August 2022: Lifelong Lessons from Summers at Learn & Serve

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. This month, we are sharing two articles written by youth leaders that brought their groups to SIFAT this summer. One has attended Learn & Serve for years, while the other had her first experience alongside her students. Both believe in this program and its valuable lessons for youth and adults. Thank you for supporting SIFAT and our programs both here in Alabama and internationally! Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Clinton Wheeler, Youth Minister, Cookeville FUMC (Tenn.)

SIFAT has been a part of my life for a long time. I came to my first Learn & Serve Summer Experience when I was in middle school. I remember walking across the bridge one morning and saying to myself, “I don’t ever want this feeling to end.” For the first time, I heard God’s voice telling me that I was called to youth ministry and that this is what he has in store for me. The next night, I accepted Christ as my savior and have been involved with youth and SIFAT ever since.

Each day during our L&S Summer Experience, participants have small group discussions and time with their youth groups to talk about their experiences and explore the week’s theme.


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March 2022: Spring Learn & Serve Retreats at SIFAT

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

During March, our SIFAT calendar is beginning to remind of us pre-COVID-19 days. We are seeing lots of green—the color designated for Learn & Serve events on our staff calendar—on the large dry erase boards in the office hallway. While working, our office staff hears shouts and cheers drifting across campus, and we see groups of students walking past our windows on their way to the cafeteria for lunch. These simple things lift our spirits and make us realize that we have been missing the hub of activity that spring brings to our campus more than we realized!

Our Learn & Serve programming can be customized for different types of groups and various ages. Already this year, we have hosted an Around the World field trip and multi-day retreat for middle school classes, Global Health Days for college nursing students, a tour for youth leaders making plans to bring a group later this year and a retreat with work projects and programming for a mission team unable to travel internationally. At the end of the month, we will have three youth groups on campus for spring break retreats. For our small campus staff, the days are long, but the rewards are great!

 

We are enjoying our spring Learn & Serve retreat groups at SIFAT!


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June 2021: Summer at SIFAT

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version. This month, we share about summer at SIFAT in Alabama this year – Worship on the Water and Learn & Serve Retreats!

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

Worship on the Water 2021

The summer season has kicked off in Alabama! From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, SIFAT sponsors Worship on the Water (WOW) for our local community and visitors to Lake Wedowee. A guest speaker and musician/musical group lead the service, which starts at 9 a.m. and lasts about an hour. We meet under the pine trees on the shore of the lake at Lakeside Marina, just north of downtown Wedowee on US Highway 431. After postponing and eventually making the difficult decision to cancel last summer, it has been a breath of normalcy to return to our Sunday morning tradition.


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August: Learn & Serve Impacts Lives

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

This year has been unlike anything we   expected at SIFAT. When 2020 began, our Learn & Serve staff members were talking to schools, universities and churches to schedule spring retreats and summer experiences.

Learn & Serve provides opportunities to people living in the United States to gain a holistic view of the developing world through simulated experiences. Visiting the SIFAT Global Village may be someone’s first time seeing how the majority of the world lives and understanding some of the daily struggles. Our programming highlights the appropriate technologies that community leaders in SIFAT training study. Participants in Learn & Serve events see how these technologies can truly make a difference in the lives of the poor and learn how our training alumni are implementing these things in their ministries throughout the world.

Worship in the outdoor chapel last summer


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Learn & Serve: 48: A Slum Experience Recap

This January, we once again held an intense slum experience that lasted 48 hours. In this blog post, Learn & Serve Interim Director Becca Griffin shares not only about this event, but also some background and statistics about urban slums to help us better understand how about one billion people in the world live.

Ecuador : Understanding Our Place in the World on MLK Weekend 2015

SIFAT’s eighth annual 48: A Slum Experience was held on January 17-19, 2015. We attempted to befriend around one billion of our brothers and sisters around the world who live in urban slums today. We tried to walk in the shoes of people whose lives are worlds away from our own.

On Jan. 17-19, participants spent 48 hours in SIFAT’s urban slums to gain understanding in how approximately one billion people live their daily lives.

What is an urban slum? It is characterized by three things: overcrowding, improper housing and poor sanitation. These characteristics — when paired with challenges like dirty water, smoke inhalation, malnutrition from both hunger and hidden hunger, and a great swarm of violence for the vulnerable — create a web of perpetuated poverty. Slums are not specific to one part of the world, but for those living in the developing world, one in three will live in this context.


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