Without a doubt, this summer has been the best summer of my life. God worked in my life in so many ways and taught me a whole lot. He taught the other staff members and campers a lot, too. The theme for the summer was Wanted, so all of our nightly skits had a Western theme and the staff members were given cowboy hats to wear on Sundays to welcome the new campers as they arrived with their parents. The theme verse was Luke 9:23, and throughout the nine weeks that I was at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries Camp (PVM) God helped me understand what it really means to deny myself and take up my cross each and every day. For the staff, the recurring theme in our lives that God was working on in our hearts all summer was surrender. God taught me to surrender my family, all other relationships, my job, my plans, my expectations, etc.
When I arrived at PVM I didn't know anyone, other than my bosses Tom and Bryan, who I'd only met once before, so I was pretty shy (like I always am in new situations) and I struggled with homesickness, especially during the first couple of days before most of the staff arrived. I honestly wanted to leave at the beginning of the summer because I was lonely and afraid, but I had to learn to trust God that he had me at PVM for a reason. It took a few weeks, but over time God allowed me to form friendships with many of the staff members. Each and every one of them loved me like Christ loves me, and it was a blessing to work with them. I admire them greatly for their undying love for Jesus and willingness to continually pour out their lives as a living offering to God. As a staff, we planted a multitude of seeds this summer and I'm so excited to see what God does in the lives of the kids throughout the year and into next summer.
God helped me to surrender all of my relationships to him as I continued to grow closer to him these past nine weeks. I finally understand that God is the only One who can completely satisfy my deepest longings and desires, whereas before camp, I still thought that somehow another person would be able to do that for me. God brought me to place where I can honestly say that he's my only desire. I love everything that he's blessed me with, but they're the gifts, and he's the Giver, not vice versa.
When I was asked last minute to switch from being the camp photographer to being a counselor for the last two weeks of camp, God was teaching me to surrender my job. I thought that I would have the same job all summer long, and I was pretty excited about it since I love taking photos, but God had other plans. It was also a lesson in becoming more flexible and allowing God to work through me, rather than me working for God. You see, I was working for God all summer long, but I had to get the place where I was willing to let God have his way and use me where he wanted me, rather than where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do. And I'm so glad that God gave me the opportunity to be a counselor to two great groups of girls in grades 4-6th. He made it pretty clear to me these past two weeks that I'm supposed to work with kids as my life profession. I don't know where God's going to take me after I get out of college, or even what he's got planned for me in the next couple of years while I'm still at school, but I'm really excited to see God's plan unfold because it's going to be marvelous and so much better than I could ever imagine!
If life went the way I planned it, it would be pretty miserable, so I'm thankful for a God who knows me better than I know myself, who knows exactly what I need and when I need it. No matter where I go, I'm always leaving friends and having to say goodbyes, which I hate. If you're a missionary kid or pastor's kid or live any other kind of life that requires frequent moves, you'll understand. Saying goodbyes at the end of this summer was so difficult, and now I miss my PVM family, my Ukarumpa classmates, and my Cedarville classmates a great deal. I wish I could see all of them right now, in this very moment. I wish we weren't so far away from each other, and I really wish that I had a car and could drive places, but alas, I have no car and I don't even have a license at the moment. And yet, God has provided for all of my relational needs wherever I go, including this summer at PVM. He's just such a good and loving Father! Praise Him. Saying goodbyes wouldn't be painful if there wasn't any commitment or love, so I have realized that the pain is worth it, but of course I look forward to heaven when all believers will live in community together. What a day that will be, living with our King!
That's Part I of the amazing summer I had at PVM. The underlying theme that God laid on my heart was surrendering to him and his will, and as I let go of one thing after another, I fell more in love in God and was motivated to serve him more. James 2:14-17 comes to mind as I mull over all that God's taught me recently:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
My faith grew and as it did, God worked through me to do many good deeds. I praise Him for everything!
Love in Christ,