Today was our last full day with the campers and the much anticipated day trip to Santa Cruz. It’s something that the campers have been looking forward to all week & they definitely let us know how excited they were for today. We ate a quick breakfast and then drove about 30 minutes from our campsite to board the Santa Cruz Beach Train. This took us directly to downtown Santa Cruz. All the time we’ve spent outdoors this week has helped me to slow down and enjoy the Lord’s creation out here!
It’s sweet to see how much the campers appreciate the opportunities to enjoy things that come easily to many of us & even be taken for granted. Although the campers can’t always express their thoughts verbally, they show this in other ways, often through facial expression and physical affection. This was evident in their smiles today as we ate ice cream from Marianne’s after lunch, and then during bowling afterwards. We had a lot of fun bowling together & cheering one another on while talking with them in between frames. Many of them shared that it was one of their highlights of the week!
I’m thankful for our partnership with the staff from Grace Community Church. I’ve been able to learn through the example of how patient and gracious they are, especially by consistently caring for the campers physically & spiritually throughout the week. One of the conversations I had with one mom of a camper stood out to me in particular. She was sharing about the joys & challenges of a raising a special needs child and how she learned the importance of allowing the church to serve her & her family. She mentioned that many of the burdens she initially felt and kept to herself were designed to be shared with the church body so that we can function as God designed. It taught me that God has used our time at special needs camp not only to minister to the hearts of the campers, but also to their families too. It’s a blessing that each camper has a believing family member who was able to come with them this week. He’s been faithful this week and is growing me to learn how to love more like Christ. Gospel love is what transforms the lives of these families and gives them strength to keep persevering.
Prayer requests! Please pray for the health and safety of the team as we pack up and head back tomorrow. Pray that the campers come to know the Lord (if they don’t already) and that they would grow in faith and pray for the families to trust in the Lord’s wisdom and strength for how to best shepherd their hearts.