I’ve been working on my July in Review post the last few weeks (yes, weeks – I know, I’m pathetic) and I haven’t been able to finish it. Everything about it is finished except for the last section. For the life of me I can’t bring myself to summarize my two weeks away at camp. A summary just won’t do. So here I am, dedicating a whole post to those two weeks in Georgia.
Quick background: For those of you who may not know, I spent two weeks at a summer camp learning about the scientific, philosophical, logical, and historical arguments for Christianity. Aside from all the classroom learning, we visited a mosque, spent time on a college campus asking students about their beliefs, stayed up late talking, played games, and started new (and still thriving) friendships.
So all that being said, here’s my thoughts, feelings, and memories of being 2,000 miles away from home.
- The humidity that engulfed me the moment I stepped off the plane. My California lungs have been spoiled with easy ocean breeze breathing and that humidity was somewhat suffocating at first. I miss that sauna of a state now. There’s far too much air at home.
- That befuddled state of mind I was thrown into when I went straight from the plane to a van full of strangers to a football field full of more strangers.
- The heart-pounding, don’t-think-too-hard-about-it moment when you walked up to a table full of people (strangers again) and introduced yourself.
- The warmth that gradually spreads from fingers to toes when you settle into routine and those strangers wave and beckon you over.
- There’s an achy feeling that fills me when I think of how I wish I had had more conversations, offered more smiles, given more hugs (and longer ones too) to those strangers who I call friends now.
- Those first classroom sessions that (quiet as I was) I walked into buzzing with the promise of knowledge and walked out of sobered yet somehow more excited that before.
- (^and on that note – our faith my friends, is not weak. It’s steady and sure. It withstands all that sets itself against it.)
- That marriage of head and heart that came with a new knowledge of the faith in Jesus I choose to place my trust in.
- The conversations that come from carrying an old Russian book in the crook of your arm.
- All those bus ride talks about life and family and growing up and books and the differences between states.
- The funny happiness that bubbles up when leaving the dance party early gains you a good friend.
- The conversations about Dostoevsky and Lewis and O’Conner and art house films and Munster, Germany (that last one requires too long an explanation for this bullet point).
- The musical conversations about Clair de Lune and Chopin, Les Miserables and Phantom, the nuances of difference between piano and guitar. Something about music – playing and singing together, fingers and voices joining into one song -unites people so quickly.
- Those evening time small groups that began with silences strained with an effort to find something to say and ended with tears and laughter. And the heartfelt conversations that began at midnight and ended in what might as well be called morning.
- The mealtime high-fives and smiles across the room.
- The inside jokes communicated with eye contact and knowing glances that ended with futile attempts not to melt in laughter.
- The frantic picture taking and the goodbyes repeated a hundred times in disbelief that after this one last hug you’re genuinely leaving. You hadn’t realized before how farewells carry a tinge of fear. And you know you can’t stay but home feels almost foreign now, something you must adjust to again. How to return to normalcy with all that you now know? How to go home when these friends (that you will not forget) live so far away?
- The phone calls that jump across time zones and bring familiar voices to your ear filled with shared memories and deeper friendship.
- Faith is not blind. Although this was something I’d heard before, I don’t think I ever truly knew just how true this is. Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Our faith in Jesus is not some sort of comfort that blinds us to the reality of the world. It’s comfort lies in the fact that it takes the world as it truly is and offers a solution. Guys, I don’t know how to stress this enough. Our faith in Jesus is grounded in reality. Everything, literally everything points to him. He’s left his fingerprints all over the world, and when I step back and survey all the evidence he’s given us, I cannot help but fall to my knees at the overwhelming love that he has to leave such assurance of himself for us.
- Having the opportunity to talk to unbelievers, specifically on the college campus when doing surveys, opened my eyes and consequently opened my heart as well. Before this, I’d never heard anyone say to me that they believed truth was relative, or that the world’s existence is an accident. Quite frankly, hearing the confusion of the world not in a classroom, but from people’s own lips broke my heart. It was this experience that pushed everything I’d learned about my faith from my head to my heart.
- I want to share Jesus with everyone I know, I want to do justice to all that I’ve learned of the Lord in the way that I live. Coming home was nearly, if not more, terrifying than leaving for camp. I’m afraid to fail. I cannot live with the same mentality I used to.
- Being yourself does not hinder you from making friends. In fact, in not allowing myself to worry about what others thought of me, I made some of the most genuine friendships I’ve experienced. My bookish, introverted, quiet but oddly opinionated, leaving-the-dance-party-early ways are part of me and if I’d acted contrary to them I believe, no I know, that I wouldn’t have made some of the friends I did.
- Goodbyes are hard. Really really hard. People forget to mention that there’s an element of fear in waving and walking out the door, or ending the phone call. But that which God wants to last, will last. He promises us that he is working all things for his glory and our good. And I believe that.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.