Well, I had another fantastic year at camp! This whole post is just 5 days worth of my "moments of joy."
This time was very different, as you know. I was teaching in the children's program, so I did not have one person as a buddy. This made it different of course. I spent a lot of time in leadership meetings and doing planning and decorating where I would have otherwise been out involved with a family. So I kind of felt like I missed a lot. But there were two plusses: 1) not having a buddy enabled me to take Jacob along so I could fix his food at each meal, and 2) I was able to sit wherever I chose at most meals, so I could visit with all the families from our church (there were about 40 people all together this year!) and build some relationships that I'd take home with me. They already asked me if I'd do it again next year, and I have in mind to take Mattie as well, so I guess I'm "stuck" teaching. :) (I do love the actual teaching part.)
Here are a whole bunch of random photos that will help you have the feel of camp. But you know, you really ought to just be there with me!! Just for some background, we were "traveling" in a hot air balloon around the world, with the theme being basically that God could do more than we ever can imagine in our lives.
This is our hilarious entertainment, JJ...J and Heinrich von Hindenburg, a balloonist in training and a professional balloonist now educating. At this moment they are singing a song designed to teach us the parts of a hot air balloon (to the tune of head, shoulders, knees and toes), sung with a bad German accent:
Baaasket, burner, envelope, envelope.
Baaasket, burner, envelope, envelope.
When you land you tie off with a rope,
Baaasket, burner, envelope, envelope!
(Now I'm not the only one with that song stuck in my head.)
Heinrich was also the guy who did children's music and recreation, so we had more than a few good laughs through the weekend!
Here I am teaching something about China, though I haven't a clue what it is! (Isn't that background beautiful?)
Jacob LOVED camp! It was fun to see him come out of his shell in this environment. I know some of you didn't realize he had a shell, but he really does in large group settings, especially if he's in a group where there is a lot of noise and chaos or where he doesn't feel "safe" to make mistakes.
But here he had a great group of little boys to hang out with, and he did really well with it!
Here is the only five minutes Jacob and I spent just the two of us at camp. :)
This little guy is Matthew. Matthew goes to our church, and his mom is a great friend of mine, so I know him well. I had to show you this pic so you can see the look of utter joy on his face at taking off during this dress-up relay! Matthew has only had this power chair for several months now, but he is a pro at driving it and loves the independence it gives him!
Matthew's mom is also great about letting him do whatever he wants to, while providing however little or much assistance he needs. Of course, he chose 3:00 on a ninety-five degree afternoon to want to climb on the jungle gym!
This was one of my favorite moments of camp, and honestly, what it's all about.
Matthew talks very slowly and is very difficult to understand. Kids in large group setting often get restless when Matthew is trying to say something, but he is so involved, he often has things to share. One of the things we did is gave rewards to kids who could tell us what the colors of their gospel bracelets meant (hoping they'll tell a friend one day!) and we had most of them do this in front of the entire children's group. For a whole lot of reasons, Matthew's turn kept getting pushed off, but I didn't want him to be the only kid who didn't get a turn. (Matthew is very smart and knows he often gets pushed aside because of his speech.) So while we were on the playground, I asked the kids I had to gather around Matthew and let him share his gospel bracelet colors. Ethan was wearing his bracelet, so I asked if he would hold it out so Matthew could see it. But not only did he hold it out, he waited patiently while he talked and gave him clues (not the answer!) when Matthew needed them so Matthew could share all of the answers all by himself. His patience and tenderness was so sweet to watch.
As an aside, Ethan is one of 34 children adopted by his family. Yes, thirty-four. He has more than 15 siblings with significant special needs (whose stories are nothing short of amazing), a mother and father who love them all individually and fiercely, and a tender heart because of what the Lord has done for him. (And just because it's cool to share, he has a sibling group of 6 boys on their way to their home from Liberia! This will be the last adoption for this 61 year old dad and his wife.)
Though a really odd face, Jacob was very excited about his crazy hair!
Jacob has a need for things to be "just so" and if he gets an idea in his head that does not come to pass, it can be a very long time, or never, before he forgets it. He's legitimately disappointed, not just being a baby. So on crazy hair day, my color-loving child was very excited to get his done for the first time! But one of the older boys did not listen to Jacob's desires and sprayed black, blue and gold on his hair, and way too much of all of them! It wasn't at all what Jacob wanted, and he was very disappointed. Because I know how hard it is for him to let things go, and how disappointed he was, I tried to find some red to spray his hair, but all of the spray was gone. My mama's heart was sad for him. (I share a little bit of this personality trait, so I understand how disappointing it can be when something unexpected happens.)
So the next day we were set up to do an art project the next day, and someone had brought the colored hair spray with the face painting supplies so the kids could do art on themselves! I was so relieved for him! I made sure to spray his hair myself and listen very carefully to his color requests. He was so happy at how it turned out. And I was thankful God gave Him another opportunity to do it.
Here I am doing a "volcano or not" quiz on Hawaii day.
Thank you for praying for me. The lessons I planned fit well with out theme, the kids seemed interested and responsive, and I apparently did a power point that was much more than expected. Go figure! But God did what He wanted to and taught me quite a bit through it.
Here's our children's group performing our song for the talent show. They did a great job! and I was quite impressed, as Jacob did motions in public for the very first time ever.
I do not even know this young lady's name, but she was the happiest of all the campers, I believe. She loved every minute of any large group program we had, and she knew the words - every. one - to hymns I'd never even heard of! and sang them loudly. She was a delight!
Jacob and I got to go on a tethered hot air balloon ride!
It was a sweet memory to make with him. :)
Of course he had to call Daddy right away to tell him all about it!
All in all, camp was fantastic. Again. It is one of my favorite weeks of the year. And I believe it is just a little bit of what heaven will be like. The love and acceptance, I mean. People are hurting, and life is hard. But for just a few days camp is safe, it provides rest, and it offers much laughter. Most importantly, we get to participate in the body of Christ worshiping with a purity unseen just about anywhere else. You've just got to be there.
Mattie prayed to ask Jesus to be her savior today!
We were talking about it all at breakfast and she said, "I already believe all those things. I know I do wrong things - that's called sins - and need someone to save me so I can spend forever in Heaven with Jesus. How do I do that?" So we talked about that and then prayed together. She doesn't understand the magnitude of her decision, but I'm not sure I even understand the magnitude of it all.
When Jacob prayed "for a new heart," he was five. I didn't celebrate it or make a big deal about it because I wanted to wait and see if he really got it, if it was real. I have been sad since that day that I handled it that way. Because I was waiting it out, I didn't write down the specific date. I didn't make it a big deal. I didn't have a special dinner or write it in his baby book. I have tried to figure out the date as best I could, but all I know is that it was during the Spring when he was five. And I was determined I would not do that with Mattie. I think she has believed to her greatest ability, and that's all Jesus asks for.
So today I get to rejoice that both of our children will be praising Jesus in Heaven with us!