Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday, July 12th, 2015 - Summer Youth Camp - "Closing Time"

     Well, our summer youth camp came to a close this morning.  There was a brief devotion followed by a church service which we held at Blue Thumb.  Mike and Matt set out in different directions after breakfast and picked up other members of Evangelical Quest Church and brought them to the camp to worship there.  Pastor German preached on the prodigal son and delivered a strong message.  Part way through worship we lost power at the camp, but this did not stop us from worshipping the Lord.

     Following the service, our campers as well as the other children that attending service from EQC were provided a sack lunch with juice to take on their ride home.  Emily also cleaned and bandaged an injured foot following worship.  Then it got serious...

Goodbyes were said, tears were shed, but in the end we showed love to our new and already established friends.  It is always difficult when it is time to say goodbye.  Our campers would return to what they call home, whether it is with their family or elsewhere.  They go back to soccer in a field that is not mowed, many to homes with dirt floors, hammocks instead of beds, and the strong likelihood that many are not going to eat three meals a day.

     We have so much left to do here in Belize.  For me, I know my child will get to attend school this year.  The children here in Belize and many of the campers from our camp are seeking sponsorships for school.  Education is not free here and there is no excuse why we cannot provide to send these kids to school. Folks, we had many great kids at camp that need school sponsorships and there are many more at Evangelical Quest Church that need school sponsorships.  This is a mission you can participate in without ever leaving your couch.  No excuses.  It provides an education for a child who needs it, which will hopefully lead to opportunity.  At a minimum, providing the ability for a child to read will enable them to read the Bible and learn about God through His word.  If you are interested in helping with this much needed mission, please contact the Quest Church to participate.  All money will go through Quest Church for this mission.  Let's fight illiteracy in the world and provide these kids an education.  They just might find God along the way.

After our campers were dropped off, we headed back to camp to clean up  and eat some lunch.  Then, we headed off to the river where we went cave tubing.  It was quite an experience.  Then it was back to camp to change clothes and head to dinner.  We had a wonderful dinner with Joey, Heather, and Sophia at the Blue Moon restaurant.  But it was there, that most of us realized we were completely exhausted.

So, back to camp we went to finish packing up and preparing for our departure tomorrow.  A few of us came over to Camalote Camp to drop off some items, finish laundry and to use the internet.  We will depart for the states tomorrow morning and should be back in Augusta around 8:00 P.M.

Here are a few more photos looking back at camp...

Good night Quest and everyone back home.  Your missionaries are coming home...

Saturday, July 10th, 2015 - Youth Summer Camp - "Commitment"

     Good morning!  It is Sunday morning and our camp is coming to an end in a few short hours.  Just as when we headed out to come to Belize and we had mixed emotions, those are starting to come flood our thoughts as we are preparing to send these young persons back home following our morning church service.  Several of the kids have asked to come to the states with us and it is tough telling them that is not an option.  Some of them are not wanted in their own homes, they feel rejected by God, and then they ask to come with us and are told that they are not able.  We try to explain that it is just not that easy, but how does it make them feel?  We wrestle with this and other emotions here at the end of camp.

     But enough about that for now, let's talk about our Saturday.  We woke up in the morning and had breakfast as a group.  The boys continued to serve the girls for breakfast because they have had some minor disciplinary incidents and were disrespectful to some.  While trying to let them know there are consequences for their actions, we had them continue to serve the young ladies.  After breakfast, the teams broke off into individual groups and completed their daily devotion.  Following their devotion, we all gathered in the chapel and played a minute-to-win-it game.  Following the game, Emily shared her testimony with everyone.  She did an awesome job.  After Emily finished, we were headed out to the sports field for some fun!

     We played basketball, dodgeball, volleyball and you guessed it, soccer.  These activities carried us to lunchtime.  At lunch, the young ladies actually served the guys which was the only time this happened here at camp.  Following lunch, we sent everyone out to complete their afternoon devotion while a few of us counselors set up for the afternoon activities.  Following the devotion, we brought the kids down to the sports field where an intense water ballon fight ensued.  That was followed by a slip-n-slide that was covered in slime.  It was a big hit and a lot of fun.  If you followed the blog from last years summer camp, you know that we spent hours cleaning up after our dough fight.  The bonus to the slime was that there was no clean up required!  The slime made it slick enough that if you fell down on the slide, you either had to roll off to the side or have someone help you up.  It was very entertaining.  Then we continued with water balloon volleyball and more soccer.  Some of the kids that had enough of soccer did some relay races as well.

     Then it was time to get cleaned up and ready for dinner.  We joined together in the dining area where once again, the young men served the young ladies.  After dinner, we headed back to the chapel for our evening worship.  We did a quick game with everyone to wake everybody up and then Shelley and Melvin led us in worship.  After a few songs, Lil' Mike came up and shared his testimony.  He has a powerful story to which many of the youth could relate.  In a previous blog, I mentioned about watching the movie "When the Game Stands Tall".  This movie had many great themes and we talked about several this week.  But in the movie, the players of the football team made commitment cards and gave them to another player to hold them accountable for that commitment.  Our campers had the opportunity to make a commitment following Lil' Mikes testimony.  But instead of being on a card, they were written on a piece of canvas that can be displayed at EQC or elsewhere.  Some of the commitments written by our youth were powerful.

     After a few more songs, we were nearing the end of worship when several of us performed one last skit for the youth.  Queen Ooga Booga made an appearance and court was held for several violations in camp.  One was for J, who did not participate in nail painting.  Three youths followed and their "charges" varied, but all ended the same way... just a little wet when they left.  Then it was back to the cabins and off to bed for us.

     We are having some intermittent internet issues here so our pictures are scarce currently as we have not been able to update photos as we would have liked.  But, I have added a few on this page and promise more as soon as I am able to upload them.  Keep checking back throughout the day.  But for now, it is off to breakfast and then to prepare for church this morning.  A couple of us will be headed out soon to go pick up the EQC congregation and bring them to the chapel at camp for worship.

     Until next time...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday, July 10th, 2015 - Youth Summer Camp 2015 - And the fun continues

     Good evening everyone!  It is currently 11:00 P.M. in Belize (1:00 A.M. eastern time) and we are just wrapping things up for the evening.  We had another interesting start to the day when the cooks began knocking on doors in search of the keys to the kitchen.  Once the door was unlocked, the cooks got straight to work and prepared breakfast for everyone.  While the food was being prepared, our campers were completing their daily devotional in their groups.  We then enjoyed a good meal together before heading into the chapel to listen to Laura’s testimony and sing a song or two.

     Following the mini worship experience, it was off to the sports field for most where they played different games, one of which was Ga-Ga Ball.  Several of the boys and the majority of the girls decided to take the opportunity to play board games, cards and Twister.  These games proved to be a big hit last year and they were also enjoyed by most this year.  Next we had lunch before heading back to the chapel to watch the movie “When the Game Stands Tall”.   If you have not seen this movie, you should check it out for yourself.  The remainder of the youth devotions relate to this movie.

     After the movie was over, it was back to the sports field for soccer, volleyball, basketball and dodgeball.   We all played hard for a couple of hours and then it was time to get ready for dinner.  Our young men served the young ladies again at dinnertime before they had the opportunity to eat.  After dinner, we had an evening worship service.  To start off the evening worship, Lil’ Mike and a few other counselors (Sarah, Brandon and Laura) led off with a skit that brought lots of laughs.  Mike’s energy and strong outgoing personality made the skit what it was.  We will try to upload a video to the Facebook page later.

     Shelley and Melvin then led us in several songs before Matt addressed the group.  He asked the group to think about what would happen when they died and talked about the difference in heaven and hell and why we need to accept Christ as our personal savior.  He continued on to speak a little bit about Job and why it is important to remain faithful even through our struggles.  At the conclusion of the evening worship experience, the boys headed out to discuss an evening devotion as did the girls.  Then the boys headed off to their dorm rooms and the girls stayed up to paint fingernails and toenails. 

     Our male counselors were nice enough let several of the young girls paint fingernails and toenails.  The girls ended their evening with a dance competition where the winner received a crown of sorts.  It sounded as though they had lots of fun.

     Tomorrow is the last full day of camp.  We will be running several relays, playing sports, throwing water balloons and having an overall good time.  I have included some photos below.  We will post more tomorrow evening, but we are all exhausted.

            In Christ,

your Belize Mission Team

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 - Summer Youth Camp - "An Arrival"

     What an amazing day we had today!  Everyone reading this really should have been here to experience this day.  Our day began in typical fashion with quiet time and breakfast.  We were served pancakes, bacon, and fruit.  Then it was a mad dash to finish setting up for camp which involved shuffling our things to different rooms, setting up the chapel, painting our sports field and several other tasks.  Of course it poured down rain this morning which made us all a little uneasy about the day ahead.  But, the rain eventually subsided and the clouds remained which kept it fairly cool (at least by Belize standards) for most of the day.

     Our campers started to arrive around 10:00 A.M.  They were met with smiling faces by members of our team and were then directed to their cabins where they would be sleeping.  Several played soccer or volleyball while we were waiting for the remaining campers to arrive.  Others just talked.  Lunch was served a little after noon.  The young men served lunch to the young ladies.  Once the ladies all had their food, the young men were then able to enjoy their lunch.

     Then it was off to the chapel where we formally welcomed everyone to camp and went over the camp rules.  Rules, while not popular, are a necessary requirement for this camp.  The groups were then released one at a time and spread out across camp where they participated in several ice breaker games in order to get to know each other.  Then the guy groups were combined into one and they played a couple of tag games.  After tag, the guys tried their luck at Ga-GA Ball (Panda Ball).  This is a dodgeball type game played in an enclosed arena.  Players have to bend at the waist and swat a ball across the ground trying to hit other players in the legs to eliminate them.  Last one standing wins.  This was a very popular game and was played for almost an hour straight.

While the guys were playing games after the group welcome in the chapel, the groups of young ladies were off to work to decorate their rooms.  It turned into a competition between the groups and there were plenty of creative ideas that were used.  Eventually, the ladies made their way down towards the sports field where the guys were playing soccer.  After a few minutes, the rain returned but it did not deter our campers from having a good time.

After the rain subsided once more, soccer, volleyball and basketball resumed.  Around 5:00 P.M., everyone headed towards their rooms to take showers and get ready for dinner.  After dinner, we all headed to the chapel for our evening worship experience.  Before beginning worship, Matt and Sarah put on a skit for everyone that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  We then sang several songs and that was followed by Joy sharing her powerful testimony with everyone.  At the conclusion of her testimony, she played the song "Blessings" for everyone to reflect on.  There is a verse in the song that says, "When your blessings come through raindrops..." and when that line played through the speakers, a strong and sudden downpour started and lasted only until the end of the song.  Must have been God's way of letting us know he was with us this evening.  

Following worship, everyone headed back to their cabins to prepare for lights out.  There was some minor horseplay while the kids let off their last bit of steam and now they are all sleeping safe and sound.  We had a great first day of camp.  There are too many pictures to post them all, but some additional photos can be seen below.