Sunday, July 31, 2011

How was the first week as a counselor?

As I thought about what to write for this blog post, to sum up the week that I just had, I found I had writers block… I still kind of do… this week is hard to process. As you all know in the week of preparation I had a lot of mixed emotions and thoughts but in the end I was told I was going to be a counselor and I was actually really excited for what God was going to do for the week. I was kind of expecting some grand work and some life changing experiences, but that wasn’t what God expected of the week. On Monday, the day the campers arrived I was told that I was going to be in a room with another counselor Jade, and that since there were two of us that we were going to have a full room and we were going to have the youngest campers. I was also told that the other counselor would not be sleeping in the dorms, which meant I would have all nine of the campers all night. As it turned out we had nine girls from age 5 to 7 (possibly one or two 8 year olds)… that’s a lot of little girls… and they need to be watched basically 24/7. The week turned out differently then I had thought it would. The little girl who is 5 is named Eva, and Eva was at my side almost every hour of everyday here at camp. She ended taking most of my attention and time. And to be honest with you it was really hard especially as the week went on and I saw the other girls drifting closer and closer to Jade and further and further away from me. At times I kind of wondered why I was a counselor if I wasn’t counseling anyone. I mean, I talked to some of the girls about church and God a little but their attachment and devotion was to Jade, and it was obvious. To be honest when the last of the girls left I was left kind of wondering what had happened this week. I tried to process how God had used me in this week to touch the lives of my campers and came up with little to go off of. I was a little down in Spirit. But then today my supervisor called me in and asked me about the week, both the good and the bad. We talked for a bit, and I felt a little better but after I talked to her I went and talked to my friend Bruna and in talking to her I said something that made me realize why God had me where he did this week. I realized that maybe it wasn’t my job to have a huge influence on the live of my nine girls but maybe it was to watch Eva and in doing so free up Jade to be used by God in mighty ways. I’ve no doubt that Jade had a huge influence on the lives of the other 8 girls, it was obvious. I may not have been the one to lead one of the girls to Christ or to have talked to the one who decided to dedicate her whole life to Christ, but God did use me to allow that to happen. He used the one who could more clear understand and talk to the girls to do the talking and he used all my experience and patience with very young, very dependent kids to take care of the little girl who needed so much attention thus freeing up Jade for the others. It was hard, I’m not going to lie. After all the time that I have spent in VBS, children’s church, AWANA, and other times being a “counselor” or leader and making connections with my group it was hard to see these little girls that I so desperately wanted to influence running to Jade instead of me, but I finally realized that God had a different plan for me for this week. I was to be the helper, not the leader, for whatever reason He wanted Jade to do it and wanted me to step back. Maybe it was to remind me that it’s His work, not mine. Maybe it was to remind me that all areas of ministry are equally important. Maybe it was to remind you of something. Only God knows all of the effects this week will have on everyone who was here or hears the stories. But the best part is that God does know. In the end it wasn’t some grand work on my part or some life changing experiences but it was grand work on God’s part and a heart changing experience for me. My hope is that He will use what I learned to help you grow too. Love you all.


Romans 12:3-8

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b] faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Why I won't be posting :(

Hey all! I'm not allowed to have my computer out at all for the entire time the campers are here... which means I will be out contact for a bit... Please pray for the camper who are arriving in just a little bit and for the week, for counselors, cleaners, cookers, and staff! Pray that the love of God would abound this week!! Love you all! TTYS!!!!!!



So, how'd the first week go?

The first week at camp has been pretty great. I didn’t know exactly what we were doing this week until about mid week when I realized that this “preparation week” was more then just preparation for the camp but also preparation for the workers. We spent the entire week basically have our own camp. We had a Bible study every morning and evening (at night they were about Biblical Anthropology: What am I here for? And the morning they were about the nature of sin). We had quiet time after breakfast. The camp is going through Hebrews in the quiet times so last week was on Hebrews Chapter 11, the faith chapter. We free time and work cleaning the camp and lastly we had meetings in our work groups (i.e. counselors and cleaning/kitchen crew). Now as I said earlier I was told that I was going to be a counselor and was freaking out a little but I have to revert to the title of this blog and the verse it is based on Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I had no idea what I was getting into when I came to camp last Monday and as soon as I got here the little amount I thought I knew quickly vanished. But God knew. He knew that I need this week. This week were I was struggling with having faith that this would work out and the chapter that happened to be for this week was the chapter on having faith and “the great cloud of witnesses” I have to look back on. And then we had an entire week of meetings going through the roll counselors were to have in the following weeks. We were given a manual but it’s not just a book with rules and regulations, and a schedule it’s full of verse after verse after verse. We spent the majority of our meetings preparing for camp by preparing our hearts. Lastly everyone in camp was told they were not allowed to speak English to me (minus the too other American girls who are here for a few weeks and don’t speak Portuguese). So subsequently my Portuguese has improved! This week was obviously God’s plan to prepare me for the next four weeks of working at camp. I don’t have it all figured out and I a bound to fail a lot, but my heart is ready! Thanks to God! Finally last night the girl counselors were surprised with three campers a day early… at first it was hard, not knowing what to do or say since we weren’t set up to entertain kids let. But eventually we figured it out and had fun playing games and talking. It was another reassurance that what happened in this week of preparation has been the work of God in my heart, attitude, faith, confidence and of course Portuguese. I am still a little nervous for the week ahead and the campers coming today but and have faith that God’s got it under control and He is going to do marvelous things this week despite and through my shortcomings. Love you all!



Friday, July 22, 2011

So, are you home sick?

Anyone who has ever left their home for an extended period of time has undoubtedly been asked this question a million times. And the answer for most is “yes and no” and to be honest with you I have the same answer. There are times where all I want is to go home to my comfort zone and sleep or talk to my family and friends and there are times when all I want to do is be here and enjoy every second I have. Most of the times I want to crawl back into my comfort zone is when I an feeling out of place or when I am having a difficult time communicating. I was having one of those moments at church this last Sunday (07/17/11), it wasn’t because of anything anyone did or didn’t do, I think Satan was just attacking me where he knew it would count. But just when it was really starting to get to me one of the little girls from church came over, passed people she knew and motioned that she wanted to sit on my lap. I picked her up and sat her on my lap and she sat there during worship while I sang a few songs. She will never know what a blessing she was to me at that moment. She only sat there for a few minutes and then jumped down and went to talk to her mom about something, but those few minutes where just what I needed. She made me forge that I was new and was having issues communicating and missing my comfort zone and made me remember that God had and has a plan for me her. It was just what I need to fight the spiritual attack of wanting to go home. Not that I don’t want to go home, I do eventually, but right now God has me here and I need to continue to try my hardest to serve Him to my fullest ability despite the difficulties.

Soccer Ministry

For pretty much the entire day on Saturday Mário was at the championships for the soccer ministry he leads. I’m not sure but I think there are at least ten teams that pay from week to week. Last Saturday (07/16/11) they were all together for their final tournament. There were A LOT of teens, youth, young men and older men there on Saturday and Lancy said at least 5 of the teams are made up of unbelieving guys from the surrounding area. It’s an amazing opportunity not only for Mário but also for the believers on the various other teams to share the gospel, not only directly but also through relationship building and their testimony as they play. This particular day one of the youth shared the gospel about half way through their tournament in a very unique way it’s a technique called blah blah blah. What is it is you have a board that has a picture that is only partially completed. As you present the message you paint and complete the picture on the board. It’s not hard painting it’s more you have half of each of the letter that spell “sin” and you simple paint in the other half. It’s hard to explain but it’s an amazing attention getter. Also as you talk and paint you may paint over things so that the end picture is different for the beginning and the middle. Below are attached the presentation that he did in video segments and pictures of the board before and after, even though you may not be able to understand it but it will give you an idea of how it goes. The young man presenting did a great job and when he gave the invitation to become a believer at least one of the soccer player listening raised his hand to say he had prayed the prayer. It was AMAZING!! God is really using something as simple as soccer to win souls for His kingdom. Lancy was saying she would also love to start something similar for the younger boys and girls who are too little to play with the towering older guys. That’s something I think she would definitely love pray for!

What does Lancy do?

Well some of you may know the answer to this already but I’m betting most of you don’t. I’ve been here for just about two weeks and I’m still trying to figure out all the ministries she is either head of or involved in some way. First she leads a women’s Bible study once a week with somewhere between 3 and 8 women, depending on the night. This week all the women from the different groups are getting together for the final chapter. The purpose of this ministry it to build strong women of God who will in turn help to raise strong families. Once a week she also does a children’s Bible study/ activity with her “partner in crime” (according to Lancy) Lidia. Last Saturday they had day similar to the one we did on Friday with the youth, WATER GAMES!!! After the games Lidia taught on the topic of sins. All of the kids there were church kids so she focused more on needing to pray for their friends and family who aren’t saved. It was a really good reminder for me to that we need to courage to talk to our unbelieving friends and family about this amazing gift I have been given. One of Lancy’s (and Mário’s) biggest ministries is just having open hearts and an open house for the people around her. Since I have been here, there has been a birthday party, two movie nights, and she invited some ladies over after Bible study give them more time to make connections. On top of all that she and Mário have opened their home to not only me, but also the pastor and his wife, one of the youth who moved to Spain but came back for vacation and to work at camp, and another youth who need a place to stay for a bit. I was joking around with them asking them how they felt going from 0 to 3 kids in only a week! And once I realized that they were finally going to have their house to themselves again I asked Lnacy what she was going to do and she quickly answered, “oh, I think we are going to have some people over. Now I know that their house is not normally a mini hotel but with the meaning of the saying “open doors” is fully true. If God asks them to host some people for a bit they are more then willing to say, “We’d be glad too.”

What did you say about being a tug-of-war champ?

AHHH!! Sorry everyone! I know it’s been forever since I posted :/ We have been SUPER busy and there just hasn’t been any time to post. Well today you are going to get a bunch of posts J So, I know a lot of you saw my facebook status about getting in touch with my former AWANA tug-of-war champion self and a lot of asked what that was all about. Well last Friday (7/15/11) Mário and Lancy planned a water game day at the park with the youth group. We played games and afterwards Mário wrapped-up a topic they have been going through for quit some time. The games were SO MUCH FUN!!!! I in fact even sent a message to some of the JR staff at VBC with instructions on how to play the games because I know any JR (or really anyone) would love to play these game. We played kickball, water balloon toss “Cat and mouse,” “Numerical Circle Tag” and my personal favorite “Slip and slide tug-of war!!!!!!!! We played girls against girls and guys against guys and then we played girls against guys! The girls won 2/0!!!! We were all a little excited to beat the guys! It was really fun for me because as soon as they announced that girls vs. guys and we were lining up all the girls said “Heather in front! Heather in front!!!!” my favorite spot!! Once we won twice there was talk about me and the mom of one of the youth (who is in the army) was super proud of me standing up for strong women lol! It was awesome! After that I felt more like a part of the group which was super nice.More importantly Mário gave an amazing devotional. His passion for the word and that the youth grow in there faith was amazing to see displayed. He talked about being girls and guys who serve the Lord wholeheartedly and with purpose. It was a great message for the youth and for me.
Girls vs. Guys! We won 2/0!!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What’s “a Casa Amarela”?

Well anyone who speaks Portuguese knows it mean the yellow house, but only those who live in Miratejo (where Lancy, Mário, and currently I live) know that it is a giant yellow house where that is used for a lot of different things. Today it was used for a festival! The church was asked to participate and decided to sing, dance, give away tracks and evangelical bracelets, face paint and do balloon twisting! I became the resident balloon-twisting expert… if you can call me that… Over the past few days I learned some of the basics; a two balloon flower, a dog, two types of swords, and a giraffe! I tried to learning a hat and both a one and two balloon butterfly/bee but those were WAY over my head! I also attempted a heart but that kinda flopped :/ It was really fun but I think I’ve had my fill of balloons for a while… at least a day or two…I don’t think my finger has ever hurt this bad from tying balloon! But it was worth it. It was hard to understand everyone when there was a line and parents and kids everywhere but I got through it was the help of some of the youth from the church. The rest of the activities also went really well! The line for face painting never ended! We had to start turning away kids because we had to leave and the festival was ending!! I was sad to stop but my finger was thankful for the rest! Well that’s all for now, there’s a bday party for one of the youth right now at the house and I should go attempt to use my Portuguese, wish me luck! Love y’all!

A super cool bounce house for the kids to play in!

Members of the church singing at the Festival

Some of the people who heard about God through the singing

An example of my balloon twisting skills... This isn't actually one I made at the festival, just something I made up from a left over balloon... I'll show better picture later :)

The damage done to my finger... doesn't do the injury justice... it was purple for a while :/ But it was worth it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hit the ground running

July 7th 2011

Well today is day two! Kind of… I had half a day here yesterday but it was a full day! I arrived about 45 mins later than planned but quickly found Lancy and Mario waiting at the entrance. It was good to see familiar faces! We got packed up in the car and started talking, after tell them I was ready for a nap Lancy said “well… unfortunately… no time for a nap. We have Bible study, prayer meeting and choir practice!” Looks like I hit the ground running! We got home, I got ready and we were off. The meeting was great! We did some worship, prayed through some stuff for the church, families, friends, I was even on the list! It was cool to pray in Portuguese and English, especially after pray in Spanish and1 English in Guatemala only a few days ago! I love it! It’s awesome to hear God praised in every language! After praying Mario lead the Bible study in Matthew, the parable of the net. On Saturday there is a festival and the church has been invited to sing, so I got to hear them practice their songs and I even tried to learn some of the songs. I got one and a half… Well there is MUCH more but we are leaving. I’ll post more later! Love you all