On a Friday evening I met Pastor Lawrence Hilditch on the sidewalk outside the Larnaca International Airport. It was surprisingly mild at first, but the heat began to feel oppressive as the evening wore on. After dinner at a souvlaki restaurant (my first real taste of Cyprus), Pastor Lawrence took me to the rented Larnaca flat where the rest of the team was staying.
There were three team members already there: Robbie Medill (Pennsylvania, USA), Sarah Westendorp (Ontario, Canada), and Benson Okoro (formerly of Nigeria, now an elder at TEC). My co-leader, Anna Coulter (Northern Ireland), would arrive the following Monday. On our team of five we had three different accents; and although having fun wasn’t my main reason for going, I can safely say that I had a barrel of laughs with these people!
My duties on the mission trip didn’t include many overtly spiritual conversations (outside of team devotions at least); but I came to Cyprus to work, and work we certainly did.
On our first full week, we helped with Youth Fest, which was a five-day-long camp for teens. The program usually is held in the mountains, but due to COVID restrictions it was held on church property and the attendees all went home at night.
The daily schedule included worship, a talk from TEC Pastor Lawrence Hilditch, group discussions, a group game, lunch, several hours of free time, and an evening activity. Sarah and Benson were group leaders, while Robbie and Anna and I were the food staff. The teens were a fun bunch, and so were the local leadership staff.
On the final evening of Youth Fest there was a talent show, which included (among other things) a skit competition for the teen groups, car-noise impressions with Robbie, and a hilarious Anna-and-Pastor-Lawrence impression by the leadership team.
Holiday Bible Club (Vacation Bible School)
On our second full week we helped with Holiday Bible Club. Anna taught Bible lessons, Benson ran games, Sarah was the stand-up leader, and Robbie and I gave science demonstrations.
At the end of Week Two, we moved to Benson’s flat in Deryneia (about 40 minutes away from Larnaca by car), and commuted to our work for the rest of the trip.
The remainder of our time (one full week and a few days) was split up primarily between painting and moving furniture at Logos, a Christian school in Limassol, and spending time with refugees and asylum seekers in Larnaca. Although Logos is located in Limassol, about 40 minutes’ drive away from Larnaca (quite far by Cypriot standards), a number of TEC members work there.
Ministry to Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Cyprus has a large number of people who fled their home countries because of religious persecution or political trouble, or who had been tricked into labor trafficking. Some of these people have connected with TEC, and the team wished to spend some time ministering to them.
We divided up our funds and each team member sought out meaningful ways to put it to use in ministry. While it was sobering to see the conditions in which some of these people lived, I had an enjoyable time getting to know them.
We also got to go sightseeing at the Archeological Park in Paphos (one of the cities that Paul visited on his first missionary journey) and Mount Stavrovouni (the location of an old monastery reputed to own a fragment of the cross).
Overall, I enjoyed being with the team, and working with the people in Cyprus. The country itself is a beautiful place with lots of cats, lots of frappés, and lots of nice dairy products (not that the three are related), and Pastor Lawrence told me it’s a good place to raise children. Anna was already making plans to go back. Maybe, some day, I will too.
Daniel Carr is a member of Immanuel (West Lafayette, Indiana) RPC. He recently graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and is hoping to go into industry.