Today was our third day of camp but the campers are just as excited as the the first day. It seems like each day the campers are arriving at camp earlier and earlier. This morning we were greeted with many hugs from campers who we have gotten to know over the last days. It has been wonderful getting to witness our staff’s and the camper’s ability to communicate their love for one another without words. Campers running up to our team members and just holding on to them smiling. Counselors and campers pointing at different objects and asking how to say it in the other’s language. It is so wonderful to witness the way the body of Christ transcends language and culture and points us to our future heavenly kingdom.
Although it is hot and it gets exhausting being in the sun all day, our staff is killing it! They have been such an encouragement to watch as they push through their tiredness in order to share the gospel with the children. Camp is going incredibly smooth. Activities are great, the meals have been delicious, the skits have be funny, the Gospel has been taught, but the Americans are still working on learning the Peruvian songs and dances.
Today in the Joseph story Pastor Esdras taught the campers about Pharaoh’s dream regarding the seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. It is here that we start to see what God had been doing all along. After translating Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph is taken out of prison and put in command over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Pastor Esdras’s main focus was that we have a God who is always in control.
We ask for your continued prayers for the health of our team. We have one team member who has not been feeling great. The sickness seems to be getting better but she is taking it easy. Please pray that she will feel better and no one else will get sick during this trip. We also ask you to continue praying for the hearts and souls of these campers. Pray that God would use our camp to plant seeds in some and open the eyes of others causing them to run to Jesus and his perfect sacrifice.
Again we thank you for your prayers and support.
Happy New Year! It's been a busy few days. Let's catch you up on the happenings here in Peru.
We did not have camp on New Year’s Day, but we did have a great time! We tried to go to the Huacas (archeological site), but found out that the site was closed…so we went to the beach instead. Some of us got in the water while some walked to a pier and did some shopping. Later that day we went to the church in Arevalo and had a Despedida (time of sharing). We heard from both our team and the Peruvians who we work alongside. Everyone who spoke was very excited and encouraged by this year’s camp. Although we haven’t been here long, it feels like an impact for the Kingdom has been made.
Today, we are back at camp. The Americans are hard at work trying to teach the children kickball. It has proven to be a little more difficult than we assumed. Octoball is running smoothly, Super Fun Games is playing an intense game of tag with a twist, Crafts is making bracelets and giving out temporary tattoos, and the Pool is always the favorite because everyone gets to cool off for a bit.
We are now at the part of the story of Joseph where he becomes the keeper of Potiphar’s house, where he resists the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, and even though he is obedient to God is still thrown in prison. We can be reminded that God’s plan for our life is best, and even when “bad” things come upon us, God still uses it for good.
We ask that you keep us in your prayers. You can pray that we remain healthy, for our safety throughout Trujillo and eventually on our way home, that God’s word overcomes the language barrier, and finally that we may be able to proclaim the gospel so that god can harvest in His time.
Thanks for your part in this incredible opportunity to minister!
Greetings from Trujillo Peru!
Although, we have only been here for four days, I cannot express the joy it has been to reconnect with our dear brothers and sisters here in Peru. We have been very busy not only getting to Trujillo but also trying to prepare for the 170 children who would be attending Campamento Arca de Noe (Noah's Ark Camp). After traveling from Jackson to Atlanta to Lima to Trujillo we finally got to meet the group of Peruvians that we will be working with during this trip. Saturday evening we had a quick training for camp; Sunday we had the opportunity to worship with the Peruvians, but since there are multiple church plants in the city, half of our team attended one church in Arevalo and the other half attended Cristo Rey in the city. Although there is a language barrier, it was such a blessing to witness what the Lord is doing in Trujillo. Even though the majority of our team were unable to understand the lyrics of the songs, we still lifted our voices and made a joyful noise unto the Lord. Sunday afternoon was spend at Hermes' and Alleen's (our missionary contacts) home, as well as setting up a few things for camp that would begin early the next day.
Today is the first day of Campemento Arca de Noe and it has already been such a blast, and at 8:45am campers started showing up. The Children are from four local churches. As soon as the campers arrived, they were greeted with a host of counselors who welcome and sang and danced with them. The campers were then divided by age into five color groups, which rotate throughout the day so that each camper will have the opportunity to go to Super Fun Games, Sports, Octoball, Crafts, and Pool. Although there are a lot of activities our hope and prayer is that campers leave with a greater understanding of God and their need for Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. This year Pastor Ricardo has been teaching campers the story of Joseph and how he so clearly points us to Jesus. Today campers learned about Joseph’s coat of many colors as well as his dreams. Pastor Ricardo points out many of the similarities of Joseph and Christ such as: Both were the beloved son, both went through tribulation, both trusted the Lord, both were obedient even when they knew suffering would come, and both would one day be glorified and exalted on high.
It has been such a joy to watch our team interact and love on these kids. Even though many of us do not speak Spanish and many of them do not speak English it is clear that love translates without words.
Wow! A lot has happened over the past few days. On Thursday night we had a "despedida" with all of the camp staff (American and Peruvian) where we viewed a slide show, exchanged gifts and words of what this experience has meant to everyone. Over the past 10 years it has been such a blessing to continue to build relationships with these people. We now have former campers who are counselors at camp. A few of the comments this time together were as follows:
Our normal lives don't put us in contact with one another very much. Camp has been valuable as Peruvians are able to fortify friendships by spending intentional time together throughout the week that is not a normal occurrence. - Peruvian pastor
Noah's Ark Camp has been used to advance the gospel in Peru by shedding light on all of our communities. - Peruvian pastor
I have been blessed to continue to build relationships with the friends I have made through my many years of camp. I have enjoyed the opportunity to see how hard my Peruvian friends plan and prepare for camp throughout the year. Noah's Ark Camp is the highlight of the year and a blessing, not just for campers, but for counselors too! - Peru Mission Team Member
I am thankful for how welcoming everyone has been. I didn't know what to expect when coming to another country where I cannot communicate very well. God knew that this was something I needed in my life after recently losing my father. It has been great being surrounded by such warm people and serving the Lord together. - American counselor
In my life I see violence everyday. Crime and drugs are in front of me everywhere. There are several children that we are working with at our church that are here at camp this week. I am proof (as a former camper) that God has great plans for every one of these children. - Peruvian counselor
It was incredible to hear from several how this program has deeply impacted their lives and how much it is appreciated. The ministry of Christian camping is a powerful tool that God is using to build His kingdom!
We finished up camp yesterday with some fun changes for Campamento Arca de Noe's 10th anniversary. Campers were treated to a fair in the back part of camp with snocones, cotton candy, popcorn, face painting and balloon animals. We also celebrated with a true Peruvian birthday party, complete with birthday cakes. The assortment of cakes depicted each activity - sports, super fun games, octoball, bible story, pool, crafts and one with the camp logo for 2018. There is no telling how many hours were put into the decorations on these cakes. They were truly a work of art. Each camper has also been given a gift each day of the week, leading up to the ultimate gift on Friday. Each camper was given a "Jesus Storybook Bible" by Sally Lloyd-Jones in Spanish. If you haven't seen this book before, please order a copy. It is so well done, with great illustrations, but more importantly the correlation of Old and New Testament stories and how they point to our relationship with Jesus. These books were such thoughtful gift for each camper!
One of the hardest parts of the trip is quickly saying goodbye at the end of camp. Our flight schedule requires us to immediately leave camp on the bus to head back to the hotel, pack up, and fly out. Giving hugs, taking photos, exchanging words, etc. often is very emotional for everyone. Camp weaves a tightly knit community and it is hard to leave the friendships that have been made over the past several days. What is always helpful is knowing that we will see our brothers and sisters in Christ again one day.
After returning to the hotel, we showered and packed up our belongings to head home. While in route to the airport, we were informed that our domestic flight from Trujillo to Lima was delayed. We checked in and headed to grab a bite to eat while we waited to see how long the delay would last. There were mechanical issues with the plane that kept it grounded in its prior destination. Long story short, the flight was cancelled. With this being the next to last flight out of Trujillo and the later flight not having sufficient room for our large group or even enough connection time, we were definitely going to miss our flight from Lima to Atlanta. The team leaders began working on reworking our international flights with major setbacks. The Trujillo airport was full of travelers who were looking for answers and accommodations...so much so that the police were called in to help control the chaos! After nearly 3 hours on the phone with our travel agent and multiple exchanges through the night, our flight was rescheduled, but not until 2am Tuesday morning. The team was disappointed as this changed quite a bit of plans and expectations for everyone. However, I have to say that everyone has had a great attitude throughout the entire experience. We know that God is in control and has our best interest in mind and is providing and protecting us in ways we may not even know.
Today has provided rest for many who have been struggling with the beginnings of some health issues, as well as an opportunity to communicate back with their families. It has been a sweet time of reflection, rest and fellowship. We were able to have a casual lunch with some of our missionary friends, visit Chan Chan (a historic archaeological site) and eat some delicious Peruvian Chinese food. Seriously, it's soooooo good!
Last night was difficult. Many emotions came flooding in and it was easy to become self-centered and impatient. However, with time it has been easier to be still and know that He is God and that He is still at work. Our desire is to continue to be used as a light wherever He places us. Even now, many of our team are playing a late night game of soccer with many of our Peruvian friends from this week, furthering those connections. Our purpose in life is to glorify God. We are to consistently be a witness to others, not just for a few days on a missions trip, but every aspect of our lives.
These words have been on my heart today as we seek to remain focused. Thank you for your continued prayers.
Be Thou My Vision - Dallan Forgaill
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
- Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
- Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
- Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
- High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
We've been running camp for a few days now and it has been pretty busy. We wake up each morning, get ourselves ready for the day, run downstairs in our hotel and have a quick bite to eat - typically eggs, bread, fruit, fruit juice and/or coffee. The 32 members of our team pile onto the bus with all of our supplies and travel across the busy morning streets with it's honking horns and weaving traffic, to Rey Sol campground just outside the city in Moche. This area has been developed to allow tourists to visit the Huacas (Temple of the Sun and Moon). As a result, there are many primitive museums and cafes, residences, farms and event venues, like the one we are using. It's a great place to hold camp. The grounds are beautiful with green grass (highly unusual in a desert), trees, bushes, and flowers. There is a children's playground, pool, pavilions, a stage, outdoor kitchen and eating area in the front of the facility. In the back, there are large game fields, along with swing sets and restrooms. Towering behind camp there are two mountains that provide the perfect backdrop for all of the fun games, songs and activities that take place each day.
Speaking of activities, each day the campers have a rotation of 5 different activities - Pool, Arts & Crafts/Bible Story Time, Sports, Octoball, and Super Fun Games. Each activity provides an opportunity to read scripture and offer an object lesson to the group. Our prayer is that through relationship development with each camper the things that are taught this week will make a lasting impression on their hearts and lives.
The meals have been fantastic! Peruvian food typically consists of some sort of chicken and rice. So far at camp we have had chicken pasta with vegetables, roasted chicken with french fries and a beautiful salad (that we couldn't eat..."just say no" to the water), and a Peruvian chicken dish today that had potatoes covered in a cream sauce with shredded chicken in it and rice as a side. All have been excellent!
The camp day is bookended with assemblies. Morning assembly follows our traditional welcome tunnel for each church group. This assembly involves energetic songs and entertaining announcements about the day, and afternoon assembly with more songs, Bible skits, and gifts for each camper and counselor - celebrating camp's 10 year anniversary!
After finishing the day and telling the campers goodbye, we quickly clean up camp, pack up supplies and hop back on our bus to head to the hotel for a luke warm shower (that is always appreciated after a dusty day of camp), and a little R&R for about an hour or so. Then it's off to a missionary home. Dale & Susan Ellison, Stuart & Meg Mills and Hermes and Alleen Tomas have graciously opened heir homes to us this week. Having some unstructured time around the table speaking only English is welcomed at the end of each day.
Our final bus ride takes us back to the hotel for the night. Typical nightly activities at the hotel are hanging out on the balcony playing cards and talking, tackling a team project for camp, or "harassing the dogs" that live behind the hotel. That is, unless it's New Year's Eve - which means there's very little sleep to be had anyway due to fireworks all around the city, car horns everywhere and neighborhood karaoke parties that last for the following 24 hours! But, that's a story for another day.
I hope this helps you to feel a little more informed about what we've been up to so far. There's not much time to sit and think. But, when I've had time to do so this week it's been evident that God has provided this opportunity to each of us for specific purposes in each of our lives and is constantly at work for His glory and our good. I'm reminded of a verse from one of my favorite hymns, "Day by Day."
"Day By Day" - Karolina W. Sandell-Berg
Every day the Lord Himself is near me with a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares he fain would bear, and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure is a charge that on Himself He laid,
"As thy days, your strength shall be in measure," this the pledge to me He made.
We are held in the hands of our Lord and Savior. He is near us with tender mercies for our lives each and every day - they are new every morning. Jesus is with us and knows our every need and cares for us better than we can care for ourselves. He counsels us and protects us, because we are His. But, each day is its own, with new lessons to learn, new trials to face, and new joys to celebrate in. Each day is an opportunity to look to the one who provides everything we need and sustains us as we go. We lean on Him and His strength in order to do anything worthy. It is He who is working and not us!
This week has been a joy. We are seeing the fruits of many labors over the last 11 years. Thank you for your interest in knowing how God is at work in Peru through Christian camping. We are all excited to continue to tell about the opportunities that God has given us while we have been here, as well as the ways that He is at work in our own lives.
The greatest blessing of being connected with this program is knowing that the Word of God is faithfully being taught and impressed upon the tender hearts of these Peruvian children. We truly have "good news" to share with the world. Knowing that we were lost in the depths of our sin with no hope of rescue, but that Christ reached out to sinners like you and me, providing the only way to be forgiven, is the greatest message of hope that can ever be shared! Thank you to the many who have been involved through the years, through financial and prayer support, as well as the willingness to personally travel and serve. Our great God has used the efforts of many to impact hundreds of lives and bring us to this point.This team of 32 Americans (Twin Lakes and IPC Savannah, GA) and 42 Peruvian counselors and missionaries has been preparing for many weeks. We have been given the opportunity to connect with 182 campers from various neighborhoods throughout Trujillo - our largest group yet! Please be in prayer as we seek to develop relationships with these children, clearly communicate the gospel through word and deed, and for the many details that go into pulling off a program of this magnitude. It's an encouragement to know that we have many lifting us up in this way.
It’s been a whirlwind the past few days and we are just getting around to blogging about Campamento “Arca de Noe” being held in Trujillo, Peru this week. Last Friday (December 30th), a group of 15 students and leaders from Twin Lakes along with 13 team members from Point Pleasant out of Savannah, Georgia traveled to Lima, Peru to serve with Peru Mission in their yearly children’s camp. Much prayer and preparation has gone into just stepping on the plane. Thank each of you who are family members taking care of children or holding down the fort at home while we are away; who have supported a team member financially for this opportunity to share the gospel abroad; or who have committed to pray for this ministry. You are such an important part of this process and we pray once we return that we can communicate/report back the way that God is at work here in Peru.
We were blessed to have our Peru Mission contacts - Hermes and Alleen Tomas - actually fly with us out of Atlanta this year. It was a tight connection for them as their flight to Atlanta was delayed twice. We spent most of our time in prayer as we waited for them. God was gracious to get them to our gate as the last group was boarding the plane. However, together, we had to experience a rough start to the trip as we flew out of Atlanta for Lima. Close to 2 hours out (just clearing the tip of Florida), we were informed that we would be returning back to Atlanta due to some malfunctions with the bathrooms on board our airplane. We left Atlanta for the second time around 11:00pm and arrived around 6:00am. So, what should have been 12 hours of travel turned quickly into 18. Needless to say, it was a long day/night.
We arrived at our hotel in Lima around 7:00am and crashed for a couple of hours before getting ready for our day in Lima. It was a full and fun day as we started out by packing the bus and heading to Larco Mar in Miraflores which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It is such a beautiful place. This shopping area is built into a cliff. Mangos, the restaurant we ate at, has a patio and is the perfect place to enjoy your first meal in Peru! We sampled some Peruvian cuisine - ceviche, calamari, yuca, canchita, causa limena, and of course…Inka Cola! We hurried over to an Indian Market to pick up some gifts and souvenirs for our supporters with the little time we had left before boarding our bus to head back to the airport. A quick check-in and scurry to our gate had us on our final plane ride to Trujillo - our destination for the week.
Though we had reached our destination, the day was not over yet. In fact, it was just now time to hit the ground running for the rest of the day. We loaded our luggage on taxis, boarded a bus and headed to our hotel in Trujillo. After checking in, we boarded the bus again to head to orientation at Cristo Rey (Christ the King) church. We were greeted by our Peruvian teammates with a human tunnel - our camp tradition, and the way we welcome campers each day at camp. It was wonderful to reconnect with friends and meet new faces as we finally began our week together. One of our Peruvian leaders led us in prayer, the music team taught some camp songs, we covered many details for camp, split up into our group/activity assignments and made plans for the week. One of the most important details was spending time together in prayer. This was a neat time - coming before the Lord together in two languages, - but, also a reminder of the common bond all of God’s children share through the saving blood of Christ…no matter the color of our skin or language that we speak.
Together, we rode the bus over to a local Chinese restaurant - Siu Yon (DELICIOUS - seriously…Peruvian Chinese food is the bomb!). We sat together and began to work through the issues that come with trying to bridge the language barrier. These people are so gracious with us. It never ceases to amaze me. They are so willing to teach and learn. Such a fun night!
By this point, we were all just ready to crawl in bed. And, that’s exactly what many of us did! However, this was also New Year’s Eve. So, several of the team stayed up on the 4th floor balcony to watch the fireworks around the city. The layout of Trujillo is that the main road, Espana, encircles the central city. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks are set off all around the perimeter of the city and from our hotel you can see numerous shows at the same time. It’s a sight to see…even if you have been awake for almost 48 hours!
After a full night of rest, we ate breakfast in the hotel and split up to visit two of Peru Mission’s church plants - Cristo Rey and Cristo Restaurador. Pastors Jaime Avellaneda and Ricardo Hernandez preached on this, the first Sunday of the new year. It is always great to worship together with our Peruvian brothers and sisters. Such an amazing experience thinking of what it will one day be like as we worship together at the foot of the throne!
Allen and Hermes de Tomas hosted the team and all of the missionaries for lunch on Sunday. Their homes are open and used all throughout the year for events like this. The hospitality shown to us is always warm and their food is fantastic! You can purchase the Peru Mission cookbook at www.perumission.org/cookbook.
We took the afternoon to rest up from such a crazy travel schedule to Peru, took care of a few errands before dinner and grabbed some pizza at a local shopping area since most everything was still closed on New Year’s Day. Early to bed - camp starts tomorrow!
I can’t speak too specifically about Monday, because, well…dehydration. It’s real, it happens quickly, and it keeps you out of camp which isn’t much fun. From all reports I have received though, the first day of camp ran as smoothly as we could have planned. We have 113 campers and close to 70 staff members this year. Camp is now largely led by Peruvians. They have been preparing for camp over the past several months by having meetings each Saturday. They have discussed the particulars of dealing with children, prepared skits, and covered many other details so that we could come in and simply assist them. It is so encouraging to see their ownership of this program and the way that they have made it their own and understand the opportunities that exist for ministry within the camp setting.
After gathering supplies and traveling to camp with our group, each day of camp is begun with team devotions. Frankie Daniell and Joseph Brown from Point Pleasant and I have led the morning devotion times up to this point and it has been a good time to focus on God’s word for us as we serve. After applying our first layer of sunscreen and bug spray, we welcome the campers and staff members as each of their buses arrive. Playground, conversation, dancing, photos, and of course the tunnel are all a part of getting camp rolling. Hermes Tomas welcomes the group, we sing a few songs together, we pray and we’re off to activities. Each day the campers rotate through 5 activities - Evangelism & Crafts, Pool, Sports, Octoball, and Super Fun Games. The kids love time with the staff and I love hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles all day long. Watermelon is our mid-morning snack and it couldn’t come at a better time! The mornings are pretty warm and the sun is intense. By noon it’s time for a meal of meat - chicken or goat, - rice, and salad or potatoes is the typical camp meal…except we can’t eat the salad. Trust me on this one!
The afternoons consist of two final activities and assembly. This assembly is where the Bible stories that the kids have been hearing during their evangelism activity come to life. The Peruvians have done a great job this year putting together the store of Esther and Mordecai. The message has been clear, but with just the right touch of humor for the kids. I love the costumes!
Following the assembly, it’s time to load up the buses and head out. We wave our goodbyes, pack up camp supplies and head back to the hotel to shower up before dinner. Yesterday (Wednesday), we were able to head to Delicias Beach for a few minutes and stick our toes in the cold Pacific Ocean. For some, this was a first!
The last two nights have been hosted by Stuart and Meg Mills, as well as Dale and Susan Ellison and their families. We love both of these families and are thankful for their service to the Lord, as well as their warm hospitality to us while we are here. Wow-wee - we have been fed well!
The team also likes to take in the Plaza de Armas, just a couple of blocks from our hotel. This area is still decorated for Christmas, has many street performers, food carts and plenty to take in. Monday night was the first night to go and the Americans apparently made quite a commotion. When a group of 12 white and one black skinned Americans take in the sites together, it’s hard to go unnoticed. Several Peruvians wanted pictures with the group and for some to hold their babies. Still not exactly sure why, but it sure makes you feel like a celebrity!
That pretty much brings you up to speed with where we are. Please continue to pray for our time here, as well as for the details of our travels home. We appreciate each one of you and are excited about how God will use the seeds that are planted this week to sprout and grow in the hearts and lives of these children and their families. Praise be to God!
Through the years it has been a great blessing to work with many talented individuals who seek to honor and glorify God by using their gifts to serve others. Through my time at Twin Lakes there have been many who have given of themselves and have contributed to making this ministry what it is today. Each set of fingerprints on the program has left a mark that continues to affect the experiences, outreach and reputation of Twin Lakes as a whole.
Over the past six months we have been undergoing a transition within the program staff at Twin Lakes. In February we learned that we would be sending out not one, but two of our own to serve the Lord in other work that He had prepared for each of them. It was at this point that we began praying about and bringing in the new faces that will continue the tradition of leadership and ministry.
GRANT LYONS joined our full time staff in March of 2014 after several summers of service on our summer staff, as a weekend host, and as a part of our maintenance crew. He served as head of guest services where he managed details for each of our on-site groups, led our team of hosts, as well as served as an Assistant Camp Director during the summers. Grant and his wife, Mary Claire, moved at the end of June to Pearl, Mississippi and he has taken a teaching position at Brandon Middle School where he teaches History. If you know anything about Grant, you know that he is an energetic, lively kind of guy who is VERY entertaining. We know that God will continue to use him in this setting to grab the attention of the students in his classroom. These boys and girls will quickly come to love Mr. Lyons, as well as gain an appreciation and love for all things historical.
MATTHEW ELLIOTT has been a part of our program on and off for about fifteen years. He served on our summer staff as a counselor and leadership staff and as a host throughout college and seminary. He also spent some time at Camp of the Rising Son in French Camp, MS. Matthew also holds a Masters of Divinity and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. When God brought him to Twin Lakes in February of 2014, all of his experience allowed him to jump right in as he began planning for camp – just four short months away. Since then, he has continued to be a valuable part of the team as he researched, wrote, and directed much of the Bible program for our summer programs. His added ability to craft and write scriptural theme songs added yet another valuable element to what we do. Matthew has accepted the call to Cornerstone PCA in Huntsville, Alabama where he began serving in August as the children’s ministry coordinator. He will also be pursuing his Doctorate while there. We pray for his continued ministry to the Lord and to the church body at Cornerstone.
GRAYSON ERWIN is no stranger to Twin Lakes. From Harrisville, Mississippi, he has been serving on our summer staff and maintenance crew consistently since 2011. Having recently graduated from Mississippi State University, God had him already working as a permanent part of our maintenance crew. When we realized that we had a program position available, we asked Grayson to consider taking on his responsibilities. In March of 2016 Grayson began training and has already done a great job overseeing all of the needs of our guests throughout the spring, special season and now moving into fall. He has also been a huge asset contributing to the summer camp program that he knows so well. We look forward to seeing his continued growth and opportunities for service throughout the years to come.
WILLIAM CRUTCHER is from Birmingham, Alabama, a graduate of Mississippi College, and served his first summer at Twin Lakes Camp in 2016. He is currently finishing up his Masters of Business Administration degree at MC while transitioning to full-time work with Twin Lakes. William’s abilities were quickly realized this summer in the areas of theatrics as he played the role of King Ahasuerus for our skits portraying the Old Testament story of Esther. We were also highly impressed with his leadership skills and understanding of the overall concept of camp ministry. Near the end of July we began talking with him about the possibility of moving into Matthew’s role at the end of the summer. We were happy to extend the position to William and are excited about how God will use his gifts to continue to benefit this ministry and the honor of the name of Christ.
I am reminded of the passage from Psalm 121:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” We greatly appreciate your continued prayer support of the ministry of Twin Lakes. Nothing that is done is worthwhile unless the Lord is behind it. We are prayerful and encouraged about what is to come!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We are God’s workmanship, fashioned and shaped by the Master’s hand. Not merely created, but we have been worked on, or recreated, in Christ Jesus. What quality of work might you suspect from the Maker’s efforts? Dorothy Sayers once noted, “No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare say, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were by the same hand that made Heaven and Earth.” Paul writes that you are the object of God’s skillful labor. And God is not in the business of making junk.
But for what reason are you God’s workmanship? As we transition into a new year, it is natural to reflect back over the last year and to look forward into the next. What have I accomplished? What do I hope to be and to do? Paul writes that you are God’s handiwork for the purpose of good works that you might walk in them. Works of comfort and compassion. Giving and sacrificing. Even the unfashionable good works of self-denial and humility. What good works did God prepare for you this past year? What do you suspect are the good works God has prepared for you this next year?
On January 1st, a team of 15 people from Twin Lakes will travel south to the country of Peru. The goal of our trip is reach children for Christ through the ministry of camp and to assist the Peruvian churches in their outreach to the communities. We go with a willingness to learn from others, to place service above self, and to make much of Christ. The five day camp will be in the city of Trujillo over the course of the first week of 2016. We look forward to seeing old friends and forming new relationships as we work and serve alongside of our Peruvian brothers and sisters. We are excited to walk in the good works God has prepared for us.
As we travel and work, please pray for us. Could it be that your prayers are some of the good works which God has prepared for you this next year? Please pray for safety as we travel to and from Peru and that all of our luggage would arrive as well. Pray that we are able to relate well through the cultural and linguistic differences. And please be in prayer that we might walk faithfully in these good works sowing and reaping for the glory of God.
May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.
- Kate Wilkinson
The building process is one of many steps. Some stages, like laying a foundation, are slow and arduous. Dirt must be moved or brought in, a foundation plot must be laid out, then dug and poured, and the concrete needs time to cure. Other stages can seem to go quickly, like framing up the exterior and interior walls and roof line. All are part of ultimately having a product that functions correctly and is useful for its purpose.
Eight years ago plans were being made to build a summer camp program in Trujillo, Peru. Missionaries from Peru Mission contacted Twin Lakes to partner with them in providing a program that would allow children to hear the gospel through the experience of camp. Their hope was that by helping children to latch on to the gospel of Jesus Christ at an early age, there would be an opportunity to change a culture by bringing them up in the truth of God’s Word, both at camp and at church.
Those early years took time and effort to establish a solid foundation for this program. It was evident that God had called us to this ministry and we knew its potential value. Our prayer was that He would allow this same tool to change lives and build His kingdom within a different culture. “Unless the Lord build the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) In order to build this program, the foundational goals would require gaining the trust of the Peruvian staff members who would join us in operating each day’s activities, as well as parents and children. It was also our goal to communicate that the program was more than just playing with kids and ensuring their safety…it was about communicating God’s love in all of life.
The response was encouraging. Within the first year, God blessed what happened during the exciting days of camp to unite Peruvians in a way that the missionaries had not yet seen. Staff members commented on how the program provided a way to reach children for Christ, and were eager to continue being a part of future camps. Lessons from camp were taken home to family members who had been resistant to Christianity and church teaching. Yet they saw through their children that the Bible is credible and wanted to know more. The building process had already begun and God was using Twin Lakes Camp in Peru in ways that we would never have imagined!
The latest camp in Trujillo showed continued development. Missionaries are working to bring Peruvians into the planning and training aspects of camp. Staff members who want to help with camp are evaluated, interviewed and trained. Involvement with church pastors is an important part of the process. Four trainings are held prior to camp in order to share the vision of camp and expectations for those volunteering their time to help. Former campers are now a part of the counseling staff. Our American team is now simply a supplement to what is already taking place in Peru. FPC Jackson (Twin Lakes) and IPC Savannah (Point Pleasant) join together in bringing summer staff members from each camp in order to aid and assist in running camp, as well as financially supporting the program. The collective efforts of Americans and Peruvians are an integral part of what makes this program special. Together, God uses everyone’s gifts in unique ways to serve others and bring glory to Himself.
Twin Lakes Camp in Peru ran from December 29, 2014 through January 2, 2015. Fifty-eight staff (22 Americans and 36 Peruvians and missionaries) served together to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to 140 campers. This year’s camp was probably one of the smoothest to date! It is evident that all of the efforts put into previous years have aided in allowing camp to come to a point where the program itself runs seamlessly. Through our four days of camp, we were encouraged in the way that this trip benefits the overall mission that exists 12 months of the year in Trujillo. It is great to know that what God allows us to do at camp in the development of relationships with Peruvian staff and campers, helping to share God’s word throughout the day, smiling, laughing and playing with children, assists Peru Mission not only for a short few days of fun, but is a part of the overall outreach to impact the communities they minister to. What a privilege to be used in such a way for the building of Christ’s church here on earth and in preparation for eternity!
“…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5