Monday, June 26, 2017

Camp Blessing

Dearest Readers,

Every week of camp has left me feeling something different, but some of the emotions are always the same. I always feel the same sadness when my campers leave. Their parents just whisk them away and suddenly the ones who have made up my world for five days are gone, and I feel very bereft. I always feel a little bit (or sometimes, like this week, a lot) of failure for all the things I wish had happened and the conversations I wish I had gotten to have. I also always feel an overwhelming sense of wonder that this is the life I get to live. That even as these precious ones are leaving, I know another group will be here in just a couple days. I feel like squeezing my co-cabin leader really hard (and often do) because she showed me so much of Jesus in our week together and getting to serve these amazing kids and love on their SOTKs (servants of the King) together is the most beautiful thing ever.

Camp has been so much more than I ever imagined. It has been simply incredible. I want the friends I’ve made here to follow me around for the rest of my life. I’ve learned a lot about living with purpose because you only have a few days with these campers and SOTKs. I’m also learning so much about praying expectantly. I’ve read so many books about missionaries and the ways God fulfills promises and does amazing things on the mission field. The same things are happening here at camp, and I want to keep praying expectant prayers even after I leave. Everything here is tailored to fit people with disabilities—even the way we applaud each other, by clasping our hands together above our heads and shouting “O”—a standing ovation that you can do sitting, even if you can’t clap or if the sound of clapping is too much for you. I love living in a world like this.

A new emotion I felt this week was frustration at unchanged hearts. I’m getting to live in a world this summer where people with disabilities are viewed as perfect and beautifully and wonderfully made—and it’s amazing. But we also get new volunteers each week, and sometimes that isn’t the way they see our campers. I’ve struggled this weekend with so much anger and hurt and wondering at why I can’t better communicate how much I love these people in a way that makes everyone around me love them, too.

I started writing this to process that—the impossible struggle of living in a world that doesn’t view these people the same way. But last night, we stood outside and let the rain run down our hair and onto our feet and worshipped, and God changed my heart. I realized I had been focusing so much on all the wrong things.

The night before one of my friends had encouraged me in this struggle—she told me that this battle to try to convince people to see what to me is so obvious but to them is just not is like the way God tries to tell the nonbeliever about His love, or even our own stubborn hearts. He must get oh so very frustrated when He has told me I can trust Him and it’s the simplest truth to Him, and yet for me it will be a struggle to understand for my whole life.

We have little “mailboxes” where staff can write each other encouragrams, and one of my friends wrote and assured me that God was the one who got to change those hearts, not me. Another wrote just with encouragement. And I was held this week as I cried over this failure that hurt really bad. I was met with so much love. That’s what I should be focusing on. This week was really hard, and I do feel like I failed, but camp is probably the perfect place to fail and to hurt, because you are met with an overwhelming amount of love and truths.

I am working on letting go of the fact that I can’t change all hearts to match mine. But I’m also going to celebrate the beautiful gift that there are so many people who see these dear ones with the same eyes—and I get to be surrounded by them this summer. What a joy.

Your blogger,

 Claire (or my camp name—Sonrisa)

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