Monday, September 04, 2006

My girls

Having covered the wedding, I will move backwards to summarize the rest of my summer for you – the camp part. What I feel about it is hard to express because it’s overpowering. Mostly the feeling is… fulfillment. Yes, there were difficult times along the way, especially in July. But I felt like we dealt with things very well as a staff, and I’m realizing how much I learned through these struggles. So despite those bumps, I would say this summer has been my best ever at camp.

Much of it is thanks to my girls. As I’ve written before, the largest chunk of my job this summer was meeting individually with each female staff member (usually there were 15-20 of them) for about an hour a week to discuss life, God, camp, worries, joys, or anything else that was on their minds, and also to pray together. I will never forget these hours I spent with them. Some meetings at the beginning of the summer were a little awkward, as we figured out what our relationship would look like and learned to trust each other. But by the end, I felt closer to some of them than I’ve been with people I’ve known for years. Never before has a job felt more like a gift – I looked forward to those meetings every day, and even praying for each of them became exciting as I understood them on a deeper level.

I have been given back more than I invested in these girls. They were so much FUN to be around – after a year being very mature (well, most of the time…) with people who were mostly older than me, it was so refreshing to be goofy and laugh about things that probably weren’t very funny with people who were younger than me. I enjoyed them; they were good for my soul. I felt comfortable and relaxed with myself when I was with them. They inspired me by their passion for God, and I loved being able to take pride in them. And they never held back their love for me – they always made me feel so wanted and appreciated. I am so sad to leave them. I know they need to find other people to mentor and listen to them, but I’m selfish and I want to keep on being that person. I still feel so warm inside when I think about them... man, I’m gushing. It must be late.

As a bonus gift from God, I’m now even more vocationally confused than when I started the summer. What does it mean that I got so much satisfaction from this kind of people-work-mentorship stuff? Was it just a fluke that I loved and worked well with all of them? Is this part of God’s plan for my life? How does that fit in with biology? Am I doing the right degree? Great thoughts to be thinking as I leave for Vancouver tomorrow to start school again.

This is what I was thinking at the end of camp… it is good, it is very good to be able to talk freely with people about what God is doing in their lives. I mean, with my job I was pretty much forced to talk to my girls about this. The whole set-up was designed to sidestep the small talk and jump into the good stuff. And for the girls who were there all summer, it got more and more natural to talk about God’s work in our lives – by the last couple of weeks they’d just dive right in without me even asking a question, and I absolutely loved it. But why can’t I do that away from camp, when it’s not my job? Why doesn’t it feel natural to talk about this stuff, even at Bible School, where spiritual conversations are supposed to feel normal? It still feels awkward. It feels like you’re trying to pry into someone’s life. But you know what – I’ve decided it’s worth it. I need to ask that question more often, no matter how awkward it feels. Because not only is it encouraging, it’s humbling to remember that God’s busy working on other people, not just you. And it helps you pray for them. So next time I see you, I hope we talk about what God’s been up to. If I don’t bring it up, you should.

Anyway, I feel the need to offer a tribute to the girls… especially the ones I met with more than once, who became my sisters. Here’s what they meant to me…

Claire showed me how to appreciate beautiful things like tea, candles, romance, and mannerisms, and was the best storyteller.

Tanya taught me about joy and unquestioning trust, and was a great little sister and roommate for the first two weeks.

Megan was willing to serve wherever we put her, always smiling and exemplifying humility, and loved the kids.

Lesya demonstrated every day that you can be beautiful in more ways than one, and not take yourself too seriously, and I love her.

Rimma made me want to dance and not care how I look, and also taught me the value of hugs.

Frankie impressed me with her strength of character and humble, self-giving service, and she always cared about how I was doing.

Keshia blossomed in Intermediates and gave herself in love for her cabin, I could see it written on her face, and it was a joy for me.

Jordan McGill showed maturity in the way she served, binding the younger staff together by her unconditional friendship, taking courageous leaps in her commitment to Christ.

Gen opened herself to me, honoring me by her trust, and impressed me by her perseverance and growth this summer.

Maja made me want to ask more questions, and her eagerness to do everything with as much enthusiasm as the campers was rewarded by deep relationships with them – a true cabin leader.

Lydia made me (even me!) want to express myself artistically and also challenged me with her love of and thoughts about the Bible.

Chantelle never hid anything from me; she made me feel wise because she sought out my advice, and I knew that no matter what she was dealing with, she was putting her campers first.

Sarah was so wonderfully and humbly herself, and blessed me with both her seriousness and sense of humour.

Danee was everything I hoped she’d be at camp, and more – I was inspired by her dreams and her purity, and the way she’d throw herself into things like dress-up meals, without caring how she looked.

Robyn H. made me feel needed, trusted, befriended, and even heroic, which is crazy because she’s so unique and hilarious and cool and real, and I felt that she was more of a gift to me than I to her.

Terice became a true friend this summer, listened to me, and affirmed me constantly; she had an incredible amount of passion for her campers, and it came out every time she prayed for them – God will continue to use her to speak to children.

Sophia has pretty much changed the way I see the world, inspiring me to write and be more spontaneous, and most of the time I wished our meandering conversations could have lasted three hours instead of one.

Olya is similar to me in many ways, she has light in her eyes and it’s hard not to smile when she speaks, and embarking together on the adventure of listening to God remains one of my favorite memories this summer.

And Rachel was my true sister, my best, the one who held me up and brought me down to earth, who made me want to burst with pride and made this summer perfect.

This is not to mention Shalisse, Kelli, Carley, Anna, Chrissy, Claressa, Kylie, Moraya, Chelsee and Vienna, who I saw less of but was no less proud of. And I can't forget Robin P. either, who I learned the most from and saw the most courage in. Girls, I'm not coming back next summer unless you're all there, and unless you all e-mail me this year...

Ok. Enough. Tomorrow, it's back to the Couv. Here I come again, Regent...


Lisa said...

hey i never left the couv as you and your crazy family like to call it. you've missed all the days it didn't rain and come just in time for the rainy season to begin, although i do believe there are a few weeks of sunny weather left in this oceanic paradise. my number's still the same if you ever feel like giving it a ring. welcome back :)

Anonymous said...

Beth, you have no idea how much I miss you and our talks! you were such a huge blessings to me this summer through your servant heart and super fun you are!!!! (ohmy! scandelous!) I pray that God will show you right where He wants you to be! Much Love!

Anonymous said...

Well things changed when we got back to the city and I didn't see you everyday, and I didn't talk with you and pray with you for hours, but you friendship will never lose its value in my heart. I was continually inspired by you. You validated the things I felt and were concerned about and you inspired me in my passion and in my prayers. Camp was amazing because you were there. Thank you so much for all you did this summer. You blessed that camp in ways you have no idea of. You create beauty in the people you develope friendships with because of your fear and love for God and others. I am so thankful. Take care and I hope that we will be able to hang out when you come home and stay in touch when you are out there.
Love, Terice