Hello and welcome to the newest update! The past couple of weeks have been filled with rain, scraped knees, and a lot of baked beans. We've been at camp in Wales. Week one was kids' camp, but only Danny went as I was still not quite 100% due to my new medication. I did get to go and visit for a day. The camp had all kinds of games and activities that were just incredible! There was fencing, rock climbing, cave exploring, fort building, abseiling (that's where you repel yourself down the side of a wall), a ropes course, zip wire rides, and more! The most incredible one was the driving lesson. Yep, for £3 a 10-year-old kid could get behind the wheel of a real car and learn to drive! When I saw this, the adult in me was like, "What?!?!? Are they crazy?!?!?" and the kid in me was like, "Wow! That is the coolest thing ever!!!!"
The next week was teen week, which I did go to. They basically had all the same activities except the driving lesson (gee, wonder why). There were around 400 youth at this camp (cry). We had just a fantastic time though and we saw so many wonderful things happen in our own youth group that we had gone with. They really bonded and encouraged one another throughout the week. The majority of our youth don't actually come to church, but they are all great kids once you get to know them. They are a tough bunch though. By the end of the week our group was responsible for 2 broken windows, 2 broken beds, a dislocated knee, an iron burn on the floor, a near concussion, a few broken hearts (wink wink), and many warnings to keep quiet after curfew. Ahhh, what a team effort it was.
And now for my cool camp story:
There was a group there that ran all the big activities like the rock climbing, fencing, cave crawling, etc. Each member is trained to manage the activitie, is equipped with first aid and emergency training, and has many other certificates in physical education. The group is not a Christian organization, but they are in the process of taking over the camp and upgrading it into some sort of super-extreme-sport camp for young people. Each staff member was very professional and very friendly and it wasn't long before we'd gotten to know a few of them. One girl in particular, Deborah, was always smiling and soon made friends with many of the youth and leaders at the camp.
On the Thursday evening there was a talent show and Deborah and I sat together to help each other through, uh, I mean, enjoy the performances. I had spoken with her a few times before, but being a member of staff with the activities company, she wasn't really allowed to visit with campers (or the customers) during the day. We were giggling and having fun when almost out of the blue she turned to me and asked, "Why did you decide to become a Christian?" So I told her and then pulled out 'old faithful' - the tale of the brain tumor. She had such a shocked look on her face that I had to use my best tumor jokes all in one shot just to help her relax a bit. [Her question: "How did you tell your family?" My Answer: "Ah, you just gotta glide it in casually with a smooth segway, like they use on the news...'My, these cookies are delicious. I think I'll have two more. Speaking of two more'...see cause two more sounds like tumor when you say it with the right emphasis...ah forget it.]
Friday night I started to get nauseous after taking my medication (which is what sometimes happens). I didn't want to, well, you know, in the evening worship service so I went up to my dorm to hide out for a bit. Danny soon came up to check on me. Not long after he left I fell asleep for over an hour. Usually, I am out cold until the next day, but this time something woke me up. That something was my stomach, or so I thought. It was about to, well, you know. I clutched my quilt tightly and prayed that God wouldn't make me get out of bed. Then the weirdest thing happened. I felt like I was supposed to get out of bed and go down to the service. My stomach gave it's rebuttal with a few ominous sounding gurgles, and I closed my eyes to sleep again. It was only a couple of minutes later when I woke up with the same feeling as before - I needed to go to the service. I clung to the quilt again and prayed that God wouldn't make me get out of bed. I though for sure if I moved I would, well, you know. But I couldn't get rid of that feeling that I was supposed to go. Fine, I decided, I'll go down to the service and probably hurl in front of everyone, but that's fine (I was kinda perturbed at this point so there were no more 'well, you know's'). I put on my jacket and started down to the meeting. Then the weirdest thing happened again. I started to feel better. In fact by the time I got to the doors of the tent where the service was being held, I felt totally fine!
I had just entered the tent when I saw Deborah. She was just on her way out and I could see that she was crying.
"Hey Deborah, are you alright?" I asked her.
"Yeah, I'm just...well, I've never seen anything like this. Where you can just come and talk to God. That anyone can." She looked around at the crowd again. "This is so real. I've never thought about it before. This really makes me question my religion."
"What religion are you?" I'd forgotten that she wasn't a Christian and so that all this church stuff would be quite foreign to her.
Deborah wiped her face. "I'm Jewish," she answered, "I went to Jewish primary school and Jewish camp and I was always taught that this wasn't true, but I don't know. Tonight, I feel like I'm missing something. That my life is missing something."
We talked for a long time after that. She told me about how she wanted to know more about Jesus, but it wouldn't be easy because she was Jewish. I told her the story of Nicodemus in the Bible. He was an important and recognized Jewish man in his time. When Jesus came along, Nicodemus wanted to know more about him, but because of who he was, it wouldn't be easy. So he snuck out to meet him in the middle of the night. There, under the covering of darkness, Jesus shared one of the most profound statements of all time with one man: "For God so loved the world He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him, will not die but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
Deborah made a decision that night. Not to become a Christian, but to find out more about Jesus. Even though she knows it will be hard, and that she may have to do it in a bit of secrecy herself, she knows there is a treasure waiting there for her. And, I believe she can count on that.
One last short, funny story, just to wrap things up. After we had dropped everyone back off at the church when camp was over, I began the ugly process of cleaning our van after the journey. I was sweeping up the inside when I was joined by the 6-year-old sister of one of our teen campers. She stood in awe of the massive inside of our minibus. The rusting roof and chipped paint was as captivating to her as one would find the inside of an ancient cathedral in Rome. Finally, her heart's desire found it's words and she spoke with great wonder, "When you die, can I have this minibus?"
It's a deal, little lady. It's a deal.
May you find all your treasures this week!