I am a camp girl through and through. Non-camp people can say what they want. I simply cannot be swayed that camp is anything less than an imperfect, but beautiful place! So it feels like a fun gift from God to me that all these years later on the other side of the world I get to be a part of bringing camp to life here.
But let me just tell you how you can know that God has big plans for something- it’s when the enemy comes hard and fast to try and take it all out. For us this time it came in the form of a typhoon. Rain and rain and so much rain every day leading up to camp. This meant spotty electricity, difficult muddy roads for the van, and overall just not the best time at camp if your plan is to be on the top of a mountain for a few days in tents! I’m all for roughing it, but I knew this type of persistent rain meant we needed to pivot and make a new plan fast.
“…God, the girls are so excited and the staff worked really hard to plan for this. I don’t want to change it all around or move inside. You could say one word and the rain would stop. Why let this happen?”
I thought these things only inside my heart. But still, I know he heard me (Psalm 139:2) and I instantly wished I had responded to the rain differently… I know God better than to doubt his goodness here. If this is what he allows, then it must be what is best. So I sat down with our itinerary for the next few days and together we set out to shift towards plan B…
There was a moment around that table when everyone was bustling and making new plans that I was somewhere else quieter in my mind. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was still gently and privately nudging this change into the crevices of my heart- knowing me so deeply and understanding it would always take me a little longer than the others…
“Leah, don’t worry. Do you see how many answered prayers you’re surrounded with right now?”
The question came and all I had to do was glance up to know it was so true. This growing ministry team. The sound of two dozen girls singing songs about Jesus echoing off the walls. Provision of resources that we could even take on additional costs to shift things so easily. Solar lights to manage no electricity. A reliable van to transport all 40 people. A new location to move camp to that’s covered for sessions. We are safe. We are dry. We have plenty of food for everyone. And on and on..
Camp was always going to be good no matter what
because the point was always Him.
The next few days of camp were better than any plan. They were full, and fun and I know they mattered from an eternal perspective for so many lives.
We had a girl with us from the village who said one night how she felt God’s care for her just by being able to eat three full meals every day at camp. She told us how her and all her siblings had been sharing only one egg together as their meal ever since her dad- the breadwinner in the family- tragically died.
We had seven new girls with us who came down from the village for the first time for this camp. One night the lights went out, but the power of the gospel around that table couldn’t be stopped as four of the girls- realizing how loved they are by Jesus- surrendered their lives to follow Him.
A few of the older scholars from House of Hope led the girls and staff in worship on our last night. Lord I offer my life to you, they sang loudly without a single care in the world who could hear them, everything I’ve been through, use it for your glory…tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to them and looked beside me at the other staff who faithfully give their lives to pour into these girls and their village communities every week. It was all we could do in the moment together to just stand around the girls and watch in awe. So, so grateful for the growth..the changes..the fruit God was letting us see a glimpse of that night under the stars.
After we pivoted and moved camp to a new location, it didn’t rain the rest of the time. We had clear blue skies and sweaty days and we played outside enjoying every minute of that sun. I might never know this side of heaven what God was protecting us from or why we had to change plans…but I trust there was a bigger reason.
We ended camp in confession… and I knew I needed to go first this time. Girls, I’ve been so quick to get angry and frustrated lately. It doesn’t look like Christ at all and I’m sorry. One by one they followed and together we laid so much out in the open- silent struggles and different personal ways the world has pulled us all down lately. So thankful in the end for the real, tangible grace filling up the room around us. Then we promised to help each other remember this week and remember the God who met us here at camp. Like Moses to Israel before they were to head into their new land- “remember what God has done for you. Remember and don’t forget.” It seems repetitive that the Bible would say it that way, but maybe it’s meant to make us pause. Maybe God knows our forgetful, hurried hearts need to hear it more than once…
The girls jumped in the ocean one last time, a rare treat when you’re from the mountain, and then we loaded up the van and headed home. The seven new girls returned to their village for now. Most of the staff went home. But fingerprints from camp are still all around TRIM today, reminding us that God is sovereign- even in change- and he always does what is good.
Thank you God, for the gift of camp.
And thank you that you make a way
for even villages at the farthest ends of the earth to know you…
You are what is best.