Washed Clean (Michindoh Post 19)

[This post is nineteenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]

How do you mark the week, the day, the moment that a heart turns towards home, bursting with joy at the promise of new life, new hope, new identity?

A thousand different ways.

Or perhaps just a single way.

Washed clean (Photo: CKirgiss)
Washed clean (Photo: CKirgiss)

By rubbing dirt between the palms of hands.

By placing dirty hands under gently poured water.

By listening to a strong yet quiet voice speak these words:

You have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.

So that’s what we did this morning. Poured water over the brave and beautiful hands of teen mothers while faithful mentors held their babies nearby – and while angels danced and sang for joy.

What was lost is now found. What was blind now sees. What was stained is now clean.

All and only because of Jesus.

…you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (First Corinthians 6:11)

Young Lives camp is over. But the joy of New Life is just beginning.

The other rooms (Michindoh Post 18)

[This post is eighteenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

It takes lots of rooms besides cabins and a dining hall and 9 nurseries to pull off Young Lives camp.

There’s the club room – where in the mornings real people tell their real stories and where at night someone tells the gospel story.

There’s the war room – where every morning the leadership team works through each event and detail and moving piece of the day ahead.

War room (Photo: CKirgiss)
War room (Photo: CKirgiss)

There’s the resource room – where each minute of each day people are ready to provide whatever a mom or nursery worker might need.

Resource room (Photo: CKirgiss)
Resource room (Photo: CKirgiss)

And sweetest of all, there’s the quarantine room – where babies who have a sniffle or a cough can rest quietly and contentedly in the strong and gentle arms of a loving and caring adult.

Quarantine room (Photo: CKirgiss)
Quarantine room (Photo: CKirgiss)

This might be my favorite room of all. It is a picture of a trusting but weary believer who has learned to rest contentedly in the strong and gentle arms of a loving and caring God.

LORD, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Children of God – put your hope in the LORD –
now and always.
Amen
(A psalm of David for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem)

 

A day of miracles (Michindoh Post 17)

[This post is seventeenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

Sometimes when you’re at Young Lives camp with 98 teen moms and 94 babies and and 43 leaders, the weather gets kind of bad.

Sometimes it rains after you get into the dining hall to eat breakfast – and then stops just when it’s time to go outside for field games.

Sometimes it rains (pours, really) when club has started – and then stops just in time for campers and leaders to walk back to cabins for good conversation.

Sometimes the power goes out after club music is done and the talk is about to start (in a room that isn’t very deep, with a speaker who has a very strong outside voice and thinks things like power outages at camp are adventurous and exciting) – and then comes back on just after the closing prayer is finished.

Sometimes it rains when campers and leaders are in the cabins having good conversation – and then stops just in time for them to walk across camp for a sweet dance party.

Sometimes it rains during a sweet dance party – and then stops when the sweet dance party is done, just in time to pick up babies and walk them back to cabins for bed.

Sometimes the power goes out after moms and babies are safely back in their cabins at the end of a long day – and then comes back on just in time to give final bottles and baths before snuggling under the covers.

Sometimes you need 94 extra towels (that you don’t have) for exactly 94 babies (that you do have) – and when you gather and search and compile and count everything you can find in every place you can access, you find exactly 94 extra towels.

Sometimes all of that happens in a single day.

And when I say sometimes, I mean today.

Welcome to Young Lives camp.Welcome to Jesus.Welcome to the miraculous.

An awesome place to be. An awesome God to follow. An awesome thing to see – even (or especially) when it’s dark because the power is out.

Our Father… (Michindoh Post 16)

[This post is sixteenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

Scripture refers to God as “Father” often enough for it to be one of His main names and attributes.

For some people, that’s problematic. “Father” does not always – in some cases does not at all – equate with trust, protection, and love. In such cases, there are emotional hurdles that must be leaped repeatedly before new life in Christ can be embraced.

But God the Father has some motherly attributes that are overlooked at our own peril and loss.

In the poetry of Job, God calls himself the mother of the ice who gives birth to both dew and frost.

God protects his children under his wings just as a mother hen protects her chicks.

God helps his offspring fly on his wings just as a mother eagle helps her eaglets.

God comforts His children just as a mother comforts her children.

God loves and nurtures His people so they can learn to rest contentedly in His arms just as a weaned child rests in her mother’s arms.

God gives us new life. God rebirths us. God welcomes us into the kingdom of his household.

God is Father as only God can be.

At the same time, God births, nurtures, and loves with a mother’s heart.

For teen moms, created in the very image of God, this is beautiful and breathtaking truth.

 

Transformation (Michindoh Post 15)

[This post is fifteenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

The transformation from middle school camp to teen mom camp is moving right along.

By tomorrow this pile of things will be fully laid out into 1 of the 9 nurseries:

Nursery (Photo: CKirgiss)
Nursery (Photo: CKirgiss)

This will be another:

Nursery (Photo: CKirgiss)
Nursery (Photo: CKirgiss)

These are 7 of the 50 or so totes full of bedding for teen moms:

Bedding (Photo: CKirgiss)
Bedding (Photo: CKirgiss)

These are 7 of the 25 or so work staff who are making beds for teen moms:

Work Crew (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew (Photo: CKirgiss)

This is 1 of the 100 or so beds the work crew are making:

Making beds (Photo: CKirgiss)
Making beds (Photo: CKirgiss)

These are 5 of the 50 or so pack-n-plays for naptime:

Pack-n-Plays (Photo: CKirgiss)
Pack-n-Plays (Photo: CKirgiss)

These are 3 of the 40 or so baby bops for snuggling:

Baby bops (Photo: CKirgiss)
Baby bops (Photo: CKirgiss)

And these are all of the strollers, three rows deep, washed, dried, lined up, waiting for their precious cargo to arrive:

Strollers (Photo: CKirgiss)
Strollers (Photo: CKirgiss)

It’s not just another day at Michindoh. It’s Day Zero. And we are almost ready to roll.

Day 0 (Michindoh Post 14)

[This post is fourteenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

Day 0.

Today, this must happen in preparation for tomorrow’s arrival of 100 teen moms and their babies:

unload the storage closet (in which is stacked and piled highchairs, bouncy chairs, baby swings, booster chairs, toys, rocking chairs, changing tables, and so much more);

wash everything that is in said storage closet – maybe twice;

divide and deliver all the cleaned stuff to one of eight different nurseries;

deliver mini-fridges to each camper cabin;

put safety plugs into every outlet in every camper cabin;

make beds for every teen mom;

and more. Much, much more.

Here we go.

Hang on tight.

Hope in the Lord

Pray without ceasing.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Now-and-not-yet (Michindoh Post 13)

[This post is thirteenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

YoungLives camp is but two days away. 80+ childcare workers descend on Michindoh tomorrow. 98 teen moms, 98 teen moms’ babies, and 50+ YoungLives leaders arrive the following day.

There is So Very Much to do.

For today, we are living primarily in Wyldlife world, but our eyes can see YoungLives world on the very near horizon. Today is the now and the not-yet of camp in which both the Wyldlife now and the YoungLives not-yet each on their own beautifully embody the complete now-and-not-yet of God’s kingdom.

So on this day, middle schoolers ran crazy in a soccer-field sized mud pit, followed up by a firehose shower…

Mud pit sequel (Photo: CKirgiss)
Mud pit sequel (Photo: CKirgiss)

…while in the planning room, extra supplies continued arriving by mail…

Supplies (Photo: CKirgiss)
Supplies (Photo: CKirgiss)

…and in the wash room, the first round of Pack-N-Play sheets were washed and dried.

Clean sheets (Photo: CKirgiss)
Clean sheets (Photo: CKirgiss)

Mud pits. Fire hoses. Baby wipes. Baby sheets.

This now-and-not-yet is surely one-of-a-kind. And very sweet indeed.

O Lord, hear our prayer (Michindoh Post 12)

[This post is twelfth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
O Lord, hear our prayer (Photo: CKirgiss)
O Lord, hear our prayer (Photo: CKirgiss)

Since you asked: yes – a grown man on the right is wearing a Peeps cheerleading suit. And, um, too, a grown man opposite is wearing a chicken-ish outfit.

While praying.

Which we do a lot at camp.

In thanksgiving. In supplication. In adoration. In meditation. In reflection.

With humility and trust and hope.

Because on our own, we can do nothing. Less than nothing if that were possible.

Before each meal: thank you, God, for this food.

Before each event: cover us, Lord, with your guidance and your power and your protection.

Before each club: fill us, Lord, with your love and your Spirit and your wisdom.

Before and during and after and among and around and through every moment of every day:

without your love Lord, we are lost;
without your healing, Lord, we are broken;
without your wisdom, Lord, we are helpless;
without your grace, Lord, we are drowning;
without your mercy, Lord, we are adrift;
without your Spirit, Lord, we are empty;
without your guidance, Lord, we are blind;
without your joy, Lord, our lives are withered.

Without You, Lord, we are not.

Be our I Am. Always. Ever. Fully. Truly.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

The other kids (Michindoh Post 11)

[This post is eleventh of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

Week 3’s campers and leaders have been here for just over 24 hours.

We are already in love. It takes only that long to care about each face, each life, each soul.

We are here because of the hundreds of middle schoolers we will meet and serve this month.

But they are not the only kids we love. There are another 8 kids here for the month, ranging from almost-two (the “almost” is very important) to nine. Their parents serve in a variety of roles – head leader, program team, speaker.

They – as much as anyone on the work staff or the assigned team – reflect the image of God and the love of Jesus to every middle-schooler who spends a week here.

Because God is wondrous and loving and miraculous and caring, our 8 staff kids have gelled into a unified mass of enthusiasm and energy that is beyond delightful. Their personalities and quirks and smiles and jokes and joys (plus eating habits and sleeping schedules) all add up to one big bundle of fabulous awesomeness.

It has the potential to be so many other things. Tiring. Trying. Challenging. Dreadful, even. Throw together 8 young children for a month, living in close quarters, away from all that is familiar, and pretty much anything can happen.

Because of God’s great grace, what has happened here is beautiful and lovely and sweet. If saying goodbye to campers is difficult (and it truly is) then saying goodbye to 8 children that have become collectively “ours” is going to break many a heart.

We are all about the middle-schoolers, to be sure. But like Jesus, we are oh so very glad that the staff children are here, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Michindoh staff kids (Photo: CKirgiss)
Michindoh staff kids, youngest 6 of 8 (Photo: CKirgiss)

 

They’re Back (Michindoh Post 10)

[This post is tenth of a series in which I reflect on spending a month at camp for Wyldlife (middle schoolers) and YoungLives (teen moms). You can follow by subscribing to this blog below. All posts are categorized as ‘Michindoh 2013’.]
 

It’s a good day. After bidding farewell to Week 2 campers last night, we welcomed Week 3 campers to (what we will do our very best to make) one of the best weeks of their lives.

During the final approach to camp, “best week” may not be writ large on the horizon. Coming from any of the four directions, this is what kids will see in the final few miles:

Heading to camp (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the north (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the south (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the south (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the east (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the east (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the west (Photo: CKirgiss)
From the west (Photo: CKirgiss)

Though each of these views embodies a certain amount of lovely nostalgia and roadside Americana, none of them scream WOOT! WOOT! in middle-school vernacular.

Nor do they radiate AWESOMENESS! in middle-school style.

But the final view before deboarding the bus makes up for whatever might be lacking in the final few miles.

Work Crew welcome (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew welcome (Photo: CKirgiss)

Welcome.

We’re so glad you’re here.

We’ve been waiting for you all day.

We are going to do everything we can to make this the best week of your life.

We are going to do this because someone did the same for us. Because we want to. Because it fills our hearts.

(But mostly because we love Jesus.)

Welcome to camp, everyone. It’s going to be great.