Week 4: Camp Deer Run

“I know You’re alive; You came to fix my broken life. So I’ll sing to glorify Your holy name, Jesus Christ.”

That song has been playing on repeat in my head for the past 26 hours, and I couldn’t come up with a way to begin this post because I have about a million thoughts and emotions going in all different directions, so there ya go. When I hear those words in my head, I see worship last night. I was sitting on the dirty floor, bits of asphalt stuck to my skin, holding one of my girls tight as she


My original intent was to blog every Saturday. But after week 4, I couldn’t. I really tried to that week; I sat staring at my computer for over an hour. But the truth is, there were so many emotions tied up in that week that I didn’t even know where to begin, or how to tell you what was going on in my heart. I still don’t, so I guess I’ll have to content myself with a basic summary. Just know that there’s 10x more than what you’re reading here, and that although it may not sound like anything to you, this week was very special to me.

Week 4 was Camp Deer Run, our mission camp for inner city kids. I was overnight with 5 jr. high girls. We had been warned before this week that there would be attitude and behavior problems, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But all of my girls were so sweet and polite, calling Sunshine and me “ma’am”, paying attention and just being super respectful.

The first day one of my girls ended up getting sick and going home. But other than that, I wrote in my journal that night, “Today went smoothly. But here’s the thing: smooth doesn’t mean anything if I don’t accomplish anything. So here’s to tomorrow, and pouring myself out till I’ve got nothing left. I want to make it a day they’ll remember because they experienced God and felt His love.”

God was so faithful to answer my prayer. The rest of the week so was amazing, not because of anything I did, but because I could feel Him working through me when I was exhausted, because relationships began to build. Tuesday night I could start to see all the girls becoming friends, laughing together and having a good time in the cabin at night, and it just brought a smile to my face.

On Wednesday we did the climbing tower, and there was time left over for me to give it a second try. It was the first time I’d done it since training week, and this time I made it to the top, with my girls below cheering me on. A seemingly small thing – but it was the one thing I had not accomplished during training week, and the one thing I really wanted to accomplish before I left Deer Run. Although, when I’d finished it, I didn’t feel quite as awesome as I’d thought I would. I wrote later that night, “I’m glad I can say I’ve done it, and now I know what it’s like, but honestly it didn’t make me feel that different. I guess I’ve learned to place my worth in other things.” And I really have. Looking back to where I was during training week, so much has changed in me. But, for what it’s worth, I did conquer that obstacle that had bothered me for so long.

On Thursday we did the Leap of Faith, and the first girl to go, Daija, was too afraid to jump off. Before her, the longest I’ve ever waited was about 10-15 minutes, but this girl was up there for literally an hour and 45 minutes till her poor little body was trembling with the effort of holding on. When she’d finally come down, and calmed down, and dried her tears, her first words were, “That wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.” And when the next girl went and was afraid to jump, Daija was the one encouraging her. “I know how you feel, girl. You can do it.” And I was like, “YES! This is why I do what I do.”

We had a response time Thursday night at worship, and I was sitting on the dirty floor, bits of asphalt stuck to my skin, holding Iyarie tight as the tears trickled down her face. Not a lot was said between us. Not a lot needed to be said. And I’m quickly realizing that not a lot needs to be said about it here, either. It’s one of those moments that you can’t understand until you’ve been there.

Like when the bus pulled away Friday morning and it felt like my heart was going to break as I tried to smile through the torrent of tears. At first I had been planning to give the girls my contact information, but for some reason I felt like God was leading me away from that. After all, what do I really know about their lives? Does an inner city kid from a broken home want or need to see the facebook posts of a middle-class white girl who goes to school in Green Hills? During that week, we were the same people on the same journey. And I felt like it was better left that way as a memory. But that made it ten times harder to say goodbye, knowing that there was a 90% chance I would never see those precious smiles again.

There was this guy named Randall that I got to know that week. He was pretty awesome, and we got to have a couple of good conversations. All week I’d kept commenting that I liked his bandanna, so before he left he gave it to me, hugged me, and said, “You’ve taught me a lot.” And that, too, means more to me than I can ever explain.

And so I guess I’ll finish this post the way I finished my last journal entry from that week: “Oh God. These kids…this week…my heart…ugh. I can’t write any more right now.”

Published in: on August 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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