Greetings from Florida!
We have officially entered into fall and the summer ministry is behind us. The Florida weather seems to not have gotten the memo! Lots of sun and humidity down here still; we are looking forward to the lower temperatures in the next few months.
Things have significantly slowed down since we last had an update go out in the spring. We were getting ready for Boot Camp and the summer ministry as a whole. Tanner and I really enjoy the spring season down here at Teen Missions as we watch people sign up for teams and really get in the mindset for the program. Each year we are reminded of how special it really is to do the job that we do. Although we get to travel to some amazing places, our real goal and prayer is to love our team with the love of Jesus and to see them grow in their knowledge, understanding, and love of Him.
This year we had the privilege of leading the Ecuador team. Every year TMI asks us our top three team choices and they do their best to put us on one of those. Ecuador has never been in our top three and actually came as quite a surprise. We could have been flooded with any range of emotions, but we felt nothing but peace and excitement! In our main hallway here at the office, we have boards for each team and every time someone signs up their picture and name goes onto the board. It helps us to remember to always be praying for those God has lead to spend their summer with us. Tanner and I loved watching our team fill to the point that we were just that, FULL!
Our team had 25 teenagers and four leaders, ourselves and our good friend Emily who we attended Bible school with and a new leader Justin. Tanner has grown accustomed to large teams with his smallest ever being 17. I, however, had never lead a team with over 10 teens. We were the largest team at Boot Camp and as we walked through airports in a line, we took up quite a bit of space. Either way, we could not have been more excited to start the summer with these young people.
Boot Camp was just as we normally anticipated it to be, a full schedule and hot weather! Our team had a great campsite right outside of the main gathering space with fresh water close by for bathing and bucket showers. Each team has a unique schedule to accommodate for the different classes they may need and ours ended up being rather relaxing when it came down to it. The team spent the morning learning construction skills such as block laying, concrete mixing, wood work, and others. In the afternoon they bathed, did laundry, as well as learned puppets, dramas, and songs for presentations.
As staff, Tanner and I both know that we need to rely heavily on our assistant leaders during this time. I was often in my office working on making sure each members account was cleared and all money was processed and also making sure the donations for our staff continued to be processed. Tanner was assigned a variety of responsibilities but his biggest job was as Mr. S.B. (special blessings). Special Blessings are a training tool to be used during the summer. Each team member with an S.B. shows up with their leader and they spend that time with Tanner working around the property. Tanner loves this job as he has the opportunity to get to know and share with kids from other teams that he normally wouldn’t have contact with. As people get to know him he becomes pretty popular around the campus! Either way we spend a lot of our time helping to run things and we were so grateful for Emily and Justin being able to bring the team where they needed to be every hour.
We left Florida the day after all of the teams were commissioned. We were so blessed to have several parents in the area that brought in treats for a little party the night before. We drove to Orlando International Airport where we would then fly with Copa Airlines to Panama City and then to Quito, Ecuador. Orlando is typically an easy airport to navigate, however it took almost three hours to get all of our bags checked and we were nervous that we would not make our flight! Praise the Lord we did and had a small period of time for the team to rest before we began.
Travel there was easy overall. We were greeted by our missionary Ernesto and his wife Maria in Quito. They had been waiting with a bus that would take us to a seminary in the city that had rooms for us to sleep in and breakfast for the next day. We knew we had a 9-hour drive ahead of us, however our bus got a little lost driving through the hills of the Andes and it ended up taking us 12 hours to arrive in Manta Christi, a small city outside of Manta, where we would be staying. The property we stayed on was honestly perfect for a team. We had two houses, one that the girls stayed in and one for the boys. Both had a running shower with water colder than you can imagine, but still running! Outside we had two pavilions; one that we served meals from and the other that we used for everything else.
For the first week our team rode 30 minutes on a public bus to La Paz, which was the church that was hosting us during our time there. We helped give the outside a new coat of paint, cleaned up the property, and also got to work with the childrens’ home that was close by. There they also painted, helped with repairs, and played with the children. We were able to visit La Paz twice for their Sunday service and on our last visit the team gave a presentation and had the chance to thank the church for their kindness in hosting us.
For the next three weeks we got a private bus that took the team 30 minutes to a corn field! La Paz had recently done a church plant and that group of believers needed a place to meet. They had bought land from a farmer and had been gathering there, however the weather often made it difficult. Our team cleared the land, dug down to get the foundation ready, and by the end, saw the roof go up! It was amazing to see what they were able to do along with the help of some men from La Paz. They learned about teamwork, leadership, endurance, and a lot of other things through this project.
Life in Manta and Sight-Seeing
During the day Emily and I along with two team members would stay home to prepare dinner for that night and breakfast and lunch for the next day. To get to the store we would walk 10 minutes to the road and either catch a yellow bus or a taxi. I was grateful for all the years of Spanish I had taken in the past! Although I am not close to being fluent, we managed to get around well. Not only were the grocery trips exciting for the team members, we also got to go on a few sightseeing trips. One day we drove to the coast where we got to see a camp being built by the Menonite church for youth and then we spent the rest of the morning on the beach! We were the only ones there and got to see starfish, sea urchins, and crabs. On Sunday we visited downtown Manta and also walked to the beach were we split up onto two boats for a tour of the marina. Manta’s biggest industry is tuna fish! We got to see the boats and factories (from a distance) that a large portion of America’s tuna is canned. Our last sightseeing was back in Quito. After a much faster bus ride through the mountains, we were able to visit the equator! On one side we visited a museum about Ecuador’s past, which also included a lot of cool info on the equator. On the other side we visited a shopping center. It was set up like a small village and the team got to buy a variety of things such as ponchos, hammocks, jewelry, musical instruments, and more!
We got back to the TMI base very late, after our luggage got delayed at the airport, and began our Debrief the next morning. We had several classes, quizzing competitions, and free moments to spend together as a team. Best of all, our team won the quiz competition! For those who have not been on a team, our kids learn 40 verses during the summer and at the end get to go up against the other teams as to who can say them word perfect. We were so proud! I was smart enough to promise T-shirts at the beginning of the summer if we did win, we are still working on a design. (: Our last day together was emotional! Most everyone cried, but looking back you realize just how close these teenagers got to one another. Relationships that are going to last a lifetime with people who are going to encourage them in their walk with the Lord!
As you can see, it was an amazing summer. Tanner and I loved learning about each of them as individuals, hearing their questions about the Word, and overall just being able to spend that time with them. We were given a front row seat to growth, repentance, and passion for Jesus. Praise the Lord!
This fall we will continue working in our departments as before. Tanner is running the Bible School and preparing already for the next term, if you are interested we are accepting applications! He is also teaching. I am in the finance office learning some new things as well as training two new students in my department. We are sure there will be lots of exciting things planned for the rest of the fall, we just don’t know what they are yet!
We are so grateful for your prayers and support that allow us to serve the Lord full time here in Florida. We are still looking for those to partner with us as we continue to serve. If you are interested in being a prayer partner or a financial supporter and you have more questions for us, we would love to hear from you! We would also love to know if there is any way we could be lifting you up in prayer. The best way to contact us is through our emails or facebook as our phones often do not have service for calls or text unfortunately.
Thank you once again!
Tanner and Anna Besosa
Anna’s email: [email protected]
Tanner’s email: [email protected]