Just a bit of summary of this years trip...
We were ecstatic to be able to have a full 10 (6 Zim newbies) on our team this year! Our main plan was to build the staff accommodations that the camp had recently raised money for, but other than that, we weren't sure what needed to be done, so we just prayed about it and let God lead us on the adventure He had planned!
Our trip started with a trip around the farm (460 acres) and a chance to get to know one of our hosts, Alistair Croudace, who knows everything about everything when it comes to his land and what's on it. After an introduction to the land, we walked around the camp so the new team would not only see where they'd be working that week, but also, all the things God has let Lasting Impressions do and build not only in the last 20 years, but especially the last couple. It's so incredible to witness firsthand the growth of this place from when we started sending teams in 2008...God's hand truly is in this land.
First thing on the agenda...clear a road for the truck to bring the 2 containers we're outfitting for staff accommodations and get the concrete slab ready. That meant chopping down small trees, breaking down rocks that could puncture tires and cleaning up the construction site. It was all hands on deck and although we were done when the containers were SUPPOSED to have been there, around noon, they didn't actually show up till about 8pm that night...oh Zimbabwe time. But our guys were ready, and although tensions were high and they had to be quite creative, Al and the boys managed to get the containers set on the slabs and ready to go for the next day!
The next few days were spent, getting the containers positioned correctly, cutting windows and doors, ripping off all the rubber so the container doors could be welded shut, repairing the brick walls and slab, bringing in dirt and about 100 other things. We came together as a team, everyone with a job and got the work done. The girls (and some guys) learned new skills like using power tools and welding and everyone on the team was able to contribute.
Amidst all the construction though we had the chance to work with (2) 5th grade classes coming to a leadership camp. Although both camps were small and only 2-3 days each because most of the students just can't afford camp right now, we did our best to come alongside the instructors and help make the short amount of time we did have amazing for them. Danielle even did a great demonstration of living in the world but not of it using oil & water that went along great with her testimony!
Saturday, the girls went to Shelley's mom, Irma's house, to host a Ladies Tea that they have monthly for some of the local women. We had about 20 ladies there that we were able to minister to with Danielle's testimony, which allowed some of the women to feel comfortable enough to open up about things they never had before. We then had an awesome time making tear bottles based on the verse Psalms 56:8, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle." and getting to pamper the women with manicures & pedicures!
After connecting so well with the enthusiastic teachers at the the first camp, Eiffel Flats Primary, they invited us to come and see their school and take charge of a chapel for the kids. We were ecstatic! You never know what God has planned. The girls planned to do an amazing skit based on a story Buddy told us about a dragon and free-will (please ask one of the team of the whole synopsis), which went over well with the kids that ranged in age from 3-12, and then Stephanie and the music teacher, Trevor, lead the kids in learning a couple of new songs, which they of course LOVED since it had some great hand gestures :) After chapel we were invited to visit some of the classes with the teachers and meet the kids one on one. Some of our group really connected with the teachers and there were some great conversations.
After Eiffel Flats we headed to Jameson High to take over the Peer Educators group of students for the day. This 'club' was started by a teacher looking for a way to give students a chance to voice concerns that they deal with on a daily basis and learn ways to help and teach their peers and after she heard Danielle's testimony at the Ladies Tea, she asked her to come and share with them. This ended up being an amazing time of back and forth between us, the students and their teacher about issues they're dealing with at school and home and how some of our group have dealt with these issues in their own life. Our entire team had stories or words of encouragement for the students and I could not have been more proud of them all! It was truly a blessed time.
When we left Jameson we headed to Tariro Orphanage, which we visit every year. They had be given the opportunity to move into a larger home in a neighborhood after the hospital took back the home they were living in and it was so encouraging and happy to see them so proud of their bunkbeds and room that the Lord had blessed them with. We had an amazing time singing to each other and then playing a rousing game of 'keep away' or something :) It was so nice to be able to love on these kids, even if our time was so short.
The rest of our time in country was spent finishing the staff accommodations, getting to know the camp instructors, the Croudace family, and then finally having a bit of fun seeing some African wildlife at Thetford Reserve & Mwanga Lodge.
This was just a glimpse of our time in Zim, but I would encourage people to ask our team members about THEIR experiences and what God taught them, because in all my years of coming to Zim, one thing I learn is that God teaches us all something different and amazing if you just listen and let Him speak.
Thank you to Calvary Chapel Chattanooga Missions Department and all our our financial and prayer supporters. We quite literally couldn't have made this trip happen without you and I know the kids, teachers and LI staff thank you as well for the encouragement you sent with our team. We've been told many time over the years how much it means to them to know that a group of people 8,000 miles away cares about them and is praying for them...and that's why we go back year after year.
If you'd like to know more about Lasting Impressions Wilderness Camp, visit their website at
www.lasting-impressions.org. And to get a glimpse of the heart of the camp, watch the Leadership Camp and Environmental camp videos on the Programs page!
Enjoy the pictures and videos! They're not really in order...sorry...