Teen camps are half over and some of our students just got back from leading teen camps in the jungle city of Tarapoto. Our dear Eva was part of the team that went and as soon as she got home Sunday night, she was in our house sharing her experience with us. I asked if I could share the story on our blog and she said sure. So, here’s a summary of the week-long trip they made to Tarapoto (unfortunately no pictures are up on Facebook yet to my knowledge, so no pictures to correspond with the story! Sorry!):
To get to Tarapoto from Lima, our students rode a bus for more than 24 hours. This is one, double-decker bus that makes two stops the entire trip. Once they arrived, they immediately got on another bus for a considerably shorter ride (little over an hour about) to another section of Tarapoto where the camp was to be held.
You have to first understand: Peruvians don’t “camp” like Americans. We find it totally normal to sleep in tents and use outhouses. Not here. So, you can imagine our students’ surprise when they arrived to the camp site and found out they would be sleeping in tents! There was only one building on the campground which belonged to a lady who lives there all the time. The rest of it was fields and a run-down chapel building. There were 10 tents set up – 5 for the boy campers and 5 for the girl campers. The counselors were to sleep in the tents with the kids, but that left the issue of: where does our maintenance and program teams sleep?? After a day of getting things set up and wondering what would happen, they were finally given two more tents, one for the boys and one for the girls. Unfortunately, these weren’t in as good of condition and the girls’ tent didn’t even zip closed.
Their outhouse was a tarped-in hole in the ground. Their shower was also tarped in and was just a faucet. One outhouse and one shower each for boys and girls. There were 50 campers plus staff.
Food apparently was mostly yucca with rice. They ate yucca (fresh! Picked daily!) with every meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even though Eva is from the jungle, she’s from Iquitos and said she had never eaten like that before. A few days in, most of our students had stomach problems from the food, unfortunately.
Eva was part of the program team, so she and about 4 other girls were to sleep in the run-down tent. In the end, they just used it store their things and they slept on two twin-size mattresses smooshed together with a sheet on top, in the run-down chapel. However, storing their things in the tent had its downfall, too. The last night they were there, it poured at 3am and since the tent didn’t have a door and the windows wouldn’t close, the girls had to run out there and get their things because everything was getting wet! Eva was here yesterday saying she had done laundry all day and still wasn’t done since everything in her bag smelled horrible from being in the tent, shut in the sun and then the rain, all week long.
And yet, despite all these unsual, difficult circumstances for our group of students who are definitely not used to camping like this – God did great things. One of the churches we work with (the pastor is one of our graduates) brought about 15 teens to the camp. Many were new believers and those that weren’t had accepted the Lord as Savior by the end of the week. Another of the churches we work with (pastor is also one of our graduates) brought a good group as well and Eva said so many dedicated their lives to serving the Lord. She told me that Friday night at the bonfire, the kids gave testimonies of what God had done during the week and she was just floored by how many had given their lives to the Lord and how many had consecrated their lives to Christ.
When I asked her for her overall consensus of the week, she looked at me and said in all sincerity, “It was amazing. I’m so glad I went.” This after the poor sleeping arrangements, the awful bathroom conditions, and her getting horribly sick on the ride home. She just couldn’t reiterate enough how glad she was that she got this experience.
Back here in Lima, we have had two successful weeks of teen camps with two left to go. This week, we have close to 200 teens here. The girls’ dorms are completely full, so our female maintenance and program crew are sleeping in a classroom this week. The last group of students that was to travel to the mountains are no longer going. There has been crazy flooding in the mountains of Peru this summer and roads are closed, rivers are flooding, and there are mudslides. So, the camp in Huancayo was canceled and our students are “stuck” here for the last two weeks. They are SO disappointed! The only group that didn’t get to travel this summer. But, with how many teens that are here this week, maybe it’s a good thing all our students are here.
Up in Iquitos our third year students and Apoyo team are continuing their summer missions trip. There has been lots of rain up there as well, but despite the rain, they told me things are going super well. They’ve been able to do evangelism in the city square and are even doing programs in churches that even a year ago wouldn’t work with BCM. So, praise the Lord! They will be home early March.
Watch for an e-newsletter from us later today and next time, I’ll fill you in on what we’ve been up to. Hope you enjoyed Eva’s story!