A three-dimensional gospel (Michindoh Post 20)

[This post is twentieth 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’.]
 

On the last day of Young Lives camp, in the final minutes of the last club of the week, almost 350 people – all the mamas, babies, leaders, mentors, childcare workers, and work staff – gathered together as a group. Because the work staff was, well, usually working during the week, and because the childcare workers were usually, you know, caring for children when mamas were busy during the week, this was the one and only time for such a collective gathering.

It was beautiful to behold.

Breathtaking, actually.

So much life, so much love, so much compassion, so much passion, so much energy, so much promise, so much of God’s beautiful creation, all in one place.

I wish I could describe it to you. I wish I could give you just the smallest glimpse of what it looked like. I wish I could help you feel for just one moment the Spirit’s overwhelming presence in that place.

But I can’t.

The special lens that allowed me to compress all of those seated folk in the whole of that seating arena into a single viewing frame did just what it promised: compressed all of that life and love and passion and energy and promise into a flat, squished, distorted, lifeless image.

Last gathering (Photo: CKirgiss)
Last gathering (Photo: CKirgiss)

It’s like a futuristic class picture gone awry.

In truth, the side-sections of the room are sharply angled, not flush with the middle section.

And the people seated in the side-sections are normal size, not miniature mashed versions of those in the middle.

And the faces are radiant images of hope and joy and life, not stoic plasticine molds of the real thing.

And the babies are wiggling, giggling, screaming, cooing bundles of babyhood, not lifeless and silent dolls.

But truth isn’t easily contained in a finite, two-dimensional space.

Certainly Jesus, who is truth itself, is much too incomprehensibly marvelous and indescribably wondrous to fit into any two-dimensional space.

So we do our best to wisely comprehend and to humbly describe Him in three-dimensional ways…
by being his hands and feet…
by telling his story…
by living his love.

Because of grace, there is every hope that our reflection of Jesus will be more true and beautiful than my camera’s reflection of the last great gathering at Young Lives camp. And let me tell you – it was true and beautiful indeed.

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.

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.