Greetings from (still) hot Florida!
It’s now officially Autumn, but it won’t really cool off for a couple of more months. About this time last year, I had arrived in Canada and was greeted with an early snow! This time around I’ll be staying in Florida. Fall at Teen Missions has all of the staff playing catch up on the year-round duties after most of us were gone in the summer leading teams and then traveling for three weeks meeting up with supporters. There is lots of activity finalizing next year’s teams and preparing to print the 2020 brochure, planning promotions, and a myriad of other things that happen year round. As the puppet lady, I have inventoried all the puppets and related equipment that was brought back by the teams. There is plenty of work still to be done to get everything put away and plan ahead for next year. I’m hoping our winter volunteers can help make more of our portable puppet stages. Are you retired and looking to escape a northern winter? Check out our volunteer opportunities! Snow Bird volunteers often come for a couple of months.
When I returned from Canada last Spring I was representing Teen Missions at all seven Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Conventions (TTD). I staffed the booth at four of them, and at the other three I was working with the kids’ program. I really enjoyed both of those serving roles! As soon as the last one was over, it was almost time for Boot Camp! We will be doing them again next year, and I hope to be able to be part of it again.
Mini-move! I have been asked to learn something new and as part of that I have moved into a different office. I now have a window! Many, many years ago, Teen Missions began including a small amount into each team member’s project cost to sponsor a teen in another country, so that they too could do a mission trip (but in their own country for cost effectiveness). They couldn’t run the program for as many teens as they had support for, so they ran it for some and invested the remainder of the money through church loans. Over the years this has grown, and the interest provides the funding for our many overseas bases! Paula has been administering these loans for many years and Teen Missions wishes that each person would have a backup, so I have been asked to learn this role. We will be implementing a new software program that should streamline many of our processes and the expectation is that it would no longer be a full-time job and I would be able to remain involved in some of the promotion work that I love. I am glad to serve in this capacity and perhaps another will take this over in the future, and I will “try on another hat!” Sometimes, being a missionary looks different than most people imagine! It’s all part of sharing the Gospel. Do you or someone you know feel a tug toward missions, but don’t feel called overseas? We have lots of opportunities to serve for many different skills and callings! We have many departments, including finance, graphics, computers, personnel, promotions, mechanics, land crew, conference center, and the list goes on.
My three weeks of traveling and meeting up with people to share about the ministry started six days after the team went home. Unpack/repack! It was fun though and a good time of rest as well. I was able to visit with people in Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and South Carolina. I met people for meals or a movie, enjoyed a picnic and games with a group of friends, splashed around in a pool with relatives, and went kayaking, trail walking, and to the Cincinnati Zoo. It was a wonderful time of sharing about the ministry and deepening relationships, all while having fun! A big thank you to everyone, and especially those who provided housing. Hurricane Dorian came along while I was away, but it just grazed us and didn’t cause any real damage here. I didn’t worry too much about it, figuring I’d be glad I overpacked for the trip if I came home to nothing!
Another new development. . . I now have a roommate! Alexandria is one of our Bible School students who has finished her two years of classes in the morning and work in the afternoon. Now she is raising support for her year of internship and is planning on serving at our Honduras base. She will live with me until she has enough support to go. We also have a third roommate until November. Clara was a leader this summer and is prayerfully considering joining staff. She is volunteering until our potential staff orientation seminar in early November. She also hopes to serve at our Honduras base. Will you pray for Alex and Clara? I’m enjoying the company, as I am an extrovert and hate living alone!
As promised, here’s my update on trying to honor God with my body and lose weight. Boot Camp took a few pounds off – as it usually does – then I spent the rest of the summer in the kitchen all day where I try not to put it back on! I did o.k. with that, but then traveling for three weeks afterward caused a little bit to creep up. Those last few pounds are coming off slowly. While my progress on the scale seems nominal at best, I have noticed an improvement in my mindset – actively thinking about what I am about to eat, in light of what would honor God. Please keep me in prayer over this!
I’m looking forward to this next season of service at TMI, and being able to enjoy a few “extra curricular activities” close to home for a while.
Blessed to Serve Him,
Current Support Level = 60% of target
Thank you for making it possible for me to serve in full-time missions.
Did you know that you can set up a one-time or recurring donation electronically on the Teen Missions website? Here is the direct link to donate specifically for me: https://www.teenmissions.org/product/linda-evans/
I was the Puppet teacher for Boot Camp again this year. I was blessed to have volunteer Bonnie back again as the other teacher. We also got three helpers from our “Leadership Development Team”—one leader and two team members. I really enjoyed the chance to nurture their leadership skills. They were such a blessing, especially when we had multiple teams in different stages of learning – we could split up for better teaching.
This was my fourth time to Madagascar. My team this year consisted of four leaders and 14 team members. I’ve led with Liva twice before, so we know how to work well together – he is our base coordinator in Madagascar. Like me, as staff, he had extra duties at Boot Camp. That meant we weren’t with the team all the time. Our other two leaders, Ben and Kathryn, did a great job carrying the lion’s share of the responsibility during this time.
My team left Commissioning night, June 30th, and our first flight was cancelled, creating a cascade effect. We weren’t supposed to have any hotel stays, but we stayed in hotels in Orlando, Philly and Paris – twice! “Hmmmm, I wonder what God is doing?” Mostly they laid around airports while I stood at service desks – sometimes for hours! Liva and two boys were sent a different direction from Orlando and we didn’t see them again until we landed in Madagascar. From Paris, we were split again. When we finally got there, we were missing nine duffles and one backpack that had been checked in Orlando at the gate. We got seven of the duffles the next day and then got in two vans for the 13-hour ride to Mahajanga. A couple of hours in, one of the vans was having a problem – of course it was! So we sat and waited for several hours for a replacement. We finally arrived on July 9th at 2 am! One of the missing duffles arrived in a day or two, but the last one didn’t show up until July 20th! And the backpack…well, it was finally located when we came home and shipped directly to his house! He was such a trooper about it the whole summer.
The airline provided food and lodging, but the team was more than ready to be there. James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” They certainly felt like their faith was being tested! They learned to trust God and understand that they don’t have to know the whole plan, just the next step. It was interesting to watch how each person coped with the situation and see how they grew from the experience. Funny how the most stressed out person seemed to be the one whose duffle didn’t show up until July 20th. By the time we arrived on July 9th, she had learned to roll with it and didn’t even seem phased by her missing duffle.
Finally starting! Once we were there, we found many of the motorcycles in disrepair. The first three days consisted of getting bikes fixed, retraining on the larger bikes and getting used to the different terrain, and starting on a small footbridge project. Then the team was finally able to ride out to one of the Sunday School Circuits. That was Saturday. On Sunday, after church, we went to a nice restaurant with a buffet, where you can also swim in their pool (it was part of a hotel). Sounded like fun. It was fun. Then we started getting sick! About ¾ of the team and two leaders got food poisoning. I escaped with a brief episode of minor digestive upset. It was several days before the team felt well enough to return to the circuit. Those who were fine worked on the bridge until enough of them had recovered. The team really loved being out in the villages ministering to the children, so it was discouraging to have yet another delay. Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” The team worked hard at trying to receive whatever the Lord was teaching them through these trials. Kathryn and I planned an easy lunch and dinner for one day, and were able to go with the team to the circuit. It was so great to get a break from the kitchen and be part of the ministry with the team. We got to see first hand the joy they had interacting with the children and join in the fun. Even though all the delays shortened their time on the circuit, they really made the most of the time they had.
It wasn’t all work and no play though. We had a two-night trip to a remote area where we enjoyed swimming in a waterfall-fed lagoon, explored a cave system with an underground stream, and got to feed wild lemurs. We were able to stop at two villages on the way back and do presentations, and saw about 20 salvations! One man thanked us and told us many vehicles go by, but we are the only ones who stopped to share with them. When we returned to the capital to fly home, we spent a few hours at a huge souvenir market and then visited the zoo – where we got to interact with more lemurs!
This summer we all felt like we were under spiritual attack, but we knew God had a plan for us. The best part of a summer is watching team members grow in their faith, and all the trials we went through this summer really served as a catalyst for God working in their lives.