Okay, based on some conversations I have had and e-mails I have received, I can see that I need to provide you all with some very basic information on how I spent my summer. Many of you I now I realize have absolutely no idea. So, in order for you to better understand future postings, I will give a very basic “picture” of what my summer entailed.
First stop was Boot Camp in Merritt Island, Florida. Boot Camp is the U.S. headquarters for Teen Missions, Int’l (TMI). You spend two weeks getting to know your “team”, taking all kinds of classes (concrete, evangelism, steel tying, puppets, singing, drama, truss building, block laying, etc.) in order to equip you for your “project” (whatever it is you will be doing on the field), you start your verse memorization, run an obstacle course every day, learn how to do laundry and bathe out of a bucket, get accustomed to living in tent, etc. I was the head female leader. Besides me, there were three other leaders. And 23 kids.
After Boot Camp it is off to the field where you begin your project. Over the years teams I have been on have: built apartments, built a church, put in clean water systems, dug latrines, made furniture, painted, poured concrete floors, poured concrete ceilings/roofs, built a barn, repaired fences, built schools, built water cisterns and rain collection systems, staffed telephone crisis lines, taught Daily Vacation Bible Schools, built a septic tank, to name a few. Other Teen Missions teams have carved out airstrips on the tops of mountains, built orphanges, dug wells, biked around various countries sharing the gospel, you name it. Teen Missions teams have done just about everything.
My team this summer was called Zambia Foot Washing. In an act of service and humility, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. My team spent time at four different rescue units. At each one, the orphans registered there were all invited to come and receive new shoes. Their feet were washed, and then a new pair of socks and a new pair of shoes were put on each of them. For many, this was their very first pair of shoes. Imagine the faces! As part of foot washing days (generally two at each unit), there was a day long program of singing, puppets, sharing the gospel, playing games (Red Rover and a local variation of Duck Duck Goose were the favorites of the kids), coloring, making balloon animals, and the like. The orphans got lots of time to sit on laps, be held, and be played with. Though the walk to the Rescue Unit was far for some, many of the kids came back day after day, even after the official program for them had ended. These children just soaked up the attention that was given to them by the team. On the days when there wasn’t a “program”, my team would do construction/maintenance work. They were do whatever jobs were needed at each unit. That meant they dug very deep holes for squatty potties, shallower holes for garbage pits, they cleared brush back from the compounds to discourage snakes from coming in too close, they poured concrete floors for a new granary and for a new chicken coop, they cleared ground for a volleyball court, they demolished no longer used foundations, and they watered banana groves. And, as you’ll read about in a future posting, at one location they put out a raging fire!
So, what did I do in Africa? My primary responsibility was to keep my team of 27 “fed and watered“. My secondary jobs included being their nurse, and their teacher, and their friend. My tertiary job was to provide whatever medical aid I could to those who came seeking care and to those who were identified as needing my care. My day was spent cooking and baking and boiling water. And I evaluated complaints of sickness and gave meds for those complaints, and I made sure everyone who had malaria meds were taking their malaria meds as ordered. And I taught classes and listened to the recitation of memory verses, and I was the mail lady and I was the bank. For those Zambians who came seeking medical help I did what I could. I often spent time each day cleaning, debriding and dressing various non-healing wounds (I will be expounding on this also in a future posting). My days were crammed full and I loved (nearly!) every minute of it.
In the future I will be sharing more on my experiences in the kitchen,which is where I spent most of my time and where God worked miracles just about evey day! In fact, I will be sharing many stories. Stories of how God worked, things I learned, things I saw my kids learn, some sad things, some joyful things. It was a very full and beautiful summer. I have only begun to process it, so stayed tuned!
My friend, John, has a blog of letters I wrote over the summer. You can learn much about the minutae of my day by going there and reading! Click here to go there!
And, please, if you have questions, ask! I’d love to answer them!!
Update: The letters blog has been removed. Too bad. Lots of great stories in there. Sure wish I had a copy of all those letters I wrote! I used John as a journal and never got copies of the letters as I had planned. John “cut his losses” with me before I had the chance to get my hands on them. Sigh.