WE CAME, WE SAW AND WE EXPERIENCED!!!
It's strange to think that year is over when we are actually only in September, but in the terms of the camps ministry it makes much sense. Ten days ago we were at the camp site cleaning up, putting tents down and spending last few moments as the long term team 2008.
Looking back we couldn't be more thankful to God for all that He has done. He is a faithful God, and we can say in all honesty that all we expected He has done, and more! And though having different programs in each of the camps, the underlying theme was clear and emphasized constantly, and that was DOĐI, VIDI, DOŽIVI, or COME, SEE, EXPERIENCE!
It was a journey that started June 9th and ended August 21st, and in between there was an overwhelming bounty of faces, backgrounds and stories coming together for a season and creating something new, a testimony of His provision, His grace and His mercy. If I had to single out one moment, person or a story out of these two and half months of camps, I would be in trouble, but here are some of the reminiscences.
As I look back, first that comes to my mind is the day when we arrived at the camp site and met as a team, some for the very first time. I remember wondering if camps are actually going to happen?? Aware of all impossibilities of our young team, suddenly doing together such a big project as a national camp did not sound as a good idea, but somehow day by day, from putting down the „cubes“ (I am the only one calling it this way J) for flooring in the eating and meeting place, to putting up tents, from connecting water, to reading Bible together and meeting to worship...somehow and somewhere in the process we became a team that will live 8 weeks in the tents, with 24/7 working hours, being stretched beyond known limits while crying, fighting, praying and serving together knowing that none of us was found there by accident.
There is also something special that happened. Every year again it's a struggle to keep up with devotional time in the midst of the camps...it's just so busy from the moment you open your eyes until the moment you crush in your bed. But since we had a young team this year, I knew it was a prerogative that we find a way to work it out. So, everyday we would get up before everyone, find the announcement board where scriptures for the day would be posted and then we would spend time on our own, then after that in our little groups discussing the scriptures we just read and only then our day would start. Almost everyone said, including myself, that that time early in the morning made major difference in their camp experience. We had amazing times!!
In our long term team we had representatives from 8 churches around the country and I pray that the very same churches, cities and lives are changed forever thanks to the summer of 2008 and encounter with the God of Emek Beraka.
During that preparation time, we also had our brothers and sisters from the US and national churches helping us out and carrying the burden with us. We would not be able to do it without you, and your example in love and servanthood was such an encouragement. THANK YOU!
Then there were six weeks of camps, more than ever before. We started this year with children. We had two groups of kids, and together exactly 120 of them, ages 6-12. They all experienced „Banana Island“ (this year kid's camp program) listening daily stories about Jesus and testimonies from the great men and women of faith that would come to us through the „Time Machine“ and share with us what they did to be known as “Bananas for Jesus!“ In our second week of kids camp, we had a some flue going around, but after couple of days of fever, it was all fine in the end. Almost half of those kids were at the camp for the very first time and a lot of them never heard about Jesus in such a way. Let's pray for the seeds sown!
Then we had two teen camps, one immediately following the second children camp and the second one in the very last week of our camp season. In both of those weeks, we had all together 79 teenagers learning about Joseph's life, his choices and struggles. Highlight of course was waking up at 5:30 with the sounds of trumpets and going for the race in teams, while conquering different obstacles and taking pictures as a proof (nothing leaving to case). In the end, as a group they had to learn one verse from the Joseph's story which was hiding in the bottle waiting at the finish line, which for most of the groups was in the lake. In the second week we had a team come from Germany to help out. They ministered through dramas and testimonies, but above all they managed to connect with teenagers, which made such a difference. We had an amazing prayer time last night, God has definitely touched hearts. There was a lot of goodbye tears in the end of these camps...
„The youth camp this year was the best one ever!!“ one girl told me, and I agreed, even though we say that every year, and somehow God always manages to surprise us with more. The theme scripture for this year was Isaiah 61, and each day the focus was on a different verse and different aspect of the inheritance that we do have as His children living in the Year of the Lord's favor. Though we only had a Sun for 3 days out of 7, though no showers for days, though we were running short of layers of clothes we tried to keep ourselves warm with....still this was the best camp ever. God has done something special and deep in and among us, and I can't wait to see what's coming around the corner for this generation as it becomes fully aware and accepts its call for such as time as this.
And finally, there is an adult/family camp. There we had 49 adults and 47 kids different ages. Without fail, every year again, during this camp, we feel as we are having all our camps together. We followed the theme from the youth camp but adjusted a bit to fit the needs and the group addressed. One of the biggest challenges was the lack of workers, especially male. Our South African team left and we did not have any team coming for this week, so we did feel the need for those able to minister. But in spite of that, God really touched many and many did respond to His prompting in stepping out during prayer times, making some new decisions, and I pray for God's protection and strength for living those out.
Once we finished our camps, we had a a week off and then the long term team met again in a familiar place called home for the last 2 months, but this time to clean up and put a closure on the camps 2008. We did not have a bull fall in a septic tank as we did last year, work went smooth, everyone was eager to finish as soon as possible. And then the last day we went as a team for canoe safari on the river situated just couple of hours away.
In the end I must say that many wondered if we will be able to make it as a team, and if we will be able to cary the load of the camps, but I am so thankful to God who made Himself strong through our weaknesses, and in His grace created a team that stood every challenge, sometimes stumbling, but never giving up. I am so proud of them, in spite of their youth, or inexperience, they were willing to learn, to forgive, to serve and to remain a team.
Thank you everyone, I had a blast being part of the long term team 2008!
These were our camps 2008! We had a great time. God has provided all the finances that it even ran over which will be of great use for the needs until the next camp. I thank God for protection over our lives and that through every sickness, bite, high fever, cold and rainy weather, He brought us through without consequences. Talking about bites...it didn't miss me (Vanja) this year, so I ended up again on antibiotics, but though it was painful, I must say that I often forget it even happened. It's God's grace!
Camp 2008 is done and all it really was is 20 long term workers, teams from South Africa, America and Germany, 370 campers from all around Bosnia, from every church around the country, from babies to grandmas, male and female, in one place, called Emek Beraka, Valley of the Blessing. THEY all CAME there, THEY SAW AND THEY EXPERIENCED all of this and so much more and we do say „ this was the best camp ever“!!!
For details, why don't you join us next year?
Now, got to start getting ready for the camps 2009, wondering only how God will top 2008!!!!!