Encounter Columbus: Week Seven

The last week. I can’t believe how fast it came, but my heart is so full.

Meagan drew this little depiction of our personalities in cartoon form. Guess which one’s me! 😉

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This is an artistic depiction of such drastically different personalities coming together under the love of Christ.

The LAST week of camp //

I am overwhelmed with joy at how well camp ended.

We began the week continuing our bible studies and they went great. My co-counselor Chuck & I led some great discussions with the kids on the way God calls people. Our bible study girls were so invested in our conversation and I can’t tell you how happy that made me.

On Wednesday, we decided to have a worship session, and hearing the campers sing so freely in honor of God made everything worthwhile. We began with just our group of 6 girls, but the whole camp ended up joining in song together.

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We did a lot of fun little activities throughout the week — we did a craft where we painted plant pots, and one of my girls, Emma, made hers for me. She knew my favorite color was yellow, so she painted a yellow flower, and she knew I loved sunsets so she painted a sunset on it too. I can’t wait to plant something in it; it’s the cutest.

On Thursday, we had the girls paint tiny canvases — they painted what represented God to them on the front of the canvas, and what represented themselves in a smaller box on the back of the canvas. It was meant to be a visual representation of the verse in John “he must increase, I must decrease.” They loved this activity a lot.

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On Thursday night, we performed our musical “All About the Call” to the community. It was much more organized and prepared than our first camp’s musical, so it was sweet to see it unfold. The girls I had been doing bible study with had most of the speaking roles, so I was sitting there in front like a proud mom.

Nancy, our director, introduced us to the audience afterward and gave us Encounter Columbus students journals as a gift for volunteering at camp this summer. I’m really going to miss this group of counselors.

Oh also, did I mention that Chuck and I are the COOLEST co-counselors?

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Myti Oaks Day Camp reminded me of how much being a camp counselor fills my heart. I loved sharing the love of Jesus with these kids and talking with them about salvation, truth, and the word. I don’t think this is the last summer I’ll be at a camp.

Community  //

It was really difficult for me to grasp that I only had days left with the girls I had lived with for 6 weeks. But we made the absolute most of our time left together.

On Monday, Meagan led a reflection of our experience, and we wrote in our journals & discussed different questions. What we learned about God, ourselves, the arts, our skills & how we can use them. What action we’ll take to share what we learned when we get back to campus. What we didn’t expect. What we’d like to explore more.

It was weird talking about things in the past tense.

I was having a Pelotonia fundraiser on Tuesday at the Candle Lab, so we all went and they made candles to support me.

 

We had our final bible study on Wednesday and finished up the book of John — it was shocking to realize we had gone through an entire gospel in 7 weeks.

On Friday, Meagan & Lauren sent us off to the Park of Roses to pick something that represented each other. We spent about 30 minutes there by ourselves, trying to figure out what to pick. Then we went and picked up a dozen donuts from a local place called Amy’s, and headed back to the house.

That night we went to the Jazz & Ribs Festival downtown as our last excursion together. We all got different ribs so we could try all of the different types.

 

Then we listened to some good music and went to watch Mike’s kids playing in the water park. We were sitting on the side, and the kids kept coming over to each one of us individually and asking us to come with them. Then they’d make us sit down in the water. So we all ended up sitting down in the water in our clothes.

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It was such a clear example of how willing this group is to have fun & how willing they are to just BE. The look on the kids’ faces when we sat down was pure joy.

When we came back that night, the leaders led us into the living room for our end-of-Encounter-Columbus debrief, where they had shut all of the lights off & lit candles & had epic music playing & there was a hallway of streamers leading to the couches. They showered us with confetti until it was stuck in our hair. On the table in front of us, there was a framed picture of our covenant & the book The Artisan Soul for us to take with us.

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We sat around the living room and named off our favorite memories, laughing & smiling at how many there were. Then we shared with the leaders what we had talked about during our reflection time with Meagan.

The leaders had us sit one-by-one in the “hot seat” where the students would go around and share why they had picked what they had picked and how that person had impacted them this summer. The person in the seat wasn’t allowed to speak while the leaders & students showered them with love & compliments.

I’m going to take this time to share a little bit about the wonderful people that impacted me this summer.

 

 

This is Paige. When I first met her, I thought she was quiet. Turns out, she actually loves talking when you get her going on a topic she’s interested in. She loves knowing & sharing random facts. She’s also a great co-counselor and helped me so much in ministering to our pre-K to 1st grade campers; she’s really got a way with that age group. This summer she’s taught me that I barely even know anything about my plants, and the importance of taking care of God’s creation. She’s very perceptive, and sometimes I’m convinced she can read my mind — Paige has pushed me a lot to pay attention to the little things. I’m really sad that I won’t be with her every day now, because what am I going to do now when my plants start to die? Who’s going to inspire me to go on morning runs and eat lots of vegetables?

I chose a hydrangea for her. It has a lot of seeds, which I felt represented her willingness to learn new things. It also has beautiful flowers, which I felt represented her willingness to share her knowledge with others, just as she shared so much with me this summer.

This is Destiny. I went about a week of knowing her without knowing she was from the Bahamas and came to the US for college (how cool is that) and we quickly figured out we both love literature and writing. Sometimes she’ll have moments where she’ll be dancing with no one watching, and when someone catches her she gets all embarrassed. She’s truthful and patient. I love this picture of her because she’s laughing just as she has been all summer — she even laughs at my bad puns when they don’t deserve it. I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most about her.

I chose a little white rose bud for her. White is the color of peace, and whenever I am around her I always feel as if I am calm, even in the craziest moments. This rose was slowly unfolding — I think when I first met Destiny I thought she was quiet and only saw her at surface level. When I truly got to know her, I saw all of her different layers unfolding and they were each different and wonderful.

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This is Janell. She doesn’t like pictures, but she agreed to take this one because it was with a background she loves; the farm. She is passionate about agriculture and will talk your head off about cows. Every Sunday she has this tradition of wearing this ridiculous cow onesie. She’s not quick to speak, but when she does, she leads in confidence. She loves people really well, and when she cares about you, she shows it — she’s always doing things for other people & often she forgets about herself. So this is for you, Janell — to show you that you are as important as you make other people feel.

I picked a half unfolded rose for her. I feel that she has conquered a lot this summer and has begun to show who she truly is to other people and I cannot be happier to have had the opportunity to go through it with her. As a rose continues to unfold, it becomes more rounded and more beautiful.

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These are our leaders; Randy, Lauren and Meagan. Mike is not pictured, but we still love him just as much!

Randy has been such a positive influence to us. He always finds a tender way to offer up the other side of things, and has one of the most inviting personalities I’ve ever met. He’s also super adventurous and was always up to play soccer and slackline with me. Not to mention, if we had a dad joke tally going, he’d take the cake.

Lauren is my campus minister, and this summer we got to get to know each other even deeper. She has been a rock to me through my struggles this summer and is one of the best advice-givers I have in my life. She is supportive and loving, but she also pushes me to become a leader and to believe in the abilities God has given me.

Meagan lived in the house with us, and pretty much became house mom. God’s given her an artistic gift and it’s been inspiring to see the freedom she feels in creativity. She has been my friend, leader, sister in Christ, dance party partner, pep talker, and so much more. She pushes me to stand for what I believe in. She is also not afraid to call me out on what I need to work on.

Mike (not pictured) is the mastermind behind this whole experience — it is brand new this year and it all began because of his idea! He has been a great spiritual influence this summer, giving us pep talks on support raising and offering advice for how to process what we’re experiencing. Most of all, I have appreciated how deeply he cares for each of us and his willingness to listen to my struggles, offering prayer & consideration.

That night, when I sat in the hot seat, I didn’t know what to expect. I often let my insecurities and weaknesses overshadow what I’m doing well, and to allow others to shower me in love was a strange feeling for me. But it was wonderful.

Destiny & Paige picked yellow flowers for me. They said that they were the brightest flowers they could find and so clearly represented the way I find the joy and positivity in life. Janell picked rose petals for me, because she said often I doubt myself & my abilities but when I do something I do it well.

Their kind words helped instill a confidence in who God made me to be, and helped me recognize that I do have the power to make a difference in the lives of others.

Then the leaders spoke on how I had impacted them and it was a feeling you wouldn’t imagine every feeling. You think to yourself, “How could I ever have an impact on someone who so strong in their faith and has been walking with the Lord longer?” — but God proves you wrong.

This past spring, I struggled with the need for affirmation. I needed other people to tell me if I was doing something right. With a lot of work, God helped to released me from that need and I learned to find affirmation in Him. Hearing those words didn’t fill my heart; they filled my heart past the fill line. God had already filled my heart and had settled me in knowing that I was important to Him & His kingdom. But these people I love speaking these words made me feel the community God has provided for me this summer, and made me finally realize what my purpose in coming here was.

 

I will be writing a reflection post here soon, and compiling all of my thoughts & lessons I’ve learned in the past 7 weeks into one post.

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Driving away from this house was sad, but I felt like everything we needed to do was done. I felt whole. My heart was past the fill line.

Since the end of Encounter Columbus, I have been on a week-long road trip to Philadelphia, Ocean City, Pittsburgh and Cleveland visiting some wonderful friends & a few other CCO missions — I will post soon what God has been revealing to me through this trip.

I am blessed to have been a part of this experience and will miss these sweet brothers & sisters in Christ so deeply, but I know this isn’t goodbye forever.

What a wonderful life we have found in Jesus. When you are loved, you have a home.

 

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