I recently got home from Pondo with Flood Youth for a week of summer camp. These are a few reflections on youth ministry, myself, and life that came about from the most exhausting and most amazing week ever.
It means coffee is my best friend. At all times. Always.
It means giving my blanket away because someone was cold the first night, bringing enough shampoo for the whole cabin, and sharing my bed on the last night because one of my girls fell asleep in it.
It means getting asked the most random, thought provoking, and meaningful questions at interesting times. Tackling the simple issue of predestination during a 15-minute cabin quiet time? Okay. How do you ‘hear’ God?! Naturally this comes up as we stop for slurpees on the way home. “Hey Krysti, we’ve never heard your whole testimony!” ….while I’m navigating the minivan through a freeway detour, down the mountain. I mean, sure, why not?
It means every time worship ended, passing my chapstick down the entire row of my girls. And then passing down my water bottle. Then passing out everyone’s bible and notebook that I was carrying in my bag. (I don’t know what comes to mind first: ‘motherhood training’ or ‘mono!’)
It means being open. Open to what God has in store, being open to the work He is going to do in my students, and being open to the unexpected lessons that I actually learn at “high school” camp.
It means dancing like a fool at the Mask-a-rade party we had, because no teenager wants to be the token ‘bad dancer’ of the group. That role falls to me. And teaching my girls to not take yourself too seriously is part of my job.
It means getting to watch strangers become friends, and friends become new family – found in the Body.
It means stepping in as a mom, sister, best friend, mentor, authority figure, encourager, hand holder, tear wiper, or all of the above.
It means the introvert in me died a little more each day as every time I tried to sneak away for a second I was met with “Krysti! Where are you going? I want to come with…” and a girl materialized by my side. And it was worth every pretending-to-be-an-extrovert second.
It means getting to see Jesus in so many new ways, in so many new places.
It means getting to be a part of the amazingness that is teenagers singing their hearts out to Jesus, seeing them surrender the hard parts of life over to His faithfulness, and trusting that His goodness truly prevails even when it feels like it doesn’t.
It means keeping an eye on that boy who keeps hanging out around with your girls. At every free time. Every day.
It means being more proud of my girls than ever, as I heard more of their story and saw more glimpses of their pain and yet watched them fight with everything they have to figure out this whole faith thing. Praying for them every second I could, and loving them more than I ever thought possible.
It means sleep is no where near as important as staying up till 2 in the morning affirming each other in all the ways God has blessed them, used them, and is growing them.
….it also means throwing a shoe at girls who fall asleep during said affirmations. And recording the whole thing for future blackmail.
It means that I am not important, and getting to wash my hair isn’t a priority, and the fact that the camp’s gluten free options left me eating the same salad 8 times that week didn’t matter. Because my girls and our students and their potential life changing experiences trump any of my needs for the week. It means ‘servant leadership’ takes on a whole new meaning.
But most of all, it means witnessing the truly amazing work God has been doing in Flood Youth. Seeing the changes He has brought about in the lives of our students. Getting a glimpse of the plans He has in store for them and their lives and their ministries. Overjoyed by the relationships I have with some of the most beautiful, hilarious, amazing, insane, and inspiring young girls. Being humbled that I get to have any part of this, and at the same time heart broken that I am about to leave…
Two weeks till Malawi. What lessons did I learn as a camp counselor that God is growing in me for my time with Chisomo Idea? Only time will tell.