May Your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
Wow! Where to begin???? I am sitting here trying to adequately put into words what a privilege it is to serve the Lord through the ministry of Teen Missions. What He did in our lives, in the lives of Colton, Danae and BJ and what He did in the lives of the team members and leaders, not to mention the countless lives who were impacted this summer—words just cannot convey.
Paul and I were a part of “summer staff”. This is our usual responsibility every other summer. We moved out into our motel-type room on June 1 and moved back home on the evening of August 13. I think that this was the fewest number we had on “summer staff” since we began serving in this capacity many years ago. When I looked at the numbers, all I saw was an impossibility of getting it all done (manning phones 24/7, emails, outside maintenance, cooking, Debriefs, etc). When I looked to the Lord, I saw that this did not take Him by surprise and He had it all under control! All in all, it was one of our quietest summers as far as problems. There were a few hiccups along the way, but everything worked out as it always does. A BIG thank you to Linda, Emery, Bob, Glenda, Dawn, Justin and Carly for going well beyond what was expected and being such a joy to work with!
Colton, Danae and BJ had wonderful experiences this summer. Their summations are at the end of this letter. We are thankful for their brave leaders, the team members, their health and safety and most of all, for their spiritual growth. Thank you so much to those who prayed for them (and us!) and for your sacrificial support!
Colton graduated on May 22nd and it was a wonderful ceremony. It is hard to believe that he is now a full-time college student. It did not work out financially for him to attend Bryan, so he is attending Eastern Florida State College (locally) and is not sure what he wants to major in. Please pray for wisdom for him in his decisions and that he will continually seek the Lord.
Danae is a senior! She just returned from a weekend visit to Wheaton and loved it. She hopes to visit Olivet Nazarene in the future. Right now, it is between Covenant and Wheaton. She is also attending college full time at Eastern Florida as an early admission student. This is a blessing in that she doesn’t have to pay for books or tuition. Please pray for her as she starts the admission process for college—that she would know where the Lord wants her to go and for the finances. She is already starting to apply for scholarships.
BJ is a sophomore. Where has the time gone???? He is doing well in school and is still in the DiVinci Academy (Engineering program) at the local high school. His high school soccer season is just around the corner. He is nursing a sprained ankle right now and we are praying it is healed before try-outs (if we could just get him to stay off of it…). Please pray that he will seek the Lord as he navigates these high school years and that he will be a witness among his friends.
Lindsay is in her senior year at the University of Tennessee. She seems to be doing well in school. Please pray that she will seek the Lord in her future plans.
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support! It is such a blessing to be able to serve in a ministry that we truly enjoy going to work every day. We could not do that if it were not for you! This is another one of those things that I can never put into words adequately. Just to see how He meets our every need through your generosity and prayers is miraculous in so many ways. Many times when we don’t see how we are going to make it in certain months, He helps us get through.
A word from our kids:
COLTON: This past summer I went to Madagascar with 18 amazing people and had one of the best summers of my life. The roads were really rough in Madagascar. The roads had really loose sand which made it difficult to drive motorbikes on. Many members of the team had minor accidents because of the roads (I didn’t!). This caused me to trust God more in the things I do, not just on the roads in Madagascar but in my everyday life, like what I’m going to do with my future and other stuff. In the end, I had a superb summer and made a lot of new friends that I will cherish forever. Thank you so much for supporting me in prayers and $$$mula$$$. I couldn’t have experienced any of this if it weren’t for you.
DANAE: This summer was incredible! Our project in Madagascar was to go from village to village on dirt bikes, holding Sunday Schools for the children and any adults who wanted to participate. This being my second time on this trip, I knew what to expect and it was really cool to be able to recognize the villages from last summer. What was even cooler was having the children recognize me.
This year God taught me to trust Him even more than I do now and to rest in His ever present assurance that everything happens according to His plan. Last year I didn’t fall on the bikes at all. This year though, I was riding double with this guy on my team, and we hit a really big pothole on the ride back from a Sunday school and we ended up laying out the bike pretty badly. This is where I felt God’s presence the most in probably my whole entire life. The guy who was driving was fine and had a couple scrapes on his hand. When we fell I got caught under the left side of the bike and my right leg hit the bike pretty hard. Some guys on my team got the bike off of me, but my legs just had so much pain coursing through them. My head leader ran over as fast as he could, threw his hands on my legs, and started praying. Mid-prayer I felt all the pain in my right leg dissipate and the pain in my left leg was centralized to my knee. It was such a miracle that nothing was broken. My knee had some pain for a couple days and I got a really gnarly bruise from the bike. But other than that, I was completely fine. I thank God that the pain/injuries were so incredibly minor. God was in control the entire time this summer and in every aspect of my life.
I just want to thank you again for your support, prayerfully and financially. The memories made and experiences had could not have been possible without your help! You were a huge part of this summer, so thank you for answering God’s call to send me!
BJ: This summer I got the chance to go to Bangladesh and work at an orphanage. We stayed at the orphanage and our main project was to dig out a parking lot which was 56′ X 100′. It was a lot of hard work and it was very hot and rainy there. The boys and girls on our team could not work together due to the culture, so this made it even harder on us guys. The people and orphans I met while there were awesome, very friendly. I made a lot of new friends in my teammates and with the orphans and orphanage workers.
This summer God taught me that things may change and go differently than you expected (I don’t always like change…) and you just need to go with the flow because He is in control. At first, I thought we were building a road and then it ended up being a parking lot. I thought that the whole team would be able to work together, but we couldn’t. But God taught me not to worry or get upset, that He still has it under His control. Thank you for helping me go to Bangladesh this summer!
Paul, Beth, Colton, Danae & BJ