I can be honest that this week was harder for me than the others. I had my added responsibility of being head girls trainer along with being a counselor. I also found that my campers needed extra attention and were struggling with a lot.
Camp this week really was so different. There were only 4 girls in my room this week and there was only one kid in the whole camp that was a native English speaker. Technically this was called international camp, but all the kids were Croatian, save the one American. (Luckily she was in my room). I also had one girl who is Croatian but her father is an American. She lives in Croatia but her English was very good. This was contrasted by my two sweet girls who had a pretty basic level of English. One of the hardest things to deal with when translating is that you don't know if then point you are trying to make is actually getting across. Bible study certainly was made more difficult through this. I had a counselor helper in my room and as head girls trainer I was her mentor. She proved incredibly helpful because she could translate while staying on topic.
This week had its share of challenges and my room required a lot of energy. A lot of tears and a lot of prayer and conversation. My biggest prayer this week was that it was all genuine. I want these girls to know God for who He is outside of camp. I thank God for the peace that comes with knowing He goes with them from this place when I can't. He has begun a good work and will complete it.
The kids this week were so awesome. They were very different and a little bit crazier but they were actually just so cool. The one help that the language barrier gives is that if conversation is lacking you can just ask how to say something. Like I said last time, they just love to laugh at our pronunciation. My rule of thumb is that they have to tell me what their phrase means before I say it. That's a piece of wisdom right there.
This week was unlike the others in the fact that I had some down time! We had rotations throughout the day of English, archery, and a craft. I was not assigned to any and I got the time for myself. That just simply never happens. It gave me time to really be away from everything and regroup and actually get to talk a lot to God. This was one of the huge little blessings that God gave me because I had much more stress this week and I needed that time to be with Him and to relax some at the beginning of the week. However, the last two days I was summoned for craft help. But this was far from the coloring or cut and paste of normal VBS crafts (we used a VBS for this camp because of the simple English). For this camp, we made full blown catapults. Ya, it was kind of cool.
You wear many hats as the staff of a small camp. This week I became expert catapult threader knot tying person...still led games...head girls trainer...counselor...canoe leader...and one day even spelunking leader. That day was pretty fun. The cave we took some campers into was not nearly as crazy awesome as the one from last week. This one was very small and there was a good deal of crawling and scraping the edge. Claustrophobia was actually not a problem because it is so cool temperature wise in the caves. If the air was stuffy I would have been much more concerned. Instead I was able to crawl and squeeze and scurry about. At one point we needed to make extra room so I ended up climbing up and up in the the ceiling of the cave. Those things go on forever. I was selected because I was the only girl willing to go into the cave at all. While our director's son led the expedition because of his great cave knowledge, I was the oldest and only staff member. Sometimes I don't know how I rope myself into these things.
This camp was one day shorter than the last two which I know the campers didn't love. They wanted to stay here forever. The last day we actually did a program for the kids and their parents. Some of these parents do not know God and since they get to see a little of what their kids did at camp, they can then ask more specific questions... And hopefully end up with the gospel. Some of our kids performed a song and dance to "How great is our God" and we did our skit again that I posted earlier. We had a chance to honor some of the achievements from the kids in front of their parents. I've never seen a camp end like that, but it was pretty neat.
We did a number of dramas this week. The staff performed one each night as a visual. These are especially helpful in the case that the kids don't speak English well. Visuals are helpful anyway but when language is a barrier then they are even weightier. We did a few familiar ones like the "everything" skit. This shows how we put so many distractions in front of God yet He saves us and forgives us. We did one showing how we must not wear masks. God loves us for who we are and who He has made us to be. The first drama that we actually got to perform for the parents was called bring me to life. It showed both the fall and then Jesus dying for us. We recorded it so tada tada you can watch us! http://youtu.be/UYpOhJ7EvIQ
One of my favorite little moments from this camp is a video that I may post later. A friend working at a camp in NC donated a song to me and I have been able to song it every week to the kids. One guy in particular decided he adored the song and sang it everywhere all the time. There is a little sound bite ingrained in our heads of this voice starting out "I've got JOY". It took til the last day for him to actually get all the words right, but he was singing it up until he got into the car to go home. Again, hopefully a video will make its way on here some day!
Games went a little different than the last two times. I still led them but not everything translated. It was so so hard to see who was talking out of disrespect and who was translating for someone else. We also had one camper with a disability and adapted some of the games so that they could play. That was actually so awesome to see. The kids didn't love it, but they got used to the new rules and embraced it totally. And it brought the one camper so much joy to be involved. We did not have our typical messy games...except pie jousting. I am certain that I am a magnet for whipped cream. Every time that it is out, it ends up in my hair and on my face. This time we had three extra pies (first mistake) and two of them ended up all over Emily. Oh well...... But really, if there is whipped cream...I need to run away.
Each day we had a different country as our theme. We started with Canada, then to Poland, and then I led Kenya and "southern USA day". We had staff from Canada and Poland so they were able to give us fun info. Kenya day was so fun and super cool for me. It was so neat to be reminiscing about the trip I took last summer to Kenya. That was an amazing trip where I saw so much of God and then here in Croatia I was reminded. What made it even better was that some of my friends and future roommates for next year were on the same trip to Kenya during this time! It was all a really neat experience. I taught the kids how to say hello (jambo) and praise The Lord (bwana asa fiwe). Then I showed them some clips from our Kenya trip last year. That was wonderful for me to get to watch that video here. It brought back a lot of memories and reminded me of some of the awesome things God taught me there.
Southern USA day was not quite so...special? Touching? It was fun though! We had a few Americans here but I was the only one from the south! I got to teach them the proper English. We used words like reckon and yonder and TUMP and y'all of course. In the morning I taught them how to have a southern conversation:
"Where's my sweet tea?"
"Over yonder I reckon"
...I had that conversation more times than I could count. But a southern accent coated in a Croatian accent is probably something ill never get to experience again. It was precious.
It was such a bummer to have to say bye to some of the staff. This camp is unlike others in that there is not a set staff. It changes week to week. This does add another level of difficulty because there is a new group dynamic every week that you must adapt to. We took two of the guys to a bus station but ended up grabbing some ice cream which gave us a little more time together. The ice cream shop was too fun not to write about...it was sweets and a show. Hopefully I'll be able to put up some pictures at some point but this is a good idea.
Over this rest time we got to go to a beautiful spring and have lunch on the water. We also took a hike along it and it really was amazing. This rest day ended with palačinke and sladoled! (Croatian Pancakes and ice cream) that was pretty exciting! It was a free for all and a really relaxed way to...well to have ice cream for dinner! Now we have a new day with one new staff member and we have to regroup once again to prepare for this final camp.
It's crazy to think that today marks one week left here. It is beautiful and amazing and has so many wonderful opportunities. I am going into this week nervous for the drastically different atmosphere which sometimes makes it hard to get up the enthusiasm for this week. But I have found so much comfort in the lesson God has been teaching me ever since the very first week...I have a purpose. I have a purpose here and there is a reason that I am still here. I am supposed to be staying at this one last camp while so many others have come and gone. I am supposed to be the only American left. How great is it that God is our only ljubav, mir, i radost. (Love, peace, and joy).
Pray for us this week please oh please:
- once again a new group dynamic must form and work together. This is the most foreign group yet (figuratively and literally) so we truly need understanding amongst each other.
-we only have 11 campers this week. But really 11. Wow. And 2 girls! The trouble is that we have 2 girl campers and 5 girls counselors...and then 9 boy campers and no male counselors. So this will be interesting. Ya that needs prayer...
---change...we now have 10 campers.-----
-I am once again head girls trainer. I will be in charge of women at least 6 years older than me. It's a little intimidating but oh well.
- I will be speaking to the camp this week in our group meeting. Maybe even twice...not sure. It will be translated I THINK but again, I don't really know. I have not spoken to this age group and we will see how it goes... Pray that God will give me what I need to say.
- we have a new schedule somewhat once again with this younger age group. Few of us feel that this is a strong suit for us so we will need extra energy and understanding. Apparently I will be very involved in leading sports this week which is funny...we will see how that goes. And I am still to lead games but they are going to be absolutely different from the last weeks! I don't know what to do with that. But it means no whipped cream in my hair for once.
-I want my voice all the way back. Its just not all there and I need it!!!
-last week here in Croatia...last week at DPB house. I have loved it and want to continue to devote everything I have to this ministry. For that reason I am praying for renewed strength and the reminder that it is not about me. This week may be hard but I can not be discouraged because this is how God wants it! So I say ok! Lets go into one more camp and I want to leave everything I have here. Mom...dad...don't except a voice from me when I get home and that's fine by me. Turn up the rocky music and let's do this thing!!!!