So the morning of the last day of camp we held the baptism at 6:30AM. The Lord answered our prayers as it was the warmest morning we had all week. It was a beautiful ceremony with one adult and five campers being baptized. We held our closing ceremony and said our tearful goodbyes.
We arrived at the hotel and my focus was on relaxation as I was flying back home on Sunday. Out of all of the years I have taken this mission trip this was the first time I flew back early. I will not do that again! The extra day to rest is much needed and I have struggled all day even with trying to take a nap.
On Saturday we always have a debriefing meeting where each person says something about the trip. It can be a story of something that happened or how the trip has affected you. For me this year’s trip has been about coming full circle. Five years ago (with the days of the week lining up exactly) I had to pull out of the trip last minute due to my mother going into the hospital and later being diagnosed with cancer. I missed the following year also. I feel like I came full circle with this trip and it is causing me to reflect on the things that I was in the middle of completing then that has not gotten completed. It is as if in many ways I have been stagnate for the past five years because my focus has been on my mother’s health despite her being in remission for a couple of years. This trip for me represents me needing to come back and complete those things in order to move forward. God showed me a glimpse of where he wants to take me but these things have to be completed before I can do that.
Before I left yesterday I was able to sit down and have a conversation with my mentor who is also one of my spiritual parents. She caused me to reflect back beyond the five years and identify how a major mistake I made is still holding me back. She made me realize that going forward I have to do a better job of listening to those around me and not allowing my pride to get in the way when I am rebuked.
This trip was not just about God using me to help the campers and others, but it was also about God showing me what I need to do next. Until next year Jamaica!
Today was the last full day of camp. This is also the day filled with excitement because we have the banquet and dance. It is also a bittersweet day because we know we have to say goodbye tomorrow. Today’s mission moment came from one of the Jamaican counselors. She informed how she was called last minute to volunteer and had no clue what the camp was about. She shared how hearing the children and counselors’ stories stirred her soul. She stated that she realizes she needs to make changes in her life and asked to be baptized. So tomorrow morning we are offering to baptize any camper or adult who has accepted Christ or rededicated their life to Christ.
I am worn out, but in a good way! Our morning workout was interrupted by rain so we moved in doors and started quiet time early. God spoke and we prayed over each youth. The day progressed with God using me to assist with a camper who is severe mental health issues and had an outburst. This lead to an amazing moment where God used me to show him compassion and understanding. Throughout the day God has presented amazing moments with youth and even with other counselors.
The mission moment of today is the guest speaker that came to discuss a new program where the Child Development Agency has partnered with a school to create a transitional living program to include residential housing. This has been a prayer for ten years! When camp changed from ender specific to coed, I was in graduate school for my doctorate degree. I was at the point where I started working on my dissertation and I wanted to do something to benefit the Jamaica Mission Trip. I spoke to Nana Kay who is one of the leaders and she informed me that they wanted to change the format of the camp. She stated that they want to teach the youth indepenent living skills because they are finding that the youth are struggling to survive once they age out of the system. So I researched and created the curriculum that we use at camp. As we started doing the new format for camp we realized that we are not able to teach everything we need to in 4-5 days. We prayed for a solution to this issue and today that prayer was answered. I hope to partner with this program and assist in its further development.
So today was the first full day of camp. I love how each year something is added for the further development of youth. This year Pastor Alton added quiet time to start to teach the youth how to be still and listen to God. This morning after exercise and a game the youth had there first experience. It was a beautiful site to see all of the youth spread out across the field spending time with God! I spent part of the morning with the gentlemen conducting their morning sessions. They were open and engaged throughout the session. Throughout the day I asked random youth what they have been learning and they were able to respond immediately and even discuss how they can apply it to their life after camp. These youth are yearning to learn more and seeking God. Even the youth who have declared they do not believe in God are identifying things they are learning. This team I am serving with continue to amazing me with their wisdom, energy, and discernment.
So the youth arrived today. I must say that this group of children have bonded the quickest than previous groups and are very respectful of the rules. What is a bigger blessing is they have already started opening up and working on breaking the cycle of thier lives. But here is the story of the day. So last year we had a young man who was reunited at camp after the area director had to make the facility he was staying at bring him knowing that he would not be able to return. Upon him arriving we found out that the child was malnutritioned and there was allegations that he was being abused at the home. At camp we started loving on him and feeding him extra food to get his strength up. We even had to go buy him clothes. By the end of camp the workers were able to find him a new placement. Well he returned to camp this year walking with his head held high, at a healthy weight, and verbal during the discussions. Can I get a praise dance?! It is amazing to see how much God has done in this child’s life since last year. This is only one of the amazing stories unfolding here. This team is amazing! I know I say it every year but their is something about the cohesiveness of this team despite this being the first year for many of them. Please continue to cover us as we serve and for the cycles that are being broken in the children as well as the staff attending the workshop.
So today was travel day. This year I made it a point to fly out of Orlando so I would not have to change planes and I will not have a 7 hour layover on my way back. I was able to meet up with my team who were already on the buses waiting. The drive up to Camp Moorlands was quick and eventful as usual (referencing the driving). We arrived early to camp and was able to unpack. Those of us who have been here previous years do not know what to do with the spare time we have. We even completed the prayer walk this evening. I have spent the day reflecting back because 5 years ago on a Monday I was scheduled to come to the 2011 camp but had to cancel last minute due to my mother going into the hospital. That was the beginning of her being diagnosed with cancer. I feel as if I have come full circle! I am excited with anticipation about the lives that will be impacted by God this week. This year’s theme is “The Cycle Breaker”coming from 2 Corithians 5:17.