Encounter Columbus: Week Two

We have a plant garden in the house. It’s in the kitchen corner in a perfect little patch of light. We didn’t plan it, we just all happened to bring plants from home and decided to put them there. But it’s a really life-giving sight to walk in on every morning as we roll out of bed for breakfast.

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I think this little corner is awesome. I check my plants every day, give them water, and simply just marvel at how beautiful they all look when they’re side by side. There’s so much life and beauty and happiness in them.

This garden corner truly reflects the house I’m living in and the people I’m living with.

Here are some updates.

Diving into CAMP //

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We officially began our day camp this week! In training last week, we talked about five essential things that we’re trying to be for these children. They’re written on the wall inside of the house as a reminder.

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The camp runs from 9am-1:30pm Monday through Friday, so our days begin at 7:50am to make breakfast and prepare for the day. After camp ends, we have about an hour meeting and a few jobs to carry out before we have the latter half of the day for rest & evening activities. In our meetings, we talk about how we can improve the experience for the kids, and how we can better support each other as counselors and friends. We have little envelopes where we place written compliments for each other each day; I’ve found they’re super encouraging to give and receive, as these are things we’re doing to be Jesus to these children.

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Our first day was, as expected, accompanied by a few organizational & scheduling issues as us new-to-Myti-Oaks counselors learned how the camp is run, yet our camp leaders told us they were amazed by how smoothly the first week went with so many new helping hands. Though I have been a camp counselor in the past, it was with the YMCA, and I have learned very quickly that each camp experience is different and can teach me new things about being a counselor.

Our main focus of the camp is to teach the children a musical. This session’s musical is called “Barbecue with Ben” and is a kids version of the Prodigal Son parable in the Bible. It has been fun sitting with the kids during music time, making up choreography, and singing along with them. We have learned seven songs just this week, and I find myself humming them as I make dinner every weekday (they’re catchy, friends). I’m excited to see how the musical turns out, as our performance is next Thursday!

I was blessed with the opportunity to lead the group of Pre-K to 1st grade students with Paige. The kids are absolutely adorable and kind, and they have truly touched my heart this week with the outpour of love they have had on me and each other.

However, I found that ministering to these children is a challenge God has given me. Though I know how to work with this age group, I have never led a bible study with early minds. Paige and I sat down each night to plan our bible study for the next day, and found quickly that it was harder than we expected. Our bible study curriculum is to teach the children about Jesus’ parables — metaphorical stories he gave to teach life lessons to his disciples. Because these children are so little, it is much harder for us to explain metaphors in the parables and the biblical concepts they highlight; to keep their attention, we had to find ways to simplify & incorporate a lot of hands-on activities. But, this week was a learning experience for us, and we are excited to continue reinventing in the coming weeks — the responses we are receiving are SO worth the work we are putting in. During a discussion on who Jesus is, we got comments such as, “Jesus is nice, Jesus wants to give us happiness, Jesus is my friend.” I may or may not have almost teared up.

Outside of music time and bible study, we play games, sing songs, and do crafts with the children. Every day after lunch, a group of little girls runs to me and asks if we can have a dance party, and we dance around like crazy around the shelter to “Shake It Off” or similar songs.

At the end of the week, the kids made friendship pins, and we counselors received a few to put on our lanyards. There’s something about a kid giving you something they made that makes volunteering a thousand times more worthwhile.

 

 

Discipleship //

Lauren & I went to a beautiful little coffee shop to talk about how our mission is going so far at the beginning of the week. We mainly talked about how different each of the people in this house are; we all bring such different qualities and life experiences to the table, so while we slowly but surely figure each other out, we are really beginning to see God’s vision in bringing us together through this mission. We are curious and excited to see how we continue to bring out different parts of each other over the next few weeks.

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On Monday, we began our study on the Creation element of the Bible. Because Encounter Columbus, outside of our day camp, is focused on art & creativity, we have been discussing how all of our creativity is an outflow of God’s.

When God made the Earth, he filled it with goodness, truth and beauty. He filled the Earth with animals, and mountains, and the oceans, but He made us His masterpiece. And then He mandated us to fill the earth with creativity that reflected that goodness, truth and beauty. So this week, we have been discussing this further and exploring how we can best reflect God in the way of our view on His creation, and through our own artistic ability.

Meagan led a “creativity night” and gave us all little challenges to complete in 30 minutes. Earlier in the week she had asked me what my artistic process was, and I had said “Well, I’m not really sure. I just kind of think of something and do it.” And so, my challenge was to discover my artistic process and create something out of it. I took my guitar outside, sat down in the middle of a field, and opened my journal. I wrote words to describe my life before I knew God + words to describe my life now that I know God, and turned them into a song. I discovered that my process requires patience, reflection, and the understanding that perfection is only found in Jesus. And then I just create. Those 30 minutes were filled with tranquility, and I discovered a lot about myself. The rest of that night, we sat around a table and made anything we felt inclined to make, working for hours into the late night. We were jamming to music, having conversation, and just going at our own pace. It was wonderful.

As for support raising, I have been super blessed and I am almost at full support! I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me in this mission. Because we have Tuesday nights to make phone calls and support raise, I decided to take a few hours to hand paint thank you cards for my supporters. I think that this is the least they deserve.

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Exploring Columbus //

We have an afternoon break from 3-5pm between camp and evening activities, and I have really been taking advantage of it. So much that I’ve been to a coffee shop every day in the past week. I’m not ashamed.

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These included Bottoms Up Coffee Co-op, Boston Stoker, The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, Coffee Underground, Winan’s Coffee & Chocolates, and Cup o’ Joe.

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My favorite part about going to these places, though, was the company I had with me! Lauren & I went and just talked about life. Paige & I went to plan out our bible study for our camp kids. Meagan & I went to watercolor for an hour. Janell & Meagan were laughing at who knows what while I nonchalantly snapped a picture of them. But just look at the joy on their faces.

 

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Aside from coffee, I found out that one of our leaders, Randy is a cyclist. I’m riding Pelotonia in August, a bike race held in Columbus to raise money for cancer, and so he’s helping me train for it. AND he’s willing to get up early for sunrise rides (also, because of camp, that’s practically the only time I can ride). Here’s a beautiful view of Columbus from one of them.

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Speaking of bikes, we went to Tour De Grandview on Friday night, and it was unbelievable to see how intense professional cycling is up close! A family from the church we’re attending owns a house right on the bike route, and so we had a little block party with Dewey’s pizza and great views of the race. And cute pups.

On Saturday, Paige & I woke up super early to go garage saling. We were gone for four hours getting some good deals.

Later that day, we as a group went to the Scioto Audobon Metropark, which has an outdoor rock wall. It was awesome to get our energy out climbing for a bit. Tyler literally climbed up to the top of the wall just to be a photographer.

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We also slacklined, laid on the grass for a bit, and climbed a water tower. This park has an incredible view of the Columbus skyline. Here’s a picture featuring our sweaty post-climbing faces.

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For the night, we headed to Schiller Park in German Village to watch Shakespeare in the Park. The show was Julius Caesar, and it was so entertaining. The weather was incredible.

The other night, we got out of our cars around 10pm and stopped for a second, gazing at the treeline. It was lighting up with an unbelievable amount of fireflies; we stood in amazement in the middle of the lawn, watching them glow around us as we danced around and sang. This is the kind of spontaneity, love, and beauty that I have found in this experience so far — these people are willing to chase fireflies until they catch them. And they really don’t give up. I have a feeling they won’t ever give up on me, either.

I am blessed to be hanging out with kiddos each weekday, adventuring with sweet friends on the nights and weekends, and learning about Jesus’ love through it all. I am continuously getting to know the lovely ladies I’m living with, and being led by the directors of this mission to further my relationship with God. With each impromptu jam session, deep conversation, or adventure, we are learning more about each other and our journeys.

As we headed into our second week of our mission and begun our camp, I was feeling both excitement and nerves. But God never fails to amaze me in how much His blessings prevail over all fear & doubt.

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