Church Youth Camp

by - April 18, 2014

I started packing, but then I stopped. It's raining again here in Sri Lanka. They are in a severe drought and this rain sounds furious about it. The thunder and wind are intense. The lights come and go, and the streets outside my window that have been busy with tuk tuks, buses, and ladies walking with colorful umbrellas to block the sun have emptied. Only the water rushes down the street now. I ordered my afternoon tea just in time. I have an hour until dinner and then we will join the campers for the final night of the youth camp...capped off with a bonfire. That will be surreal moment #473. Standing near a bonfire in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka on Good Friday...not in all my days...

Casey and I have thought about our own experiences at church camp: Falls Creek. Do you remember? We went back in the days when you couldn't wear shorts and service was in the old tabernacle. If it was raining you got wet. If it was hot, you sweat. It's not a lot different here. There is a song they have sung in the mornings each day here, and it reminds me of how we used to have a main theme song throughout the week. The song "Jehovah Jirah, my provider, his grace is sufficient for me, for me, for me..." Has been playing in my head again this week. That song has stuck with me for well over 20 years, even though I refuse to accept that was well over 20 years ago. Falls Creek...happy sigh. I'm so thankful for the faces that come to mind that I shared those weeks of life with, those laughs, those tears, those moments of faith and surrender, slushees, vollyball, gum tree and walking around forever. And he moments my heart about beat out of my chest with love and calling for Jesus Christ. I hope the kids here this week have made as sweet of memories and that The Lord has imprinted on their hearts a love for him that will not fade. His love for them never will, even if their's does, and he will draw them back to Himself. He doesn't let us roam long away from Him when we are His. Case in point. I'm unspeakably thankful He came after me, but I try to speak it through this blog. If you have wandered from your first Love, you should know that He is coming for you. He still loves you. It can all be water under the bridge as soon as you are ready. He will wash years and tears and fears down the river. I know that is a lot of rhyming, but I like word pictures. What would Him washing those things away for you look like? What would Him drawing you back into close relationship with Him look like? Or building a relationship with Him for the first time? Grace is a wonderful gift, rather its the first time you receive it...or the eleventy-billionth.

This morning I had opportunity to lead both morning sessions.  It was a sweet time I will not soon forget.  I am so thankful for how God provided for our preparation time, and for the hearts of these campers who are living the after affects of a civil war with loving hearts to serve God, and always ready smiles to greet these two visitors from the U.S. who sweat a lot and don't speak their language. I can't quit waving at them and saying hello, just to see their smiles. I'm inspired by our Hope For The Heart partners here who have gotten little to no sleep, but never complain. They are so thankful to be able to provide a camp like this for these young people. It has been 3 years since their last camp. Many of those serving through Hope here were at the last camp, and now have the changed life testimony the other young people can witness. Praise The Lord! I am ready to be home, but today I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Here are some pictures of this week:

The dining hall.

Our Hope Books were available for the campers and pastors to purchase.  Those proceeds all go back into the centers. 
Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes by June Hunt, translated into Tamil.  There was a lot of response after the teaching on this book.  
Two of our Hope Counselors.

These monkeys were hugamongous.  I bet that would have been 3 ft tall if he had stood upright.  

Our Hope Center staff (friends) from the northern part of the country.  

What a blessing to know these ladies, to hear their testimonies and to work along side them.  Our staff and friends from another one of our Hope Centers.  

The sky has opened twice this week.  All at the best time possible to not disrupt the camp, but provide cool air for them.  Such a gift.  

Casey and I have done some porch sitting and coffee drinking while watching the rain.  That has been a gift for us as well.  

A good ending to the week.  
Tomorrow morning we will start back toward Colombo.  Our first flight home begins really in the earliest hours of the morning Sunday.  Easter Sunday.  After three flights and about 24 hours travel time we'll be home. 

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