Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's God Up to at Camp?

It is hard not to feel God at La Foret, the camp facility where the kids are at this week. It is just outside Colorado Springs in the Black Forest and was once privately owned. There, set amongst the pines with a beautiful meadow laid out before them, kids discover things about themselves and are guided to see and understand God in new and profound ways.

It's a mere 6 days, and yet it is so life changing that Kenny and Matthew both anxiously await their time at camp each year. This year, the girls get to experience the peace that settles around them there. How grateful we are to our congregation, association and conference for the scholarships made available to us so that we could afford to send them all!! Without the help, we literally would be taking out a loan, for we have seen the power of this place and we want our kids to be surrounded by like minded kids and to be immersed for just a little while in a culture that combats the popular culture they encounter every other day of the year. At camp, more than any other place, they encounter all that really matters in this world.

There is a sense of urgency on my part, that Angela and Olesya learn to see God in a personal way. They come to us older, with limited knowledge of Christ and his teachings. I know I can trust the Spirit to engage them without any assistance from myself, but I worry that those teenage years are staring us right between the eyes and I so want them to feel a connection with that which is bigger than themselves. I also want their souls to no longer experience thirst. We have come a long way in that area, but there still is so far to go for full comfort to envelope them, for their thirst to be loved to be quenched. For as much as we'd all like to think that "family" is enough, particularly in the case of an abandoned child, it is not. There will always be something missing until the Spirit is recognized as part of their lives. I think perhaps they have a taste of it, that they are slowly tip toeing up to it and carefully reaching out to touch it as they sense it's warmth. I want them to grab hold for all it's worth and never let go, for it is only then when that empty spot in their heart will be warmed.

Here is a photo of one of the yurts the kids are staying in. Isn't it a hoot that there are 4 Central Asians staying in traditional housing there?? Read a Facebook message that a bear was spotted in the yurt compound...I wonder if Angela will find this to be God sent, as she has a strong sense of connection with bears.

And yea, I know any of you city dwellers out there reading this probably sucked in your breath in fear as you read that casual mention of bears and kids co-habitating in the same forest. Guess that's why we are in Colorado and you aren't :-) We half expect it and giggle about not getting gnawed on. It's part of what I love about living here...we are not exactly the Mountain Man type or the Farmer Family, but we have learned to love the surprise wildlife we encounter...and to treat it with respect.

These are pictures of the chapel there...aged and yet so sturdy. Evenings spent there singing songs they will remember for a lifetime, moments of silence which God uses to let them examine their true selves. I wonder what each will walk away having discovered, how their hearts will be moved, how their lives will be forever just a little bit different.

On our last library visit before the kids left, I was stunned almost speechless when Angela comes up behind me and hands me a book saying "Mama...this book ok?". Not thinking much about it I turn around and take it from her hands as she is staring at me intently. As I read the title I discover it is a book written for children of alcoholics, to help explain the actions of their parents and provide them with information on how to handle difficult situations. How in the world in this huge children's section of our library did she find this, especially when she can barely read English yet? I looked up at her, determined to provide her what at this moment she needed. "I think we need this, don't you?" I say looking her directly in the eyes, no sign of being disturbed or anything other than being matter of fact about it. She stares back, unflinching. "Yea...thanks Mama." and she gently takes it from my hand and deposits it in our laundry basket.

We have a long way to go to find true healing. I thank God daily that we have been given a quick transition so we can get to this place easier and more quickly than we might otherwise have done. I am also so glad that Olesya is, at least at this stage, appearing to be pretty much unaffected by the behaviors of her biological parents. Her issues have more to do with general institutionalization and security of place than anything else. She was too young to have the vivid memories that Angela has. There is so much pain and anger, so much unexplained inside. Alcohol has a role in her life which needs to be altered, and it will take time.

There are moments, like tonight, when I recognize that I can offer all of myself and be willing to do whatever it takes to give her a place to open up and share. But God has to do the rest, and it is really the most important piece. I can be a conduit, as can every single other person who crosses her path, but God has to use us in the ways she needs, because I flat out don't really know where to start or what to do. I can only remain open myself to the Spirit's leading. And I have to recognize that little by little, pebble by pebble, the ocean of aloneness will be transformed. Those pebbles are deposited by many more than just myself, and their unique shape provides new perspective and much needed diversity.

I can't fix it, and God will do what is necessary, in time. That time may be much longer than I would like for it to be, but it took 12 years to get to this stage, it will take years to remold it all.

Patience, I can almost hear the pines whispering to me, patience. We are cradling her, we are adding new understanding and revealing God to her. You don't have to do all the work, they're chiding me gently.

OK, La Foret, do your thing, for all of them. I'll wait here patiently, hopefully, knowing that it is just another pebble, but an important one, that has been added this week. And as those pines whisper their ageless words, let them murmur a reminder to all 4 of our precious children that their parents love them deeply and dearly, that they can rest in that knowledge forever.


Anonymous said...

How beautifully said!! Tears rolled down my face as I was a child of alcoholics and I know well what that can do to the spirit. I pray your girls can fully accept the love of Jesus and let him heal those hurt places that only He can heal. Also wanted to say that I often read excerpts of your posts to my recent English grad from a well-respected university and she always says "she should write a book". You have such a way with words and truths and feelings! I agree with her wholeheartedly. Keep up the good work and God work! I am so happy to have found your blog.

Karen said...

When I was at LaForet last month, four beautiful people helped lead worship--all of them "grads" of LaForet (both as campers and counselors) and now all three are UCC ministers. Powerful and lasting things happen there! (For me, too. My two summers as a chaplain are still vivid and rich memories.)

Anonymous said...

Angela's guardian angel sure is a good librarian :-)
Teresa F

Maureen said...

La Foret sounds like a wonderful place. What a great opportunity for your children. I hope that the Spirit is able to speak to them while they are there.

Do you mind sharing the name of the book that Angela found (if it is any good)? My son is not quite ready for it yet, but I like to note good resources when I find them. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You are giving your angels the place and space to earn their wings when they are ready to fly, and a home to come to every time they land.

Love ya,

P.S. Can hardly wait to hear the report on LaForet experiences.

Lori said...

Can't wait to hear how their experiences were. They are always so insightful just regularly...I'm dying to hear about their week!

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

I pray they grew as God would have them grow....pray for mine as I ship 3 teens off this week? Three teens with great emotions coursing through their minds.