What an interesting couple of months I have just experienced. Some of you may be scratching your head because I began this letter with ‘Ciao’; and you may be a bit confused as to where I led a team this summer. My last newsletter said Zambia, but then I had put an insert in the newsletter saying Trinidad.
However, just weeks before my team came I was switched to the Italy Backpack team. And thus, May and June were hectic with preparing for our summer teams and getting ready to run Boot Camp. My Italy team came towards the end of June; we had 22 teenagers on the team, six boys and 16 gals. There were also four leaders. Boot Camp kept us busy. Our assistant leader, Chelsea, did a fantastic job of taking care of the team and getting them everywhere they needed to be for classes. My head male leader, Dave, was frequently busy with teaching construction classes for the camp and I was teaching the music classes and on the Peanut and Preteen music team while keeping up with the Promotions Department. The head lady leader, Becca, was preparing to move her family (she and her husband and their three children who were on the team) to Italy permanently so they could start a work for Teen Missions in that country. So, as you may have guessed, Boot Camp was fairly hectic for the leadership of my team.
After a few weeks, Boot Camp was over and we were on our way to Italy. We spent our first week in Florence serving alongside a ministry called “Christ is the Answer”. I was so blessed by our time there. The ministry is probably the closest thing I have ever seen to the early church – they had almost nothing and shared everything and were so content in Christ. For that week, we lived in tents on the compound. We ate our meals with the staff, spent some of our free time getting to know the people who were from all walks of life, and ministered with them. Every day we would go out to different towns to preach the Gospel, do dramas, sing, and share testimonies. It was stretching for some of the team members, but a great experience to overcome fear and grow in boldness as they shared Christ.
The time soon came for us to say goodbye to our new friends and we began the next leg of our journey – the actual backpacking. Now, backpacking in the Alps is no easy feat. As I have written in previous newsletters, I had the privilege of taking the Bible School students on the Appalachian Trail for five days last fall. Appalachia is nothing but foothills, or rather speed bumps, compared to the ridges of the Alps. We took three days to do our first hike – we did not cover too much distance, but it was straight up hill the entire time. When we were not preoccupied panting for breath or trying to pick our leg up to take another step, we were astounded by the beautiful and majestic creation of God. The landscapes we viewed were breathtaking. I have to admit, we were quite a disheveled bunch hiking up the Italian Alps. It is very unusual to have such a large group hiking together and we were all wearing long pants, work boots, and stuffed hiking packs with pots and pans and sleeping bags and tents hanging off of them. But we sure had great spirits and the joy of the Lord was giving us strength.
Though our plan as a leadership team was to hike for a few days between each campground at which
we were to stay, we quickly learned that God had other plans for our team. Due to the unexpected intensity of the route we were to hike, we realized that we would not be able to hike to each of the campground and still make our reservations. So we became a bus team. We would take public transportation to a campground and then stay there for a few days before moving to the next campground. This opened up
new experiences and opportunities for our team. We were able to do much more evangelism than we were planning to do and many seeds of the Gospel were
planted. It was amazing to see all of the people to whom the Lord allowed us to minister. I confess that I was disappointed about only hiking for a few days,
but God soon revealed His truth to me which turned my mindset around. He gave me Proverbs 16:9. “A man’s heart plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps.” We had planned the summer and knew what we wanted the team to do. But God had better plans for us; plans that were for His glory.
Overall, it was a very good summer for me. I liked my team and it was a blessing for me to watch them grow. I enjoyed being able to teach their classes and disciple them as they deepened their relationship with Christ.
After spending two wonderful weeks at home with my family, I am now back in the Promotion Department digging out from under a pile of paperwork and emails from the summer. I look forward to seeing what God is going to continue to do and I am so blessed to be a part of the family of believers here at Teen Missions. Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support as I continue to grow and serve. May God bless you.
God’s guidance as I enter a new stage of my life
Continued growth in my walk with Christ
Opportunities to share the Gospel
Diligence as I serve God