The Canopy Project
Youth Ministries International of the Church of God of Prophecy has just completed a Youth Missions trip to the nation of Paraguay. We joined our Paraguayan family in the construction of an amphitheater and ministry to young leaders.
The Canopy Project
Youth Ministries International sent a team of 21 individuals to “the heart of South America,” Paraguay, June 12-23, 2017. The Canopy Project was a service opportunity to build an outdoor amphitheater for the Camping Ministry of Paraguay, They also engaged in leadership training and ministry to two Children's homes!Our adventure
. . . loving our neighbor as ourself . . . Mark 12:31
Reaching our destination!
It was a warm and sunny day when our team of 21 individuals flew out from Miami, Florida to embark on the YM Mission trip to the nation on Paraguay. With bags packed and anticipation in the air, we landed safely in Asuncion, Paraguay and were warmly welcomed by missionary Dan Miller. The following morning was a rest day for the team, consisting mostly of group bonding and getting to know the missionaries that were hosting us for the following 10 days and the children from the two homes that reside within the Promise Land campground (Campamento Tierra Prometida). When our day of rest was over, the team was ready to begin the tasks which we had come to do as service unto our Paraguayan family - the building of the amphitheater, painting of the building next to the amphitheater, directing a one day youth training seminar, leading a regional Sunday service, and loving on the children of the homes.
The building of the amphitheater, known as The Canopy Project, required a lot of manual labor that we know could not have been achieved without the strength from the Lord and a love for our neighbor and Paraguayan friends. On the first day of the mission, our group was divided into different teams in order to get a lot accomplished for the amount of time we were there. The divisions were: a kitchen team, a building team, a steel team, a painting team, and a team that would spend time on certain days with the younger children (aged 2-9) from a newly opened home on the campground. The kitchen team was essential because with their heart of service, they would be awake before everyone else preparing our breakfast that would fuel our day, ride into town to buy ingredients that were necessary for cooking our lunches, and clean the dining room area as they would prepare for our evening supper once the work day was over. Thanks to this team, we had clean dishes every day, a clean dining room area, delicious food that replenished our bodies, and warm smiles that greeted us after a work day was over.
The Construction Team
The construction team was where most of our team members were used, as the building of the amphitheater by manual labor began. Every day, we saw our team work diligently from 8am to 5pm and learn new skills to toil the land. The first few days were required to dig up dirt using shovels and buckets, that would be mixed in with cement and water. This combination was then poured into a cement mixer. The combination of these materials was then used to pour over an area of the ground where the seats for the amphitheater would eventually be placed. The work was not the easiest, but we saw the Lord drive us to do the tasks with excellence and this brought forth quick success. A few days later, the building team was digging up more dirt by hand to lay down the foundation of the stage. A day later and the stage was completed! As the Paraguayan workers laid down bricks around the perimeter of the amphitheater, our team would prepare more cement, dig up more dirt, and move bricks around to help advance the building of this project. As the last week of our stay came about, we saw great success in the building of the amphitheater. The ground was no longer just a foundation, but it now had a complete stage area, bricks laid down that were the beginning of the first set of seats, and much more (see pictures attached of before & after). Also, our painting team had successfully painted the inside and outside of the building next to the amphitheater with three coats of white paint. Two members of our team helped weld and prepare the steel for the roofing. Their partnership produced the construction of what would become the posts for the roof of the amphitheater. On some days, a few of our young girls from the team would visit the younger children’s home to take care and play with the kids, as the house parents would go into town to take care of errands and buy groceries.
The first weekend of our stay.
On the first weekend of our stay, we had a great opportunity to support the youth leaders of COGOP Paraguay with a one day youth training seminar. The teachers and their class titles for this training were: Tony Orona (What is Youth Ministry?), Zack Rupe (The Role of a Youth Leader), Pastor Ken Lester (Leaders Producing Leaders), and Pastor Mack Willis (Developing Relationships). Throughout this one day training, we had lunch with the youth leaders of Paraguay that had attended and then broke off into a team building exercise which taught everyone the importance of joining hands to support one another in their respective ministries as we serve one God and Kingdom alone. At the completion of our youth training, we rested for about an hour and a half before our regional youth service started that night. The youth service was a great opportunity for our team members to get to know more about Paraguayan youth culture and also to bless the lives of the youth as they imparted blessing and prayer over them. The following day was Sunday which mean our regional service would take place. The atmosphere was one of expectation and humility, which God blessed abundantly as His spirit poured out and refreshed souls. Our team (who mostly were English speakers only), was greatly blessed to sense God’s presence, despite their ability to fully understand the Spanish worship songs.
Eventually, our stay had come to an end. On Wednesday, June 21st, we had separate girls and boys Bible study, as we had the Wednesday before. This time was vital to our relationship building with the children of the home and to love on them as much as we could. The girls ended their Bible study by painting each other’s nails, as a sign of servanthood and sisterhood. Soon it was the end of our trip and as June 22nd came around, our team said our goodbyes and headed into Asuncion for a day of tourism and delicious food! The day was full of laughter, walking, purchasing of souvenirs, and fun sight seeing. God was gracious to us and helped all of our team return back to the United States safely, where individually all carry a part of Paraguay in our hearts and will forever treasure this experience. It was an honor to be apart of YM Missions and we look forward to see the future teams going abroad to love their Creator and their neighbor. God Bless Paraguay! Dios bendiga Paraguay!
These are the members of the Canopy Project.
Ken Lester, Sandi Lester, Ryan Lester, Megan Lester, Taylor Nichols, Austin Tuck, John Farrar, Zach Rupe, Sarah Kinka
Paulette Wilbanks, David Wilbanks, Mack Willis, Brenda Willis, Alexis Howard, Ella Howard
Mariela Bor, Paul Ortiz, Damaris Orona, Tony Orona
Charlie & Amáris Scruggs