We know that Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week. Palm Sunday also initiates our intentional observance and is a reminder of the sacrificial work of Christ. Last Sunday morning our children’s ministry, Promiseland, too celebrated this important day. Not only did Pastor Jayne share a Palm Sunday message with our children, but the kids learned of many key components of Holy Week. The kids experienced a skit about the Last Supper, heard lessons about Holy Week and even took communion together. This really is a great example of our church family being Gracious Hosts – as we build community and grow in faith even among the youngest here!
Over the years, we have offered ‘radical hospitality’ to the Winter Park community during the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Throughout that weekend each March, we offer cold water station in front of the sanctuary, as well as restrooms and facilities as a cool place for rest and prayer.
Some of you may not know that when this ministry first began we offered the community cold water in plastic bottles. Several years ago, we asked the question – ‘Why are we giving plastic water bottles?’ While there are types of plastic bottles that are recyclable, the bottles were often not being recycled. On the hunt for a solution, three years ago a member of the Green Team found a vendor who sold water in readily recyclable cardboard boxes. Since that discovery, we have given boxed water and encouraged people to refill their reusable water bottles at our filling station.
Though just one weekend a year, this ministry effort has had a lasting impact on our community! This really is one of the unique intergenerational opportunities at our church. It’s an opportunity for families and children to serve the local community right here at home.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41
Agua Viva Serves 2018
by Caroline Miller
Kinfolk had a successful trip to Costa Rica this year! On our first day, Bayron from Agua Viva Serves showed us around Los Chiles and we had the opportunity to meet the new class of English students studying there. For the next two days, we worked with the AVS team on a water tower that went up in San Jorge. It was truly incredible to experience that process and to work alongside such a great group of people. We also spent a lovely Sunday morning at church and had a fun day exploring La Fortuna.
We never cease to experience God’s love through the incredible fellowship and hospitality shown to us by our Agua Viva Serves family. We look forward to serving the communities of Costa Rica with this remarkable organization for many years to come!
Training With Our Panua Friends
By Evanne Mines
We have just finished several days of training with our Panua friends. On Monday we held a workshop dealing with grief and trauma and were able to offer some personal counseling, HIV training, and several activities to help the youth deal with the grief in their lives.
Tuesday was an all-day workshop for our 10 mentors and 30 youth leaders. Dr. Judy taught about healthy relationships, stress, and tools for self-care. Certificates of completion were given out at the end and were a huge hit. Wednesday was a follow-up workshop with 26 more of our Panua youth.
I have learned so much about their lives and what they struggle with. In some ways they are just like us – they hope for a loving relationship, a job where they will be successful, and a community in which to belong. Where we differ is that they have a huge gap in starting life – no family, extreme poverty and not much hope for the future. This is where Panua steps in. We “expand” their horizons – become their family, assist them in their vocation of choice and instill hope all in the name of God.
I feel blessed to have experienced this time in Naivasha and hope to come back again.
by Courtney Hitchcock
This trip is the first time I’ve ever been on a mission trip. I am still at a loss for words to describe the feeling of God’s spirit on the ground in Naivasha, Kenya. From the moment we arrived at the church, my soul was immediately lifted. We were given a very warm welcome followed by the most beautiful worship service. The children and mentors were worshipping with a zest and excitement comparable to a group of guys cheering with reckless abandon at the Super Bowl. No one was holding back an ounce of themselves and were praising God with every fiber in their bodies. The excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to praise God was overwhelming. I was immediately brought to tears.
The next two days we worked with the Panua youth and mentors to complete a course on emotional wellness, stress management and grief counseling. As you can imagine, most of these youth have been through more loss and hardships at a young age than many are faced with their whole lives. Yet, the joy and love these beautiful people are constantly radiating has God’s grace written all over it. It is amazing to see how inspired the youth are and how they are striving to live the very best lives they can to bring glory to God. Panua has given them a sweet and loving family and is nurturing their relationship with God so strongly.
Yesterday, we went to visit Francis, a Panua graduate from the first cycle. We got to see his salon business and his home where he and his wife live with their two adorable children. We then got to visit Peris’ family to offer our condolences and celebrate her memory with them. Her mother shared the sweetest stories with us and thanked us for the hope we helped instill in Peris. It was a great day of fellowship and I really enjoyed the opportunity to see some homes of Panua youth and to meet their families.
Most would think that we are the ones helping these children but I know they have taught me more than I could’ve possibly taught them. It’s really unbelievable to see that my God is the same strong God working halfway around the world in so many lives every second. I am more than appreciative of the opportunity to have attended this trip and I know my heart will be changed forever.
Broadway Bound 2018 – Celebrated 10 Years
This year, we were excited to celebrate 10 years of Broadway Bound. Broadway Bound, for those of you who don’t know, is a “regional theater” experience! Over the years, our actors have included music and vocal students from both undergraduate and master programs from UCF, Rollins and other local colleges. We’ve had guest appearances from Broadway performers, Disney and Universal stage directors, and a host of professional choreographers and vocalists. A key feature of the show every year includes the talents from the FUMCWP membership – including our Grace Ensemble, Children’s Choir and Impact Singer.
The funds raised from the shows and silent auctions over two nights go a long way toward reducing the travel costs for our young Impact Singers from grades 6-12. In addition to choral performances, these students and chaperones serve in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, orphanages, inner-city children’s centers, assisted living and senior centers, and other community outreach programs wherever they go. The Impact Singers have served over 1500 people in 19 cities/towns over the last 10 years. This year they will be returning to New York City!
Top hits from the 27 Broadway shows featured over the past 9 years were reprised at this 10-year celebration. With a theme of Back Stage on Broadway and a night at the Tony’s, the show concluded with an amazing set change and a roaring rendition of New York, New York sung by the whole cast and audience.
Broadway Bound is truly a community event with over 100 volunteers each year. This year the Elizabeth Saunders’ Impact Singers Scholarship was initiated to recognize her contributions to the show and to the mission program over the past 10 years.
Every year the smiling audience leaves saying, “best show ever” yet it still gets better every time!
A Day of Learning and Understanding
By Ivor Singer
This trip is truly amazing. Today most of the team went to Trinity United Methodist Church where we were greeted by over 120 Panua youth. They saw first hand the miracles of that Panua offers these precious youth, ranging in age from 17-22. Many of these Panua youth are orphaned and vulnerable children, heads of household with very little formal education or job skill knowledge. Our Panua program offers a chance for hope through grief and trauma counseling, spiritual growth, life skills training, and job training coordination. The youth shared stories with the team, and there were tears and laughter. It was truly a soulful day for the members of the session and a connection of relationships that God brought together to help one another.
While this was happening, Dr. Michael Read (an agronomist on the team) , Patrick Ndonga (Panua’s Business Program Manager) and I went to learn about maze seed varieties, fertilizers and options before planting on the 5 acre farm. Dr. Read’s knowledge and assistance is invaluable. Our goals were to develop a strategy that would yield the most productive amounts of maize as possible. At the Naivasha feed tore we met with an expert who explained some of the options of seeds and pesticides. There is a worm infestation where moths fly at night 300-400 meters, lay eggs and the worm invades the stalk of the corn. Through Dr. Read’s research a mix of wood ash and dried ground up chili peppers sprinkled on each stalk of corn allows for significant resistance to the worm and is a more natural pesticide.
After the farm store visit, we went to the only maze research center in Kenya that tests hybrid seeds, watering options and pesticides. Through this data, the seed manufacturers can develop best practices.
In the afternoon, a panel from our team and the Kenyan Panua board judged the group business activities presented by three members of each of Panua’s 10 youth groups. Group business activities help each youth group to bond and also provide income to help the individuals start their businesses and loan to one another. Each group had 8 minutes to present and then 2 minutes of questions and answers. Businesses were primarily farming, thought there were 3 groups producing detergent and 1 with sheep. The 1st place group received Ksh 20,000 ($200), 2nd place received Ksh 15,000 ($150) and 3rd place received Ksh 10,000 ($100). The other participants received Ksh 5,000 ($50). Funds are to be deposited directly into the group bank accounts to boost the business according to the business plan they wrote. Each presentation was filled with information on marketing, financial and activity planning and how they would spend the winnings. Several groups brought samples of their products. The judges were all impressed with the depth of knowledge and quality of presentations. This exercise taught the Panua youth key life skills of budgeting, problem solving, creative thinking and team work. It taught the judges how valuable these young people are to their communities. As they transform their lives, they also transform the lives of the people they live near.
“Panua Partners in Hope” was witnessed by all interactions today!
Sunday – An amazing Spiritual Day with God’s Creation
By Ivor Singer
Today was special! The Panua mission team experienced so many different events. You see, team members were crossing the earth to join those already in Kenya. One was flying from Orlando to Dubai to get her connection to Nairobi.
Four other team members were flying from Orlando, Dallas, and Raleigh Durham. The five already in Kenya attended Trinity Methodist Church in Naivasha. The service included praising God, singing, dancing, prayer, enthusiastic greetings, and aa sermon. The music came in the form of solos, group singers, congregational hymns, and several different age-specific group choirs and dancers. One dance group was made up of boys from ages 9 to 17 doing choreographic steps, kicks, turns and many other movements all in sync.
Several times prayers were given by multiple people other than the pastor. Evanne gave a corporate prayer which touched the heart of many. Jensie spoke and gave a beautiful testimony about the Panua mission and the partnership of Trinity church. During the service, Sunday School classes of children ran into the sanctuary and sat in their assigned seats, prayers were offered and said in both English and Swahili.
The sermon was excellent. What we realized is worship touches the soul no matter the style, language, more, music or tradition Worshiping God is universal.
Later that day the Panua team in Kenya experienced another spiritual awakening with a boat ride on Lake
Naivasha. This very large lake is surrounded by wildlife and in some places rolling hills touchtone sky in the distance. God’s creations included bald eagles, egrets, zebras, giraffes and many hippos. The marvel of this world and the creatures who inhabit it is amazing. God is amazing and the forms of life are magnificent.
The spirit of God touches our lives in many different ways. A worship you are not used to, a hippo opening up its mouth while in the water, a bald eagle perched on a branch, hills touching the sky, the wind blowing in your face as you cross a beautiful lake in a foreign country while in a small boat. How blessed we are…how blessed we are.
A Day of Celebrations and Concerns
By Ivor Singer
What a day of celebration and dealing with real-life concerns!
Celebrations: It was graduation day for 30 students completed their training and Panua’s Salon and Beauty School. (Panua operates a Salon and Beauty School where all profits go back to support the program). There was a mix of 18 students from the Panua program and 12 students from the community at large. This course teaches students how to style hair and gives them lifelong skills to be a hairdresser. Several past students have started their own salons, or are now managing a salon.
There was a processional parade, complete with a police escort, marching band and the students in cap and gowns processing through the streets of Naivasha, Kenya to a park where speeches were made from former students, Panua Kenyan staff, and Jensie Gobel and Ivor Singer representing the US Panua board. Each student received a certificate and the whole ceremony was filmed by a TV station. There was a large cake cutting ceremony as cake was started with the estimated more than 100 in attendance.
For many of these young women and men, it was the first major accomplishment in their lives, where they were celebrated due to their hard work. It was the first cap and gown ceremony and it was a major step for them to become self-sufficient to support themselves and their siblings.
Real life concerns: Did you know that Panua operates a 5-acre farm near Naivasha as part of our agriculture training program? Last year was the first year and maize and beans were planted. These are major staples in the Kenyan diet. The acreage is controlled and managed by the chief and community leaders. Let year several members of FUMCWP visited the farm and learned of its progress. Our first crop was a learning lesson as a draught and worm infestations affected the yields. With the rainy season beginning, the field is now prepared to plant again. Dr. Michael Read, who has worked in agriculture in Africa and around the world, joined our team to help. We had a wonderful meeting with the chief, community leaders, our Panua Kenyan and U.S. team to discuss food shortages and hunger concerns in that area. They welcomed the advice as the Panua team is working to improve production yield and help feed the area. Panua youth are learning more about agribusiness and the Panua program is offering hope of future sustainable training and job security in the agribusiness. The community is being served and many of our youth and the community at large will benefit from this ongoing relationship.
It is amazing to see and feel God’s presence as lives are being transformed, relationships are being forged in a positive way and hope of a better future is being reinforced. We
see the blessings we have in caring for others and seeing the impact the Panua mission is having in the community.
Oh, and one other important thing, today we were greeted by individual hand-written cards from he FUMCWP “Gathered in His Name” committee. Thank you for your beautiful writings and blessings. Ivor Singer, Jensie Gobel, Evanne Mines, Michael Read and Dalila Read are truly blessed and thankful to be representing the church and seeing first hand how our church is touching the lives of others in such a Christ-like way. Jamba from Naivasha, Kenya.
by Evanne Mines
Our team arrived in Naivasha on Thursday night and traveled to Naivasha Friday morning.
We had a full day of visiting our Panua prayer partners, visiting one of their projects and taking part in an afternoon meeting on agribusiness ventures.
Some of my first impressions are that Kenyans are friendly people, quick to smile and extend a hand shake. The Naivasha Panua staff remain a dedicated, Godly group who love their work and the Panua youth seem happy to meet us and learn more about their prayer partners.
Being here reminds me that God’s love is at work throughout our entire world and life is better when we extend our hands and widen our hearts through Christ-like community.