Young Lives Day Six: mamas, babies, friends, farewell, the finish line

They pulled out of camp this morning, all of those precious mamas and babies with their faithful and loving mentors.

Our hearts are full – full of joy for all those we met and loved; full of sadness for having to say goodbye; full of thanks for having been part of this amazing week; full of sorrow for the many young mamas and babies in this world who are not surrounded by a circle of loving and caring people; full of laughter for the fun and games and play we shared this week; full of tears for the broken world in which we live; full of hope because of Jesus.

We packed it all up today – all those highchairs and booster seats and pack-n-plays and swings and tricycles and changing pads and napping mats and carpets and blocks and sippy cups and dolls and trucks and playhouses and kiddie pools and blankets and toys and strollers.

It feels like just yesterday – and last year – that we were first staging the strollers for their arrival.

YLives strollers

And already today we lined them up, washed them down, and stored them away for another year.

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Those strollers rolled many miles this week, ’round and ’round the lake, up and down the walkways, back and forth across the halls.

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Photo: Crystal Kirgiss, 2016
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Photo: Crystal Kirgiss, 2016

We cleared off the clotheslines, which looked different than most other weeks at a Young Life camp what with all the tiny little bodies creeping, crawling, and toddling hereabouts.

young lives clotheline
Photo: Crystal Kirgiss, 2016

We took our final walks through the silent prayer labyrinth of trees, soaking up the beauty of God’s creation, considering what He would speak to our hearts this week as we served – which was, in truth, a secondary task (such a difficult reality for those who “feel called to serve”) to hearing from and listening intently to His voice.

prayer trees
Photo: Crystal Kirgiss, 2016

We waved goodbye (and sometimes…often…hugged and held and cradled and cooed and said, “Gracious, you are a beautiful creation of God, you and your mama both, indeed you are!) to the many faces and fingers and hearts we met and loved this week.

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Photo: Crystal Kirgiss, 2016
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Photo: Crystal Kirgiss, 2016

And we felt a little piece of our own hearts pull out of camp this morning with all those mamas and babies and mentors – because how could it be otherwise? When the Lord sends love and grace into a person’s life, how can we do anything but respond with surprise, wonder, and a breathtaking gasp of joy?

The Lord was here this week. And He did mighty things.

But the Lord is also on busses, and in vans, and in cars, and back home, and absolutely everywhere.

We would do well to remember this as we ourselves pull out of camp today and tonight and tomorrow. We were privileged enough to watch – and even be a very tiny small part of God’s big amazing work here this week. Like the disciples thousands of years ago, we were invited to distribute the abundance of his love and mercy to a hungry crowd. He did the work – we simply passed it around, as faithfully and lovingly as we know how.

And now, when the week is done, we – like the disciples thousands of year ago – have been instructed to get back in the boat and go back…back home, back to the other side, back to where we came from, back to work, back to school, back to responsibility, back to daily life.

This was a powerful and amazing week indeed… because God was here. Let’s not forget that God is also here and there and everywhere, and so our service and love and kindness and caring must continue long past the moment we pull away from this place.

Young Lives is a bright and brilliant reflection of God’s love, as so many other things are.

Thank you, childcare workers, for serving so well this week.

Thank you, mentors, for loving your girls and their babies for such long and faithful weeks, months, and years.

Thank you, work staff for pulling out all the stops during this final week of your assignment.

Thank you, camp staff, for once again laying the table for the rest of us to both feast at and serve from. It took everyone to make this week happen.

But it took only God to make it real and sacred.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul – and may He bless the mamas and babies, wherever they are right now.

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