Welcome to another "Wednesday Words". This month we have asked a Team Leader to tell us about Day Camps from her perspective, over to you, Jillian......
Hello readers! This is really exciting for me, as this is the second time I have guest-spotted on the blog.
Just a quick introduction: my name is Jillian Agustin, and I have been on the Travelling Team for the past four years, and will be doing my 5th year this summer. I have been across Canada, from everywhere and anywhere between Edmonton and Halifax. Quite exciting! I would like to share a few memories, mementos and lessons I have learned in my experience doing Day Camps.
One of the biggest things that I learned during Day Camps was that God will never leave me nor forsake me, as it says in Deuteronomy 31:6. As I have gotten older, I have found that with each summer, God has given me much harder challenges than the last. For example, I was a Team Leader for the very first time last year, and was leading one of the two teams going to the Native Reserves in Saskatchewan. I wasn't too nervous about the responsibility because I already had three summers of experience on Team, the previous year also being on the reserves. I was positive that I would be able to handle whatever came. Boy, was I wrong.
My two Team Members were 14-year old who were doing Day Camps for the first time. Adding onto the stress of being the “responsible adult”, I also had to take care of other questions like: Are the plane tickets in my pocket? Do my members have their identification? Is the coordinator aware of our landing time? What does the coordinator even look like? All these worries hit me before we even left the airport in Montreal. As the summer progressed, I found myself mediating conflict between Team members and clergy, disciplining rowdy children who didn’t want to listen and being harassed by aggressive (and nearly invincible!) mosquitoes. Within the first week, I found myself drained of energy and motivation, and was fighting severe homesickness. Here’s an excerpt from my journal:
“I don’t know why, but I feel like crying. Today wasn’t a complete waste, but I feel like I didn’t do my job properly. I think it also has to do with homesickness, which is weird, because I’ve never felt it this fast before. I called home, but it just made me feel worse.
God, I’m so tired and it’s only the first day of the first week,.All I feel like doing is curling up in a ball, falling asleep and flying home, let alone getting ready for tomorrow. I’m not scared. But I do feel like I’m at a loss of what to do. I need to stay strong for my team members but how can I cheer them up if I feel so unenthusiastic?
I lied. I am really scared for tomorrow. We’re probably going to have 50+ kids and I have no idea how to manage them. How am I supposed to show them Your love if everything is so hectic? What do I do?”
- Monday, July 9, 2012
Needless to say, that was one of the lowest points of the summer. But the trip back up to the top was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. In that dark place, I was forced to humble myself before God and throw away the pride that I had built up before. God showed me that relying on my own power instead of His power was one of the worst ideas ever. Once I surrendered myself to Him, God pulled me out of that hole and enabled me to do bigger and better things. The conflict dissolved and the two parties in question became close friends. The same rowdy boys who had been giving me so much trouble pulled off the most spiritually moving Liturgical Dance I have ever seen. I learned to ignore the itchy mosquito bites, and they eventually faded away.
Over that summer, my Team and I came into contact with over 150 children. We were able to show all of them God’s love and goodness, something we couldn’t have done on our own. After all of those experiences, I have found it really easy to put my trust in God, because He has given me such concrete evidence in the past that He is in control and is always watching over me and the situation at hand. That is one of the lessons that is the most precious to me, because I know that His love is steadfast and reliable. By putting my faith in Him, He has He given me the greatest opportunity to show His love to children around Canada. In addition to that blessing, He has also given me success in my academics, financial need when I was unable to work, and a job when I was.
Saying all of this, Day Camps is a wonderful experience that I will never forget. Through it all, I have learned so many things about myself and have strengthened my relationship with God. I encourage anyone who is even the least bit interested in a crazy, spiritually challenging, and fun (gasp!) adventure of a lifetime to apply for the Travelling Team. God bless!
Thanks Jillian, for an inspiring Wednesday Words!
If you would like to hear more about Jillian’s experiences, you can e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment and I will be sure to pass it on to her.