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A Publication of Maranatha Volunteers International
Building in Bolivia
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
A YEAR OF MISSIONS P8
Kiutine, Kenya In June, 27 volunteers headed to northeast Kenya to work at the Kiutine Seventh-day Adventist School. Participants were part of a larger project to build new classrooms, offices, dormitories, bathrooms, a kitchen and dining hall, and a water well for the secondary school campus. The existing school is primitive; there is no running water, the showers are open to the elements, and dormitories have dirt floors. This team was the first of many volunteer groups who have served at the Kiutine campus. Volunteers will continue to work at Kiutine in 2019. Photos by Loretta Spivey
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
An Investment Worth Making
id you know that more than one-third
of all Maranatha volunteers would be considered youth or very young adults? Youth is such a great time—filled with energy, opportunity, dreams, growth, and openness to new ideas and thoughts. A Maranatha mission trip is a perfect experience for shaping and impacting young lives, and that is why the Maranatha Board of Directors has been very intentional about providing these life-changing projects for young people. We believe the investment is absolutely worthwhile. Take, for example, the Ultimate Workout, which just completed its 28th project. This unique mission event focuses on teenagers, ages 14 to 18, and attracts 100 to 150 young people. This could be an intimidating undertaking for leadership, but most of the leaders are young people who recently experienced the project as participants.
This year’s Ultimate Workout, which took place in Bolivia, is a good example of the life-changing impact of these trips. What a great opportunity for these teens to be exposed to a totally different culture, to see how God is working around the world, to see that everyone doesn’t live like they do, and to meet other teens who want a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ. This year, 18 of the Ultimate Workout participants chose to be baptized as part of their mission trip experience. The life‑changing perspectives that were formed cannot be calculated. And, of course, social media allows these kids to stay in contact after they get home. You can read all about this Ultimate Workout trip starting on page 4. The Ultimate Workout for 2019 has already been set for next July in Kenya! Yes, for the first time, we are taking the big plunge and scheduling an Ultimate Workout in Africa. What a tremendous opportunity! If a teenager asks you for help to make the trip possible, I hope that you will support them as much as you possibly can. You won’t be disappointed. Many academy and church groups also participate on projects that are largely made up of young people. Sometimes parents and other relatives contact our office with positive reports about the “wonderful changes” they have noticed in the lives of young people who have experienced a mission trip. We love to hear these good reports, because we know that young people have energy, and they will do something with that energy. If they are provided positive options, like a mission trip, who knows what they can accomplish and become in the future? Changed lives is really the most important reason Maranatha exists. We continue to believe that investments in the lives of young people are totally worth it. We hope you agree!
Don Noble, president
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THE VOLUNTEER FALL 2018 | 3
ULTIMATE WORKOUT Goes to Bolivia By Dustin Comm Photos by Lisandro Staut
lt i m at e w o r ko u t, m a r a n at h a v o l u n t e e r s International’s annual mission trip for high school teenagers, recently finished its 28th generation in Bolivia. A total of 167 teens and adults served at four locations in the Entre Ríos area from July 18-30. Every day, volunteer teams spread out to four different sites, each almost an hour away.
In Entre Ríos, volunteers laid block and excavated for new buildings at the Entre Ríos Adventist School. They also conducted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) children’s program at the Belen Seventh-day Adventist Church. At the Río Blanco Adventist Church, volunteers painted, constructed a property retaining wall, facilitated VBS for local children, and participated in community outreach.
In Manco Copak, volunteers led VBS and conducted community outreach. Throughout the trip, the medical team rotated through each site, providing health screenings, dental care, and reading glasses to more than 550 patients. The core of Ultimate Workout has always been to provide a place for teens to pursue a deeper connection to God. This is provided by offering teens two weeks of hard work,
service opportunities, humble living conditions, and daily worship—all in a foreign setting. Such a dramatically different environment can jar a person’s perspective on the world and their own life, and ignite a period of self-examination and spiritual transformation. Guiding them through this reflection is a team of adults, which includes people who have graduated from being teens on the Ultimate Workout. For the past several years, Brandon Westgate has been tasked with the spiritual leadership of almost 100 teenagers as the project’s spiritual coordinator. For two weeks, he leaves his post as the pastor of two churches in Arkansas and heads into a mission field with hundreds of teens. His life on Ultimate Workout isn’t easy—this project has a reputation for roughing it. But Westgate takes it all in stride. “Leading a trip with that many teens is energizing for me,” says Westgate. “I can see the talents and passion they possess, and it is fun for me to help them discover how to channel that.” Dina Ramirez is another Ultimate Workout veteran staff. She started with Maranatha on the Family Project with her son, Seth. When Seth became a 6 | TH E VOLUNTE E R FA LL 20 1 8
“Being away from home, being in a new environment, you’re making your own decisions. Instead of being influenced by others, you’re deciding things for yourself. ” teenager, he signed up for Ultimate Workout, and Dina was asked to serve on the project. On her first trip, fellow leaders noticed her strong rapport with young people, and they asked her to return the following year. Now, Dina has become a regular on the team, and she loves watching and helping volunteers evolve in their faith while on a mission trip. “I want to see them grow spiritually and be a mentor,” says Ramirez, who has now served on three Ultimate Workouts. “I saw them grow spiritually through the course of the trip when they would read their Bibles, even when it wasn’t worship time.”
The impact of the program’s spiritual component was evident on the final Thursday evening of the trip. After finishing his worship talk, Westgate made an altar call for baptism. “Teens started going forward,” says Rebekah Shephard, international volunteer manager for Maranatha and the lead organizer for Ultimate Workout. “We were done with worship at that point. But we didn’t stop. Our music leader continued to play music and for another 45 minutes we just sang as people came forward, supported the ones who had made their decisions, or sat with each other singing. I stood in the back thinking to myself, ‘This is why I do Ultimate Workout. We were successful–people met Jesus.’” In all, 18 youth were baptized, and it was clear teens were taking ownership of their faith. “People were recognizing this was their belief and not anyone else’s,” explains teen Elyssa Proulx, a threetime Ultimate Workout veteran. “Being away from home, being in a new environment, you’re making your own decisions. Instead of being influenced by others, you’re deciding things for yourself.” As the volunteers left Bolivia, they found they had not only impacted w w w.maranatha.org
TEENS IN ACTION
1 A total of 98 teenagers and 69 adult staff joined to build new classrooms at the Entre Ríos Adventist School. 2 Isaac Kim helps a man find the right pair of reading glasses. He was one of more than 550 patients seen by the Ultimate Workout medical team. 3 Laura Peterson, a pediatrician, teaches Morgan Weimer, a volunteer, how to take the pulse of a young patient at one of the medical clinics. Laura was one of the adult volunteers on the trip. 4 Kimberly Flores is all smiles while carrying a heavy load on the construction site. 5 L-R: Merissa Erb, Selena Flores, and Nathan Weaver sit with a new friend at church. 6 Volunteers work together to get around a tricky part of the wall. 7 Pastor Brandon Westgate baptizes Joshua Hampton. A total of 18 youth were baptized during the project.
those they served but were changed themselves. “This year I saw how God orchestrates the best things for us even before we know we need them,” says Shephard. “Even though this trip is all about the teens, it continues to impact me each and every year.” “I would highly recommend teens go on an Ultimate Workout mission trip, because it’s an experience like none other,” says Ramirez. “They grow closer to God, experience the joy of serving others, and have bonding experiences that create life-long friendships.” •
Ultimate Workout is an annual mission trip designed for high school teenagers. More than 3,800 volunteers have participated since 1990. Each project allows teenagers to experience construction service, community outreach, and spiritual engagement.
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A Year of Missions
How one woman completed a full year of short-term missions By Dustin Comm
hen mary johnson took her
seat at Maranatha’s annual convention in 2016, she was burnt out and ready for change. A 14-year veteran Spanish teacher at Heritage High School in Brentwood, California, Johnson was yearning to serve in a deeper way. For several years, she had been contemplating how she could throw herself into missions more fully. She had already decided to take a semester off the following school year. But upon hearing a story at Maranatha’s convention of a Kenyan woman who donated her land so that Maranatha could build a church, she realized she could sacrifice more. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a sacrifice! She’s giving up so much. What am I really giving up?” admitted Johnson. As a homeowner with a steady job, Johnson lived a comfortable life. What if she were to take an entire year off for service, instead of just a semester? What would it mean to serve on mission trips for a full year? How would she pay for everything? Would she keep her condo? Where would she stay between trips? Johnson wasn’t a stranger to missions. She first volunteered on a Maranatha project in Mexico in 1996 as a student at Pacific Union College and served on many more since that time. But a full year of trips was uncharted territory. She drew on inspiration from fellow volunteers she served with on trips in the past. “I met all these cool retired people doing missions almost full-time,” says
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WORLD TRAVELER: Mary with new friends in India, one of her many stops in a year of missions. Mary took an unpaid sabbatical from her job to make a long‑term commitment to short-term missions.
Johnson. “I thought it was so cool what they were doing, but I didn’t want to wait 20 years.” She initially asked for paid sabbatical from her school, which was denied. A leave of absence was later approved; however, it would be unpaid. She had some savings, but it wouldn’t last for a year, which posed logistical dilemmas. Despite an uncertain future, Johnson placed her trust in God. “God calls us because we are willing, not because we have it all together,” she says. She began fundraising, took extra after-school teaching jobs, started the process of selling her condo, and saved as much as she could. “I didn’t buy new clothes, eat out, or get my hair done professionally.” With a frugal approach and support
from her family for housing, Johnson began her yearlong journey in Guyana in June 2017. Over the next several months, she served in places like Cuba, India, and Kenya. Amidst the excitement of missions, exploring foreign lands, and connecting with amazing people, there were undoubtedly difficult times. Johnson’s lowest moment came during her trip to India in February. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Back at home, two fellow church members had died. She developed an eye infection and sustained a leg injury. The bank lost her home sale paperwork. She experienced depression, and she was exhausted from traveling directly to India from her last project in Kenya. Johnson questioned whether she should continue the journey. She
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thought about cancelling the next trip to recover. She survived the trip in India and experienced God’s divine timing when she came home. On February 27, 2018, just a day after returning from India, 3ABN, a Seventh-day Adventist television network, aired an interview she had done back in October 2017. For some time, she had been wondering when the show would air. She figured there must have been a delay in the broadcast schedule. The interview was about volunteering with Maranatha, and in a surreal moment where time seemed to bend, Johnson watched herself talk passionately about missions and the way God was using her in the mission field. “Here I am, completely on fire for missions on the TV, but discouraged in the current moment,” admitted Johnson. “I had to make a change.” As she watched her past-self speak to her, Johnson sensed a renewed energy welling up inside. She re-committed herself, seeing the larger picture of what a year of missions was doing to draw her closer to God. “God is still the same,” Johnson says. “The same in October, the same in February. What I thought was a delay was God’s perfect timing.” With deeper purpose than ever, Johnson completed the second half of her yearlong journey, finishing a total of 18 projects over 13 months of service in nine countries including Guyana, Cuba, the United States, India, Kenya, and Panama. She completed her year of service in Bolivia as an adult staff member on Maranatha’s annual mission trip for teenagers, Ultimate Workout. On Monday, July 30, 2018, Johnson returned home to Antioch, and the next morning, she reported back to her old job teaching at Heritage High School. Would she do it again? “In a heartbeat,” Johnson quickly answers. “It was so life-changing. I realized true contentment is found in service to others.” w w w.maranatha.org
“It was so lifechanging. I realized true contentment is found in service to others. ” “I also learned to be a better steward,” explains Johnson. “Before, I would spend my money on things I really didn’t need. However, leaving my good-paying job and having to pay for mission trips was difficult. It taught me what are truly necessities and what are things I only think I can’t live without. I don’t believe I would have ever learned this lesson if I would not have taken my year off to devote to mission work.” Johnson encourages everyone to get
involved in short-term missions. From her perspective, it allows one to be part of the larger picture of what God is doing in the world. “The Gospel is waiting to be preached,” says Johnson. “What are you doing today to spread the message? I think of how much sooner we can get home, how much sooner can we finish the work. Whatever I can do to make that happen, I will do.” Johnson, for one, is doing her part. In missions, she finds purpose, fulfillment, and family. She experiences a God that is unwavering no matter her situation. She realizes she was born for this. For Johnson, missions are home. •
SAMBURU SABBATH: Mary poses with Justina, one of the Adventist leaders at the village of Lolparuai in Kenya.
DIGGING MISSIONS: Mary shovels dirt to make a smooth path for volunteers carrying panels to build the E.D. Thomas Memorial Adventist School in southern India.
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Churches Building Churches How one congregation is putting others first By Julie Z. Lee
Adventist Church called on Maranatha to build One-Day Churches and School classrooms to be used as shelters and churches. The pastor called on his congregation to help Haiti in any way possible. “At the time, the church had a building fund project, and the members voted to designate 9 percent of all donations received for the building fund to go to Maranatha for churches in Haiti,” says Allen. A few months later, Allen moved to Texas and joined the Conroe Church. The fundraising program was still going strong, and she, too, became a donor. Today, eight years later, even though the Haiti efforts were long completed, the Conroe church is still giving 9 percent of their building fund donations to Maranatha. They have sponsored 30
t was a sabbath morning in 2010, and Gloria Allen happened to be at the Conroe Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Texas, visiting relatives. On that particular Sabbath, the pastor got up and called a business meeting. “He said, ‘I don’t usually call a business meeting during the Sabbath hour, but our churches in Haiti are so damaged that we need to help them recover,” remembers Allen. The damage the pastor was referring to was from a catastrophic earthquake. On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 250,000 people and displacing 1.5 million more. In the Adventist community, more than 100 churches were destroyed. While disaster relief agencies were called in to provide supplies and medical assistance, the
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CHURCH SCHOOL: (Upper) The Adventist Christian Academy of Texas is also where the Conroe Adventist congregation meets for church each week. (Lower) Gloria Allen is a supporter of Maranatha’s mission.
One-Day Church shares for Maranatha. Every time they sponsor another church, they read the letter from Maranatha to the entire congregation, showing photos of the building along with any additional information. They’ve also put up 30 paper silhouettes of churches, representing each sponsorship, on the walls of their worship space, to remind people of how they’ve helped and to encourage them to give. The ironic part of the story is that Conroe does not have a church of its own. “We meet in a gym,” says Allen. The Conroe congregation used to have a church, but when they outgrew it, they sold the building to another church group. They bought land in hopes of building a new church but decided they would rather build an Adventist school w w w.maranatha.org
GYM CLASS: The Conroe congregation gather for Sabbath School in this gymnasium. About 200 people meet here each week for worship because they don’t have a church building.
“If we are looking at our own needs, we can get very selfish. We lose the sense of the worldwide mission of the Adventist Church. ” first. Today, the Adventist Christian Academy of Texas is a K-12 school, supported by the Conroe Church. On Sabbath, 200 people gather in the gym on campus. They’re hoping it won’t always be this way. The dream to build an actual sanctuary is still alive, but people are continuing to give a percentage of their building fund donation to Maranatha. Conroe may not yet have a church, but Allen believes that giving to missions is important. “I think we have to reach beyond our own borders. If we are looking at our own needs, we can get very selfish,” says Allen, who is a retired educator. “We lose the sense of the worldwide mission of the Adventist Church—the Gospel Commission that Jesus gave us. It’s important to help others.” w w w.maranatha.org
Allen is so dedicated to this idea that she has taken a new step in prioritizing missions in her own life. Recently, she looked up the Maranatha Volunteers International Foundation, which assists people with their planned giving needs, to talk about her estate. After a discussion with Maranatha’s planned giving specialist, Allen decided to put some of her assets into a Charitable Gift Annuity. This means she gets a partial tax deduction for her donation to Maranatha plus a fixed payout for the rest of her life, a portion of which is taxfree income. “The interesting part about that is there is nowhere else to put your money where it can make money for you. You can’t put it under the mattress and grow anything. Anywhere you put it, you’re likely to lose it eventually or it will be used up in some other way,” says Allen. “I figured if I have a Charitable Gift Annuity, then I can get some return while I’m alive. And when I’m gone, it will continue to bless the world in the way that Jesus wanted us to.” “I believe in what Maranatha does,” she says. “I’m to the stage where I’m going to die and leave resources, and I don’t have any children. So I’d rather benefit the world’s children, and I don’t know any better way than to plant churches worldwide.” •
Maranatha YOUR IRA CHARITABLE ROLLOVER CAN SAVE YOU TAXES AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR MISSIONS.
If you are 70 ½ or older, learn how your Required Minimum Distribution can make a big difference for the mission of Maranatha. Talk to our experts and learn more. Call Don Lloyd, Maranatha Volunteers International Foundation, at (916) 774-7700.
Entre Rios, Bolivia In July, 54 volunteers with the West Houston Seventh-day Adventist Church Youth Team, from Texas, worked in Bolivia to help build the Entre Rios Adventist School. While there, volunteers also coordinated childrenâ€™s ministry programs and a medical clinic. The West Houston Church has been going on Maranatha mission trips for 15 years. In recent years, the church has been sending two teams annually. Next year, that number will jump to three groups per year! Photos by Michaela Schirra
2018 Mission: Maranatha! Maranatha’s annual convention, Mission: Maranatha!, provided an inspiring weekend of missions emphasis in Sacramento, California, on September 21-22, 2018. Attendees heard stories of faith from Maranatha volunteers and staff, as well as Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership from around the world. Wintley Phipps blessed each program with musical performances, and more than 70 children participated in a kids program on Sabbath morning. If you didn’t make it to Mission: Maranatha! this year, you can watch each session or order free DVDs at maranatha.org/convention or call the office at (916) 774-7700. You can also watch the entire event on the Maranatha Channel on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, YouTube, and on our website.
Maranatha will be having a smaller version of this event, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on March 30, 2019. The program will feature Wintley Phipps and a selection of volunteers and Adventist Church leaders from around the world. Look for more information in the Events section of our website or call the office.
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Maranatha Commits to Côte d’Ivoire
In 2019, Maranatha Volunteers International will begin working in Côte d’Ivoire (formerly Ivory Coast) to provide churches and schools in the country. The commitment is in response to a request from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Central Africa. “The church in Côte d’Ivoire is relatively small with 15,000 members. But they have the potential to grow, and what can help are churches and schools,” says Don Noble, president of Maranatha. “Most congregations don’t have a good building, and if the Adventist Church in Côte d’Ivoire wants to accomplish their mission, they need to have more schools.” To start, Maranatha will focus on projects in Abidjan, the country’s largest city and headquarters for the Adventist Church in West Central Africa. The first project will be to build a secondary school in the city, along with a few churches. There are 22 countries in the West Central Africa region of the Adventist Church, and 12 of them are among the poorest countries in the
world. The region needs support, and Maranatha was in discussions to increase projects in the area nearly a decade ago. After completing a multi-year effort in Ghana, where volunteers helped to build churches and a primary and secondary school at Valley View University, Maranatha intended to explore efforts in other West Central African countries when the ebola epidemic occurred. Today, there is no known threat of ebola, and Côte d’Ivoire is a peaceful country. In February 2019, a Maranatha leadership team will arrive in the country to prepare for construction and volunteer projects.
World Church Team Helps Dominica In June, a group of 12 volunteers from the Secretariat Department of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church worked in Dominica to help build the Beryl Adventist Church. The structure was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, a category 5 storm which ravaged the island in 2017. The small team laid block walls, held children’s programs and evangelistic meetings, and also distributed school and church supplies. For a group that recruits and places missionaries around the world, it was only natural the Secretariat Department would get into the mission field themselves. John Thomas, director of one of the department ministries, Adventist Volunteer Service, says it was a call employees felt strongly. “Our staff told us, ‘We are always sending missionaries but never get to experience foreign missions ourselves.’” “Working with Maranatha on this trip was a real blessing,” says Thomas. “All the [Maranatha] personnel were great to work with and did all they could to make things go smoothly. Our department has the highest regard for [Maranatha’s] work and how you do it!”
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VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES You can serve on a mission trip with Maranatha! From construction to cooking to outreach, there are many ways to help, and no experience is necessary. Simply look through the opportunities listed below. Dates can change; check maranatha.org for the most current information. For more information, email us at email@example.com or call (916) 774-7700. INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS
KABWE, ZAMBIA Leadership: George Carpenter, Jon Harvey November 14 - 28, 2018
Family Project Bolivia
COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA Leadership: Claudio and Elizabeth Japas December 20 - 30, 2018
Family Project India
KHUNTI, INDIA Leadership: Karen Godfrey, Danny Poljak Dec. 21, 2018 - Jan. 3, 2019
FRANCO DA ROCHA, BRAZIL Leadership: David and Judy Shull January 24 - February 3, 2019
KIUTINE, KENYA Leadership: Loretta Spivey, Jessica Perez June 12 - 27, 2019
Family Project Zambia KABWE, ZAMBIA Leadership: Steve Case, Danny Poljak June 20 - 30, 2019
WESLEY, DOMINICA Leadership: Vickie and Bernie Wiedmann February 20 - March 3, 2019
KAJIADO, KENYA Leadership: Karen Godfrey, Peter Thomas February 27 - March 13, 2019
KHUNTI, INDIA Leadership: Loretta Spivey, Lorin Rubbert February 28 - March 10, 2019
Multiple Group Project
GUAYABO, COSTA RICA Leadership: Steve Case, Luther Findley, Doug Withrow March 21 - 31, 2019 14 | TH E VOLUNTE E R FA LL 20 1 8
If you are interested in taking a team on a mission trip, let Maranatha guide you through the process! We’ll help you set a budget, find a site and accommodations, organize your team, and provide in-country support from our staff. For groups ranging from 10 - 110, call for a consult, and we’ll help every step of the way. For more information, call (916) 774-7700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Adult Project 2019
SAN ANTONIO DE LOS BAÑOS, CUBA Leadership: Angela Boothby, David Lopez June 27 - July 7, 2019
Ultimate Workout 29
KIUTINE, KENYA Leadership: Rebekah Shephard, Dan Klein July 10 - 22, 2019
KABWE, ZAMBIA Leadership: Merrill Zachary, George Alder January 30 - February 13, 2019
Create a Project!
NORTH AMERICA PROJECTS
Camp Kulaqua Project
FLORIDA Leadership: David and Susan Woods Jan. 27 - Feb 12, 2019
Camp Yavapines Project
ARIZONA Leadership: Carolyn Houghton, Art Finch April 21 - May 1, 2019
Camp MiVoden Project
IDAHO Leadership: Melody Wheeler, Jerry Wesslen May 5 - 16, 2019
Thanks for Serving! The following Group Project Teams are serving during the months of October/November/December:
BOLIVIA Pend Oreille/Fox Valley Team Washington/Wisconsin
INDIA Eastgate Adventist Church Team Washington
PANAMA Tranquility Adventist Church Team New Jersey
Federal Way Spanish Church Project WASHINGTON Leadership: Leroy Kelm May 6 - 28, 2019
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ON THE COVER: Teens with Ultimate Workout 28, in Bolivia, pose for a photo inside the classroom they helped to build. Photo by Lisandro Staut.
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