Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Project dinner show Victory Outreach, Amsterdam

Diner show last year
It has been a while since we sponsored a project in the Netherlands, while there are plenty of good  and beautiful initiatives.

Recently we received an  email from Elaine Mackay from Victory Outreach in Amsterdam. We have helped her in the past with various projects and in December they are cooking up something special again.

Victory Outreach is an international church with the mission to reach out to vulnerable people in society. On Saturday December 23 Victory Outreach will organize a dinner show in cooperation with the Game of Life foundation. Their aim is to bring together broken families as well as families from lower social classes during the Christmas period. Last year it was a great success.

they expect 50 people this year
During the dinner show guests can watch a Christmas play while enjoying a fine three-course menu. During the show presents will be given away and at the end of the evening everyone will go home with an extra surprise. The organization expects about 500 guests this year ....

Elaine, on behalf of the Game of Life foundation, is looking for volunteers, donations and financial support for this big event. We at Traveling Light  always welcome initiatives that bring people together and where the love of Christ is distributed in a practical way.

Do you have a heart for Amsterdam and the people who do not know Jesus? Then send your gift to St. Traveling Light, Papendrecht IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U and make sure to mention AMSTERDAM. We will make sure it gets there.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Visit to Teen Challenge, Poland

Broczyna rehab center
Last month we visited several locations of Teen Challenge in Poland at the invitation of director Zbyszek Urbaniak. We spent quite some quality time together and he has shown us a lot about the work of Teen Challenge in Poland.

We visited the rehabilitation center in Broczyna where we spoke during the chapel service and were able to pray with the students. A year ago we raised funds so they could install washbasins in all the rooms, nice to see that they did a great job.

We then visited the men's center in Lekini where Waldemar is director. He is a graduate of the program. Yes, think about it... once an addict and now the director of a very big center. He also showed us around  in the administrative building of Teen Challenge, an old dairy factory with beautiful office spaces, a coffeehouse, church and social reintegration program; a small factory where women were sowing rain coats. There are also plans to open up a youth center.

It warms our heart to see and hear that Teen Challenge has good contacts with the (local) government and is also a well-known organization in the area because they help so many people to rebuild their lives and find work.

Reintegration work program
Teen Challenge has 44 coffee houses spread out all over Poland. These are locations that are open once or twice a week and are run by volunteers, usually in collaboration with a local church. It is often the first place where addicts hear the gospel.

Each year TC organizes a national coffee house conference where volunteers meet to be equipped, encouraged and  to have fellowship with each other. We were asked to speak about the theme 'Giving' as described in Marja's book 'Grace of Giving', which was also published in Polish by Compassion.

At the National Coffee House Conference
Jan Jędrzejczak, the coordinator of all coffee houses, is also a Teen Challenge graduate. In fact, his life story is worth to be told in a separate blog post, an incredible testimony. It was a great encouragement for us to hear all kinds of stories from all over Poland ... how  lives have been changed through faith, hope and love!

Also to see and experience that the Christians in Poland believe that their country can change for the better. It came to our mind over and over again, Go, and make disciples of  all nations...

Warm welcome at The Gate
After the conference we visited the beautiful student city of Wroclaw. Last year the first youth center The Gate was opened, inspired by a Dutch concept. The Gate is located in an old building in the city and is run by a group of young volunteers. Weekly, dozens of students meet to talk, make music and meet each other.

The gospel is central in their activities. In a city of 120,000 students the Christians are an "alternative group" ... We spent hours together, listening to each other, praying and encouraging them to be light in a dark world.

It was absolutely delightful to spend time with young people who have a heart for the future of their country.

We very much enjoyed this visit and we want to thank Zbyszek Urbaniak for all the time and attention he gave us. Very nice to get such an inspiring tour and to talk about our vision for Europe.

Visiting the old city center of Wroclaw
We see a lot of fruit from the work of Teen Challenge. We are more than ever convinced that one way of obeying the great commission to make disciples is to support programs like Teen Challenge throughout Europe!

Gifts for this kind of projects are always welcome to  St. Traveling Light, Papendrecht, IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275, BIC: RABONL2U. Please note that there will be a lot of projects coming up in November and December!

As a side note once again ... the trips we make are part of the "spiritual encouragement" we offer and are privately funded. We do not use your gifts for our travels.  All donations are going towards the projects!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Photo's Teen Challenge center Batumi, Georgia

Busy construction site in Batumi
Donations for follow-up project expansion men's rehab Berdychiv, Ukraine are coming in. We are quickly approaching the 2,000 euro mark. Super!

We have also been able to donate 5,000 euro towards the work of Teen Challenge in Armenia and 2,000 euro for the work of Brian Slater among the elderly and poor in Israel.

It is time for a quick update on the work at the Teen Challenge women's center in Batumi, Georgia.

Our Weissensee 2017 event was for the benefit of this project. During the summer months they have been working hard on the construction of this already beautiful home.

Kuanysh (left) moving the cement
Remember that almost everything is being done by staff and students of the Teen Challenge men's home in Tbilisi and that they depend on donations in order to continue the work. When the money runs low, the work stops ...

Kuanysh & Madina Akkuzov, directors of Teen Challenge in Georgia write:

"We have had a busy summer  together with Doug Boyle in Batumi. We did big progress on the building, we finished the inside of the 1st floor completely. Our missionary family with Lena are living there... learning Georgian. As we agreed we used your donation for doors and windows. This money was enough to put beautiful wooden doors with windows on 1st, 2nd and partially 3rd floor."

camping out on the porch
As you can see in the pictures, the men "camped out" on the porch during the work. The home will serve as a center for women who come out of human trafficking as well as a leadership training center to send out missionaries in that part of the world.

Beautiful doors
On behalf of all those involved in Batumi, thank you very much for your gifts. We do not know when the official opening of the center will be set, but we will keep you updated.

We (Jan and Marja) are planning to visit Georgia again (for the third time) at the end of December and will bring back the latest news.

It is so good to see that we can bridge the distance and support the work that is being done in Georgia. For the Teen Challenge men it must also be therapeutic to work on such a grand construction project. We are proud of them and grateful for their commitment.

Windows, doors, walls, paint...
Are you glad to read good news from far away lands and do you think it is important that your gifts are being spent well? Then please show us your support by making a donation today to IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht.

With your help and prayers we are able to continue the support of such awesome projects, which often involves the work of Teen Challenge throughout Europe!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Follow-up project expansion men's rehab Berdychiv, Ukraine

Already twice as big and a new roof!
At the end of last year we raised funds for the expansion of the men's rehab house in Berdychiv which operates under the flag of Teen Challenge Ukraine. Our friend Sergey Romanenko is in charge of the home. The original plan was to build a 2nd floor on the existing house to provide more shelter.

Last July we were in Ukraine during the summer camp for people from rehab centers that Teen Challenge and the Messianic Community in Berdichev organize annually.

Current kitchen in the men's house
We had time to visit the rehabilitation homes for men and women in that area. As you can see in the picture a whole new section has been added to the existing house and the roof has been renewed as well.

For many people it is unthinkable that so many people live in one house. The bunk beds are crammed into a room and the kitchen is really too small to cook for such a group (usually about 10 men).

The plan is now to extend the kitchen by moving the shower room (which is now adjacent to the kitchen) to the new part of the house. They are making a wide door to connect the old and new section of the house.

New section under construction
All in all, there is still a lot of work to be done before everything is ready and habitable. Sergey Romanenko estimates that around 2,000 euro is needed to complete the construction work. Whether we want to help again?

Of course, we like to help again, especially since we have seen with our own eyes how much work already has been done and how much still needs to be done. It will all be beautiful in the end, we're sure about that. What's even more beautiful than the house itself, are the men who live there. Their stories are worth writing a book about...

Visiting the men's home!
Every human life counts and we are always happy to see how boys and men step out of the deep darkness of addiction, crime and hopelessness and receive a new beginning (didn't we all at some point?). This often results in a new beginning for their families as well.

Think about it,  the men are working on  the home they live in while being build up themselves. Are you ready to step alongside and  help again with a financial gift and/or prayer?

If so, send your gift to IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht.

When in the USA you can make your tax-deductible gift payable to EEO Inc. Make sure to mention: TC Ukraine, Berdychiv.

We will make sure that everything arrives at the destination and will indeed be used for the expansion of the rehab center.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Visit to Teen Challenge, Romania

Catalin & Oltita Baciu
Early September we visited the beautiful country of Romania at the invitation of Catalin & Oltita Baciu. They are the directors of Teen Challenge in that country and the pastors of Biserica 43, a young, fast-growing church in Bucharest.

Our contact with them was established many years ago when we were still living in Southern California. We met them there at a conference and heard about the work they started among the addicts and homeless. Up till this year we did not succeed in planning a visit ... but finally the time was right :)

Men's rehab center in Grădiştea
We stayed in the rehabilitation center for men in Grădiştea, a village outside Bucharest. This center has been established with support from Southern California. The men who live there all have a different background and all have their own story ... sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes difficult to imagine or comprehend, but through it all there is always God's love and grace.

With Stefan and Joseph

We had all the time to listen to the guys in the program and pray with them. We were very grateful for the help from young men such as Joseph (translation, percussion) and Stefan (guitar). We felt so in tune with them and they had the gift to (literally) touch the right tone which made prayer very effective. So precious.

A few years ago teen Challenge opened a women's home as well. During our visit they just moved to a new location, assisted by the men from Grădiştea. Behind some of these beautiful faces are stories of pain and suffering, but victory is often within reach.

Women's House of Joy
What a wonderful work to welcome ladies from all walks of life in this beautiful and warm home where they can slowly and safely recover and heal. The women who work in the house are often graduates themselves and they know the ins and outs of rehabilitation.

Street outreach is still the basis for any Teen Challenge program: seeking addicts and homeless people in their living environment, telling them that there is hope, that there is always hope! With Robert and Cristiana we hit the city back roads, talking to people in the parks, on the streets, in crack houses and alleys. Such a misery, but also ... such an encouragement to know that there are people going out to look for that one lost sheep, that one addicted prostitute and tell her about God's love
With street workers Robert and Cristina (right)

The street work bears fruit. From time to time someone makes a decision to go into rehabilitation. Every woman and man must get that chance!

In the church founded by Teen Challenge, Biserica 43, we were given time and opportunity to listen to people's stories and pray with them (until late in the night). It was a huge encouragement for us to see so many young people ... with passion and great enthusiasm!

Bible study with the men
It was no coincidence that in that same weekend a team from Southern California came for a visit. They were making a documentary about the work of Teen Challenge in Romania. We had such a great time together and really enjoyed tourist trips, tasty food and beautiful nature.

The work of Traveling Light is so much more than fundraising for certain projects. We get to be an encouragement and share God's love, grace and words with people. Also, by visiting different countries and programs we get a clear picture of the miracles God is doing throughout Europe, and we're happy to share that good news!

Check out this special video and see how the work in Romania started!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Work week 2017 Italy

A few weeks ago we headed down to Italy for another great work week. We promised you some pictures and a short report. By the way, it was the fourth time we organized a work week in beautiful Tuscany

With much enthusiasm and zeal we chopped, saw, split and piled up a huge amount of wood. Twice as much as  last year, Henk Swijnenburg claimed ... :)

In doing this, we are helping Maria Meier who runs the therapeutic community Comunita Brezzano.

This year we came with eight people, six from the Netherlands and two from Slovenia: Ervin and Andreas. These two men have a lot of experience in cutting trees through their work for Teen Challenge in Slovenia, so we were very happy with such extra manpower.

The temperature was around 35°C, so the Italians thought we were crazy for working that hard in the summer heat ... but we had planned to fill the basements with firewood for the winter!

The best thing is to see how quick we learn to work as a team and how a relationship develops between people who do not even know each other. The theme for the week was 'living victoriously'. We talked about it every night, read the Bible and shared experiences.

Of course we also went to the beach for a relaxing day. Wow, such temperatures :)

We can look back at a beautiful week in which we learned a lot from each other and certainly from God Himself, who gave us the words to pray for one another through the Holy Spirit.

Thank you very much to Adrie, Andreas, Anja, Ervin, Henk, Jan, Marc and Marja, for your hard work and servanthood. It was really nice to spend this week together. Who knows, there will be another chance next year!

We enjoy hard work as well as fundraising for the various projects. By the way, it was good to see the professional job they did on the repairs of Casa Nuova, we donated for that project last year.

Thanks also to Adrie Swijnenburg for the pictures (click to enlarge).

Gifts for our current projects are always welcome at IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht. 

Project Teen Challenge, Armenia
Project Brian Slater, Israel

PS: Last week we were in Romania, a very special visit! More about that soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Project work of Brian Slater in Israel

Brian Slater
Those who have been following our blogs for a while, know that we visit Brian Slater in Netanya, Israel almost every year. He is the founder of Abundant Bread of Salvation, an organization that offers help to Holocaust survivors, the poor and the elderly and also to new immigrants and single mothers.

Brian runs a food bank, clothing distribution and soup kitchen in Netanya and whenever we are in Israel, we enjoy volunteering with him. It is always a great opportunity to chat with the people who come for help (in German, English, Hebrews and Yiddish with many gestures of course). Volunteers come from all over the world.
Brian with Nachum (in the middle)

He is currently in the USA for a series of speaking engagements and presentations. The special thing about this trip is that he is traveling together with Nachum Kerpilevich, leader of the Association of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors of Israel, Netanya Branch. This man is 84 years old and it is his first trip to America.

Brian had asked us some time ago if we wanted to help cover the costs for this trip. There is a lot of things to organize and take care of when traveling for two weeks in the USA. Meanwhile, the work in Netanya continues.

Location of food bank / soup kitchen in Netanya
If you want to know more about Brian's work in Netanya, it is really worth checking out his blog or Facebook page!

Of course we want to support Brian, his work in Israel and the trip in the USA. The proceeds of our 2nd hand shop Twinkeltje over September will all go towards this project. During our special Israel night on September 30th, we will also project pictures of Brian's work in Netanya.

If you want to help us with this, please send your gift to IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht. Make sure to mention ISRAEL.

PS: For our current project Teen Challenge Armenia we have already received over 3,000 euro! Gifts are still welcome.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Celebrating 1 year anniversary Twinkeltje

Jan, Marja, Cora and Krijn
This month it is a year ago that Twinkeltje opened her doors in the Korenbloemstraat 20, Papendrecht. For those who don't know yet: this cozy shop with great second hand items is an initiative of Cora Donk, board member of Traveling Light.

The shop has become quite popular in Papendrecht and surrounding areas and a growing group of visitors enjoys a not-so-every-day shopping experience and a good cup of coffee every week. Twinkeltje is much more than just a store with 2nd hand stuff, it's a place where people come together, kind of a neighborhood shop / coffee house.

Every month the proceeds from the sales and workshops fully benefit a particular project supported by Traveling Light. These projects are mostly related to the care for the homeless, the poor, the addicts, the prostitutes and the hopeless. Cora says: "Isn't it great that we can help people who are in such difficult circumstances and at the same time have fun doing that together?"

During the previous year Twinkeltje was able to contribute an average of thousand euro each month (!) to various projects all across Europe and the Mediterranean. That is a wonderful result and a reason to celebrate our first anniversary with a Taste of Europe. In September every Saturday we will highlight another country, so come on in and taste food as well as atmosphere between 12:00 and 17:00 hrs.

We will finish the month on Saturday September 30th with a special Israel night and you are all very welcome to join us. There will be plenty of products from Israel, so come shopping! We will also make sure there will be tasty snacks, drinks, Arabic coffee, music and a slide show.
This night will be a nice opportunity to catch up, meet people and shop, all in one!

So mark your calendar!

We have just returned from a very productive (and warm) work week in Tuscany, more about that (and pictures of course) soon on this blog. For our current project Teen Challenge Armenia more than 2,000 euro has come in already, so that's going well. Thank you for all the gifts.

Gifts for this project are very welcome at IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht. Make sure to mention ARMENIA.

When in the USA, you can make your tax-deductible gift payable to EEO Inc. Make sure to mention: TC ARMENIA.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Project Teen Challenge Armenia

Mkrtchyan family
The coolest things we do on this blog are: 1) introducing the people behind the projects, 2) supporting new initiatives, and 3) getting acquainted with a "new" country. Take a cup of coffee and read along .....

In the picture on the left you see Gagik & Lusine Mkrtchyan and their children. They live in Armenia and are the directors of the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. This work was set up in 2014 by Doug & Anna Boyle (who are also behind the work of Teen Challenge in Kazakhstan and Georgia).

Teen Challenge communiy
It's really amazing what Gagik & Lusine are doing to make God's love known to people who have no hope. Gagik says:

"God does miracles. Our administrator Artush got in our program almost dead because of drugs and alcohol. He was living a criminal life, his father was a mafia guy. Artush got in jail because of murder. God miraculously changed his life in the TC Armenia program. Today he is humbly serving God."

Karate class
In the Teen Challenge center time is spent on prayer and Bible study, but also on sports. In addition, there is also a variety of work projects as part of the therapy. Building, carving, shoveling and digging, it helps the men to use their strength and skills in a good way.

With very little resources a lot of work is being done! The team organizes sports events and competitions and try to involve as many young people as possible. Football, karate, judo ... just name it and they do it. Gagik & Lusine also give Alpha courses to these young guys who often hang out in the streets.

Blessing from the church leaders
Teen Challenge Armenia is an interdenominational organization. Their team members come from different churches like the Armenian National Traditional church, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. They are happy to have the blessings of the bishops of these churches. There is power in unity.

The Mkrtchyan family also regularly visits needy families in the region. They offer prayer and food packages. Lusine also started a women's ministry.

"There are a lot of people who want  to  get into the TC Armenia program, but our resources are limited", says Gagik. Like most Teen Challenge programs in Eastern Europe, they are fully dependent on gifts.

Visiting families in need
Traveling Light would like to help them with a general gift for the work they do among addicts, young people and poor families. There is so much need, just think about food, shelter, utilities, transportation and evangelism materials... any kind of help or amount is welcome. Please, pray with us that we will succeed in planning a visit as well.

Armenia is a beautiful country, the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. A country with a rich history. Are you willing to help and give the Armenian people a hopeful future?

Gifts for this project are welcome to IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht. make sure to mention ARMENIA.

When in the USA, you can make your tax-deductible gift payable to EEO Inc. Make sure to mention: TC ARMENIA.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Activities & project news

This Thursday evening August 17 we will organize a special  evening in our 2nd hand shop Twinkeltje, this time it will be all about Ukraine. We will have dear guests from Kiev, Sergey & Mariana Glushko. They are the directors of Teen Challenge Ukraine and they will share about the work among addicts and homeless people.

It is a very special honor for us to welcome them because the very first project of Traveling Light back in 2011 was the result of a meeting with this lovely couple!

Mariana & Sergey
Doors will be open at 19:30. We invite you for an inspiring, educational and enjoyable evening. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, to see pictures, to pray together and of course we will take up an offering to bless the work of Teen Challenge in Ukraine!

The proceeds of Twinkeltje over the month of August will also go to Teen Challenge Ukraine.

We received a newsletter from Jordan & Vesna Stoilovi in Macedonia. They are very happy with the financial help they received from us. The new location of coffee house The Bridge is officially open and it looks really amazing.

coffee house meeting
They have a weekly program now with different activities such as: women's meeting, Bible study, children's club, etc. We are very grateful that the outreaches in this city (where the population is mainly Muslim) are yielding fruit. People are interested and open to learn about the Bible and to get to know God better.

Nice interior
Again: THANK YOU on behalf of Jordan & Vesna and their team.

We received some beautiful stories and pictures from seafarer's evangelist Guus Peters. He has already made a lot of Filipino sailors happy with Christian literature, films and Tagalog Bibles! Thanks to your donations

Happy sailor!
It is great that we can help Guus again and again to accomplish his mission ... to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many sailors as possible.

Last June we decided to open up our 2nd hand shop Twinkeltje as 'healing room' on Tuesday night. We made a pot of coffee and tea and asked God to bring people in need of prayer for healing, restoration or deliverance. The name for our healing room is Re-Store ... a fun play on words in English :)

Tuesday August 22 we will open our doors again (Korenbloemstraat 20, Papendrecht). There are plenty of lovely people to pray with you.

Then some updates on current projects; we have been able to donate 5,000 euro for the expansion of the women's home in Belarus. This coming fall we will help them again with a second phase of this project.

Project restart Teen Challenge Croatia already brought in more than 1,000 euro, so that's going well. Thank you for the donations that keep coming in without interruption. It's amazing what we can do together to support many projects and help people throughout Europe.

Gifts are always welcome to IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U St. Traveling Light in Papendrecht.

If you are in the USA and you want to donate for TC Croatia, please make your tax-deductible gift payable to EEO Inc. Make sure to mention: TC CROATIA.