As the camp missionary, Jeff's first chapel service was on Tuesday morning, and - as we've done from our very first Lake Lundgren year - the girls and I came along to support him. It also makes sense because he naturally focuses on introducing himself during his first talk. And, by us being there, the kids can meet us, as well.
This year, Jeff and I decided to do something a little different: I spoke for a few minutes, too. It was actually my idea - so the kids would see me as more than just the lady who waves at them when Jeff points to me in chapel - and, because I enjoy public speaking, I had fun doing it. Plus, it paid off in terms of "relationship-building" through the rest of the week; many kids spoke with me when they saw me around camp, and one of the counselors approached me for advice regarding her college coursework because I shared about my teaching experience.
I only had a few minutes, but I used my story as a "stay-at-home missionary" to point out that, while every believer is called to missions in some way, different people are called in different ways. If you'd like to read the text of my talk, scroll down to the very bottom of this post.
After chapel, we ventured again to Purple Park until lunch and then had "cabin time" as all the campers did. At 2:00, free time began, for which the only option in the girls' minds was swimming, of course. They'd both decided to try taking the swim test - not to go to the deep water and diving platform, but just to see how'd they'd do.
And they did great! Neither actually passed (and most kids their age don't), but the lifeguard acknowledged that they were very close and missed only on a technicality: he wanted to see their arms be a bit more out of the water during the front crawl to demonstrate their strength. Very understandable, but we were proud of them anyway - the test involved doing over 25 yards of front crawl and then returning using any other stroke - and they came out grinning.
And then they went on to enjoy the shallower water and slide with Jeff for the next 30 minutes...until a roll of thunder interrupted the fun for everyone.
Camp policy rightfully states that swimmers must leave the water when it thunders and cannot return until 30 minutes have passed without more thunder. Well, the rumbles continued intermittently for the rest of the afternoon so they never did get to go back, a fact which obviously disturbed Abigail:
But after a few minutes, we got snacks at The Canteen and then headed to The Cove, where Jeff and the girls played fooseball and then Rachel and Jeff tried their hand at air hockey. Rachel was actually quite good at both games - one more demonstration of the body-smart God has given her!
While we were back at the cabin before supper, we got a call from Trish, our cat sitter. She'd just been to the house, but had not seen Sweater - no surprise, really, because he's been a scaredy cat when we've been away. But she wondered if he had any common hiding places and, after we'd talked, she turned her car around and went to back to search for him! She did it for her own peace of mind - finding him curled up under our bed, a place I'd never known him to hide before, and calling me back the minute she located him. But we really appreciated how she went above and beyond to put all our minds at ease.
Well, that night's supper was meant to be an outdoor picnic. But it'd been drizzling on and off all afternoon and, of course, thundering (though we'd not seen any accompanying lightning) so we wondered if the venue would be changed. Turns out, though, that Troy, the head cook, had checked the weather forecast, which showed no indication of heavy rain in the direct vicinity of camp. So he'd gone ahead and set up the picnic.
Just before 5:00, the dinner bell rang, and we made our way in the drizzle down to the picnic area. Many were lined up waiting for the prayer when, all of a sudden, the skies opened up and a light shower turned into one of the heaviest downpours I've ever seen! Rachel later said, "God did have on the sprinkler, but then He opened the faucet full blast!"
All the food was already laid out on tables so the cooks quickly covered what they could before heading for shelter, thinking, I'm sure, that such heavy rain would be very brief. I think the kids believed the same because most stood out in it for the first few minutes, just giggling at getting so wet.
We found shelter with several others on the porch of the old camp office and waited, also thinking it wouldn't be long. But the deluge went on at the same rate for at least 10 minutes, with no sign of letting up. No one was in danger because it was only rain so, finally, Troy called out that everyone should come grab what they could and find a (relatively) dry place to eat.
Jeff ran toward the food with someone who'd brought an umbrella while the girls and I got permission from the camp director to go into the office - a totally dry place at last! He brought back hamburgers and hot dogs and, remarkably, had kept the buns and chips dry. The Rice Krispie bars and Jell-O squares were a bit soggy, but tasted fine all the same. And so there we sat, soggy ourselves and shaking our heads at the still-relentless downpour; all told, it rained heavily for almost 20 minutes before finally petering out to another drizzle.
Later, Troy said that - while it had, of course, rained that hard at different times in the camp's 75-year history - he'd never heard of it happening just at that time...right at dinnertime on a day with a planned picnic. And so we were "lucky" enough to experience a bit of camp history pouring down right before our eyes!
What struck me even more, though, was my attitude through the "ordeal." You see, this - something I couldn't anticipate or control in any way – is the very type of situation that typically pushes me "to the edge" emotionally. That day, though, I was okay. Abigail was crying, which made me a little tense, but I felt calm otherwise. And Jeff noticed, too, commenting when we were huddling under the porch awning, "You're handling this well."
I knew why, and it made me smile. And then the next morning, I took some time to write about it.
Curious? I thought so...but you'll have to stop by here tomorrow to find out more!
In the meantime, here's what I said at chapel:
Jeff and I thought it’d be good for you to meet me officially because I’ll be around all week…I used to teach middle and high schoolers and really enjoy kids your age…and because, in a way, he’s doing what he does kind of because of me.
You see, before I became a Christian, I was convinced I wanted to be in the Peace Corps, a desire that quickly transferred to missions once I accepted Christ. Jeff, on the other hand, actually wanted nothing to do with missions – he thought missionaries were “weird” – but, through a couple of events he’ll share with you, he agreed to take a few short trips to visit missionaries our church supported in different places. And it wasn’t long into the first trip that he said, “I wanna be a missionary!” But the very same day, I woke up and said, “I’m not meant to do this.”
That was an “interesting” place to be in our marriage! But the cool thing is that God used it to put together just what Jeff does now through MissionGuides.
As for me, it remains clear that I’m still not called out to missions. But I am what I think of as a “stay at home missionary” because, even though I’m here in the U.S., “missions” – which, in its simplest form, is just a desire to share Jesus, especially across cultures – has remained something to which I’m oriented. That’s played out in a few ways over the years:
- I taught English to immigrant kids before my girls were born. I had students from Laos and Thailand, Mexico, Russia, Cuba, and Sri Lanka. And I always knew that my job was to represent Jesus to them, too. In fact, God provided many opportunities for me to share Him in different ways;
- Even when my girls were babies, it was okay with me that Jeff continued to take trips. Sometimes it’s been stressful being a “single mom” while he’s gone, but I’ve always known it was what God wanted, and so I’ve been able to send him willingly and with peace;
- I’m homeschooling the girls, and we use a very missions-oriented curriculum. Plus, a big part of what I consciously purpose to do is disciple them to be strong Christ-followers so they’ll be able to discern His will for them – including how they’re to serve in missions.
I haven’t gone on a trip myself now in over 10 years. But the desire to see more and more know Jesus has never left me, and that’s the key. So on the topic of missions, I have two ideas for you to mull over today:
- God calls everyone to missions in some way. That’s what The Great Commission in Matthew says. So know that some sort of missions involvement is your responsibility as a Christian;
- How you’re involved will vary from person to person. You may do things from here; you may go on short-term trips like Jeff; you may be called to serve overseas for a lifetime. And your involvement will be different at different times in your life. I went out when I was newly married and may again later even though I don’t now. You may be too young to go now, but I want to challenge you to set a goal to go somewhere in the next 10 years. Your teens and twenties are the perfect time to do that, and you can never say you’re not called to be on the field unless you’ve actually gone. Ask God to clearly show you how He wants missions to be your life; He will answer.
If you’d like to talk with me at all this week, I’d love to meet many of you. So look for me during your free time. Chances are, I’ll be with the girls – at “Purple Park” or the waterfront – so I shouldn’t be hard to find.