Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflections From Week One

Week One is over. It's Sunday, and I'm sitting in our cabin on the edge of Frontier Ranch. I hear the work crew members peopling the weed-eater and lawnmowers outside. Amy is on the other side of camp scheduling rides and finishing the housing requirements. By this evening about 400 high school campers and their leaders will ascend to Frontier Ranch for what is said will be "the best week of their lives." 
This is my first assignment. I visited Amy for a long weekend when she had an assignment at Windy Gap in 2004. We were still dating then, and I was just a visitor. This time I'm what is commonly referred to as a staff spouse. While this term is ostensibly gender neutral, I believe it is informally thought of as a female role. The first Monday of the assignment I attended the spouse's meeting; I was the only husband. Surprisingly, I left that meeting feeling more connected than before. Part of it was humbling: Seeing what Angel, a mother of three kids under the age of five, has to go through when moving to camp for a month helped me swallow my pride and move forward in my role. It gave me perspective and helped me realize that what I consider problems are really just lies that I need the Gospel to dispel. Since we don't have kids, I have more freedom in camp and also more time to get involved, which helps me feel like I'm a part of this mission.
Thankfully, Amy enrolled me in Real Life and the Broken Heart Skit when she came to Assigned Team training in the Spring. As this month approached, I became more unwilling to take my roles seriously, believing that Amy and the rest of her team conspired to take advantage of our non-parent status and hijack my free-time just so they could have a warm body in their little charade. However, watching the first set of campers leave last night, I was brought to tears. Getting handshakes and hugs from high school guys I didn't even know was a moving experience. 
Real Life is a unique way that we as adults share our story with campers. It takes place in three installments. We pretend to be the way we were in high school by pre-recording thought tapes of how we would process a week at camp. The first is our thoughts before leaving, followed by our response to the sin talk, and finally how we would spend our fifteen minutes talking to God. After this we then share a two-three minute version of our story. I, of course, was type-cast the party-guy, stoner, druggie, which was true of me in high school; however, thankfully I was able to give them the full story through my testimony. 
I have to admit that I didn't expect much out of this.  I knew that they wanted me up there because I have a colorful past and they need to have some variety. I didn't expect what I got out of it. First of all, I have told this my story to peers and members of authority before. However, every-time I have told it before I have been the one to do the work of distancing me from my past. This time was radically different. As I told my story to about 450 campers and leaders, I didn't feel chained to it at all. I think it was the first time in my life when I felt the victory of Jesus in this realm--He was doing the work, has done the work, of distancing me from the past. That alone is worth me inconveniencing my self by taking part of this, but it went further. I got to see kids, tough high school kids, in tears as they took a risk to come talk to me after the final Real Life. I don't deserve to experience this from another person. I don't have what it takes to care for another broken human being, but God chose me to be up there connecting with kids by sharing my past. I was trying to communicate these feelings to Amy, and I said something about not understanding why me sharing the darkest part of my past pushed kids from all walks of life to want to thank me, hug me, and just talk to me. It was the most unreal, counter-intuitive experience.
Today is Sunday, and everyone with a job is getting camp ready to do it again. I don't know if I can do it again. I don't want to cheapen the experience of the first week...I don't want the names of the kids that shared tears with me to be forgotten...I don't want this to be a formula. 


nicolefiehler said...

beautiful words adam! i hope "doing again" this week blesses you in the same way and in different ways... We are praying for you guys and hope everything else is going well!

Courtney said...

Adam, loved your post and seeing how God is using you in the kids lives while also growing and streching you. Enjoyed Amy post about the hike too,sounded incredible. Praying for you guys. Miss you.

Chrisann said...

We haven't met - but Amy lived with my brother's family in Mandeville (Kevin Cunningham). My Mom passed along the blog site to me. I was really moved by your entry. I came to understand the reality of being in relationship with Christ through Young Life. I've had the privilege of being in youth ministry in some way, shape or form ever since. I never cease to be amazed that the Lord allows me to be involved in such a tender and important area of a kids life. I can relate with your astonishment that God can use our stories to touch the lives of others. Of course - it is really His story and a story of someone dead coming alive - so I guess that is pretty amazing! Thank you for being willing to vulnerable and share your life with students. Thanks for serving Jesus in this amazing way this summer and as you head back home.

Lindsay Boner said...

adam that is so awesome! i loved your post- it has brought tears to my eyes sitting here at work. it reminds me how just how awesome that week was at frontier and how i would do anything to go back and relive it again. you will be an inspiration to so many kids! they will remember you forever and thank you even if they don't tell you. have a blast this month & enjoy every moment. you two are the best pair that could be at frontier!!

barbarap said...

adam, loved your post-you know i
cried. to think that God is using
that awful time to do good. another
example of all things will be used
for good. we will see you guys in
4 days. cant wait

love to you both

Adam and Amy P said...

Thank you all for your kind words of response; they mean a lot to me. This month has been really good for us. I feel your prayers ameliorating the pains of growth. I don't think I've been more hopeful for the future, for relationships, for community.
Let's talk soon,

Mary Katherine said...

Adam, Thank you for sharing such insight. I am overwhelmed by the grace in your experience. You are changing these kids by sharing your experiences and leading them right into God's open arms forever. What an awesome thing! I can tell you that Frontier is where I truly began my walk with Christ. Trust me those kids will never forget the laughs, hugs, tears, and the stories that you share. I miss you and your beautiful bride. We are praying for you. Love you both!