In our last letter we had just arrived in Florida, found a house and were looking forward to our summer team. Now here we are; the summer mission trip is over, we spent 10 days in Ohio on deputation and some time working on the house and now we’re back to work. I’ve included a picture of the house and then gave you some details about our summer; that’s really what the ministry is about.
We started out at “Boot Camp” here at Teen Missions where our team of 22 teens and four leaders met for the first time and went through training prior to leaving for the Holy Land. At Boot Camp each team is assigned a tent site where they set up camp. This is home for two weeks. We all bathe in buckets, do laundry in buckets and have an area in the center of camp to pray and fellowship together when time permits. The day starts very early with an Obstacle Course which includes running through the jungle, climbing a mountain of tires (Mt. Sinai), more jungle, swinging over a small body of water (Slough of Despond), a couple more obstacles, and on to “The Wall” (12’ high) where the team figures out how to get over since the steps are only on the back side. The rest of the day consists of training classes: block laying, steel tying, mixing and pouring concrete, puppets, music, sharing your testimony and other evangelism classes (we do have meals and a little free time each day). Finally, Commissioning Day arrived and we were ready to go to the Holy Land!
We arrived in Tel Aviv with no problems. Customs went smoothly and we were ready to meet our waiting missionary. Oops, a communication problem and no one was there. We waited a little while, then Richard called Teen Missions and the team prayed together. Richard was able to get taxi vans to take us to our work site, Hope School. We were greeted by the school staff and a tasty meal. We had a very nice place to stay with beds, showers and a washing machine; quite a change from Boot Camp.
There was a bit of confusion concerning our project, so we spent the first week clearing trash, cutting overgrown grass and trimming shrubs and trees. Finally our host understood our team was there to do a work project—not to use the school as a base while we went sightseeing every day. We began building walls on an existing patio to make a laundry facility. The laundry room in the school building will be renovated and a kindergarten class added with elementary classes to follow in the future. We were well into our project when fighting between Israel and Hamas started. We were awakened one evening by sirens and the sound of rockets being launched. We were in no danger, everything was going over us and nowhere near our location. It happened again while we were walking to church services. Sirens went off and we could see the smoke trail where rockets had been intercepted. Still, no danger to us, so we continued to church. That evening after church we shared together and the teens said they were not afraid, but thankful they live in a country where this is not a daily part of life. We kept in touch with Teen Missions during all of this and we all felt it would be best if our team returned to the U.S. We came out in two groups about 24 hours apart and met together again in Florida. We finished our summer at TMI headquarters where we put the roof on a covered walkway, put shelves in a storage room, pulled more weeds, mowed and did some cleaning. About 10 days later the other teams returned for Debrief which is a time of sharing our summer and getting the teens ready to return home.
All in all it was a great summer with great teens with willing hearts to do whatever needed to be done. Our prayer for them is to remain strong in the Lord and always seek His will for their lives.
Thank you to all of our financial and prayer partners, for without you none of this would be possible. God is so good and we count it a privilege to serve Him at Teen Missions.
Richard and Gina Barber