I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth for a bit…
Don’t worry I was at camp…
Five straight weeks of camps in 2 different countries…
Yes I have had a very busy five weeks, and this blog post will inevitably be a long one, so get ready. Over the past five weeks, I have been at four different camps that have all been different from each other! Let me show you a brief snapshot of each camp! I have already written about the first camp that I led (HisPrint Drama Camp) in a previous blog post, so I will begin with the second camp on the coast of Croatia called Ćinta!
Meet Ćinta, a very beautiful camp in a cove on the island of Ugljan in Croatia. Here I would spend 10 days leading a VBS-like program during a family camp! A typical day at Ćinta included a morning program (kids and parents had separate programs), games and swimming in the afternoon, and a worship and recap service in the evening! Through the entire camp, I was helping Maja with whatever she needed done. This included cutting crafts, singing, setting up, decorating, gluing and much more. I spent much of my time at Ćinta speaking as much Croatian as I could. This week improved my Croatian speaking dramatically. The theme for the camp was “Walking Through Faith” and we journeyed through many Bible stories such as the Plagues, Crossing the Red Sea, and Wandering in the Wilderness. It was amazing to witness children slowly getting excited to do song motions, play games, and learn about the Bible stories. Spending time with the children and getting to know them outside of VBS was one of my most favorite activities. During this week at camp, I grew very close with the the team members and I have great confidence that these friendships will be long lasting. Through this camp, I learned that God uses my own weaknesses for his glory. He provides what we need when we need it. Before I began my week at Ćinta I was feeling very down wondering what my purpose would be while at camp. Because of my lack of Croatian I felt very unequipped to make a difference. God showed me that the reason I was there was to encourage and uplift the team around me. God also used this time to show me that I can learn Croatian culture and language, it is not an impossible task.
Meet Zelena Dolina where I would spend my fourth week of camps with 30 kids ages 7-13! Zelena Dolina translates to Green Hill, and it is indeed a green hill. I couldn’t believe how fast the kids were running up and down that hill! I could barely get down without sliding on my bum! This green hill allowed for some fun activities including a massive slip n slide! The 200ft slip n slide was one of the kids favorite activities and I got roped into going down it too! I was monitoring the above ground pool when one of the leaders said “Emily you have to give it a try!” I quickly thought and decided it would be best to go change into my swimsuit but when I told her I would be right back she said “No! Just go down in your clothes!” My white undershirt was black by the time I got off that slide, but it was TOTALLY worth it! I took a shower fully clothed after that just to wash a few layers of mud off! One of my favorite parts of the camp was the music. They sang songs like “Father Abraham,” “Praise ye the Lord,” “You are Holy (Prince of Peace),” and “Lord I Lift your Name on High.” These songs, which I know in English, kept me worshiping and learning all week long as I tried to sing them in Croatian! This camp was different for me because I was not a traditional leader. Yes, I was staying in a cabin with 4 lovely campers, but I had a co-leader (who is one of my good friends) and she was able to lead it mostly by herself! At the beginning of this camp I asked God again, what my purpose was for being at this camp. He again was faithful to answer and showed me several different ways I was used. One of the ways he used me at camp was to answer questions in small group Bible studies/discussion times. On two different occurrences I was able to share and get my response translated so that the kid’s lives could be impacted. After sharing with them they warmed up to me and we began to attempt to communicate (in both English and Croatian)! Additionally on two separate occasions, people complimented how well I was doing on my Croatian speaking and integrating into the culture! The people who told me these things will never know how much it meant to me, and I’m confident that God brought them to camp just for me!
My last week of camp was a bit different for many different reasons. One of them being that I had to fly to England to attend! As a surprise for my kids in Gateshead, I showed up to camp… they lost their minds. It was such a happy reunion and you should definitely check out the video on the blog’s facebook page to see (and hear) happy kiddos being reunited with their friend and music teacher. This camp was busy as well with water activities, messy night games, and lots of Bible Hours! The kids had a blast and many of them asked great questions. With the girls in my cabin especially, I was able to answer a lot of questions they had about Old Testament Bible stories. This was a week full of fun moments and deep conversations as I used my English to minister to the people around me. I also got to meet people that I had heard so much about (from my Aunt and Uncle as well as my kids) and finally put some names to faces!
I arrived at my Aunt and Uncles house on Thursday after spending a few days at one of my friends house in Gateshead. As you can imagine, I am absolutely exhausted. Five straight weeks of camps is already a lot and then on top of that, I was also doing school. This month of camps has taught me many valuable lessons. Perseverance has been the word of the month. There were times when I just wanted to grab a kid and say “please be quiet! Stop complaining about how tired you are! I have been doing this for weeks!” but somehow, God continues to give me the patience and rest I need.
On Monday, I take a train to Edinburgh for another ministry opportunity. There is an annual art festival called The Fringe in Edinburgh. There, Word of Life Ministries performs evangelistic puppet shows. Days are spent passing out leaflets and afternoons are spent doing puppet shows! I am looking forward to spending three days working and learning what a puppet ministry looks like! After the fringe I have about a week in Gateshead and then I will be heading back to Croatia on August 14th.
Five straight weeks of camps is a lot, and I have no idea if I will ever do it again. I know that through this period of time I have grown through and overcome challenges that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. Each camp was unique in its own way, and each will be forever treasured by my heart. Please be praying that God would continue to open doors to opportunities like this so I can learn many different types of ministries. Please pray that I would be able to get the rest I need to continue. Finally please be praying for logistics about moving to Croatia including finances, visas, living, and workplaces! I’ll try to write blogs a bit more frequently now that I am back in wifi zones! Thank you for all your prayers and support!