Peru- Loving Families Touched by Disability

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Reflecting on my trip to Peru with Joni and Friends to volunteer for a Family Retreat for families touched by disability, I am once again amazed at the way we saw God move among us, answering prayers, changing hearts, providing all that we could ever ask for and more. This is something that never seems to grow old, never loses the incredible impact that it has on my life each time I am able to participate in a Joni and Friends Family Retreat. Our time began with an Architects Conference at the University in Lima. About 40 students gathered to listen to local speakers as well as those ...[Read more]

Leadership…

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  Being in leadership and training volunteers is a role that must be taken seriously. It takes lots of time, energy, dedication AND...     Fun!!!     Lots of FUN!!!           ...and of course hugs- LOTS of hugs.         Being in leadership means...                                                   ...being blessed by serving others!   Kara  xoxo iamviable   ...[Read more]

jean-more than I could imagine

David Jean

A dear friend recently sent an email, sharing with me how her week serving at a Family Retreat had touched and changed her life. I asked Jean if I could share her experience with our readers because it shows how deeply someone can be affected by a little boy who happens to have a disability. More Than I Could Imagine Written by Jean Bilang Edited by Kara Ferris It’s been over a week since I returned from camp. This was my 4th time to serve as a Short Term Missionary (STM) with Joni and Friends Family Retreat at Missions Springs in Scotts Valley, California. These camps are designed ...[Read more]

robert-behind every facade

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The campers had gone home, our Joni and Friends staff had packed up our things, all traces of Family Retreat were put away until I walked into the office of the conference center the next morning.  My husband and I were staying on an extra week in the beautiful little RV park at Mission Springs in the Santa Cruz Mountains, tucked up against the hillside, surrounded by the statuesque redwoods.  I had gone in to speak to the office manager.  There on the counter was a Happy Graham that someone had anonymously left for the conference center staff.  Happy Grahams are something that is a long ...[Read more]

sheila- unwrapping the gift

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My job at Joni and Friends Family Retreat is to coordinate the volunteers (Short Term Missionaries, STMs) and oversee many of the activities.  On the second to last day at camp in June of 2008, it was crazy hair day and a young teenager girl, Gabriella had hair that was amazing, she had put silk flowers in it and those metallic fuzzy wires, we used to call pipe cleaners.  She had them sticking out of her hair, twisted into the shape of hearts. The day was a very busy one and suddenly, about 3 p.m., I saw Gabriel, sitting on a bench, eating a bowl of ice cream. "Oh!  Gabriella, I almost ...[Read more]

justin-a much needed reminder

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When our families come to Joni and Friends camp, they are given a buddy for each person with a disability.  That buddy is called a, Short Term Missionary or STM for short.  The second time Justin, his mother and sister came, we partnered Justin with an STM who had come to camp several times with his own family, his mother having childhood onset polio.  Walter now a teenager, often came to serve another family on his own as an STM. Walter is very quiet and shy with a tender heart for the Lord.  The first year that he came as an STM, we had given him a pretty easy camper but now, we felt that ...[Read more]

God’s Garden

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the LORD will guide you always: he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 God's garden Each morning at Joni and Friends Family Retreats, as I head out the door of my cabin, I grab my camera.  I can't wait to see the flowers that are blooming.  New flowers seem to appear over night!  I marvel as the morning sun hits their intense colors, brilliant and breath taking.  Every day, they grow more beautiful than the day before, I can't resist ...[Read more]