Sidewalk Myanmar

One of the favorite parts of our ministry is working with Sidewalk. Sidewalk is an inner city children’s ministry that takes the gospel into some of the poorest places in south Manila. What began as a small outreach program with just a handful of kids has grown into something amazing.

12 years ago, when Joann Luciano (founder) walked into the slums for the first time, 13 kids came out to listen to her tell stories and learn about Jesus. Today, 10,000 kids are engaged and discipled every week.

I get so excited whenever I get the chance to talk about this ministry. Why? Because its all about:

Loving and serving children born into poverty: This ministry has a burden for the poor and the outcast. Joann coordinates teams of teachers who travel to over 100 sites scattered throughout the slums of south Manila. They walk into these places, find a big clear space and have Sunday school with the kids who come out. They sing songs, play games, tell bible stories and just love on the kids.

Taking the gospel into dark places: Every single week, for the past 12 years, these teams have bravely taken the gospel into some of the most dangerous places in the Philippines. Why? Because no one else will. They go to the places everyone else avoids, walking into the lives of those whom everyone else has rejected and cast aside and they bring with them truth, life, laughter and hope for a better future.

Raising up leaders from within: By far, this is my favorite thing about sidewalk. The leaders of this ministry, the ones who show up every weekend to teach, are all kids who come from these slums. Local kids modeling leadership and modeling Christ – that’s the key ingredient that makes this ministry so powerful. It’s not missionaries or even a local youth group who go into these rough neighborhoods, instead all the leaders of Sidewalk live just down the street from the kids they teach. They live the same reality. When they talk about love, change and hope it carries weight because they face the same struggles, hardships and challenges these kids experience every day.

Giving the underprivileged opportunities for a better future: If all this ministry was about was taking the gospel to the poor and to the outcast, that would be enough. But they also know that these kids need practical tools to help their family rise out of the generational poverty they have been stuck in for decades. So, Sidewalk has a scholar program that helps sponsor the discipleship, leadership development and education of their leaders. Today, over 30 Barrio kids have become the first in their family’s history, to not only graduate high school, but also get a college degree. 11 are presently studying, and hundreds more will join them. Our goal is to support 1,000 kids from the barrio to graduate from college.

This month, Sidewalk is breaking new ground in Myanmar.  As I write this, Joann is leading a team to raise up a new batch of leaders who will be the first teachers to launch Sidewalk in Myanmar. Just three years ago you could be thrown in jail for worshiping Jesus but Myanmar is slowly opening it’s doors to Christianity.

In just the first two days over 100 kids showed up! Can you imagine what could happen in Myanmar in the next 10 years. 

This is huge and we ought to celebrate together. God’s kingdom is expanding and His forces are taking ground but that also means we should anticipate some heavy resistance.

Until November 31st we’ll be praying for the foundation that is being laid during this phase of the project. Would you join us and commit to praying each day for the leaders of the Sidewalk movement and the launching of the first site in Myanmar?

Things to pray for:

  1. Government Resistance and Persecution: Evangelism is still illegal in the Burmese States.
  2. The hearts of the people and the children.
  3. The leaders: Vision, Inspiration, Protection, Provision, Favor, Courage, Hearts like Jesus.

The names of the leaders are:

  • Joann Luciano and the Filipino Team
  • Deck, a Sidewalk: Philippines teacher (17 years old) who has gone to help train the new batch of Myanmar Teachers
  • Pastor Robin and the Myanmar Teachers – Heading the Sidewalk movement in their hometown in Myanmar.
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Take Me To Church: What if Jesus was at the center of our belief?

2015-10-07

Michael Hart created a list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Jesus was #3, following Muhammad and Sir Issac Newton. When asked why Jesus was #3 when Christianity is the #1 religion in the world (34% of the world population claims Christianity as their religion) he said:

“Now these ideas of Christ are surely among the most remarkable and original ethical ideas ever presented. If they were widely followed, I would have no hesitation putting Jesus first. But the truth is that they are not followed. Most Christians consider the injunction to “love thy enemy” as – at most – an ideal which might be realized in some perfect world, but one which is not a reasonable guide to conduct in the actual world we live in… Jesus’ most distinctive teaching, therefore, remains an intriguing but basically untried suggestion.“

When I worked in a restaurant during college, the worst days were Sunday’s. No one wanted to work Sundays. Our staff was treated with such disrespect, ignored and belittled. Little to no tip was left for the waiters. Being part of that 34%, I was extremely discouraged. How far we have wandered from what we are supposed to be.

I read this quote this year that struck me hard: “I used to be a Christian. I used to be a good Christian. But, then I met Jesus.”

My political views, values, worldview has been shaped by my experiences, my culture and my feelings.

Charles Gherkin said “the Church is always seduced by the culture in which it is embedded.”  I definitely have been.

What if we reJesused the Church? What if we re-Jesused our whole value system, our whole faith? What would that look like:

  • What Jesus says and does would dictate our lives, not what Paul says.
  • We would never act like big shots due to money or power.
  • We would freely give our things away.
  • We would quickly forgive those who hurt us.
  • We would rush to take the servants role.
  • Love would be our trademark.
  • We would hardly ever divorce.
  • The church would be a safe haven for ALL people.
  • We would be seen as counter-culture.
  • Seminary would be built upon the study of everything about Jesus.
  • His words would be honored as the highest source of revelation in the bible.
  • People would feel loved, respected, included and cherished in the presence of Christians.
  • We would not have hierarchy in the church.
  • I would be patient.
  • I would lovingly care for everyone.
  • I would seek out the excluded and the neglected as my friends.
  • I would prioritize prayer everyday (throughout the day) no matter my schedule.
  • I wouldn’t care what people thought of me.
  • “they would know us by our love”

I have found and seen how many of my beliefs have been shaped by culture and by feelings, not by what Jesus said or how He lived.

I want to be a disciple of Jesus, not a christian. I want to study Him. What are His political views, what did He deem as important, what does He love, hate, value? What are his main teachings? How did He respond when placed in this kind of situation. What kind of people did he focus on?

I want to break down my foundations of belief and begin to rebuilt it back up, all based on Jesus.

Preparing for Change

Staff retreat 
We have spent these last 3 days up in Doi Mae Salmon praying for all the beautiful souls to come to school this year. We can’t wait for all the students to arrive and for our family to grow.

We caught up on each other’s years, victories and struggles. How wonderful to be in such a safe place where you can tell everyone in the room exactly how you feel and what you are going through and know that you are safe in your vulnerability.

I love this school. I love these people.

2015-09-26

Dirty Feet, Hope and 10,000 Children

We have spent the last 10 days in Manila, Philippines to spend time with the Sidewalk staff and kids. Every single day we went to a Sidewalk site. As we would walk through the narrow alley with grey water beneath our slippers and mud covered chip bags lining our path, we were greeted with smiles and nods from the adults sitting in their door way to the children standing in the windows. The Sidewalk staff would yell out “Bible study!” and all the kids with tank tops that used to be white but have turned a soft grey, messy hair and mud covered feet would smile and yell for their friends, repeating the chant of “bible study!” in their own high voice. A small, soft hand would grab mine and tug me towards the end of the alley into a wide open area. Usually, 20 or 30 kids would already be at the site waiting for the sidewalk staff, eager to join their welcome song. 
One thing that Ben and I felt deep in our hearts was the immediate welcoming we received from the community. It would be easy to be cold and suspicious of strangers, especially white strangers (for most of the kids, we were the first white people they have every spoken to or seen in real life). Kids would grab our hands and give up their small, broken plastic chairs so that we wouldn’t have to sit on the dirt. 
We spent our days with hundreds of impoverished children, hearing their stories, dreams and testimonies. It was incredible seeing the impact that Sidewalk is making for these children. Not only are they providing secure education, food, and teaching these children about Jesus, but they have given these kids confidence. Kids who live on the street or grow up in the slums are often told that they are a nuisance to others, they are unwanted, undesirable, that they have no future. Never the less, these kids are dreaming big. We met future doctors, captains, pilots, Presidents of the Philippines and bank owners. Unfortunately, most of the kids (without sidewalk’s help) will end up dropping out of school during or after high school. Their parents need them to work, or they have gotten pregnant, into drugs or in a gang.
Sidewalk goes into these rough communities, points to these children with dirty faces, rotting teeth and holes in their clothes and tells them they are worthy, wanted, special, loved, they have hope and a great future. They point to these children and they say “you will be the first in your family to go to college, but you will not be the last, and you are going to help get your family out of this slum.” And they do! We met a girl who graduated with a 4 year degree and is working full time giving 50% of her income to her parents and the rest to her brother and sister who are in college pursuing their degree. She was the first in her family to every go to college and the very first Christian.
Sidewalk is raising up a powerful generation of leaders from within the slums. Their entire staff is made up of kids who grew up or still live there.

Seeing the impact that Sidewalk is making in the lives of these individual children is inspiring. But the influence doesn’t end there. It spreads to their families and to the community. Entire villages have been transformed just by Sidewalk going in and teaching the children. Children are powerful.

Ben and I spent every single day, 7 am to 1 am in conversations and fellowship with others and we left even more energized, excited and passionate than when we came (and a little sick) We are extremely proud to be working with Sidewalk and to be part of their team.

I learned this statistic recently:

1/6 people in the world live in a slum. 

1/500 missionaries work in the slums. 

There are slums in every city. Let’s go into them. Let’s give these children hope and remind them of their worth. We don’t have to be part of Sidewalk to do this. But, we want to thank you so much for empowering us to be part of that statistic. For giving us the chance to be part of this team.

Two days ago we celebrated our second anniversary! It has been the most wonderful and exciting journey. We have grown and learned so much. And this year has by far been the best. Here are the three lessons we have learned this year in our marriage:

 1.    Trust is the foundation of a healthy marriage, and trust is dependent on transparency. It’s important to be open, honest and vulnerable with each other.

  2.    Fight for unity – conflict isn’t bad. All conflict gives each person the opportunity to be like Christ and to follow the biblical model of what a marriage is supposed to look like where we don’t think of our needs and feelings as higher, but instead prioritize the other’s needs/feeling. Don’t fight to be right. Listen, respect each other’s feelings and try to understand the situation from their perspective. (a lot easier to say than to actually practice)

  3.    Every hard situation and circumstance is an opportunity to glorify God by being satisfied in Jesus. 

We love receiving tips and advice from others. We want to learn from you. If there is any wisdom that you could share with us, please feel free to write us.

 

We love you! 

Ben and Jess

Abandoned Children, Water Trucks and Noodles

These past two weeks have been incredible. We spent one week in Cambodia attending the Hosea (Harvest of South East Asia) Conference. We got to listen and learn from pastors, psychologists, and humanitarians from all over the world and hear incredible stories about what God has been doing throughout the nations.

We built friendships with some of the most extraordinary people and were greatly encouraged in our faith by their incredible testimonies. In Vietnam, followers of Jesus still face severe persecution. Many Christians are imprisoned and even murdered for preaching the gospel. At the conference, half the auditorium was filled with Vietnamese Christians. Towards the end, one of the speakers asked for all the Vietnamese to walk to the front of the auditorium and pray for all the westerners, that we would live with the same boldness and love that they embody. It was one of the most beautiful moments of the conference. We left with more excitement, confidence and purpose than when we came. 
The next week was spent in Myanmar. We wanted to spend time with the boys who live in the children’s home we work with and to search for new sites to begin Sidewalk Myanmar. These boys are the most inclusive, tender hearted and respectful boys I have met in a long time. They were constantly looking out for Ben and I, bringing us cold water, chairs to sit in and writing us little notes. Cinsan is a 23 year old woman who is raising 12 boys and doing an incredible job! She has inspired Ben and I in our future parenting. The boys were astounded by Ben’s muscles and wouldn’t stop feeling his chest. They challenged him to pushup competitions and handstand walks. By the second day, Ben and I  got a tummy bug and were very sick. The 103 degree weather didn’t do much to speed up our recovery, nevertheless it was an incredible trip filled with hugs from little arms, kisses, worship, dancing, pushups, games and precious new friends.
The Emerge staff got to take the boys to see their very first movie in the cinemas; Avengers in 3D. Jeremy, a three year old who thinks he is a teenager, could not get over the fact that the seats pop up when you get out of them and continued to hop out of his seat and push it back down as soon as it popped up. I sat next to Jonathan, a 15 year old, incredibly mature young man who was astounded that the image we were watching was coming from a beam of light and continued to tap me on the shoulder and turn me around to stair at the dust trapped in the light, floating in the air. Now, I am a marvel girl at heart, but these boys made the movie. Watching the excitement and astonishment on their faces, it’s moments like those that imprint on your memory. Simple pleasures.
One of our favorite moments of the trip was when we visited a slum in Myanmar called Dalaa. It’s most often in these extremely poor villages that we have been welcomed with open arms. When we walked into the village, dozens of the villagers had lined up behind a blue water tank, waiting to fill their empty buckets. Every day, the government delivers clean water to this village by truck because they simply have no clean water source nearby. Despite not having the basic necessities in life, like water, the village was filled with laughing, smiling children. Children seem to be unfazed by the hardships around them. Their innocence and joy in the simple things of life is heart lifting. What’s even more humbling and inspiring is how eagerly they want to share their treasures with you. I had a little boy bring me his popsicle, a very special treat for these little ones. Instead of eating it as quickly as he could, he ran over and put it in my hand. Children are incredible.
We were invited into a little bamboo hut that was filled with children and smiling faces. One of the young women who works with the church in Myanmar lives in the slum and helps take care of these kids. We spent a few hours sitting in that bamboo hut, singing kids church songs, eating together and enjoying each others company. 
For the next ten days we will be in Manila spending time with the Sidewalk staff and scholars. We couldn’t be more excited to spend such focused time with these inspiring children of God.

We are so proud to be working with such incredible, selfless people. Every moment we spend with these children makes us more grateful and passionate about the work the Lord has given us and we pray that we will be faithful and bold with these gifts.

None of this would be possible without your support and we can’t thank you enough for empowering us to go out and work with these children. We love you so much! 

Love,
Ben and Jess

National Water Fights

5 things you need to know about Songkran
1) It’s a festival about honor, respect and reconciliation (not just a national water fight) 
The word Songkran derives from the Pali language of the Theravada Buddhists scriptures meaning “for movement or change.” 
Songkran is an incredibly beautiful holiday. It is a 3 day celebration of the Thai New Year that brings families together, seeks reconciliation and honors the elders. 
          Day 1: The kids return home. All year long kids and young adults save up to return home and to present their parents with huge gifts.
          Day 2: Called the ‘traveling day’. Families will visit the nearest temples and offer sand, food and other gifts to the temple and the monks. The sand is to pay back all the sand that we track from the temple on our shoes. To the Thai people this is seen as stealing from the temple so on Songkran buckets of sand are brought back to the temple.
         Day 3: (our favorite day) On this day of Songkran, the young will prepare a special water made from the root of a flower. This water is presented to their parents and grandparents. If they have no elder relatives, they present this water to the elders of their village. The water is used as a symbol for the washing away of bad spirits and the evil done that year. It’s like a yearly baptism, cleansing the soul of evil and a new, pure life beginsThe young children and adults apologize to their parents and their grandparents for anything wrong they had done that year, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. They then ask for a blessing from the elders. It is a day filled with great honor and respect. 
2) It’s a national water fight.
For more than 3 days straight, everywhere you go there will be kids, adults and the elderly standing on the side of the road with buckets of water to pour on you. Initially believed as the cleansing of the soul, it has developed into a very playful holiday. You’re headed to the mall to pick up something at the grocery store? Don’t worry, someone is waiting at the door to pour cold water all over you.
It is assumed that everyone will be sopping wet during Songkran, so most restaurants place plastic on their seats and everyone arrives wet as a mop.
3) Nowhere is safe. 
     Ben and I are currently living on a farm and one of the young men we work with’s bike broke down so he had no way to get to his family for Songkran. We know how important this holiday is, so we took him to his house. I took this time to work on my laptop in the back seat.  On the way there (in the middle of a mountain range) we ran into a military check point. In the one minute that we talked with the police, a 10 year old boy, big smile on his face, ran to the car and threw a bucket of water through the open window, (a bucket full of water) soaking everyone and everything inside the car (including the laptop). No matter where you are on Songkran, you are not safe. Water will find you.
4) Please drive a truck. 
No one is except from the buckets of water flying their way, especially the motorbike drivers. As you drive past, you will be met by hundreds of individuals along the roadside ready to throw ICE COLD water all over you at force ( I watched someone sit in the back of their truck and let a huge block of ice melt before throwing it all over passerbies) Some will even spray you down with a fire hose.. That’s right, A FIRE HOSE. I had to beg Ben to not drive the motorbike around during Songkran, “I just want to experience it on the bike. It will be so much fun.” Nope.
5) It’s heartwarming.
Thai people are know for their kindness and it is even more evident during Songkran. Songkran is more important that Christmas (which is a christian holiday and not widely celebrated in Thailand). For most of us, Christmas was celebrated with very close family and friends. But during Songkran, no matter who you are, you are welcome to join in a families celebration. If you are standing close to a family celebrating together, they will grab you by the elbow and pull you into their inner circle. You could walk into a strangers house and they would welcome you with a smile and open arms.
Songkran was an incredible experience! And needed in this 103F heat.

We hope that next year you can come join us for 2016 Songkran!

Prayer request:

  • This next week we are headed to Bangkok to get all visa requirements to check up on Sidewalk in the Philippines, the orphanage in Myanmar and a conference in Cambodia. Please pray for favor in speaking with all these embassy’s and that we would receive visa’s quickly.

We love you!  Please let us know if there is anything you would like for us to join you in prayer in anything.

lots of love,

Ben and Jess

Exciting News!

No, we aren’t pregnant 🙂 But, we are really happy to share some exciting news with you. One of the ministries we work with, Baan Zion, is dedicated to rescuing children who are forced to grow up in adult prisons. They are all tribal girls whose parents are serving 15+ years in prison for drug related offenses and who have no safe place to live.

We want to introduce you to the two trailblazing young women of Baan Zion.

Meet Naree. Naree has been part of the Baan Zion family for 10 years. She came to Baan Zion a damaged, sick and traumatized little girl. It’s been a blessing to watch the Lord transform her. Meeting her now, you would never know she had such a heavy story to tell. She is a wonderful example for all her younger sisters, constantly searching for how she can help her sisters and the staff. She is respected as the oldest sister by all in the house and is an extremely caring and confident role model for these girls. Her parents were released a few years ago, but are unable to care for her due to their extreme level of poverty.
This is Fa. Both of Fa’s parents are in prison and will remain there for many more years. She came to Baan Zion in 2009, a bit of a rebel. She had been growing up the the village with little to no supervision and was used to life without rules or standards. Throughout the years, Fa has grown into such a compassionate, empathetic woman. She is a natural counselor and a great listener. Many of the girls seek her council, so you will often catch her walking through the garden with one of her younger sisters, listening, sharing her experiences and advising them.  She is a respected and loved older sister. 
Naree and Fa are not only the first girls from Baan Zion to graduate high school and attend University, but they are the first in the long history of their family and in their village. These girls are blazing a new trail, setting a new example and standard for the rest of our girls. 
Fa wants to study Psychology and Naree plans to study Education in the hopes of becoming a teacher and bringing quality education to the poorest of the poor.
We want to ask you to join us in prayer for the wonderful ministries we are working with:

  • New Life Orphanage needs a new, permanent home. The cost of rent keeps increasing in Myanmar and their living situation is unstable.
  • Baan Zion: With two girls attending University, cost of living will increase. Please pray for more donors to partner with Baan Zion to keep them stable throughout the year.
  • Sidewalk: needs $5,000 to send 5 young men and women from the poorest communities in Manila to college for the 2015 school year.
  • Us: We are responsible for raising our yearly budget as well as finding donors, grants and sponsors for the above three ministries. Please pray for the Lord’s favour and guidance as we contact many Churches this summer.

Please let us know if there is anything we can join you in prayer about. 

Support Ben and Jess
We love you and are so grateful for you!
Ben and Jess
Copyright © 2015 The Salmon Journey, All rights reserved.

We are Staying!

Well, it has been 6 months since Jessy and I came to Thailand and it has been an incredible journey. We have been so grateful for you love and support.
After completing media light Jessy and I have been asked to serve as coordinators for Emerge Children’s Ministries. We are extending our time in Thailand to another 2 years and we couldn’t be more excited. We hope and pray that you will continue to stand by us during this time.

Our main responsibility will be to raise funds for the 4 existing ministries operating out of 3 nations and to be the ministers of encouragement to the leaders. These include:

  1. Bahn Zion Orphanage (Thailand)
  2. Palm Branch Children’s Home (Thailand)
  3. Side Walk Sunday School (Philippines)
  4. New Life Orphanage (Myanmar)
During this time we have also been taking Thai lessons. Last Friday marked our 7th week and thanks to our incredible teacher, Kru (thai for teacher) Ploy, we have already learned how to read and write. Our lessons going forward will be focused on conversation and building our vocabulary.

 

We have also been given another opportunity to serve. A missionary couple, Heidi and John, who work with Destiny Rescue; a global Christian ministry focused on rescuing children from human trafficking. Their farm serves as a place of healing and therapy for the children who have been rescued. They will be flying back to Australia for two months in order to continue their fund raising and have asked us to look after the farm until they return.

We were especially blessed recently by a visit from Ben’s parents, who were able to spend two weeks with us here in Thailand. There was even an added bonus when Jessica (Ben’s sister) came out from behind Mum and Dad. It was so special to be able to share this experience with our family.

After they had left, Jessy and I were inspired to try something new. We know you may never be able to fly half way around the world and see this country with your own eyes but we want you to experience Thailand in a way that simply can’t be done through words. So, Jessy and I have decided to begin a video blog that will be attached to all our news letters going forward.

Our greatest hope is that you develop a deep connection to the Thai people and to the work that God is doing here.

We were unable to attach it to this email but our first video will soon be arriving in your inbox shortly after this one has been sent. Hope you enjoy!

We love you!

Jessy and Ben

The End of an Era

Media Light has come to an end. These past 10 weeks have been a challenging but deeply enriching journey.
Jessica and I have learned and received so much that will help us to be effective in our own ministry.
We have received intense mentorship in many areas of holistic health; from developing and sharpening our media skills to receiving valuable insights in missions, ministry, marriage, time management, leadership, faith and so much more. This would not have been possible without your support, we are beyond grateful. One of our goals in coming to Thailand was to be mentored in leadership and discipled in the ways of Jesus and we feel that we are truly growing in these two areas.
In these final weeks we were able to produce a total of 8 Gospel videos and hold an art exhibition at a local University in Chiang Rai. The exhibit drew hundreds of students who were able to hear and talk openly about Jesus.
Thailand is a very closed nation, especially when it comes to the subject of spirituality. The Thai people, in general, are extremely private. Typically it would take years of building relationship and trust before it would be considered appropriate to discuss topics concerning personal faith.
However, this exhibit allowed us to by-pass these safe guards and go straight to the hearts of the Thai people. Our pictures and videos opened the door for us to ask deep and personal questions without seeming forceful or disrespectful. It was incredible to see how easily the walls came down. The exhibit provided a context where Thai students were not just willing but eager to engage us in deep faith centered conversation. We were able to share our testimonies and give the Thai students a chance to talk about their own struggles. We were even able to share the gospel with 5 muslim girls.
It will be hard to say good bye to the Media Light family, but I am comforted knowing that there are now 15 Christians from 8 different nations who will be returning home to create powerful and meaningful Christ centered media.
(Please check out some of the photos and videos we were able to produce and display at our exhibit – Gospel video I was able to produce)
Now that Media light has come to an end our involvement with Baan Zion (the children’s home for girls who have been rescued from adult prisons) will be increasing. Thanks to Jessy’s hard work we are so happy to announce that our Baan Zion website is up and running: http://www.rescuethaigirls.org
This months big lessons:
Leadership: The Law of the Lid
A team can only go as far as the one who leads them. Therefore, those in positions of leadership have to keep growing and learning.
Spirituality:
Most of our spiritual development sessions have focused on the core teachings of Jesus. Pastor Chuck Quinley asked this question: “Why is it that any Muslim, if asked, would be able to tell you, without a seconds hesitation, the five pillars of the Quran but almost no one who professes to be a Christ follower can confidently say what the main teachings of Jesus were?”
The challenge we have been presented with is “Re-Jesusing the Church”. It is said that 85% of Church going Christians do not know the 5 core teachings of Jesus Christ. And if I were to be honest I would have to admit that I was part of that statistic.
If we profess to be Christians, if we claim to be followers of Jesus then what we need to do is get back to what Jesus taught.
We want to encourage all of you to return to the Gospels. Spend some time focusing on those red letters. Get to know Jesus. Build your theology, your doctrine, your political views, your moral values, your role as husband or wife, as father or mother, as brother or friend on what Jesus says. Turn your attention back to Jesus – “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
We love you and are so grateful for you.
Blessings,
Ben + Jess
thesalmonjourney.wordpress.com

One Month In

It has been one month since Media Light began and in that time we have learnt so much. Ben and I want to be sponges, just absorbing all the information and wisdom that is being passed on to us. This time is building such a strong foundation for us and we want to thank you for making it possible.
We took the Strengths Finder tests test and learned about our top strengths:
Ben’s top 5: positivity, connectedness, adaptability, developer, maximizer
My top 5: Empathy, developer, connectedness, includer and positivity.
We are learning more and more about the teachings of Jesus (which we will be posting in greater detail on our blog http://www.thesalmonjourney.wordpress.com ) how to prevent burnout and growing in our media skills; photography, videography and audio. These past two weeks have been dedicated to documentary, so we have been getting very detailed lessons on story telling.
We have been given the opportunity to put into practice the skills we have been building by producing a documentary.
AKHA People
Ben did such an INCREDIBLE job in his documentary. He was assigned the role of the videographer and it is amazing to see how quickly he has progressed. He has such a creative eye and it has been great being able to experience the world the way he sees it. I have attached some of his beautiful photos below.
This month is National Orphan Awareness Month and we began this month having an activity day for the girls at Baan Zion. Ben taught them how to throw a frisbee, our friend had dancing activities and I did art with the little kids. After a while the girls grew tired of frisbee and began teaching us some games they have made up. One of these games is called EEEEEEEE in which there are two teams on opposite sides of the field. A member from team B will run over to team A’s side trying to get to their home base while yelling EEEEEE until they run out of breath. If they run out of breath and they are caught, they have to go to jail. It was a really creative and fun game. The kids would sit on our feet and wrap around our legs when we were in jail so we couldn’t run off.
These girls are so creative. The art they have made is absolutely beautiful. One of the little girls created a clay molding of a feast on a piece of paper. They are also so full of joy. It is such a testament to how Jesus gives so much peace and joy no matter the horrific pain you have been through. One of the little girls was sold by her father to 15 of his friends in one night just so he could get a little extra money, and she has one of the loudest, fullest laughs. Her spirit is so light, and I know that is because of Jesus.
Each time Ben and I head over to spend time with the girls, we always leave more filled up than when we arrived.
We are learning and growing so much as a couple and as individuals. Thank you for your constant encouragement and support.
We love you!!
Ben + Jess
Our website: thesalmonjourney.wordpress.com
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