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Our travel to the Bukidnon area of Mindanao (look it up on the map – we are in the cities of Valencia and Malaybalay) was quite long and tiring, but adventurous. We left The Wilds around 4:45 on Thursday morning and arrived at our final destination on Saturday evening after nearly 48 straight hours of travel. The last 5 hours we were packed in a van (not much bigger than a mini-van) with all 10 of us (7 Americans and 3 Filipinos) and all of our luggage.
It has been very rainy here all day today. I mean really rainy. Usually the church has it services in an open air gymnasium type location, but they moved inside to a small classroom today because of the hard rain and strong winds. I really strained my voice trying to speak over the noise of the rain.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be up around 6:00 again in order to go speak to the teachers at the school here. Starting tomorrow evening we will have two different tracks for training people for camp. We will have an evening class that goes from 7:00 – 9:30 from Monday – Thursday. We will also have training from 8:00 – 11:30 each morning from Tuesday to Friday. There will be about 30 in the evening training times and 100 in the morning. I will be sharing the training speaking with a couple guys from The Wilds and a few Filipinos. On Friday evening through Sunday morning I will be running an Evangelistic camp with those who we will be training. We are expecting around 100 campers.

Report by Matt Herbster

On Wednesday night, Tim, Cherie and I had the opportunity to be with the congregation at Mt. Calvary Baptist church pastored by Dan Cadavos. Tim spoke in the mid-week service, and I was able to share some truths with the teachers from the Christian school there. After that service, we piled into the back of a little “bus” with about ten people from that church and made the 45-minute drive to Valencia City, for Day 3 of staff training. That bus ride was one of the most fun things I’ve experienced on this trip. We had a great time laughing and playing games in the back of that bus.

Well, we are off to our final morning of training, and then tomorrow half of us will head up to one campsite, and the other half will help set up camp at the seminary.

Report by Matt Tracy

It is 5:30 am here on a Saturday morning and camp is buzzing. I hear people right outside my room getting ready for their “bath” and talking loudly in their native language and laughing loudly. There are roosters, sick sounding chickens, campers trying to sing like a rock star, and Sarah commenting “what is wrong with that chicken?” I’m glad I already got up and had my “shower” (buckets of cold water over my head). Our counselor meeting is in 45 minutes at 6:15.

The first night went well. The counselors, so far, are doing a great job of jumping in and embracing the whole camp scenario. They have been incredibly friendly to their campers and they have been looking to serve however they can. There is a 3:1 ratio of campers to counselor here because of a misunderstanding with what counselors would serve at what camp. Tim & Cherie and Matt Tracy are at another camp this weekend and some of our counselors were supposed to be with them, but the school president wouldn’t let them go.

I’ve been on several CampsAbroad trips so you think I’d be used to the chaos on the first night. Not so. It was 6:00 last night (orientation at 6:30) with close to 80 campers on the campsite and we still didn’t have an accurate list of our counselors, nobody knew what team they were on and my Filipino director of this camp was nowhere to be found. We have an unofficial motto on our CampsAbroad trips  – “be flexible or die.” As usual, it wasn’t pretty, but it all worked out and the campers are having a wonderful time.

Orientation (complete with Minute-To-Win it type interruptions), supper (chicken and rice), our first game (a wild and loud game of Bucket Ball) and the service were all later than planned but all went very well. I had the privilege of preaching last night to approximately 90 campers and 30 counselors. I never get over the opportunity to declare the gospel to people . . . especially to those who most likely have never heard the truth.

Today we will be having breakfast soon, then a session, 3 Ball Baseball, another session, lunch, Spoke Tag, another session, free time, supper, Fun Time and service. Please pray for safety, good organization and (most importantly) the power of the Gospel to change lives.

Some of you have asked specifically about Sarah. Let’s just say that she has been extremely popular over here. It is very funny! The campers love trying to talk with her (especially the boys) and they all just giggle and laugh when trying to use their English. Sarah has made a lot of friends and I’m thoroughly enjoying having her with me.

Report by Matt Herbster

Camp ended for both teams on Sunday around lunch time. Both teams met for lunch and then we started the long windy, crazy, but beautiful drive to Davao. It was great to swap stories of our camp experiences.

There were definite unique things about each camp (Malaybalay where Tim, Cherie and Matt Tracy was much more rustic), but we concluded that both camps went extremely well. There were many saved at both camps and the pastors could only comment that they wanted more training to be able to do the camp again next year in an even better way.

Nothing goes perfectly at these camps and we saw once again that the place is definitely the least important “P” in the four parts of a good camp. The people here were amazing. Our Filipino friends from Iloilo were superb. Our local pastors (Chester, Raafji and Dan Cadavos) jumped in and in a very good way “stole the show.” This is what CampsAbroad is all about . . . training the nationals to serve their own people and making ourselves as “not needed” as possible. We, as The Wilds staff, are being challenged and encouraged and the nationals can’t thank us enough for the training they are receiving. On top of all that, teenagers are being rescued by the gospel from the bondage of sin.

Report by Matt Herbster

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