So much has happened since this team came together in October. We’ve been through a training weekend, team retreat, and we’re now a short six weeks away from our departure. Here’s what has gone down:
On November 4th, we left Biola to trek a good quarter mile down Imperial Highway to a small church that would serve as training grounds for the next 30 hours. We were sure to be reminded that everything the Student Missionary Union (SMU) staff did that weekend was very intentional.
They had to remind us a few times.
Walking into the church building, we (each Biola team going out in January) were met by “customs officers” who asked us where we were going and why. Some people were detained for mentioning Jesus. After they searched our bags and we were stuck in a room for 15 minutes, we reemerged to find that we had flown to our respective countries, and some team members had lost their luggage—sleeping bags and tooth brush included. We made do sharing our stuff.
Through several different exercises, be it feeding each other meals, serving some housing projects in LA, being woken up before sunrise to the sound of Korean chanting, or eating rice with raisins and Tabasco sauce by hand, we were taught that our experiences abroad aren’t meant to be comfortable. In fact, our experiences shouldn’t have much to do with us at all. It’s hard not to have expectations—good or bad—but a huge part of that weekend was learning that we’re going because we believe God is sending us. That needs to be enough, and whatever He does with that is going to be more than satisfactory.
That’s tough to say when there’s a $3,000 price tag, but in it there’s freedom.
Our team retreat was the following weekend. We started off by going to Skid Row in Los Angeles and going on a prayer walk. That to say we literally split up into groups, walked around the neighborhood and prayed for people. I ran into a very humble man named “Double R” who attributed his homelessness to his drug addiction. Praying for him probably meant more to me than it did him. I’m not on Skid Row because I was born into a good family, and I can’t really say that I really put a lot of effort into making that happen. I’m just blessed, our whole team is very blessed.
It’s good to be reminded that we’re not so amazing on our own.*
The rest of the retreat we just kicked back and spent some quality time together. We had a lot of laughs realizing how diverse the personalities that make up our team are. We’ve got sassy, maternal, artsy, and some kind of crazy all jumbled into a beautiful group of people. I couldn’t be more excited to see what becomes of the next two and a half months.
We do have a long way to go before we arrive, however. We are still all raising funds, and have been blown away by God’s provision through family and friends. This week we start selling our dank-top tank tops (he didn’t really just say that). I think Biola just found its latest trendy fashion item.
If you would like to pray specifically for the team, here’s the lineup (profiles to come):
- Weston Hancock (Leader)
- Jenna Ewald (Leader)
- Amy Parks
- Christine Choy
- Chloe Turner
- Heather Douglass
- Caitlin Helms
- Derek Gutierrez
- Peter Swanson
- Cody Nord
- Ryan Freudenburg
Please pray that the funds will continue to be provided, and that we will take advantage of opportunities we get to raise/make money for the trip. Pray for Youth For Christ, the organization that we will be working with while in Swaziland. They have a volunteer based staff, whom we will be training for a part of the time that we are there. Pray that we can prepare well for the trip without slacking on the daunting challenge of final projects and exams. Above all, please pray that God will continue to speak to us, and that He will be glorified through this whole experience.
Peter and the Team
*although, our moms might beg to differ.