Who Am I?  Part 5

1979 was  an exciting year as well as a transitional year.  I had finished one year of University, and at the same time I was preparing to go on my first real missionary experience with Teen Missions International (TMI).  I was going to go to Brazil for a summer and help build a school extension and a guest house for a New Tribes Mission base up the Amazon river.  That will be the content for a future story.

What I can say is that the summer mission experience was life changing for me.  From the very beginning of the training we received in the swampy Everglades of Florida, until the summer mission project was finished, I knew that I had discovered a mission that I could believe in and put my energies into.  You can read about the Boot Camp training we received before we went to our overseas country in another article called, “Get Dirty For God“.

During the Boot Camp time, I did hear something that caught my attention.  Some of the TMI staff told all of us about a marvelous opportunity to serve the Lord after we had finished our summer mission.  What they wanted to do was to form one or two small teams that would travel all over North America to visit churches and Christian schools to do recruitment and advertise for Teen Missions.

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And so as my summer time in Brazil came to a close, I thought about my two options: go back to the university in Calgary, or travel around North America and do mission presentations.  Hmmm….tough choice, right?  Well, actually it was.  Considering that I had received enough scholarships to pay for four years of university training, the idea of giving that up and trusting God to provide enough money for me to buy my next meal was quite a staggering idea for an 18-year-old.

But I felt the leading of God’s Spirit to say yes to the idea of joining a Teen Missions Travel Team.  And part of my personal confirmation of this was the fact that at the last minute, while I was raising support donations for my summer mission work, a donation came in that nearly doubled what I needed for the summer.  (You can read that story here.)  And that was enough to carry me through part of the Fall.

And so when I came back from Brazil, I asked the leaders of TMI if I could join one of their travel teams and they said yes.  I had a few days in Florida before the training started, and I phoned back to Calgary to talk everything over with my parents.  Just like with my decision to go off with the Navy, my parents once again gave me their blessing to follow my own decision.

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The Travel Team training was conducted at a camp in New Jersey and lasted two weeks.  There were enough volunteer members that we were able to form two teams.  During this time, we learned a number of important skills for doing presentations, like short dramas, puppet skits, musical arrangements, working with stage props and becoming familiar with the TMI promotional materials.

Once we finished our training, we immediately hit the road and started driving toward our first places to do our presentations.  The other team headed toward a different state, while our team headed toward Canada where we were  going to do some presentations in Ontario and then head west across Canada.  I guess they figured I would be their personal tour guide across the country being the only Canadian on the team.  : )

We went through the state of New York and crossed the bridge at Buffalo, NY to enter Canada.  The Customs Officer there asked our leader lots of questions about what our Travel Team was going to do and I think he got nervous and started telling a whole lot more than he needed to.  So when he got to the part about how we would visit churches and they would take up an offering, immediately the Officer thought this was a form of “work” and denied the team entry into Canada.  : (

Although we tried to convince the Officer we were not coming into Canada illegally to do work, we still ended up going back to Buffalo in the middle of the night.  And what a night that was!  On that night, God showed His hand powerfully in both providing for our team and also protecting my life personally from a life threatening situation.  And that unfortunately will also have to wait until a later posting.

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Now to make a long story short, the rest of the team went back to Florida while I went back to Calgary for a few weeks until we could come up with a new plan and a new travel itinerary.  It worked out that our team was able to come back together to do a tour of schools and churches in the province of British Columbia and the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  (We had a new leader this time and so getting across the border into Canada went well.  Hurrah!!)  : )

Stay tuned for many more stories about my adventures with Teen Missions.

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