Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Ramseys are moving to TX

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

"I will instruct and teach you in this way that you are to go; I will give you counsel; my eyes will be watching you." - Psalm 32:8

It's official!  Our family will be moving to Texas from California this fall.  Did I really just write that?  Yes, I did!

We'll be trading in our flip flops for cowboy boots and moving to McKinney, North Dallas, to live near my brother and his family.  My mom is moving to Dallas as well and we're hoping that others will join our caravan.  Want to come with us?  Our family has been praying about a possible move for quite some time and both Mike and I have had the opportunity to visit the area over the past few months. We love it there and have been overwhelmed by the doors that God has opened for our family.  To read details about some of the incredible things that God did on my April trip to Texas, click here.

Mike will continue to work for Script to Screen Productions remotely and I'm looking forward to developing new partnerships with churches and organizations that will join our work in Central America.  The flight from Dallas to El Salvador is only two and a half hours and Dallas is a central hub for travel throughout the US.  I plan to continue to lead teams from California to El Salvador and will return to So Cal at least twice a year to recruit and train teams.  Our teams usually connect in Dallas and I look forward to greeting our team members with a warm Texan hug in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport!

Our family is definitely working through a huge influx of emotions as we prepare to move.  We are grieving the distance that we will face with our family and friends and the deep history and connections that we treasure here in California.  We will especially miss our church family at The Village Church of Irvine.  And of course, we'll miss the So Cal weather (but not the cost of living)! However, we're looking forward to living near my brother, his family and my mom and living in the South, where conservative values and Southern hospitality are undeniable.  

Last week I got to attend my nephew's preschool graduation in TX

I am honored to be leading sixty-three team members to serve in El Salvador this summer.  With my full summer schedule and Mike's work schedule, we realize that a fall move is much wiser than a frantic cross-country trek right after I return from spending three weeks in El Salvador.  I was in Dallas this past week and we just signed a contract to purchase a a new home.  Our house is located in a budding, new development with tons of families, an unbelievable community pool with waterslides and a highly sought after school district.  Apparently everything truly is bigger in Texas!

Our new house

The community pool in our new neighborhood

I had the opportunity to visit the boys' new middle school this week and was actually moved to tears as I met with the guidance counselor.  I was overwhelmed with the "small town" feel of the school and thrilled to discover that they offer tennis, PE alternatives, speech and debate and have a thriving Christian club!  We appreciate your prayers for our family as we prepare for emotional good byes and anticipate the adventure that awaits us.  

Friends from Mercy Church, Frisco, Texas

Thursday, May 28, 2015

True Religion

Blost post written by Jenni Ramsey

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27

Last weekend The Village Church 2015 El Salvador team had the opportunity to serve a widow in need in our community, Marlene Eckert.  Marlene is a dear friend of the Ramseys and she has served on two His Hands His Feet teams to Guatemala.   She recently lost her husband and had some handyman/cleaning needs in her home that desperately needed attention. The team was honored to work at her home and in exchange for their service, Marlene donated towards the team costs, which will ultimately serve orphans.

It's so beautiful to see the body of Christ function as it should; with young and old, men and women and people of different cultures and backgrounds serving one another.  I'm so proud of our team and can't wait to serve alongside them this summer.  This team will be building a home for an impoverished family, visiting children living in government-run orphanages and feeding the homeless.  One of the things that I love about this team is the number of kids serving with us!  Meet the team:

Mike, Jenni, Jordan (13) & Aidan (11) Ramsey
Stephanie Keenan
Mike & Ben (16) Langdon
Geoff & Ryan (10) Youd
Max Moore (12)
Joseph, Valerie (14) & Cameron (12) Cheng
Guido & Julien (12) Hajenius
Hilary Cook

The team still needs to raise over $6,000 and all funds are due by June 7.  Please pray for God's provision and let us know if you'd like to help with the costs.  Donations are tax deductible and checks can be written to His Hands His Feet and mailed to 95 Spring Valley, Irvine, CA 92602.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Taylor Wasson and the Power of Short-Term Missions

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Taylor, Aidan, Samantha & Rebekah

Taylor Wasson served with her mom and sister on a His Hands His Feet trip to El Salvador in 2011. She was 12 years old at that time and her life was deeply impacted by the trip.  Taylor has always dreamed of returning to serve children in El Salvador and this year the Lord spoke to her and called her back.  Despite the fact that many of her friends from her church were going to the Philippines this summer, Taylor decided to return to El Salvador at the Lord's prompting.  She also invited a few of her friends to serve with her and even organized informational meetings for her friends.  Taylor is a gifted leader and we're so grateful to have her on our team this summer.  She will be serving alongside her close friend, Shannon Smith, who attends Trabuco Hills High School, Mission Viejo, along with Taylor.  Many of Taylor's close friends who attend Crean Lutheran High School are serving on the team as well.  It's always incredible to watch our teams come together but I have especially been blessed by Taylor's tenacity and passion in inviting her friends to serve alongside her on this particular team.

This March I was privileged to lead a small team to serve in El Salvador.  During the trip I spent time reading through Sus Hjos mission house guest book.  The guest book allows team members to leave their thoughts about the week on paper before their departure.  I was deeply touched as I observed comments of past team members throughout the pages of the book.  I was inspired as I reflected on the many ways in which our team members' lives have been transformed since serving on our teams. It was so thrilling to find Taylor's comments in the guest book from her 2011 trip and I marveled at the fact that she's returning again, this time with a close group of friends.  The memories of the children that Taylor encountered in 2011 have a permanent place in her heart and her passion for orphans is obviously contagious.

Lexi (who served on our team last year), Cassie, Shannon and Taylor

Short-term missions trips can and should be life changing.  I often tell our team members that these trips should not be an item to check off their bucket lists.  Their trip experiences should change their future decisions in how they spend their money, careers, time and passions.  When North Americans are willing to leave the comfort zones of safety and familiarity and serve in third world countries, their eyes are opened in tremendous and often unexpected ways.  Team members are forced into deep reflection  as they encounter children who've been abused and abandoned, young women who've been victims of human trafficking and lives that have been devastated by poverty, addictions and gangs.  Psalm 34:18 says that "The Lord is near to the broken hearted." We definitely encounter His nearness as we serve in broken places and see lives transformed by the hope of the Gospel.   I have been overwhelmed as I've watched our team members's lives radically impacted by the trips.  Some of our team members have returned home and started the adoption process.  Others are now serving in long-term missions.  Many students have switched their college majors and career paths and others have started ministries in their local communities.  Some, like Taylor, have chosen to return again, bringing family and friends alongside them, and my sense of anticipation is mounting with the knowledge of the life changing impact we are about to encounter together.

Meet the 2015 Crean Lutheran High School Team

Blog post by Jenni Ramsey

Last summer I was honored to lead a team of students to El Salvador from Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, CA.  We had a very special group of students and leaders and we're thrilled to be partnering with Crean for the second year in a row from July 25-August 1.  This team will be serving in government run orphanages.  They will also be throwing a quinceanera for young ladies and women who live in special needs homes.  David Anderlik, the women's basketball coach and a biology teacher for Crean, co-led the team last year and is co-leading again.  Coach Anderlik prayed that the number of students would double as he prepared to lead a team in 2015 and they did!   This year we have a total of twenty-two team members and nine are returning team members. The students have organized a number of fundraising events, including a baby-sitting night on Friday, May 29 at Crean Lutheran High School (from 6-10 pm) and a garage sale in Mission Viejo on Saturday, June 20.

The team is collecting gently used dresses, shoes and jewelry for the quinceanera.  They are also bringing gifts for the orphanages such as diapers, formula, hygiene products, toys and sports supplies.  Please let us know if you can support the team through donations or financial support.  We are extremely grateful for your prayers for the students and team leaders as they prepare to serve this summer.

These photos were taken at our team meeting a few weeks ago.  Some of the team members are missing and we hope to have an updated photo soon.  It was so inspiring to hear how God led each team member to join the team during our meeting and I loved seeing the students praying together for the people that we'll be serving in El Salvador.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Meet the 2015 YWOV Team

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Young Women of Vision (YWOV) has chosen to partner with His Hands His Feet for the second year in a row and we're so thrilled to serve alongside them this year.  This beautiful group of mothers and (high school aged) daughters will be hosting a quinceanera for teenage girls living in government orphanages during their week of service.  A quinceanera is a traditional fifteenth birthday celebration for Latin American girls.  It has been so amazing to watch this team of women come together.  The team is working hard to fundraise, collect donations and prepare for their missions trip.  They are currently in need of gently used dresses, dress shoes and jewelry for the quinceanera. To read more about YWOV, click on YWOV 2014.  To see photos and read about our 2014 quinceanera, click here.

This photo was taken at our last team meeting.  We're missing some team members and hope to have an updated team photo soon.  We have 24 team members total!   Please pray for our team as we prepare to serve in El Salvador from July 4-11. Thank you for your love, prayer and support!