Let me tell you all about camp.
First, just let me say that camp is my favorite. I love camp. After staffing one for three years, I’ve come to have a huge appreciation for camp and the space it creates for God to speak and move. And that gets me so stoked. I think everyone should experience camp at some point. I know for me, it changed my life. I just want others to experience that, too.
Having said that, I have never before experienced camp in a foreign language. While the basics are still mostly the same, that just added another twist to the week. But it was so much fun. Our team got to perform some skits for the children’s camp. But since most of the children only spoke Serbian, the skits had to be translated. (Which meant that we didn’t always understand the narration of our actions. I found that humorous. I don’t know if anyone else did.) Everything else required translation as well – if not for the children, then it was for us foreigners. Luckily, Belinda is amazing and graciously translated just about everything we needed to understand and if she wasn’t around, then some of the other volunteers would translate for us. It’s been a humbling experience to be in a place where I don’t understand the main language. I’m thankful that fun is universal and small children don’t require many words!
One little girl at the kids camp managed to wrap her little fingers around my heart. (It seems to happen to me at least once in every country.) Her name was Rebeka and she was 7 years old. (I know that because I asked her… in Serbian… That’s right. Im practically fluent. 😂) She was the sweetest. Kids camp ran from Monday to Thursday, and on Thursday before the kids left, Rebeka climbed up into my lap and wrapped her little arms around my neck, buried her face in my shoulder, and wouldn’t let go. Straight up, it broke my heart a little bit. Goodbyes have never been my strong suit, and probably never will be. But as I held the sweet child, God came and whispered something to my heart that will change how I view goodbyes. In my heart, I was crying out, asking why I come across children that I just want to love forever but can’t. His response was so simple.
“You can’t. I can.”
All of the sudden, it all made sense. God is constantly bringing people into our lives and our job is to love them as well as we can for as long as we’re allowed. When our time is up and we have to say goodbye, we aren’t just saying goodbye. We’re giving that person back to God and letting Him continue to love her. Because when it comes right down to it, He can love Rebeka much better and for much longer than I can. I don’t know if that resonates with you, but it did with me.
So like I said, kids camp ran from Monday to Thursday. After that, they had a youth camp for all of the teenage volunteers from Thursday to Saturday. All of the children packed up and moved out and then all chaos broke loose. Chaos of a quieter sort (40 people make less noise than 100 by far), but chaos nonetheless. Remember the Hunger Games? We did that. For real. People died. Seriously. Ok, maybe not. But we did play a game based on the Hunger Games in which you fought to the “death” (represented by an armband… once your armband was ripped off, your life was gone). And it was intense. Highly entertaining, but intense. While no one actually died, there was blood. Skinned knees and elbows and bloody noses. (Thankfully no broken bones.)
Besides playing fun games, we got to hang out with some cool kids and have some good conversations. A couple of the guys from the team stayed up until 3 am on our last night talking to some of the students about what God has done in their lives over DTS. Aleah gave her Bible to one of the students. We worshiped together in Serbian and English. Each of us shared a devotional on one of the fruits of the Spirit.
It was a grand time, despite the mosquitos. Wanna see??
Now we’re back in Sarajevo for one more week of outreach! It’s been so good to be back and see the Copeland family and some of our Bosnian friends. We’re all getting stoked to fly back to Switzerland next Friday and see the other half of our school. We miss them and Davos.
Then we’ll be on our way home! Three more short weeks….. Hold on, mom. I’ll be home soon!
P.S. Check out our team blog! The Nick Ferguson does a fantastic job of updating it!! Check it out here!