Hames Journey – Fall 2009
This fall it will have been eight years since we moved to Florida to join staff at Teen Missions Intl. What an incredible journey it has been! Over the years we have had the privilege of leading eight teams: five teen, two preteen and one peanut. Our prayer every year is that the youth we work with will see and experience the Lord at work in their lives. We praise the Lord that this past summer that prayer was answered in many ways.
Our trip to Sweden was amazing, and I can only praise God for allowing us to experience all we did this summer. Our project at Youth with a Mission (YWAM) Lappland far exceeded anything I could have hoped for. One might think after leading several teams we would know what to expect and be prepared for anything, but the more teams we lead the more we understand that every year is completely different. This summer included many “firsts” for our family.
We had a small team, which was a first for us. We had seven team members and one assistant leader. When you include all of our family, there were 14 total on the team, compared to 34 last year. We had one team member decide to leave during Boot Camp, which was another first. We spent a lot of time counseling him before he left, but, in the end, it was his decision to make. We were sad to see him go.
Our project was at the YWAM Lappland base in Basksele, Sweden. Phill and Anneke Taylor started the base in 2003 after the Lord showed them the Lappland region of Sweden was where He wanted them to serve. In obedience to the Lord, the Taylors bought the property and have invested their lives in reaching out to the community they now call home. Basksele is a small village approximetely three hours south of the Arctic Circle. The closest town is Vilhelmina which is where we did our grocery shopping and went to church. North Sweden is in great need of spiritual revival and the Lord really opened our eyes to the needs of this barren land. In 2000 Phill participated in a “cross walk” across Sweden, from top to bottom and coast to coast. During that time, the Lord really impressed on him the barrenness of the north spiritually. The example he gave was of Arvidsjaur. There were 135 people in church in a town of 4500: 100 of these were over the age of 80, 30 were between the ages of 45 and 80, and the few remaining younger ones included the Pastor, his wife and their three children. Fortunately this has changed and there is now a reasonable youth group there. Despite this there continues to be a severe lack of strong spiritual leaders or pastors in the area.
We had plenty of projects lined up to keep the team busy. The team dug up and replaced a pipe on the missionary’s well, chopped and stacked firewood, took apart and rebuilt a small shed/building that will be used as a sheep house, repaired a wooden trailer, did two presentations in churches and participated in an evangelistic outreach with a group of Swedish youth. The team put in eight hours of work every day, so Blair spent the majority of his time supervising the work projects. He really enjoyed working on the wood miser with Phill. During the first two weeks, our team set up camp near a river on property owned by YWAM Lappland. There was a small two room cabin, “his” and “her” outhouses, a clearing to put the tents up in, a fire pit to do our cooking on, an old cattle feeder that doubled as an excellent hot water heater and a picturesque arctic river that doubled as our bathtub and washing machine. Staying in tents was another first for us and the kids adjusted pretty well. The nights in Sweden got quite chilly and after the first two weeks the weather forecast turned to rain every day. That doesn’t work well with cooking over an open fire pit, so we decided to move the team into two small cabins located on the main property at the top of the hill near the staff house. The boys stayed in one cabin, the girls in another and our family stayed in the staff house across the street from the Taylors. We were able to do our cooking in the staff house. Having a stove and fridge again seemed like such a luxury! What a great reminder of the things we take for granted in life. I have always loved cooking for my teams: planning the menu, doing the shopping, preparing the meals and serving the food. I love all of it. Cooking over the open fire was also a first for me and I really loved it more than I thought I would! It can be stressful, and at times it was hard to balance the kitchen duties and caring for my own kids;overall, it went smoothly and was a lot of fun. Working long hours in the cold, the team managed to work up a good appetite, and it made me a little nervous for what my own house is going to be like 10 years from now when my boys are 17, 15 and 12!
Our group, of seven team members, was a lot of fun. We had five boys and two girls. Juli, James, Josh, Keith, Jake, Nigel and Margaux. Our other leader was Jules, so as you can see, we had an abundance of “J” names. (Plus our Jaden.) They all had such different personalities and it was neat to see how they bonded and grew as a team over the summer. We had a lot of fun together and I miss them all a lot! The Lord did a lot of work in the hearts of the team and it was a privilege to work with them. Our goal every year is to instill as much as we can into the lives of the kids we lead and it is always encouraging to see how their lives are changed after spending a summer with Teen Missions. Another first for us was having a snowball fight with the team – in July!
The kids have been back in school since August 10th. Jaden is in 2nd grade, Skylar in 1st grade and Liam is in Kindergarten. All three of them go to the same public school and love it. They ride the bus together and see each other at lunch every day which has really helped Liam’s transition. Riley and I are making the most of our days together. Being home with just one child is such a huge change from where my life was three years ago. The ability to drink a cup of coffee without constant interruptions is something I do not take for granted.
Our family is planning on driving to Minnesota for Christmas this year. If you are willing to have us stop by on our way north please let us know! We would love to share about Teen Missions and our AIDS Orphans program with your youth group, Bible study group, or just an informal coffee time with friends. It is always a blessing to reconnect with friends whom we haven’t seen for many years. Let us know if your interested. We love and appreciate all of you!
In His Service,
– Wisdom in parenting
– The kid’s education and friendships at school
– Sensitive to the Lords leading in our life
– Phill and Anneke Taylor’s ministry in Sweden
– Good health!
– The Lord’s faithfulness to our family
– The spiritual growth we see in our kids
– We have great mentors and friends