Friday

Well, my internet and cell service has been very spotty this week, even as bad as the first year we came. I’m scared to see my data usage when the bill arrives (and parents, if you haven’t turned your kids’ data off, you may be surprised too!). However, all good news from camp. 

It’s been a joy and privilege to work with these kids and other youth here at camp. I am continually impressed by our Redeemer kids. Yesterday, I witnessed their vounteerism, their servant-like hearts, their care for each other in multiple ways.

This morning, we’re hosting a field day for some adults with developmental delays, and it was our youth who volunteered first and have been working steadily the whole time. Maybe it’s showing pride instead of godly humility to brag, but hey, I calls em like I sees em, and I couldn’t be more overjoyed at their love, their compassion, and their steadiness. 

Whenever you get this many kids together, there are going to be issues–medical problems, injuries, conflicts, and more. But overall, it’s been a smooth week with only a few problems. And as Pastor Chestnutt reminds us: up here at camp, in this warm loving Christian environment, this is the best place to have a problem because we’ll love and care for each other.

I think each of the kids has grown more independent during camp. They are required to live with strangers, manage themselves in their cabins, pick up after themselves, and stick to the schedule. They don’t have a mom or dad to make sure they brush their teeth (although I’ve given a few pointed reminders about that) and clean up their cabins. So it’s a lesson for both parents to let go, which is good and right. And also a lesson for kids to step up, manage themselves, and figure out what they need to do to take care of themselves. 

Speaking of logistics, we are planning on getting on the road tomorrow between 6:30-7 a.m. As long as we don’t run into any traffic or weather, we should manage to get back between 6-7 p.m. I will text or call from the road. We will buy sandwiches along the road for dinner so the kids won’t be starving when we return. 

I would love it if the kids can come back for church Sunday morning to greet the congregation which has been so supportive of this effort. Church is at 9:30 a.m. 

On a personal note, even though the timing stinks (on many levels), Jacob and I will be hitting the road again on Sunday after church, heading out on our cross-country journey to California. I covet your prayers as we all set out on this uncharted course in our future and in Redeemer’s. 

We never know what the Lord has in store for us around the bend, but we can rest assured that in His care, we will be loved and supported. I am blessed by each of these young people and it will break my heart to say goobye. But know that I hold you all in my heart. And…Jacob and I will be back briefly in August to get him and his vehicle from Elmhurst to Ohio Univ, and we’re hoping for another trip back soon. So really it’s not goodbye but the Lord be with you, and we’ll see you soon. 

Tuesday

Sorry–tried to post this on Tues night but I couldn’t get a wireless signal.

 

Most of our group

 
Claire said of yesterday’s post that it was only “okay,” and that I needed to add more interesting stories. Later she said, in a condescending tone, “It was very informative.” Hmm. So here goes. 

Ann Claire, and Tara hit a low point with Mr. Hall this afternoon when they were weeding. They were at one of the most historic theaters/community centers in the area and were by the road weeding. They found themselves hitting dirt with rocks–holding clumps of weeds and knocking the extra dirt off the root. 

During the afternoon at the school where I was working with Hannah, Carli, Abbey, Kelley and Kevin, we cleaned bleachers in the school gym. And, like the other group, we understood the humility of our work, and not in such a good way. We began thinking, what the heck are we doing here in the hills of North Carolina, doing this menial work? 

But then, after we broke through that bad attitude, we rebounded. At the school where my group is, the custodian could not be more appreciative and kind, spoiling us with ice cream and heartfelt gratitude.

Lauren worked with some of the younger kids with VBS. She connected with a an adorable girl who was six years old. Isabella’s session with the older kids went smoother today, although her lesson on Elisha, I thought, sounded somewhat challenging.

Re-update from Allie, Sydney, and Jacob. Allie and Sydney ended up painting a room yesterday and having a great day even though they were worried about having to dig foundations, which speaking of foundations, Jacob ended up digging. He enjoyed the success of his work, but had a pretty sore back. Allie and Sydney continued painting today (doors within the house). 

 Syd and Jacob enjoying the rhododendronEvan did weed eating again. Jordan and Alex put up drywall in the house they’re building. Adam and Josh painted in the morning, and then worked in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop. They moved donated items from the back of the building to the front to sell to raise money for Habitat. 

 First Day of Work

First, I should let parents know that if your child has an iPhone they do not have wifi and many do not have cell phone service either. So if they’re not responding, don’t worry! Everyone is safe and sound. I can’t access the wireless network with my phone either, but I’m able to log in with my iPad, which is how I’m writing this!

Today we split up and went to our work sites. Many in our group went to schools in Mitchell and Yancey counties. 

Ann and Claire perfected their painting of a staircase. However, Mr. Hall thought the way they were instructed to paint violated every rule of good painting etiquette. That’s not to indicate, however, that he’s some kind of grumpy gus. On the contrary, as chaperones, both he and Kevin are steady, calm and great partners on this trip (although we of course miss Jeff and Barb a lot!). 

Back to what everyone was doing: 

Tara weeded some plants. 

Allie, Sydney, and Jacob went to Avery county where they were working on houses, doing lawn work, and building a foundation. 

Adam and Josh did something a little rough: they shoveled alpaca manure. Ooph. However, it was processed manure for the community garden and they both bore it with good humor.

Isabella did VBS with 16- and 17-year-olds, which means that she was group leader for youth of a similar age and said that was a “fun and interesting challenge.” They covered the story of Elijah (1 Kings 17 and 18). Lauren also did VBS again this year.

Evan weedeated at a Habitat for Humanity small community of homes. From what we learned, it’s unusual to have a community of Habitat homes. Usually it’s just one or two homes within a neighborhood, but this community is made up entirely of 40 Habitat homes. Jordan and Alex put up dry wall in yet another Habitat house. 

Carli, Hannah, Abbey, and Kelley went to a middle school, along with Kevin and me. We spent most of the morning (with kids from other churches) clearing out a storage room next to the school kitchen. Box after box went down the conga line to expose the bare shelves. Then we wiped all of these down before starting to paint. The former manager of the kitchen said the inspector always wrote the school up for this storage space needing cleaning and painting, so she was very grateful for our work.

It highlighted an important point for me: that schools in this area are suffering from a lack of funding to help provide these basics. Pastor Chestnutt made the comment last night that our work here is humble, but provides necessary support in the area. 

The day is book-ended by morning prayer and evening prayer.

P.S. Claire and Tara sent a shout out to Jingle Meyer! 

We Saw Jupiter!

Hannah and I decided that one of the things we don’t love about big-city living is the lack of starlight in our nights. So much ambient light from the city of Chicago, and what we add thereto in the suburbs erases almost all view of the stars.

But tonight, even with a bright moon, we were able to view Jupiter, blinking just above a line of trees. Jupiter! 

We’re all safe, happy, well-fed, and getting ready for bed at our first night of camp. More tomorrow.

Made it to camp!

 Well, we made it! After just a short drive (less than 3 hours) we made it to the mountains of North Carolina. Everyone is already in their cabins and getting settled in, meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. Here are some photos from the van and from our first memories at camp this year.

  
   

  

Made it!

Well, it was a long day of driving, made slightly longer due to the flooding in central Indiana. However, we are now well-fed with a delicious BBQ dinner (at Dead End BBQ) where they were extremely accommodating. We swung in at 9:53, just 7 minutes before their kitchen closed. We were fed and back on the road within about 45 minutes. Not only were they accommodating, but their food is no-holds-barred awesome with three flavors of BBQ sauce on the table to enjoy, all homemade. Yum.

Now we’re snug in our hotel rooms, enjoying some rest. Super kudos to John and Kevin, our wonderful drivers today! 

All the kids are happy and fed and now enjoying a good night of sleep. Even with all the delays, I never heard one word of complaint from any of the kids. They were positive, patient, and, as always, a joy to be around. 

Tomorrow morning, we have a leisurely start, and then will aim to get to camp around 2pm. Here we come Smoky Mountains!

Traffic Sadness

We got off this morning with great success, but have hit a few slow-downs. Here’s the trailer full-o-stuff:

  
Well, after about 4 hours on the road, we’re finally nearing Indy. High water, flooded bridges, and swollen rivers led to multiple road closures. Add to that heavy traffic due to construction on I-65, and we feel like we’re moving at a snail’s pace. Hopefully, however, it’ll all be clear sailing once we get on I-74 and onto Ohio. 

Oh well, some days you just have to deal with obstacles and challenges as they arise. WE have a happy, quiet bunch of kids, and highly competent dad chaperones to get us through it!

Here are some views of farm land under water.

   
     

Onward and upward (or south-ward, as the case may be)!

2015 Trip Begins Tomorrow!

Well, the trip we’ve been planning for months now is almost upon us! 17 youth and 3 chaperones are probably at this moment gathering up the many supplies needed for our week at camp. We’ll be headed back to Linville, North Carolina where we’ll be serving for a week in the rolling green mountains of the South. 

I’m looking forward to getting on the road in the morning!

On the way home

We’re nearing Indy now. After traveling together for six days, we’re still feeling the joy of being together, but even more so the strain of weariness after a long week of work and fun. Last night’s closing was a dance/party which basically consisted of loud music, jumping up and down, and fist pumping. The Electric Slide was also tossed into the mix. I played cards (a delightful game called Garbage) with Evan, Josh, Jenny, and a few others. Thankfully, the leaders of the event ended it earlier so that the groups which needed to head out first thing could do so with at least a few hours of sleep.

Earlier in the day, we went on a hike near Linville Falls. We had several hiking options. We could go up and see the falls from one side of the river, or we could go down and walk along the river to right under the falls. Jeff, Kevin, and I went down, and Barb and Nat went up, and our kids were divided between the groups. It was super humid and warm so we were all pretty much dripping wet, muddy, and filthy by the time we got back to camp. (Parents–I apologize in advance for the disgusting laundry you are probably dealing with now.)

The hike down to the river was somewhat demanding, especially on the way back up. Jeff nearly had a “cardiac embarrassment” (in his words) coming back up, but we all made it.

The night before, Carli earned her trail name of Scaredy Pants after Jeff told her the story of the woman in the window. The oldest building on the camp grounds is called the Pavilion, built in the 1930s. It used to house the campers as well as be a common meeting spot. Now it serves as the game place when it rains and basketball court/dance hall. It’s a building with a lot of character.

The story goes that when it’s really dark and quiet, and all the lights in the pavilion are off, a spectral woman stands in a window in silhouette looking out over the gazebo. Carli’s fear of all things spooky overcame her as a very kind woman innocently walked up behind us just after she heard the story. Carli screeched and collapsed in tears and laughter on the porch swing. Thus…she became Scaredy Pants.

Last night we celebrated Jenny’s 17th birthday! For two years, she’s spent her birthdays at Camp Linn Haven, which I guess is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you get to celebrate your birthday with 120 campers, where everyone gets a slice of your birthday cake. You’re with your extended church family. But on the other hand, she doesn’t get to celebrate with the rest of her family and friends back home. But Jenny made the most of her day and we tried our best to make the day special.

Later

We made it home this evening, and I’m too tired to do much more than start a load of laundry, take a shower, and climb in between my clean, lovely sheets for nighty night. Kevin and Jeff were our strong-as-a-rock drivers today, avoiding flooded highways, hazards on the road, and helping us deal with all of the needs of our group.

I’ll write more and post photos tomorrow or the next day as I get caught up, but for now here are a couple of the group on front of the falls.

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Friday

It’s Friday afternoon, and guess what–it just rained! Big surprise, eh?

We think it’s going to be dry enough to go on our hike at Linville Falls.

After 5 days together, friendship and romance are blooming. 🙂 Our kids are having fun with not only our group but also other church groups. But all is well.

The folks from Yellow Mountain, a program where people with developmental disabilities can get gainful employment, came to camp for games, crafts, singing, and fun. Our youth were grouped with one adult to do all of the various activities.

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Since it’s been raining, a bunch of us are making friendship bracelets. We also took church photos today. Here’s a pyramid:

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And here’s our whole group:

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