So. My youngest child is going to Switzerland. But let me back up a bit.
Seven years ago my oldest daughter decided she wanted to go on a missions trip. She was 15 and had her heart set on Russia. So we started researching. We called all the mission boards we knew of and were told they didn't take teens. We considered sending her with different church groups, but never found one we were comfortable with. Then a friend told us that when she was a teen, she went on a trip with Teen Missions, International. And that was the end of the search.
Deb registered to go on the Siberia trip in the summer of 2003. The kids have to raise their own support through letters just like any other missionary. The process begins in December and takes months, but Deb got to see God provide like she never had before. Then three weeks before boot camp (two weeks of intensive training in the Florida swamps) she got a letter telling her the Siberia trip had been cancelled because they were unable to get Visas. She had to choose another trip. The girl could have gone anywhere in the world, so what did she pick?
And off to Cuba she went. Their "missionary" contact wouldn't give them their water purifyer, they saw young men hauled off by the police for disagreeing with the national propaganda, they were saught by police when they went to a fishing village far away from Havana, the entire team got horribly sick, she slept in a church with scorpions and tarantulas, and she came home with an intestinal parasite.
She loved it.
Then in 2004 Leah went with TMI to Poland to teach English to Polish teens in the Christian English Language Training school in Poznan.
In 2005, Abbie and Deb both went to New Zealand and Australia (Deb was 18 by that time, and went as an assistant leader) to present the gospel in musical form and go street witnessing in Christchurch, NZ and Brisbane, AU.
These trips were by far the most personally challenging things my daughters had ever done, and they came home very different people. Something about making you responsible for yourself, your own laundry (done in a bucket), your own devotions, your own attitude, your own walk with the Lord. But as difficult as they were, the girls have all wanted to go back. Leah and Abbie want to volunteer at the two week bootcamp next summer.
When Abbie was getting ready to go on her trip, we mentioned that the last one to go would be Elijah, and he scoffed. He insisted he had no interest in going on a trip with TMI, but somewhere over the last three years that changed.
The day after the list of next summer's trips came out, he was looking them over deciding where he wanted to go. He chose Switzerland. His team will be working at the YWAM facility there, doing some construction and painting. In their off time and on the weekends, they will go out in the community to pass out tracts and witness. He is excited out of his mind. He wants to buy his boots NOW.
So if you have teens, or even pre-teens, check out TMI. They will thank you for it. And check out the pictures of last summer's boot camp here. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I have a houseful of people who can answer any question you have.
Be thankful ~
This just in: CBS is showing the documentary "The Lord's Boot Camp" about Teen Missions on Dec. 13 at 9 pm. Look for it in your area!
Edited to add: Be sure to read the comments left by two of my daughters who have gone on trips with TMI. They are more convincing than I could ever hope to be.