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Joshua DalPorto is with me on this trip. He is the oldest son of Andy and Sheri DalPorto who are full time staff at The Wilds. Josh has been a great help as he has done much to get props ready for camp and interacted with the counselors. He gave his testimony Sunday morning in the church service. It was such a blessing to fellowship with believers here in the small village of Kumara, Chad. Their singing was a blessing as they praise God with such joy and energy. The instruments were oil filters on sticks filled with a few rocks and used like maracas, sticks hitting wood, and two hollow logs covered with animal skins that worked as both drums and a bass stringed instrument.
We have 100 campers coming in today. Some will have traveled the same twelve hour bus ride we traveled from the capitol.
Report by Dan Brooks
Motorcycles keep rolling in with more campers on our second day of camp. These teens are loving the fellowship and activities. It is a joy to watch the huge smiles on the faces of so many. Yet it is obvious that some are holding on to sins that are the idols of their hearts. Here, they might be literal idols!
Josh was a part of prepping the Big Ball Field. The final job was to remove the cows and what they typically leave behind. The teens loved the fast action of Big Ball. During the evening service you could hear the hum of the generator and the bugs being attracted to the lights. The teens listened well to a message on joy even though there could have been many distractions. This morning at a meeting, a counselor said he led a young Catholic boy to the Lord. The counselor was excited as he said he had used the questions given at Staff Training to get the boy talking. Most of our youth come from churched homes. We have about 85 teens rather than the 100+ Timothy thought we would have. Many of the un-churched did not come. Still, we have a great ministry in front of us. We brought the instruments from church to play for music during one of games called, Tag A Lot. That has been a huge free time event. They have rhythm and know how to have fun!
Let me tell you how passionate Timothy is about camping. About 8 years ago, Timothy was brought in to be the interpreter for a CampsAbroad training and camp in Cameroon. He got excited and personally started building a camp in Chad. I had the privilege of helping him 5 years ago. At that time he told me he had two cows he was saving to sell so he could come to The Wilds. CampsAbroad graciously paid for him to come to The Wilds and The Wilds of New England to participate in our Staff Training and observe camp. He has faithfully hosted young people from all over Chad at his camp. Not long after his visit with us, we decided to return to give a refresher course. A few months ago, severe storms came through and leveled many of his buildings and tore the roofs off the rest. We asked if we should still come. “Yes,” was his reply. He left his home for a month to get a better paying job to pay for the repairs. Timothy is an assistant pastor of a church in Kumara, and he is sold on how camping can help his local church. Other churches agree, as some youth traveled 12 hours to Camp Joy!
Report by Dan Brooks
The Dark Heart of Africa is a title I read about Chad before I came. There is no doubt Josh and I were in one of the poorest countries I have ever been. Grass-roofed huts were all around us. The village was alive with trade of farmers’ crops. The Muslims ran the market booths that sold all other goods.
Camp started with laughs as we tried to translate the old skit “An Austrian went Yodeling.” It is fun translating yodeling in any culture. As we moved along we tightened up their schedule and introduced more complex games. There is no problem with the competitive spirit! Plenty of cheering and some intense shouting filled the air for each game. There were always young onlookers at the fences from the surrounding huts wanting to play. Hopefully they are campers in years to come.
This is the rainy season! Intense rains came the day before we arrived at camp. As the last service was finished, a storm came that lasted all night. Chad had heavy rains for a few days leading up to camp. God in his goodness sent only a small amount of rain during camp – at night or during their nap time. Yes, they have a nap scheduled each day and the teens love it!
Of the 80+ campers 11 made professions of faith and over 50 moved to confess specific sins. One of our program men came to give his life to full-time service as well as 5 teens. Josh kept busy learning French from the campers, setting up games and smiling for pictures (mainly with girls). He also gave his testimony at the last service. All the campers loved Josh!
Some pastors and church leaders of local churches came to camp and met with me to learn more about camping. Some of our older counselors attended the meeting and gave testimonies. One said they loved the use of free time to get with the campers one on one. I felt it was a very profitable time here in Chad. Timothy said they are going to make a committee to help with camp.
As always it is exciting to see campers lives changed, but it is even more rewarding to see leadership make decisions to solidify camping as a help to their local churches. Please pray these local churches will back Timothy as this has been his burden for almost 10 years now! Friday allowed us to have an 11 hour ride back to the capitol of Chad, Ndjamena. I grew up trying to avoid pot holes in Detroit. These roads had craters! Since Air France only flies on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, we have 48 hours to kill in a city that is not known for tourism. Timothy arranged for me to speak in a church on Sunday. Last Sunday I received an honorarium of two chickens. What do you think TSA will think of two, live chickens?
Report by Dan Brooks