Sarah: We just finished our first week of camp and it was awesome! For the past three weeks we have been hanging out with the children in the neighborhood in the afternoons to get to know the kids. About fifteen children would come each afternoon to hang out. We enjoyed getting to know the children as we played basketball, foosball, and play station with them. On the first day of summer, we had a cookout with the children and played some team games. We realized quickly that the children did much better with structure. Andy, Daniel, and I decided that camp needed to be structured with lots of team building games.
On Monday we started camp; the kids would be with us from 9am-4pm. Before the children came, the interns were sharing prayer requests and one thing that we prayed for was that God to provide the needed tools for the work projects in the neighborhood that started the next day. Then we picked up the children and had a group devotional time. After that, divided the children into two teams; the children will be in these teams for the entire summer. The team names the chose were the Lightening Raiders and the Raptors. Teams receive points for winning games and for being the most encouraging, even when other teammates make mistakes. The children also receive tallies for obeying rules, serving others, and being encouraging. The individual tallies allow children to attend certain trips and receive rewards. However, children can loose points for being disrespectful to other children and disobeying the rules. After we started enforcing this positive behavior system, the children's behavior dramatically changed for the better. We took the children home for lunch because we cannot afford to feed them all. Right before lunch, one of our volunteers came and brought us 4 tools that we needed for the neighborhood projects (God had answered our prayers in less than 4 hours!) When they came back in the afternoon, we played more group competition games and the children had free time for the last hour. Andy, Daniel, and I were so encouraged by the first day of camp.
Most days are structured similarly to Monday. Cortney, an intern from Radius Church, and her friend Laura are starting a drama program with our children. They will be spending a few hours a week with the children doing improv exercises and later in the summer the children will be able to write their own script. Cortney had a few of her friends come to the mission house and teach our children about improv and allowed the children to participate in some exercises. The children loved it! We are so excited to see how God will use Cortney and Laura in the children's lives.
We took our first field trip with the children on Thursday to Paris Mountain. It was supposed to rain that afternoon, and we prayed that God would hold the rain off until after we got home (He answered our prayers!) Many of the children had never been hiking before and asked me, "Miss Sarah, how are we going to climb up the mountain carrying our water bottles? Won't we need both hands to climb up the mountain?" The children did not understand that we were simply hiking a trail. We had a picnic lunch there and then hit the trails. Many of the children went running on the trails behind Daniel and Andy; they had a blast!
On Friday we rewarded the winning team with a pizza party. The Raptors enjoyed eating lots of pizza and cookie cake. They also had a break dancing party! We enjoyed spending time with a smaller group of children. Right now we have 14 children signed up for the summer camp. God has also blessed us with great volunteers! Without the volunteers, the trips would not be possible and camp would be a lot harder. We have been having daily devotional time with the children. Right now we are going through some parables, discussing the stories and tying in the gospel. I was surprised at how much the children knew about God, but it is evident that most of the children do not personally have a relationship with God. One of the biggest struggles is hearing the children constantly tearing each other apart with their words. This is how they have grown up treating others and being treated, but the discouraging words deeply hurt the children. We are trying to reward encouraging speech, but this is foreign to the children.
Some things that you could be praying for if for God to work in the children's hearts. That he would reveal Himself to them in a real way and that the Holy Spirit will bring life and change in the children's lives. Pray that the Lord will display His unconditional love through the us (interns) and the volunteers, and that the Holy Spirit will give us patience, wisdom, and love for the children. We are taking a camping trip this week and please pray for safety for the children, that we will have good weather, and some meaningful/intentional conversations with the children about God. Thanks for your prayers and support!