International (MMN) — Several Teen Missions International
trips this summer for preteens and teens allowed participants to share Christ
love and make a difference at a young age.
The variety of trips had preteens and teens traveling to
Malawi, Zambia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Brazil and Germany.
However, before any of the teams left for their destinations
all around the world, they all met for boot camp training in Merritt Island, Florida, at the Teen
Teens attended Super Boot Camp for two weeks, and preteens
attended their own camp for 10 days to prepare them for their travels. There
were also two other camps: Mustard Seeds for children ages 4-6, and Peanuts for
ages 7-9.These groups did not travel internationally. The number of people who attended
all of the camps totaled just under 1,000.
The camps began
toward the end of June and concluded by July 5 said Paul Kostner with Teen Missions.
"When they come to boot camp, they're trained in music,
puppets, evangelism that they use all during the summer in churches, open-air
meetings and marketplaces. And then if they're a work team, they also receive
training in block laying, carpentry, and steel tying," Kostner said. During training, several
teams were also taught a phonics program they would be using in various countries.
When the boot camps concluded, a commissioning
service for all the teams was held on July 5. Then, between July 6-8, each
team began their travels.
Kostner said the preteen teams traveled to Malawi, Ecuador,
Germany, or stayed in Florida to work on the Smiley Face project. This was a
giant concrete circle where a smiley face was painted along Hall Road in
Florida which said, "Jesus Loves You."
The team in Malawi worked with the AIDS orphans rescue unit
in the area. While there, they taught VBS classes and helped plant gardens at the
unit, working side by side with the Malawian young people receiving aid from the
In Ecuador, the team prepared the Teen Missions base there
for a boot camp for the Ecuadorian youth. Teen Missions holds boot camps in
about 20 different countries around the world just like the one in the U.S.
Another preteen team ministered in eastern Germany, helping
Siloah Christian Camp with painting and light construction projects.
The teen teams also traveled to various countries around the
world, which included Malawi, Zambia, Cameroon and Brazil. The three teams
traveling to Africa were foot washing teams, and Kostner said these teams also
helped at the AIDS orphan rescue units. While in each country, the teams
ministered to the young people at the units by tutoring them.
Kostner said these teens "washed the children's feet and
gave them a brand new pair of shoes and socks. For some of them, they received the first
shoes they've ever had."
The final teen team traveled to Brazil to the Amazon. Throughout
their ministry in the country, they used riverboats and bicycles to reach
remote villages they otherwise would not have been able to access.
Overall, these young people had great experience.
"Some of them just had excellent summers, going out and
serving the Lord, and seeing that they can do something at such a young age. To
be able to come home and say, this is what I did this summer and what the
Lord's taught me," Kostner said. Especially among preteens, he said they were amazed
at how much they were able to do and yet be so young.
One example was of a girl who was on the Cameroon foot
washing team. In the past she had struggled with dyslexia, and while in
Cameroon, she helped with the boot camp there and taught a phonics class. One
of her students, a little boy, seemed disengaged and kept towards the back of the
class. She spent one-on-one time with him, and within three days, he was
reading the primer they had and showing it to everyone.
Kostner said he heard the girl share her testimony and say "how
exciting it was for her because she had that same disability. And for her to be
able to help somebody else to learn how to read, it just touched her heart so
After each team returned to the US, they had a chance to
debrief and present all they had learned and done on their trip. The last team
just finished with their trip, debrief and presentation yesterday.
Kostner said next year, which is Teen Missions fortieth
anniversary, they also have a great line up of trips. These trips include a
backpacking trip to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a bridge-building project in
Zambia and a horseback evangelism ministry in Honduras.
If you know of a preteen or teen who would like to be a part
of these upcoming trip in 2010, visit teenmissions.org .