Since our last update, the team has kept very busy working on the OC and evangelizing. They dug out post holes and a trench for the 5 D’s of the Devil; expanded the Red Sea; cleared out the Slough of Despond; cleared a large field to prepare the tent site for the Ecuadorian teens who will be arriving for Boot Camp; and washed, prepped, and painted the front wall and railing of the veranda. They’ve also hiked further up the mountain twice and done several presentations plus door-to-door evangelism with Benjamin, the coordinator of the base here. Everyone wants John to be with them, since he is fluent in Spanish! But even without a translator, the kids are learning that smiling and friendliness are universal languages.
A local family brought a truck load of alpaca blankets, sweaters, hats, scarves, etc. to the base over the weekend. The team enjoyed shopping for warm things to wear, and in the evenings, I think we now look like we could be on an Alaska team!
On Sunday, the team alternated between riding bikes and riding in the truck into Latacunga where we spent the day between two different churches. One leader (Mr. Chris or Miss Celeste) always rode with the kids and/or on a motorcycle next to them, and the cyclists were led and escorted by Ben and BMW students on motorcycles. The whole group was followed by the rest of the leaders in the truck taking up the rear. Riding bikes has proved a challenge here, and the kids were very happy that they could trade places with someone in the truck and take a breather whenever needed. The team got to experience the difference between an urban church and a Quechua Indian church in a more rural area of Latacunga. Their presentations at both churches included music, testimonies, and puppets, and were well-received in both congregations.
Yesterday (Monday), a team of North American physicians and nurses came and used the base to set up a clinic for the local people. They offered to see any members of our team before patients arrived, and we were happy to make use of their services! A few cases of chapped lips, sunburn, and one sprained knee were looked at, and we were told to continue with our current treatment (chapstick, vaseline, sunscreen, and an Ace wrap). (The sore knee has not stopped anyone from playing soccer with the locals or slowed down hiking to the village above us!) It’s hard to convince some of the kids that even though it’s cold here, they need to apply sunscreen (even to their lips!) several times a day! Praise the Lord that are kids with asthma have had NO issues with the high elevation!
As promised, here is some information about your kids’ leaders:
Christopher Chadwick (Head Leader): Chris grew up as a missionary kid. He lived in Papua New Guinea for six years and China for one. He’s also lived in Florida, California and Colorado. He is a two-time former team member (Belize and Zambia Orphan Angels) and has previously led teen teams to China and Peru. Chris is also a graduate of Teen Missions’ BMW school. If you watched the rallies at Boot Camp, you would have seen Chris on stage with the Circuit Riders playing his banjo or violin. Chris speaks Portuguese, which helps him get by pretty well with the Spanish here. He is incredibly organized and is wonderful with the team. He’s great at keeping the team (and leaders!) on task. Stress seems to have no affect on him and he never loses his cool! After Ecuador, he plans to return to Colorado to spend time with family. “Pre-teens are different than teens, but definitely incredible. They grow on your heart!”
Celeste Kraft (Head Lady Leader): Celeste is originally from Michigan, but also lived in Iowa and Indiana before returning to Michigan. She and her husband, Jim, are the parents of four sons. She is a former team member (England Canal II in 1985) and, with Jim, has previously led two TMI evangelism teams (Gibraltar and Australia Drama). Trained as a nurse, she currently runs a busy birth doula practice. In addition, she helps Jim (Manager of Pastoral Care and Outreach at a Detroit-area hospital) organize and lead medical mission trips through The Bridge Group. She is looking forward to leading a medical team to Guatemala in the fall. They’ve been on mission trips with various groups to about 20 different countries. Celeste is thrilled to be back on a Teen Missions team and is excited to share this experience with her youngest son, Elijah. “Ever since I went through Boot Camp as a team member, I’ve said that BC should be a requirement for everyone before they’re allowed to pass on into adulthood. It’s that good…and hard! We’ve used our TMI training on every missions trip we’ve taken with other groups. I was a little nervous about leading a pre-teen team since I’m used to working with teens and adults, but by the end of registration day I was reminded of how much I enjoyed this age group when I was a camp nurse! I love these kids!”
Kim Marshall (Back-up Lady Leader): Kim lives in Gilman City, Missouri and is another former team member. She went to Germany in 1983 at the age of 15. Kim has led six Peanut teams at Boot Camp and went on a TMI adult team to Cameroon. This is her first time leading a preteen team. She has also been on mission trips to Mexico and Haiti with other groups. Kim was raised in a military family, and her husband was in the military for 19 years. She loves to travel. She and her husband have two boys, Wood and Josh. Both boys have been on teen teams and have each led a teen team. Miss Kim is a whiz with paperwork and is enjoying the opportunities she’s had of driving on the “fun” roads here! “I love showing kids how they can share the love of Jesus no matter how old they are or where they are. Ecuador is a beautiful place and the people are very loving.
Erik Shores (Assistant Male Leader): Erik is 20 years old and hails from Slocumb, Alabama. He has always wanted to go on a missions trip, but wanted to go for longer than one or two weeks. Then a friend told him about Teen Missions! Erik has a beautiful heart for God and for young people. He excels at setting up systems to get things done efficiently, whether it’s cleaning, packing, or on the work site. He’s incredibly patient, and you can always find him in the middle of the kids during team game time. Back at home, he works part-time in retail and helps his parents out with childcare of his 4-year-old brother, Jimmy. “It’s awesome getting to be here and lead these kids. It’s a blessing. As I told them, 10- to 13-year-olds, I think, can bless God more than teens can sometimes, because you don’t often see young people doing this kind of work.”
Tisha Branstatter (Assistant Lady Leader): Miss Tisha is from St. Joseph, Missouri, and is the youngest of six kids. Her twin sister is a former team member and current BMW student. Tisha is considering the BMW training herself, so decided to lead a team this summer to learn more about Teen Missions. She is very involved in her church at home and also in a para-church youth outreach organization that evangelizes and disciples unchurched kids. She is self-less during her long days in the kitchen here, and needs to be “forced” to take breaks to care for herself. She’s got a great sense of humor and is wonderful with the the KP kids each day, helping them make desserts and other dishes that they pick out. She makes KP fun! “This is harder than I thought because of the long hours in the kitchen. But then I remember that the kids on our team are my mission field! I want to make the most of the time I have with them on KP each day.”