Update from Camp # 2: Day of Rest Reflections

Today was my first off day of Summer 2014 at Camp Ridgecrest. It allowed me to recharge and get reenergized for the next half of the session. Let me tell you a little bit of what God has shown me so far in this first session of camp.

1. He has shown me why I’m here:
On Monday night we went on our first campout as a tribe. It was a fun time of getting to know the guys and setting up camp and eating our packet meals (for those of you who don’t know, a packet meal is food that is mixed together and wrapped in aluminum foil and put on a blazing fire to cook through). Later that night nearing sunset, me and my co counselor and my kids headed down to the look out, where you could see out over all the mountains and see the sun setting. In that time we shared our testimonies and then I shared a verse from Colossians 1. It was talking about Jesus being before all things and how He held all things together. And me and the kids are just staring out over the lookout and marveling at God’s creation and at how even though He is so big and we are so small, He still wants us to come to Him and have a relationship with Him. It was awesome, that time of silence and meditation, feeling the presence of the Lord there with us and with those kids. That’s when I realized why I was here this summer.

2. He has shown me I’m weak in my own strength:
I love my kids, but at times they can exhaust me. I realize that I need time alone, time to recharge, like days off. I need to realize that before I deal with my kids, that I must meet with the Lord. He is the only one that can give me the strength and love for these kids.

3. He has shown me that these kids look up to me:
I may not have realized it when I started, but I do now. These kids look up to me. They love wearing my hat and glasses and love asking me questions and hanging out with me. Even last night as I told them today was my day off they said that they loved me and were gonna miss me today. Such great kids.

4. He has shown me the uniqueness of each kid in my cabin:
I’ve been blessed with all kinds of kids in my cabin. Athletic, smart, funny. They are all different and all unique. It has really dawned on me how amazingly creative God was in making them. They enjoy different things, they function in different ways. They are all great kids.

5. He has shown me that camp gives kids a chance to succeed:
Something I’ve really seen in Camp Ridgecrest is that it gives these boys confidence in things that they might not have had confidence in before. It gives each one the opportunity to understand that not everyone is a winner, but that God has gifted each one with the ability to succeed no matter what skills or talents they. Camp shows kids that God can use them, each and every one of them.

Until the next post about camp.

Blessings,
Joseph.

God’s Strength is Greater Than Ours

One of the greatest lessons as a believer that we can learn is that our strength is nothing compared to God’s. We can go somewhat far, but at some point, our strength fades and our dependence has to be put on something that is immovable and unshakable. This strength comes from the presence of the Lord. This became very evident in my life in the last week.

Last week I became a training that was one of the toughest things I have ever done. Lifeguard training.

The first day, the weather was overcast, the water was freezing. Thus it began. After swimming four laps in 50-60 degree waters, I pulled myself exhausted, dizzy up onto the concrete dock. I just sat there completely exhausted, already thinking to myself “I’m done.” But after 15 minutes of sitting dizzy on the dock, leaning over the side, puking into the water, I gathered the strength to move onto my next few tasks.

My next task was to dive down to the bottom of the lake, 18 feet down and grab a handful of dirt. So I dove down and I just kept swimming and swimming. It felt like forever, but I was determined to not return to the surface without my handful of dirt. To my relief, my hand finally touched the bottom and grasped into the muddy ground. I came back up and moved on to the next thing.

The next thing I was to do was to go to the bottom of the lake and pull up a forty pound dummy and I was able to do that really without much problem. The rest of the first day was filled with learning techniques of saving victims.

The second day was a lot more chill and I was feeling better about the whole lifeguarding. This was until after lunch. After lunch we did a missing person search for the dummy. We had to search a 30 foot radius for the dummy, diving down constantly and then coming up and having to tread water. This went on for about 30 minutes and we still had not found the dummy. But after the instructor gave us a hint, the 20 people training to be lifeguards finally found the dummy under the floating dock. But this killed everyone’s energy. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted.

The last little bit of that day, we learned techniques of how to save victims that were dealing with head and neck injuries. A few of the techniques I just really struggled with. I got super upset because I couldn’t do it and I kept trying over and over.

The last day was the test. I was super upset and frustrated over my week. As I was walking down to the dock, I almost stopped and turned around and gave up. As I was thinking about how I had come this far, I proceeded down to the dock. I knew the Lord would give me the strength I needed to be a lifeguard if this was His will.

So I got in the water. The first three skills I did without any problem. But the fourth technique was the one I had struggled with the past day. I got in the water, thinking this was gonna be the one that broke me. As I waded out I prayed that the Lord would give me the strength. As I came in, I positioned my body, and to my amazement, I was able to do it! I was so happy when it came so naturally that I knew the Lord had brought me through.

All the frustration and anxiety was over. I was a certified lifeguard.

At times in our lives we will face adversity that is great, too great for us. But not too great for God. The Lord supplied me with the strength I needed to perform a task I thought I was incapable of completing. But that’s what the Lord does. He surprises us and shows us that we can do things that we never thought we could do because He is our strength.

This test of faith and stepping out into adversity showed me that the Lord is faithful. He will equip us to do whatever He has called us to do!

Blessings,
Joseph. 

An Update from Camp

Well I have now been up at Camp Ridgecrest for a week and a half. It has been a new experience for me and at times, a challenging one. But the Lord has grown me a lot.

Being up at camp is so peaceful. Just being able to walk through the woods in the morning, or swim around in the lake, I just feel the Holy Spirit so thick. There seems to be no distractions, no temptations, even though I know they are still there.

After being there for only a little while, some things have really jumped out to me about this camp. First of all, its filled with men that love the Lord and love to serve one another. Its such a new concept to me. Last Saturday we started getting camp ready for the campers to get here. We started raking leaves from all over the camp. And then it started raining. And the work, that was already tough, became even harder. But instead of complaining and griping about the rain, the guys at this camp, took joy in the rain. Actually, it became probably the most fun afternoon of “work” that I have ever had. And it was hard. Those tarps, filled with wet leaves, were so heavy, but the Lord gave us strength and joy. I never really realized before that you could have joy even in work and service. Camp has taught me that.

Another thing I have clearly seen at camp is excitement. Excitement and joy not only in the “fun” things, but joy in the things like meetings and going over campus rules and policies. There is just an overwhelming excitement in every song that is sung, every meeting that is had. And its so refreshing. Its so contagious. You want to be tired and not happy about all the meetings you have to go to, but you can’t help to laugh or get excited about the ways that the information that is given by the upper staff. Creativity is a huge resource of camp that leads to excitement.

Another thing I just really enjoy is that through everything we do, we are constantly reminded by the staff, why we are preparing and why we are doing “everything” that we are doing. Before we do anything, we are reminded that this summer is for God to work through us to share His love with the kids that will come through our camp doors.

At camp there is this community that is just so evident and a brotherhood that is not so easily broken. You do life with guys your age and younger and older. You are surrounded by godly men that are pushing you to keep going, try new things, step out of your comfort zone and be the leader that God has called you to be this summer. They are your back bone, your accountability, your strength. But its not by their human strength, but through the love of Christ pouring through them.

Its crazy that soon kids will be getting here on Sunday. I’ve already been on a campout, been certified as a lifeguard, been through many hours of training and instruction, and met many awesome friends. I ask for your prayers as me and my co-counselor Dave and the other counselors at camp meet these kids, who a lot of them, need Jesus. Pray that we would be given the strength to love these kids with the love of Christ. That we would be patient and show these kids that there is hope in the world.

I hope to post updates after each session of what the Lord is teaching me and doing this summer at Camp Ridgecrest.

Blessings,
Joseph.