January 29, 2019

Rooks, Rubik’s, and Recess

By Caleb, REACH Team Indochina

Often times as kids or young adults or old adults we may wonder about the passions and gifts that we have been given: Why do I care about this? What good is it that I am good at that? Growing up I had plenty of those questions. In school I very well could have been considered a “nerd.” While I didn’t have red curly hair or glasses or buck teeth or any of the physical features often associated with the label at the time, my talents and interests proved otherwise.

In middle school, I discovered an online program called “Scratch” which is essentially a computer programming language for kids. Through this I gained a passion for programming and for technology in general, that has led to me learning various other programming languages and skills. In high school, several of my friends and I became very interested in chess. We spent hours upon hours playing each other in games, either in real life or over the internet. We didn’t join the chess club, but that was only because our tiny rural school was too small to have one.

Continue reading "Rooks, Rubik’s, and Recess" »

December 19, 2018

It’s the Little Things: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Team Thailand Leader

As I’ve been walking the nearby streets for the first time in a while, it has felt like a whole different experience than last year. I see the faces of familiar vendors for the first time in a long time and come to realize that only a short year ago I knew them only as strangers. It’s been fun to see a surprise flash across their faces when we make eye contact, and an encouragement to know that perhaps, by the grace of the Father, we may have made some sort of eternal impact. So without further ado, allow me to share with you some of these people and, along with that, ask for you to remember us as we continue to try to build relationships with them.

Continue reading "It’s the Little Things: A REACH Update" »

December 14, 2018

When Our Best Doesn’t Feel Like Enough: A REACH Update

By Ginny, Team Mediterranean

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the culture and the things that the Albanians’ value. This place has an interesting history and a bright future! The people are ambitious and hard-working, and I have a lot of respect for them.

But it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. In this time of change for us, there have been days that it has been hard to adjust. One of my best friends sent me a message one day (when I was really struggling with jet-lag), telling me to give myself lots of grace and not be too hard on myself. That was what I really needed to hear. It’s easy to let negativity get inside of my head. Some mornings I wake up and I don’t feel like I have anything to offer and every day reveals new areas where I am inadequate (like hardly being able to order from a restaurant). I’m learning to laugh at my mistakes and let go of my need to ‘have it all together.’ Because really, no one does.

Continue reading "When Our Best Doesn’t Feel Like Enough: A REACH Update" »

December 05, 2018

God’s Handiwork: A REACH Update

By Julie, Team Zambia Leader

Hello from Zambia! We were welcomed at the airport by our outreach coordinator and journeyed into town. I was excited to soak it all in but my overstimulated and tired brain limited me. As we drove the dirt roads to the place we now know as our temporary home, the base, I continued to be in awe that I was in Africa.

After a 45-minute drive, we stepped out of the van and were welcomed and greeted by the base staff. We spent the rest of the day taking tours of the base and the village, meeting new people, and settling in. A sense of peace washed over me as God reminded me that he has always been here and that he isn’t leaving. It’s quite obvious that God handcrafted this country, the people, the culture, the SUNSETS, the STARS, the river, it’s all so beautiful, and it all points to a beautiful creator.

Continue reading "God’s Handiwork: A REACH Update" »

November 16, 2018

Introducing New SEND Assistant Director

By Lydia Gingerich

In the beginning of 2019, Paige Chupp will officially begin her full-time position with RMM as the SEND assistant director. For the past two weeks she has been training with the current SEND assistant director, Courtney Shenk, who will be leaving RMM when she has her second child in December.

“There are many reasons we offered this position to Paige,” says RMM director of human resources, Colleen Maust. “Her natural talent to connect deeply with people is evident in all her relationships. We see her dedication to God and passion to disciple others as essential as she leads by example and will be a role model to many young people. In her past experiences with RMM, Paige has proven her ability to adapt to difficult situations, remain positive, continue trusting God, invest intentionally in relationships, and work toward conflict resolution.”

Continue reading "Introducing New SEND Assistant Director" »

November 13, 2018

“Show Me Your Glory”: A REACH Update

By Caleb, Team Indochina

Every Sunday night we have an hour-long time of worship where we sing songs and take communion. Worship is led by a new group each week, so it is a little different every time. This particular worship time was led by a guy who had taught us in an earlier session.

Continue reading "“Show Me Your Glory”: A REACH Update" »

October 04, 2018

Empty Wells vs. God’s Infinite Love: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Leader of REACH Team Thailand

To be honest, I’m having quite a hard time coming up with the words to explain what happened or even express all that I have learned in the last two, very full weeks. When you boil a lot of it down, it all points to God’s love. It can sound so cliché, yet I’ve seen, once again, how foundational of a concept it is. It’s in the heart of the gospel and it has so much depth. In its perfection I find myself somewhere in the middle of it all, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.

Continue reading "Empty Wells vs. God’s Infinite Love: A REACH Update" »

May 16, 2018

Nearing the End: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Team Thailand

I’d say I can’t believe the end is here, but the truth is, I can. I’ve had a lot of things roaming in my mind lately. Things like…

How will our last week here go? How should I be processing the past nine months? What will reentry be like? How will I handle the goodbyes? What will it be like adjusting to a different culture and time zone again? What will it be like reuniting with loved ones? Where will I fit in? What happened while I was gone? How will I possibly summarize the last nine months to those who want to hear about my experience in this program? What will be the new normal? Will I be able to pick up where I left off? Do I have too high of expectations for my summer at home? What will my friendships look like? What will the next year of my life hold?

Continue reading "Nearing the End: A REACH Update" »

April 20, 2018

Nearing the End of ‘Normal’: A REACH Update

By Shontel, REACH Team Indochina

Life here still looks the same on the outside. We teach at school five days a week. We plan lessons. We eat dinner with friends. We play team games. We cook. We babysit. We hang out with teens and college students. Anyone peering in wouldn’t notice anything spectacular or different from the previous months we have spent here. But internally we have been processing a lot, well at least I have. Knowing that in less than a month, we will be leaving this place puts a new tone on life here. It’s like I’ve begun to see things through a new lens. Sometimes that feels like a good thing.

Sometimes it makes it easier to be intentional, because I know our time is short. But other times, that lens brings into focus contemplating the future and stressing over looming changes. It’s hard, because as much as I want to, I can’t remove this new lens. I often long for the earlier days when life here didn’t seem to have a time measurement, when homesickness rarely crossed my mind, and when decisions for the next season of life didn’t have to be made.

Continue reading "Nearing the End of ‘Normal’: A REACH Update" »

April 11, 2018

I Am Just Like Them: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Team Thailand

A few days ago my teammates and I were led for the first time through areas of Bangkok that we, up to that point, had only heard about. An area filled with so many broken people in search of fulfillment. As we walked through floors upon floors of closed curtains, cracked open doors, and bars filled with people, it was easy to feel a sense of hopelessness and desperation. But as we continued passing through, I couldn’t help but think, I am just like them!

Continue reading "I Am Just Like Them: A REACH Update" »

March 29, 2018

Being Still, Not Passive: A REACH Update

By Paige, Team Mediterranean

My heart is full – full of love, full of joy, and full of life that the Father has graciously given me these past few months. He has provided several amazing friends that have played major roles in the fullness of my heart. They have opened their lives to me and shown me incredible kindness. At the same time though, my heart is heavy – heavy from the thought that a lot of those friends aren’t believers. The more time I spend with them, the more I can see hurt and confusion in some of their eyes. It is so painful to see the darkness they are in. They are longing for truth, longing for the Father. They are some of the best people I have ever met, but without genuine faith in the Son, that means nothing.

Continue reading "Being Still, Not Passive: A REACH Update" »

March 12, 2018

Called to Faithfulness: A REACH Update

By Isaac F, Team Himalayas team leader

As I walk up the rough stone steps, I breathe deep. Not only because the walk is making me short of breath, but also because I want to enjoy the cool crisp air. It is mountain air – cool winds blown down from snowy peaks – mixed with the sunlight that shines down as the sun nears the noon position. As I continue to climb, the sound of rushing water grows louder in my ears. Finally, I reach the top and view the massive waterfall. It is several hundred feet in height, and continually unleashes several hundred gallons of water into the large pool below. It is a beautiful sight and as I get out my phone to take pictures there is a small voice in my head that says, “Wait. Just enjoy this. Look around.” I take several pictures, but then try and take a moment to soak up my surroundings. In front of me is the waterfall – beautiful, powerful. Then I walk to a small building painted red and white sitting to the right of the falls. On shelves along the outside are many candles, not burning, but small and spent. Brass bells also hang on the side of the building. I look into the building and see what has become a normal sight – a small statue of some god and stone plaques that have prayers engraved into their surface. All is cold, lifeless, and hopeless.

Continue reading "Called to Faithfulness: A REACH Update" »

March 08, 2018

A Daily Choice: A REACH Update

By Kara, REACH Indochina team leader

Right before we flew out of the U.S. we had a session that looked briefly at the phases of culture shock. The first three months are commonly referred to as the “honeymoon phase,” where everything is exciting and rather rose-tinted. Three to six months marks the “frustration phase” when one can easily become irritated and emotionally exhausted. Six months to a year is the “recovery phase,” where one gains understanding and starts knowing how to better adapt to the culture. Since I’d already spent six months in this country last year, I was curious to see where I would fall on the cross-cultural wavelength, especially since I had never really dealt with the frustration phase, at least not in the cultural sense. Would I start the whole process at the honeymoon stage again? Would it feel like coming home? I’d spent most of my time back in the states daydreaming about returning to this country, so I was completely unprepared for what actually hit me.

Continue reading "A Daily Choice: A REACH Update" »

March 05, 2018

Introducing Candace: SEND Hospitality Assistant

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.

Candace serves as a hospitality assistant at the RIC. She is from Pryor, Oklahoma – making her the 2018 SEND Intern who traveled the farthest to get to Columbus.

Continue reading "Introducing Candace: SEND Hospitality Assistant" »

March 02, 2018

Introducing Aaron: SEND Prayer Coordinator

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.

As the 2018 SEND prayer coordinator, Aaron leads prayer-related activities during REACH and City Challenge as well as within the SEND intern team. Aaron’s family currently resides in Goshen, Indiana (where he lived for the first part of his childhood), but they have also lived in Plain City, Ohio, and Richmond, Kentucky.

Continue reading "Introducing Aaron: SEND Prayer Coordinator" »

February 27, 2018

“Faith is spelled R-I-S-K”

At the end of 2017, REACH Team Eurasia* left the U.S. not knowing if they would ever be able to enter their outreach country. Due to some unfavorable policy changes within their final destination, their plans were in flux throughout much of Discipleship Training School, and obtaining the right visas seemed like a long shot. After abundant prayer and consideration, they took a leap of faith and flew to a neighboring country – hoping to eventually land in the culture they had prepared their hearts and minds for. Here are some reflections on their journey:
SHARON: The most prominent feeling that I remember before we left the RIC was feeling like I was going to throw up. I remember that Suz [RIC Food Services Manager] had made a really delicious hearty soup and homemade bread for lunch. I had to choke most of it down without tasting it because I was so nervous. But why was I so anxious? I knew everything was going to be okay. And I was, in fact, excited to leave. We had been preparing for three months for this and the moment of our departure was finally here! But I also realized that life was about to change. While I knew where we were going to end up, the in between, the middle of here and there, was all murky and that made me rather uneasy.

Continue reading "“Faith is spelled R-I-S-K”" »

February 22, 2018

Introducing Paige: SEND Administrative Assistant Intern

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.

Paige, from Hartville, Ohio, joins the SEND Intern team as the administrative assistant. She helps with paperwork, mailing, and finances for both City Challenge and REACH.

Continue reading "Introducing Paige: SEND Administrative Assistant Intern" »

February 20, 2018

Introducing Grant: SEND Outreach Coordinator

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.

Grant from Hartville, Ohio, serves as this year’s outreach coordinator. In this role, Grant contacts numerous outreach locations within Columbus, organizing service groups for both City Challenge and REACH.

Continue reading "Introducing Grant: SEND Outreach Coordinator" »

February 16, 2018

Introducing Brenda: SEND Food Services Assistant

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.

Brenda Miller, the 2018 food services assistant from Sugarcreek, Ohio, is excited to learn about meal preparation and planning as she helps the RIC food services manager, Susannah Cotman.

Continue reading "Introducing Brenda: SEND Food Services Assistant" »

February 05, 2018

Introducing Sarah: SEND Hospitality Assistant

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.

Sarah is from Millersburg, Ohio, and was on the REACH 2016-17 Team Eurasia. She is one of the hospitality assistants with duties like making beds, cleaning bathrooms, and hosting groups who come to the RIC. When Sarah is not working, she likes to take naps, read, or journal. In her few weeks at the RIC, Sarah has enjoyed getting to know the other interns during their late-night chats over cereal.

Continue reading "Introducing Sarah: SEND Hospitality Assistant" »

January 30, 2018

Encouraging Epiphany: A REACH Update

By Bri, Team Montana

This past week we continued following our normal schedule. We did, however, switch things up a little bit for Wednesday night youth group. Most of the time we split up and go to three different youth groups, but instead, we all came together for a volleyball night.

Team Montana and some others played against the youth group that I usually attend. The youth group is almost all girls, most of whom have played volleyball only a handful of times, but they were still willing to give it a try. Our team ended up getting beat. I’m not going to lie, it hurt my pride a bit because most of us had played volleyball many times before that. Something about how the other team played together really intrigued me. They were encouraging each other and cheering each other on the whole game. Normally they are a fairly quiet bunch, but that night they were filling the tiny gym with their not-so-tiny voices.

Continue reading "Encouraging Epiphany: A REACH Update" »

January 18, 2018

To Wash His Face: A REACH Update

By Kara, REACH Team Indochina

With language school wrapped up, we had the opportunity to travel to the southern part of the country to spend some time visiting a teammate’s family who live and own a water filter factory down there.

Our first day was spent being shown around the factory and observing the filter-making process. The simple-looking clay pots prove to be of greater value and intricacy than they outwardly appear. Not only is their construction handled with delicate precision, but so also are the opportunities to invest in all those whose lives these filters enter, whether that’s the workers who mold them or the villagers to whom they are sold. The filters provide jobs for locals, prevent disease in increasingly distant and rural areas of the country, and have even enabled those with a third-grade education to become scientific technicians in the factory lab! However, possibly the most incredible part of the business is what was conveyed to us as “washing the face of the Son.”

Continue reading "To Wash His Face: A REACH Update" »

January 12, 2018

The Greatest Commandment: A REACH Update

By Paige, REACH Team Mediterranean

My whole life I thought that serving the Father meant I had to do all these great things like build a school, work in an orphanage on the other side of the world, teach English, etc; and yes, those are all awesome ways to serve and love, and people are called to that, but I often thought of those things as the only way to serve. I discounted the value and importance of simply loving people and building strong relationships through everyday life where my feet are. Though we have had some things to do this past month of being in Spain, our main thing has been building relationships with people and seeking to encourage and support them. At times, I would do the whole comparison thing (I finally understand the quote, “comparison is the thief of joy”) and would get discouraged because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough or as much as other people.

Thankfully, on my day off this week, I took most of the day to listen to what the Father had to say about it all and he, of course, was faithful to speak truth to my heart.

Continue reading "The Greatest Commandment: A REACH Update" »

December 19, 2017

A Different Kind of Normal: A REACH Update

By Shontel, Team Indochina

I expected my life in another country to feel extraordinary in some way, but I’m learning that life here feels just as normal as life in the United States.

Take today as an example. I woke up at 6:30. Before breakfast, I sat outside and spent time speaking to my father and reading. Then I got ready for language school. Breakfast was a bagel and fruit. My team left the house at 8:00 in time to catch our ride to school. After class, we walked to get lunch at a nearby restaurant. Once lunch was finished, we walked home and spent the afternoon playing games together, socializing with our landlord and grocery shopping. Before dinner, we walked to a nearby school to organize and take inventory in a kindergarten classroom. I cooked dinner at home. After dinner, we played games and watched a video sermon, then stayed up late talking.

Continue reading "A Different Kind of Normal: A REACH Update" »

December 11, 2017

2 1/2 Days Down, 165 To Go: A REACH Update

By Lacy, REACH Team Thailand
“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.”

—Walker Evans

Team Thailand arrived safely with zero problems throughout our nearly 40 hours of traveling. YAY!

We have a handful of days left before language school begins and so far we have spent a lot of time taking in all that Thailand has to offer. Along with being the team leader, I have also had the privilege of being a tour guide for the last few days, showing the girls places that I’ve missed for the last six months, and it has been so fun!

Continue reading "2 1/2 Days Down, 165 To Go: A REACH Update" »

November 10, 2017

REACH 2017-18

This year’s group of REACH participants come from all over the country. They have spent the last few months in discipleship training school and they are excited to leave for their outreach locations at the end of this month. Every year in the REACH program, young people’s lives are changed by experiencing God at work in other parts of the world. This year’s teams will be involved in teaching English, serving displaced people, encouraging the church, performing manual labor, engaging in children’s ministry, and much more. Pray for these individuals to develop unity with their team members, be a light to those around them, and grow deeper in their own relationship with God.

Continue reading "REACH 2017-18" »

November 07, 2017

REACH 25 Video: Mim & Paul

Founding directors of REACH share about its beginnings 25 years ago.

Continue reading "REACH 25 Video: Mim & Paul" »

October 20, 2017

Finding Treasure in Flint: A REACH Update

By Paige, REACH Team Mediterranean

It’s amazing how much the Father will speak to you when you silence yourself and listen. It’s exciting how much he will guide and lead you when you ask him and once again, listen. This past week our team experienced his leading us in an awesome way. We spent the week in Flint, Michigan, for practicum, which is a week where all the teams go to different places to work with a variety of outreaches and people that will hopefully prepare them for their overseas outreach. It’s also a time for the teams to connect deeper and test out life on their own.

Continue reading "Finding Treasure in Flint: A REACH Update" »

September 14, 2017

Something Old, Something New: A REACH Update

By Edith, REACH Team Himalayas

The 2017-18 REACH participants are now three weeks into discipleship training school (DTS) at the Rosedale International Center (RIC). Every week one member from each team writes a blog post about the week.

The RIC hasn't changed much in the four years since I attended City Challenge. The entrance is the same, the rooms are the same, the face of Kevin Mayer, SEND Director, is the same (aside from a few extra gray hairs). It's familiar with good, old memories from the days when I was fifteen.

Everything else, however, is new and different. Aside from one, all of the REACHers are people I've never met before. Life is schedule – outreach, life groups, service projects, recreation, and sessions. Sometimes I catch myself wondering what I'm doing here, but then a letter from my church family arrives; or my team leader says one of his perfect one-liners and we're rolling on the floor; or I am out on the street, surrounded by my team and praying for a lady whose husband is in jail and seeing her wipe her eyes as she walks away, and I know why I'm here.

Continue reading "Something Old, Something New: A REACH Update" »

September 12, 2017

Saying Goodbye to SEND Program Facilitators

By Lydia Gingerich

If you were involved in REACH, City Challenge, or a SEND internship the past four years, you probably know Brian and Brittany Troyer. This couple was and is highly instrumental in implementing all of those programs, and SEND Ministries has been blessed with two wonderful people as program facilitators. While Brian and Brittany truly enjoy their job and community in Columbus, they plan to move back to Hartville, Ohio, at the end of the year and get involved with their home church and community. They also feel called to expand their family through foster care and adoption. Currently, they have one son, Malachi, and they are excited to begin the process of welcoming more children into their home and family.

Brian and Brittany give much energy and love to the work they do, and it is greatly appreciated by their colleagues. Colleen Maust, director of human resources for Rosedale Mennonite Missions (RMM), observes that they “mentor, challenge, teach, encourage, and even have to act as substitute parents at times – running people to the Emergency Room and comforting those in emotional distress.” She realizes that they have carried heavy burdens and lots of stress over the past few years, but they always seem to remain calm and trust God.

Continue reading "Saying Goodbye to SEND Program Facilitators" »