8,000+ steps. It was almost sunset when I happened to check my phone and saw that I have already made more than 8,000 steps for the day, beginning at 4am. I gave a short laugh in disbelief. I barely even make a thousand in an ordinary day, and there I was estimating how many more steps I need to make before finally calling it a day.
I have been attending this yearly camp of the young adults ministry (YAM) in our church since 2014, and every year I always say that I will be writing about it, but always end up failing to do so. This time, allow me to pour it all out while it’s still fresh, hoping that I can put into words even just a little bit of what happened in the last 3 days.
But first things first. If you have no idea of what happens in a church camp, let me just tell you this. I have talked with first time campers for the past years and I realized that each one have their own reason of why they joined. Some people go for it because they wanted to take a breather and were desperate to try something new. Some people were interested because of the venue, may it be in a mountain setting or the beach. Some of them were simply invited by a friend and was told that this could be the perfect thing that they need in their life right now. But you know what, not everyone have those positive reasons. I have also met people who didn’t really want to join and was really hesitant but they just can’t say no. In short, may mga napilitan din. But despite the different reasons they have, I’ve never met a first time camper who regretted that they joined a camp like this.
But you talk about God right? That’s boring.
Where’s the fun in a camp that’s all into learning about God?
Yes, we do talk about God. We open our Bibles and read it. We sing songs of worship. We pray. But we also make new friends. We laugh. We tell jokes. We shout and jump. We even do dance battles. I don’t think that “boring” is the right word to describe it when you can do these things and learn about God at the same time. I think… it’s “amazing”.
My role as a camp staff gradually changed over the years. From being part of the Creatives in the first two camps, namely Linked Up 2014 (where my husband and I met) and True North 2015, I was excited to be in the TBA Department in SURGE 2016. Then, I was given the privilege to join the Curriculum Team in SYNC 2017. This year, to my surprise, I was given the chance to be part of the Security Department.
For the first time ever, I was able to see almost all the behind-the-scenes of a camp. Sounds fun right? But it actually involves a lot of walking, talking, coordinating, time checking, monitoring and a lot more “-ing”, including sweating. Haha. Few weeks before the event, I knew that we will become busy in our task considering the scale of the venue. I was praying and talking to God, telling Him that I don’t want to be busy with all the task, assisting campers, and not have time to get to know new people, or worse, not have enough time to personally reflect. I was almost pleading to God every day as the camp date draws near. I was asking Him to surprise me, and speak to me even in the most random situation I will encounter in those 3 days. And you know what? God doesn’t disappoint.
I won’t be writing here in detail the things God made me realize about my life with the help of the camp because I think that deserves another write-up. But in summary, I believe that our relationship with God is worth fighting for. No matter how painful, or how long we need to wait, God wants us to hold on to Him, because He knows what we need. He will take away unnecessary things which we think are important, and it sure will hurt. God knows it will hurt. But I have come to a conclusion that if I have to experience such things just so I can stay on the path where He wants me to be, I will glady take off my shoes once again, and put my feet in the water. And even if there are times that I will sink because I lack faith, I will try again. I will let go of the questions, and keep my eyes focused on Him, taking one step at a time, not minding if I’m in the middle of the sea, and can’t see any shore.
I would like to say thank you to my small group. Thank you Thessa for saying yes to join me in this camp, even though I always need to go and do something. I’m happy to see that you’ve made friends. Kaya okay lang kahit nakalimutan mo kami balikan. Hahaha. To Kookie, who have shared the story behind her nickname, we sure had fun with all the banyo bloopers. To Lou, I am thankful that God allowed our paths to cross once again. To Juliet, strong women with mababaw na luha amazes me. Pag napadpad ako sa BGC, please teach me your cooking skills. To Jello, who knew that we will be in the same cabin again since that youth camp ages ago. I’m happy that we have kept in touch kahit FB or IG friends lang. To Colin, thank you for bringing joy in the group with your bubbly personality and the “Conan” scene. Haha! You all have no idea how you have been a blessing to me through the stories you’ve shared and by opening up your lives and heart. And of course, to my co-leader, Nikki, I am thankful for our little moments, talking about life and God, even while in the shower. I’m also blessed to witness you emcee with matching dance. Hahaha.
I would also like to remember my other cabinmates. Thank you Pam for being so generous in lending to everyone your shampoo, sabon, plantsa, and lahat ata. I’m also thankful for the small talks over make-up sessions every morning. To Steph, hindi ko alam bakit sa CR kita lagi nakakasabay, pero thank you for letting me try your lipstick. Hahaha. To Michi, part of me is sad na bakit hindi kita masyado nakausap. Huhu. Hopefull next camp? And to Ali, grabe ka! Ginulat mo kami sa testimony mo with all that Aussie accent. Haha. But seriously, I was blessed by your story.
To all the campers, thank you for joining this year’s camp. It won’t be the same without your energy, cooperation, and wonderful smiles even after a long tiring day. I hope you enjoyed making new friends, had fun with all the activities, and most of all, had a wonderful encounter with God.
I would also like to honor all the staff for all the hardwork and effort they have put in SIBOL. Sa lahat ng department, I know that we all gave our best in the tasks we need to do. To our Camp Director Simone, you have been a great leader to everyone. I admire your leadership. At sorry, nakalimutan namin na birthday mo. Hahaha. To Robin and ate Shams, wala akong masabi, kundi salamat. It has been a great privilege serving with you. Again, to all the staff, we may not know how this camp will make an impact in the lives of everyone who attended, but prayers work wonders. You all deserve more than just a pat on the back. I am thankful to God for your hearts because you love Him first and foremost, and you choose to serve Him by loving other people as well. I hope you all had a meaningful time with the Lord as well in the past 3 days. It’s comforting to know that with God, we can all have strong roots in every season. All glory belongs to Him! ♥
I looked up. The sky wasn’t pitch black that night. It’s more like deep blue as I saw the silhouette of the branches of the trees few meters away from me, I tried to search for the sound of the leaves as I felt a cool breeze pass by, but I didn’t hear it. All that my ears can recognize are voices,singing and praising God.
I had to make my way out of the hall moments earlier because I felt a bit dizzy. My legs are almost giving up, but I still chose to stand there, joining the crowd in worship in my most comfortable state – being outdoors, under the trees, and looking at the sky.
“If the stars were made to worship, so will I…”