Celebrating and Enjoying Community

Thankful for the Blessing of Family and Friends!
While trying to choose a Scripture verse to include with this month’s newsletter, it struck me that every update I’ve included here relates to community in some way. God has richly blessed me with many loving family members and friends who have participated in my life in myriad ways over the years. This past month has been full of celebrating and enjoying these relationships.

Going-Away Party
On June 29th, my family and friends threw a going-away party for me. I enjoyed a day of relaxing and laughing with friends both old and new, playing a friendly but competitive game of Scattegories, and eating entirely too much food – including one of my favorite desserts ever, the colossal pink champagne cake from the Madonna Inn! Although I’m not leaving quite yet, it was still good for my soul to spend time with these people who love me so much.

Meet My Care Team!
It is often said that no one accomplishes anything alone, and Scripture reflects God’s design for human relationships to help us through the joys and sorrows of life. With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to my personal accountability and care team. As the name suggests, the purpose of this team is to support me both before and after my departure through accountability and care. In reality, this means gathering to pray for me, keeping me accountable in various areas, providing encouragement, and offering their help with anything from packing to facilitating communication with my supporters to helping manage my affairs in California while I am in Ecuador.

My team consists of three couples, all of whom know me very well and have stuck with me through the ups and downs of life. Jake and Haley led the young adult Bible study that I joined after college. Our study through the book of Romans had a profound impact on my understanding of who God is and my relationship with Him. Wayne and Kathy recently retired from directing the Christian summer camp that I attended for four years in high school and later volunteered at for seven consecutive summers. Wayne taught me to love and revere Scripture, and both of them have spoken encouragement into my life and given me solid advice. Their longstanding devotion and service to Christ set a wonderful example for me to follow even as a teenager. Jacob and Sam are some of my dearest friends. I have known Sam since I was in 8th grade and have shared almost half my life with her now. We have encouraged and challenged each other in our faith since the very beginning of our friendship and continue to do so.

These people already pray for me, offer godly advice and encouragement, and admonish me in love, so it was only natural to include them in this pursuit of God’s call on my life. I am incredibly grateful to know these people and call them friends.

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From left to right: Jake and Haley (and their precious girls!), Wayne and Kathy, Jacob and Sam (and me!)

Family Camping Trip!
This past weekend, I traveled with my family to Camp Nelson in the Sequoia National Forest, the same small mountain town where so many of my summers were spent camping and fishing as a kid. Growing up we camped in tents and later in an RV, but this time we rented a nice little cabin. There’s something to be said about the luxury of hot running water and indoor plumbing after a day of handling fish bait, wrestling trout, and falling in the creek.

After a disappointing morning of fishing, we decided to check out some of the wilderness around us. We hiked the Trail of 100 Giants, an easy mile-long trail that meanders through a grove of stunning mature sequoias. In the photo below on the right, I’m standing in front of three sequoias that naturally grew together, creating a hollow chamber between their trunks. The chamber is large enough to comfortably fit several grown adults! (In spite of what it appears in the photo, I was not actually attempting the Vulcan salute.)

Next we drove to Dome Rock Trail, another quick hike that leads to the top of a 400-foot rock dome with incredible 360˚ views of the forest. On our way back to the cabin, we made a slight detour to see Stagg Tree, the 5th largest giant sequoia in the world by volume. We managed to pack a lot into our short trip and made some great memories along the way!

One Last Camp Season!
If this newsletter were written on paper, you might see some splotches where my tears fell on the page as I wrote this section. Perhaps one benefit of the digital age is that you have no evidence of how emotional I am.

For the past seven years, my summers revolved around the one or two weeks in July that I served at Camp Challenge, a Christian summer camp at Lake Lopez in California. As a school cabin leader, I was given precious charge of the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of 6-8 middle school or high school girls as we played crazy games, worshiped and studied the Bible in chapel, splashed in the pool, and enjoyed the splendor of God’s creation around us in the mountains. I attended the camp for four years in high school and was so excited to return as a staff member. Some of the most meaningful and important relationships in my life were developed at this camp. I’ve seen the successful changing of camp directors and watched with effusive joy as kids who grew up at the camp returned as staff members. Perhaps you can grasp the impact it had on me when I realized that God’s call to Ecuador meant that my time serving with Camp Challenge was finished.

Or so I thought. God, in His great love and grace, has allowed me one more season to serve at camp this summer. A week ago I had the great joy – yes, joy – of helping with the Herculean task of completing the grocery shopping for the first week of camp, which includes stops at multiple stores to find everything we need. It’s a challenge that requires both mental and physical organization, which is right up my alley. Later this week, I will also fill in for a cabin leader the last day of junior high camp.

I am again reminded of the Yay Duck and Yuck Duck from the missionary training in Colorado. If you missed that newsletter, a quick explanation – Yay Duck focuses on the positive in life, while Yuck Duck focuses on the negative. Just as the good and the bad often coexist in real life, these two ducks exist together in paradox. Healthy coping and adjustment to life changes comes when we readily acknowledge and validate both the positive and negative in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.

This last camp season for me is a prime example of this paradox. I am grieved to leave a place, a community, and a ministry that have meant so much to me since I was a teenager. Words cannot begin to express how much I will miss the campers and staff members. Perhaps equally important to acknowledge, I will also miss the comfort and safety of knowing my ministry role and what to expect as I serve. Ecuador represents a lot – I mean, A LOT – of unknowns, something that can be very scary for a type-A personality like me who prefers to plan for every contingency. Following God’s call into the jungle means learning more than ever before how to release my own expectations and desires to trust that God is good and in control.

On the other hand, I am so excited to return to Ecuador and use my social work training to serve Christ and share the Gospel with people who desperately need the hope and freedom only Christ offers. It fills me with joy and thankfulness to know that the camp I so dearly love is thriving even with the numerous changes it has undergone in the last few years, because all of the staff members are focused on glorifying and sharing Christ before anything else. I am at peace knowing that God has declared my work with camp done for the time being and has graciously showed me the next few steps in His plan for me.

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2019 Camp Challenge Grocery Run Team!

Learn more about Jungle Kids for Christ at
junglekidsforchrist.org

Prayer Requests for July

  • For continued boldness and courage in reaching out to potential supporters.
  • For faith and reliance on God to provide funding through those He has already chosen to partner with me.
  • For diligence and faithfulness in tackling and completing all the tasks that lay before me as I prepare for departure.

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