Friday, 28 September 2012

Heartbeat Tallin: A European Mission

Every 4 to 6 years, all the Agape staff, together with their most committed volunteers come together in a European city to renew their vision, share their achievments in the mission and to celebrate together the love of Christ. When the European gathering for 2012 was still in the planning stages, it was decided that in order to carry out our mission as Christians in the city that hosted us and to give a good testimony of what it is to be a Christian, the conference should be designed with this mindset of  bringing the Kingdom of God there where we would be. That is how Heartbeat Tallinn was born.

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was chosen to receive more than 1500 Christians to participate in this event, something that was surprising and completely unusual for this city.

Heartbeat Tallinn was not merely a European conference. It was a European mission. In the mornings, we gathered at Tallin´s Nokia Hall where we listened to testimonies and became familiar with new materials that were being developed and heard about plans for the future. In the afternoons, however, were dedicated to the city of Tallinn. There were groups that went to hospitals, others that went to homes in need, others that met with businessmen in the area, others that drank coffee with a group of Estonian young people...It wasn´t about big signs or grand events. It was about the small things, face-to-face, the one-on-one, in small groups scattered all over the city there were barely detectable but we were there everywhere.

The teenagers at the conference took over the main city square and created a fun space for all of the youth who were just hanging around with nowhere to be and nothing to do. They could come and spend time there. Concerts, games, activities, including a live version of Angry Birds.

The littlest ones were involved in a variety of activities all day long.

During the evenings there was no lack of concerts and other large events offered to everyone in the city. During the week we offered a great variety of high-quality events with a Christian influence.

In addition, the university students and Campus staff had the opportunity to gather and give testimonies of all that God was doing on the university campuses around Europe.

The week culminated in a large event that Estonians could only have dreamt of 25 years ago under Soviet domination: "Jesus Day," a gathering at Tallinn´s football stadium with all the different Christian denominations who came together to proclaim and praise God.

One of the best things about Heartbeat Tallin is that all the events that were created were a response to the needs of Christians in Tallinn. Agape just helped facilitate the process.

To read more about Heartbeat Tallin, please visit Heartbeat Tallinn´s website.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Story of One House

The Pilgrim´s Fountain or Fuente del Peregrino opened its doors in June, allowing an endless flow of stories to flood in. Stories of pilgrims, of workers, of neighbors, of reunions, of memories, of hospitality...

A total of 160 volunteers have cleaned, cooked, prepared and accomodated in this house each day. These volunteers have received, welcomed and served each person that passed by the door and entered therein with dedication and love. These work teams arrived from all over the country to use their vacatino time and serve with nothing in return. Thanks to all of those that have made it possible for the Fuente del Peregrino to be an authentic refuge for the bodies and for the souls of many people. A very sincere thanks to them because so many of them dedicated their vacation time to be working in the house.

While the number of volunteers we can count, it is almost impossible to say the hundreds and hundreds of pilgrims that have had some coffee, filled their water bottles, stopped to chat, to rest, to have lunch, to have dinner, to sleep and to share their Camino stories with us. Thanks to these as well because they have given meaning to all the effort, the work and the dedication. The guest book is full of thanks through written words that show the impact that the Fuente del Peregrino is having. The kindness they have received during their time with us has affected their lives.

In these fotos to the left, one can read two notes that were left this summer by two different pilgrims.

Without a doubt, all that pass through the doors of the Fuente del Peregrino remember her. At the beginning of August a German woman who was walking the Camino for the second time in her life arrived at the pilgrim house. The first time she walked was four years ago and she slept at the pilgrim house. This year she said she just "had to stay" and also slept in the pilgrim house when she passed by. When she arrived and started talking with the work teams she told them, "I had to stop in Ligonde and stay at Jesus´hostal." She herself named the pilgrim house this way because she said that it was the only place that she had visited where she was truly treated as Jesus would treat her.

In addition to receiving work teams and pilgrims, the Fuente del Peregrino also hosted a group of 25 people for the "Encaminar" Training from August 12-26. "Encaminar" (to guide or to orient) is a training that Agape offers each year to its staff, partners and volunteers who want to grow in their relationship with God and in their commitment to help others.

We could say that all good things must come to an end, but that is not always true. This year, the Fuente del Peregrino will close its doors in September, but as of now, the house will continue to receive visitors this winter. Natán de Souza and Tere Alvarez, together with their family, have just moved to Lugo to be close to the refuge and to be able to continue working on its maintenance, and in some way, continue to serve the pilgrims even though the house will not be open all year long.

You can follow the stories from the Fuente del Peregrino here.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Welcome Radvile

Radvile is the newest addition to the student team in Málaga. She arrived this past Saturday to the city and she´s happy to be here. Here she introduces herself so that we can get to know her….

“Hello! My name is Radvile Aleknaite. I´m 27-years-old and I come from Lithuania. I came to know Jesus 6 years ago through Agape during my second year of college. Since then, God has invited me on this new journey with Him where He continuously surprises me with the plans He has for me.

I have been working with Agape´s student ministry for 4 years in Lithuania and now God has brought me to serve with the student ministry in Málaga. I love Spain and I am really happy to be in this country. I am looking forward to starting my new adventure with students here.”