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McClung News Journal
Trinidad Trip
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How It All Started...Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6-Big Day
Page 7-Dengue
Page 8-Recovery
Page 9
10-Thanxgivin'
11-Christmas
Page 12
Easter
April/May
End of First Year
Back in 'Nam
September '02
Better Sept
October '02
Autumn '02
November '02
Dec/Jan '03
January 2003
Feb/March '03
April '03
May '03
Trinidad Trip
School's Out Again
Sept. '03
Sept. Part 2
Oct/Nov '03
Nov '03
Dec '03
Jan 2004
Feb/March '04
April/May '04
Leaving Suriname
FUN PAGE

This letter was usually long, but well-worth the read because it truly is the highlight of our last 2 years here in Suriname.  Someone once said that "a mountain has a valley on each side".  Most of the school year seemed spent in the valley; now this was a 'mountain-top' experience.  I wrote this letter in a 'blow-by-blow' narrative account.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2003
Happy Greetings
                                    Dear Friends,
 
We are writing you again this month because the school year is coming
                                    
to its close and we
                                    have more news to share!!  Patricia and I just 
experienced the high point of this school year on the Junior/Senior Class
                                    
Trip to Trinidad.  Man, was it a success!  And how God moved!
 
Patricia had been organizing this class trip since last October and the 
students had been working the entire year to raise funds for this trip.  
A lot of people said that it could not be done but praise be to God for 
providing the way!  In March,
                                    Patricia contacted Youth With a Mission 
(YWAM) Trinidad, to see if they were interested in accomadating us, and 
thankfully they were.  This
                                    was the first 'missions' trip for many of 
our students.  In fact, some of our students had never been out of 
Suriname, much less to a 'real' beach. 
                                    But, I better not get ahead of 
myself, so let me start from our departure.
 
Last
                                    Wednesday, May 14th, everyone met at school around noon to depart.  
We had to finish getting some paperwork in order for our departure, and
                                    
as we were finishing,
                                    I was trying to get everyone grouped together to 
pray.  Well, one of our students spoke out and said "I think we should
                                    
pray before we go."
                                    (Exactly what I was trying to do), so this was an 
awesome indication that this was going to be a great trip.  One of the
                                    
major struggles that
                                    we face with our students, is getting them excited 
about God.  The school population is no longer Missionary-Kid oriented.  
There are a few missionary families still around, but we are having a 
pretty large exodus of missionaries at the conclusion of this school
                                    
year, so the majority
                                    of our students come from the international 
diplomatic background.  So, this was a big positive for me when the student
                                    
requested prayer.  We prayed, loaded up the bus and headed for the hour 
long trip to the airport.  At
                                    the airport, we stood in line as the first 
heavy downpour of the rainy season began to fall.  We got our bags 
checked, passports in order, security cleared, and waited to board the
                                    
plane.  Patricia and I had eagerly awaited this day.  We really needed
                                    a 
break from Suriname
                                    and its daily routines.  The students were very 
excited too.  Finally, it
                                    was time to board the airliner.
 
We took
                                    our seats, and the kids were bursting with anticipation.  One 
of our students had never flown before, so she smiled as I took her 
picture, but then she began to cry silently as we took off into the wild
                                    
blue yonder.  Another student comforted her, and her worries subsided 
after we reached altitude and the attendants came around with the food
                                    and 
drinks.  Gazing out the window, I realized that this was the first time 
that I had flown out of Suriname in the daylight.  I studied the South 
American coastline and noticed how the ugly, brown coastal stream from 
the Amazon really mucks up the beauty of the ocean.  The band of muddy 
water stretches about 3 miles wide along the South American coast, then 
the waters turn the beautiful blues that we are all familiar with.  I 
thought "What a shame, all that beautiful blue water, and all we see is 
chocolate milk-colored water in Suriname."
 
The flight itself was very peaceful and uneventful.  It was an awesome
                                    
sight to behold, seeing
                                    the island of Trinidad appear into view.  We 
flew along her southern coastline and then veered northward to land at
                                    
Port of Spain.  Trinidad is a much larger island than I had imagined 
(about the size of Delaware).  Over
                                    1.2 million people inhabit the island.  
A population of 850,000 residents are under the age of 21; this is more
                                    
people than the entire
                                    population of Suriname!  We landed safely and 
made our way through the airport to customs.  After a minor glitch of 
getting our Indonesian student through customs, we made our way to baggage 
claim, retrieved our bags and headed out the door.  There, to our 
delight and surprise, were Amy and Rob Krieg, waiting for us.  Thank God,
                                    
that He provided the
                                    opportunity for Amy and Rob to join us on this trip.  
Amy and Rob are dear friends of ours and mighty prayer partners.  We 
worked together in our Youth Group back in New Bern, NC until the Marines 
called the Kriegs to Quantico and God called us to Suriname; so they
                                    
were a sight for sore
                                    eyes!  I had the pleasure of allowing Rob and Amy 
head up the devotions for the week since the kids get tired of hearing
                                    
it from me and Patricia.  We also met the YWAM folks also waiting there 
for us; Albert, our big Trinidadian bus driver, and Matt, YWAM youth
                                    
counselor.  We packed everybody and luggage into the bus and headed for 
the YWAM campus.  The campus
                                    was situated high in the mountainous region 
of Trini.
 
Upon our arrival, we unpacked and got our gear squared away.  We met 
Kevin Prins and his family, who run the YWAM operation in Trinidad.  We
                                    
had a full schedule
                                    ahead of us for the next five days.  We went over 
the schedule after we had our dinner of Roti.  We then loaded up the bus 
and headed out for our first excursion--a steel drum band.  The calypso
                                    
band's name is "Exodus".  The students got to fool around with the 
steel drums as we waited for the band members to arrive.  The kids really 
had a blast playing the varied steel drums.  I'd say that there were at
                                    
least 75 different
                                    drums there.  The band arrived shortly and played 
several songs for us, then it was time to pack it in and head back to
                                    the 
campus.
 
Rob began his series of devotions that challenged the kids on 
"Choices".  He shared a poignant message that compared and contrasted the
                                    
choices made by Judas
                                    Iscariot and Simon Peter.  Both disciples, Judas, of 
course, betrayed Jesus then chose suicide and eternal damnation as the
                                    
consequence of his
                                    choice; while Peter made the choice to deny Christ 
three times, but had the opportunity to be redeemed/restored by Christ and 
Christ used him in a mighty way to build His church.  It was 
interesting to watch the students absorb the message.  The senior students
                                    are at 
the fun part
                                    in life where their entire future lies ahead.  So, then we 
retired to bed.
 
After
                                    breakfast, on Thursday morning, Amy began her devotional series 
on "Worship".  This is something that our whole student body needs 
prayer for.  Amy talked about
                                    how one needs to communicate to even have a 
relationship with another.  Thus, worship is our way of communicating 
with God, in order to develop our relationship with Him.  This really 
struck a chord with some, and that's what we had been praying for.
 
We had a busy day ahead of us.  We loaded up and headed downtown to 
Port of Spain to the historical museum. 
                                    There we toured the museum, but 
it really didn't become that interesting until we headed upstairs to the 
art gallery.  That is where
                                    I lost myself.  They had a good-sized 
collection of paintings by Trinidadian artists.  I had a wonderful time 
studying each piece and actually discussing the pieces with one of the 
students, who is also an art student of mine.  We had a great time 
discussing the artworks.  After the museum visit, we headed over to the
                                    zoo, 
and I have to
                                    admit, we were quite impressed.  They had a nice collection 
of animals, from every monkey you can think of, to lions and tigers and
                                    
ocelots, oh my!  to tarantulas to anacondas to pythons and boa 
constrictors to an entire plethora of birds.  Quite impressive.  We ate lunch 
while at the zoo, then we headed downtown for several long hours of 
shopping.  Port of Spain's
                                    downtown shopping district is much larger, 
cleaner, and offers more variety than downtown Paramaribo; so it was a 
welcomed change.  After the
                                    exhausting shopping trip, we had to do even more 
shopping by visiting a local Rasta-Farian commune that makes leather 
sandals and shoes.  The females
                                    went nuts buying sandals.  I don't know 
if it was the burning cannabis in the air or all the shopping, but we
                                    
were hungry again.  We then entered the best part of the day--dinner at 
TGIFridays!  What a treat!  Wow, this was great--this was the first time 
for most of our kids to eat in an American-style "sit down and order"
                                    
restaurant.  One of our students was amazed at how nice the bathroom 
doors were, that there was actual soap in the bathroom, and there was
                                    an 
automated hand
                                    drier.  You're lucky if the public bathrooms in Suriname 
even have a door, and you can forget about soap, TP, or sometime to dry
                                    
your hands on!  Some of the kids were even overwhelmed by the menu, so 
Patricia gave them a quick lesson about entrees versus appetizers and
                                    
what exactly 'smothered
                                    steak' was.  Patricia and I treated ourselves to 
the filet mignon and loaded baked potatoes---mmmm, 10 months had passed
                                    
since our last steak
                                    dinner--I was in heaven (almost)!  But the best 
part was yet to come.  Rob
                                    had hid the fact that it was his birthday that 
day, however Amy let the cat out of the bag.  The kids excitedly sang 
"Happy Birthday" to Rob in English and then in Dutch.  Then Rob and Amy 
surprised everyone by buying everyone the dessert of their choice!  The
                                    
kids about fell out
                                    when they saw the actual size of the desserts--they 
were humongous!  Patricia and I split the Oreo Delight (and about went
                                    
into sugar shock).  Bellies filled and hyped up on sugar, we headed 
back to base.  But we were
                                    not finished with the evening.  We were at base 
long enough to change clothing and load back up.  At 9:30 pm, we pulled 
out to head to the beach for a special occasion--turtle nesting.  It 
took us almost 45 minutes to reach the beach.  We walked down the gentle 
slope to our turtle guide.  He explained that we were about to be 
witness to mother leatherback sea turtles coming ashore to lay their
                                    brood 
of eggs.  It was a full moon (not for long), and we followed the guide 
down to the beach as waves crashed the shore.  We passed 2 nesting 
turtles along the way.  We stopped to watch a turtle meticulously digging
                                    a 
hole in the sand.  Then she dropped her eggs into the hole.  The
                                    kids 
were in awe.  As we were witnessing this spectacular event, something 
more amazing was happening to make this night memorable--a full lunar
                                    
eclipse. So, as the
                                    earth's shadow slowly crept across the face of the 
moon, we witnessed God's divine plan in action:  as the mammoth turtles
                                    (8 
feet long, four
                                    feet wide, weighing up to 1,200 lbs) labored in egg 
laying, we observed 2 more turtles emerge from crashing waves and make 
their way to the nesting ground. 
                                    It was a magical night.
 
On Friday
                                    morning, Amy continued her "Worship" series shortly after 
breakfast. We loaded up the bus to go do our Christian Service Project.  
YWAM had recently purchased land to build an 80-acre campsite, so we
                                    
headed over to the
                                    site to clear land.  We broke into small groups and 
used machetes to cut back wild brush and trees.  The students worked 
extremely hard and I was the only one injured when I stepped on a rusty nail 
(it is healing up fine).  We
                                    worked for about 2 hours and then broke 
for lunch (fire-roasted hotdogs).  After lunch, we headed for the beach.  
Of course, we all had a wonderful time.  For several of the kids, this
                                    
was the first time
                                    that they had stood on a white sandy beach and body 
surfed in the blue-green waves. After about 3 hours in the water, we 
all ate Trini-style Shark-n-Bake. 
                                    I thought that the shark tasted a lot 
like catfish.  We ended the evening back at base with dinner and 
devotions.
 
On Saturday
                                    morning, I awoke with a sore throat.  It seems that several 
of the kids were coming down with severe cold symptoms.  I spent most 
of Saturday drowsy from Benedryl.  We did load up on the bus that 
morning, after Amy's devotion, 
                                    to go visit a bird sanctuary nature reserve.  
It was a beautiful sight, even in my groggy state.  We saw about every 
tropical bird imaginable.  It was a very serene setting.  After the 
reserve, we went to eat lunch in a park that overlooks the coast.  We then
                                    
headed to a shopping
                                    mall (to the delight of everyone).  It was an 
American-style shopping mall, so it was fun.  We were a little concerned 
over the safety of our kids.  Kidnappings are a daily occurance in 
Trinidad.  The running total
                                    for kidnappings appear on the front page of the 
Trinidad newspaper.  While we were there, about 5 different people were
                                    
kidnapped, but the
                                    big news was that 2 different people were released 
or rescued.  Thank God we don't have this problem back in Suriname.
After a couple of hours at the mall, it was time to head back to the
                                    
YWAM base.  I was so sick, that I took a nap while others socialized or 
whatever.  Rob awaken me
                                    for supper.  So we ate and I regained my 
strength just in time for the ultimate part of this trip--Saturday's
                                    evening 
devotion.
 
Ok, this is what I had been waiting for.  I knew that God was about to
                                    
do something special.  Rob and I, along with Matt had prayed for 
individual students on Friday night. 
                                    So, here we begin the last evening 
devotion of the trip.   Rob shares his testimony with the students
                                    while 
giving another
                                    great devotion on choices that have eternal impact.  While 
Rob was giving the devotion, I began to pray very hard for God to move
                                    
and convict the hearts
                                    of our students.  While Rob played a song off a 
CD for the kids, I prayed even harder. 
                                    I even noticed Patricia and Amy 
praying for the kids.  I begged God to break these kids and give them a
                                    
contrite heart and
                                    spirit.  And then, God began to move.  Rob
                                    closed in 
prayer,
                                    leading to kids to pray silently to rededicate their lives to 
Christ.  We assume that all that were with us are professing believers
                                    
because Rob even offered
                                    the prayer of salvation.  No one responded to 
that one, but they all responded to the rededication.  Rob was about to 
dismiss them, but then I wanted to pray aloud for our kids, and so I 
did.  I prayed for each individual
                                    student around the room.  I was once 
again kicked out of the Man's Club because I broke down emotionally 
while praying for the kids.  Amy
                                    then followed after me, and then Rob 
closed with prayer again dismissing the kids, but offering that if any one 
of them wanted to stick around and pray, they were free to do that.  
Well, something amazing happened--none of them left.  They continue to
                                    
pray silently!  I then felt compelled to go over to a student and pray 
one-on-one with him.  This
                                    is something that we did on a weekly basis with 
our youth group back in NC, but we've never had the opportunity to do 
that with these kids.  Patricia,
                                    Amy and Rob soon got with a kid.  We 
each continued to switch off in prayer with all the students, so most
                                    of 
the students got
                                    to pray with each of us.  Then God wasn't finished 
yet--several of the students began to pray with each other!!  This was an 
awesome blessing for Patricia and myself.  This is the most openly 
response to God that we have seen in the last 2 years here!!  This blessed 
our socks off!  2 of the guys prayed with each other for a long time, 
as well as several of the girls. 
                                    After months in the valley, we were 
finally having our mountain top experience.  Please continue to keep 
these students in prayer.  This
                                    was not just an 'emotional' experience that 
you sometimes get working with youth, because these kids are not 
emotional about anything.  This
                                    was a genuine God experience.  I am still 
rejoicing over this, and it has been a week ago. 
 
Well, Sunday morning we packed up, went to the airport, and flew back 
to Suriname.  Suriname is
                                    in the throes of rainy season.  I think we got 
over 8 inches of rain in the first 48 hours of our return.  Went to 
school on Monday, and every student on our trip is now sick.  Even kids
                                    
back at the school
                                    had been sick during our trip.  The big joke is that 
we are suffering from SARS, however I don't think SARS is a joking 
matter.
 
Pray
                                    for our kids health and especially their daily walk with God.  We 
had our Open House/Fine Arts Festival/Science Fair this evening at 
school.  We have 11 actual
                                    school days remaining and a lot of work yet to 
be done.  Please pray for me in regards to finishing this year's 
Yearbook.  We've had many
                                    technical problems getting the thing together.  
Please pray that it all works out so that we get this thing completed
                                    in 
time.  I also have to oversee the art direction of our End-of-Year play. 
                                    
We have to
                                    do 2 more major background scenes next week.  We have 
graduation and the play on June 2nd. 
                                    Then we have the End-of-Year 
acheivement tests, so we are busy, busy, busy.  Please pray for our stress
                                    levels 
(mine especially).  I will be giving my final sermon of the year this 
Sunday at our local church.  Pray
                                    that God gives me the wisdom needed in 
my preparation and delivery.  This has been a long email, but this has
                                    
also been a long year.  I am thankful to see it end on a positive note, 
so I hope that you are able to share in our rejoicing over this class
                                    
trip.  We will probably send out one more prayer letter before we depart 
Suriname.
 
Feel
                                    free to drop us a line to encourage us in this final stretch.  
Take care and God bless you.
 
In His Service,
 

John and Patricia

School's Out Again