Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sharing Life, Barnabas Term 7, 2017

I'm back from the Barn-A-Bubble, and miss it already. Yes, I'm starting this post as if we're mid-conversation because if you're reading this, we're friends. *grin* So, I'm back, and it was a really cool week. The older I get, the more I put emphasis on people rather than items. This week was full of some campers I've had before and others that were new to me. My cabin was incredible, and the missionaries rocked it. I also had a dear friend as a roommate for the week. The Barnabas Bubble is a second home for me. Truly.

Arrival to camp was busy, but good. I was sweating like crazy, and we had record heat last week. I was overheated twice, but made it through fine. *grin* Hey, it made for a memory. *giggle*

I stayed below the dining hall and a fellow cabin Mom moved bunks to be near me for the week. It turned out to be an amazing blessing! While we were in separate cabins to serve in, it was clearly where God had us for the week. It was fun to occasionally bump into each other and encourage each other throughout the week. At the end of the week, she gave me her Crazy Creek (it's a chair) so she could buy a new one. It blessed me immensely, and I loved every minute. I hope we serve together again in the future. *grin*

My cabin...gosh, what a GOOD cabin I was in. I was in G3, which proved to be a gift because it made me walk to a far end of camp. I hope to remember how much better I walk when I walk often and a lot. *giggle* It proved to be good for the body. *grin*

I spoke Saturday night to the volunteers and it went pretty well. I am always honored when I'm asked to speak somewhere because I truly believe part of my story is sharing my story. *grin* At the same time, I never ask to speak anywhere. I've felt like He needs to set things up, so I wait until I'm invited. *grin* So, Saturday night went well. I was humbled and honored to help the volunteers as we went into Term 7.

Term 7 campers have Autism, Down Syndrome, and various other challenges. Campers range from ages 7-17. Typically it is my most draining week physically and emotionally. However, God changed things up this year. For that, I am blessed beyond words. The heat was the hottest I can remember out there, so in that respect I was given a challenge, but the dome provided shade and it wasn't as bad there. *grin*

My cabin was full of volunteers from all over the country. Term 7 has several returners, so that makes it especially fun. I was also with a staffer that I've worked with before. *grin* When I initially found that out, I thought my cabin would be super hard, but it turned out our challenges were different than what I anticipated. We had moments, but not full days of challenge, which made the week really fun. As always, the campers were my main highlight. I think the CP provides an opening for me to speak into their lives. *grin*

We had Claire, who has CP too. I tell ya, she had my heart from the moment I met her. She had a walker but not a wheelchair. She has a limp, but seems more challenged than I am. (Just to give a point of reference, not to seem I'm better than she is or anything) So, when we started our way down to the dining hall for dinner, she was crying and one of my staffers asked me to go get a wheelchair. I did it, and she LOVED the chair. It was a gift from God. Throughout the week she had ups and downs, but my favorite moment with her was swinging on the swing with her outside shirt making. We had so much fun, and it's something I will never forget. *grin* The last night before cross carry, she did my nails. I tell ya, I have one-of-a-kind fingernails. *giggle*

My favorite Claire quote came after Cross Carry, when we were pretending to call Heaven and she held her invisible phone in her hand and said, "Wait, I forgot my password..." I turned around and laughed because I didn't want her to think I was laughing at her. It's another quote I won't forget. *giggle*

I had several returners that I've had in a cabin before, Taylor, Jaylen, and Anika. They made me laugh at various parts of the week, and my goal was to reach Jaylen.

Jaylen is a younger version of me in so many ways. She isn't girly, enjoys sports, and gives off the impression she can't be reached emotionally. In all honesty, I think she loved my attention. Early in the week Jaylen told me she was a YouTuber and had a million followers. I've come to learn that with kids, sometimes the crazy things turn out to be true so I asked during family time that night if it was legit. A few kids said they go to school with her and she really does have a Youtube channel. So, the next day I asked if I could subscribe to her channel. She said no, that only fans that give her gifts can subscribe. *giggle* In reality, I knew that I could follow her without her permission, but I thought it would be a fun thing to get her consent. I also shared with her that I only subscribe to like 5 youtube channels, and she said that was enough. *giggle* I would drop it when I knew she didn't want me to bug her about it. So, Thursday night I gave her a water bottle (I had brought extras in case people lost theirs) and a journal with a basketball on it. She gave me the water bottle back, as she said she already had one. Later on that day, she asked me (out of nowhere) how I knew she liked basketball. I told her someone told me she played basketball in Special Olympics. She smiled. Day made for both of us, I think. *grin*

Emmy....gosh, Emmy I had had before, but I don't remember much about her because when we were in the same cabin before we had campers who required my help more than she did. So, this week was pretty cool. I made a point to spend time with her and we had fun. Emmy taught me a lot, as she is a woman of few words but is always worth hearing when she does speak. She made me a bracelet with string, and I posted a pic right away. That proved to really bless Emmy, and I knew in the moment how special it was for us. *grin*

Sarah was a gem, and it wasn't until closing day that I realized how much fun she can be. She is wheelchair bound, and didn't want to do much, but she was funny in that occasional joke way. I liked her. On the last morning of camp I always go around the dining hall and take selfies. I do my cabin first, and then do random friends from there. Apparently Sarah was laughing while I did it. She told me later when we were waiting for parents to arrive that she thought I was funny. I smiled inside and out. Sarah is a gem, and I truly hope we're in a cabin together again. *grin*

Alyssa is a camper I have had a couple times in a cabin, and I adore her. She wasn't in my cabin this Term, but every time she saw me, we cuddled. I adore that girl. At one point my legs were numb because of how Alyssa was laying on me, and her staffer asked if I was okay and wanted to give her up. I told her that my legs were numb, but one week from then I'd be missing it. It took less than a week, I miss her already. *grin*

The teens in my cabin that volunteered were some of the best I've ever seen. It is my prayer that some of them go on to be staffers. They were THAT good. Not once did I think that someone was slacking, which was fun. I loved each and every one of them, and was thankful that He gave each of them to us because everyone was perfectly matched. So. Good.

There were some amazing barnstormers that worked hard too. I am always in awe of the kids that come and clean camp for us, among other responsibilities. Several took time to talk to me, since I spoke Saturday night. It made for some neat friendships. I'm glad I got pics with them, as I don't want to forget them. *grin*

My staffers were amazing. One is going to change the world of Special Education, and the other will be a rock star SPED teacher because she has such a passion for students with disabilities. While I realize this was probably their last full session there, it was so amazing to serve alongside them. Their future students are blessed by the hearts they have for people. *grin*

Perhaps the most impacting moment for me came from a camper that wasn't even in my cabin named Lauren. Due to some circumstances that were shared with me, I knew that the camper (Lauren) wasn't relating to her missionary. So, God gave me a heart for her. She was at the table next to mine, and she is non-verbal. However, she clearly knows sign language, and when I started signing with her, we connected. She smiled big and made me grin too. While she never spoke a word, we had several "chats" through our physical communication. At one point I was mirroring what she was doing and she thought that was the neatest thing. I'll admit, the non-verbal campers always teach me the most, and Lauren definitely taught me a lot in our short "chats". I also got a pic with her too. Gosh, Barnabas isn't just for the campers, it impacts ALL of us for the better. *grin*

A different Lauren, a friend of several years, was at camp this week, which shocked me. She's a Term 4 gal, and I didn't expect to see her. As it turned out, she was interning for two weeks. So, every chance I had, I went over and said "Hi" to her. Perhaps my favorite moment was Saturday night when she saw me at training. I could hear her before I could see her, and my heart was so HAPPY. While I never feel as if I have had enough time with Lauren, the moments with her were priceless to me. Totally. *grin*

Each night at family time (after the campers go to bed, we talk about various things outside sitting in a circle) we shared our highs, lows, and what showed us the love of God that day. It was called, "Junk, Joy, Jesus". I loved the phrase, and think I'll use it in my classroom this year. *grin* Well, not the Jesus part (public school and all), but the Junk and Joy part. *grin*

I wish I could take everyone I know out there. It is an amazing place where EVERYONE (not just THE campers) are treated the way we should be treated this side of Heaven. People jump in and help without even being asked. It's amazing to be in that bubble. *grin* Leaving the bubble is a little hard, but I know that we're to go out of that place and carry on what we did there. After all, we are all called to be living proof of a loving God to a watching world. *grin*

On my drive home I saw Ronni. Ronni did the lake this year so she didn't come Term 7. I'll admit, I missed her tons. It was a visit that lasted about an hour, and it was perfect. I love that young lady. Totally.

On my way North I stopped and chatted with a friend for a few hours too. To me, that was a perfect ending to the trip, as that chat is something that you can't put money on. I love pondering life, love, and Jesus with people. Truly.

I think that's my biggest take away this Summer. People mean more to me than items, and each and every conversation was priceless. Every one of them.

Sometimes experiences are hard to describe, but, I can tell you that the love in that camp changes everyone.

I'm blessed to be a part of that Barnabas family.


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