What an adventure of miracles it has been! God has been with us in every aspect of our trip and we praise Him for safety on the team, no one has been hurt and we are all still upright, but not without some very sore feet, backs and leg muscles. Since our last report, we continued our hike up the mountain and over several river crossings till we came to a bunker from one of the World Wars. It was a great place to explore and the view from the mountaintop was breathtaking. We pulled out the map at 7pm at the top and realized we had taken a wrong turn. The team was so gracious and forgiving, even though we were all so tired and hungry they did not complain but were grateful for the chance to see the bunker. With sober hearts, we headed back down the mountain towards the river and found a beautiful meadow hidden in a valley away from the wind. All of the days hike had been above timberline with lots of wind and sun. It was a refuge from the Lord! We set up camp, had a quick meal and headed to bed. We slept in till 8am (it is too cold to get up before the sun hits the camp). We geared up to hike the next mountain ridge, this time in the right direction. Again, we faced a lot of steep climbing on rocks above timberline. Mackenzie Mask got altitude sickness as we approached the top of the peak. The best we could do was to keep encouraging her and make it over the mountain to head down the other side. Again, we found another bunker at the top of the mountain to explore.
I tell the team that they are truly a miracle team as a trek like this has never been done before on a Teen Missions team. It blesses us so much to see each of them encouraging each other to keep going. They are holding hands and pulling each other up the mountains. The guys are learning about what it means to be true gentleman and help the ladies step over rocks and across the rivers. Ashley Mitchell is learning to overcome her fear of heights. Several team members are helping others to carry their load when it seems like they can’t go any farther. The slower hikers are learning to lead the team on the trail while those who love to be in the front are learning to be patient and take up the rear. There are many opportunities for prayer and to see how God manifests His glory in the midst of our pain and hardship.
We have met several hikers on the trail from Germany and France as well as Italy. We have been passing out our tracts and sharing Christ with every opportunity. We even ran into a group of young people that we had shared our drama presentation with two days before in a village. The team enjoyed reconnecting with this group.
Our goal was to make it to the campground by Friday night. It was a fast trek down the mountain but we made it to the village where a bus was available to take up to the campground. We arrived in drizzling rain and it was a chilly night, but we are camped here for 3 nights. It has been a nice break for us all. This weekend is a celebration of one of the patron saints here, so there have been a lot of people watching the evangelism presentations.
There are quite a few with allergies in these mountains. The colds are getting better and our muscles are recuperating. Tomorrow we will catch an 11 am bus to the next campground. We will be traveling on 3 different buses. It will be more time of rest and catching up on classes before we head up the next mountain pass. The weather has been much cooler, the low was 49 last night. The high is 69 today with sun.
This testimony didn’t get out with the last report as our email went down. It is a little behind on our travels but just as important.
“We arrived in Italy on Tuesday. The plane ride was awesome. They gave us a meal at 10pm. Being one of them, some of us got motion sickness. We got over that. Anyways, as of today we are near Florence. We are working with Christ is the Answer until Sunday. We went into town and evangelized. We did the “machine”. It helps to get a crowds attention. Needless to say, it worked. We sang a few songs and did 2 dramas. After that, we went out and gave out pamphlets and talked to the people. Most of them seemed really interested. The language barrier is kind of hard but we’ll get past it. Oh yeah, we got to eat legit food. Italians eat healthy, just saying. Hi Mom and Dad. I love you guys!”
” We have hiked a couple days at the Italian Alps. We have stayed in the wilderness twice to camp and it was worth it! Everyone got to see God’s creations and it was breathtaking. Everyone on the team is starting to work together by helping/encouraging people to continue up or down a mountain. This mission trip was perfect for everyone on this team.”
“Out of the 4 teams I have done this team has by far been the best. We have an amazing team and wonderful leaders that push us to our full potential. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically, we have hiked steep, narrow terrain and sometimes rocky, slippery paths. It’s pushed our team to help each other and that we can do all things if we rely on God’s strength. Mentally and emotionally we have learned that God is the only one that could ever fulfill our needs. Friends may fail us at times but God is always a loving friend waiting with open arms. Spiritually, I have grown a lot as I am learning how to make God everything in my life. Every team member can get a different meaning from a verse in the Bible, and it reminds me how personal God is with each of us. The best part of the summer will by far have been learning how to share my faith. I have wanted to share Christ with a non-believer for a long time. But not until now, have I taken the opportunity due to being pushed out of my comfort zone. The first week when we stayed at Christ is the Answer, Deke Peirce and I shared Christ with a Mormon. Even greater than that, he came to accept Christ. Missionaries say it often takes years before people accept Christ in Italy due to so much religion and not a relationship with Christ. Though we spoke with this Mormon a good 30 min. and he threw evolution, Mormonism and belief in many saints at us, he came to believe Christ as the only way. Right after accepting Christ, he asked, so now do I need to tell others about Christ? That made me super excited as right from the start he was ready to share with others and at least half the time we talked with him, he translated in Italian to a friend next to him. Praise the Lord for all that He is doing in and through our team.”