Dear Family, Friends and Former Team Members,
Greetings from soggy Florida! Hurricane Irma has passed, but left a lot of water; just when you think the low part of your backyard will finally dry up – it rains again! Oh well, this too shall pass.
Two weeks after my summer team to South Korea, I hit the road to spend some time visiting family, friends, and supporters. Mostly I traveled up the I-75 corridor, all the way to the Detroit area! Eight states, 11 cities, and over 25 people visited! It was really awesome to connect with many who have invested in my life and ministry and personally share about the impact we are making for the Kingdom together. One friend even treated me to a few days with her in Palm Springs, CA! We explored Joshua Tree National Park and I got to make a few new friends in San Diego and even one on the plane ride back. My biggest thrill was that I finally got to meet my niece’s new son and I got a new title – “Auntie Grandma”!
I was still traveling, but getting close to home when Hurricane Irma came to town. I hunkered down with a friend in Tallahassee and was blessed to be able to avoid nearly all traffic problems on the drive home. My home was still there – Praise the Lord! The only damage was to a gutter, a piece of carport trim, tree debris and standing water in the backyard. Water was restored before I got home and power a few days later. I had fun cooking on my Zambian brazier while waiting – hooray for useful souvenirs!
I don’t really like talking about the money side of missions, but while traveling, many have inquired about my support level, so I thought others may be interested as well. I spent a year raising support before joining staff, so I had enough in my Teen Missions account to receive several months of “full” support in my monthly check when I came on board in January. A majority of my original support came in the form of one-time or occasional gifts, and the other one-time gifts since then have extended the “full” support a bit longer. I do not have any sponsoring churches, only individuals. My expenses are very low, so I was able to save several months worth of expenses in my personal bank account for lean times. Currently, my regular monthly support is approximately $400/month, which just about covers my minimum expenses. I pay no rent for my TMI housing and I have no debt. My expenses are only utilities, car insurance, gas, food, etc. For the past several months, I have only received about that regular monthly amount ($400), as there have not been too many one-time donations recently. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to serve in full-time missions for such a small amount – I lack for nothing! Thank you for making it possible for me to be here! If your heart is to give, but your finances are low, remember, no amount is insignificant. I have several who partner with me at $10/month, and prayer support is even more important! You may wish to check with your company to see if they provide matching charitable contributions to double your donation – Teen Missions is a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible. You may also give online: https://www.teenmissions.org/product/linda-evans/ Again, THANK YOU all for everything!
I finally picked a name for my newsletter. There were a handful of good suggestions from you guys and I came up with some other ideas on my own, but nothing seemed “just right”. Rhyming or alliteration just didn’t give me what I was looking for. Then it dawned on me – “Hmm . . . I wonder what God is doing?” I have had it on a post-it note on my computer for months. A friend of mine taught me to think that way years ago when facing something unexpected (usually something that seems negative). We often notice what God has done through difficult circumstances in hindsight. But learning to think this way at the moment something happens really changes our perspective when it is happening and helps us to approach the situation with a different mindset. Sometimes I remember to think this way! I just love this phrase, and since it also can apply to hearing about missionary activities, well, it just feels right! A big thanks to those who submitted suggestions, and since I didn’t pick one of those, my special gift will go the one who submitted the most ideas.
Now that the summer and deputation are over, I am back at my desk. I am still coordinating the M.A.D. Mothers Fellowship Groups. I am working on getting more groups started and producing the next monthly newsletter, and will start planning the January retreat soon. Let me know if you might be interested in starting a group! In my last newsletter, I mentioned American Awakening – a travel team that would spend 10 months traveling the U.S. and Canada with a Mini-Obstacle Course, and I am working on that as well as leading it when it goes on the road. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to recruit enough young people. Hmm . . . I wonder what God is doing? Well, we have decided to modify the plan and start with a two-month road trip, and have arranged to make it work with fewer recruits. This will give us the opportunity to do a test run, and further develop our strategies for ministry and logistics, so we can do more travel teams in the future. We will be on the road for all of February and March, staying within the Southeast U.S. If you are in this region and think your church may be interested in hosting us for a week, please call me right away. We have some fun ideas for working with youth groups!
My desk work involves a lot of creative thinking and writing – a challenge to be sure! It can be mentally exhausting, but it is very rewarding to use the brain God gave me to do His work. Fortunately, I get a break from my desk the third week of October to go back to Evansville, IN, to help take down our life-sized Old Testament Tabernacle and store it for the winter. Once again, my primary job will be cooking for the crew. TTT Ministries has used it as a witnessing tool and has been able to lead people to Christ because of it.
South Korea Adventures
This was my 19th summer in a row leading a team! This was my first time leading a team that would teach English as a Second Language, and my first time in South Korea. I had one male assistant leader and nine team members – three boys and six girls. No two teams are alike, and while many challenges repeat themselves, there is always a new one, or two or three. My first challenge was to be at Boot Camp as a staff person instead of just a volunteer leader. That means extra duties! I left my team at wake up, grabbed breakfast and headed out to the Mini-Obstacle Course to oversee two teams every morning. It was a great way to try it out before traveling with it. Since I will be leading the travel team that will use it, I got that duty. After devotions were staff meeting, leader’s meeting, and then I taught the puppets class all six periods each day, with one other teacher—24 teen and preteen teams! I specialized in teaching the choreography that goes with the puppet songs – four teens do that while four operate the puppets. I had a ball, and it was so cool that literally EVERY KID at Boot Camp knew me and many would greet and/or hug me randomly around Boot Camp. I was so encouraged anytime one of them would tell me that I made the class fun for them. At lunch, I ate with the staff, and then monitored a different team for Brainstorming. I finally got to be with my own team at supper! My other leader was awesome and handled the team alone all day. The team was really amazing—great attitudes, hard workers.
My team finally got all of me when we left for South Korea. After a long travel, we finally arrived in the first city we would work in – Gwangju, where we worked for 2 ½ weeks. We were housed in the same building in three small apartments owned by the church—tiny kitchenettes, no oven, sleeping on the floor – Korean style. While I did miss having an oven, I rarely cooked lunch or supper, so it wasn’t a big loss. We were constantly fed Korean food (which we loved!). We had almost as many Korean meals as American meals! It was a blessing since we had only two leaders, so I spent most of my time with the team during project duties – normally the male leaders are overseeing the team on a worksite while the lady leaders cook. We were even blessed with air conditioning and a washing machine. Now that may sound like an easy setup, but we worked all day and all evening while in that city! Every morning we left at 8:15 am and walked to the school, GICS – Gyeojassi International Christian School. They are part of a Presbyterian Church. Check out their website and you will see pictures of our team! (gics.kr on the web) They had four classes, so we put two of our team in each class, leaving the leaders and one extra to float around. Most of the children had at least a minimal command of English and all the teachers we worked with spoke English well. The students were being taught English already. The team members really took charge of their teaching duties, working with the teachers, and did an amazing job.
The school provided lunch every day for us. At 4 pm, we were picked up and taken to another Presbyterian Church across town where we worked from 5-9 pm and returned home around 9:30 pm. They provided dinner for us. We had 12 students from around 8-16 years old. After giving them an initial assessment test, they were divided according to skill level, with some barely knowing any words and others somewhat conversational. We worked in small groups by level. We played with them to work off steam, had dinner, then did workbooks and learning games – and snack time, they were always feeding us! Without teachers to lesson plan with, my team had to dig deep and brainstorm about what to do and how to make things flow. We did have a binder with some ideas to work with. I and my other leader did not micromanage them or design everything for them, we just helped them as THEY figured out what to do. In truth, I didn’t know any more about teaching English than they did, I just had a few more years of life experience to work with. They all stepped into leadership roles as teachers and they did an amazing job – I just can’t say it enough. Many times during the summer, it was a rollercoaster of winging it, but they all survived the ups and downs and even enjoyed the ride most of the time! We worked with the evening group on two Saturday mornings as well, and each time they treated us to lunch at a restaurant. One evening, they even took us to a major league baseball game instead of having classes. My first one! We rooted for the home team – the Kia Tigers (we won). We had long work days, and it was a struggle to get all our Teen Missions classes squeezed in, and sometimes it meant catching up on the weekends, but we had such great experiences with both groups and really bonded with the kids. We had back to back tearful goodbyes with each group when it was time to move to another city.
We enjoyed two days of sightseeing in between work assignments. We visited the Korean Folk Village, the Independence Hall of Korea museum and Seoul Tower at the end of the week. The weekend gave us a chance to settle into our new home. This time, we were in a larger apartment all together, with a large kitchen (but still no oven). In Cheonan, we worked with a preschool. Eight preschool classes with teachers and students who barely spoke English and only three translators meant we had only one team member in each class, and they were mostly classroom helpers with games and crafts and taught only a little English, but they still had a great time. Each Sunday during the summer, we attended large churches, but were just guests and not able to do any team presentations. They translated the services for us and fed us lunch – apparently everybody eats lunch at church on Sunday! Everywhere we went, we were received with such hospitality and were so well taken care of! We will never forget the friends we made in South Korea and the family we made with each other. While at times it was stressful and occasionally we got on each other’s nerves, all in all, it was an amazing and wonderful summer for all of us, and we pray we have made a difference for the Kingdom of God! For more stories and pictures, read our reports from the field at: www.teenmissions.org/category/trip-news/south-korea-trip-reports/
You might ask, “What’s the point of teaching English to mostly Christians on a mission trip? How does that reach people for Christ?” Good question. First of all, we never know how God will use our presence on such a trip to impact God’s Kingdom, we just trust that He has a plan, and encouraging the believers empowers them to carry on God’s work long after we are gone. Second, it’s important to remember that Teen Missions is “training tomorrow’s missionary today”. There are many countries that do not allow “missionaries” to come and don’t allow open evangelism. In such countries, “friendship evangelism” is the only opportunity. You come and live in a community with a job (like teaching English) and develop relationships with people where you can share your faith privately with a friend. I personally have a former team member who is serving in missions this way (although not teaching English). Part of the purpose of a Teen Missions team is reaching the lost for Christ, but another big part is training the teens in missions. I also get to see some phenomenal personal growth in their own walk with Christ in some of the teens during the summer. This year, all of my team was stretched as they took on leadership roles, and it was great to see them work together and depend on the Lord for their strength and really rise to the occasion. I was blessed by them, and I pray I was a blessing TO them. I miss them all! I hope to see them back next year, some as leaders.
A big shout out to all of my former team members from all 19 summers – I love you all! Be blessed as you serve the Lord, wherever you are.
Whew! That was a lot to cover, but it’s been a busy few months. As usual, brevity is not my strong suit! But I hope you have enjoyed hearing how your prayers and support are impacting the world for God. May you all be as blessed as I am!!!
Blessed in Service,
– God’s direction and blessing on M.A.D. Mothers and American Awakening
– Spiritual growth, and being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit
– To glorify God in all I do