Saturday, June 07, 2014

Lela, Term 1, 2014

For years, I have known a camper named Lela. She was in my cabin during Barnabreak in 2012, but I had seen her around camp even before then, I think. She is taller than me, but gosh she's precious. Lela is non-verbal, meaning that she doesn't talk at all. She can respond to yes/no questions in a variety of ways, but doesn't actually speak like you or me. Which is amazing to me, as she spoke volumes to me this week.

Let me explain.

So, Lela was in different cabin than mine this week, but when I saw her I was so glad she was there! I was a little surprised to see her, as she typically comes term 5, but I was glad to see a familiar face since I'm fairly new to Term 1. *grin* I have ALWAYS said HI to Lela every time I walked by her over the years, but haven't always stopped. This week was a little different, by her choice.

I believe the first encounter I had with Lela was at the first party. It's the first one I can recall at least. (I wonder if they make memory pills, as I am finding getting older is character-building. *grin*) I saw her with one of my favorite staffers from last year, and was excited when they came over to me. I offered Lela my chair, and she took it briefly. Then she stood up and took my hands. I silently prayed in my head because I remembered that Lela has been known to hit people, even when attempting to connect with them.

I remember one year (I can't remember what specific year it was) when she was trying to connect with a guy right outside the dance in the dining hall, and would hug, then hit, then go away from him. That cycle would repeat over and over again, and her CIA would have to stop her. It was quite a sight to watch. Therefore, I was somewhat prepared for the hit, but prayed silently that she wouldn't hit me and she never did. *grin*

So, that first interaction was under the dome, and she took my chair and sat down. Next, she stood up and grabbed my hands as I talked to her. I told her I remembered her stealing my pretzels the weekend we were at Barnabreak. I asked her if she wanted me to go get pretzels, and she shook her head no and smiled. Julia, one of the CIA's (and a favorite staffer of mine from last year), was there and said that it was the first smile they had seen so far. (It was the first night, so thankfully it wasn't as if it had been all week without a smile.) *grin* Then they would go to leave, and then came back to me two or three times. Each time she came back, she would take my hands and I would talk to her. Honestly, I felt honored to be invited into her world. Then she would move on. When I felt as if the moment had passed, I left to join my cabin. Overall, this was probably a twenty minute time period, and it was the highlight of my day that day. *grin*

One other time, I was walking on the path with Molly and Brittany, and Lela and her two gals were with her, and Lela walked up and took my arm. So, I started walking with her, arm-in-arm, as we walked to her cabin. I LOVED that moment. Lela could have let go at any moment, as I don't ever force a camper to hold on, but she just held on. When I got her back to her cabin, I left her to go join Brittany and Molly. I was still smiling on the inside because I had (once again) been invited into Lela's world again. *grin*

On Thursday it rained HARD in the morning, and activities were canceled and there was a coffee shop kind of thing in the dining hall. Upon entering I walked down the aisle and Lela saw me. I said "Hi" and they were headed to the restroom, so I helped take her there. We went there and it turned out she didn't need to go, so I walked her back to her table. What happened next still has me smiling.

A little while later, I was talking to two former staffers, and Lela found me. She purposely sought me out and took my hands. I stopped talking to my friends, and turned to talk with her. She just stood there, made eye contact, and listened. I didn't expect her to stay long, but we shared that moment for longer than I expected. As usual, she always had the ability to leave, but she seemed happy to just stay with me. She never said a word, but gosh she was so precious in that moment. It was, quite possibly, my favorite moment of the entire week. Not because I'm anyone super special, but because Lela felt connected to me, when she simply doesn't share that kind of moment with everyone. In that way, I did feel special. *grin*

After I got home yesterday, one of my friends that had been there and witnessed the whole thing, sent me a picture of it and stated that she asked around and Lela doesn't do that with everyone. That just made me grin ear-to-ear. Not because I'm some long-lost insecure gal, but because it made me appreciate that moment even more.

On a daily basis, I find highlights of each day. Out at camp, there are so many that during family time each night it's hard to pick just one. But, in order to get enough sleep each night, everyone typically chooses just one. *grin*

Each time Lela chose me, I smiled because I knew the Lord was speaking to me through her. He always does that, He always chooses those that are non-verbal to teach me the most. You're probably thinking, "What? How? She doesn't talk." Yep, the Lord reminded me that I'm still His, I'm not alone, and that in the battle I'm currently in (won't share, it's private) He's with me. *grin* Even though I can't talk about what's up (I'm fine, this isn't life or death, just a shift in some things for me) He's there.


Thank You Lord for Lela.

My life is better with her in it, and yes, I'll share pretzels with her any time.


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