|Amanda, at about 11pm last night. In honour of the Blue Jays' towering |
achievements this year, so she says.
Fields are a-burning, bedsheets are an irrelevance, and electricity bills are soaring in direct proportion to the mercury. It's October in Trinidad, Bolivia, and temperatures have been in the high-30s all week, with the smoky air (people tend to do maintenance work on their land at this time of year by setting fire to it) only consolidating the oppressiveness. And once again, we're knowingly falling for the same of trick of longing for rainy season in its attendant flash floods and mosquito bites.
Right now, the five minute walk from here to the Foundation generally requires that I drink two full flasks' worth of water upon arrival, so as not to remain a soaking, stinking mess the rest of the morning. Given all that, then, I'd say we've put in a good shift this week.
As mentioned in previous posts, the church's annual youth camp is now the main focus of our attention. Amanda has largely occupied the unenviable task of debt collector (she learned a few tricks during our years in the east end, I'd vouch). Thankfully, the campsite we use are pretty relaxed about payment; they just need about half of the food budget a couple of days before arrival. And it's a good job because getting the monies together for camp is certainly one of the most wearisome tasks we face each year.
From as early as February (when the school/youth group year tends to get going here) we tell the youth to get saving for camp, and we seek to do this by providing a bank. Camp only costs about £20 ($30 or $40 in Canada), but that's often a lot of money for people to stump up as a one-off. However, our experience is that a lot of parents -- most of whom are not Christians or involved in the church in any way -- tend to use this as a convenient pretext to not let their kids go at all (and we know of several who, when duty calls, are able to get such sums together remarkably quickly for their own, er, extra-curricular activities).
And really, with a savings scheme, there is no excuse. Most kids here will get a few Bolivianos here to spend each day during their school break. So we say to them, why not set aside one or two Bolivianos each day and bring those to youth group on Saturday night? Even saving one Boliviano each day would yield 50p for the week, enough for a cumulative total of £20 over the course of the year.
Yet saving is not really ingrained in a culture where many people live hand-to-mouth. And so, as we move into the third quarter of the year and the piggy bank has plenty of rattle-room, we naturally start to get a bit nervous.
Over the years, we have been grateful to a particular individual who provides significant external support to make sure all the young people get to camp; we really couldn't do it without this person. At the same time, some of the kids who have been with us for a few years are clued into these machinations, expecting that they will probably be bailed out anyway, and so the whole thing can become something of a game of 'who blinks first'. To address this, we've attached that support specifically to an incentive scheme this year; the young people are guaranteed money towards camp for each time they learn the memory verse from the weekend before, bring a Bible, bring a friend, or attend church on Sunday.
And still, we're scrambling. Ah well. We'll figure out next year's hare-brained scheme in January. Right now, we just have to get everything in place for next weekend. So in addition to some sermon preparation this week, I've begun getting some new songs together to learn and sing at camp. With six meeting sessions throughout the weekend, we'll need a fair old arsenal. Meanwhile, Amanda and Mariana have been putting the finishing touches to the design for the all important camp T-shirt, which is now with the printers.
The campsite we use is very isolated, and a tad spartan for western tastes, but one of the great benefits for the purposes of the camp (in a culture where Whatsapp is the new oxygen) is that there is barely a mobile signal to be found -- and only then if you do a handstand two steps to the right of the flagpole, or something like that. In other words, don't be coming round here checking for an update next weekend. There's more chance of 40 fully-paid-up youth getting to camp than that happening.
- For all things camp next weekend. For money, for transport, for safety, for a good old time. And most of all, for the campers themselves. Pray that God would be preparing their hearts even now to receive his word to them (our speaker this year is a guy called Roger, from Cochabamba). The theme is 1 Timothy 4:12: 'Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.' Pray for renewal and recommitment for the Christians in the group, and for those who are not yet Christians to make the most important decisions of their young lives. God-willing, we leave on Friday afternoon and get back to Trinidad by Monday lunchtime (Monday is a local holiday).
- Pray for the adoption process, specifically for the opportunity that re-surfaced last week.
- Pray for wisdom for us both in some weighty matters we are dealing with both in the Foundation and the church.
- Pray for Miguel Ángel and Romina from our church, who are attending Langham Preaching Bolivia's annual weekend in Cochabamba next week.
- Pray for a good time together for the FT staff on Thursday evening as we mark our anniversary with a meal in a local restaurant (and a day off for everyone on Friday!).
- For an extremely smooth trip back to Trinidad this time last week. No spitting up of radiator caps this time.
- For some important time together as a couple last night, the first opportunity we've had since the marriage course to talk in detail about some of the issues raised there. All in all, we've felt greatly helped by the course in the weeks since.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda