While I endure this precarious condition of limbo in my life with our adoption, I rejected the impulse to hide out at home until we got the call for our court date, and instead I signed up to chaperone/photograph the fall retreat with teenagers! Let’s understand something, this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this. It was like I was blindfolded and wandered out onto a tree limb, and when I removed the eye cover I realized I was in a fix. During an early morning time in quiet with my bible and journal on my lap I emailed the leaders and offered to come. Done. I didn’t think about it or weigh it, I wandered out there towards the unknown. When I was sitting in my running van watching all the teens stuff their things and high energy into the two buses I wondered what had I done to myself.
I had other motivation to go. Donny was called in to be a guest teacher for the kids so I wanted to spend some time with him, and he also needed a ride back to Baylor. I could have shown up at the last minute though to take him back to school. Surely something over took my senses when I jumped into this teenage current. I let them carry me away in their secret culture, just curious to see where it would take me.
Sixty-five students loaded two school buses on Friday afternoon and we drove for three hours to find Forest Glen Camp in the dark woods on dirt roads. I was assigned to chaperone a bunk house of all high school girls. Interesting. That in itself is another blog post. This was a twenty-four hour retreat with three sessions of learning, three meals, and two extended free times. The Student Pastor, Patrick, the high school pastor: Paul, and the student discipleship minister, Trisha, all did an outstanding job of organizing the details so it ran smoothly. (They always do.)
This was the first time they ever asked college students to come and teach the teens. This was an excellent idea because there’s an element of relatability and cultural relevance they can share. The weekend teaching theme was “Spiritual Disciplines”. Donny was asked to talk to the students about journaling. Reagan, a sophomore from A&M, taught about solitude, and Joe, a freshman from TU (friend of Donny’s) taught about prayer. I so enjoyed sitting in on these sessions to absorb the passion these students have for their relationship with the Lord. It was all at once entertaining and deeply moving in my heart.
In the morning before breakfast everyone was directed to TAWG. What’s that? Time. Alone. With. God….excellent. Something happened to me when I saw these students take their bibles and new leather journals given to them by the church and disperse throughout the camp. Everywhere were teens with their bibles in their laps and they were unloading their hearts into journals. It was inspiring to see. At that moment in my own tawg, I became overwhelmed with a surge of love for these students. I could see that they have so many roles to juggle from being a kid in their family, a student, a friend, a christian and a part of a group. But beyond that I could see these are small people who are strenuously striving in their soul to become who they are meant to be as big people. That’s a significant challenge and yet there they were all spread out considering those very options. I felt their struggle in a new way. There was no going back for me, I loved them all and just knew somehow I’d have to participate in encouraging them to stay on the climb.
There were three hours before lunch for everyone to have free time. It was fascinating for me to see how the kids chose which activity they wanted to do. There were floaters, observers, competitors, talkers, climbers, goofballs, and loners. I tried to capture everything with my camera so I covered a lot of ground. These students know how to have fun. And the leaders know how to play well. They climbed the ropes, flew on zip lines, canoed, played ultimate frisbee, GaGa ball, basketball and practiced aim with archery.
When three o’clock rolled in I realized in that twenty-four hour period not only did I have my own retreat from my life at home and the heavy load of limbo with our adoption, but I fell in love with sixty-five teenagers, enjoyed some time with Donny, had the pleasure of using my camera, and developed an even greater appreciation for what our church leaders are doing for our kids. I think I’m hooked. There probably won’t be a retreat or camp from here on that won’t find its way into my calendar.