. One group relocated and remodeled buildings on campgrounds. Another group returned to a home where work had been done the previous year by Helping Hands. They finished painting and siding work on the porch. The homeowners invited the team inside to see the completed interior and were thankful for the work church groups had done over the past years.

At the end of the work week one homeowner initiated a prayer circle with the workers. A third group installed Pergo floors and bathroom fixtures. A fourth group installed insulation and siding on new construction, and a group of electricians restored wiring. At the end of the work week, one homeowner initiated a prayer circle with the workers. Another homeowner was moved to tears by his association with the work team. The mission team was humbled by the outpouring of love and gratitude shown by the people of Mississippi.

helping hands participants iowa Clem Bonnell Walt Cramer May Dudding Phil Fair Kevin Keho John Schaffer

mississippi Clem Bonnell Mat Claessens



notes from



Mission moments shared by First Presbyterian Church members in Africa

On Monday, July 6, 2009, a plane carrying 13 ambassadors for Christ from FPC Bethlehem safely touched down in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi after a 30-hour trip. This group of 13 came to Malawi as short-term mission participants to serve with the Ministry of Hope (MoH) and the people in the surrounding villages who rely on its ministry. They came to share the love of Christ. They brought much-needed supplies for MoH crisis feeding centers. They held a teacher training workshop for preschool teachers who volunteer their time to the children ministered to by MoH. For all of the things they came to offer, however, they would be returning with much, much more. The following are excerpts from e-mails sent from members of the “Go Team” in Malawi, to the “Home Team” members back in Bethlehem over the course of two weeks. They include personal stories offered by the mission participants for this special publication and are a powerful witness to the pure love of Christ and the kind of spiritual gifts that can only be bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

Monday, July 6 Our day begins with an orientation about Ministry of Hope (MoH) and a visit to its new site, which is under construction. We are amazed at the new structures that will provide space for an expanded crisis nursery, a conference center and additional MoH offices. They would like to be in their new space within three months, but we learn there is a financing gap due to the economy. After the orientation we sort all of the materials and supplies that we brought with us in our suitcases. It is like opening Christmas packages as each suitcase reveals items that will be of help to MoH. We spend the afternoon in the crisis nursery. There are about 18 infants and toddlers here because of challenges or illness at birth or no one able to care for them. Gail spends the afternoon nurturing a baby who is sick with malaria. Entering this area requires different prayers from each of us, but there is much comfort and love visible. Our visit provides each of us with moving moments for ourselves and the children. “My” child, at 11 months, starts to move herself forward to reach for a block and her “nanny” and I are thrilled! We thank the Home Team for your love and prayers. It is comforting to know you are with us in spirit.

Greetings from Malawi—the warm heart of Africa! Tuesday is a good day—a difficult day—a day that will be forever etched into our memories. Linda and Phil head north to Khwamba with the Mobile Medical Clinic while the rest of us bump along rural roads heading south to Matapila and Selengo, where the first two feeding centers were established by MoH. Phil, Linda and seven interns work nonstop seeing 200 patients of all ages. They run out of ibuprofen and cough medicine. We observe the preschool in session and meet with six preschool teachers—all volunteers. Becky, Gail, Ingrid and Pam interview the teachers to determine what would be most helpful for these dedicated women and one man, as we make final plans for the teacher training workshop that we are conducting for them on Friday. — Becky Groton Tuesday evening, July 7 We are all dog-tired! The overabundance of food tonight at “Café Delight,” was disturbing with the picture of village life so fresh in our minds. “Vespers,” led by Alf, gave us a chance to share the heartache we feel for the difficulties people endure every day in Malawi. — Pam Bowman Wednesday, July 8 Today we have the distinct pleasure of going back to the Selengo feeding center for our very first Vacation Bible School presentation. It is a particularly exciting time for Ingrid, Gail, Becky, Linda and Phil. For Ingrid, Gail and Becky, it is a great opportunity to observe the learning environment continued on next page

Tuesday, July 7 FPC BETHLEHEM 21

continued from previous page

Ministry of Hope Ministry of Hope (MoH) was established in 1999 by Malawians as a local, community-based response for meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the growing number of children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. MoH is primarily committed to making a difference in the lives of these children. However, they also work with widows, the disabled, and the destitute, by ministering to their physical needs and, in the process, helping them find the true and everlasting hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. Today, Ministry of Hope sponsors feeding centers, discipleship and education programs, a crisis nursery and international volunteer efforts through a Christ-centered, community-based approach. If you would like to find out more about the outreach of MoH and how you can help, please visit their website at:


that the preschoolers are being taught in. They get to see how the children learn to recite the days of the week (some of them forgot Thursday, so perhaps that’s not a day of the week!), colors, basic conversational English and various body parts. All are thrilled by the experience! While the teachers are observing the children, the rest of the group is invited to visit either the village itself—a bit of a hike from the feeding center—or the garden. Linda chooses to visit the garden with a few other members of the group, and they end up collecting mustard greens that would later be used for the meal at the feeding center. This is an important component of the meal, and the greens are served with beans—together called relish—on thick nsima (a staple food made of corn flour). I am invited to try some of the food by summer MoH interns Hannah and Lauren, and the food is most excellent! As for the VBS program, it is deemed a great success by observers and participants alike. The songs are welcomed and fiercely applauded, and the children followed along with dancing and “hand motions” to the songs. The real laughter is unleashed at the puppet shows. With the help of a few rogue puppets who were willing to do some improvisations (like my mom!), it is a roaring success. Jimmy, the Selengo feeding center director, says it was a terrific day for all of the children. We all feel the presence of God around us, whether in a game of Ringaround-the-rosie, Duck-duck-chicken (the children chose this animal rather than a goose), reading, soccer, Hacky-sack or Alf’s street-magic tricks. The smiles and bright eyes of the children remind us all that God was present in these people before we came, and He will continue to be here after we have left. We are beginning to realize that these visits will be a great snapshot in all of our lives, and we are so fortunate to be able to share this with all of you. Thank you, and may God’s love be with you, as it is with all of us in Malawi. — Nicholas Huron Thursday, July 9 Muli buanji—good morning—to all of you at home, from Malawi! We head out very early this morning for the mountain of Nkhoma. Our destination is the Josophat Mwale Seminary and the Nkhoma Mission Hospital. The ride is beautiful, bumpy and long. Alf is anxious for us to get there in time for his 9 a.m. leadership seminar, but we are on African time, so, of course, we arrive an hour late. The seminary students—four pastors and faculty—are graciously waiting to welcome us and are ready to be challenged by the inspirational teachings from Alf (“Alfa” to the Malawians). They ask very thought-provoking and interesting questions about servant leadership and feel that they are seeing Philippians from a “new” perspective. continued on page 24

Members of FPC Bethlehem, family and friends of the mission participants and St. Luke’s, Triumph and Reading Hospitals donated much-needed materials and supplies for the MoH crisis nursery, mobile medical unit, feeding centers and preschools. Four boxes (36 lbs) of medications were purchased from MAP International with funds donated to the Malawi mission team. Other donated items included: • over-the-counter medications • bandages and dressings • syringes • wound care products • diabetic supplies • blankets • baby products • toys • art supplies Over 250 books for infants and children through high school were also donated by Cops N Kids.

an intimate glimpse Our mission participants had an intimate glimpse into the life of village families who care for orphans. Each family was presented with a gift of sugar, salt, soap, tea and a scented Yankee Candle as a show of appreciation for letting the mission team members into their lives. It was a fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking experience. Some of the team’s observations: • “They had no food. None!” • “Their favorite book of the Bible was Job.” • “The orphan was 15, but he was the size of my 10-year-old sister.” • “They sang for us—it was beautiful.”

continued from page 22

While Pam, Betsy, Phil, Lynnette and Linda attend the leadership seminar, MoH interns lead Ruth, Katie, Nick and Kristen on an invigorating hike up the mountain. We all reunite at noon, and share a traditional African meal together. We all feel blessed by our gracious hosts and are pleased to be part of a potential, long-term relationship with the seminary, which has an existing relationship with MoH. When we return to Lilongwe, we invite the MoH interns to join us for dinner. They suggest we try a wonderful local restaurant—Nando’s. Great food and lots of laughter is shared before we head off for gelatos! Nick leads us in our end-of-day devotions and challenges us to consider how to be shining lights in a dark world. Lots to think about! — Linda Strayer Friday, July 10 Today is a unique day for MoH. For the first time, 19 preschool teachers from all seven feeding centers gather for a Preschool Education Workshop at the Matapila Feeding Center. Becky, Gail and Ingrid provide a wonderful experience for the teachers that includes: • A get-acquainted game • Songs • A demonstration of how to use shapes to teach many different lessons • Making flannel-board materials • Adapting “found” materials that can be used in the classroom • A lesson/discussion on how young children learn continued on page 26


The hike in Nkhoma

We head out very early this morning for the mountain of Nkhoma. Our destination is the Josophat Mwale Seminary and the Nkhoma Mission Hospital.

The ride is beautiful, bumpy and long. Alf is anxious for us to get there in time for his 9 a.m. leadership seminar, but we are on African time, so, of course, we arrive an hour late. Thursday, July 9, 2009


The music is beyond belief. continued from page 24

A Note from the Home Team Thank you for the updates—it is so wonderful to read your reports. We rejoice with you in the fruits of your labor and that you would allow Jesus to use you as a channel to convey the love of the Father in such a powerful way. Keep running that good race—we are cheering for you every step of the way! I am confident that every child you hold, every widow you encounter and every brother and sister in Christ you encourage will reap enormous eternal benefits! Our spirit is with you, and we continue to lift you up in our prayers. Lots of love, Eileen and Elizabeth Members of the Malawi Mission Home Team


Not all are proficient in English, so a translator is provided. There is lively interaction among the instructors and the Malawian teachers, serious discussion and much laughter. Each teacher is given a beautiful tote bag with practical materials to use with their young students: paper, markers, crayons, Play-doh, clay and flannel. We share an African lunch of goat meat—which we bought in an outdoor market on the way to Matapila—with greens and nsima. A very special treat, Orange Fanta—you might recall this brand of soda—is brought out at the end of the day. The teachers are so appreciative. We praise God for this opportunity, and gave thanks to Him for these dedicated teachers who work as volunteers. They love the children and accomplish so much with so little. —Pam Bowman Sunday, July 12 Everyday seems to be a peak experience. It really is all about the people and the spirit I can feel in and through them. Today is spent in church services, and they are incredibly moving. Alf gives different sermons at two different churches. His messages are appropriate for not only the congregation but for us as well. The music is beyond belief. The people, who have nothing but what they grow with their own hands to sustain them, are incredibly warm, grateful and loving. —Becky Gorton SATURDAY, July 18 Dear friends, Our team should be starting its descent into Newark right about now. I remain in Malawi eagerly awaiting the arrival of my family driving in from Lusaka. We wish we could have gotten more e-mails and photos off to you. Internet connections were challenging, and we didn’t have much time at the Ministry of Hope office where we could have pulled it off. Our debriefing session at Safari Beach Lodge at Lake Malawi was rich. Alf led wonderful discussions throughout the trip each evening as we “unpacked the day” and had time to reflect on how this trip has impacted us personally, and how we might respond to what we’ve learned when we return to the U.S. The team will be filled with stories and photos, eager to tell you all about their experiences. I wish you could have seen them tear open the letters from the home team on the last day—they were so appreciated. —Pam Bowman

(Above) Several rural churches came together to praise God in the Matapila Church Choir Festival. The widow choir is in white. (Left) Pastor Alf Halvorson with two key church leaders at Nkoma Synod (Seminary) Church where he taught a seminary class on leadership from Philippians.


A Gift from God

B y L i n d a St r a y e r

Malawi was never on my radar. In fact, I could not have told you where Malawi is located in Africa without consulting my world globe. However, God knows where Malawi is, and He knew I would be part of the “go team” He was sending to partner with Ministry of Hope. When I first felt God nudge me toward MaThank you, God, for inviting me lawi, I had lots of excuses: It’s too far! I can’t go to join you in Malawi. I may never without my spouse! It’s too expensive! I’m afraid! But God continued to nudge me with remindknow all the ways you blessed me, ers of the passion He laid on my heart for His but I felt your love, saw your children through Step Into Africa and Children of miracles and experienced your Zion Village (Namibia). Still I resisted. Finally one night God said, “Linda, fear not.” I knew then that grace every day. I needed to say “yes” and let Him direct. Love, your servant Linda The miracles of our mission began long before we left Bethlehem. I saw God call church members, friends and families to His service, willing servants who basic survival, believing that He will provide. joined our “home team” and quickly began to assist with They know God, and they love Him and worship Him the preparations. They gathered supplies for the Bible with their entire being. Over and over we heard stories School program, the crisis nursery, the mobile medical unit from men and women who were orphaned at an early age, and the school students. The generosity of the congregathen raised by grandmothers who taught them that God is tion was contagious and overwhelmed me at times. good, even in the midst of poverty. In church we joined in Then I began to wonder: How will we ever transport all hours of praise, song, dance and celebration to our great these amazing donations to Africa? I had been telling myGod. When it came time for the offering, their gifts of gratiself God would provide just what we needed. Now, I wasn’t tude were endless. Offering after offering celebrated God’s sure. But God stepped in on packing day and in 30 minutes goodness and grace. Their thankful and generous hearts all the overflowing tables, shelves and boxes were neatly shared like the woman with the smallest coin—out of their organized into 21 suitcases—only one suitcase over our little, they gave a lot. limit. Some people ask: What’s next? I found God’s work so God kept all 13 team members safe and protected as profound and life-changing that we at FPC Bethlehem we traveled. Our 36 suitcases and four medication packs should be honored when He calls us to join Him. We have (worth much more than their purchase price) were delivpeople, young and old, who could support and nurture ered to their final destination after clearing customs in four scholarship students, hug babies, laugh and play with little countries and traveling in three different airplanes. children in feeding centers or administer healing therapy Our job was to trust God, arrive with servant hearts and through mobile medical clinics. God has blessed us with be willing to embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ in the financial resources to provide medical, nursery and Malawi humbly and with grace. We soon realized that God school supplies. is working miracles in Malawi through Ministry of Hope When God calls us to join Him in Malawi or India or China and others; He merely invited us to join Him! This was an or Russia, what will we say? Will it be too far, too expensive awesome invitation and I was honored to accept. or too difficult? I hope not. He has changed my heart and We brought education, knowledge and skills from I can never look at the bounty I have with the same eyes. America, but we had much to learn. We met a people God the master planner, provider and sustainer will conwho by our standards have no material wealth and often tinue to care for and love all His children; whether we hear go weeks without enough food. Yet they declare: “God is and respond to His call to partner with Him is our choice. I great.” Spiritually, they are wealthy. Their faith is lived out pray that we will be attentive to His voice and open to His every moment of every day. They truly cling to God for their call.


Phillip Clauser, Linda Strayer and seven interns work nonstop at the Mobile Medical Clinic in Khwamba seeing 200 patients of all ages. They run out of ibuprofen and cough medicine.

i found god’s work so profound and life changing that we at FPC Bethlehem should be honored when he calls us to join him.


B y L y n n e tt e B u r n s

In a World of Poverty, a Faithful Treasure Gleams When I went to Malawi, I expected my heart to be filled with pity—and it was. I saw people who ate one meal a day…maybe. I saw sick people who could see a doctor once a month… maybe. I saw children who had someone to look after them …maybe. They seemed to have nothing. But I quickly found that they have an abundance of life’s most precious treasure— faith that God loves them. The Malawians’ faith in God is more closely wrapped around them than the chitinjes cloth they wear against an evening’s chill. Their faith warms them. It shines through their eyes and floats around them in the praises they sing to God with all their might. It is pervasive, infectious, sustaining. While visiting a grandmother who single-handedly cares

Despite their difficult circumstances, she was serene and hopeful. This is a remarkable thing in a land where there are more roadside coffin stands than snack shacks. The Malawi children live in my memory even more vividly. Their eyes sparkle and their smiles are as wide as the African sky. What is your favorite Bible story? A conference here, then, “Job!” More conferring, then “David and Goliath, and Joseph when his brothers were mean, but God delivered him.” They like the stories of God’s faithfulness and triumph over tremendous difficulty. It speaks to the reality of their lives. All of the children we met had stories of hardship and loss, but unless you were told, you would not have known. Not once did I hear a complaint or see tragedy in a face. What did I hear and see? Even when hungry and sitting in

All of the children we met had stories of hardship and loss, but unless you were told, you would not have known. Not once did I hear a complaint or see tragedy in a face. for five grandchildren, we were given the privilege of seeing her house. A typical house, its one, small room was divided into sleeping and storage space. Light came in, and heat left through the frameless door. The contents included some stored food, two bowls, a water jug and three articles of clothing. The beds were grass mats that they brought out for their honored guests to sit upon. I tried hard to comprehend that this was not a Disneystyle tourist display or historical reenactment. This is life— everyday—for 90% of the country. Reeling from what should not have surprised me, I asked, “What brings you joy in your life?” A heartbeat didn’t pass before Grandmother replied, “God. He sees and provides and makes all things possible.”


dirt, I heard voices shouting—with the conviction of truth— the litany: God is Good…all the time! I heard hymns of incredible beauty. And when our voices joined theirs, I saw eyes crinkle with joy, understanding and acceptance that we truly are brothers and sisters in Christ. I saw faces that know love and express hope. These were children touched by Christ through the Ministry of Hope. Leaving Malawi, my heart still held pity, but its focus shifted. I do not diminish the difficulty of the Malawians’ circumstances, but I admire their priority and clarity of focus: God is first in all things, and prayer is the first resort, not the last. Our lives are riddled with distraction. The pity I felt was for us.

About Malawi Landlocked Malawi is one of the world’s most densely populated and least-developed countries. Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule, the country held multiparty elections in 1994 as a democracy. Current President Bingu wa Mutharika, elected in 2004 and reelected in 2009, has made much progress but continues to battle corruption. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi. • Location: Southeast Africa • Capital: Lilongwe • Geography: Plateaus, highlands and valleys. Lake Malawi (or Lake Nyasa) comprises about 20% of the total country and is the third largest lake in Africa. • Climate: Sub-tropical • Area: Slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania with a lake the size of Vermont • Economy: Predominately agricultural with about 85% of the population living in rural areas • Population: 14,268,711 (2009 est.) • Major Religion: 79.9% Christian • Poverty level: 53% live below poverty line • Life expectancy: 43.82 • HIV/AIDS prevalence rates for adults: 11.9%. 68,000 people died from AIDS in 2007.


A Winning Experience for the Home Team Not all of the hands and hearts involved in the Malawi Mission traveled to Africa

When one community reaches around the world to help another community, it can be a profoundly moving experience for the travelers and the hosts. But the tremendous amount of planning and support required for mission work also offers other great opportunities for learning and spiritual growth. Andy and Jessica Montero were looking for something that they and their three young children could do together as a family. They found something special. We asked Jessica to share her story with us: As a family, we went to the initial Malawi mission team meeting where we found out ways we could help as part of the “Home Team,” the group that would help prepare materials and supplies for the “Go Team,” those who were actually traveling to Malawi. Before packing day, we gathered some of our suitcases to donate, and the kids went through their bookcases, selecting favorite stories that they knew the younger children in Malawi would love. On packing day, we brought the books and suitcases and joined in the effort to prepare the supplies for the Go Team. The children took full notice of what had been assembled for the trip. As the bandages, medicine, blankets, toothbrushes and other basic supplies were tucked into boxes, I had an opportunity to gently tell them about a world very different from their own. I explained to our children that although we take for granted such basic things as bandages and toothbrushes, such things are very important and hard to come by for many people. The children drew pictures and wrote short notes to send to members of the Go Team. They also wanted to include a cross in each note, so I cut them out of paper and they decorated each one. Every night, we prayed as a family for the Go Team and the people that they went to help. We also borrowed books about Malawi from the library so our older children could learn more about the culture. Helping out as a family on the Home Team was a wonderful experience for all of us. I was looking for something that we could do together as a family, and I thought that this was a great way to expose them to missionary work and show them that you can make a difference, even if you are not the person traveling. Being a part of the Home Team was a wonderful starting-off point for exposing all of us to mission! We now have a greater appreciation for those who do go out as missionaries, and we now look forward to more local mission opportunities that we can all participate in together.


The Go Team

Malawi Mission Participants “Go Team” Ingrid Adams Pamela Bowman Lynnette Burns Phillip Clauser Gail Farnham Rebecca Gorton Alf Halvorson Kristen Halvorson Nicholas Huron Ruth Huron Betsy Mowrer Katie Mowrer Linda Strayer

“Home Team” Cary Ackerman Ruth Bell Jack Brace Vickie Clark Alyssa Clark Rebecca Escott Carol Johnson Don Spangler Jessica Montero Andy Montero Alexandra Montero Natalia Montero Ryan Montero Sue Paden Ann Terres Jack Terres Nancy Williamson


youth with a vision

High school mission trip to Washington, D.C. area, July 5–10


What is your quest? While some of you may be thinking of a certain scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, have you ever gone on a journey with a goal in mind? What do you seek? The High School students of FPC Bethlehem recently journeyed to Washington, D.C. with a goal in mind: we were on a Vision Quest. We built homes together and sought Jesus’ vision for the poor and for service. We laughed together while experiencing Jesus’ vision for community. We shared our important stories as we sought Jesus’ vision for grace, and we tried to put it all together in a vision for life. At the end of the week, we had a tale of changed lives. We heard a tearful “thank you” from a homeowner we helped. We had deep conversations on the D.C. train system. We invented a new sport that will take the nation by storm. We shared questions and concerns about life in our small groups. We encountered Christ. The high school students left for Washington seeking to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. Hopefully a glimpse through Jesus’ eyes will open our own a little further. Many thanks to our youth mission stockholders who enabled us to take this trip, and blessings upon the leaders who decided a week of their time was best spent in God’s service and on a quest for God.


Moira Dolan

Last summer a group of about 40 high school students and church leaders traveled to Fairfax, Virginia to do mission work. For the most part, the group (myself included) expected to spend a week with our friends, have fun and work on some houses in the area. But after meeting some of the people benefiting from the work we were accomplishing, I realized we really were making a difference. There was one man who really made an impact on me. He was a dog trainer who lived about half an hour from the church where we were staying. When we arrived at his house, the project manager from Hearts and Hammers and the homeowner greeted us and showed us the work that needed to be done. When we were splitting up the tasks, the homeowner asked us to follow him. He took us to a table in his yard where he had set out snacks and drinks for us because he wanted to thank us for the work we were doing for him. Everyone in my work group thanked him for such a nice gesture. After we finished working we went in to tell him we were leaving. So he came out to say goodbye. Before we left we decided to pray. He asked if he could join us. As we stood there in a circle holding hands and praying, he began to cry because he was so grateful. It made such an impact not only on me, but on many members of my work group. It really does show how much of a difference we can make.

Giuliani Angione

This summer I went on the high school Washington, D.C. mission trip. The only way I can describe it is awesome. Working for God serving others was fulfilling and made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than school. Meeting three people in need that we, as a group, could help was an intense wake-up call to the fact that even the most productive people need some help. Everyone we met was so grateful for the fact that we were giving up a few days of our summer, and they showed it to us in their big smiles, cookies and tears. Getting to use power tools, growing closer to my peers and leaders and being in an environment that just invited me to grow in my faith was an experience that I wouldn’t give up. I’ll probably be doing another trip this year, and I can’t wait for it! Michael Sutherland

The mission trip was a great experience for me. Even though it was smaller than it had been in past years, it was nice because you got to know more people who you didn’t talk to much at church. On the mission work that we did, it was amazing how God appeared everywhere we worked. From the generosity of the people whose houses we were working on giving us snacks, like cookies and watermelon, to having a prayer circle, it was a great experience where I saw God working all the time. When we went into Washington, D.C. after our work was finished, we also did a lot of enjoyable things. We went to the Capitol building, the memorials, and the Holocaust museum, which taught me much more about the Holocaust than what I knew previously. Overall, the mission trip was a great experience where I got to know people better, used my gifts to the glory of God and had a lot of fun. The mission trip is something that I never want to miss because it brought me closer to God.

At the end of the week, we had a tale of changed lives.

Emily Young

The High School Mission Trip to Washington, D.C. was truly an incredible experience. Aside from learning new handyman-type skills in the many projects we were given throughout the week, we had the opportunity to see how the outcome of our hard work impacted the lives of those we’ve helped. When standing alongside the homeowner of a house you just spent a week transforming, you looked at all the work you’ve accomplished, and you felt pride in yourself knowing that it was done in just a few days. As if that simple pride wasn’t enough, you ...accompanied by hope, love, joy and then glanced over to see tears in the homeowner’s eyes and the pride you were just every other feeling of goodness there was... feeling was amplified and accompanied by For five days in the summer of 2009, high hope, love, joy and every other feeling of goodness there school students and leaders from FPC was, knowing that your work was more than appreciated. Bethlehem went on a Vision Quest, a mission I looked forward to the trip from the moment of signing for Jesus’ vision for the poor and needy. up. I knew that, alongside close friends, I was dedicating a week of my summer to simply giving all that I could offer to someone in need. The reward was in itself. 36 MISSION FIELD JOURNAL

High School Mission Trip Participants & Leaders Giuliana Angione Amelia Batcha Sarah Bilheimer Cole Clark David Corvino Sam Dienel Moira Dolan Terry Dolan Robert Edwards Julie Ellis Steve Fessler Amy Fraley

Jordan Friend Mike Glines Andrew Graffis Karlen Heiland Sally Henien Sylvia Henien Rebecca Jarrell Mark Kennedy Rachel Ledyard Brendan McIntyre Marielle McIntyre Megan Medellin Paul Ney Chris Peters Beth Petrow Marj Pfeiffer Emily Prowant Chris Rood Danielle Roth Cody Sandahl Linda Scott Rachel Smedley Emily Smith Michael Sutherland Rachel Sutherland Greg Tonkay Katie Toole Erin Wescoe Kyle Willans Emily Young

middlers on a

Middle School Mission Trip to Washington , D.C. area, July 11–July 15

vision quest MISSION PROFILE


It was a powerful experience for those who made the journey. We lived in community by working, playing, learning and praying together. By Jodi Wycherley coordinator for youth discipleship

Last summer the middle school youth went on a Vision Quest like no other! We stepped out of our comfortable lives in the Lehigh Valley to serve others in the Washington, D.C. area. We set out to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. And we ended up learning about community by playing together and caring for one another. We worked at several places around Fairfax, Virginia, including two family shelters, a thrift store and a food pantry. Some of our tasks included cleaning and landscaping a playground at a shelter, sorting and pricing items at a thrift store, cleaning rooms in a shelter, landscape work (clearing a lot of overgrowth!) outside a food pantry and counting and restocking food. Everyone discovered that hard work can be a lot of fun when you work side-by-side and help each other. We felt a great sense of accomplishment. Along with the work and devotional time, we had some time to relax. We toured Washington, D.C., and we enjoyed two special evenings of fellowship. Former FPC Associate Pastor Elizabeth Brookens-Sturman invited us to her church for an evening of fellowship with their youth group. And Jacqueline and Jon Couch opened their home (and pool!) to us for an evening cookout complete with s’mores over a campfire. What wonderful hospitality we experienced from former members and staff of our congregation! Special blessings to all the leaders who served in so many ways! Thank you to all who prayed for us and supported us financially through the stock sale.

Middle School Mission Trip Participants & Leaders Rachel Altemose Andrew Atkins Brooke Bailey Emily Barbella Emily Cecchini Paula Escott Emma Funfgeld Derek Graffis Maggie Harrington Alyssa Higham Dana Higham Gabe Hoch Noah Huron Danny Knerr Carolyn Koontz Bill Krauss Eric Leiss

Joshua Liddick Gordon Mack Bill Marsh Ryan McGuire Richard McKenna Emma Rawlings Michael Samuelson Marc Schaffer Linda Scott Stephanie Stein Michelle Trempel Kelsi Ward Ali Wycherley Jodi Wycherley


Alyssa Higham

The middle school mission trip was a great experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to serve a community in Virginia and build friendships with people from my church. We served at three places: a thrift store, a shelter/food bank and a playground at a women’s shelter. It was really great to see what we had accomplished. One thing I liked hearing was the praise and thanks of the people who were in charge of the organizations we helped. I could tell they really appreciated what we had done. But the mission trip wasn’t just about the service. It was also about the relationships that were made. Everyone grew a little closer, and I felt like I was part of a larger family. P a u l a E s c o tt

During last summer’s week-long middle school youth mission trip to Washington, D.C., we worked at several different sites. One of the highlights was seeing everyone bring their friends and make new friends. On the first day my group worked on the playground at the Family Shelter House. We designed the project, went shopping at Home Depot for materials and then worked an extremely long day. It was amazing how much we transformed that playground by weeding, planting new flowers and plants and laying mulch. The best part was when some of the kids came out to play as we were ready to leave. Emily and I worked most of the day on a little playhouse. Seeing the children go through it and try it out was so rewarding. I learned there are people who have very little. When we worked in the thrift shop, I saw people who came in and paid for their items with quarters and dimes they pulled out of a change purse. This definitely made an impact on me. I learned not to take things for granted. I loved being able to go on the trip. We had a great opportunity to learn, serve others and hang out together. It was a wonderful experience. Josh Liddick

This summer’s middle school mission trip was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I never did mission outside of Bethlehem before, and I was looking forward to developing some new relationships, especially with my work team. Our team worked at a food pantry, a family shelter playground and a thrift store. We all felt like we accomplished something. It was a great feeling because I put forth my full potential and gave back to a community.



brainerd weekend a family opportunity to serve August 14–16, 2009


2009 Brainerd Mission TEAM

By Joan Spangler

Participants John Bell Bruce Bowen Erica abd Doug Cappellini Hanna Cappellini A.J. Cappellini Owen Cappellini Anthony Cappellini Leadership Team Lauri and Ben Coleman Rebecca and Dave Seth Coleman Escott Sharon Coleman Paula Escott Lois and Eric Deluhery Elizabeth Escott Eric Deluhery Dawson Escott Victoria Deluhery Joan and Don Spangler Michael Deluhery Jodi and Ken Wycherley John Dudding Alison Wycherley Shawn Rice Ryan Wycherley Aaron Fraley Dudding Colin Wycherley Trish and Rick Fritz Nikki and Tommy Herstich Diane and Scott Kulp Anjelika Kulp Annaleecia Kulp Ezekiel Kulp Amy Levy Nathan Levy Kim and John Lewis Grace Lewis Claire Lewis Sandy Long Linda and Tim Strayer Debbie and Dave Trempel Daniel Trempel Michelle Trempel Bethany Trempel Stephen Trempel Tom Vogel

The Brainerd Short-Term Mission is a weekend-long intergenerational mission experience that comes around every year in August. Our team serves all of the children, youth and adults who use Camp Brainerd throughout the year by helping to maintain and beautify the camp through special projects or routine upkeep. But the weekend also focuses on Christ-centered community and building relationships. And there is plenty of time for fun, worship, fellowship, boating, swimming, creek-walking, games, a cookout, devotions, singing, a campfire and making new friends. I love the intergenerational aspect of the mission. While the parents, teens and adults are working on projects, the pre-schoolers are participating in a program designed for their age, and the first through fifth graders are learning about mission and serving others in their program. After fifth grade, the pre-teens and teens help their parents with the work—a very positive experience. In addition to families, the team includes singles and couples of all ages. It is a blessing getting to know people I might not otherwise meet in such a large church. One very significant thing to me about this mission is realizing I am part of a team that functions together as the Body of Christ. Each It is hard to express the incredible joy person is important and has a contribution that he or she can give to the group. ...when we serve and gather We all leave the convenience and comfort of for God’s purpose! home to live together, to work and serve together and to have fun together in Christ-centered LAURI c o LEMAN community. It is hard to express the incredible joy and I became a Christian at Camp Brainerd in the early ’90s when blessing of such fellowship with fellow Christians when we I was a camp counselor there, and it meant a lot when we serve and gather for God’s purpose! This connectedness took our whole family to a place that had always been so with Christ and each other is one thing we share with all special to me. My six-year-old son’s experience was so posiother mission teams. tive that he made me promise we’d come back next year— Saturday night is a special time of fun and fellowship before he was willing to get in the car to go home! around the campfire. There is a flurry of activity before Participating in this short-term mission trip has also dark as we roast marshmallows and assemble an unending helped me to connect with other members of the church. supply of s’mores. We join in traditional and new campfire Greeting another Brainerd weekender by name as we pass songs as the stars come out and the flashlights go on. The each other in the halls is one way of making our very large campfire closes in the dark as we sing “I Will Trust in You.” congregation feel very warm, personal and friendly. WorkSome of us then end the day with a night swim in the pool! ing, worshipping and fellowshipping together at Brainerd is It is a true blessing to spend the weekend serving with a great experience to have in common! this special team of 50 from our FPC Bethlehem family. I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to be a part of this Camp Brainerd mission!


Who is Your Neighbor? Hundreds of FPC members learn it’s not just the Joneses

This was a full representation of the rich variety of ages and life-paths at our church. By Eric Fair

(Top) Glen Adelsberger spreading mulch at a playground behind Govenor Wolf Elementary School in Butztown area (NE) Bethlehem. (Middle) A team helped serve breakfast at Calypso Elementary School in west Bethlehem. Later they were involved in landscape cleanup. (Bottom) Another team spent Serve Day at SPARK Center (VIA) on Linden St. in Bethlehem where they painted inside and landscaped outside.

When God tells us to love our neighbor, to whom is He referring exactly? Is it the folks next door? Is it the family across the street? What about the homeless man under the bridge? How about a poverty-stricken community in a distant country? On October 17, 2009, nearly 450 members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem set out to answer those questions. But rather than search for the answer in a book or wait to be told the answer in a sermon, members set out to meet their neighbors in person. Through an event that came to be known as “Serve Day,” church members took the opportunity to volunteer at more than 25 sites throughout the local community. They painted walls, moved furniture, pulled weeds, cleaned rooms, organized meals and spread mulch on city playgrounds. And despite a Northeaster that brought rain, sleet and even some snow to the area, many members worked outside for the better part of the day. Sites varied from elementary schools to family shelters. Members worked in groups as small as five and as large as 50. Four generations of church families were represented. There were husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-grandparents. This was not a case of a large church sending out a small group to serve on a short-term mission. This was a full representation of the rich variety of ages and life-paths at our church. The success of the day, however, was not to be measured by the number of walls that were painted or the amount of mulch that was spread. Neither could it be defined by the number of people who had witnessed these acts or had been helped by the work. For much of what went on during Serve Day took place beyond the sight of the larger community. What mattered most on Serve Day was that so many members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem had seized upon the opportunity to model the love of Jesus Christ. What mattered most was that so many members of our church were reminded of the peace with which God fills our hearts and lives when we accept His invitation to serve others. We all know that no single mission trip or day of service can cure all of the world’s ills. And one isolated Saturday afternoon is not all that God asks of us. But for many of us, our first Serve Day was an enormous step toward a blessed and enriching relationship with new “neighbors.”


serve day sites New Bethany Ministries Victory House Valley Youth House (Orefield) Valley Youth House (Bethlehem) CACLV Sixth Street Shelter (Allentown) Westminster Village Kirkland Village Yosko Park Ullmann Park Northdale Park FPC Playground


Habitat for Humanity YMCA (Fountain Hill) Meals on Wheels Salvation Army KidsPeace (Allentown) Northeast Ministries Calypso Elementary School SPARK Preschool Donegan Elementary School Family Answers (Allentown) CADA (Allentown)

FPC Bethlehem Serve Day 2009 Gathering

by jack brace

“The Academy Award for Best Picture goes to…” This familiar and long-anticipated phrase is, for many a filmbuff, the highlight of our year. In fact, such people can tell you which films won this Oscar for many years running. But can any of us name the film that won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing this past year or any year for that matter? We most likely cannot. This is because the postproduction or “third making” of a film is by far the most elusive, and the image of pale, exhausted men and women obsessively poring over footage in a dark room for weeks on end is fairly close to the mark. It is what one Oscar-nominated editor calls “mysterious work” and what many in the film industry refer to as the “invisible art.” FPC Bethlehem’s 2009 short-term missions would likewise never have materialized were it not for the mysterious “invisible art” of parents, prayer supporters, donors, “hometeams,” planning teams, administrative assistants and more. Their collective work in “dark rooms” obsessively poring over “footage” for weeks on end, were integral to our missions. In every case, whether people traveled to Malawi or across the parking lot to Kirkland Village, there was a tremendous amount of “editing” that had to be done in order for these endeavors to become reality.

You might find it interesting that over the last 15 years two-thirds of the films that have won the Oscar for Best Film Editing have also been Best Picture nominees, and many of those films have taken home the heralded Oscar for Best Picture. In the same way, there is a direct correlation between the success of our short-term missions and the quality and passion put in behind-the-scenes. As I look back on 2009, such quality and such passion was uniformly evident behind-the-scenes. And so, I think it is fitting that here on the back page of this mission magazine the “film-editors” are thanked. Because of their selfless support and countless hours of “dark-room” work, 2009 has been a tremendous year for short-term mission at First Pres. The Apostle Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership (or active collaboration) in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil. 1:3–5) Thanks be to God for the active collaboration of everyone who made our 2009 short-term missions possible. “The Academy Award for Best Film Editing goes to…” rev. jack brace is FPC Bethlehem’s pAstor for mission and outreach


a call I hear is that Christians want to grow spiritually but not have the church building be their only laboratory. alf halvorson

fpc bethlehem 2344 Center Street Bethlehem, PA 18017 tel: 610.867.5865

FPC 2009 Mission Field Journal  

A filed journal of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem's 2009 short-term mission trips

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