Oh my days I have so much to write, for now I’ll update you on my week at MTO and then I’ll write a separate post about Australia!
My journey to Holland started at 12.30am Thursday 12th of August. I had to get the bus down to Manchester Airport and then fly to Brussels with about 10 teens that were also travelling to MTO. After arriving at Brussels (Belgium) around 9am we went to Zaventem which was about 5 mins away from the airport and I hung out with the missionary teens for the morning before we all went to the camp site in the afternoon. It was so cool to meet up with everyone again. Some faces I hadn’t seen for years, and for others, months.
The theme this year was Secrets Revealed which explored our lives with God as (i) His favourite, (ii) through suffering, (iii) Him being our guide, (iv) perseverance through these struggles, (v) choices, and (vi) hope. We were at camp for seven full days and each day we explored one of the above bullet points. One of the days’ in between we went to the theme park.
Life at MTO (missionary teens only) involved getting up. Meeting up before breakfast to make sure everyone was awake. There were about 100 people this year including staff and their families. For those who were late they had to complete “brown squirrel”; a forfeit song to sing in front of everyone. Breakfast. Attending the leaders meeting which was a discussion about the day’s events. Attending the main meeting; which was a fun introduction to the morning’s topics. After the ain meeting we split off into our net groups which I was a leader of to seven other girls. This time was spent as a small group study/discussion/prayer time together. Then there was participating in the “Wild Thing”; a game to break up the morning but was themed according to the morning’s program. A time of worship then a time of silence to speak to God. Express group which was a small group based on age to discuss the morning’s teaching or previous day experiences etc. Lunch. Free time for an hour unless you were on clean up. Required fun for an hour. Then multiple workshops between 4pm-6pm that consisted of swing dance, sports, crafts, nail painting, running 6k etc. Dinner. Issue based discussions. Laura and I led one this year based on “Walking with God through Loss and Change”. Snacks. The night game. Then “Girl Talk” or “Manly Moments” depending on whether you were a guy or girl. Then lights out at midnight. Our days were pretty full!
I have many stories to share about this year’s MTO. Sunday night for the night game we played “House on Fire”. A game where everyone splits into guy/girl partners and have to run and get a chair when the couple’s number is called. Anyways, this time… to cut a long story short… I ended up crashing into Laura and Daniel who were already sitting down and my toes went very hard into the mental bar across the bottom of Laura’s chair. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because it hurt so much. Instead, I hobbled out of the room to the dinning room were I said to Kim, “Um, kim… I need some help, I’m not good”. My toe nails were bent backwards on both feet, I couldn’t move my toes at all on my left foot which were also red and swollen and bruised… we thought I broke my toes. The bad part was we were all going to a theme park the next day and I was determined to go. So after a good night’s sleep, a lot of prayer and being piggy backed by Kim to and from places… I went to the theme park wearing and managed a painful two third’s of the day before going back to the camp 5 hours before everyone else haha. My toes are fine now just bruised and so I like to think God healed them 🙂 However, that did mean my activities for the rest of the week were limited… no running around, no dancing, no playing games… missing out on “Fat Rabbits” was a killer!!
But my birthday which was on the Tuesday was awesome!! The place was decorated and Laura gave me an awesome letter which I will blog in my next post. She had me weeping as I read it because I was so proud of her… for choosing to hold fast to God through Mike’s death; seeing how God reveals secrets to us when we preserve, seeing his grace and love and what that can do to us…. and I was also hurting for those who don’t turn to God when they need to or for turning away from Him because they couldn’t preserve through it. They miss out on so much.
This year was an interesting year. It was my 4th year as a leader and 3rd year as staff but still I learnt so much in relation to leadership. Many things came up this year and many things I would do differently next year. Also, I had an awesome net group again this year. Every year I think to myself that next years group cant be as great but each year I love my group. They are such awesome girls. It was hard I think for me and Hanna to lead 7 girls as it meant there were 9 of us. Usually we have a smaller group and going deep can be done more easily. But I’m hoping I can continue to support the girls through out the year.
It’s always hard to say goodbye. There’s discussion about another MTO reunion which I will look into. What I loved about this year was everyone from day one clicked with at least one other person. Usually there’s also a small handful who are on the edge but this year it was nice to become one big family very quickly. I actually found it very difficult to connect with people to start off with. Since Mike died I have become a lot more reserved in my heart around people and a lot of my out going personality is forced and an act because I so badly want to still be “people” person. I don’t think there’s a problem with that it’s just if I didn’t do that I would be quiet and lonely from the sidelines!
There’s so much more to write about in regards to MTO but I don’t have the time to share it all. In closing however things about the future became clearer and so my time in Australia will involve continuing this exploration. Anyways… that’s it for now about MTO!