Youth STM 2018

Tuesday 14th August

As our Youth Short-Term Mission Trip comes to an end and we make the journey home with fridge magnets in our bags and the love of God in our hearts, here are some final reflections on our experiences.

Phoebe: Through the past 10 days together, I have learnt that it is only through God that we can really have patience. There were times when my endurance and love have been tested, almost lashing out and letting the evil one get in. As Paul said to the Colossians, ‘Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience’ (1:11). Our incapacity to love and forgive like God does reveals how He is the Almighty. It’s only because of His unconditional love for us that we may show ‘great endurance and patience’ — thank you Jesus!

Anne: This trip has really opened up my eyes to see what it’s like to live a God-focused life. The whole time we’ve been here, it has been so beautiful, starting our mornings with devotions and worship and then spending the day with God at the centre, preparing the activities in which we want to show love to the children at Henri Coanda. It’s been a blessing to have a purpose driven so much by God and I hope that as we return home we don’t forget what it means to do everything for Him and with the motivation of furthering His kingdom.

Adam: Reflecting on our devotions, the themes we talked about set the tone of the day and gave us quite a few things to think about. This enabled me to contemplate personal and spiritual qualities and think about how to apply God’s word, not only during the mission trip but also after it has ended and we return to daily life. In hindsight, the devos have definitely helped me to realise so much more how God helps us, through the wonders that took place in the day camp. They have also led me to want to pray and deepen my relationship with God more in my daily life.

Mark: I’m sure that everyone who came on this short-term mission trip to Constanta was really handpicked by our Almighty God to be used to glorify his kingdom and show the love that we’ve been shown by Jesus to the kids at Henri Coanda. Each and every one of the team members brought their own unique talents and personality that really made the whole team special. I really believe that things happen for a reason and this mission trip once again reflected how our Father is in control and that we are all part of his greater plan 🙂 I’m very grateful for everyone on the team and their contributions to the mission and more importantly, God’s plan, which continues after our return.

Rachel: Ten days have gone by like one minute. it feels like we were at the airport awkwardly huddling around each other just yesterday. We’ve grown so much as a team and each of us has powered through fears of being dirty, catching illnesses or head lice, or not knowing how to make Jesus known. Every new day has been a surprise as the same faces would run and hug me, the language barrier was a struggle but it still worked as each of us showed our love through our actions. I thank God for this huge opportunity, the leaders and especially the team. Thank you.

Monday 13th August

Monday was our chill day after the intensity of the 6 day kids camp. First we went to the YWAM community worship session, a great time of fellowship which we wrapped up with thanksgiving and showering one another with prayers as people from different ministries prayed for one another. Many of us got emotional — we didn’t expect how quickly we’d create relationships with this group of people and felt blessed to be sent off by them.

This was followed by our beach trip where it was beautiful being able to have a splash around in the sea and having a picnic, becoming quite a spectacle as the resident Asians in town. Then we also enjoyed spending time over ice cream with our church’s supported missionaries, Hazel and Titus and their little girl Ona. We felt privileged to spend this intimate time of sharing with them and felt inspired by their stories and how they were led into the mission field. We wish them all the best and will pray for them as they journey to Hong Kong and for their soon-to-be-born baby.

To wrap up our day, our local Chinese tour guides, Louisa and Manman, took us on an adventure as we explored the old town, which we hadn’t visited before. We went to a local restaurant for a Romanian dinner and you could say the food was pretty interesting! Nonetheless, we enjoyed the experience of trying something local and after all, mission is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Our wannabe Ant and Dec in residence, Jonny & Ryan, helped us work on our six packs as we cracked up in laughter with a team awards ceremony. They lifted the mood as they roasted every member of the group and really helped to make this trip memorable as we commemorated the uniqueness between team members and the gifts we all bring to the table. Very soon, we’ll be homeward-bound.

By Christopher, Haynam, Lauren, Martha & Ryan

Sunday 12th August

Elsa: We started the day with worship and devotion on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). We chose these verses to remind us that even when the kids camp is coming to an end, we continue to spread the love and kingdom of God. The good news needs to be shown and demonstrated to everyone, as we are all sinners who need Jesus. Reaching out to the Roma children has made me realise how much easier it would’ve been if I could speak their language but then I thought, “I could be doing a much better job at this at home, with people who speak English!” So what stops me? There is an urgency in the Great Commission of Jesus. We don’t know when he will come back, so we want as many people as possible to know Christ. Mission is not just making disciples in countries with unfortunate circumstances, it is making disciples everywhere. We took this time to reflect on what we had learnt from this trip and how we can put it into action back in London.

Andrew: Sunday was our last day of the children’s camp so we decided to hold a sports day for the kids. During the day we planned and prepped the stations and how to make it fun for the kids, since many of them have to grow up quickly and don’t get to go to school and experience an exciting childhood. We came up with games such as planking, balancing on one leg and my station which was running around cones with a ball. The station was stressful at first due to the majority of kids not listening but the translators were very patient with the kids and helped us out a lot by controlling them. Even though the sports day was short, everyone had a good time especially the kids at the end where they received prizes and sweets from the station. It was a really nice end to the week but it was also sad seeing the kids for the last time.

Tiffany: It was like a mini Olympics, where we grouped the kids into groups of ten, according to age. As it was the last day, we were allowed to give sweets to the winners as prizes. After a short prayer walk around the neighbourhood, we started our stations, and it was so heartwarming to see that the kids who won actually only took a small bite of their sweet and passed the rest around to share. It was touching to see the children be so generous and willing to share the smallest things, even a single haribo. I enjoyed seeing the sense of community that really stood out to me about the Henri Coanda neighbourhood. Even though there is a lot of darkness and violence in the children’s lives, they are really tight-knit and as they played together and looked out for each other, I could feel the protective atmosphere these kids create. The hardest part was saying goodbye at the end, with all the children hugging us. One particular boy was angry we were leaving, and started hitting all of us. When I picked him up, he started crying, and it reminded me how vulnerable these kids are, despite their tough exterior. It made me glad there is a YWAM team permanently serving here, allowing the community to encounter Jesus.

Justin: Each team used the prep team to make our final efforts to improve and perfect the mini Olympic games. It was quite evident that the games were designed by us, as we brought out our inner Chinese selves and basically created a children’s military camp, with endurance activities such as planking competitions and obstacles courses. We were also assigned by the leaders to give different gifts to the people who lived with us and helped us during the camp. Looking back at the past week, I can really see how God has been working. I am so thankful that he led us to meet these people, people who helped us organise and structure the whole camp, and people who were willing to share inspirational and encouraging testimonies. These things really helped me see God’s amazing power and his presence in every circumstance, no matter how subtle it seems, and it really has deepened my faith in him. As this camp comes to a close, I am hopeful that God has used us to show his love to the children, and that he will continue to work in this community to make disciples and make known His power and love.

Jonathan: After leaving Henri Coanda for the last time, we headed to the beach alongside all the other YWAM staff and volunteers who had helped out at the camp throughout the week. On the way to the beach all 30 or so of us stopped off at McDonald’s to pick up our most authentic Romanian meal yet in this trip. We walked down together to the beach for a team debrief in the dark. We reflected on how God had shown himself throughout the week and acknowledged how blessed we were to be able to work so well with the YWAM team and therefore run the 6 day camp so smoothly. However the most memorable part for many was the night swim in the Black Sea which some enjoyed a lot more than others. Unfortunately some fully clothed people involuntarily ended up getting a Black Sea bath… it was a special experience! After we swam it was quite late so we headed home to get some rest for the last full day.

Saturday 11th August

Rachel: Our team was assigned to prepare and lead the daily devotion, which was a struggle as the night before, everyone was exhausted from all the day camp activities. We were disconnected as we were distracted for different reasons, so trying to come together was a struggle in general. The devotion theme we chose was about patience which I felt was quite important as our week is coming to an end, and it becomes easier to give up or allow temptation to creep in. As an activity, we tested everyone’s patience by hovering over the sofa for a period of time. Our main message was to turn to God in all situations whether you’re happy, sad, depressed, angry, confused or anxious. Also to let our struggles lead us to the cross, which was one of our worship songs sung at the start.

Anne: Music is one way in which I connect most to God, and this camp has been no different. Even though I don’t speak Romanian, I’ve tried my best to learn the songs and join in. There’s one song that we learnt in preparation for the trip, which we sing with the children along with actions — seeing their faces as they sing from the heart is so incredible! Yesterday, nearing the end of the camp, a little girl climbed onto my back and we started singing: Am pe Domnul mare (“I have the great Lord”). The song goes on to talk about how He is great for everyone everyday and how our love is small and His love, big. Despite knowing only the complete Romanian basics, to be able to sing such powerful truths with the children was an amazing experience. They weren’t just singing it, they were shouting it at the top of their lungs, causing others to look around and join in too, and I really felt God there with us and the pure joy of His presence as we sang the lyrics over and over whilst jumping about and laughing.

Adam: Yesterday, my team and I were managing the games station. We had planned skipping and double dutch skipping for the activities, due to the fact that few days prior, skipping seemed to be the most popular and easiest to manage activity. We introduced the double dutch skipping to give more variety and it turned out very well. It was wonderful to see not only the kids enjoying their time and being amazed by the double dutch, but also the parents excitedly getting involved and grinning as if they were children again. I could clearly see God at work in the community through his love and grace.

Mark: The games station really reflects the simplicity of the children and their needs, we planned games like sponge with water race, parachutes and many more that we thought would be appropriate for the children’s at Henri Coanda; but when we arrived we found that the kids were unable to comprehend some of the instructions and some games were just too complicated for them. Education levels and family background make discipline and following instructions very difficult. What these kids need isn’t complicated team bonding games but simply a lot of fun and attention. As a result, our team started to adapt our activities day by day. Me and some of the guys in the team would create relationships via the universal sport of football. It’s really taught me that sometimes it’s the simple things that we can do that is able to make the biggest impact, and this can be applied to my daily life when I’m back in the UK.

Phoebe: Whilst doing face painting, a guy from the King’s Kids youth group asked me to paint a tear and a cross on his face, which really touched me both spiritually and emotionally. The recent sudden passing of his dad had a major impact on him and his family, as being the eldest son he would have to be responsible for looking after his younger siblings. As someone who has come to know God through the ministry here, he is able to have God at the forefront of his mind in this time of mourning. It left me feeling broken-hearted yet comforted as I knew that he was expressing the placing of his trust and faith in Jesus.

Friday 10th August

Ryan: Although waking up early is always tough, nothing wakes up a TNG youth better than a good old early morning community worship service – especially as we were the ones leading it! This worship session gave the team a much needed time to refresh our souls and devote our minds to God (and also it gave us a chance to show the great enthusiasm of our youth worship ministry!) For us on the worship team, serving through worship was really a refreshing experience as it let us serve on an additional frontline, as well as our work with the children’s camp. To end the session off, we sang “We must go”, and it was amazing to see the message of the song resonate with the other missionaries – that even though all of us had maybe gathered in Constanta for varying reasons, we were all united under our common desire to go out and show others the love of God.

Lauren: We spent some time in the morning by the beach to have a team discussion as we passed the mid point of our trip. We reminded ourselves of the team values that we all decided on before the mission trip started. The discussion went very well, as we examined what values we had upheld, and which ones needed improvement. Though we were tired, as shown by Christopher’s heavy eyes before Charis asked him a question, we were all able to voice our opinions and frustrations. This time helped us bond closer together which was essential for the health of our team.

Martha: We had lunch in the YWAM base near the beach, where the team comes together every Friday. We got to meet volunteers, people like ourselves, serving God and spreading his love. It was so encouraging to know that we were all coming together from different nations: Scotland, England, and the Netherlands, to reach a common goal of spreading the word of God. Some people from the YWAM base prepared spaghetti bolognese, salad and bread as sides for us to share. As we were starving whilst trying to fill ourselves with conversations, our stomachs were satisfied. It would be appreciated if you could pray for us to continue these bonds that were developed through this mission trip as we work and to understand each other better. I also pray for the following days of the children’s camp and that they would feel the love and power of God.

Christopher: We began the day camp by singing Romanian worship songs and doing actions with the children. Afterwards, we performed the story of ‘Noah and the Flood’ narrated energetically by Monica. The children listened very intently throughout and I could tell that after every sentence the children were extremely eager for what was going to happen next. To make the story really memorable, some of us had our faces painted as different animals and characters to illustrate what was going on. It was so motivating and uplifting to witness these Romanian children desiring to engage with God’s word, as they are mostly from broken backgrounds with not much interest of God in their lives, but maybe now in times of need they can be like, “Hey, I Noah guy!”

Haynam: Our team was on the games station where we decided to bring back the skipping rope just cos it was so successful last time we skipped and limbo’d with them. Some of us went on a prayer walk around the outskirts of Henri Coanda and we prayed especially for protection and understanding, strength to keep up that morale throughout the day as we grow more and more tired, and for the people we reach out to to have open minds and hearts. For me, this was a fab way to feel refreshed for the day cos it allowed me to refocus on the reason I came to Romania and assure me that the power of prayer is real and only when we have faith and work alongside God do we achieve things innit.

Right, so back to the station. When we started playing with the kids, it high-key felt magical and warming. It was sick cos the queue was growing bare quickly (I was legit in awe seeing them even line up cos in the previous days the kids would just take their turn whenever they wanted and pushed in cos they were impatient). I loved it cos it was the simple stuff that became the highlight of their days. The way that kids laughed with me (not at me) and would start counting in English with me as they succeeded with each jump. One of my highlights was when one of the young mums, probs a teen mum, carried her lil gal and jumped together and I swear the happiness was actually growing and infectious and I loved how just by skipping with them we could connect with a range of people in the community when God’s the main man.

Thursday 9th August

Jonny: After overcoming the most difficult obstacle of the day, waking up, we began Thursday with morning devotion. (I only love my bed and my Saviour, I’m sorry.) After worship, we discussed the meaning of having faith. We are only here for a short time and although we may see small changes in the community we are working in while we are here, we are unlikely to witness the fruits of our labour. However we trust that God has a long term plan for this community. Hebrews 11 gives many examples of those who had faith in God’s plan, and God’s plan was better than their expectations. This time encouraged us to give it our all, and be thankful to God for everything that has happened and will happen because it is all through his plan, God’s plan.

Elsa: For the rest of the morning, Charis & Hannah took the girls to a coffee shop away from the boys and had a much needed girls’ catch up. It was nice to hear that we all had similar thoughts whilst sipping on some nice cold drinks. It was lovely to be in a relaxing environment after a stressful first few days running the kids camp. Although we’re broken, and not worthy, he fixes us as we’re blinded by his grace – he came and saved us. It was really important for us to have this bonding time, as we were able to open up to each other about our mental and spiritual thoughts.

Andrew: The boys also went to a coffee shop in the morning to have a deep manly chat and share our personal experiences during the trip so far. This provided us with a space where we could share problems and struggles safely and to support each other. We discussed how we can keep each other and the rest of the team safe, agreeing to keep an eye out for each other and our sisters in Christ during the camp. The local milk tastes a bit funny, so trying a latte was quite the #CulturalSneakAttack, so Ollie bought me a black hibiscus lemonade iced tea, which was peng for Pang.

Tiffany: We opened the day camp with Romanian songs and acting out the story of Esther. It was so encouraging to see these children listening to a bible story that shows God’s loyalty to his people. Then my team was running an activities station which was very successful as the kids were queuing up for their turn, which was very surprising as they are usually very rebellious and impatient. I also prayed for some children at the prayer station. It was incredibly powerful to see the children be so willing to come up to the station, and even have prayer requests! I was very touched to hear each kid’s personal stories and struggles that they wanted to be prayed for.

Something that really highlighted how God provides was actually when the day at camp was ending. One girl was trying to have a conversation with me, and both of us were getting frustrated due to the language barrier. I was really praying to God that the girl would understand my hand motions, when out of nowhere, the most amazing ting happened around 7pm in the evening and another young Roma girl came and translated what she was saying into English. It turns out she lives in Barking.

Justin: The crafts stations were a lot calmer than the previous two days. The kids were very cooperative, and some even volunteered themselves to help us out by assisting younger children to make foamy clay mirrors. It was such a relief to see the once rebellious children show such a great change in behaviour, and I think that the whole team will agree that this is all God’s doing, as we kept praying against rebellion beforehand. It was so encouraging to see our persistent prayers bear fruit, and I am sure that as we keep praying and gaining more experience, the camp will run more smoothly and we can keep showing God’s love to the children.

Wednesday 8th August

Check out today’s vlog from a few more team members. Now that you’ve seen all our faces, we’ll just be blogging some diary entries here over the next couple of days.

Tuesday 7th August

Our children’s day camp has begun! Join today’s vlog team on the beach for some of our reflections on Tuesday.

Monday 6th August

Here’s our first vlog to tell you all about our team worship and orientation day, including our introductory prayer walk around the Roma neighbourhood. Hear some of the team members’ initial thoughts and feelings.

Sunday 5th August

Welcome to our team blog!

The time has finally come for our team of 15 youths and 3 leaders to travel to Constanta, Romania. After an even earlier than usual start to a Sunday, we made our way to Bucharest, and then on to Constanta by coach. We’re staying at one of the YWAM bases with a few other short-term mission team members, and some discipleship training students. Having so many of us living in close proximity, especially in this hot weather, is going to be pretty challenging. Thankfully, Louisa greeted us with the biggest pizzas we’ve ever seen, after our long journey. We’re grateful for the hospitality of the team, and it’s great to see how the body of Christ is in action in another part of the world.

We’re looking forward to our orientation day tomorrow when we’ll also be heading into the Roma community for a prayer walk, and a foretaste of the neighbourhood before our children’s day camp starts on Tuesday. Thanks for praying with us! We’ll be posting daily updates here from different team members, and some vlogs (video blogs) too!

Please pray for the youth stm…

What: Our first ever youth STM!  |  Who: Roma Kids  |  Where: Constanta, Romania  |  When: 5th – 14th August  |  Why: The love of Jesus!

  • Praise God that so many youths are responding to, and deepening, God’s love in their lives through this taste of world mission.
  • Pray that the team would learn to love one another while living and serving together, and love the Roma children in word and action.
  • Praise God for the Holy Spirit who will move among the children through our interactions, games, crafts, songs, laughter, and more.
  • Pray for the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) team in Constanta and their various ministries reaching local people groups for Jesus.
  • May our youths grow as disciples who inspire and influence others in their own youth groups and congregations for missional living.