WestonPost2This has been another incredible year of serving the long-term team and ministry in Spain. Four years in a row I’ve visited this amazing team, and every year has been a little bit different. Usually, we focus mainly on the outdoors club and doing some video or web projects for the team, but this year we got to spend an especially large amount of time in community with the long-term team and being a part of one of their yearly ministries to the community, the “Esplai.”

Our time here has been busy and fruitful. Every person on the team was able to bring special gifts and talents to serve this ministry in a unique way. We were able to be a part of the outdoor club, run a kid’s summer camp, lead times of emotional and spiritual formation, provide one on one counseling, produce a video for the community, share testimony at a local church, and (perhaps most importantly) grow our relationships with the long term team in Spain. We are exhausted, and full.

We often get questions about the ministry in Spain, and why our church would choose to be a part of ministering to such a relatively wealthy part of the world. Some people even think we come to Spain as some sort of a veiled vacation. I can tell you two things. First, Spain is a wonderful, beautiful country and I enjoy every minute of being here. Second, I’ve never been in such a spiritually dead place as modern Europe. On top of all that, the faith tradition of the African immigrants in Spain further isolates them from the surrounding community. Even the people who want Jesus are so scared of losing their families, friends, and traditions that they won’t make a commitment to Him. I can tell you, with certainty, it’s the hardest soil I’ve ever seen for the gospel. The work is hard, and frustrating, and never ending. I come in to Spain knowing it’s very unlikely for me to personally lead someone into a relationship with Christ. I can, however, serve, pour into, support, pray with, worship with, and be in community with the long term team, who will have much farther reaching and greater impact in this community than my one week a year ever will.

I had a lot of time on this trip to reflect on how ministry is done at our church versus this tiny little ministry in Spain. We have a large, beautiful building in an extremely wealthy and educated part of San Diego. We see a few hundred believers walk through our doors every week to worship God in peace. In Spain, they have a small association that cannot openly preach the name of Jesus. They serve in an impoverished, under-educated, under-equipped immigrant community in the suburbs. The difference is, if Existence Church disappeared tomorrow, I’m not sure many people outside of our community would take note or care. However, if the association in Spain disappeared, I can guarantee an entire population of immigrants would take note of their absence. Their association has become a place for education, commerce, and community; and all the while they are pointing people toward truth and salvation. I suppose a better question than, “why is it worth doing ministry in Spain?” would be, “why doesn’t our extremely privileged and open ministry make as many waves in our community back home?” I hope we can learn more from this tiny little ministry that will help us to serve better in San Diego.

It has been an honor to lead teams to this lovely little town for the last four years. The relationships that I’ve formed here will last me a lifetime, and I hope that’s true of every person who has joined me. I hope you consider joining us on a future trip to serve and love these beautiful people. Please continue to keep them in your prayers, and feel free to ask me any questions about our involvement in Spain.

-Weston

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On Thursday, we helped run the 2nd to last day of the “Esplai,” or Kid’s Camp.  The kids spent much of their morning practicing their choreography and singing the song, “Todo Se Puede Lograr,” or “Everything Can Be Achieved.”  It’s quite catchy and has been stuck in everyone’s heads except for one lucky person, Lacey.  The kids love it, and amazingly seem to know all of the words even though Spanish isn’t the native language for a good portion of them. In the later part of the day, they played special games in the park across the street that worked on team building and communication. For example in one of the games, a blind-folded child with a serving spoon had 60 seconds to try to feed his or her partner a container of yogurt while the one eating gave directions…up, right, forward, farther!!

After the children went home, we had a short break when the boys went across the street to a Moroccan barber shop and I rested. Then, two of the mothers of some Moroccan children from the camp cooked us traditional couscous to say, “Thank you.”  We felt so honored to have this special dish prepared for us; it took them 2 1/2 hours! [Flash forward to Friday: One of their sons and his friend cried as they were leaving the last day of camp because they were going to miss it so much.] Also, the lunch gave us a special time together as a group to share stories and get to know the Spain team. I got to know a few of the long-term ladies better, and we discussed their struggles and the best parts of their jobs. Lacey had a special bond with the aid of Google Translate with one of the Spanish-speaking couples, and the boys continued to bond with the men on the team.
We continued the evening spending time with one of our good friends on the long term team, the best of all tour guides, in downtown. Even though he has many other things on his agenda, he made a special effort to spend time with us the entire trip.  We ended up a restaurant called “Amics” for short, and rejoined one of the couples from earlier. After hours of great conversation and learning more about their work we finally headed home, totally exhausted but happy about the great day.

Until we see you again,
Heather

Spain – Day 4: Inglés

HeatherPostToday the kids started becoming more confident and attempted more and more English.  Some of the multilingual students really helped by explaining the games or activities in Spanish. The teacher I worked with also speaks Spanish, but the kids seamed to glean confidence from speaking among one another first before sharing with the class. In one of the older classes we discussed adjectives and how to describe someone, namely me. They loved learning how to say “pregnant” and almost lost it when I answered a question posed in Spanish about how many “meses” with 20. I quickly realized my mistake and corrected by saying, “Not 20 months, 20 weeks!”   Needless to say they were very relieved. They were also very intrigued by my green (hazel) eyes because nearly all of them had brown eyes.

We reviewed the numbers in one of the younger classes, and by the end of class today one of the shyest girls was able to tell us how old she was: “I am 9 years old,” and count along as we played a version of monkey in the middle with a beach ball, counting up each time we were able to successfully pass the ball. The record was 30, by the way, and a small handful of kids kept up the whole way.

For most of the kids at camp, English is at least their 3rd language. I  was quite impressed to learn today that one of our quieter-yet fairly high achieving-boys speaks Arabic at home, Spanish with most of his friends, and Catalan (a regional language that is sort of a mixture of French and Spanish that they use in formal situations) in school. However, he really tried to use English today not only in the English station but also in their sports activities and throughout the day.

English is one of the main ongoing activities at the center where we held camp, which they call La Fuente, “The Fountain.” They have classes some of the time but also host a language café for the community. It’s a place people can come together and practice their English with one another. As with the kids in camp today, they really open up when they have a chance to practice with peers. A major difference is that some of the women who come to La Fuente aren’t literate in any language, so the lessons can include basics such as how to hold a pen.

By partnering with the local team we hope we can help La Fuente be a light in the community. The team stays in contact with the parents and helps answer questions and build relationships. As with VBS volunteers at Existence, our team makes it possible for camp to run smoothly and for the community to get connected with La Fuente, hopefully for the long-term.

-Heather

Spain – Day 2: Stories

LaceyPost1How do you put into words the importance of a good story? For me, stories are my most favorite way to explore the world and all it has to offer. When I was a child I would sit at the feet of my grandmother and I would listen to the tales of a Naval Officers’ wife in WWII and how she worked as an elocutionist on the radio to make extra money for her family. I used my imagination to place myself into her stories which allowed a child to relate to something so far out of context. As I have gotten older, and experienced so much more that life brings, my perspective of her stories has changed drastically. Instead of envying her position and occupation, I feel the weight of separation from her husband and fear for his life and the constant stress to make ends meet. Quite plainly, the rose colored glasses come off when the innocence of childhood is lost. That being said, the strength and tenacity of my grandmother that I can now see in her stories as an adult, inspires me to be strong and brave in spite of life’s curve balls. 

And isn’t that the point of sharing our stories? To feel connection? I believe that through our shared experiences, despite the details, we find commonality that transcends all language and cultural barriers. There is something deeply comforting to look into the eyes of another human, share a hug, and know that they too understand both tragedy and triumph. 

Today I was given the opportunity to share a part of my story that is full of both extreme pain and extravagant hope. The long term team we are here to support knew of the amazing things God has done in my life and felt a deep desire to have me share with a Spanish evangelical church in Barcelona in order to encourage the body with a story that tells of the miracles of God. As I have shared at Existence in the past, in 2015, I was healed in my body, mind and soul from paralysis, depression and a true crisis of faith. As I shared, one of our team leaders translated, and the feeling in the room was absolutely community at its finest. We laughed, we cried, and though we could not speak each other’s languages, the transcending love of Christ filled that place and brought hope in a way that only He can. 

Directly following, another team leader gave an invitation to the congregation to come to the alter and receive prayer for healing in whatever form it was needed, and the response was overwhelming. Dozens of women and men came and poured their hearts out in a language I could not understand and yet as I prayed with them, those things fell to the wayside and the presence of the Holy Spirit was tangibly felt. 

How does that even happen? How is it possible? Well, here is what I know… our God is the God of this universe who transcends all space and time. He does not need Google Translate. He does not need our help. But He loves to use His children and it is my greatest honor to be used by Him. Galatians 5:13 tells us that “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.” As we share our stories, we are able to walk in our freedom in Christ and love one another well. 

What story is inside of you that God wants to use? 

-Lacey

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Existence Church was first introduced to the ministry opportunities in Spain over five years ago, when the team leader from the Barcelona area came and shared his vision of launching an outdoors club as a way of connecting to North African immigrants. Our church caught the vision, and donated enough money to purchase eight mountain bikes and backpacking gear for the club. The church knew that I was passionate about mountain biking, so they invited me to lead the first ever short-term trip to Spain. At that point the club was in its infancy, but it’s been awesome to watch it grow and bear fruit over time.

Fast forward to four years later, and I was stoked to hear that some of our friends had asked if we could join them for a mountain bike ride on our first day in town. We were more than happy to oblige their request! There’s something about getting into nature together that helps guys to open up and connect to one another, and this ride was no exception.

The daily schedule in Spain is vastly different than what we experience in the U.S. so when the ride ended around 8:00pm, we headed to a cafe for coffees and Spanish horchata. We witnessed something beautiful at this cafe, that embodied the original vision for the outdoors club that was cast so many years ago. We were able to sit and watch as two North African immigrants sat and asked questions about the Bible for nearly an hour. There was a little debate, but for the most part we got to see two young men, raised in a different faith tradition, attentively ask questions about Jesus and what makes Christians different from the rest of the world.

For a North African to come to Christ is no small thing, and it usually means they must turn their backs on their families, traditions, and everything else they hold near. Very few have the courage to move from a seeker to a believer for fear of losing everything. The day after our bike ride, one of the young men saw one of our team members on the street and told him, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the things we talked about yesterday, I think I’m going to ask my Imam about them and see what he thinks.” Our prayer for this young immigrant man, and so many others like him, is that he would not find the answers he’s looking for in the ways of his old faith, but that he would turn to something new and beautiful in Christ. We’re even praying that God would stir in the hearts of the traditional religious leaders of this community and move them toward Christ.

Finally, to everyone who helped get the outdoors club up and started, and to everyone who has donated since then, thank you! It’s because of your help that we are able to have this sort of conversation with young men who are seeking something greater in their lives. Please continue to support this ministry in whatever way you can, and consider joining us on a future short-term trip to Spain.

-Weston

Knock three times on the clubhouse door for entry!

This year’s VBS will turn your kids into Galactic Starveyors! As kids focus their telescopes on marvels painted in the sky by the Creator, they will discover the wonder among all wonders-that the God who created everything there is-the knowable and the unknowable, the visible and the invisible-wants a personal relationship with them! Invite your kids into the clubhouse and show them the God who is over the moon in love with them. Each day will include yummy snacks, outdoor games, awesome crafts, singing and dancing and best of all, a Bible story that will teach us more about the truth of God’s’ word!

EVENT DETAILS

● Who: Preschool children (3 years old and potty trained) through 5th Grade (Go by grade entering in Fall 2017)

● When: July 31- Aug 3rd, 9am-12pm each day

● Where: Existence Church, 10960 Via Frontera, 92127

● Cost: $40 (includes t-shirt)

● How: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

● Info: Email krystal@existencechurch.com

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Our VBS program wouldn’t be possible without the gracious help and commitment of our volunteers… and we have PLENTY of opportunities available for both adults and youth.

Opportunities are available to help both during and before VBS! These range from prepping crafts, helping with check-in, setting up/tearing down, coordinating t-shirt orders and much more! If you’re interested in helping in any capacity, click on the registration link above and follow the prompts for volunteers.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What should my child wear to VBS?

● Close-toed shoes & weather appropriate clothing.

● No bathing suits.

● Sunscreen

● VBS tshirt

2. Will my child receive any food at VBS?

● Each day we provide a small snack during our VBS time. Please alert us to any food allergies at check in.

3. Are there scholarships available?

● Yes! We never want finances to keep a child from coming to VBS. If you need a full or partial scholarship, please contact Krystal Thomson at krystal@existencechurch.com

Register Here!

Please join us for our annual Volunteer Appreciation Night! This will be a night of entertainment and appreciation as we honor all of our outstanding volunteers that help make Existence Church happen.

We have the pleasure of hosting and hearing from two incredibly insightful Christian leaders on May 20th. They are Tyler Reagin and Evan Hodge. Tyler is the The President of Catalyst Leader. Evan is the Director of Business Development for Dutch Bros Coffee. They are both passionate about helping others know, love, and serve Jesus. Make sure to bring a friend and join us!

There will be food and childcare provided. Please RSVP if you will be needing childcare as we have limited sitters.

You can RSVP here or through the evite.
http://evite.me/ju16SWFZHK

Inside Existence April

Church Family,

I hope you are enjoying your week! I wanted to let you know that the April edition of “Inside Existence” is available. It is a short 10 minute podcast designed to help us celebrate what God is doing in our church, clarify our mission/vision, and clearly communicate important updates. Thank you ahead of time for taking a few moments to tune in this month.

When: Saturday April 21st and 22nd.

All information can be found here: http://mademarketsd.com/

We hope our church community will come out on Friday April 21st and Saturday April 22nd to enjoy this fantastic event! Read on to hear what Made Market Co-Director, Sarah Baumgart, has to say about Made Market, MOPS, and what you can expect at the event.

“Made Market SD is a San Diego craft fair that features 50+ carefully curated, local craft talent and artisans that are exclusive to handmade goods. Made Market started with a dream of being a way to love on community and give back. My love language is acts of service, and being a maker I wanted to reach the handmade community as everything is inspired and curated with tons of love.

It began with wanting to partner with Moms of Pre Schoolers (MOPS) at Existence Church to help raise money to fund scholarships for those who are looking to join a community of moms who are on this beautiful mess of a journey we call motherhood. We’ve all been placed in this time and place in history, as the tribe of women who are raising the world. And the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree with one another, but everyone is in and we all need each other.

MOPS been a huge blessing to me and many others who joined when I did and after. Kim Hotsenpiller (Co-Director of Made Market) is the director of MOPS at Existence Church. I asked Kim to journey along with me and keep this going, and even through her uncertainty, God definitely spoke to her about being BOLD, and I thank God every day for this. Even though I’m the creative brain and founder, Kim brings so much of what I didn’t have to make this even more a success. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be doing this without her. God placed her in this big vision for many reasons and we are so blessed to be doing this together.”

What you can expect on Saturday for a $3 entry fee (kids are free!):

  • 50 hand-picked vendors

  • make & take table

  • raffle prizes every 30 minutes with handmade goodies donated by our amazing vendors (must be present to win and claim raffle prizes)

  • darling photo booth you will definitely want to take advantage of

  • live music!!

  • be one of the first 50 shoppers to snag one of our amazing swag bags

And most exciting of all, take note of our new location in Rancho Bernardo, which is bigger and easier to find, with plenty of parking available!  10960 Via Frontera, San Diego 92127(link to Google Maps)

So there you have it! Now all you need to do is text a few girlfriends and make a day of it: grab your Starbucks and come out to shop our 4th annual Made Market!

We can’t wait to see you!

Made Market Team

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