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Andy Dalporto and I arrived safely in Mongolia a few days ago after several days of travel.

The team here, led by Mickey and Trina Cofer has continued to develop the camp property – formerly the first factory (sheepskin actually) in this area of Mongolia. It is incredible to see what they have accomplished. We have a smaller group of counselors this year but that is intentional. They wanted just enough for the number of campers coming – around 80 or 90. That’s the maximum number that can sleep in the 10 gers that are set up. They have had to turn away several groups because of space and could easily have doubled the number.

Andy has been busy helping wrap up any number of details in preparation for camp. Most recently, he cleared a field for a volleyball court and dug holes for the posts – on a tractor that is.

Report by Matt Collier

A good portion of the campers arrived about 6 hours early. We didn’t have as much time to get ready as we intended. By the way, that is unheard of in Mongolia – most of the time, everything runs behind schedule – by quite a bit. I asked them how it happened that a bus load of campers ended up coming so early and they said it is because the campers who came last year loved camp so much that they looked forward to it all year long – and so they decided to leave really early. (It also may have had something to do with the newly paved road that is now open from the capital – it cuts the trip down from 24 hours to 14 hours.) Still, the kids come late to everything…except for camp. I guess that is a pretty big compliment and a testimony to the impact that the first camp had. In fact, many campers from last year formed a fellowship group and have kept up with each other all year.

But let me tell you some about our group of campers this year. We have about 90 all told. Many, if not most of those are lost – some of them are pretty rough kids who have spent all their lives on the streets of the city. They smoke, drink, gamble and have grown up in sins of all kinds – and they are having an absolute blast. For most of them, this is the first time they’ve been out into the country and they are in the middle of a beautiful setting.

The Cofers have been gradually transforming these ancient, ruined buildings into something special. The main camp building is mostly complete. With the high ceiling, it is perfect for basketball and for services. The upper balcony area makes an amazing game room. New additions this year are a dodgem pit and a first rate carpet ball table (courtesy of Andy Dalporto). The maintenance guys joined forces to carve out an amazing volleyball court – over-looking the river. Also new since last year, is a water pump running to the main camp building. This saves literally hours and hours of time each day. Before, they had to back a truck down to the river and siphon it into a tank. This year, the property is much more prepared, allowing the Cofers more time to devote to the camp itself. But no one regrets having the camp last year – in spite of the rougher condition of the property, it paved the way for future years.

Report by Matt Collier

Thank you for praying – the Lord really did an amazing work over these past five days. From a program perspective, the camp went smoothly in practically every way. The kids had an absolute blast – the games, the competition, the food, the services, free time, the interaction with other young people – they loved it all. We had no trouble trying to get them involved in the games – they were eager to jump in – even the girls (which isn’t always the case.) Thankfully, we only had a few minor bumps and bruises because these kids play everything all out! One of the highlights was in the middle of the week: a three hour hike up the river and then up a mountain to get a beautiful overview of the lake and river. The camp is truly situated in a gorgeous setting. It also served to break up the time on the camp property – not that the campers wanted to leave – they would have been content to stay put the whole week. Basketball and ping pong were the dominate games, but volleyball and table games were a close second – especially the new carpet ball table which always gathered a crowd. When I asked the kids who wanted to stay at camp longer, every single hand in the room shot up.

Praise the Lord, the counselors did a great job. This was a new experience for most of them and I was a bit nervous about some of the younger ones, but they really stepped up. During free time it was a common sight to see a counselor and a camper sitting at a picnic table deep in conversation. They really took the challenge seriously to get with each of the campers individually before the end of the week and it showed in the decisions that were made throughout the week. Even though we don’t have an exact number yet, according to the counselors, quite a few young people made professions of faith.

After camp, Andy and I had a chance to walk over the property with Mickey and talk about his plans for future development. It is amazing what God has already provided. There is enough work there to keep several people busy for decades, but so much has already been accomplished. With a new road open from the capital to their area, their little town is really booming and they are poised to make a huge difference. Even during the short time that we were with them, several pastors who were in the area stopped by to ask about the possibility of using the camp facility for their people. And there is no reason to think that the trend won’t continue. It is really encouraging to see how God is using them and many others. Looking back on this trip, I can see countless ways in which God has directed our steps and met needs.

Report by Matt Collier

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