Wald Newsletter – Fall 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
I think that the last time I wrote a newsletter, I was still in Africa! So much has happened since I moved back to Florida from Malawi in April, after living in Africa for a year and a half. I do miss Africa. Even through all the busyness of the summer, I still find myself thinking about all the friends I left behind in Malawi. I really miss the Malawian staff and students and hope that someday I will be able to return to visit them.
After taking some time in April for deputation, visiting some of my supporters and speaking at my home church, I returned to work in Florida, but since there were two full-time staff and two students already working in Graphics, I was asked to work with the Video Department through Boot Camp. My job consisted of filming each of the five Boot Camps, getting enough footage of each to put together a keepsake scrapbook to send to everyone at the end of the summer. In addition to filming the Obstacle Course, construction classes and evangelism classes, we did interviews, filmed the special speakers and all the special events like dinosaur-shaped pizza, super-sized milkshake and Peanut Butter Queen competition. Then as quickly as we filmed, we had to dump the footage on the computer, clear and reformat the memory cards and label and organize all the clips by which Boot Camp it was from. Each evening I helped as we filmed the rallies. Whether I was running the cameras getting good shots for the webcast or choosing the shots and switching, there was always something to do. It was a lot of fun for me to learn the High Definition cameras, and having the opportunity to produce and edit the Mustard Seed Scrapbook.
Right in the middle of all this, my team arrived! They were great! They enjoyed the Obstacle Course and construction classes, and though I had only one other leader this year, he did such a good job with the team that I didn’t have to worry about them struggling to make it through Boot Camp. My mom also had the chance to visit during Boot Camp this year for the first time. She enjoyed her job in the Boot Camp Store and was able to be there for Commissioning Night.
After Commissioning, my team of nine kids and two leaders packed our bags and traveled to Suriname. Suriname (formally Dutch Guyana) is located between English Guyana and French Guyana on the northeast coast of South America. It shares a border with Brazil, but most of the people of Suriname live near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean as the rest of the country is jungle and there are very few roads. We were warmly welcomed by the staff as we stepped off the plane in the middle of the night, loaded our bags into their vehicles and drove over an hour to our project site, a camp and retreat center on the outskirts of the capital city of Paramaribo. Thinking our project was going to be mostly demolition, we were surprised to find out that instead, the team would be laying blocks to build up the walls around the existing building while we lived, ate and cooked inside the building. Only after the walls were up and the new roof on would it be demolished from the inside.
Every year I am always amazed at what the team can accomplish during our project time and this year was no exception. We only had seven kids working at any given time (because one was helping in the kitchen and one was in the prayer closet). It seemed to take forever to get the first few rows of blocks up. But as they continued to improve their skills and techniques, less mistakes were made, less walls had to be torn down and rebuilt, and the pace really picked up. Our goal was to build 10 layers all the way around the 60’x60’ building. Not only did they complete the walls but with some help from some of our friends from the churches, the roof was 2/3 of the way complete. They did a lot of work this summer. Joe did a great job supervising the work project and I made sure everyone was well fed and healthy.
On the weekends we tried to get out into the community to do different types of evangelism. Whether it was visiting a children’s home, playing volleyball with the local youth group or doing presentations in downtown Paramaribo in the city center on a very busy Saturday while everyone rushed past, we all had the chance to grow and experience new situations. For some of the kids it was their first time to share the Gospel one-on-one. We even saw one man, a Muslim, accept Christ.
A few times in the evenings after work, the team would go exploring and find monkeys or sloths hanging in the trees at the back of the property. On the last weekend we were in Suriname, we travelled to the border of French Guyana to see some leatherback turtles laying eggs; we also had the chance to watch so many baby turtles emerge from their nests and make their way out to the ocean.
As we returned to Florida in August for Debrief, it was encouraging to see so many kids from many of the teams go forward to stand before everyone stating they wanted to make a commitment to serve the Lord in full-time service. Seeing everyone go home to so many different circumstances, it was hard to say good-bye knowing we may never see them again and just hoping that their lives would be forever changed because of this experience, and praying that they would be able to stand up for Christ against the world.
After unpacking from the team, four days later I was repacking for a trip to Canada. Fourteen staff headed up to our newly-purchased property in Western Canada. After seven days on the road with our caravan of four vehicles and four trailers, we finally arrived at the camp in Outlook, which is one hour south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We spent the next two weeks getting all the old cabins ready for use. We cleaned, scraped off old paint, and repainted the inside and outside of eleven cabins, a chapel, kitchen/dining room and three staff houses. Teen Missions also bought a staff house in town and is in the process of moving from Windsor, Ontario to Outlook to have a more central location for recruitment.
Since we were driving back down through Minnesota, I asked to be dropped off at home to spend some time with my family. Now that I am back in Florida and most of the staff has returned from deputation, we have taken some days to clean and organize our offices before we start once again preparing for next year’s Boot Camp. We also took a few days to practice our brainstorming skills to explore and develop more ideas for promotion, recruitment and fundraising. Because of all the reorganization, I am now back in Graphics, as the only staff, and I have a student in the afternoons to train and help with the workload. It is already getting busy as we have all the staff newsletters and now are writing the brochure for next year’s teams.
That takes us to October; the calendar says it’s October anyway, but outside it’s still 90 degrees and muggy. I am still enjoying the sunshine and trips to the beach, and I am now getting into the routine again. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am learning to be content wherever I am.
Thank you all for your prayers and support, allowing me to be involved in this ministry. God is doing many great things around the world through Teen Missions.