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We are just coming off the camp season, and we are feeling so thankful for all of the great things that took place. We had amazing weather that allowed us to do almost every activity we had planned, and sunny days made for great water days and fun in the sun! There were definitely days when we were feeling tired and lacking energy, but we began each morning with some staff devotionals and it always seemed to give us that reminder of why we were doing what we were doing and to encourage one another and pray together, and it seemed to be the manna that we needed for the day.
There are so many great stories that I could tell that I am struggling to know which one to share here. I think I will share one that really encouraged my heart. We had two boys last year at our summer camps, and they were great kids, but we just really struggled to manage some behavior, and it just didn’t feel like we were getting any response from them. It felt like a tough week with them. After camp, their parents shared that they had committed their lives to Jesus. We were surprised to hear this, as it wasn’t something that we saw outwardly during the camp week. This summer, they came back to the camp, and they were transformed kids. They seemed to have a totally different demeanor, a calmer one, one filled with peace. I love this story for a few reasons. One is that there was a lasting impact in their lives. It wasn’t just an emotional experience at camp but an actual turning point. I love that seeds were planted and that God made things grow that became visible from the last season to this new one. I also love that it was an encouragement to not judge what we see going on outwardly but to trust that God is working and that there are things going on in camper’s hearts that we cannot see. Lastly, what a blessing that these campers have lives filled with more joy and more peace and are walking with Jesus. This is why we love the ministry of camp. We love this tool that God often uses to encourage young people to make a line in the sand, to decide whether they are going to just live for this temporary world and all that passes away or whether they are going to live for the eternal things that will never pass away.
Our theme for the first two weeks of camp was “Kingdom Feast,” and we talked about what it means to be invited to sit at the table with Jesus, today, in this moment, but to also one day feast with Him in the life to come. We wanted campers to know that they are loved, known, and invited. We heard about what it means to be invited by God Himself into a personal relationship. We had so many respond to this invitation and so many that recognized this offer was better than anything the world was offering them. Speakers walked through the truth of who this God is that is inviting them, what He offers, and the idea that God does not twist or manipulate us into accepting His invitation but He simply just offers it to us.
For youth camp, our theme was “Captive,” and speakers shared about the power of sin and how it can so often hold us captive in our lives. We talked about taking our thoughts, actions, and words captive to make them obedient and in line with Christ. Then on the flip side, we heard about allowing our hearts to be captivated by the beauty and the person of Christ. SO many good things were shared by speakers and by campers, and it was a really impactful week.
Our family left the final week of camp a day early to experience our first Hungarian wedding. It was such a wonderful evening for us. Our boys ended up playing soccer in the field beside the reception hall in their dress clothes with a bunch of Hungarian boys from the wedding. Keli found a friend from one of our weeks at camp, and they were inseparable all night. Dani is currently away with some school friends at another Christian camp and did not attend the wedding with us, so Jason and I essentially enjoyed a date night as our kids were off enjoying the event with others. There were many youth from camp that attended the wedding, so we were able to connect with them and meet the rest of their families. It was just a reminder for us of the way that God has been so good and faithful to create community for us and has allowed us to enter into this culture and feel like we are loved and known here in this place.
Thank you to all of you who were joining us in prayer for the camp season and throughout. We recognize that so many of you partnered with us this summer for the spread of the gospel.
Much love to all of you!
Jason, Erin, Dani, Cristian, Olin, and Keli