Dear Friends and Family,
As the leaves are starting to turn colors and the smell of fresh rain has begun to return to the Northwest we know that it is time to get back into the swing of fall. It has been an amazing and fruitful summer, and we are excited to share with you about all that the Lord did in both Malawi and Mongolia this summer.
As many of you know, Ryan and I returned to Mongolia this summer with an amazing group of 18 teenagers. They were probably the best group of kids we have ever lead on a team. They weren’t free from their issues and struggles, but they were all there with a common purpose to serve God in Mongolia and grow closer to Him. This year our team was comprised of eight former team members, two of them who came to China with us last year, and the team members who are children of our friends from high school and college (It’s scary that we’re getting old enough to have our friends’ kids on our teams). After our two-week training at the Lord’s Boot Camp, our team traveled for 36 hours to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Upon arrival we quickly went to work setting up the Mongolian Boot Camp in a state park about 45 minutes outside the capitol. Our team spent four days setting up the kitchen, which was housed in a Mongolian ger (yurt), the “Big Top” where we would hold our evening rallies, and the Obstacle Course. Our team was excited to train the 25 Mongolian teens in the many classes that they had learned at the Florida Boot Camp. Abby and Zeke loved their time at the Mongolian Boot Camp because they could run and play outside all day long. All the Mongolian team members loved them and it seemed the language barriers were easy to overcome with Abby’s sweet smile and Zeke’s mischievous ways.
After 10 days of cooking over an open fire, collecting our water out of a nearby stream and washing our clothes in a 5-gallon bucket, we were excited to participate in the Mongolian Team’s Commissioning Service and send them out to do ministry in the countryside. Once the Mongolian teams were gone and we had packed up and put away all of the Boot Camp supplies, our team moved to an orphanage about 30 minutes outside of the capitol. Many of the children in the orphanage were not your “stereotypical” orphans. Most had parents or families who were still living, but just could not take care of them. The orphanage served as a “foster home” much like we have here in the U.S. Most of the children in the home were older, ages 8-18, and many had lived there most of their lives. The home was run by an amazing Mongolian Christian couple who loved what they did. Additionally, this couple runs “Teen Challenge-Mongolia,” focusing on drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Our team split their time between working on a men’s shelter for “Teen Challenge-Mongolia” and doing much needed repairs on the orphanage. It was exciting to see the team develop relationships with the children in the orphanage, especially Zeke & Abby. Frequently, when I would walk through the halls of the orphanage I would hear the Mongolian children yelling “Zeke!” or “Abby!” Then I would find them playing with toys together or outside playing on the playground.
As I mentioned earlier, it was such a blessing to lead this team of 18 teens. They had such an amazing heart for ministry and the Lord. They all had an earnest desire to grow closer in the Lord and many have a heart desire to serve the Lord full time as a missionary. This summer I (Erin) encountered a unique challenge; it was my first summer without an assistant female leader. Therefore many of the responsibilities that I rely upon my assistant female leader to do, like help with preparing meals, completing paperwork and developing tight relationships with the team members, fell upon me. As I look back on this past year, I know the Lord was preparing me for this summer before I even knew it. This past year I have really been wrestling with how to be a more effective leader and how I can directly pour into the girls on my teams. This summer the Lord provided an ample opportunity to do it and I saw such growth in my own life in this area. I am grateful for the wisdom, perseverance and sensitivity that the Lord provided me with this summer.
For the first week I went to the Lord’s Boot Camp. At the Lord’s Boot Camp we stayed in the iky, swampy parts of Florida waking up at 5:30 in the morning to do an Obstacle Course. In Boot Camp I also met my team who came with me to Malawi. After that, we went to the airport to go to Malawi. But before that we had many stops along the way. We went from Orlando to Canada, Canada to London, London to Kenya, and Kenya to MALAWI. When we were in Malawi we stayed at a campground on the Teen Missions Malawi base called “Cambodia.” Everyday we would walk to the base and build a playground for children in the community and the Teen Missions staff children. In the evening we would walk to the AIDS Orphans Rescue Unit. We would play games, sing songs and play soccer. In Malawi we also got to go on a safari and go to a market to buy souvenirs. At the end of my summer, we flew home from Malawi to Kenya, Kenya to Paris, Paris to Canada, and Canada to Orlando, where I had a three-day Debrief, and then back home.
As we head into this fall please pray for Ryan and me as we continue to share the word about Teen Missions summer opportunities to youth on the West Coast. Ryan plans on visiting Colorado, California and many locations around the Northwest during the next few months sharing at youth groups and Christian schools. Additionally, Ryan is preparing for “Student Connexion,” a student missions conference in Portland November 3-4. He is expecting 300+ students to hear from speakers & missionaries from around the world as they share God’s vision for students to get involved in full-time missions and ministry.
Finally, we wanted to thank you for your prayers for us this summer as we traveled to Mongolia and Malawi. It is such a blessing to have people like you supporting us in prayer and financially. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have an opportunity for us to share in your home, church, youth group, homeschooling group or school about Teen Missions. We would love to have the opportunity.
Erin, Ryan, Micah, Abby & Zeke