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All Posts in Short Term Teams

April 4, 2019 - No Comments!

ZOE Feels Like Home

ZOE Thailand
By: Alison Sauder
January 2019 Short Term Team

I didn’t want to turn around because I didn’t want the tears to keep coming. I threw my bags on the security belt, and snuck a glance anyway. Yup, there they were, still waving. The tears flowed down my cheeks, and my attempts to stifle them failed. I covered my face, and tried to regain my composure. I slapped a smile on my face, but instantly missed the people I had gotten to know in this beautiful country, in this beautiful organization. I looked one last time, positive that they had left by now. I was wrong. I smiled with teary eyes, and waved back to the missionaries who had shown me so much love, so much compassion, and so much joy the past 10 days.

I took my seat at my gate, and while waiting for my flight, I began to reminisce.

ZOE feels like home. It's incredible, because in fact, it is actually 8,357 miles from home. But pulling up, sitting in the transportation vans, I was filled with butterflies and excitement and peace. And then, I saw the house. I saw the kids, and I saw their smiles. Honestly, it just felt like home. Instantly, I was greeted with open arms, fully comfortable with these people and the space they were offering me.

Granted, I had been to ZOE before. However, I can’t say that the first time was much different. A few extra butterflies, maybe, but the same sense of peace and comfort was residing in my spirit. I am convinced it is a gift that God has blessed ZOE with, among so many others.

I checked the clock, and I still had an hour of stifling tears and remembering before our first flight. I pulled out my journal and began to make some lists, because I didn’t want to forget any person or any slightly butchered Thai phrase that I attempted to learn.

I cannot stress enough, ZOE is incredible, but the people that are involved in ZOE are what makes the experience so unforgettable. As a young adult, I’ve traveled around a bit in recent years, but also strive to build an impactful church community around me in my hometown. Interacting with the ZOE Leadership Training students was so meaningful to me. Considering we are relatively the same age, I began to compare the traits that make them so incredible, and find ways to apply them to my own life and the people around me.

These leadership students are devoted. They get up at 5am every day, they read the Bible for an hour, pray for an hour, and worship for an hour, all before their day full of business and Bible classes. They have homework in the evening, and still find ways to serve joyfully around ZOE and mentor the children. How many times have I cringed getting up at 7am to go to work, and then after my 8-hour shift, plopped down on my couch to relax for an hour before starting my next assignment, all with an impartial attitude? God, please PLEASE give me the joy and the dedication to love You the way You call us to.

By profession, I work with kids, and have for the past 6 years. Coming to ZOE, knowing what the children have been rescued from and the horrors that they've seen, it's almost unfathomable to think that they can still experience their childhood. They’re still children. They still love sports, trampolines, smiles, and movies. They have so much to offer, and so much to look forward to. The healing that they've experienced is most definitely a God-thing.

How many times have I been bound by unforgiveness, simply because someone canceled plans on me, or betrayed my trust? How could those children experience such healing, joy, and forgiveness after such unspeakable hurt, when I seem to be broken by such insignificant things? God, please give me a heart to forgive. Replace the bitterness with joy, love, and quite simply, YOU.

Going to the village with the ZOE Child Rescue Team and the leadership students was a major highlight for me. Sure, there were downfalls. A very long ride up the mountains with countless turns made even those who didn’t have weak stomachs, sick (however, to put it in perspective, we got to ride in those nice MILK vans I had previously mentioned, while the leadership students rode on the back of a truck).

These people are so willing to serve, constantly. They don’t often get a chance to sit down, and the smiles and laughter never leave their face. Honestly, I’m pretty sure they could’ve done a whole lot more without us Americans to slow them down, but it was a learning experience for so many on the team.

How many times do I take so much time making sure something looks perfect, or focus on completing the task instead of remembering the reason behind it? A perfectly orchestrated ministry without any heart or vision or JESUS, is absolutely nothing. God, please help me to always remember WHY You call me where You do, when You do, and how You do. Help me to complete even the most mundane tasks with joy, because You are behind it all.

I hear bells dinging in the world beyond my thoughts, and I see people shuffling around me. I realize that my flight is beginning to board, so I quickly pack up my things and get in line for the airplane. I let out a deep breath, filled with hope.

Not only am I returning home with new stories, new experiences, new memories, and plenty of pictures to prove it; I am returning home with fresh vision, newfound challenges, and renewed passions for the year ahead. Me and Jesus, we are going to try our best (well, let’s be honest, I’ll try my best. Jesus always comes through) to transfer these life lessons into the community around me and into my daily life. Oh Jesus, let it be so.

August 24, 2018 - No Comments!

Sowing Tears Into Japan

Last month, ZOE Japan sent their very first Japanese short term missions team to ZOE Thailand. Below is a beautiful testimony of one of the members that joined the trip.

I left ZOE Thailand having shed tears, yes. But the tears I shed were not the tears I expected. Psalm 126:5 says that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. It was as if I got to experience the reaping of the tears sown at ZOE. I’m convinced ZOE Thailand has sown countless tears over many years and the reaping of joy overflows to bless even the short term mission teams like us who come.

During the weekly prayer night they have had for over a decade, I began by praying alone before the Lord. Not too long later and to my surprise, I felt two precious hands rest upon my arm. I opened my eyes to see two little girls praying for me. The love of Christ is tender…

Outreach with ZOE to over 250 kids that arrived from surrounding villages – theme: anti-human trafficking. A gut response was to think “are these kids old enough to be learning about these “adult” subjects?” But this is their potential reality: either learn about it or fall victim to it. It was humbling and inspiring to see the ZOE ministry school students and the Child Rescue Center staff inform the kids about anti-human trafficking while loving them and having fun with them. The love of Christ is just…

As an engineer, I was particularly intrigued by their near self-sustaining capacity. From their growing medical and professional counseling capabilities to their extensive agricultural endeavors, ZOE Thailand touches almost every corner of life. Yet all of their capabilities are rooted first in Christ. The gospel isn’t just for Sundays but builds communities that become cities on a hill to shine for the nations to turn. The love of Christ is thorough…  

I am grateful for what I experienced at ZOE Thailand. I will carry the experiences of tenderness, the zeal for justice, and the thorough reformation of the love of Christ back with me to Japan, where God has called me and where my heart is. Knowing the tears of Thailand, the taste of joy was ever so sweet, but I desire to sow tears into Japan; the tears of Psalm 119:136 – “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law,” and ZOE Japan still needs a flood of tears before Japan will begin to reap with shouts of joy.

 

September 12, 2016 - No Comments!

A Trip of Many Firsts!

Guest Blogger, Jessica Ramsay (Jessica was a part of a short term missions trip that visited our Children's Home in Thailand this past August)

This trip to ZOE was filled with many firsts for me. The first time traveling as a short term missionary, first time traveling to Thailand, and the first time traveling outside of America. Little did I know just how life changing these two weeks were going to be.

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February 8, 2016 - No Comments!

Doing What You Can, Where You Are

The following is a guest post from our faithful ZOE supporter, Tammy Bauer. We asked her to write this because, like most of us, she is an ordinary individual who wants to end child trafficking. Using her sphere of influence, gifts, and talents, she has found very creative ways to raise money and spread human trafficking awareness. As we launch our new program, My Gen My Fight, Tammy's story fits right in and may provide you with ideas and inspiration.

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December 16, 2015 - No Comments!

You Will Never Be the Same

My 8th Short Term Missions Trip

I just returned home from my 8th trip to Thailand. I was privileged to lead a team of 18 people from several different places across the United States, including Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles as well as Saudi Arabia.

Every time I go on a trip, it is different even though we do pretty much the same thing. ZOE team members are unique and it is fun to watch lives being changed right in front of you. This trip was the first time for me to be part of something new on the team schedule called “Cultural Day.” The day starts with team members being assigned to a ZOE Family. Whatever the ZOE Family is doing for the morning, the team member also does with them. Some team members received a Thai name and played games. Another group played games, and made fried bananas and fried sweet potatoes. One of the groups had to go and harvest vegetables from the garden. This team said it was really hard work.

Later that evening, the team provides a cultural experience from America for the whole ZOE Family. This team put on a Thanksgiving meal and shared about Thanksgiving.

If you or someone you know is interested in being part of a short term missions trip to Thailand to be with our ZOE Family, check out information about our short term missions trips. You will never be the same!

April 20, 2015 - 1 comment.

Young and Missions Minded

I love when the young generation gets involved in making a difference. There’s just something special about the entire experience. Not only is it great to see them being heroes in society, but I believe by getting involved, it’s a great start to shaping their future.

This month, I wanted to spotlight Paige Chabot. Paige has been a longtime supporter of ZOE, and she’s only 14. Read her interview below.

Thank you Paige for your continuous support toward ZOE. You are such a blessing!

Name: Paige Chabot

Age: 14

How did you hear about ZOE?

My mother got me involved with ZOE.  I don’t remember where she heard about ZOE from.

At what age did you start supporting ZOE?

I believe I was about seven or eight when I started to support ZOE.

What are some ways you have supported ZOE in the past?

I have raised money for ZOE when I was younger by having lemonade stands and participating in the quarter tube fundraisers for Kids Helping Kids. I have also raised money during my birthday parties by giving my guest the option to donate money instead of giving me a gift.  

What was the best memory of your mission trip to ZOE this past February?

One of my favorite memories, and I have a lot, was probably worshiping with the ZOE kids. I loved seeing how devoted they were and exited these kids were to spend time with the lord.

What kind of things did you do while on your mission trip?

We went to some schools and did outreaches. We handed out goodie bags (after making 1,000 of them) to families in the village we visited and preached to them too. We also saw elephants, met some amazing kids at ZOE, played games with kids at the schools, and hosted a luau for the ZOE family at the Children’s Home.

Would you go again? If so, why?

I would definitely go again. It was a great experience; if I was able to go again, I would definitely invite one or two of my friends to come along with me.

Favorite Food: well if you’re asking what my favorite food was during the trip, I would have to say all of it. Except the spicy food, not a fan of that. In general, I like everything!

October 14, 2014 - No Comments!

One Woman's Journey to End Child Trafficking

Guest Blogger, Kim Charter

My friend, Vickie McCoy and I met for lunch a few years ago and she shared with me that she was leaving her full time job to become a “stateside missionary.” After I picked my jaw up off the floor she explained more. I knew of her love for ZOE international and for missions, but it was this conversation that led me to a new, overwhelming awareness of child trafficking and it began my own journey to find out what I could to make a difference.

I thought that trafficking was only a third world problem. I could have compassion for those children, yet know that the children in my life were safe. But, the more I talked with Vickie, the more I became fully aware, enlightened and frightened for the children in my life and those around me. There is a growing exploitation of children in the US and there aren’t many safe places for them to recover and heal. ZOE wants to create a “home environment” in the United States for these children to come to so that they can be safe and healed.

The minute that I heard there was a need for help “I was IN”. It is now not only on my side of the globe, but in my home. I have two granddaughters and could never imagine them being hurt in this way. Now I have a responsibility to educate, inform and enlighten others about ending child trafficking.

Last year I learned about the ZOE Rescue Walk. I registered, raised funds and walked to contribute to the ZOE mission. I soon learned that there were many other people who were also unaware of the close proximity of this problem. There is a great need in this country to bring awareness of not only this problem globally, but locally as well. Last year’s Walk was a wonderful way for me to become involved and get the message out.

This year, I am walking again. I am doing my “one thing” to make a difference in the lives of others. Now it’s your turn to “Do One Thing” and consider joining me at this year’s walk on November 15th. Register now at ZOERescueWalk.com and do your one thing to end child trafficking and save a child!

 

 

September 10, 2014 - No Comments!

The ZOE Rescue Walk is Expanding!

The 3rd Annual ZOE Rescue Walk is expanding!  We are grateful for our partners who are willing to take on the task of forming a team this year in their home state.  Nick Durick of Rockford, Illinois is one of those people.  But Nick isn’t content with simply forming a team of people and walking; he is planning an entire event for his team of people!  When we asked Nick why he would take on such an enormous task, this is what he said.

There are countless reasons why I am wanting to hold a ZOE Rescue Walk in Rockford, Illinois. My church has had a partnership with ZOE international for seven years, and I have had the honor of serving with ZOE as a short term missionary for the last two years. I am completely committed to helping ZOE grow! The level of excellence and grace that ZOE commits to is off the charts! If I can be a part of that somehow, I will do everything I can to partner with such a beautiful organization.

I have talked with thousands of people over the last few years about human trafficking, whether locally, globally, or just in general, and the percentage of response that has no idea it is going on is mind blowing. So bringing awareness to our city, our state line area, will be HUGE! Rockford, IL will no longer be silent. We will no longer be neutral. We will no longer be uneducated. We will be a voice. We will be a movement. One that states clearly that Human Trafficking Is Not OKAY! The walk will not only be beneficial to ZOE for obvious reasons, but it will be the start of changing the heart of this city. We will be bringing LIFE to a broken and lost city. We will be bringing ZOE. I have prayed Isaiah 61:1-3 over Thailand and over ZOE for the last 2 years. It is time to bring that prayer and promise to Rockford!

Thank you Nick for your passion to end child trafficking and your love and passion for ZOE!

View Nick’s Team Page Here: http://www.firstgiving.com/team/270627

 

March 3, 2014 - No Comments!

The Trip of a Lifetime

Guest blogger | Elizabeth Mrozek (member of our February 2014 Short Term Missions team #ZOESTMFeb)

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Home from the trip of a lifetime..

In Thailand there was so much to take in and it was difficult to word properly all that I was seeing. From experiencing Zoe Children's home...(the professionalism, standard of excellence, grace, love, hard work, and family nature...) to ministering to Buddhists and others never having heard the name of Jesus in the primitive Nakoo village, to teaching and playing with engaging children in the schools, to the slums, There were so many aspects to process. Despite all the misfortune, and simplicity many of the Thai people live with, they are have a spirit of hospitality and treat all with kindness, and welcome strangers into their homes willingly. God is taking care of His children globally and all those who call on The Lord will find him. Reminders of Human trafficking and the appalling truths that accompany the industry were on my mind the the entire trip. We educated many families in the villages that had no idea that it was reality. For those unreached we prayed for, as well as the faces we learned and shared life with even for a day. I miss everyone I met while at Zoe Children's homes specifically, they were the purest, and most loving children and staff that I have ever met and are so full of joy and love for Jesus and others.

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ZOE Feb 2014 Short Term Missions Team

 

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Author, Elizabeth Mrozek front and center

Family comes first in Thai culture. I still have so much to think on..promptings and a new open hearted perspective of the planet and the sheer Enormity of God and what He is capable of. If you are uneasy or anxious about anything, he will make you strong, he will be there with answers and truth.

Thailand was rich in culture and I experienced so many beautiful things. The people, sweeping landscapes, mountains, rice paddies, glorious weather, color, spicy and intricate meals, teak trees and dense Forests..a full moon against a navy blue sky, bright stars and glowing lanterns dotting the night sky,
Elephant rides, the night bazaar.

I miss the people most of all. And the ever present red earth of the country, still to be found on my shoes leads me to reflect.

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