Camp Bethany is in full swing. Last week, we were praying for kids and this week we had them! It is hard to believe that we have only known these kids for five days. Already they have stolen my heart. I guess that is what pouring into someone for nine hours a day does to you.
Although I feel like I know them very well, I am still fully aware each of these kids comes with a lot of "life stuff" that I do not know about. Sometimes we see this "stuff" come out in some ugly ways - like fighting during frisbee games, having attitudes about doing math problems, and making offensive comments about other kids. We've had quite a few breakdowns at Camp Bethany. One of the biggest happened on Wednesday and resulted in a kid writing "I hate camp" on one of his papers. As you can imagine, my heart broke! The last thing I want is for any kid to leave Camp Bethany feeling negatively about it. I want them to know that they are LOVED deeply. I want them to know that they are liked, too.
On Tuesday evening, we got to hear our supervisor share about her experiences with missions. She has served as a BSM Director on two different college campuses for many years and also spent three years in Africa. She first became a BSM Director after she had already retired. She shared that it was NOT something she planned or really even wanted to do. In fact, she said that she cried on her way to work almost every day for a year! Eventually, though, she grew to love her job. She said that the students at the BSM loved her into loving them.
I feel like that is what we are doing at Camp Bethany. Sometimes the kids decide they don't want to be there. They don't want to do math, they don't want to have rest time, they don't want to hear a Bible story, they don't want to share with someone else ... my list could go on forever. Sadly, sometimes their "don't want to's" take over and they decide that they "hate camp." But that is when we (the staff) have to love them more.
In the midst of these breakdowns and tantrums, I have been able to have multiple one-on-one conversations with each of our kids. After the "I hate camp" incident I was able to speak with the boy and figure out exactly what he was upset about. By the end of our conversation he knew he was wanted at Camp Bethany and again believed that it was a fun place to be. I have seen these small changes of heart in many different ways this week. Some kids have better attitudes about math now, some don't throw a fit during rest time anymore, and some are more respectful of other's feelings.
On Thursday, two girls hugged each other goodbye. It was awesome to see friendships being built in such a short amount of time. And seeing them begin to trust me and the other staff and to truly believe that we care about them has been such a blessing. I think we have loved them into loving us and Camp Bethany!
Working with kids is exhausting. I am continuously praying for energy and that we will be so filled up by the love of Christ that we have nothing but love to pour out to the kids. And that seeing this love and hearing truth from God's word everyday will cause them to want to know Him more! I am also praying that we, as a staff, will continue to be united in spirit and purpose so that the Gospel may be spread to these kids. Please join me in praying that!Brittany Cox, a student from Texas A&M-Commerce, is serving at the Houston Christian Activity Center in Houston, Texas.