Thursday, June 30, 2011

Childhood heroes

Camp is awesome so far!  We started out with a couple of parent/child weekend groups back in early May. The last one was a mother/son group a couple of weekend groups.  With no disrespect at all to moms out there, mothers are an interesting group to see when camping with their sons!  I think one of my favorite lines was a mom asking her son if he needs to wash his hands and he answered, "No, it's okay.  Dad doesn't even make me bring a toothbrush when he brings me here".

This past Sunday our staff training program started up.  It's a 6 week program called LGP (Leadership Growth program).  The 1st three weeks these guys are pushed a little bit physically and spiritually.  They run.  Everywhere.  No walking.  They swim every morning.  Not the swimming I do with a raft.  These guys swim some serious laps every morning.  After they run.  The last three weeks they are a camp apprentice.  They learn how to run ranges and how to be a camp counselor.  The following summer they are invited to return as a paid staff.

Lately, I've been feeling really blessed to be back at this place.  5 years ago when I left, I had no intention of ever returning for anything.  Not for a visit and certainly not to work.  Yet, here I am.  Back in my old job again.  And loving it even more!  I feel a bit like Peter in the Bible.  He messed up.  He denied even knowing Jesus.  Later on, Jesus forgives Peter.  But He doesn't stop there.  He also restores Peter as a disciple and he goes on to be a key member of the early church.  I'm not saying I'm Peter, but I love that restoration.  Yesterday I was hanging out with Nate who is one of the leaders of this years' LGP.  He said something to me that meant a lot.  We were walking to the pool to set up tiki torches for a night swim because of a crazy idea I had.  On the way there he looked over at me and said "I don't know if I told you this or not yet, but you're like the perfect person for this job".  He went on about why he's been having so much fun the past couple of weeks being here.

But I titled this blog childhood heroes...growing up I had a few heroes.  I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan.  I loved Captain Planet.  I was into the A-TEAM (still am!).  I also saw guys like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as heroes.  The other day at dinner one of the kids in LGP and I were talking.  This kid was one of my campers years ago.  It's pretty cool to see how he has grown up and his eagerness to serve.  As we were talking he told me that I was one of his childhood heroes.  Man!  I was blown away by this!

It was a really awesome thing to hear both these things.  But it really made me think how much has changed in the last 5 years.  5 years ago I wouldn't have known how to handle those kinds of compliments.  They would have gone right to my head and ego.  I look at things like this and other words of encouragement that I have received since I've been here and can't help but point to God as the true miracle worker here.  To be honest, I almost feel inadequate.  I've woken up the past few mornings feeling so far behind where I need to be.  Yesterday we had a new program for families arrive.  They showed up around 10AM.  I was just finishing the staff list and schedule sometime after 9AM.  Yet, these guys are having so much fun!  It isn't because I whipped up a quick schedule.  It's because I think I'm finally learning how to use some of my gifts in a new way.  A way that glorifies the Father, not myself.  It's an incredible journey.  One that I know will continue.

More to come later I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another adventure...this one had nice rangers and cops

The camp I'm at has been looking for a donated car that is fuel efficient for a little while.  They needed something that can make trips into town and around camp that gets better gas mileage than the 15 passenger vans we have.  A former board member and good friend of camp decided that he would donate his '98 Toyota Corolla to camp.  So yesterday Chris G from camp and I drove to NJ to pick up the car.  it was about an hour and a half drive to get there.  We hung out with Mike for a short time and were on our way back to camp.  Mike mentioned that there was a slow oil leak, but that he had just topped off the oil so it should be fine for some time.  Everything was good.  Good until about 15 minutes from camp.  I had the sunroof open and the windows down and some music on the radio.  I was following Chris back to camp but a car ended up between us.  No big deal I thought; I knew the way from where we were.  All of a sudden I heard this thud and some clanging.  I drove a few hundred yards trying to figure out if the sound was the song on the radio or not (I was leaning towards not).  I pulled over hoping that Chris would see me, which he did not.

I got out and looked around the car.  The front was fine, so were the tires.  Then I got to the back of the car and sure enough the exhaust pipe was resting nicely on the road.  Not bolted to the bottom of the car like it should be.  I should point out that since I left my last job I had to give back my cell phone (company phone).  So, I was out here with no phone and no way to reach anyone.  I actually thought that it was humorous already.  I could already see this being the start of another one of those camp stories.

I waited a few minutes in hopes that Chris noticed I wasn't behind him anymore.  Finally, I decided that I would start walking to find a phone and call camp.  My only prayer was to not have to walk too far.  I got out of the car just as a park ranger was coming over the hill and saw me.  I flagged him down and told him what had happened.  He was kind enough to let me use his phone to call camp.  That was a fun conversation:  "Hi Terry, it's Ray is Chris (other Chris, director Chris) there?"  "Yes, but he's on the phone right now"  "Can you get him, this is kind of important?"  "Maybe, but he's on the phone can I have him call you back?  What is your number?"  "Well, not really...this is a park ranger's cell phone because I'm broke down on the side of route 611.  Can you please interrupt him and let him know?"  "yeah, I'll see what we can do and send someone to pick you up"  "Thanks, we may need some tools too..."

Finally the Chris I was following was called and got back to me.  By this time, the ranger had already taken down all of my license info, verified the car's paperwork and a local cop had pulled up to the scene too because apparently he wanted my info as well.  So, there Chris and I were on the side of 611 with a park ranger SUV and a cop car behind us with flashing lights as we sat on the trunk of the car (partially hoping that they didn't ask to see inside the trunk as it was filled with a few circular saws and variety of other donated tools).  We had a few more calls with camp to figure out where they were.  It seemed like the cop didn't like that the car was donated and was registered as a utility vehicle in NJ before we registered it in PA.  He also was apparently cautious that I knew nothing at all about the car or the paperwork for it.  Both said that they would wait for the camp director to show up with the tag and notary paper work from the day before to verify that everything was legit.

It was kind of a funny feeling watching all these cars pass us by rubber necking to see what we had done to warrant this kind of police presence.  I had actually thought about asking them to handcuff us for when the director showed up just to mess with him more.  We had a good time with it.  After about 15 minutes or so the cops decided that this wasn't worth their time, and they escorted me to a parking lot up the street and left.

So, that was this week's new adventure that was fun!  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adventures

If you know me real well you may know that there are two things I'm almost in crippling fear of.  Snakes and heights.  Keep that in mind.  Terrified of heights.

Yesterday was a HOT day!  It was in the high 90's with a heat index well over 100 degrees.  It was the kind of humidity that you walk outside and are in an instant sweat as your shirt sticks to your body.  We were going to go to Cape May for the afternoon and hang out by the beach.  Unfortunately, camp had quite a few things left to do to get ready for our Open House tomorrow.  So most of us stayed behind to get some more work done.  We still have a little ways to go.  Too many things broke on Wednesday and it took much of yesterday to fix them.  Eventually, Jay, Ashely and I decided that it was just too hot.  We ended up in the camp office eventually where the AC was cranking.  In that time we decided that we were bailing on dinner at camp and going to Owowcow (a little local ice cream place).  We left, had milkshakes for dinner and headed to the lake for some kayaking.  There is a really nice place where you can do some cliff jumping.  It took about 20-30 minutes to paddle out to the rocks, checked the water depth, tied the boats up and began to climb.  Jay was the first back into the water - looked over the edge and leapt. He surfaced and Ashley looked at me to go. I kindly said that she could go before me.  She jumped and resurfaced. And I froze, paralyzed with some crazy fear of heights.  I knew that there was no danger.  I would jump, and I would love it.  Knowing that there was no way back down without looking like a wimp, I looked at the water, found a burst and jumped.  I've done this here before and loved it even more this time.  The water was so refreshing!  After a killer hot day, this was great!  We jumped about 3 or 4 times each.  We were warned that a storm was headed our way before we left.  But there was barely a cloud in the sky.  Until my last jump.  I feel like it was bright out and when I jumped.  By the time I popped back out of the water it was getting dark!  The storm was close.  We hurried back to the kayaks and started back to shore.  We made it around a smaller shore line before the rain started.  As we rounded a bend, the rain became like little .bb's hitting us.  The wind was picking up and we could barely see the shore that we needed to get to anymore.  Still, we pushed through.  Then the thunder and lightning started.  The problem with this is that you are then the tallest thing in a wide open lake; it's the equivalent of walking through a big open field with lightning.  You don't generally want to do it.  But at this point we were in clear eyeshot of the shore we parked the van on.  Bit the wind was crazy!  It was almost like for every 3 paddles forward the wind and waves pushed us back one or two strokes.  Finally, we made the smart decision to turn around and take out on a smaller shore line under some cover of trees.  Turning around in crazy waves was awesome!  We didn't even have to really paddle anymore, the waves carried us right back where we wanted to be.  We waited the storm out a little while and enjoyed each other's company and the amazing lightning show around us.

All in all, it was a great time.  I think that we all have an adventure waiting for us.  We can stand at the top of the rocks and allow the fear to keep us from that adventure, or we can push through it and leap into the unknown.  And how refreshing that leap is!  I'm looking forward to so many more adventures like this one this summer.  And so many more in Kenya in the fall!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update letter

Update
Hey guys! I made it to the 1st step in this new journey. I got to camp last Tuesday night. This past weekend I was running my first program of the summer. We had about 14 pairs of fathers and sons come in Friday until Saturday afternoon. It was a great adventure. For many of them it was their first time away from home and out camping. For the weekend we had a nautical theme and talked about how fathers can help steer their sons in the right direction, just as our Heavenly Father steers and guides us. The boys also learned how to ride a horse, shoot archery, shoot a .bb gun as well as riding our brand new pedal carts.

Some amazing things are happening right now at camp. We have a brand new horse ministry starting up called Living Water Stables. A new full time staff member is running this program and taking care of all of our horses. We also have a new family that moved to camp to help with maintenance and general upkeep. It’s so exciting to see a fresh look at camp as these new staff members bring new ideas. Starting next week the summer staff will begin to slowly move in for work projects and staff training.

Please join me in prayer with a few things:

• That the summer staff will adjust well to the many changes around camp, especially the new families that are here. Please also pray for the new families that are going into their first summer working in a full time boys camp ministry.
• Pray for an increase in summer registrations. Right now we are at about 160 kids for the summer. Will you join me in praying that that number doubles! We serve a mighty God!
• Pray as I continue to prepare for Kenya in the fall. Pray that the Holy Spirit guides me in this next season.
• Pray for an abundance of faith and boldness as I continue to raise support.

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying with me for many months now. I am so blessed to have you all in my life!  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why don't some people get it?

This is more of a follow up to a previous blog here.

This weekend was a father/son weekend at camp.  It was really cool to see about 14 pairs of dads and young sons with each other.  Still, something that is so difficult for me to see is that awful cell phone.  I miss the days when camp was an area where phones had no reception.  I miss when you actually had to go back down to the airstrip at camp to make a call.  At least then when you were ignoring your child you had to make an effort to do so.

I will admit that there were only a few instances where this happened between Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  But it really breaks my heart to see.  When a son is playing a game with dad and dad's phone call becomes more important.  Or when sons are playing fooseball and air hockey and other games with their dads and a few can't because their dads are off in a corner playing with iphones and blackberrys.

I've always had an issue with this.  This weekend was an opportunity to say something.  While I was doing some morning announcements I got to talk a bit about my dad and the things I've always loved about him.  I challenged these little sons to really allow their dads to teach them something this weekend.  Maybe something about the archery, the horses or the .bb guns.  Maybe something about growing up for them.  I gave the kids a challenge to ask their dad questions.  And I lovingly challenged the dads the same.  What can they learn about their boy this weekend.  Can they push everything aside and be present with their son.

I think that most really did after this.  I loved looking around and stopping in on different range activities to see dads and sons with each other.  I loved hearing from Jay at the rifle range that he didn't see dads on phones unless they were taking pictures.  I loved seeing dads walking with sons up and down the road.

But I think that this really calls out issues that I talked about in my other blog. Why do we so struggle with being present with each other?  I'm glad that this weekend seems to have been a start for some dads and sons.  And I really hope that it continues.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

uh-oh

It's almost midnight.  I'm up at camp.  I can't sleep.  Here's my heart at this very moment.

I got to camp about 3 hours ago.  It felt good to be leaving West Chester.  At first.  I was so excited because this new season is starting.  My friend from camp, Jay, picked me up and we hung out for a bit.  He left after a little while ago to go home.  And here I am.  I have a dog to keep me company.  A dog who is only looking for her true friend, Chris, the camp director.  He is currently away as he is on his way to Boston tomorrow for a baseball game.  So here I am.  Wondering what tomorrow will bring.

I sat outside for a little while listening to some music.  Then, my thoughts took hold.  WOW!!  This is really it!  Seven months ago I so eagerly looked forward to today.  This was a new start.  A start of a journey chasing my passions.  And yet here I am.  More scared than ever.  I'm scared half to death right now.  Sorry, I'm just being honest.  I sat outside for a while tonight begging God for an answer to one specific question:  "Why me?".  Why chose me to be uprooted from everything in a town I've grown to call home.   I grew up in Catasauqua but I call West Chester home.  And I have been begging for an answer to why me to uproot from everything I've been comfortable and content with for nearly a decade now.  Why do i have to leave my family and friends in PA to go after something else?  Why can't I just stay here and do good works around West Chester?  Why do I have to be the one do give it all up?  And here's the honest and straightforward question:  I'm giving all this up, what is God giving up for me?

These past few years have taught me a lot.  One thing I've learned is not to hide from these seemingly dark feelings.  In fact, I have learned to almost embrace them.  Not to let them take root, but to embrace them enough to acknowledge them.  I can't hide my innermost heart from God so I might as well express it.  Right now, there is a TON OF FEAR!

I'm officially at the point of no return.  I can't go back now.  Or can I?  I wrote in a recent blog how this relates to a roller coaster.  Can I still get out of the car and take the steps back down?  I guess so.  I can.  My previous job has not been filled yet.  I can go back.  They will most likely give me my old job back, along with the perks.  But what I realized tonight is that's not me.  That's not my style anymore.  I'm not one to quit.  Sure, I used to be.  I used to be one to give up at the sign of a fight.  but not anymore.  I've learned a new identity in Christ.  I'm not giving up.  I have a new set of passions.  And dang it, I'm chasing them.  I'm chasing after a new journey that has been set before me because I know that the God who has given me these passions will not let me down.  He WILL work all things out.  I may have my own fears, but He is greater than those fears.  I'm uncertain of what life will look like in seven months.  But He already knows.  My job right not is not to know, but to trust.  And as much as I may have some doubts in the back of my head, I refuse to give them any more hold.  I will continue to trust.  I will continue to press forward on this new adventure.  And if it leads me to stay in Kenya, that's awesome.  And if it leads me back to the US to other things, that's awesome too.  And if it happens to lead to another part of the world...well then I will go there too.  This journey is exciting.  And I refuse to allow some insignificant fear to hold me back.

I truly am excited for what this summer has.  And i am truly excited for what will happen in Kenya in the fall.  I may have some fears and doubts.  But I'm pressing through them.  A pastor at my church recently told us during a church leadership dinner that it's not whether or no you have fears.  It's about whether or not you allow those fears to hold you back.