Category Archives: TMI/Boot Camp

Lots Happened Today!

Today was a busy day!  Today was my big brother’s birthday – “Happy Birthday Phil”!

And today was my mother’s surprise 70th birthday party, kept secret by using the veil of it being my bro’s birthday to hide behind!  Her birthday isn’t until the 16th, but “Happy Birthday, Mom!”.

I hope that both parties were fun and full of laughter and friends…

And congratulations MUST go out to Dan Gould as he graduates today with his PhD!

And this is my first “Posted in absentia” posts for the summer (I have a number of posts set to publish at varying times while I am gone).  Today is my last day at home.  I have turned off my computer for the last time, I have finished the final bits of packing, and I leave very early tomorrow morning for Florida and “The Lord’s Boot Camp” in Merritt Island, FL. 

My back has been giving me some increased problems lately and I just hope I am not going to be struggling too much with my 50 pound duffel bag and two really heavy carry-ons!  Just not as young and strong as I used to be…but very excited about the summer God has in store for me and my team!

I have posted my addresses for this summer in my sidebar.  Sure, they’re a jumbled mess, but I couldn’t fix it!  If you’re of a mind, I’d love to get “snail mail” from you, even if I don’t really know you!  No e-mail or computers where I’m going!

(Posted in absentia)




….is Logan.  (Isn’t he cute??)

Logan was my assistant leader this past summer.  He was my right hand person.  He’d been on a couple of Teen Missions teams before as a team member, but this was his first time in a leadership position.

Logan was 18 for most of the summer (he had his 19th birthday a few days before we all headed home).  Despite his youth he maintained an air of leadership and “the kids” responded to his authority.  It would have been very difficult for me if they hadn’t.  (But I needn’t have worried…he did great.  Honestly, at this point of my life, having seen God always work things out, I don’t know why I bother ever worrrying about anything!)

Back to Logan.  Logan is a super-hero of sorts…

Logan is part man, part teflon.  Dirt didn’t stick to him, or to his clothing.  He also didn’t seem to sweat.  And his clothing never appeared rumpled.  Logan always looked fresh, smelled fresh, and appeared to have just put whatever he was wearing on.  In stark contrast, I would take my bucket bath and exit the bathroom already sweating with my clothes already damp and already smelling as though I’d just finished running a marathon.  This amazing ability that Logan had to look and be clean and fresh prompted the saying “Logan!  It looks like you just got here!”.  This was something that was yelled at him frequently over the course of the summer.  And he always smelled like he just got there, too, as he always had a bottle of Tag available to freshen up with!

I would be sweating in a light cotton T-shirt and lightweight cotton pajama pants.  Logan could wear a long sleeved dress shirt over a tank top with heavy belted pants on and not break a bead anywhere!  It’s a mystery, really.

Logan starts Bible College in a few days.  His school is in Florida.  His super-hero attributes will, I’m sure, come in handy down there in the swamps!  🙂 

Thanks, Logi Bear!  I couldn’t have done it without you!  Good luck in school!

The Longest Day

Today is the summer solstice.  Although I write this before I leave for Florida, I am pretty sure I’m still there while nicely posts this entry for me on the pre-determined date I arranged.

Boot Camp is winding down for me and my team.  Early Boot Camp (the one I’m in) has been joined by Super Boot Camp (more than twice as many more people added to our numbers!).  I believe we’ll be starting Missions Conference right about now.  it will last all weekend.  Missions Conference is really cool.  Gobs of different colleges, mission organizations, and other ministries send reps down to Boot Camp to meet with the kids (and the leaders, too).  Everyone gets choices of which organizations they want to go and meet with.  And there are generally awesome speakers during the morning meetings and nighttime rallies.  The Early Boot Camp teams have survived two weeks of training and are able to exhale and relax a little.  Sure, we’re looking pretty grubby and smelling a little bit, well, earthy, if you will.  But the shell-shocked looks that are still on the new arrivals faces have all but disappeared from our own.  Pack-out and commissioning are right around the corner!  Can I hear an AMEN, and a WOOOOO HOOOOOO??!!!!  🙂

Boot Camp days are long.  And they are hard.  Often they are soggy.  And always they are swarming with skeeters.  (Bob Bland, the founder and main guy of Teen Missions, has a saying….”There are two kinds of mosquitos at Boot Camp.  There are the ones that are small enough to fly right through the screens on your tent…and there are the ones that are big enough to unzip your tent and go right in!”)

Two weeks ago none of us knew each other.  By now my team will have forged a bond as we’ve all made it through this horrible and wonderful thing that is Boot Camp.  We have team cheers, we have inside jokes, there are new nicknames, and we are a family.  Our blisters have healed and we’re used to the smell of sulfur and bug spray and sweat.  We’ve learned dramas and how to do puppet shows.  We know how to dig correctly, how to hammer efficiently, and how to mix concrete and to lay cinder blocks.  We can identify everyone else’s Bible and flashlight.  We can assemble with a single call to order and can move from location to location in a tight formation.  And we know how to kill bugs in our tents after lights out without screaming and giggling.  We have run the obstacle course for the last time.  And we are all getting verrrry excited about being commissioned and loading up on a bus and heading for the airport.  Just a few more days, and we’ll be off!

Watch  The team updates will be starting soon!  And the days will be getting shorter!  I’m sure I’m looking forward to having THIS longest day behind me.

(posted in absentia)

Happy Anniversary, CHI PHI!

Twenty five years ago this month I embarked on a journey.  I had no idea the profound changes that this journey would bring to my life when I got on a plane and flew to Florida to go on my second Teen Missions team.  I would have posted this on the actual anniversary of my first day on that team, but I can’t find my journal or my “scrapbook”, so I’m not exactly sure what day that was!  So I am randomly picking today to celebrate that day! 

I had gone on a team to Haiti the year before.  And I left some business unfinished when I was there.  Other than I had a great experience and wanted more, that bit of unfinished business was the primary reason why I was going back on another team.  I felt that the Lord had asked me to dedicate my life to His service.  I assumed that meant the mission field at the time.  But I had resisted making that dedication.  And I knew I needed to do it.  So, when the brochures came out for the 1982 teams, I immediately started to think about where I should go.  There were a half dozen or so teams that caught my attention.  But ultimately I wanted to go to Papua New Guinea or South Africa.  There was another team though that I couldn’t get out of my head.  A team that would take me to the Philippines and Red China.  I couldn’t decide.  After some thinking and praying, I decided PNG was not the right place.  But I couldn’t decide between the other two.  So I got a coin.  Heads South Africa.  Tails the Philippines.  The instant that heads came up I knew where I was going.  In the brief moment when my eyes first registered it was heads, I was disappointed.  So I knew.  I was going to the Philippines!

I was the last person on my team to arrive.  I had met one of the boys on my team, Matthew, the summer before on the bus from LA to Florida.  The team was starting to wonder if I was coming at all, but Matt knew that I was going to be late due to having to take finals, and assured them I was coming.  I am told he was dancing through the jungle singing “Linda Lou, where are you?”.  So, although no one had ever called me Linda Lou, or Lou, or anything even remotely like that, by the time I arrived, I had a nickname.  A nickname with many variations which has stuck to this day.      

And I met Connie and Kevin that summer.  Actually, I met lots of people.  But I never  could have dreamed of how important Connie and Kevin would become to me when I first met them.  I didn’t even LIKE Connie when I first met her!  Who knew that by the end of the summer I would have two best friends in the two of them?  Lifelong heart kind of friends.

A woman by the name of Marilyn Lazslo was the boot camp speaker that summer.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  What an amazing woman.  In the 60’s she went to the head hunting jungles of New Guinea with Wycliff as a single woman and lived in a village called Huana.  She learned the language and translated the Bible.  (They called her Mama Marilyn).  Over the years I have run into Marilyn here and there.  She most recently shared an evening with friends of mine in Pasadena.  Boy, was I jealous of them!  Another amazing thread which started that summer and has continued through my life to this day.

Our project was to build a church on the beautiful island of Bohol, in the city of Duero.

Here’s CHI PHI.  And that’s me, on the scaffolding on the left of the photo, blowing a bubble.

What is CHI PHI?  Since the team was going both to CHIna and the PHIlippines, we called it “Chi Phi” for short.  (Note:  although Chi and Phi are both greek letters, we didn’t pronounce “chi” the Greek way, we prounounced it like it sounds when you pronounce “CHIna”.)

I had the very unusual opportunity to get baptized while I was in the Philippines.  Because the church we were working with was my home denomination (Evangelical Free), those of us on the team who belonged to an EV Free church at home were allowed to be baptized if we wanted.  And I wanted.  So, I was baptized  25 years ago on August 18th in the South China Sea off the coast of Bohol by Reverend Cennit along with three other teammates of mine and a dozen or so church members.  God could have led me to be baptized anywhere and at any time.  But He made it so I could have the most special baptism experience that I could ever have imagined.  And I think that the four of us are the only four TMIers who have ever been baptized while on a team with Teen Missions that didn’t have permission from our parents beforehand.  I thank God that Bob Lane was listening to God’s voice that day by allowing US to also listen.  That baptism was a turning point in my life.  Well, it was my “no turning back point”.  God met me that day in Bohol.  And He’s continued to meet me in ways I could never have imagined since that day.  (If you are a Christian and have not been baptised, do it.  Pray about when and where, and listen for the answer and do it.) 

And, at debrief, in Cebu, I took care of that unfinished business I was talking about.  I dedicated my life to full-time ministry.  And the funny thing is, God hasn’t taken me up on that promise I made to him.  At least not in a vocational way.  Perhaps someday He will!  I’m still willing!

So, unbelievably, it has been 25 years since the above picture was taken.  We had a ten-year reunion to which fifteen or so people came.  But I have lost touch with most everybody on this team over the years.  This picture is on my bookcase in my bedroom so I think often of “Chi Phi”.  And I wonder where Don is and if he and Narges have children.  I wonder what ever happened to Stacey.  I wonder why Matt is so elusive.  And Judy?  Where’d life take her?  Eric.  And Roby.  They lived then not far from where I live now.  Last I knew of him, Roby was married and had a bunch of kids.  And Eric was living in Los Angeles being an actor, or something.  Cricky.  I’d sure love to see her.  And freak-me-green Gordy?  What did he grow up to be?  And I wonder if any of them besides Matt and Kevin, and Bob and Betty, know that Connie died. 

My head leaders that summer were Bob and Betty.  They were pretty new to the Teen Missions organization back then and had only been staffers for a year or two.  They were soooo strict!  🙂  At least it seemed then like they were.  I had such a chip on my shoulder back then that I think I wrote that Bob and Betty should never be allowed to lead a team again!  🙂  Well, Bob and Betty are still with Teen Missions.  I’m glad TMI didn’t take MY advice!  Time has mellowed Bob and Betty, as it has mellowed me.  I enjoyed every minute I shared with them at boot camp last summer and I’m certain I’m enjoying seeing them again this summer.  I guess they’ve forgiven my rashness.

I was seventeen back then.  Twenty five years have absolutely flown past since then.  That summer, the people I met, and the experiences I had resonates throughout my life stronger and stronger every day.  What a summer that was.

What a summer that was…

(posted in absentia)

The Coolest Flashlight Ever!

So, now that I am going on Teen Missions again, it’s time to shop for all the stuff I need for the summer.  I bought a lot of the same stuff last year, but pretty much everything that I had that had any use or life left in it I left in Africa. 

Last year I had three devices that all usesd AA batteries, and I went through a TON of those.  They are heavy and they are expensive.  My flashlight (which was used practically constantly) chewed through batteries.  Granted, in Sicily where I’ll be (unless my team gets changed – my caveat until I’m actually in Sicily!) chances are there will be electricity and lights, but you never know!  Anyhow, last summer one of the kids on my team had a flashlight that you would wind to charge.  Pretty cool.  I decided to find myself one of those for this summer so that I could decrease the pounds of batteries I’d need to take.  I found one at Wal-Mart for less than $9.  The light was sort of dim, but in the darkness of the Florida swamp, even a dimmish sort of light works pretty well.  Then I found ANOTHER one in the camping section.  This one was WAY brighter and would stay light for twice as long as the other one.  And it was only $10 more.  Crank for 30 seconds and you get an hour of flashlight power.  BUT WAIT!  This flashlight is more than just a flashlight.  You can use it full power, or 1/5th power.  It also has a flashing beacon.  And it has an emergency siren.  And it has an emergency radio.  And it has a compass.  AND it has a cell phone charger!  A cell phone charger!  No, you aren’t allowed to have a cell phone on Teen Missions, but I will take mine so that I can use it until Boot Camp starts.  Then I’ll leave it at Boot Camp and get it when I come back to Florida for debrief.  After debrief I’ll have it again.  I really didn’t like using calling cards and having to find a phone before and after my team last year.  I’ll also ask if, as a leader, I can take mine just in case of an emergency on the field.  They might let me. 

Besides, how great will it be to have a way to charge my phone in case of an emergency here at home?  This flashlight will be in my car at all times with the rest of my emergency stuff.

Want one?  Click HERE for more info!

I Picked…

I tried to get Betty to assign me to a team, but she wouldn’t.  She made me pick!  🙂 

I am so excited!  (Except about the Boot Camp part.  I kinda dread the Boot Camp part!)  They don’t have mosquitos in Sicily, do they?? 


Rachel Stephens

Rachel Stephens, or Rache, as most of us call her, just left me a message on my MySpace asking me to mention her in my blog so that when she googled herself she could find herself, and not just the photographer, Rachel Stephens.  Rachel is one of “my kids”.  She was on my team this past summer to Zambia.  Rachel’s mom, Wendy, came down to visit her while we were in Boot Camp.  Wendy and I got to talking.   We found out that we’d both gone on Haiti teams back in the “day”.  She’d gone in 1980 and I in 1981!  Or was that I’d gone in 1981 and she’d gone in 1982?  Oh, well, forgot!  Anyhow, it seemed crazy to me that I’d been a kid doing TMI with one of my kids’ moms.  Anyhow….here’s Rachel on the screened in front porch of my tent at Boot Camp in the swamps of Florida.  I think this is the first picture I took that summer!  Thanks, Rachel!

We had a bunch of birthdays while together last summer.  What was it, seven all together?  And Rachel had the dubious honor of turning 16 while in Zambia.  Worse, she turned 16 while we were still at the base and hadn’t even set up our own camp yet.  We were rather disorganized, and yet we had a big birthday to celebrate.  Two of the assistant leaders (Emily from Zambia Orphan Angels and Krista from our team) managed to scrounge up the makings for a cake, but since we had no oven, nor even an oven box, they cooked the cake over a brazier in a baking pan covered by a cookie sheet!  The cake was not level nor was it evenly cooked, but it looked and smelled heavenly.  It was kept a surprise from Rachel.  And we found some cardboard and used some markers I’d brought from home to make a card.  The card was passed around all day so that everyone could write a birthday message.  The cake, which had been so carefully made and kept secret, was carried out while we all sang happy birthday.  Just before the cake got to Rachel, Emily (gosh, WAS it Emily?) tripped and took a headlong dive into the dusty ground.  But she kept that cake level and didn’t lose a crumb of it!  I think Rachel will always remember her sixteenth.   Even though there wasn’t a big huge celebration, and no dancing, and no presents, and none of the stuff a sixteen year old these days expects at their sweet sixteen, I think this was about as sweet as a sweet sixteen gets.  And if I’m not mistaken, Rachel took that card from village to village and to London and to Florida, and home to Minnesota.

Rachel Stephens thinks she’s my favorite.  But that’s only because I made her eat the butts of bread and because I put pictures like this of her in my blog!  (And because she was countoff number 22 and 22 IS my favorite number.)  This was taken on Girls’ Night in Lufwanyama.  We took some time out to give ourselves facials, and manicures and pedicures by flash light and candle light.  And we at brownies, and just had a blast.  What a fun night.  I think Rachel looked the best in her mask…

And here are Hannawa, Bethany, Shang, Kellie Rock, Becca, Rachel Stephens and Sarah on the night of our team banquet in Kansoka.  They are all dressed up and showing off their Leprechuans…don’t ask….it’d just be awkward….

There you go Rachel Stephens.  I hope that very soon you can google yourself and find yourself and not that other Rachel Stephens who is a photographer.

Abner Loses His Mind

You don’t have to call it a miracle if you don’t want to, but I’m going to call it one.

Each Teen Missions (TMI) team is on the field for 4-5 weeks.  At the end of that time, teams go to a week long “debrief” before returning home.  A number of teams attend each debrief.  My team’s debrief was at the TMI base in Ndola, Zambia.  We attended debrief with the two other Zambia teams.  I’m telling you this story about Abner because he has started his “100 days” until he comes home countdown.

As part of the debrief program, each of the teams puts on an hour or so long presentation which shares, in part, about the team’s history.  Leaders are generally involved as well, even if in a very brief way.  Our presentation started with some Boot Camp stories.  One of these stories was about our first “team S.B.”  (An S.B. is a kind of punishment.  You “serve” your S.B. by losing free time and working instead.  If a leader is the one to get the S.B. the entire team has to serve it.)  Our first team S.B. was given to us well into Boot Camp on leaders’ day on the obstacle course.  We were given the S.B. because a leader was dropped attempting to scale the 12 foot wall.  That leader?  Abner.  Abner, our head leader.  Abner, one of the obstacle course judges!  Soooo, one of our presentation skits was recreating that “hands up eyes up” moment of failure.  It was all too realistic in that it appeared that Abner was dropped again.  Only this time, instead of landing in soft sand, he landed on concrete.  And hit his head.   His head bounced back and sent a loud popping sound throughout the room.

As everyone sucked in their collective breath, Abner grabbed his head, but then he laughed and shook it off and got up.  He came over and stood next to me.  I felt the back of his head and could already feel a lump forming there.  He assured me that he felt fine and I continued to watch the presentation (which was awesome, by the way).  About 15 minutes later, a very disoriented and frightened looking Abner came up behind where I was sitting and said “Mama Lou, I can’t remember anything!”  At first I thought he was yanking my chain.  Afterall, he knew who *I* was, right?  Well, he wasn’t a good enough actor to pull off the frightened look in his eyes so I knew something truly was wrong.  I took him outside and began to try to sort out what was going on.

“We’re at debrief?” he asked incredulously.  “We’re in Ethiopia already?” (his last team debriefed in Ethiopia.  WE were in Zambia.)  I attempted to reorient him.  It didn’t go well.  He kept talking about being freaked out that he was already in Ethiopia.  He had absolutely no memory of anything from the past week.  I did a quick neurological exam on him which yielded nothing disconcerting.  I wasn’t overly worried about things at this point.  I figured he’d get his memory back and that we’d probably just have to monitor him until he did or until his condition worsened.  I didn’t have any idea how long it might take for his memory to return.  After 10 or 15 minutes of making no progress with him, I was up for my part of the presentation.  I decided to stop our presentation and to let everyone know what was going on at that time.  We sat a very upset and confused Abner in a chair in the middle of the room.  We laid hands on him and prayed.  The kids were all very scared to see Abner looking so frightened and talking like a bit like a crazy person.

I took him back outside to try the reorientation process again.  Almost immediately he began to get his memory back!  Within 20 minutes he began to laugh and to look like himself.  He lost the frightened look.  We worked our way back from his approaching me and telling me he couldn’t remember anything through the whole week.  He remembered everything.  Except the actual hitting the head event.  (I don’t know if he ever remembered that!  I need to ask him.)

Anyhow, twenty minutes after praying for him, he said he felt fine, and he looked fine.  I had him go back in to see the kids so that they could see he was 1) okay and 2) see that their prayers had been answered almost instantaneously.  Abner was still a bit foggy for a day, but within 24 hours he truly was fine.  Except he was worried that he’d “suffer problems with (his) brain.”  He asked me if I thought he’d have permanent problems with his brain probably a hundred times.  Poor Abner.

Abner is mostly fine.  He’s in Mozambique.  Suffering post-concussion headaches.  But otherwise his usual insane self.

He’ll be back stateside in February.  Which is probably none too soon for his mother who is probably still worried sick about her baby Abner losing his mind…

 (P.S.  I am sorry if I used references that mean absolutely nothing to you!  There’s so much background information that could be given.  But the point of this story is not that you understand all about debrief and boot camp and S.B.s, but that you get an idea of the miraculous nature of Abner’s recovery.)

Hurry home, and be safe, Abner!

This photo was stolen from Abner’s MySpace and uploaded to Flickr!

If you’re interested, John Torres (the reporter that journeyed to Zambia with the three Zambian Teen Missions teams this summer) has started his on-line series about his experience.  I am interested in seeing how a secular news organization deals with a very evangeical christian approach to meeting the needs of orphans in Africa!  I do know that John was touched by the time he spent in Zambia and that he has been changed forever by it.  Part One was well done and worth the read and the watch (it’s a multi-media sort of report) and I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say and show us over the next three days.

Orphans & Angels

Click the link, check it out.


I was lamenting to a friend earlier today about having nothing specific I was really wanting to blog about today.  I have lots of posts started (seventy plus, actually), but none of them are calling to me to finish them.  So, almost without hesitation, he suggested that I write about bacon.  Bacon?  Why Bacon?  Because that’s what came to his mind.  So, I accepted the challenge, and will write about…bacon.

In a future post or two I plan on sharing my “loaves and fishes” experiences from this summer.  There are so many times that God provided in the arena of food for my team that it’s been a daunting prospect to get it all down into one cohesive story.  There are the “miracle barrels”.  There’s the money that never ran out even though it probably should have.  There’s the bread that never went bad.  The bananas that only went bad when there were just enough left to make banana bread.  So many truly miraculous things.  And then…there was the bacon!  No, really!  I am going to be able to share a moving tale about bacon even though this was a topic challenge off the top of my friend’s head!

Bacon.  Most TMI teams take the majority of the food they’ll need for the summer from Florida.  And they haul it all the way to wherever the team will spend the summer…the Ukraine, Wales, Brazil, Camaroon, etc.  And they do that because it’s cheaper and you’re guaranteed the food to feed your team.  My team would be taking lots of supplies (shoes and other items) which are not readily available in Zambia.  So, in order to make room for these supplies, it was determined that my team would purchase its food when we got to Zambia.  Having never been to Zambia, I didn’t have any idea what it would mean to “shop for food” there.  I had learned that food was extremely expensive, especially meats.  So, I talked with the woman in charge of the food warehouse at “boot camp” in Florida.  We decided that I’d take 70 pounds (one large duffel bag) of meats and other things that would be nice to have in case staples were hard to come by (like some cookie and cake mixes – I had SEVEN birthday girls that were going to need something special on their special days!).  So we set about deciding what to bring.  I loaded up cans of chicken, and beef.  Some vacuum packed bags of tuna.  Some pepperoni and salami.  Some (gag!) SPAM.  A few freeze dried chili mixes and some freeze dried cheese sauces since they were lightweight).  AND I threw in three boxes of pre cooked bacon.  They, too, were fairly lightweight.  I’d never really seen pre-cooked bacon, but I’d heard it was good.  So I figured it might come into good use.  The boxes measured about 16″ X 10″ X 3″.  I figured there was probably enough bacon in a box for 30 people to have 2 or 3 pieces each for a good two meals!  I WAS WRONG!


(Not a picture of bacon I cooked.  A picture I borrowed from a guy by the name of Lenn Thompson which I found searching by Google for “bacon”.  Thanks Mr. Thompson for the photo.  And the recipes and cooking tips at are certainly worth checking out in the future!)

As I was saying before I digressed onto Lenn Thompson… I was WRONG!  Those boxes didn’t just hold a few servings of bacon!  Those boxes held seemingly endless amounts of bacon!  And it was AWESOME good bacon, too, mind you.  You just quickly fry it up over a brazier, or put it in a big baking pan and bake it until crispy in the oven!  Tastes as good as the stuff you cook “from scratch”!  We had bacon for breakfast at least three times a week (3, 4, or more pieces!).  We had bacon, tomato, and cheese melts.  Bacon found its way onto pizza, into sandwiches, and into sauteed green beans.  Sometimes I thought my kids would get sick of bacon.  But they didn’t.  And those three boxes of bacon lasted us FIVE WEEKS.  It was crazy!  I never counted up just how much those boxes held, but I’ll bet if I did it wouldn’t equal the amount of bacon we actually ended up eating.  I’ll bet that we ate enough bacon to have filled six of those boxes. 

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to the sky, he blessed them, and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.
They ate, and were all filled. They gathered up twelve baskets of broken pieces that were left over.  Luke 9:16 and 17

Addendum 10/26/07:  Not that I needed the confirmation, but I got confirmation that the bacon boxes were a miracle.  This past summer in Sicily, I took more of the same bacon.  We stayed right down the road from a grocery store and I had access to a vehicle, so the getting of food wasn’t such an issue as it was in the Zambian bush.  There were 27 of us on my Zambia team and three boxes of bacon were way more than enough.  In Sicily there were only 15 of us.  And I had to feed them for a week less than the Zambia team.  I took two of the boxes of bacon.  And I had to ration it.  We ate it only occasionally.  And we ran out at the end!  So there!  🙂  My Zambia bacon miracle was truly a God given miracle…

“What Did You DO in Africa?”

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.

Image Enhance

I have many pictures I took this summer that need to be gone through, cataloged, and written about.  I have started that process.  While in Boot Camp in Florida, I took many pictures of my kids running the obstacle course.  As the OC is run in the pre-dawn hour, most of the pictures turned out very very dark.  I was going to just delete them all, but Photo Suite has an “enhance” button, which I thought I would try!  Sooooo, with the click of a single “button”, I went from this:


 To this! 


And because it thrilled Kellie Rock so much (tongue in cheek) to google herself (see comment #6), I’ll give her credit on this picture, too.  Just in case she decides to google herself again.  Soooo, this is Kellie Rock jumping for the rope at the Slough of Despond.  Miss the rope, and in the water (gross sulfur water) you go.  I can’t remember if she made it on this attempt or not, so let’s just say she did!  Way to go, Kellie!

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