ahhhh, the week that was….
so last week i was at palomar church camp down near san diego and i don’t know where to begin to describe my week.
i guess i’ll start off with the theme, which was ‘the battle within’, focusing mainly on the different elements of war that we wage daily against evil. evil comes in so many ways, arrogance, pride, apathy, distraction, and that’s just the ones i thought of in the first day. our devos at camp were awesome as well. i really thought we were going to struggle because our worship leader is pretty new to the area and didn’t know too many songs, but God pulled through and really blessed us with a great time of worship. we had our annual midnight hike to this clearing in the woods where it is so easy to see the beauty of God’s creative side. the worship was awesome and included several kids contributing that last year you would have never thought possible. weds night also boasted the jacket devo, where kids use a jacket to represent Christ, and act out their relationship using the jacket. (i.e. jacket on and zipped means a close relationship, hung over the shoulder not as close) that was an awesome time of worship because all of the kids got to see where each other stood in their relationships, and were pretty amazed at how similar their stories were. lots of respect goes out to the kids that stepped out of their comfort zones and really bared their souls. friday night was a blast as well, with our pillowcase signing party going till about 5 in the morning. thursday night was by far the highlight for me though. we started of with our concert of prayer, where we break up into groups of five or six and go through four specific prayers for humility, forgiveness, praise and thanksgiving. my group was simply amazing. we are all in different places spiritually, but were so united in our prayer. it was cool the physical difference in our prayers as well. for humility we all decided to be on our knees and hold hands, forgiveness we had our arms around each other, for praise we all put our hands in the middle, and for thanksgiving we turned our hands palms up. it was awesome as we progressed, because some of us were in desperate need of humility, others for forgiveness, and all of us really needed to praise and thank God. by the time we got to praise we were so spent, and felt so free from praying for forgiveness that we actually started to laugh as we prayed. it’s hard to explain, but someone made the observation that satan was ‘getting his butt kicked by God’ at that moment, and it really struck a chord, because i think that’s how we all felt at that moment. anyways, our prayer time turned from long individual prayers, to quick comments to each other and God, all the while looking each other straight in the eye. def different from how i’m used to praying, but it was so spirit driven i really felt like i was liberated from everything that separates me from God at that time. our group consisted of one who tries to do everything himself, a guy that let’s down his adopted family and is constantly being forgiven, a guy who would literally rock God’s message every second of the day if he could, a guy who struggles with the images he puts in his head, a guy that has wondered if anyone would notice if he weren’t there, another that uses comedy as a distraction from pain, and a guy that is simply wondering where he fits in to God’s plan. it’s like a christian version of the breakfast club. anyways, there’s a certain type of bonding that can only come from praying with another and an open heart. follow that with a time where we got to wash each others feet, and i was emotionally spent. friends were washing each other’s feet, brothers and sisters, total strangers, fellow youth ministers, but the one that got to me was one of the counselors washing the feet of his son. man, what an image. i hope i never lose that mental picture. what a great statement for a father to make to a son.
we also had daily prayer partners, and that was a huge blessing as well. i prayed with one young lady who comes from a catholic background and felt completely out of place. i reminded her that we are part of the body of Christ, and that the church was secondary to that, and her first priority is to read the word and follow what God has guided us to do. we talked about baptism and what it means to repent, and several other issues, but it was a blast for me because she looks and has the same mannerisms as my sister did when she was that age.
there were so many people that stick out in my mind from this weekend. the first and foremost is this kid jeremy. jeremy was the kid the counselors were warned about last year. he came to camp wearing a trench coat and a slipknot shirt. he had long black hair and looked like he was pretty mad at the world. we were prayer partners one day last year, and i remember him telling me he didn’t think God could forgive him for all of the stuff he had done. he prayed for me a job, and we prayed that God show jeremy his power. ffwd a year to jeremy walking down the hill toward camp with a grin on his face that never let up the entire week. no joke, this kid never stopped smiling the entire week. last year he was the kid that kept his whole cabin up asking random questions like, ‘why don’t they have mint flavored soda?’ and being really distracting. i do remember though one night towards the end of the week last year where he burned all of his heavy metal shirts in the bonfire, saying he wanted to change. this year i don’t think he started a public statement without prefacing it’ God is awesome’. amen. God is awesome. He took a kid that was so guilty and turned him into a unanimous vote for the hotseat, a time where the campers and staff get to pay him compliments. i hope i never forget my eyes getting cloudy as he walked down the hill towards me for the first time with huge grin and a smile, giving me a hug and telling me, ‘God answers prayers’. yes He does jeremy, He gave me a job and showed you the power of His grace. I hope we are constantly are reminded of that.
who else… there’s another guy that always reminds me of how much God loves sharing His grace. this kid was bounced around from foster home to foster home for most of his young life, until a family at church finally took him in. talk about understanding love and grace. what’s really cool is that the family just adopted another young man of a different race, and they call themselves brothers with a pride that is simply amazing.
then there’s my whole cabin that simply floors me with their attitudes towards living life on the front lines. these are the guys that are into christian hardcore, that have no problem expressing their faith at the top of their lungs, and with every action. sure there are some fart jokes in there as well, but i have no doubt these guys are soldiers for Christ.
then there’s this whole other crop of guys that have no problem expressing their love for each other trough service and through hugs. man did we get some good hugs in this week. i would go and list them name by name, but i feel that would be so redundant i wouldn’t do them justice. they should just know that they are loved, and it is evidenced in the way they love others.
then there’s the counselors. i wish i could say that my motives for going to camp were completely about serving God, but it would be wrong to deny how much i wanted to see my friends again.
my friend ‘supermodel’ always makes me laugh, esp when we got into a ‘pose-off’ one day and were literally on the floor cracking each other up. then she told me about an organization called models for christ. i kid you not, this may the greatest Christian club i have ever heard of. only in my dreams have i imagined something like this, and it really exists. needless to say, when she moves up here at the end of summer, we’re going to be hanging out a bunch.
then there’s myshell, who will forever laugh, and keep me laughing as well. never a dull moment around her.
my friend the bum really cracked me up too. last year he was in the marines, and was pretty quiet outside of the cabin. this year he’s been unemployed and loving it for four months, and i don’t think he said anything that wasn’t funny the entire week. we even dragged him onstage at the talent show to sing a song he made up to wake up the guys that didn’t feel like getting out of bed.
then there’s ‘the brat’, who has always been a person that has one-upped me, and used to be the one person i would never mess with for fear of retribution. actually, our families are great friends and we’ve know each other for way too long. she still intimidated me for a sec until she brought up a story about how when we were little she peed her pants and had to borrow my g.i. joe underwear. yep, after that i just don’t think she had too much to embarrass me with.
the rest of the counselors were all pretty cool as well, we get along great and i wish i had more stories on the rest of them, but my typing really can’t keep up with my thoughts.
then there’s the other people that somehow just show up at camp for a while. dantheman and futuremom made an appearance which was pretty cool, topgun girl stopped by a couple of times which at first was awkward, but ended up being okay. we didn’t talk a whole lot, but i don’t think there’s really anymore drama there. then there’s bulletproof, who i haven’t really gotten a chance to talk to in eight years, and who def defined some of my fondest camp memories. we talked for a long time, and i tried to give her a hard time, but as usual, she wasn’t buckling.
the godfather was there recruiting for his new program at cascade college, which is just an odd place to associate with him. i still haven’t gotten used to him not being a part of san diego. oh well, it was great to see him in his element getting the props he deserves. after 14 years of ministry he’s become pretty famous for his stories, and one day he had a whole crowd at free time completely hanging on every word of his stories. you know you’re big when you have to use a mic so everyone can hear your stories.
but the cake goes to mi amigo noodles for the week. he’s not even a full time minister, but he had camp dropped in his lap and he really ran with it. i know he stresses and everything, and there were def things that were a potential distraction and/or disaster, but he handled them all with grace and ease. i was so excited to get to wash his feet, because he is such a great servant, and i normally don’t look up to guys my own age a whole lot, but noodles will always be an exception. we had to stay up one night to wait for some parent’s to pick up their kid and we had the best laugh either one of us has had in a long time. it’s one of those 4 in the morning cleanse the soul kind of laughs that could never be explained, and trying to do so would only taint the experience. anyways, we had a good time and i hope he’s is currently somewhere away from a computer and phone relaxing with the knowledge that God completely took over last week.
other thoughts on camp…
we had a football team sharing the camp that comes from a ‘christian’ school up here in simi. the first day one of them was wearing a confederate bandana, to which the coach replied, ‘yeah i guess we live in some PC times’. no, actually we just don’t really like to see symbols of hatred. and then there’s the crew that snuck into our cabin at 230am and broke a window throwing water balloons, then tried to deny that they did when we have pictures of the wet glass on the floor and balloon shrapnel on the window. way to try and distract our camp guys, it didn’t work.
i think the thing that separates this camp from any other that i’ve worked at is the openness and honesty that everyone brings. it is truly a nonjudgmental place where everyone feels compelled to let go of things that distract them from God. i wish we could be more open and honest everywhere else, but it is jut so hard. i tried yesterday at church and it just wasn’t the same. i don’t think people were ready for it.
so where do i go from here? not sure really. i know i need to work on getting out of God’s way in the youth ministry here if we are ever going to be successful. i’m not sure what that means but i’m sure i’ll know when i need to.
on to other stuff…
i went to the dodger game last night with a fam from church for the big fireworks show which ended abruptly when some trees in the parking lot caught on fire. way to go pyros.
i hate mosquitos.
i love my friends and kiddos down in s.d., but it was great to get back to simi. it’s just nice to have a place to call home.
don’t you love that tired feeling when you know that you’re tired for a good reason?
the only tv i’ve watched since i got back was ”we were soldiers’ and baseball, although i did wake up this morning and my tv was on telemundo.
we have our vbs this week and my throat is pretty raw from singing in the mountain air. i completely forgot i’m leading singing this week.
oh yeah, i finally went in to the optometrist and got my eyes checked out. seems i should wear glasses at night to help me see farther and more clearly, how was seeing more clearly not a priority of mine sooner?
well, i think i’ve ruminated enough for today. it’s nice outside and i feel like watching stuff blow up to celebrate our country’s birth. which leads me to my final thought:
every july 4th fireworks show should end with a performance of the national anthem by jimi hendrix.
one love and one heart.