Saturday, August 10, 2013

I See Jesus

The "I See Jesus" box.

There's a box in the staff room of Chinook Village called the I See Jesus Box. If a staff member of Special Friends Camp does something that resembles Christ, demonstrating his love and compassion, you can drop a note into the box to let them know you appreciate it.

For you, the staff and volunteers this week at Warm Beach Camp's Special Friends Camp, this post is my contribution to the I See Jesus Box.

There are just a few of us older workers this week (a handful of staff and a few volunteers). In our conversations, the topic that comes up most among us is YOU -- you college kids who are on summer staff at Warm Beach, earning a little money toward your school expenses, and you teens who are too young to get paid but who have given your week (or perhaps even your summer) to serve as buddies at Special Friends Camp. When we speak of you, there is awe in our voices, and a sense of privilege for being able to work alongside you.

You get up early and start your day. It's 7:00 as I write this and you are already gathered together for staff devotions. You will stay intensely busy till the last camper has gone home at 5:00, when you'll go into a staff meeting. Then there's chapel tonight at 9. You must be so tired. Yet not once this week have I seen one of you respond out of your tiredness. No harsh words. No disrespect.

Some of you had never before worked with people who live with special needs. But you came anyway.
Others of you came with experience. Your sister or your cousin or your friend -- or maybe even you -- have special needs and that has prepared your heart to serve others. You want to do something with your life that will involve caring for people who are vulnerable, and after watching you this week I know you will do it with great respect. You are getting lots of practice at Special Friends Camp.

At chapel in the trees at Chinook.

 You have wiped noses and bottoms, have pulled wet swim suits off wet bodies, have walked with your arm through your buddy's to keep him or her from falling over. You've pushed wheel chairs and walkers and gently lifted your friend onto the toilet. You've listened to music, tapped out the song's beat on a balloon (for hours on end), and kept the "runners" from dashing away. And every time I've watched one of you do that, I've seen Jesus.

You chose names for yourself like Butterfly, Bro, Joyful, Outburst, Rainbow, Mermaid, Lyric, Sweet Pea, Ninja, Strider, Beats, and Treble, names that match your personality or your interests. As the week has unfolded I have learned some of your real names and discovered that I have known your family members for years. I look at you again and see those loved ones in your faces and in your hearts of service. And I am blessed to have met you.

I have watched as the nap crowd goes to the meeting room of the longhouse after lunch and you gently help them lie down on the floor and cover them with a blanket. You turn off the lights and make them comfortable, keeping vigil over them until they are ready for the afternoon program. Your tenderness astounds me.

There was always a buddy holding an umbrella for this camper when we were in the sun.

You are quick to volunteer. When I need to use the restroom it is easy to find someone who will keep an eye on my camper for me. And when I get back I find that another of you has gladly filled her water bottle for her and someone else has transferred her beading project to a longer piece of cord so that her bracelet will fit her better. I was just gone a few minutes, yet she wasn't alone.

I marvel at you, Impact, ready in a heartbeat to sign into the hands of the two deaf-blind women. "How did you learn sign language?" I asked. You told me that you took it as your language credit. "At the last camp, when they needed someone to communicate with a deaf-blind camper I called my mom to ask her how to do it. She told me to just make the signs into the person's hand. So I did. I love doing this!" And you, just starting your junior year in high school.

A little boost and a word of encouragement as the camper scaled the climbing tower.

You do whatever you are asked. You love on these campers as if that is the only thing that matters in your life. You adapt to their needs. You teach me how to pay attention, how to give, how to love.

This mama heart, and the hearts of the other -- what shall I say? "older?" "more mature?" -- staff are blown away by the beauty we have witnessed this week as we have watched you just doing what was placed before you. I do not worry about the future of the church when I see young people like you and know that, by God's grace, one day you will be the leaders.

I have seen Jesus in you this week. I couldn't have been more blessed.

You guys are great!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post, Ginger! Your account of your experience helped me see a little of my sons' experiences this summer. I'm so proud of them and this great group of friends/co-volunteers!
Diana from Seattle, mom of 9

Ginger Kauffman said...

Diana, it was great to meet your son and so many other children of friends I have known for years. I am happy to know that the future of the church is bright as young people like the volunteers at Special Friends Camp will move into places of leadership.