We are SO excited to introduce to you….


YOUR Learn & Serve Counselors for summer 2010!!!

(From top to bottom, left to right – Hillary, Hamp, Taylor, Leah, Leigh, Lauren, Bryan, Carter)

Fruit Logo

All eight of the counselors arrived at SIFAT last weekend and have been spending their entire week preparing for an INCREDIBLE summer. This is such a special group of people who are all blessed with wonderful personalities, gifted with special talents, and are super pumped about hanging out with youth this summer!

Three of our counselors (Carter, Hillary, and Taylor) have been campers at SIFAT, and are now apart of our summer staff. What a wonderful example of the fruit and the growth of our Learn & Serve summer camp over the past few years!

This year, the L & S theme is “Fruit”. Each of the counselors will be leading youth of all different ages and from all different states, including: Alabama, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and even Illinois.

The counselors will be asking these youth, “Where is the fruit in our lives?”, and they will help lead a discussion of the process that it takes to produce fruit that brings glory to God.

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The CARES (Creative Academic Resources for Educational Success) Program is a practical way for students young and old to experience and learn about Asian, African, and Latin American countries and cultures through hands-on activities.

This spring was a wonderful time to host our CARES Around the World programs! We hosted 737 participants over a span of 7 events throughout March, April, and May. We had a variety of ages ranging from 2nd graders to seniors in high school. The CARES volunteers and staff enjoyed having 9 public school groups, 3 home school groups, and 3 church groups experience our program in the SIFAT Global Village.

Petting a goat in Uganda.

All of our participants were exposed to Asian, African and Latin American countries while experiencing different traditions, languages and cultures of each of these places. Students this spring learned how to make an adobe brick, tasted a handmade corn tortilla, and crossed over our Andean rope bridge.

Making an Adobe Brick.

Many of the groups that we hosted at SIFAT this spring were able to experience the Hunger Banquet that we offer during lunch on the day of their field trip. This “banquet” gives the students and chaperons an opportunity to view world hunger in a very different way. This serves as a great lesson for students and chaperons alike to better understand the hunger that majority of our world lives with every day.

Andean Rope Bridge

This was a wonderful spring of CARES events, full of learning and lots of fun! We are definitely looking forward to the events that are set for Fall Season 2010! Dates for this fall are listed on our website at www.sifat.org/cares. If you are interested in registering for this experience, please email cares@sifat.org for further information!

Tom and Peggy recently traveled to Zambia. While there, they were able to meet the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s team of Engineers Without Borders and spend time on the project site. Dave Barnhart, of Trinity UMC in Birmingham, will be helping lead the first SIFAT short-term mission team later this year. Dave joined Tom and Peggy to visit the site and help prepare for future SIFAT teams to stay in Lusaka. Below, Dave shares about his experience with Tom and Peggy in Zambia.

Dave on siteI’ve always been impressed with the impact SIFAT’s short-term mission projects have on the people with whom I travel. When I make comparisons with other mission trips I’ve been on, SIFAT participants learn more, they have a better experience, and they often get turned onto missions both at home and internationally.

I’ve had the opportunity to shadow Tom and Peggy the last couple of days to see what goes into laying the groundwork for a successful mission trip. There’s a lot of work that mission teams never see! It’s like putting together a puzzle, fitting resources together with people and organizations to make a big picture. Only in this case, the puzzle pieces keep changing shape, and you don’t really know what the final picture will look like. You simply have to trust that God’s got the picture on the front of the box, and when it all goes together, it will be better than we imagine.

When you put together any puzzle, it helps to get the corners and sides done first. EWB and Harbert Construction, the local churches and SIFAT have done marvelous work in putting together the first pieces. The past few days we’ve done some networking with WorldVision, Zambikes and other local potential partners. One of the engineering students told me that he was surprised at how much of the work involves diplomacy and learning how to navigate both local culture and our own.

I’m only here for a short time. I already can’t wait to come back.

See Tom’s photos after the jump!
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Auburn UMC sent a team of college students, vets, medical professionals and others to Quesimpuco, Bolivia, from May 14-24. Because the project is in such a remote location high in the Andes Mountains, internet access is unavailable. Team leader Scott Middleton has been contacting his wife Lindsey, who is sending us updates, via satellite phone.

May 15 Update

I am happy (and relieved) to report that the team made it safely to Quesimpuco about an hour ago. No car troubles, no one got sick, and they made the trip in 10 hours and 45 minutes – in other words, they’ve had a really good day! They have already unloaded and are now getting settled in for the night. They will attend church in the village in the morning, enjoy the official village “greeting” and then get set up for the week. There will be no call-in to the AUMC services tomorrow – they will do that next week from La Paz (where the Bishop of the United Methodist Church there apparently is planning a dinner for the team!). They will also have a visit this week from John Funk, a missionary in Bolivia with the Board of Global Ministries of the UMC.

I think we’ll all sleep better tonight, knowing they all are safe and sound — and that each team member is exactly where God has placed him or her. They probably won’t check in for another day or two, so I’ll send another update then.

If anyone would like a visual of Quesimpuco as you pray for the team, Scott found this image on Google earth – it is a few years old and predates the bridge site, but it’s an amazing illustration of how far this team has gone to be the hands and feet of Christ: click here.

May 17 Update

Hello again,Scott had a lot of information to share when he called tonight, so I literally took notes! Today, there were about 35 optometry patients, 50 dental patients, 220 animals at the vet clinic (but word has gotten out – they are expecting as many as 1,000 tomorrow!) and about 120 kids at VBS. Some team members also built new pews for the church. When school let out this afternoon, the students came up to play, so I think they enjoyed some quality time with the high school kids, as well.

Yesterday, the team enjoyed the village greeting, which was apparently interrupted by rain (unusual for this time of year), and then went to church. They set up the clinic for today, and then went back down to the village for evening worship. Scott said the weather is windy and cold, and it took 3 or 4 calls before the satellite phone could get through. He called about 8:30 our time (they’re an hour ahead of us) and said that everyone else had already gone to bed.

In other news, the Bolivian government is preparing to build a hospital and new elementary school in Quesimpuco and will apparently be tearing down the Catholic church to do so. For those of you who have been before (or who have, like me, just seen lots of pictures) this will include tearing down the bell tower, which is probably the biggest landmark there. This will leave the Methodist church as the only house of worship in the village. The missionary delegation (not sure who that entails besides John Funk and his wife) will arrive tomorrow and stay for a few days, and they will have Market Day on Wednesday.

I think that covers all my notes! It sounds as if everyone is in good shape and they have all earned a good night’s rest. Scott said he will check in again, probably on Wednesday. I know we will all continue to lift up the team in prayer!

A short-term mission team from the University of West Alabama’s Wesley Foundation will be in Ecuador May 8-15. Please pray for them as they serve the children and adults at Dulce Refugio in Villaflora, Quito. They will be posting throughout the week about their experiences.

May 13

Today was the last day at the worksite. It was an emotional experience. The construction team was again ahead of schedule. The rebar on the roof is now in place so that the next team may place concrete blocks and pour concrete.

May 14

This morning, we woke up as usual, yet there was a difference in today’s plan of activities. Today was the day for the zip line through the cloud forest at Tucanopy. As we were on the way, the bus wasn’t able to accelerate uphill. So we’d coast to the side of the road, restart the bus, and try again only to coast to the side of the road and repeat the process. We were able to pull off at a stopping point to wait for a replacement vehicle. The two-hour ride ended up taking much longer. However, we were still able to proceed with the initial plan. A few team members were a bit hesitant about being attached to a cable and having to slow themselves with a leather brake. We all made it safely back to the beginning after flying through the rain forest. Lunch was homemade pizza prepared at the site. The pizza was made with ingredients from the reserve. Delicious! Because of the bus breakdown, we were unable to take the nature walk and had to return to the Hotel Tambo Real to pack up and eat our last meal here. We are getting ready for devotion at 7 pm. We leave for the airport at around 8:20 pm and fly out of Quito at 11:30 pm. We should arrive back in Atlanta, GA at 6:02 am, according to Delta’s flight information.

Devotion this evening was shared by Dan. The two questions were used to sum up both the day and the week.

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