Greetings, as I return to my little corner of God’s vineyard down under, after having spent Christmas with family in Florida and then a few days in Ecuador catching up with our staff down there. As I review the past several months, I hope I don’t leave anything out; so much has happened. Firstly, the proposed Kiwi Boot Camp was cancelled mid-year, mainly due to the fact that we didn’t have sufficient indication that there would be enough registrations for three teams, the minimum number required for a decent Boot Camp. So it proved to be, as from New Zealand, we had less than half the numbers we had last year. So 15 Kiwi kids and leaders went to the Australia Boot Camp as they have always done. More about that Boot Camp below. Boot Camps in Florida went smoothly, with the minimum number of crises in the First Aid Station. I was so grateful for the help of some ‘old hands’; volunteer nurses who give up vacation time to come serve around the clock in that hot, humid, noisy, smelly environment year after year. Why? Because they see what God does in young people’s lives through the Teen Missions ministry. Usually we get mothers of kids who are registered on teams and in camp, but not this summer. They were, as I said, ‘old hands’ whose first association with Teen Missions happened years ago.From the Florida Boot Camps, I flew back to Auckland where I met up with my daughter Cathy (and her younger daughter Stephanie), grand-daughter Jessica (and her husband Steven) and great-grandson Ethan Lucas – all from the U.S., and we were able to take some photos with my mother for posterity’s sake. It is not often that five generations can enjoy each other’s company, but that’s what happened for that brief moment in time that day. I was soon on that long flight back to the States, and on down to Quito in Ecuador, where I met with the Teen Missions lawyer to discuss the pros and cons of the government’s new requirements for not-for-profit organizations. The next day I caught the bus down to Latacunga, leaving from the new bus terminal south of Quito, which is as modern and up-to-date as you will find anywhere in the world.
I found Juan Carlos and Levi very excited with the amount of interest being shown in the upcoming Boot Camp, and before we knew it we were welcoming leaders—six for training and nine more who have been leaders before. Three projects had been planned, so we quickly set about finding another project and praying for the finances for a fourth team. (I had taken money for three teams only.) God was at work and on Registration Day, after the chaos had been sorted out, we had 121 team members and leaders and four large teams. It brought tears to my eyes to see the way God provided for that number. Three days after Boot Camp started, a couple whose daughter was a leader, drove in with two sacks of rice, 10 dozen eggs, sacks of yuka, potatoes, sugar, other fruits and groceries, donated by a nephew who owns a supermarket. What thanksgiving! Over 250 people were led to the Lord through the witness of the teams as they ministered around the country. The staff opened the Bible School again in September for guys only, and three young men joined them for missionary training. Just this month, an ex-staff member who left two years ago to get married, has rejoined staff with his wife, so now we can accept girls into the school. One has already enrolled, so the second term will start with four students. Yes, please pray for Juan Carlos Amador, Gina, and their seven month-old Jonathan, as they settle into the very much cooler climate of the Andes mountain region. Now to December and the Australia Boot Camp, which was smaller this year with only five teams participating. And whether it was the lower numbers or not, I don’t know, but we had very few problems—hardly any homesickness, more than enough leaders (ladies, that is!) and the only thing we really had to concern ourselves with was the dryness. I have never seen that part of Australia so dry, and fire was a very real possibility. There were several blazes in the near vicinity, but God kept us safe. Also, on Commissioning Day, just after we’d gotten the kids out of their tents and packing up ready to go, it rained. Teams went out to Northern Ireland, Cambodia, Nepal, Egypt and Tonga, and from all reports, are doing a great job. Please pray as we work on teams and projects for this new year; Mike Reilly, our Australian coordinator, likes to have brochures ready to give the kids when they go home from Debrief. Back in New Zealand, it was a bit of a shock to find that one of my main supporting churches has been unable to continue their monthly giving. Maybe I needed that reminder that God is the One Who provides—and I am to trust only Him. But I ask you to trust with me that this amount will be made up in some other way so that I might continue to meet my commitments.
Thank you and God bless!
Joyfully serving Jesus, Elizabeth Little