Wednesday, July 27, 2005

i got...nuthin'.

this life lesson started out normally enough. several years ago. a week at camp...with kids i didnt know. all in 4-5th grades.

i got there, settled into our cabin...then "they" arrived. a group of kids from a church i had never gone to, visited, or even had any familiarity with.

it started out as a normal enough week. everybody getting to know me, and the other way around, also. i got the dubious honor of posting the "rules" in our cabin.

1. don't hit anyone.

2. don't touch anyone else's stuff without their permission.

3. if you don't know, ask.

4. soap and water are good for you.

5. so are clean underwear. (remember, these are elementary aged guys!)

6. socks too! (ditto)

Note: (the camp nurse had to have a "shower talk" with the entire camp about this late in the week! Phew!)

7. have fun.

8. don't die.

the first day went well. we all hiked, shot bows & arrows, ate meals together and stuff.

then what all the adults looked forward hour of "counselor free time".

i always felt a little sad when leaving for our kids with the staff of the camp. (don't get me wrong, they were incredible. best camp i've ever heard of...has an international reputation for excellence) the reason i felt sad? a couple kids looked at me with "those" eyes when we all left.

damn heartstrings...quit tugging on 'em, guys. it's only an hour.

...and then the hugs when i returned. like i was a long lost friend. i guess i was.

i never got used to being the hero.

campfire time. they sing. alot. (i don't. i couldn't carry a tune in a bucket—still can't.) it's fun ...pretty high-energy...except for me...suffering from acute caffeine withdrawl...heh. then a few skits...then the message. its a good know...standard camp fare...but the main thing that struck me was (no, not gas from dinner...heh) that two kids politely battled each other for me....huh. interesting. wonder whats up? missing their parents/adult figures?

we go on a hike the next morning. we stop by the little museum the camp has set up.

the childrens director from the other church meets us there to say "hello". she casually asks me how the week has been so far. i say, "fine.".....'cause it was. she asks if i've heard anything from the 2 kids i mentioned. i said, "nope. they seem fine." she says..."let me tell you..."

holy cow. or holy....something stronger.

one of the kids is hispanic. a week before camp, the parents are removed from the home as unfit. (drug sales and possesion) all five kids in their home are placed. some with foster homes and some with grandparents. remove the parents, then split up the kids.
smart move. works wonders for kid's sense of security and belonging? maybe just.. place them in one location, under one roof, eh? consistency is a good thing. especially for kids.

you'd think this kid would be in crisis (meltdown) mode. not so. basically a normal, well-adjusted kid. wants to come and talk before bed. about his day and such. no whining or moaning or complaining.

the other kid has a mom in and out of drug rehab. for 6 months at a time. he stays with a friends family...for that time...and visits mom in a rehab center.

dad isn't involved in his son's life...hell, he ain't involved in his own life...was in a high speed was thrown out. landed in the gutter...against a curb. head first. did i mention head first?

he lost half his brain. he's a vegetable. (like me without caffeine, but thats a whole 'nuther story.)

mom's wasting away. dad's basically wasted away.

the kid? basically normal. his only request? that before bed, we talk. he wants to know about i'm doing. he wants to talk about his day. no whining, no complaining.

he wants to talk to me about life. about God. in that situation...i could see myself interested not anyone else.

as we're leaving camp. on the last day, they come up to me and hug me. one of them says, "i am gonna miss you!"

these two fifth graders have taught me more about courage in the midst of adversity than anyone i've ever known...including high school, college, and bible college.

they ask ME about life?

i got nuthin'.

thanks guys. you were great teachers. you have everything you need.

Monday, July 25, 2005

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Saturday, July 02, 2005

i remember you...........

I came to know you when you joined the jr. high group at church. we started a bible study with you guys. your family was very involved. they (especially your mom) helped with everything. even the all-nighters with the church jr. highers. if having 2 of her own wasn't enough. you grew quickly. played baseball. played football..threw your knees out doing it. (at 15!) you struggled with having an avowed atheist as a teacher. you had the guts to confront he was preaching his brand of religion in the school he taught at. he saw your point...and your class!

you went to all the camps we did...and gave your own unique self to us. you gave numerous youth sunday sermons. you invited the drum major of the high school to youth group. he gave his life to christ as a result of your care. i remember the francis a. schaeffer book (the God who is there) you gave me for my birthday...the one you signed. i still treasure it. you graduated...with high honors....and then we went on a sr. retreat...with your dad planning three squares a day for all of us. (and we even kept to the menu.) i still remember the "gotta have romaine with your salad..iceberg is garbage greens". i still have romaine @ souplantation.

you were easily accepted into a west coast equivalent of an ivy league school...and you never lost your childlike faith. you went to central and northern california during 2 consecutive summers and worked as intern youth pastor at churches that couldnt afford to hire one, for the few students they had. you then went to alaska, and worked at a church as youth pastor over one summer...for the same reason. you then graduated with a double bachelor's in philosophy and political science. you chose ministry over law school. your father didn't get it. you did. so did your mom.

the summer after graduation, you went back to alaska, for another year or so, to your beloved students and ministry. you came home for christmas, feeling tired. i stopped by to visit you. little did i know it was the last time i was to see you. you were relaxing on the couch, feeling a bit ill. we had a good time reminiscing, sharing ministry joys and sorrows. you went to the hospital, apparently suffering complications of chron's disease. during treatment you went into septic shock, suffering a number of strokes. they performed surgery on your small intestine. everything looked good, your mom and aunt were there, waiting in the hallway. one of your friends called.

while he was on the phone with your mom, you flatlined. i got the call, left youth group for the house. your mom dad and sister were there. your mom and i went and sat in your room...remembering you...looking over the books in your beloved theological library (the ones that weren't still in alaska) and at once being devstated that you were gone, but at the same time, happy that your life had been as god had planned. maybe there was a reason you didnt go to law school. you knew.

I say 23 was way too young for you to go.

I love you friend. I miss you.