Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Gar's Warm Beach Recap/Reflection
So massive, I divided it all into digestible chunks, Mr. Hipstomp-styleee.
For some reason, I wasn't expecting the camp too be as spiritually intense as it was, but I think what helped me bring things into proper focus on the very first night was worship and prayer times. I'm lucky to have friends gifted in this area... Dave (guitar) and Abe (drums) are helping the kids (and counselors) get their praise on in the above picture... in the shadows somewhere, Chris Bhang is rock'n the bass guitar.
Since Dave is the current youth ministry intern at CBC, and a large number of CBC folks were involved in helping with the camp, we got to borrow the cool LCD projector.
...and they keep growing
What's really touched me over my time with Warm Beach (WB) is kids like Evan (waving on the left) and Sean (looking like a crazy happa thug wearing my tenagui / rag in the above pic) who I had in my small group for the previous 2 years and whom both accepted Christ at the camp 2 years ago. The great thing about helping out with the same camp for 3rd year in the row is seeing kids really grow and mature, especially in their faith.
I can remember when these 2 first came and were so energetic, wild, and hard to keep on task. Now they're leaders in the camp and even bringing friends... Sean brought his friend Jonathan (far right) this year to the camp, who happens to be part-Brasilian - we got to bond over Brasil stuff. What an awesome provision on the part of the Lord in sending me to Brasil back in 2000... otherwise, I'd wouldn't have so much to talk with Jonathan about.
Call in the reinforcements...
Another cool addition to the Warm Beach family: Sean's sister, Allison (middle right), and Allison's friend, Samantha (far right) graciously came to the camp and counseled for junior high girls. Even though they were WB rookies, and even with a tough group of girls (who would have thought 6th grade girls would have so many issues), Samantha and Ali came through strong - talk about WB being blessed to have some anointed women onboard.
Despite it all, I hope they decide to help out again next year! We're always hurting for Godly women leaders in the Asian American Christian community.
Leaders know how to have fun...
God really brought in some great people this year... David directed high school, Ryan directed junior high, and the staff they managed to find covered the other specifics, everything from counseling, bringing hot sauce (good job Chris, my tongue still has scars), and busting the ill poetry for family night (rock that mic, Jeff).
Jim MC'd (don't lose your stuff, or you'll dance to get it back) again. Funny guy, that Jim Lee... water bottle accident or bad bladder? You make the call.
Stay away from airports, kid
Meeting new kids like Jon Kim is always great at WB. I get to introduce them to the tradition of "punishments" - lose a bet, lose a game of cards to me, or misbehave, and I'm bound to make you do something silly.
Lauren and Laura... someday all the male counselors will get your name straight! =)
Preach on, preacher man
What's a camp without good speakers? This year we had two of the best, men who follow God passionately and love to care for others.
Tung (first pic) is finishing up school at Multnomah and is from the church called SCAC (Seattle Chinese Alliance Church) down the hill from my CBC. He's a great guy, hilarious sense of humor and a genuine attitude of compassion for other people. My friend Ray (who I served on AACF Core with) was mentored by him. He spoke at the high school side of the camp.
Kenji is a great guy as well, a very gifted storyteller - his messages really caught my attention, because he often illustrates his points with stories from history or personal experiences. I first met him actually 3 years ago, because he was friends with an old roommate of mine. He also happens to be the older brother of Dan Yokoy, a junior higher I had in the cabin I led last year at WB.
Call me the Masta of (Dis)Organized Chaos...
So what did I do? Besides being on the staff prayer team, which prayed for all the cabins/small groups while they met, my main responsibility was creating and organizing the games for the kids. Of course, we played one of my favorites... the ice cream cone game. Imagine Braveheart, but instead of swords and blood, you got people swinging around rolls of newspaper taped together to smash ice cream cones tied to the backs of their opponents... it was a four team melee. And even the girls got into it... =)
There were also some "spectator sport" contests where 6 kids would be randomly chosen from the audience to play a game, 3 boys and 3 girls since throughout camp, I kept track of the scores for a "Battle of the Sexes" type thing. They watched in awe (and horror) at another one of my favorites... the flour tower of power.
It's like Jenga, but instead of removing blocks, players must slice away pieces of a tower made of flour that has a penny on top. If a player causes the tower to fall, they must retrieve the penny... using only their mouth. It can be a little messy... heh heh.
An original game of my creation: a combination of sumo and kendo I dubbed "oshiri-do", which translated from Japanese in ghetto English means "Way of the Booty". The object of the game, like sumo, is to either force your opponent out of the ring, or knock them down (knee or hands touch the ground). Like kendo, the matches are to 2 points. The catch?
The only weapons players have are their butts and a pillow... heh. As another added bonus: it was 3 guy counselors versus 3 girl counselors, with ladies' choice of who they would match up with. Some cool action shots:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:1-4
It's fun to be a kid. And it's definitely fun to hang out with kids.
They say there's something therapeutic about working with kids, but I think the real therapy comes only when you're working with kids with the intention of showing them God's love. Going as counselors, there's always the intention of going to bless the kids... but the process in which God works through both those who minister and those who are ministered to causes us to get blessed as well.
In truth, I wonder if the kids know how much it encourages the counselors and staff people like myself when we interact with them, to see them grow and mature as people, the happiness I have when I see that God is changing their character to be more like His.
I had a lot of chance to mediate really on just praying for the kids, since I was on staff this year and not a counselor. I was a bit worried at first that not being a counselor would make me enjoy the camp less, but I was wrong - spending time praying with Jim, Dave, Ryan, Abe, Joey, Kenji, and Tung was inspiring. Some of their prayers really moved all of us to the point where I was too choked up to speak any more prayers verbally - and other times, we would be filled with so much joy while praying, we could laugh aloud and feel completely comfortable.
God really opened my eyes this past weekend to the greatness in the way He works throughout the generations - one of the great milestones in my own spiritual journey came at a CoHi camp held in 1997 at this same retreat center that this year's JEMS Warm Beach was at. In the same way as I was ministered to then, and now I'm a camp counselor, I'm sure that someday 10 - 15 years from now, God will work through these same kids to impact another generation of junior high and high schoolers with the reality of Christ. To have the privilege of being a part of that, of something eternal... the deepness of it boggles my mind.
We can only point toward heaven and thank God for caring enough about those who trust Him to work personally in their lives.
On a personal note: I remember at lunchtime, one of the 6th grade girls, Erin, talked to me and commented, "I always see you walking around with a smile on your face, looking so happy. Don't you ever get angry? Or sad?"
I think I gave her this amused expression.
Really... I wanted to laugh right there, hand her a napkin with the address of this blog, and say "Angry? Sad? Yeah, all the time." I guess at the retreat, Erin saw the "good" me, the me that is filled with passion for doing God's work - which at this camp was to simply care about these kids and be their friend. When I have that drive, that mission... my eyes are fixed on God and my smile springs only from my hope in Him. I'm at my best when I've been given a specific battle to fight or a particular task to do. Directionless, uninstructed... away from serving God, away from a spiritual purpose... I have a cynicism that brings me back to that angry and sad state.
And of course, being surrounded and supported by a strong group of brothers and sisters also definitely keeps me more focused, more upbeat.
I wish I could have talked to Erin more, especially because I think she was non-Christian, but that's OK. The only person that causes people to trust and place faith in God is God Himself, and I'm sure Erin's on His list of people to keep working on... anything I could say or do would be small by comparison. I hope that when she interacted with me, she saw could see something in my smile that showed a piece of Heaven and the Truth. One can always hope so.
The last time I talked with her, she walked by me and I braced myself for the possibility of a deeply spiritual conversation.
"Can you spell your name with your butt?"
I laughed, and shook my head as she smiled and kept walking. That's when I thought in my head, It's all you, God. And don't ever let me fool myself into thinking otherwise.
Watchout for the bull... toro, toro!
All in all, it was a great weekend, a blessing like which I haven't had in a long time. I'm a bit sad that it's over, because I know this time next year, I'll be in Japan and I'll be missing the camp. It'll be tough not seeing the kids next year, but my confidence is that God will care for them and continue to guide them far better than I or anyone else could guide them until I come back to Seattle.
Take care, you crazy kids... I better be seeing most of you again in 2 years. =)
All the pics and a few more are up (like... 70) on Snapfish... wh00t.
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