It is great to be able to write and tell you what has been happening this summer. It is such a privilege to be able to serve the Lord.
Mustard Seeds, our program for 4 to 6 year-olds, brought 24 little ones with their parent or guardian to the Lord’s Boot Camp. We presented Kings and Queens from the Bible: Saul, David, King Jesus, Queen Esther and Little King Josiah. We sang songs, made crafts and learned memory verses so that we could share the plan of salvation with others. The Obstacle Course is always a favorite to run and see who is the fastest. We had a “message meal” and different snacks with our tea parties that Queen Omega prepared for us. We also had missionaries from different countries come by and stamp our little passports. We had a court jester for the first time this year who helped Queen Omega teach the memory verses. They are such eager little ones to share with and we pray that their time with us will be a big part in their growing love to serve the Lord.
This year I did not lead a team; however, we still had to get shoes packed for the Foot Washing Team, pack the Overseas Boot Camp bags and get the country finances ready to wire overseas for the bases. The day after Commissioning I was on my way to Africa with our Director, Bob Bland. We traveled from Orlando to Washington D.C. then met up with the Malawi Drilling Team and the Cameroon Foot Washing Team. I went as far as Ethiopia with them, before heading to Zambia. I was able to spend four days out in the bush visiting Motorcycle Sunday School Mission (MSSM) Circuit Riders and a couple of Sunday Schools. I was also able to visit some AIDS Orphans Rescue Units, visit the North American Eyeglass Team, take some video footage of each group, get a couple of interviews and conduct a couple of meetings. It is always the best to travel out in the bush and see the work that these faithful servants of the Lord are doing for the orphans and guardians and how the Circuit Riders faithfully share the Word of God with them. Lives are never the same when they have the opportunity to hear the Word of God and give their hearts to Jesus.
I met up with Bob back in Ethiopia and we continued to Malawi together. We have 10 AIDS Orphans Rescue Units, two Matrons Units and four MSSM Circuits in Malawi. We also have Bible schools operating at three different bases. As soon as we arrived, the country coordinators, Josiah and Bethany Frey, drove us up north to our newest base in Rumphi. Bob hadn’t been to the base before so it was good to see how it is growing. We saw the borehole that the first Malawi Drilling Team had been drilling and met with the students. Then we drove to the Chipoka base. The next day we met with the staff and heard their stories about their ministries; it was a very special time. The following day we took the drilling rig to Mangochi for the second team to begin their well in a Muslim area. We spent a little while at the Heart of Faith Rescue Unit and then went to the Mangochi base. It is right on Lake Malawi and they have done a great job of clearing out the beach area. What a beautiful view of the lake with the fishing boats. The students were on break, but we did see that the base was growing and flourishing. What a wonderful door the Lord has opened for us to be there in a Muslim area and to be able to train young people in the Word of God through our Bible School, Boot Camps, Rescue Units and the three different Sunday Schools the students also run.
The next country we visited was Madagascar. We arrived in the capital, Tana, around 1 AM. We were able to rest a bit and the next morning we met up with the country coordinator, Liva. Around noon we were able to start the two-day drive to our base in Vangaindrano. We arrived at the base around 8 PM the second day and were met by all the staff and students who were so thrilled that the director of Teen Missions had come to visit them. As they sat around on the floor, they introduced themselves and then offered up prayers of thankfulness for our safety and that we had come. Even though there was a language barrier with the students you could see how excited and thankful they were to have the director there. The next day we were able to look around the base and meet with all the staff. It’s hard to believe, but there isn’t any internet in this area. About a two-hour drive away you will find internet, but only if there is electricity available. That is how remote this area is. The country is very dark spiritually and they are deep in ancestral worship. We have four Sunday School Circuits with 24 Sunday Schools running, but the spiritual battle is strong. Please pray for the Circuit Riders as they continue to bring the Light of Jesus to this dark, dark place. We had meetings with the Circuit Riders and Bob shared with all the staff and students. He challenged them to “be in the way”, not just sitting, but to be serving the Lord and He will direct each step. Bob decided that we should give ourselves three days to drive back to Tana; unfortunately, we had some pretty heavy rain and the tires on the truck were pretty bald, so it took us a couple of hours to get to the main road as we got stuck in the mud. We were able to push out twice, but the last time we needed to get some local help for a push up the high hill. Poor Bob also got some car sickness so it ended up being a miserable day. The second day, about a half hour out of the city, we had a blowout on one of the tires. The jack we had wasn’t the right one, but a local villager brought us some wood to get the jack up and the tire was finally changed. Since we no longer had a spare we went to look for two spare tires. At the tire shop they didn’t have the size we needed, but there was a man there who said a neighbor had two used tires that size and was trying to sell them. Off we went through the city to the neighbor’s house. Liva had to dig the tires out from some other items, but soon he was rolling two tires out onto the main road. We went to find a gas station that would be able to change the tires for us. I think it was around noon that we were back on the road. We arrived at our next hotel around 7 PM and the next day arrived in Tana by 3 PM. The following day, after two delays, we flew to our base in Mahajanga. Bob was supposed to share with the Nirina School parents, but by the time we arrived most of the parents and children were already gone. We had shoe boxes from Samaritan’s Purse which the Motorcycle Sunday School Team from the US were able to help give out to the children who attend the school. We stayed in the building with the US team and ate with them. Bob was able to share with the team in the evening devotions. We walked around the base and saw how things had improved there and met with the staff, Circuit Riders and students as well. After our time in Mahajanga we flew back to Tana. We were supposed to leave at 9 AM, but when we got to the airport there wasn’t any activity. We found out the plane wasn’t supposed to go until 2 PM. When we arrived back at the airport the flight was delayed till 4 PM and then again until 7 PM. While waiting to board the plane we found out that the plane had arrived but there were mechanical problems. So once again— another wait. I think we finally got to Tana around 9 PM.
We flew to South Africa next, arriving around 1 AM where our country coordinator, Karen, and her daughters were waiting for us outside customs in Joburg. In South Africa we met with the staff and students, shared some meals with the US team and saw what had been built on the life-sized replica of the Tabernacle. Eivind and Carol Bray are spending five months working on this project. Carol has also been helping us start a new work with the Samaritan Women. These are prostitutes who we are trying to help by training them with a different life skill—making jewelry, baking or sewing. We also hope to have computers that we can teach them how to use. It is a new ministry and we pray that these ladies will come to Jesus and be freed to get another kind of job.
Bob asked the three staff guys from Zimbabwe to come down and meet with him. They arrived the day after we got there. They shared that their greatest need is electricity, which is too expensive for them to maintain, so we started looking into solar power. Then it was time for Bob to return to the States for other speaking engagements and the US team to return for Debrief. I along with the South African staff were able to find another solar company and had success in finding everything that we needed within our budget. But now we had to get it to Zimbabwe and my days were running out. We came up with a plan for one of the staff guys to go by public transport and then meet us at the Zim border with two of the staff wives to help get the solar panels through customs. We started out early Saturday morning with all the goods in the truck, the other two staff guys and the Brays. We were able to get to the border by 2 PM and began the long process of getting our passports stamped and the proper paperwork to get the truck with the goods out of the country. By the time the guys and I made it through, we met up with the staff coming back down from Zim and headed to the Zim side. The truck was a bit full, but we made the 20-minute drive through the border check and into no-man’s land only to come out at the Zim border which was swarming with lots and lots of people and vehicles. We were let in an area where I was able to park the truck and wait for the staff to clear immigrations and then go through the long process of getting things through customs. We all finally met up again at night to try and figure out how we were going to get the solar goods through to the other side. The guys finally asked a passing truck that didn’t have much on it if we could put our heavy things on the truck and the staff would carry the panels on their heads through the border crossing. It was agreed and off they went. One of the staff stayed behind to help me get back on the road to the South Africa border. I was on my way to the border at 7 PM. The lines were still just as long. I waited in line for an hour just to get my passport stamped again to get into the country. I was able to walk through the crowded people to get the proper stamp so that I could take the vehicle back into South. I was heading to the motel at around 8 PM and was so glad that the Lord had given us success. By the end of the next day the staff in Zim had solar units installed in the staff houses, the boys’ dorm and would be working on the girls’ dorm/classroom and dining hall. They were thrilled to be able to once again have electricity. Something that I know I take for granted here in the States.
My last stop was in Uganda. I arrived about 12 AM and made it through immigrations/customs without any problems at all, only to come out to see that there was no one to meet me. I usually travel with the addresses and phone numbers of all the bases, but when I tried calling the base the numbers had all changed. What to do? If I went to a hotel I still would have the problem of not being able to reach them, so I decided to try to get some kind of transport since I knew the way to the base. I had gone to the information desk for help making the phone call and the lady introduced me to a taxi driver and told me he was a safe driver and would take very good care of me. But… I hadn’t exchanged any money, so the driver took me to his office, which was legitimate, and then pointed me to the exchange bureau. By 2:30 AM I knew no one was going to pick me up, so off we went to Jinja. It usually takes five hours to drive there due to all the traffic in Kampala, but I think we were at the base by 4:30 or 5 AM. At the gate I had the driver honk the horn, but no one came. I walked around the wall to see if I could find an opening and considered climbing over the gate. After a half hour wait I started walking through the neighbors’ yard and started yelling for our staff—it was important that I told them who I was otherwise they may have thought I was a thief trying to trick them. Nelson and Maggie were soon at the gate to let me in. They had a mixup on my arrival day as it was after midnight. They were planning to come that evening. The Lord is good and provided for me to make the journey safely to the base. Later we had some meetings together and decided to go to Bunalwenyi Secondary School to meet with the head teacher and the accountant to try and figure out the direction we would take with the school. I spent the next couple of days looking through the finances and trying to come up with a plan, holding meetings with the staff, plus making a trip back to Kampala to see what our different options were with the government. I was not going to get everything accomplished in the time I had left, so I extended my stay for another week. I am so thankful to the Lord that we were able to find a solution for the school. The day I left we had everything finalized.
Back home I had a few days off before heading back to the office to start getting things organized and ready for the new year. The main project this time of year is getting the orphan sponsorship renewal letters out. We are making good progress and hope to get them all out in October. It is again time to get the finances ready to send to our bases overseas. Plus, I am still working on getting caught up from the summer. We already have people interested in our Gap Year Program and have groups wanting to go overseas to help at our bases. And I’ll soon be working on the Mustard Seed program for next summer. These are just a few of the projects before me.
I thank you for your continued prayers, without those it would be impossible to do ministry. Also thank you to those who make it possible for me to be here financially. I am so blessed to be able to serve the Lord here at Teen Missions.
Because of Him,