Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gone, Gone, Gone

Today marked the end of an incredible two weeks. These past two weeks were some of the most memorable and in these past two weeks I truly witnessed the power of our God. I witnessed his capability to take broken relationships and restore them.  I witnessed God's power made perfect in my weakness.

Two days before the session began, I received the news that I would be a co-counselor  for my sister's cabin. I was so excited, mainly because over the past year my sister and I had grown distant. We were no longer as close and our relationship felt stressed and forced. I knew God had big plans for my sister and I, but now looking back I know I underestimated the power of God. I also underestimated his ability to allow me to "connect" with other campers.

For the first week of the session I was 'Canteen Queen' or as many of my campers called me 'Canteen Nazi.' How did I acquire such nickname? Because I like to run a 'tight ship' and during my week in the canteen I was constantly cleaning. What I loved about canteen was that every day I was able to interact with every group three times. So even though I was a Hoche, I was still able to interact with Cheuks. One Cheuk camper in particular grabbed my heart the very first day. As a complete stranger, she reached out to me. She loved me before I even knew her name. This camper stole my heart, and as the session progressed we formed a very special bond. Such a bond that she trusted me, and would listen to me. When she was having a bad day or felt angry, I was able to whisper to her and immediately a huge smile came across her face. That toothless grin had a way to turn my day around as well. Her grin and a recent song Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillips Phillips helped me realize that our Creator will ALWAYS love us and that he will never leave us.

To further elaborate, some of the lyrics I love from this song are "I'll love you long after your gone." Even when my Cheuk camper left camp on Friday, I know I'll love her forever. In the same, I know that whenever I 'leave' or turn away from God I know that he's not moving on, but he will love me long after I'm gone. God never leaves us.  

"When life leaves you high and dry, I'll be at your door tonight if you need help." "If you need help, I'll share in your suffering to make you well." These phrases reiterate that God will always be there to help, and he will always love us no matter how long we turn away from him. As it says in Psalm 40:2 "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." God NEVER leaves us. While I know God will never leave me, I also find great importance of stressing to our campers that we won't leave them either. The same camper  I mentioned earlier also had a habit of 'pretending' to be mad. She would run away 'upset', but every time I was with her I made a point to follow her. Giving her space, I let my presence say it all. Even though I knew she wasn't really upset, she wanted to know that I cared. She wanted to know that I wanted her, and that I wouldn't leave her. When she was done playing this game, she would always run back to my arms and give me the biggest hug saying how much she loved me. From God's example, I have been able to realize that sometimes my campers just want to see that I will be there for them. Even if they are completely exasperating, pushing my patience to the max, these campers don't need to be yelled at or abandoned, instead we need to express God's love to them, by showing that we will go with them. Where they go, we will go. 

Isn't this one of the best ways to love one another? To show that even if we are upset, angry, or simply frustrated, we will still be there for one another. We will love no matter what is going on.  Even if those we love walk away or choose to walk out of our lives, we can show our love by loving them continually. Jesus is the perfect example of this love. Even as he was being crucified he still uttered out of love "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus loved us enough to die for us, so we alike can continue to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

While I was learning this lesson through my interactions with this Cheuk camper, I also witnessed the power of God made perfect in my weakness. Halfway through the session I was filling empty. Physically I wasn't sure how I was going to last another week. Yet, it was in these moments where I felt so empty that God spoke the most. One moment in particular I had the chance to meet with my sister and truly catch up. In one hour we shared the events of the past year. We cried together and prayed together. In one hour that began as I was too tired to move, I felt God soften my heart so that my sister and I could begin our relationship again. Another time, I decided to meet with my sister's best friend for quiet time to simply catch up and talk. I was exhausted, but for some reason I knew it was important to speak with her. What started out as a casual conversation, ended up as baptism study. Two days later, my sister's best friend was baptized into Christ. How powerful is our God that when I felt so empty, he provided me two occasions to see his goodness? 

This session was phenomenal. I cried a lot as I watched our God restore my spirit. I saw him heal my broken relationship with my sister. I witnessed his power as Becca was baptized. I laughed a lot too as I spent the second week of the session with the pee wees (day campers.) One funny story was when my pee wee camper came up to me. All session they had called me Mrs. Green, because obviously since I was a leader of their green group I was married to the other male staff member who was a leader too. "Mrs. Green!" She cried as she held her shirt up as she held something inside.

"I found some moth eggs and I'm going to take them hope and watch them hatch!!! Want to see?!"
As she unfolded her shirt, tears of laughter rolled down my face as the contents inside her shirt were not moth eggs, but instead was actually deer poop.

This instance was just one of many that had me rolling. How great is our God that we can laugh over such memories, and in the same way glorify him. God is good. 4th session was great, and provided SO many memories, but now we are on to our last 3 weeks of camp. Three more to go, and then in four weeks I will be back in College Station. Time flies, but in it all God continually shows me his goodness and his faithfulness.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Halfway There

At this point in the summer, we have completed 4 weeks of camp. Tomorrow we begin a month of camp with a day and a half off in the middle. 4th and 5th sessions are both 2 weeks that fall back-to-back. I feel like these 2 sessions are easily the hardest, but most fun of the summer. We, as a staff, learn to rely on God for strength and energy, and we begin to rely on each other for encouragement.

But before we begin 4th session, I feel blessed to share my experiences of 3rd session. For the first time in my staff career I was a Hoche. Usually for 3rd session the campers are extremely young, but this time we had surprisingly old Hoche campers. What a blessing it was to be able to talk, share beliefs, and love on my older girls. As picture lady, I was able to spend all but an hour and a half a day with my girls. I was able to really get to know them, which was such a blessing seeing as they were only at camp for 5 days. I had the opportunity to share my walk with Christ with them. For the first time, I stood in front of 11 girls and shared my heart, my struggles, and my journey with Christ. It was a first for me, and I believe that by sharing myself with the girls, they in turn trusted me enough to open up too. I learned of their hard home lives, the struggles they have seen, and the pain they are coping with. I learned how they struggle with being their own worst enemy and how as 15-16 year old girls they struggle to feel beautiful without the comfort of a mask of make-up. In a matter of 5 days, I mastered the role of co-counselor. I was able to be the 'fun aunt' in the sense that I was able to come in and be with the girls in a fun way, all the while still showing them the love of Christ.

For five days I watched as my girls began a process of healing. On the first day we talked of our 'spiritual life' and the girls opened up to how dirty sin has made them feel. By the last day I was able to witness the miracle of God's holy cleansing. As our girls watched Cross Devo, they truly realized that through Jesus' sacrifice they had been forgiven, cleansed of their sin. In tears we huddled together, and prayerfully thanked God for this opportunity to bond together and heal together. As a counselor I have witnessed the power of God. I have witnessed him heal hearts, bring cabins together, but for the first time I was able to feel a strong connection with my campers even though I was simply a co-counselor.

One camper in particular became like a sister to me. I don't know why I so blessed to become so close to her, but I thank God I was able to become an older sister to her too. Through her, I witnessed God's joy for his children. Through her example I saw how God could use brokenness as a tool to not only help others, but to help us grow. She was a light to our entire cabin. She light-heartedly joked with me, but at times was completely serious and shared her life with me. I was truly sad to see her go.

3rd session was one that will stick with me forever. Not only will I remember my memories and my campers, but my perspective has changed. My role of co-counselor has been redefined thanks to my Hoche campers. If you haven't been able to tell by now, God is working at Camp Deer Run.

I love camp so much because it shines a light on my life. It opens my eyes to my life, and helps me remember who I am, and who I can be in Christ. Camp Deer Run has helped me make positive changes in my life, changes to a life that out in the 'world' I thought I was perfectly content with. It has helped me cherish my true friendships, and realize what I need in a friend and in a 'significant other' one day LONG down the road. Spending 10 weeks out in the woods, with no AC, working with hundreds of children is difficult, but  camp is the only place that I feel so impressionable to God's will and his Word. My heart is so willing to be molded, so willing to make changes that I need to make to be closer  to him. God speaks to me and helps me make decisions, make changes that are more fit to his plan. How great is our God that his plan is perfect? How great is my God that his love for me never fails? I love Camp Deer Run. I love the people I work with. I love how I can sever my ties from the world and be perfectly ok for 10 weeks as I listen to God, and watch as he fulfills his promises. I love how I can feel him working in me and through me. I love that I can be so happy and so content while I am cut off from the 'world.' Once again, thank you to my friends and family. Most of you know that the beginning of the summer was beyond challenging. I am glad to say that I am happy, and I can feel God working in my life. I hope that y'all can witness it too.

God is GREAT!