On Saturday 3/31 we woke up early: Campout was today!! Students started arriving, and chaos promptly ensued. We loaded all the luggage into an oversized pickup, secured with a tarp, and without much hassle we were off to the IYG's bi-annual campout at the beautiful camp/retreat center, La Cumbre. We had around 80 campers and 10 adults!
We loaded in small buses and took off for camp! After a couple hours, we stopped for snacks at a local restaurant called "Chespirito's", a favorite stopping place for many headed to La Cumbre. Fifteen minutes down the road from Chespirito's, most of the kids got out of the buses. The long standing tradition is for them to hike the 7 km (about 4.3 mi) down the steep road, into the valley. At the bottom of the valley, La Cumbre sat serenely inviting the now-sore pilgrim to a hot most desired lunch.
The four days flew by. In the evening we ate dinner, I taught the lesson I had prepared, and we were lead in worship by the student worship band. After this time we would play a night game.
After breakfast every morning, we had time set aside for devos. That was followed with small groups. We had 9 small groups. Student leaders lead some, and Maggie and other adult volunteers also lead small groups. This was a time for students to discuss and work through the lesson from the night before. Before going down to Costa Rica, I had prepared small group discussion guides for the leaders to use. These served as tool for small group leaders as everyone interacted with the materiel that was presented the night before in my lesson--often studying a parallel passage relating to what we had talked about.
Maggie and I had such an incredible time. We just loved getting to know more students, and building relationships with them. For us working with these kids is an indescribable privilege. We had a blast playing games, amazing deep discussions about what it means to really follow Christ, and a sense of fulfillment of purpose in being there. As God has designed and shaped Maggie and I through the years, it is stunningly obvious that He has been preparing us for this ministry. I do not pretend that this is the end of the road for us and He'll have us here 'till we die (those poor students!). But it is the next, even the now.
The Lord was undeniably at work in students' hearts this week. I know that I didn't see a lot of what was really going on--small group leaders were able to see a lot more than I through discussions throughout the weekend. This past Saturday they had a time of sharing and testimonies from camp. Today, the director of AMCA wrote and told me that there are a lot of people still processing what the Spirit's been doing since camp, and that they were truly impacted by those four days. Thank you for your prayers. God is powerfully at work in these students.
FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO KNOW MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TALKS....
I shared three talks Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.
I had been so burdened by the Spirit in preparing them. A lot of prayer and hard work went into them. I think God really showed up.
On Saturday we looked at Exodus 19 and 20. We looked at the holiness of God--how no sinful being can stand in the presence of holiness without experiencing fear. We talked about how we so often put God in a box--and then we burned the box (metaphorically speaking, of course)
On Sunday we looked at John 11. What is love? Jesus so loved Mary, Martha, and Lazerous, that when Lazerous fell ill, Jesus did not go to him. What is love? We sometimes look for love to be comfortable, focused on us. Money, comfort, friends, safety--but what is love? What does the Bible say love is? Pretty neat stuff.
On Monday we looked at Phil chapter 3. Paul says that he considered everything to be loss compared to the surpassing worth, the supreme excellency of knowing Christ. We have to value knowing Christ above all else; whatever it takes.
When I was preparing these lessons I was wondering, 'Are these too in depth? Is there too much Bible for them?' So many times I'm told and I see how shallow teachings are in youth groups. Play some games, sprinkle in some truths. But sprinkled truth doesn't change lives. The living and active word of God, and the Spirit of God living in us change lives.
I was nervous, but after seeing how the students responded to the WORD, and how the SPIRIT worked, I am so excited to continue teaching the WORD, and teaching them how to study it. It is so freeing to know that as I pour everything into teaching, preaching, and discipling, I am not responsible to change the students. It is Christ who works in them. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.