HSC Sri Lanka: Accept the Unexpected

  • By Hope Worldwide
  • 09 Jan, 2017

“I had no idea that this was going to be such a life-altering experience!”

Over this past Christmas and New Year, a group of singles from all over the world (Australia, Singapore, the US, etc) spent their holidays in Sri Lanka, away from family, serving at a school for underprivileged children, an orphanage for boys, and a pediatric hospital for autistic children. They also greatly encouraged the local church, the Colombo Church of Christ, as you can read in this article written by David de los Santos. David and his wife Nadia are the young couple leading the church in Sri Lanka.

All around the world, 2016 was a year of the unexpected. This year marks the year where our church here in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, officially tripled in size by the hand of God, and that was certainly unexpected! We weren’t expecting an offer to host a HOPE worldwide Singles Corps right here in Sri Lanka, but we accepted it! We were humbled that Sri Lanka would be noticed and served in such an incredible way. While we were putting together all of the projects, I had no idea that this was going to be such a life-altering experience. It was an amazing feeling. One of the hit songs of 2016 was Justin Timberlake’s, “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. He wrote,

“I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We're flying up, no ceiling, when we're in our zone…”

I understand that the song is about dancing, but this is how we felt while serving the children in our groups over here! It was such an incredible feeling to be serving alongside people from all over the world with a shared purpose. A genuine electric feeling could be felt in around us. I was personally moved by the sheer number of disciples that signed up to come to our relatively unknown island country of Sri Lanka. Our hopes and our expectations were exceeded by the volunteers who sacrificed their entire holiday season to just humbly serve a people that they had never met before. These brothers and sisters not only inspired the church, but the community in Colombo as well.

The first three days were spent serving in our HOPE   worldwide   preschool for disadvantaged children. The volunteers were building bookshelves, teaching simple lessons, painting gigantic murals, repainting fading ugly brick walls, teaching hygiene and parenting lessons. We ended our time there with a heartwarming Christmas party, and a surprise visit from Santa Claus to the children!
We got to take a break and visit a beautiful getaway beach in city called Una Wattana. We sat on the beach, talked, took pictures, and laughed for hours. Then we visited Galle and saw towering ancient walls from the kingdom forts of old Sri Lanka. We ended our trip with a fantastic meal under starlight next the ocean. It was a great reminder to us all that a great time is truly a gift from God! And on Christmas day, we had an inspiring service that was overflowing with new visitors and friends. Our room was packed! This was our biggest Christmas service yet, and it was incredibly encouraging to my wife and me.

We spent two entire days at one of the leading children's hospitals in the country, working specifically with autistic children and their parents. Some of the children’s parents travel for countless hours in order to get medicine and counseling for their children, because this hospital is one of the only places in the country where they can receive this kind of help.  

I was shocked when I first walked into the room to see our volunteers, all on their own, striking up deep and meaningful conversations with every single set of Sri Lankan parents. The volunteers encouraged the parents to form a support system for themselves in order to help each other in their difficulties. I was inspired!

Many of the kids will rarely speak with strangers, but the volunteers were so excellent with children, that every single child felt compelled to speak and even play games with our group. What a miracle! The staff was of the hospital couldn’t help but be in awe of such serving hearts in the special needs wing of the hospital. It was a once in a lifetime experience for many of them. It just goes to show that a little love makes a big difference.

Our last days were spent teaching English to orphans of all ages at an orphanage in the city centre. We split up into several small groups, and taught the children basic English. This was no easy task. Sri Lankan schools teach very little English to their students, so our teaching will give them more opportunities for more jobs when they get older. The children desired to learn English and were incredibly respectful to all of our volunteers.  

One of the workers at the orphanage showed me the closets for the children, and some of our volunteers offered to purchase new ones for them! I was shocked! And after that, a volunteer offered to pay to take them out to a movie, and pay for every single child’s ticket. The entire orphanage was strengthened by our actions. They said that they were lucky to have us, but I really believe that we were the lucky ones.

We ended our days with a life-changing spiritual retreat in the palm tree filled outskirts of the city. We started the retreat with three hours of solitary time with God, praying and reflecting on what we had done, and learned during our time in service to others. Then we had lessons for two days about getting out of our comfort zones, and moving forward with faith in God!

Afterwards, our new year’s party began! We started the night with prayer, a message on the cross, and a memorable communion to prepare us for the new year ahead of us, and then we danced the night away! There was an incredible amount of fun, dancing, food, and fireworks.

We had an amazing time. It’s ironic that most people wait all year to go on vacations and shopping sprees that ultimately disappoint them, when our volunteers spent their holiday season serving others, and they had the time of their lives! During our time, I was reminded of when Paul said to the Galatian church in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  

You wouldn’t expect a small group of strangers to sacrifice their holiday season in order to serve other strangers in an unnoticed corner of the earth, but I guess that fits in with 2016’s theme of the unexpected doesn't it? So heading into 2017, I will remember this: If you accept unexpected opportunities with a godly attitude, it will change your life.

Check out our list of sites for 2017! Our theme is “Go and Do Likewise!” as we strive to become more like Jesus:   https://www.hopeww.org/hsc
By Shane Engel 13 Jan, 2018
 A COMMUNITY DEVASTATED
In December, the "Thomas Fire" (the most devastating fire in California history), ravaged Los Padres National Forest and recently heavy rains sent mudslides slamming through the town of Montecito on Tuesday, January 9.  The fire destroyed more than 1,000 structures and is blamed for at least two deaths and the mudslides wiped out at least 65 more homes, damaged 462 others and killed at least 18 people. As of Saturday, six people were still missing as the community deals with back to back disasters. To make matters even worse, the mudslide has indefinitely blocked U.S. Highway 101, the main route south to Los Angeles.

HOPE worldwide  has been in contact with the Los Angeles Chapter and the Santa Barbara Church of Christ .  All of their members are safe, however many have lost friends and neighbors.  Currently there is a ban on drinking the water and the natural gas, power, Internet and cable are on the fritz.   The beaches are also closed because of contamination.

Please be praying and consider making a donation to help the relief efforts once the area is safe. 

With great compassion,
HOPE worldwide
By Shane Engel 08 Jan, 2018

Recently, a member of our community challenged our supporters and friends to raise a total of $50,000 by December 31, 2017, for HYC Scholarships. That donor would match what we raise dollar-for-dollar! The money raised to meet this challenge will help students with limited resources to experience this fantastic program.

We are thrilled to announce that with your help we were able to raise over $62,000 for this amazing program! This means that together with the match we raised over $112,000 for scholarships! Thank you all for the amazing support and generosity!

Our fundraising Champion this year was Melina Cruz who successfully raised over $5,000 for the HYC scholarship by having her volunteer hours paid for by her company. What a creative and resourceful way to raise money! Additionally, she is paying it forward by gifting her full scholarship prize to her little sister. Amazing.

Among the many benefits participants receive from serving on HYC are lifelong friendships and memories, a heightened sense of purpose, greater self-confidence and independence, and a better understanding of the world and cultural differences. Many who volunteer through HYC go on to become nurses, doctors, teachers, counselors, or work with HOPE worldwide and other NGOs to bring much-needed attention and assistance to the developing world. Through their experiences with HYC, student volunteers deepen their compassion and gain a profound appreciation for what they have been given in their own lives. Fundamentally, HOPE Youth Corps builds a future generation of leaders who seek to improve the lives of those in need. We are so excited to be able to send many more deserving students on an HYC this year. All glory to God!

If you would like to continue to support this fantastic program, please click HERE

By Shane Engel 07 Dec, 2017

UPDATE

* Since 27 Nov 2017, Mount Agung Volcanic Eruption has dispersed about 40,000 residents from 10km from the crater.

* The government has set up several emergency camps for displaced residents.

* In the last 48 hours, the volcano has shown a slow down of seismic activities. Just like other volcanoes, it is a bit difficult to conclude whether the activities is slowing down or is the crater getting clogged.

* The volcano remains in high alert and residents are not yet cleared to return to the villages.

* Meanwhile, the city of Denpasar and many other tourism sites are not affected. Airport has resumed its operation.

* HOPE worldwide Indonesia continue to monitor the situation closely. So far, the basic needs are covered by the local government and residents. However, our prepositioned food supplies remains on stand by if there are needs for mobilization.

* Indonesia has also been experiencing several flooding and landslides as the rainy season is starting to be more active.

* As we serve the country, HOPE worldwide will continue to monitor the disasters that take place and provide assistance whenever there is a need in the community.

* Please continue to pray for the country as well as many other vulnerable countries.


UPDATE:

The airport on the holiday island of Bali has reopened after tens of thousands of travelers were stranded for two days due to an erupting volcano, but Indonesia's President said the danger has not passed and urged anyone within the mountain's exclusion zone to get out "for the sake of their safety." Mount Agung’s hazard zone has up to 100,000 people that are called to evacuate the area around the crater, however only 43,000 people have followed the order.  Villagers around the Bali Volcano are refusing to leave despite warnings of an “imminent” larger eruption, with the state of emergency extended to at least December 10.  HOPEww is on the ground and is closely monitoring the situation for ways to provide relief.  

Prayers for Indonesia!

Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali continues to release volcanic ashes after several days of eruptions. Ash and debris are shooting as high as two miles high causing mass spread of hazardous pollutants into the air. As many as 40,000 residents are encouraged to take shelter away from the danger zone. The international airport has been shut down and many people are in need of shelter and essential supplies.

Our own Charles Ham, Disaster Response Coordinator, and the HOPEww rapid response team are on the scene. They rushed to deliver masks and assess the situation on the ground. Many of the residents need food, shelter, blankets and possibly health care depending on the severity of the upcoming days. We ask for your prayers for these individuals who are experiencing this displacement right now. Please pray for their safety, for their needs to be met and for our staff and volunteers to have the wisdom and the resources to help them in the best way possible.

Please donate to our disaster response fund today to help with these efforts!

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 30 Nov, 2017

Come join us in 2018 as we learn to walk “In His Steps”! We are excited to offer 27 life-changing trips all over the world throughout 2018! Many of our most popular sites fill up within the first month of registration so to increase your chance of getting your top choice, make sure to apply early! This year most of our programs are open to all – teens, campus, singles and families.

Click here to take a look at the detailed site descriptions to learn more about HOPE Youth Corps, HOPEww Volunteer Corps, HOPEww Medical Corps and HOPEww Agriculture Corps sites.   Many of these sites are open to all!  If you're single and want to learn more about our 2018 HOPEww Singles Corps sites - including our Houston Singles Disaster Corps -  click here.  Some sites have specific age restrictions. Most North America trips (Canada, U.S., and Mexico) are open to all teens 15 years old and above.  The minimum age for U.S. teens is 18 to go on all other trips. Non-U.S. teens can travel internationally from the age of 15.

 Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.

There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance. Email hyc@hopeww.org with any questions.


By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 14 Nov, 2017

As we travel to foreign countries to serve and learn, we encounter amazing individuals, whose lives have been transformed by the work of HOPE worldwide . We strongly believe in respectful service. On our Volunteer Corps, we assist existing programs, and provide additional help. We do contribute, but we also learn from the incredibly resilient individuals we meet. While serving in Africa these past few months, we met these courageous women…

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 01 Nov, 2017

Matching Gift Challenge!

Challenge accepted!! Recently, a member of our community challenged our supporters and friends to raise a total of $50,000 by December 31, 2017 for HYC Scholarships. Our generous donor will match what we raise dollar-for-dollar! The money raised to meet this challenge will help students experience this amazing program. Double the impact of your gift by donating today!

Here is how you can get involved:

The individual who raises the largest amount will get a full scholarship to the HYC of their choice* for 2018 sites!   (prize does not include airfare).

Every year, hundreds of students volunteer their time to plant, rebuild, mentor, train and encourage. Thank you for making it possible for those with limited financial resources to share in this incredible opportunity to serve those in need. 

Click here  for our HYC Scholarship Fund Brochure.


Please help us SPREAD THE WORD and share with a friend .  


Any questions please contact:

Mandy Goins

Cell: 610-608-7094

Email:  hyc@hopeww.org

By Shane Engel 17 Oct, 2017

Churches in South Florida are continuing to bring hope to Bolivia through the 5th annual “Celebration of Caring Golf Classic.”  The fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, November 17 on Key Biscayne off of the Miami mainland.

The Golf Classic benefits HOPE  worldwide  Bolivia, providing funding for programs that serve Bolivia’s children and most vulnerable populations. Since HOPEww was established in 2011 in the capital city of La Paz, the country’s health care and social services systems have been positively impacted. The tournament has raised $157,000 since its inception!

There are six levels of sponsorships ($1,500 - $5,000), and individuals can golf for $225. All information is included on the website ( www.CelebrationofCaring.com ), including a registration portal and links to videos, stories and blogs about the work in La Paz. Individuals can also donate through the website.

The Crandon Park golf course is considered one of the most picturesque in Florida. Golfers are surrounded by tropical foliage, mangroves and breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay as they encounter seven saltwater lakes and challenging sand traps during their round.

Former Florida residents Dr. Kevin & Noelle Broyles lead HOPE worldwide  Bolivia. The Duke-educated Dr. Broyles was behind the building of Centro Médico Internacional Hope Clinic in Bolivia, a cutting-edge sustainable social enterprise that will generate revenue to meet increasing medical needs in the La Paz community. CMIHope  is the result of a joint effort between Foundation Arco Iris and HOPE  worldwide  that integrates high quality health services to the population of Zona Sur of La Paz with financial support to the charitable work of HOPEww and Hospital Arco Iris, who partner to serve Bolivia’s large indigent population. 

“Celebration of Caring” welcomes all golfers to join in this “fun”draiser.


By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 01 Oct, 2017

It’s taken me a long time to process what happened in Africa. I’ve been home for over a month. It didn’t help that two days after returning to the States, I was thrown back into the routine of starting a new school year, half asleep and still hungover from a three week adrenaline rush. And it didn’t help that as soon as I got back, people were asking about the trip – “How was Africa?” “Did you get sick?” “How was the food?” “Were you scared?” “We’ve been praying for you.” 

I was overwhelmed and frustrated with their simple question. “How was Africa, how was Africa?” I didn’t want to diminish the effect this trip had on my heart by spewing out words that didn’t give it justice. I didn’t want people to ask, because I wasn’t ready to answer. My standard answer to people asking became “It was amazing!”. I tried to leave it at that, though in saying it, I felt both trivial and fake. It was amazing, but that wasn’t enough.

There is no perfect way to describe serving in Africa. I guess I can start by telling the story of how my family came to be there.  After all, the ‘getting to Africa’ had a huge impact on my life, as well.  January 1st of every year I choose a spiritual quality that I want to grow in, and I work on it for that year. This year, I decided I wanted to grow in my faith. Through the process of getting to Africa, I did grow in my faith.

This year I was realizing that it is very easy to be faithful when you have everything you need. I wanted God to test my faith, and to help me grow in it.   I had no idea of how he would do this, but I fully believed he would do it.

Africa had never been on my bucket list (and I’d never heard of Zambia!). But I guess God had other plans, because a Bible study at our home led to an idea, which became a conversation, which quickly turned into a vision. And that vision was that Dru and I take our girls and go with the HOPEww Volunteer Corps to Zambia, Africa to renovate a preschool. The project was such a great fit for our entire family. It was obvious God had his hand in it. Dru is an electrician/plumber/handyman, who was perfect for building renovations. I am a teacher, able to help with teacher training and planning in the classroom. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It fit in a perfect window in our summer vacation.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 30 Sep, 2017

We have 27 trips all over the world throughout the year. Registration opens on December 1, 2017. Apply early to ensure you get your top choice. Some of our more popular trips fill up within the first month of registration. The Houston Singles Disaster Corps will open registration sooner, as the program will take place early in the year (February).

Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.

So start planning, and start saving! There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance.

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