SRI 02: Kandy, Sri Lanka

19-27 Nov 2016: SRI 02

Our team of 7 members, began our mission adventure to Sri Lanka on 19th Nov 2016. For this trip, we were heading back to visit Shalom Home, in Maskeilya, where 5 of our fellow members had the opportunity to visit the year before. Hearing stories and anecdotes from these 5 members who had been to the girls’ home stirred up a sense of excitement and expectation in our spirits.

 

After a 4-hour journey from Colombo, we reached Shalom Home, nestled among the tea plantations. We were greeted by the girls who were eagerly anticipating our arrival – they presented us with fresh flowers, warm hugs and their brightest smiles. Later, they treated us to a performance of Sunday School Songs with actions that they had learned a year ago. It was a heartwarming feeling to know that they remembered what was previously taught! It reminded us of the verse in Matthew 21:16 – “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise”. The praises that came out of these children’s mouths was indeed of joy and praise to our heavenly Father!

 

During this time, we also had the opportunity to witness the love of Christ to a woman who was seeking refuge and shelter for her 3 sons due to family circumstances. Our team leader, Christopher, and Adrena ministered to her about the love of Christ and led her to Christ through the sinner’s prayer. As we had brought bags and clothing from Singapore to bless the girls, we offered some of these for her and her children. She was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude, and mentioned later that she had never felt such love before. It reminded us of the command in the bible to take care of the fatherless, orphans and widows as in Psalm 83:3 – to defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Before she left the home, we reminded her to always fix her eyes on Christ and that God was her Jehovah Jireh, who will always protect and provide for all of her family’s needs. With the help of the supervisor of Shalom Home, we arranged 2 weeks’ provisions for her family from a nearby grocery store.

 

 

Projects at the home included painting a room that had been converted into a study room, teaching the older girls how to use the computer, and to sew with the new sewing machine from our project fund. We were also tasked with the opportunity to teach the older girls life skills such as budgeting. After the lesson, we brought them on a trip to the grocery store where we divided them into groups and accompanied them to purchase items from a shopping list. Through this experience, we hope to have helped instill the value of money to the girls which will be beneficial to them in future. The shopkeeper even treated us to free drinks when they found out that the girls were from the home!

 

 

We ministered to the kids through activities such as bible stories, games and craft.  It was a joy to see the girls’ faces light up with delight as we engaged with them. One takeaway that we had learnt as a team was the beauty of simplicity – it didn’t take much for the girls to express their joy. On a particular night during the trip, we pumped balloons to entertain the little ones, and soon they were laughing and running around with one another in excitement and popping all the balloons! It was very reassuring and a joy for us to hear from the matron of the home, that after every bible lesson, the girls would share with her what they had learnt. What a great comfort this was as Proverbs 4:21 reminds us not to let the commandments of God escape from our sight and to keep them within our hearts.

 

 

 

Throughout the trip, we were blessed by the girls at Shalom Home, and we could see how they were ever passionate for Jesus. From our conversations with them, we found out that some of these girls wanted to be pastors in their future vocation. During one of the sharing sessions, we gave them the task of praying for one another  and it was evident that they were prayer warriors as we witnessed them interceding for each other through the prayer list that they had made. Their zeal for Christ stirred within our hearts.

 

 

Being part of missions is indeed a joy and privilege as we are the salt and light of the earth and the world for Christ. This trip has indeed reminded us to continue to show the immeasurable love of Christ to his beloved children, and in return, we were blessed by the simple faith and actions of the girls from the home. We are indeed blessed to be a blessing to these girls and to others!

 

Written by,
Vera Tan, Kandy, Sri Lanka

SRI 04 to Nuwara Eliya Home

Trip to Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya 4-11 Dec 2015

Before The Trip

This year was my second mission trip via Cornerstone Couriers. I would like to thank Cornerstone for providing the platform for me to have the opportunity to involve in short term mission trip. Sri Lanka was our third choice when the team signed up for mission, we didn’t expect we will be selected to go there. We were excited about it even before the trip. We sensed that God has something prepared for us in Sri Lanka. It must be His divine arrangement!

DSC02362

The Lord impressed in our hearts His love as a Father when we prayed and seek Him after we knew that we will be going to a Boys Home to minister to the children. Just as He wants us to know that each of us is wonderfully created by Him and He has a plan and destiny for each of us, He wants us to bring the same message to the children.

During the trip

During the trip, we also received words and visions from some cell members who were praying for us. It was amazing! God revealed to them what He was going to do with the children. One of the visions was our Lord Jesus giving seashell to each child; each of them is unique just like the seashells, every seashell is different in its shapes, forms, colours and pattern. I have thousands of seashells at my house, of different family and species, every time my husband showed me a specific seashell; it is always in unique pattern and colour. Admiring them will lead me in awe of God’s creativity.

During one of the team devotion in the morning, I saw a vision of a wooden fence with sheep. The Lord touched me, my heart was tendered by Him, He reminded us to feed His sheep, and this is the most practical way to show our love to Him.

During a briefing session by Sister Theresa from Kidznet, she prayed for the team and the word “forgotten” touched my heart so intensively. The Lord remembers those who may have been forgotten by the society. The Lord impressed in me His tender heart towards the children. He also downloaded His tender heart into me.

DSC02515

The dynamic of the team was good as we are from the same cell group and we already know each other rather well. Even though there were disagreements sometimes but we worked together with same mind and same Spirit to fulfil the same goal and purpose. Philippians 2:1-8 described the attitude of the team throughout the whole trip. Praise God and glory to Him.

DSC03028-1-1

After the trip

I took about 1 week to recover from my motion sickness. But this was a very special trip for me as I could sense in my spirit that God is doing something in me. He affirmed me like a father and I wept like a child in His bosom. He is telling me that if I know that He loves me, there is nothing else to fear. He wants me to be rooted in Him!

DSC03105

Written by Diane Low, SRI 04

Sri Lanka Reflections

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

[Ephesians 3:20]

Many of us sign up for mission trips with goals and expectations in our hearts. But what we don’t know is that God usually does things out of our wildest imaginations. Our team of seven, led by Jonathan, arrived at the Colombo Airport on 3rd December 2014 and was greeted warmly by the Kidznet Team Sushila and Josiah. We started off the trip by setting goals and expectations with Sister Therese, who gave us deeper insight and understanding to Sri Lankan culture. Not only was this pertinent in preparing us mentally, it also helped the team to work cohesively to plan for the children’s activities. Apart from planning activities for the children, our team also had to paint a two-storey girls’ dormitory at Kalamusu Kedella Child Development Centre. Painting seemed fun during the initial stages. Most of us had never painted extensively before and were looking forward to the experience. However, by the second day of painting, we had aching arms and backs and we were starting to wonder if we could ever finish painting the entire dormitory.

The turning point came for most of us on Sunday, when we were invited to attend the church service at a local church. During this time, we got to witness how the locals sang with great conviction during the worship segment and we also got to listen to the Pastor’s testimony during lunch. He shared with us how he was once a Buddhist monk before God spoke to him and told him to build a church in Kaluthara, the heart of the Buddhist revival in Sri Lanka. Since then, the family has survived fifteen assassination attempts but their continued love for God keeps them going in the ministry.

The pastor’s daughter and son-in-law, Naomi and Ranga, now run the children’s orphanage. During our stay in Sri Lanka, we had the privilege of hearing them share how God protected the children through every trial. Once, a boy stopped breathing suddenly because of a medical condition in his heart. Not knowing what else to do, Ranga laid the boy on the floor and began praying for him. Within minutes, God revived the boy and today he remains healthy and active. The miraculous stories of God’s timely intervention were seeds of faith for the rest of us. We knew that the presence of God was very strong in the orphanage as we could sense the Holy Spirit each time we prayed. Although the team had gone with the intention of blessing the children, we all returned home with a greater stirring of faith in our hearts. What God has done for all of us is much greater than what the team could bring to the children in Sri Lanka. Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive! 🙂

Written by Charmaine Tay, SRI 03

The Blessings of ‘Getting Out’

A personal and candid reflection by Jolyn De Roza on her first mission trip through our Couriers Program to Sri Lanka, 22-26 Aug 2013, Colombo

During the departing flight from Singapore to Colombo, I had mixed emotions about my first mission trip. On one hand, I was excited about doing great work for God, having heard so much from friends who had gone on previous mission trips about how they ministered to the countless poor, needy, orphans and old folks living in dire conditions. On the other hand, I was sceptical about how much of a difference my team and I would actually make, given that we were only there for 4 days and our proposed schedule indicated that we had extended meal times and extensive breaks. I resolved nonetheless, to go there with an open mind and an attitude of service.

Upon arrival, we were brought to the Bethany CLC – New Generation Youth Group office for lunch with Pastor Sampath and his team in the Youth Ministry. On hindsight, this lunch was special not only because it was my first time meeting the Youth Ministry team, but also because it was the only meal in my 4 days there which did not contain curry!

We were then brought to our accommodation, Royal Park Apartments (coincidentally owned by the Singapore based Prima Group). Again, I wondered if I was truly on a mission trip to be put out of my comfort zone, because we had been given such pleasant accommodation (which was in any event a welcome bonus for me).

Our “hard work” only started later that evening. Pastor Sampath explained that the Youth Ministry tries to reach out to the poor and needy in their community. They minister to around 300 households spread across 6 different districts in Colombo. Every month, Pastor Sampath and his dedicated team of

Home Visits

about 25 youths will personally visit each of these 300 households to pray for them, check on how they are doing and encourage the youths to join the church. We accompanied Pastor Sampath and his team to visit around 16 of these families on our first evening there and the day after. We were very much aided by Jude, Sapna and Devina, our capable Sinhala–English translators in the Youth Ministry, without whom we would be struggling to communicate with these families (and would probably have been left to rely on hopeless smiles and hand gestures).

As we made our way through the districts to the various houses, we met many different families. We tried getting to know these families better and learning more about their lives. Each family had its own story to tell. Some were happy stories, about how God has changed their lives, bringing joy and hope. Some were filled with despair, about their anguish and how they were daunted by the repeated hardships they were facing. But all were deeply moving. I found it amazing that throughout our home visits, Pastor Sampath and his team did not need to refer to a written address book or profile notes. They were able to remember not only the names and addresses of each family, but also their individual stories and the struggles they each had to face. Clearly, Pastor Sampath and his team had a genuine deep-rooted attachment to all these families. At the end of each visit, we would offer words of encouragement and prayed for these families.

We were involved in various Youth Ministry activities over the next 4 days. We fellowshipped with the youths over meals and games, shared at their cell group sessions, and participated in their “GO” youth programme – a special half-day outreach programme. Pastor Sampath and his team took such meticulous care of us, and I really appreciated the effort they put into planning such a well-organized schedule.

“GO” youth programme

Pastor Cammy, a guest speaker who used to oversee the entire Bethany network in Sri Lanka, delivered a powerful message on the Great Commission during the “GO” programme. We also understood that the Youth Ministry had spent much time preparing for this special programme; which was evident from the colourfully decorated church premises, their lively praise and worship session, and their Broadway-worthy dances. On our part, we performed a short skit based on the parable of the prodigal son. For someone who has never had any prior acting and on stage experience, performing before a crowd of 200 or more was definitely a new experience for me.

Sharing session

Although the language barrier was an issue at times, we are able to have some meaningful interaction with the youths and the families.

We met youths and families from different social strata and they were all very gracious and hospitable. During the home visits, the families were always making sure we had enough chairs to sit on, bringing out all their fans to ensure we were comfortable, and constantly fussing over our meals / refreshments. It was very humbling to see that even those with little were so faithful in giving and sharing with others around them.

I enjoyed the fellowship with the youths. We had such warm and generous reception from them; they listened attentively during our sharing sessions and sportingly took part in the games sessions with us. I suppose music and laughter will always bond people together.

Sharing Session

On a more serious note, we learnt that the main problems faced by the youths and families were drug abuse, poverty, opposition from other family members to their Christian faith, and being abandoned by their fathers / husbands. It was during my short trip that I started to see the importance of the work that Pastor Sampath and his Youth Ministry are doing. They are influencing and impacting the youth; raising a new generation of youth leaders; reaching out in love to the poor and the needy; and fulfilling the Great Commission.

In all honesty, given that we were only there for 4 days, we may not have been able to provide tangible sustained help to the Youth Ministry, the poor and needy in Sri Lanka. The best way we could help during our short visit was to encourage and pray for all of them. They may not have understood all the words of our prayers, but I believe that our sincerity and love transcended the language barrier. I hope that we were able to bring God’s love to them, offering some comfort and encouragement through our prayers. I also hope that the youths were heartened by our involvement in their programmes, to show them that there are people who care about them and are interested in what they are doing.

Upon reflection, I think that the ultimate goal was for me to learn some really important lessons.

First, to be grateful and thankful for everything that God has given me, in each and all of the ordinary and the extraordinary things that I have.

Second, the experience has taught me about getting out of my comfort zone. It was not really about abandoning my creature comforts and venturing into punishing physical conditions, but getting out of my spiritual comfort zone. It was inspiring to see Pastor Sampath’s and his team’s passion and commitment in working to reach out and impact their community. Seeing the work that Pastor Sampath and his team have been carrying out, I started to question whether I have been doing my part for the Kingdom, and whether the things I have done have any eternal value. We may be called to different places or vocations, and while not all of us have been called to do overseas missions work, we are nonetheless all called to love those around us and evangelise. I have started to wonder how I can likewise impact and reach out in love to those in my community back home in Singapore.

Farewell

Also, I usually shy away from praying for people in public, and would rather let someone else take the initiative. On this trip, I learnt how to step out of that shell and began to understand the power and impact of prayer.

Lastly, as with any team project, good team dynamics are essential. We had a dedicated and responsible team leader who always kept us focused on our tasks; a dear “mother hen” who was always ready with sensible advice, snacks and mosquito repellent patches; and a bubbly team mate with the ability to send us into peals of laughter with her jokes. They were great team members and it was a memorable experience working with them.

In conclusion, Cornerstone Couriers Services provides excellent exposure to short term mission trips. Such short term mission trips would be good for those who feel called to do mission work, and would like the opportunity to test their hearts for this. Or if you are like me, it’s a great eye opener and a wake-up call to reflect upon and examine the work you have been doing and can do for the Kingdom.

What Started Out as a Dream

What Started Out as a Dream

A report of our 17-23 Dec 2012, Cornerstone Couriers Team to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
By Johnathan Leow

 

It started out as a dream that I had in March to bring members of my cell group to minister together in the nations.  9 months later, we found ourselves standing at the entrance of Colombo International airport.

Together with a very experienced couple, Andy and Christina, who have been on numerous mission trips before, our team of 7, spent 7 exciting and power- packed days ministering together with the youth and children’s ministry of Bethany Church Colombo.  Throughout the whole trip, Pastor Sampath, who really took care of us very well and planned our itinerary meticulously, hosted us.

We conducted a youth leaders training on the first day for 25 of their youth leaders, and introduced new icebreakers to them, which they really enjoyed. Pastor Sampath also shared the vision and direction for the youth ministry in 2013, and I gave a short encouragement on the need to have the spirit of thankfulness in the youth ministry.  Their youth ministry has seen recently a revival of sorts, with over 150 souls added in the past year alone!

 

At night, we went caroling with the youths and brought Christmas joy to the poorer locals who lived in shanties and slums in the city. One very memorable aspect of the caroling was that we had to sing the carols in Sinhala, and this was deeply appreciated by the locals living there as they had never imagined that foreigners would ever bother to visit their homes, much less sing carols to them in their native language!

 The next day, we did a Singapore-Sri Lanka cooking session with their youth leaders at one of their homes, and this really helped to bond us together as the family of God! Some of our team members even helped out in the kitchen, breaking coconuts, and chopping vegetables.

Over the course of the next few days, we helped the youth ministry out with their youth evangelistic Christmas party, and also helped the children’s church with their party. For the youth party, there were approximately 150 people in attendance. Our team conducted icebreaker games for them, and also performed an evangelistic skit that tells the story of a girl who backslided from Jesus, into a life of drugs, drinking, money and eventually suicide, but was able to slide back to a living relationship with Jesus at the very last moment through His redeeming sacrifice. The skit was well received, and there were approximately 10 hands raised in response to the salvation call given. We praise God for their open hearts!

We also helped the children’s church the next day with their Christmas party. Our team distributed over 250 goodie bags to the children, and also did face painting and balloon sculpting for them, along with games.  It was an especially very memorable experience praying while painting their faces, as we saw in many of them great dreams awaiting to burst forth, through the different characters (Spiderman etc.) they asked to be painted! In all, there were about 300 children in attendance.

 

The day before we left for Singapore, we visited the Bethany branch church in Nittabuwa, to minister at their youth cell. The church is situated in a rural village area, and though they were small in number, the atmosphere was pregnant with faith.

One of the more memorable moments here was when we prayed and sung songs to a 14 year old girl who came down with a mysterious infirmity 4 years ago and has been unable to talk or walk ever since. When we saw Andy and Christina hugging her with tears of love in their eyes, it reminded me instantly of how Jesus would stoop even to touch the lepers in the Bible.

Also, at the youth cell, Andy, had 2 words of knowledge for healing that were 100% accurate! First, he had a word for someone who had been having left eye pain, and when he gave the call, one of their youths responded! It barely took a short prayer for him before he was completely healed off the pain.

Then, Cherilyn, one of the members on the team who had been suffering from backache, started to feel her back pain disappear too, and she could even jump up and down!

It was not the end of the story yet. When we went to a church member’s house for lunch, Andy had another word of knowledge that a member of the household had been suffering from headache, and that God wanted to dispense healing to that person. It turned out that the wife of the church member who hosted us was having a headache, and after we prayed for her, her headache completely left!

We praise God for the healings!

So it was with much reluctance that we flew back to Singapore on 23rd Dec. But the trip was definitely a very memorable and fun one for all of us.

For 3 of the members on our team, it was their very first virgin mission trip, and it left a deep impact on them. The trip opened their eyes to the bigger picture of God’s work in the nations. They had expected a mission trip to be like a traditional service where a pastor preaches and people respond to altar calls, but this trip was way otherwise.  The practical ministering of God’s love in the slums, in the village church, through outreach activities have inspired them to dream again of doing great things for God.

Thank you Couriers for this opportunity!

Awakening the ‘Dare’ to ‘Dream Again’

Rachel’s testimony of her experiences at the orphanages in Sri Lanka during her Couriers trip in Sep 2012..

We give glory to God and thank Him for all His grace, favour, protection and faithfulness that has seen us through despite the many challenges we faced.

 

Our team of 4 headed by Renee set off for Sri Lanka on the 2nd of September. Though apprehensive, we were nothing less than excited to see God do His work in Sri Lanka.

 

After we touched down at Sri Lanka, we met up with Risley, the representative from Kidznet. The first two days we spent in Colombo was essential in building up our team dynamics. Prior to the trip, there were many unforeseen changes to our team that we only managed to meet up as a finalised team three days before the trip itself. Yet in that mere two days, we managed to catch up on all the lost time. There was such an accelerated work of bonding amongst us, and also an allowance to tied down any ideas we had. Furthermore, we also bought the necessary items we wanted to give to the kids as well as liaise with the people from Kidznet.

 

Upon arriving at the orphanage, we were greeted warmly by Father Isaiah (pastor), Sister Daphne (wife), Joshua (son), Sudha and the kids who prepared this short welcome note for us. With the assistance of the pastor and his family, we settled down in no time. The kids were most receptive and quick to open up to us. One of our very first activities was teaching them English action-praise songs. Being young and full of zeal, they were keen on learning, and picked up the songs almost immediately. Not only were they great to teach, they were unbelievably enjoyable to be around. They always had beautiful smiles plastered to their faces, and were always grabbing on to us and following us wherever we went.

 

 

Our team stayed in a guest house that was a five-minute walk away for the orphanage. One of key disciplines of the orphanage was that the kids were required to get up at 530am every morning to pray. Our team decided that we would want to join them for their morning prayer every day. However, on one of the nights as we were going to bed, we heard the shattering of glass. We dismissed the initial noise as a careless act of one of the employees but more shattering noise ensued. The following morning as we prepared to leave the guest house to walk to the orphanage, we realised the doors of the guest house were shattered. In that instant, fear gripped our hearts and we felt really apprehensive, but yet we unanimously agreed to lay down our fears and go ahead to join the kids for their prayers. As we stepped out of the guest house in faith, there was such a presence of God that enveloped us. Once again, we stand to testify of His favour and grace upon our team.

 

Over the span of the next few days, we engaged them in several activities which was centered around our core message of instilling hope and dreams in them. One of which included paper stars we bought for the kids prior to the trip that we subsequently painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. The stars were then given out to the kids and they were told to write their dreams on the stars.

 

We collected the stars back with the intention of secretly pasting the stars on the walls of their rooms as a surprise for them then. When the plan was executed, what struck us most wasn’t how beautiful the stars were nor how smoothly the plan was carried out – it was the touched expressions on the kids’ faces. There was such a genuine gratitude that flowed from them that so unexpectedly moved us. There was such a simplicity of heart in these kids and they were most appreciative and happy.

 

 

In the following days, we got the kids to decorate and design their own pillow cases – we meant to give each kid a pillow and prayed that every night as they laid their heads on these pillows, they would receive dreams from God and be reminded of the dreams that God has given them. Also, we felt led to bless the caretakers of the orphanage and so we decorated and gave them each a pillow too. The kids were pleasantly surprised and thankful for the gift. In fact, they were so afraid to dirty the pillows that they took the plastic wrappers, wrapped the pillows and hid the pillows in their cupboards (so cute T.T). Hence we had to convince them that the pillow cases could be washed and that the pillows were meant to be used. But seeing the way the kids treasured the pillows really touched our hearts and left us feeling so blessed by their simplicity once again.

Taking the chance during devotion, our team reinforced the message of hope through a short sharing. We were most privileged to have Joshua, the son of the pastor, as our translator. In the subsequent nights, our team took turns to share the messages on our hearts. The kids were really opened to whatever we had to say and we thank God for such fertile and good hearts.

 

 

 

 

God’s hand was really upon the children and there was such a desire in His heart to pour out His Spirit upon Sri Lanka. We were really blessed and impacted by the children and the work of the leaders of the orphanage. Their faith, hospitality and discipline was most inspiring. As we departed from the orphanage, the one prayer on our hearts was that there would be such a continuation of God’s work in that land. Though we are no longer physically with them, we stand with them in prayer today and believe that Sri Lanka is His inheritance.