Monday, June 27, 2016

Colorado Springs


3 weeks ago we traveled back to the States. It was a surprise trip, and we kept it under wraps so we could surprise our families. We also knew we would have just a few limited days to spare on either side of our mission trip, so we tried to keep other plans to a minimum. As it turns out, we were unable to spend even a Sunday in church.

We arrived back in Boise very late on Monday, June 6th. All we had time or energy for was sleep. We spent the next morning surprising our families and then began preparation for our mission trip. On Friday, we got to meet our team for the first time at the pre-trip church lock in! It was made up of a great group of youth ranging from 11-17 years old, (Eden) and several adult chaperones.

That evening we spent some time in training and worship, and then the boys and girls separated to their respective rooms to get some sleep for the following day. Come 6:00 am the next morning we set out breakfast, packed up our vehicles and hit the road.

Pastor Greg praying for our team on the bus.

Our team!

We traveled for two days, around 8-10 hours each day. The first evening, we stopped in Wyoming at a church who hosted us for the night. Somehow, after just a few hours, each and every one of these kids began to weave their own little space in my heart. 

Worshiping in Wyoming.

Bus ride!
Which is surprising, because usually, I'm not typically someone that attaches to people. I'm very cautious about who I trust with my silly personality and the intimate details of my life. As of the second day of our trip, we were getting closer, but all still figuring each other out. The majority of our team attend the same school and knew each other pretty well, but we also had AWANA alumni, and a few odd balls like us. No one knew us too well! (In fact, a comment was made the first night we met the team along the lines of, "What youth group are they coming from?")  We were all a bit out of comfort zones, but quickly getting to know one another after almost 24 hours in close proximity. 

After breakfast the next morning, morning , we packed into our bus and truck and set out on our way.  Much to the delight of our team, around 4:00 pm, we arrived in Colorado Springs, CO. Squeals sounded as we pulled in. After a quick tour of our hosts facilities, (cut short by a lightening storm), we continued up the mountain to the camp we would be serving at for the next week. 

Listening to Pastor Dan and his wife Cheri, the owners of Hope Rock Ranch (the camp) and also our camp directors. 

Eden and her adopted auntie Charise. 

Girls sleeping arrangements.

The first few days at Hope Rock Ranch were spent cleaning up and making everything ready for the young campers who would be arriving soon. My kitchen crew was up and making breakfast by 6 each morning, and by 8, all hands were on deck in order to clean, organize, saw, hammer, and haul.

Daniel and Josiah wooding.

Miss Olga, always keeping the kitchen clean!

The girls working on getting the garage clean enough to cook meals and eat in.

Boys moving stuff. 
On day 3, 38 excited campers, arrived at Hope Rock Ranch. Our team met them with an equal amount of excitement and anticipation. Our own youth quickly made the transition of being the "kids" on our trip, to becoming assistant leaders. Campers ranged from ages 8 to 13 years old; primarily inner city kids from the lower springs area of Colorado Springs. Their stories were full of divorce, addiction, death and incarceration, and our kids were desperate to share Christ's heart with them. The next few days were full of hikes, lessons, worship time, crafts, games, dessert and camp fires. 

Charise (one of our kids-left) and one of the campers (right) 

Danny (one of our kids-left) and one of the campers. (right) 

A boys team praying.

One of the hikes.

Jeff (one of our kids-second, top, left) with his team.

Eden and Miss Lorna.

Kids learning new worship songs.
By the end of the week, 11 precious souls gave their lives to Christ! Several of our team had the privilege of being the one to pray with them and lead them to Christ.

As the camp came to a close, goodbyes were said, and our entire team met for one of the last times to talk about where they had seen Christ working that week.

I saw Christ in Miss Olga as she shared with me her testimony and made running a small kitchen for nearly 80 people incredibly easy. She served sweetly and cheerfully as she washed dishes and wiped down counters. 

I saw Christ in my kitchen staff when we all had to drag our behinds out of bed at 6:00 am after an exhausting day and late night. 

Every morning these three helped me! 
I saw Christ in the generosity of each of our kids; their willingness to help and the tender spirit they had toward the campers. I saw Him in the gentleness of Kendra, the quietness of Ella, the silliness of Gracie, the willingness of Matt, the boisterous attitude of Danny and the sweetness of Channing.

Pictured left to right: Kendra, Gracie, Ella, Danny, Matt, Channing.

This team encouraged me, inspired me, challenged me, and DEFINITELY grew me. I love each and every one of them, and am proud of who they are and who they represent-Christ. I may not be someone who quickly attaches to people, but these kids have all found a place in my heart.

I have no words. 

Eden ADORED Marcus.

Matt became my griller for burger night.

Goodbyes were hard on everyone when our trip finally came to a close. After another two days of traveling, we arrived back in Boise on June 19th. Michael, Eden and I flew back to the Philippines on June 22nd-a whirlwind trip for sure!

Saying goodbyes.

Miss Olga hugging Jesse. 
So... that's all we've been up to for the past few weeks! ;) How about you?

The dream team.