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Welcome to Mission Mosaic…

…home of the Office of Connectional Mission & Justice in the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church! Here you will find blogs, photos, videos, and other postings from United Methodists around the world!

To hear from folks in West Ohio’s Mission Partnerships – Congo, Mexico, Russia, & Southeast Asia – look for the ‘4Corners’ pages! To read more about Volunteers in Mission experiences, look for the ‘VIM Teams’ pages! Stop back often to see what amazing things God is doing!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Mission Mosaic

 

West Ohioan Follows God’s Call to Mexico

Cathy PowellHave you ever had a Jonah experience? I don’t mean being swallowed by a whale, but running from something you didn’t want to do? I had a similar experience on my first mission trip. I was asked to chaperone a group of teenagers to Rio Bravo, Mexico. I don’t know why I said I would go, and I was ready to bail after the first hour on the bus with these kids! I tried to think of excuses to get off the bus. I couldn’t fake an illness because the team leader was a physician. Then I thought I could hide at the next rest stop and not get back on the bus. This wouldn’t work either because we always counted heads before we drove off. I was stuck, and the airport was still three hours away. At the airport the kids scattered, and trying to keep up with them was like herding cats. As we got ready to board the plane we noticed two children were missing. I suggested we leave them and pick them up on our way back. This suggestion did not go over well with the other chaperones.

The situation didn’t improve at the base camp. The kids were up all night, and they made sure no one else slept. In the morning I was still planning my escape. We piled into another bus and drove across the border to the work site. When we arrived everything changed. The kids stopped talking, they turned off their music, and they became silent. I don’t think any of us had ever seen that level of poverty. We were all changed that day. The older kids were anxious to help with the building project, and the younger kids cleared a place in the dirt to hold a Bible study for the children in the area. I realized why God had volunteered me for this trip.

God volunteered me for another mission trip in 2012. This time we were going to help with the building of a church in Guadalupe, Mexico. The church is called Refugo De Paz (Refuge of Peace). The construction work was hard, but I’m proud to say I can add ‘experience working with rebar’ to my resume! Another purpose of our trip was to install a bell in the tower of a church in Casillas. The church, Liro De los Valles (Lily of the Valley), is located high in the Sierra Madre Mountains. This is what Mount Sinai must have looked like to Moses. What an awesome experience to hear that bell ringing across the valley calling God’s people to worship. I could feel His presence across the valley as we worshiped that day.

God called me back to Guadalupe last February. The mission team went back to Refugo De Paz and continued with the building of that church. I was able to use my experience with rebar once again! I have fallen in love with the people I have met on these trips. They surround the team with love and prayer during our stay, and I continue to feel that love when I return home. They are in my prayers daily, and I look forward to the return trip. It is such a blessing to be able to serve God in this way.

On February 7, the team will return to Refugo De Paz, and it will be so exciting to see the progress on the church building. The team will be there for a week, but I will be staying until the middle of April as a liaison for other teams that will follow. I am extremely humbled to have this opportunity to serve God in this way.

Jonah did not plan on going to Nineveh, and I didn’t want to be on that first trip to Mexico. God tells us through Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” When doubts, anxiety, and fear creep into my mind, I fall back on my favorite verse from the Bible: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 3:13). God’s grace is sufficient, and I can do this!

Please pray for me, our mission team, and for the teams that will follow.

Submitted by Cathy Powell, Albany UMC

 
 

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Reflections on the Volga

Thursday. July 18th our team boarded a Volga Riverboat and took a 3 hour trip to Shiryaevo Village. It is a historic area of the Samara Region and locals call it the Switzerland of Russia.

It is home to the Repin Museum and is where Repin did many drawings while he was working on his best known painting “Barge Haulers on The Volga”.
But more importantly it is beautiful Russian countryside. We spent time hiking, picnicking and being warmly treated by several members of the group of Samara UMC members who visited Ohio last summer.

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It was a great time of fellowship spent in a beautiful setting. During one outing the team members and our hosts took turns singing and entertaining each other. The food was incredible for picnic food.

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Spending time with this wonderful community of Christians gave us insight to their world. They are very close knit and adults function as supplemental parents, watching out for and taking care of each other’s children. As a five year old leaned over the water’s edge for a rock, one of the other Mothers stood behind him loving holding the back of his shirt so he could not slip and get wet. In one way it was so basic but in another reminded several of us of a time that has passed in America.

When our time was done on Friday, we had a great cruise down the Volga to Samara.

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Mission Mosaic

 

An Ending & A Renewal

Wednesday, July 17th – Day #3 of our seminar with members of the Volga District was a fitting end to our time together. Started with a passionate worship service from our hosts. Included several styles of music and praise.

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There were sessions on why we needed to be involved in social outreach followed by an examination of the “Awaken The City” ministry at Hyde Park Community UMC. The Walk to Emmaus and the “Unbinding” series were discussed as tools to faith development.

A restatement of the covenant service between the Volga District and West Ohio Conference was a moving and appropriate ending to the seminar.

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Mission Mosaic

 

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The Mantle

Day #2 of the seminar was focused on sharing spiritual formation and supporting Christian families. One memorable highlight was when members of the team took their mantles, which they received when commissioned a few days earlier and used them to encircle all attendees and entered into prayer. It was a powerful moment both symbolically and in the moment as Christians from worlds apart became one.

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During the afternoon the focus was singles, marriage, sex education for children and divorce support. Not exactly timid subjects but it was obvious that these are areas of ministries where sharing information on these subjects were well received.

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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Mission Mosaic

 

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Seminar Day 1

July 15 – Today was the beginning of a three day Vision and Mission Seminar coordinated by Carol Harper of the WOC mission team and leadership of the Volga District and Samara UMC. Pastors and lay leaders from the churches across the Volga District of the UMC in Russia.

Carol Harper introduced the concept of kitchen table theology during which members of the WOC VIM team paired with Russian attendees in groups that shared their thoughts and reactions to Acts 2, 1-21. As we progressed it was obvious that while we have different histories, language and cultures we shared common reflection and reaction to this brief study.

DS Natalia Prokhorova of the Volga District shared the process of building a vision of what a church in today’s Russia can be using the example of how Samara UMC. That vision includes being a “Church of Full Families” taking into account what a family is in modern day society.

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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Mission Mosaic

 

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In Worship

Sunday, July 13th…after attempting to catch up on much needed sleep, our host families took us to worship at Samara UMC. A steady stream of church members greeted us pre-worship. It is always heartening to be in worship with this community of Christians. You do not need to understand Russian to get a sense of the strong faith of the these people.

In many ways, this is a first generation community of Christians not unlike the early churches in Greece or Rome. Members are very comfortable sharing their faith and love of Christ with each other and their visitors from West Ohio.

The service was full of announcements, blessing of children, faith sharing, a sermon by Carol Harper and beautiful music.

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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Mission Mosaic

 

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

Three yellow roses bundled and wrapped in ribbon where presented to each of us as we entered the Samara airport. We had been traveling a little over 18 hours since boarding the first of three flights in Cincinnati. Warm welcomes of hugs were given to us and it did not matter if we were old friends or first time visitors. We are treated as family…sisters and brothers in Christ. It is a warm and welcoming beginning to our time in the Volga River District.

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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Mission Mosaic

 

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