Sarah: Wow! I cannot believe that we have now completed three weeks of summer camp with the kids, and have spent over six weeks getting to know the children! It has been great to see God work in the lives of the children. Not only are the kids changing, but I am too! My family and friends have pointed out to me that I have picked up some "ghetto lingo" haha.
This week CEF came to our summer camp in the afternoons. For those of you who are not familiar with Child Evangelism Fellowship, it is a Christian organization that goes places to have five day clubs, which are like vacation bible school. These clubs last a little over an hour a day and have a memory verse, bible lesson, missionary story, songs, and a review game. I was honestly a little worried to see how the kids would respond to 5 day club, but they loved it! It was so awesome to see the children participate and enjoy singing songs about God. And everyday more and more children would recite the verse that they memorized from the day before. But the most encouraging thing of all was that we had six children who were counseled for salvation this week! Jaylon, Jalion, Malachai, Breanna, Brie, and JaiShaun all chose to believe on Jesus as their savior from sin. Please continue to pray for these children, that they will grow closer to God and he will give them the desire to get to know him better and obey his commands. I think so many children in our summer camp know about God, but they do not know him personally or the life and freedom that he has to offer his children. I am really excited that we will have another month and a half to try and disciple these children and show them what it looks like to have a personal relationship with the Lord.
Another awesome way the Lord has provided for our summer camp is lunches. Long Branch church (the local church that is allowing us to use their sanctuary for the drama program that Miss Cortney and Miss Laura are doing with the children) is providing free lunches for the children for the rest of the summer! That is such a blessing because we did not have enough money to feed that many children everyday and now we know that the children are able to eat healthy food for at least one meal a day!
The children are loving the drama program that Cortney and Laura started. They get to participate in improv activities and fun games. This week, the children got their own journals. Their first journal entry was creating a character. The children were supposed to describe this character's physical appearance, how old he/she is, the career, if the character had a super power, and what the character is afraid of. On Friday, they were able to act out these characters in a bus skit. Then the children wrote a second journal entry about their family and home life. I was so surprised to see how well the children worked both days and enjoyed writing. The journals remind me a lot of the journals that students kept in the movie Freedom Writers. I was so pleased to see that Cortney and Laura left encouraging notes next to each of the children's journal entries; one of the boys was really excited to have a comment on his journal entry. The children also came up with ideas for a play that they will be writing this summer and acting out in a final performance at the end of the summer for friends and family. It will be a great outlet for the children to show other people the things they experience in everyday life, what they like about it, what is frustrating, and how they hope to change. Laura and Cortney have been such a blessing to us and the children!
For our field trip this week we took the kids to the dollar movies. We watch How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek 3. It was a fun way for the kids to get out of the house and enjoy some wholesome entertainment. I was able to take one of the girls to ice-cream this week after camp and I think it really meant a lot to her. She said it was one of the best days that she had in a long time, that she loved getting out of the neighborhood. We got friendship bracelets and she told me that she was going to wear it until she died. It is such a blessing to be able to spend one on one time with some of the children as a small way of showing them that we truly care for them and that they are special. We are praying that the children will realize that everything we do, the way we love them and the reason we are here is to show them a glimpse of the love that the Lord has for them!
Some things you could be praying for are enough chaperones for our next trip to the Drive Game, the cookout we are having with the children and their families on Tuesday night. Also be praying for the children. One of the most challenging things is to see the way the children treat each other negatively. They are constantly tearing each other down. We have seen some improvement over the past few weeks, but this talk is so ingrained in them it is hard to change. And really this will not change until the Lord changes their hearts, so pray that the Lord will change their hearts. We have been/ will also be having talks with the children about the choices we make outside of God's plan and those consequences (such as having sex outside of marriage, doing drugs, etc.) These things are very prevalent and accepted in their culture, but are against God's way and can cause some painful consequences in their lives. Pray that the children will understand this and begin to desire God's way instead of the world's. Pray also that the interns and volunteers will continually rely on the Lord's strength for love and patience with the children, and that we will not become discouraged. And please always be praying for the salvation and spiritual growth of the children!