Dear Friends and Family,
It is good to be home and getting settled in after a summer of traveling, but I have been super blessed and I need to share it all with you!!
I got to help lead the Madagascar Motorcycle team again this year. There were 16 absolutely amazing teenagers on the team. Two other people who are THE most amazing – really the best leaders I could have asked for – helped me out. I just can’t say enough about this team. They came because they wanted to serve the Lord and help the kids! They went out on the bikes every day possible and even though they enjoyed the riding, it was never easy riding. It was difficult terrain and stressful riding much of the time. Every member of this team absolutely loved those kids! Almost every team has one or two who are more shy and it takes them a while to get into the work they came to do. Not this team! I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way they ALL jumped in and ministered to the Malagasy kids.
When the team couldn’t go out on the bikes, they helped at the base where the staff and students are working to finish building a security wall around the Teen Missions property. Laying concrete block is also hard work, but they worked hard on the project each time they were asked to do so.
For sightseeing, we visited the waterfall, explored some caves and just enjoyed a few days of relaxation. Coming back to Mahajanga, we spent one night at a place called Campiland; a very nice little camping resort where we had hot showers and a nice dinner before going back to the base to finish some work, pack up and head to Ethiopia for Debrief.
I had never experienced an overseas Debrief before and I have to say, it was very enjoyable, but very much different than Florida Debriefs. We got to stay in a nice air-conditioned hotel where they served a huge buffet for us three meals a day. Since we were there with two other teams and we couldn’t all fly out at the same time, my team got to stay at the hotel an extra day. It was really nice to get that last day with just our team before sending them home. We flew home to Washington D.C. and the team members each flew home from there instead of going all the way to Florida. After the last one was checked in, the three of us (leaders) boarded our own flight to Florida.
After being home about a week, most of the Teen Missions staff took their normal three weeks of deputation time. The students get this time to take a break and visit their families and the staff can visit supporters and family. It’s always really good to visit your loved ones after a summer trip because it’s a great encouragement and a help after a stressful summer (no matter how good your team is, it’s still extremely stressful having the responsibility of taking them overseas).
On my deputation trip, I was able to attend the Iowa Christian Union Council at Jericho Hills Camp in Lucas and I also got to visit a couple of my supporting churches and share with them about the summer. Then I visited all my kids and grandkids, even Baby Barrett, and some old friends and family that I miss very much. All in all, it was a great trip and I truly enjoyed it.
The last couple of summers, God has really been laying a burden on my heart for our current teenagers. They face such extreme circumstances in their schools and families. It’s always been stressful to live through the teenage years, but most (at least from my generation) never had to deal with the level of stress that today’s teens face. Last year, one of my team members said that a new study revealed that Christian teens have the highest rate of suicide now. At first, I said, no, I’ve always heard the opposite. But as I thought more and more about it I came to believe that it might very well be true and if it is, then today’s youth are missing out on some very important Biblical teaching that would help them find the strength to handle the things they face. Yes, Jesus is the answer, but just that fact doesn’t immediately help them in a crisis situation. They need to be taught how to live for Him and how to rely on Him for the strength they need.
I think the Bible teaches in 2 Timothy that this will happen and that our churches will stop preaching the Word and instead preach what its members WANT to hear rather than what they NEED to hear. I think, generally speaking, we may be there in many of our churches and now when our youth need sound teaching more than ever – well, it just really concerns me. Would you please pray with me for our world’s youth, that they will find Someone to help them, when they don’t know what to do? Discipleship and teaching them Who they can truly rely on to give them wisdom and strength may just be THE most important thing we can do to help the next generation! Growing up, I was told many times that every human being you know will eventually let you down and that is why we need to learn to lean on the One who will never let us down. Let me tell you, very few of our youth today know ANYONE who has not let them down. It’s no wonder they don’t know who to turn to.
Once again, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who support me, both financially and by praying for me and the ministry of Teen Missions International. I can never express how grateful all of us here are and how much we appreciate your help in allowing us to do what we do! Thank you so very much!