My initial meeting with Sara didn’t go well. Instead it went something like this, “Hey there sleepyhead, I’m Joy. I’ll be your Camp Counselor for the week.” Quickly followed by 12-year-old Sara stomping off with an unpleasant look on her face and me thinking, “Oh great, what am I going to do now?”
Sometimes first meetings don’t go as smoothly as we hope! For a long time, it was my dream to become a camp counselor. Last summer, God made that dream a reality when I became a staff member at Fort Lone Tree, a Christian camp serving kids 8-12 years old.
Each week’s group of campers, and each camper, was unique. There were the “Pranksters,” the “Daredevils,” the “Shy” or the “Out-going.” I was never sure what to expect but one camper in particular had a lasting impact on me. Her name was Sara.
Unfortunately, as you just read, my initial encounter with Sara had a bumpy start. Upon seeing her limp body complete with drowsy eyes and unkept hair emerge from the long bus ride to camp, my well-intentioned welcome, including playful teasing, was ill received. The days that followed left me playing “catch-up” with our relationship; trying to repair any damage my words had caused.
Often, I found myself praying for Sara and seeking wisdom on how I could show God’s love to her.
One day, I felt the Lord tell me to speak words of encouragement. Tell her, “I am proud of you, you are beautiful, I am here for you, and . . . I love you.”
“Love is patient, love is kind.” Corinthians 13:4
During those first few days of camp, home-sickness played a part in Sara’s negative behavior. She often displayed a lack of interest in participation as well as an unwillingness to comply with what was asked of her.
Daily, her attitude tried my patience, but God never let me lose hope.
And just when I least expected it, a co-counselor approached me to say that Sara requested a photo of herself on the zipline and wanted me to see it. Sara was a fearful girl but she felt riding the zipline would be a way she could prove herself. She told the counselor, “I want to go on the zipline so that Joy will be proud of me.”
Those words surprised me as I realized my encouragement had reached Sara’s heart and she desired to show me, in her own way, that I could truly be proud of her. A few days later, I received the first hug from Sara since her arrival. “You remind me of my mother,” she said. “She always tells me that she loves me and she’s proud of me.”
The remaining days with Sara were much different and on the last day at the Fort she snuck a note in my bed that left me in tears of joy. “Thank you for teaching me how to be brave and for always saying I am beautiful and for telling me that you are proud of me. I love you Joy. You are the best camp counselor ever!”
Then, before she boarded the bus for her journey home, she ran to give me a final hug and say how much she was going to miss me. I didn’t know how the week would go down with Sara. I questioned my abilities and was often at my last straw with her.
As I watched the bus pull away, I was overcome with thanksgiving to God for the work He accomplished in my heart and in Sara’s.
The many challenges I faced during my time at The Fort helped me reach the goals I initially set for myself: to deepen my relationship with God, seek His direction for my life, and learn to be His hands and feet as I shared His love and spread the Gospel.
Glory to God because these goals were fulfilled and prayers were answered, especially in regards to the precious young people I met.
As we start this summer I would encourage you to consider how God might use you to serve, how you can be his hands and feet and deepen your relationship with Him! There are opportunites to serve with MCC's Youth Groups, with Vacation Bible School and more!
We are excited to announce that we will have an in-person worship service outside at 8:30am in the MCC parking lot! We can’t wait to see you! In addition, our Sunday live-stream (on Facebook and Instagram) will move to 10:00am for the foreseeable future for those who are not be able to join us.
We’ve chosen for our service to happen outdoors as there are still a number of requirements and protocol for indoor gatherings. So, we are not inviting you to join us indoors at this time. Instead, come for our outdoor gathering, or continue to join us online later from home.
Please read the Guidelines for Gathering to Worship Together at MCC in its entirety so that you know what to expect when you come to our outdoor service. This will help you and those around you navigate a very new situation, hopefully in a way that is as seamless as possible. We believe that our unity will be expressed and strengthened as we serve one another in Christ this week so join us in extending grace to each other, amid our differing perspectives, and different views about how to live in this time.
“... submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Please know that we are making every effort for this gathering to be in full compliance with the protocols given by authorities. No single plan for our meeting will ever be the perfect solution in any one person’s eyes. We will all be making compromises. But as we defer to these guidelines set up by our elders and leadership, we will be serving our fellow believers, honoring Christ as best we can, and providing for a beautiful expression of worship to happen together.
Please stay home if any of the following apply to you:
- You are immunocompromised.
- You are feeling ill (running a fever, coughing, or showing other signs of sickness)
Please don’t put yourself or others at risk. Thank you for staying home and staying safe, because we love you!