Where do I begin? This summer was exceptional in so many ways! Boot Camp was super busy as always. I worked in the Mechanic Shop and Michelle taught Drama class to 24 teams! Let me tell you that the Lord did an awesome work, not only in our team, but in all the teams that came this year, and in all the people that those teams impacted for Christ! The reports from the other teams have been such an encouragement. Many accepted the Lord for the first time because of what He did through all the teams. We had fifteen team members who went with us to Palestine. We cannot say enough good things about this team! They had the right motivation and were there for the right reasons! I want to thank our teammates for an unbelievable summer. We bonded really well together, very quickly.
After two weeks of Boot Camp training, we traveled to Hope Secondary School located at the top of the hill in Beit Jala, Palestine. Our project was to build a 33’ x 66’ greenhouse. When we arrived, they showed us a field full of olive trees and waist high, dead weeds. We got started right away and had the field cleared in three days. Once it was cleared, we found it to be almost four feet out of level. We did our best to level it by hand, but used the footer itself to make sure the structure would be level. Next, we dug and poured our footer for the greenhouse. The concrete footer equaled to about one and a half cement trucks—all mixed by hand. Getting building supplies was a bit of a challenge, so we ended up not getting the actual greenhouse materials before we left. When they do eventually arrive though, the foundation is complete and ready to be built upon. When we weren’t working on the foundation, we cleaned up the property by clearing weeds and helped move furniture inside the school to accommodate the room changes that were being made.
Of course being in the Holy Land we did get to do some sightseeing. We toured the City of David and walked through the waters of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. We also spent every Sunday in the Old City and touched the Western Wall, explored tunnels under the city, shopped in every quarter, and even ventured on the Temple Mount to get a quick picture in front of the Dome of the Rock despite the tensions that have resulted from recent disputes between the Jews and Palestinians. And of course, we all gave ourselves mud facials and took some very unbelievable photos of us floating at the Dead Sea. One tourist spot that was new for us this year was Masada. We hiked 2km straight up and over 700 steps to reach its peak. But the views from the top were breathtaking and well worth the effort to get there. Masada has some of the best preserved ruins we have ever seen! It is easy to understand why it is a World Heritage Site. All in all, we had an amazing summer with some amazing teammates!! If I wrote about all the things we saw and did, by the time you were finished reading, you would have read a book instead of a letter!!! (You can check out the reports we sent all summer if you want to know more. They are located on the Teen Missions website.) I will close with this: We were privileged to have been given the opportunity to go and work in the Holy Land once again and to not just be tourists in the most popular tourist spot in the world. The people we met and the sights we saw (even if for a third time) and, more importantly, the team we got to do it all with, will forever leave permanent, irreplaceable footprints on our hearts. Each one was an instrument that God used in my life to sharpen me and draw me closer to Him.
Since being back, all the girls are in school. Kenya is in 5th grade, Isabelle is in 2nd grade, and Lily is in Kindergarten. They actually missed the first two days of school because the team wasn’t over yet! Gabriel is now crawling and very mobile! He also has 4 teeth that have come in. Mike is back at work in the shop and doing maintenance at TMI. Michelle is busy taking care of all of us and especially Gabriel. We want to thank everyone who prayed for us this summer! There are always those times every summer when you know that things happen because there are people praying for you and your team. So thank you.
Mike, Michelle, Kenya, Isabelle, Lily, and Gabriel
1) That we would have good fulfilling time in the Word everyday.
2) Wisdom and guidance in raising our kids.
3) That we would be bold in our faith and truly be that light and example to those around us.
4) That we would be faithful in the little things and big things.