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Safe travels and good flights allowed us to arrive in Mexico City right on schedule. From there we had a 4 hour drive to Poza Rica. That drive had us passing through towering mountains and huge pyramid temples that were built by a tribe that was in political power at the time of Christ.
Poza Rica is an old oil city that is slowly drying up but it is rich with ministry. There is a solid team of young servants who have been taught by a veteran missionary, Sam Hornbrook. This weekend, we had the privilege to hear Brother Sam tell story after story of how God used him through very hostel situations. It is always a blessing to hear the stories of God showing Himself powerful over the wicked who think they are in control.
The first day of training was very well received. It was obvious many had attended training last year when Matt Collier and Tim Chapman met here. I am excited to listen as these counselors work through case studies. We will leave after the Sunday morning service for the rented camp facility and then camp starts on Monday. There are 5 churches bringing a total of 130 mainly churched teens. Matthew Bixby (a missionary in the area) will speak for the morning services and I have the privilege to speak for the evening services.
The campsite sits at 10,000 feet in the mountains. The advantage of the location is the refreshing cool temps. We will welcome those temps as Poza Rica is very hot and muggy. The challenge of the elevation is the endurance of the teens with the thin air. Jason Clark has joined me for this trip. He has been a part of The Wilds Camp Apprentice program for the last two years. He is excited to minister in Mexico as it is where he was born. He is doing a session this morning on how a counselor can effectively use questions.
Report by Dan Brooks
On Sunday, we were to leave at 2 pm for the camp. We made to the church by 2:30 to see that we were working in Mexican time. We left around 4 pm. Well, a 3 hour trip turned into an 8 hour adventure as a steep mountain highway fought against our loaded minivan and won. It over-heated and then even after cooling down, it would not start. We were on a small shoulder of the busy highway. I will spare you the details but after much prayer and playing with many wires we limped our way to within a mile of the camp when it finally said, “no more.” We got to our cabins by midnight.
Monday was busy as we lost hours of work planned for the night before. The decorations for the theme were amazing! Aztec and Mayan pyramids and decor covered the front wall. The counselors put on their costumes and we felt like we were back in time. As the campers arrived they were impressed too. Check-in saw many changes but when we were finished we ended with the estimated number of 120.The counselors made their costumes come alive for orientation and then we played Big Ball, which was a hit. We were told the thin air would cause issues so I was ready to do 2 minute segments. After 2 minutes I could tell they were doing great. I stuck with the normal 4 minutes and they finished strong!
I talked with a few campers and they said it was their favorite game of the week.
The air was thin at 10,200 ft. No one complained about the cooler temperatures. Jason was well received by all. He is very personable but it helps that his mother is from Mexico. Everyone was pleased to try to communicate about that. He really fit right in and tried hard to remember his Spanish. His major responsibilities were to help with the games and skits. I was thankful to have him. He also gave his testimony to the boys during an afternoon session.
The young people easily listened to the preaching. I preached in the evening services and Matthew Bixby taught the chapels, speaking on the essential virtues of II Peter 1. Actually Matthew spoke morning and evening since he did my translation. I am not sure if he gave me a compliment or not. He said I was easier to translate for than Matt Collier. He said Matt uses more complex thoughts and words. The truth comes out again. I am a simple minded guy. Matthew and Susan are missionaries in Monterey, and they came 12 hours as they did last year to help with camp. What a blessing they were. They constantly were asking how they could help next. As I mentioned in my first report the vast majority of our campers were faithfully attending church, yet it was soon obvious that we had a number who were unsaved. At the last counselor meeting it was exciting to find out how much fruit came from using freetime to approach the campers about their walk with God. By the end I think we had about 10 professions and numerous other decisions.
They had a camper testimony time the last evening. Many testified how they and their families had been going through tough times but this week of camp had allowed them to have fun and also get their mind back on trusting God. One young lady said it had been a year since she had laughed. This week gave her back the joy that her name means in her tribal language. I am very excited for the future of camping in this area. They have a great team with an aggressive vision, yet a strong philosophy. The campers love and respect them greatly.
Report by Dan Brooks