Camp, Retreat, and Class

I cannot believe that the month of July has come and gone already. The month seemed to slip by, rather unexpectedly, in a hot and hazy whirl of excitement. At the beginning of the month it looked like a daunting task sat before me, a week of Jr. High church camp followed by a week of furlough retreat in Indiana with CMF followed by a week of class at Messiah College. But as August opened today, I am amazed at how fast the whole month went.

The week at church camp was, obviously, spectacular. I was privileged to be a part of a fantastic staff for Jr. High week at Sylvan Hills Christian Service Camp. This being the camp I went to every summer growing up, it is always wonderful to get back to camp and help invest in the lives of new campers coming up. It was particularly rewarding to work side by side with staff who used to be campers when I helped dean the same week. It was awesome to watch these men and women, all grown up now, investing back in the camp themselves. In another surprise, the college team came from Milligan this year, and one of its members had been an intern with CMF in Nairobi last summer. In fact, I had worked closely with her for two months as she experienced life in Mathare Valley. That was an awesome connection, and at least for me, completely unexpected! It was really great to catch up with her and watch her work with the children at the camp.

This wonderful (and exhausting) week was followed by a trip to Indiana where CMF hosted a furlough retreat for the missionaries who were currently stateside. I must admit, I was dragging my feet a bit in going to this, thinking that I didn’t have time or the willpower to go to my own week of “camp.” However, it turned out to be an incredible, and refreshing, week. Not only was I able to make connections with other missionaries at CMF, including some I had never met before, I was able to share and hear about all the ministries all over the world. We discussed victories and setbacks on our respective fields, and had honest conversations with each other about missionary life. It was refreshing to be in a room of people who understand what it is like navigating life in a foreign culture, and the stories were hilarious, heartbreaking, exciting, and wonderful. It was a great week of rejuvenation.

Quickly on the heels of that week came another week of focused learning, taking the form of an intensive class at Messiah College. I have been taking classes at Messiah in an attempt to better prepare myself for the next stage of ministry. These classes have been in the higher education program, which seeks to prepare people for service in colleges and universities. The class I took was a foundations class, and the main point of conversation was the purpose of higher education. This is not a simple or easy question, and as we found out, there was not a simple or easy solution. We spent the week delving into the history of higher education in America as well as dissecting the primary documents that have shaped how we view colleges in this country, all through the lens of “why college?” I was able to meet a ton of new people, focus in on what I want to be learning and pursing, take a field trip to Penn State’s higher education program, and sit in a classroom at Messiah again. It was fantastic!

So this weekend I crashed. Hard. I slept off some of my exhaustion and spent time catching up with my family. And as this week gets underway, I need to finish some of the assignments from my class as well as jump back into the support-raising mode that I stepped away from for a few weeks. More to come on that later!

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