Saturday, July 29, 2006

in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

I don’t have a lot of time to write right now. I’d still like to do the camp trip landmarks post, but I think I’ll wait until I can write it with Rachel. Maybe next weekend.

I’m not going to pretend that things aren’t hard relationally right now, both at camp and at home. I feel confused and sad about a lot of things, and I wonder if I’m dealing with them in the right way. I’m learning (slowly) how to give things to God instead of letting them pile up on my back, but I tend to want to take them back from Him and worry about them again. Still, with all of this stuff going on, I’ve been given several beautiful moments, undeserved, like being asked for the first time to baptize someone! Yesterday I got to baptize Jordan McGillivray, one of our junior staff members, in the waters of Christopher Lake, and it was an awesome feeling of joy mixed with responsibility. Lucas got to baptize Cheesi, too. Here are some pictures Rachel took…

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Amazing and messed up

Wow, it’s been almost a month. That’s the longest I’ve gone without blogging for quite some time. Sorry to all of my regular checkers. I’ve been up at camp, and our internet tower got struck by lightning two weeks ago, and we’ve been largely cut off from the outside world ever since.

MDT was definitely my favorite week of camp so far. I quickly fell in love with the fifty teens who participated. They had an infectious passion to learn about God and worship Him, and a great attitude, even when we woke them up early. Robin and I (with some help from friends like Rachel and Rob) did our best to think up interesting initiatives for them to accomplish as a team. We balanced each other out well. While Robin had no problem being hard on them and issuing group consequences for one person’s mistake (one of MDT’s trademarks), I struggled to follow through. As Robin so tactfully put it, I just may have the spiritual gift of mercy. But I learned a lot, and I saw God fulfill some dreams and ideas he gave me way back in February for this camp, including early morning services down at the beach, where our first words of the day were reserved for God. And when we spread them out across the lake for a day of solitude, no one got eaten by bears, which in itself is a success. I also celebrated my 23rd birthday, and Chris gave me the best gift ever: she spontaneously joined me up at camp for a few days! Here’s us canoeing together. (Notice that I’m doing all the work.)

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been easing into my “regular duties” for the summer. Each week I had the pleasure of spending an hour talking to, encouraging and praying for each of about twenty female staff. According to Lucas, who does the same with the male staff, our job title is “spiritual warfare”. Perhaps he’s not too far off. This job is the most spiritually and emotionally challenging of any I’ve had. I do feel a large responsibility to hold my girls up in prayer. The most difficult part has been leaving things in God’s hands instead of taking them back and letting them weigh me down. That, and balancing my time so that I do have enough time to pray and rest. I have felt warred against, distracted, guilty, self-conscious, and even neurotic at times. Thanks to those who have prayed for, listened to, and encouraged me. But it's not all problems; I’ve also had some great experiences with answered prayer – especially last week, when God provided a nurse two days before we needed one, after I had looked for one for a month and a half. And I get to share in my female staff’s joys, too – like when I visited Rimma’s cabin one night after all of her girls prayed to follow Christ. They were partying and dancing; it was awesome!

God’s been teaching me about people. People are beautiful letdowns. I sort of knew that already, but it’s hitting home lately. There are people I thought were blameless who have shown me their weaknesses and struggles, and there are people I didn’t have a lot of faith in who have impressed me to no end. Basically, I’m gaining a balanced perspective. We are all wonderfully amazing and messed up children of God. When I hear something disappointing about someone, I’m learning to balance it by reminding myself of all the good I’ve seen in them. And when I hear someone praised, I’m learning to guard against idolizing them by remembering that they struggle, too, whether it’s evident or not. It sounds simple, but it's been surprisingly profound for me, like learning to see people the way God does. Except not nearly as precisely.

This weekend has been pretty relaxing. Last night I got to hang out again with Chris, this time to celebrate her birthday. Today, I felt very guilty and very good. Guilty because I contributed to the demise of local businesses by shopping at Wal-Mart, destroyed the environment by idling in the Starbucks drive-thru, and destroyed my body by consuming one very tasty caramel frappucino. But I spent the rest of the day relaxing by writing encouragement notes and preparing gifts for people, which is very selfless, so maybe that makes up for it.

Coming up (hopefully next weekend) . . . a joint effort of Beth and Rachel: an exhaustive examination of the landmarks on the trip up to camp (which is well traveled by myself), in proper order, with commentary and pictures. Be sure to tune in! As a little taste, here’s a picture from one such trip.
So long, stay off the roads when I'm driving tomorrow, and happy birthday Chris!