From the 25th of December 2016 to the 1st of January 2017 I was given the opportunity by United Youth Corps in conjunction with the Good Works Program to attend and participate as staff and a camp counselor at the united youth and family camp in South Africa. The camp was held north west of Johannesburg at a camp called "Camp Nelu." This was very exciting for the South African youth as it was the first camp that has been organized and executed in over seven years.

We arrived in Johannesburg late Friday afternoon, December 23rd, after a short 15+ hour flight. Jason Webster, a deacon in the local congregation picked us up from the airport along with Nick and Megan Lamoureux. He and his wife Monique live in Pretoria with their four children. We had a lovely candle lit meal with them outside under a tree in their yard as the clouds rolled in and we could see lightning off in the distance. Jason drove us to the Avalon Guest House where we would be staying for a few nights before camp on Sunday.

It’s hard to believe an entire year has passed since the first Youth Camp in Brazil, but now, one year later and with an exciting new venue, we were about to embark on another four days of life in the “zone.” Due to its position only a couple degrees north of the equator, the climate in Boa Vista is hot and humid, with very little fluctuation in temperature. During our stay, we averaged about 95 degrees Fahrenheit every day.

Camp was hosted at Eco Park Resort roughly 45 minutes west of Boa Vista. We had fantastic weather throughout the week with a rain shower each day during lunch that helped to drop the temperature for the second half of daily activities. All of the volunteers and campers had arrived to Eco Park by 3pm on December 26. For the remainder of this day we discussed the planned activities, settled into dorms, fellowshipped and learned the layout of the resort.

I’m looking out over the lake on our last morning at camp, feeling protective as I recognize the 13 bobbing heads in the water. They love the swimming pools even though the breeze is cool and clouds cover the skies.

It was an exciting day for the Guatemala Youth Corps group. We woke up early to take a three-hour bus ride to Guatemala City to visit the dump, cemetery, and preschool. In the morning, we visited the Guatemala dump and cemetery. A man named Jeff Ware from Hope Renewed International gave us the tour. Hope Renewed is a Christian based organization whose goal is to show the love of Christ and help improve the lives of the Guatemalan people. Because of the high poverty rate in Guatemala, there are many people that live in and around the dump.

Jonathan rides furiously through town, Mario style, in a Tuk Tuk on our way to the home of a Guatemalan woman that used to be a cook at the Eagle’s Nest Orphanage for a traditional meal.

From dough balls we created tortillas for our meal at Estella’s house turned restaurant. Her daughter pictured above helped us, but some of us were more successful than others.

Camp ended on Friday afternoon, and we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon and evening with the other staff. Sabbath morning we would need to leave at 8:30 for 11:30 services in Maloca de Moscou. We were able to use the bus from Eco Park which was air-conditioned with padded seats, although were it full, it would be much less space per person than I was used to. I enjoyed gazing out the window at the distant mountains and rather empty savanna landscape. Others were limited by the screen printed promotional images of smiling swimming children plastered on the back windows.