From Mountaintop to Mule to Mountaintop Again

Let me start by apologizing.  Tonight’s blog will probably be the least coherent that I’ve ever written.  I’ll go ahead and warn you that I worked a fifteen hour day today and in less than seven hours, I have to be back at work for another day that is probably just as long.  Because of this, I won’t even be proofreading this post…  Just thought I’d warn you.

Tonight 200 high school campers descended on our campus in Falcon, NC.  It’s always such an exciting day the day that camp starts.  Our normally empty, quiet little town is suddenly filled with the laughter and shouts of teenagers.  And when all of the fees are paid, the nametags and rooming assignments handed out, and the car keys turned in to the deans of the dorms, East Street is filled with the sound of praise and worship:

Searching the world

The lost will be found

In freedom we live

As one we cry out

You carried the cross

You died and rose again

My God, I’ll only ever give my all!

I attended camps when I was young.  Not THIS camp, but other ones similar to it.  To me, they were always mountaintop experiences.  Now, a dozen years later, speaking as the pack mule that’s helping to get everybody up the mountain, I also see the amazing amount of work behind it.

This is my fourth year working at this camp.  As much as I love it, facing a series of 60, 70, and 80 hour weeks, I have to admit that I sometimes dread this event.  I want as many kids as possible to come and experience Jesus.  But sometimes, I just wish there was an easier way to do it.  As recently as two weeks ago, I was just praying to survive camp.  I was talking a good game–trying to keep my kids and staff motivated–but I was really just wishing that it was over.  And knowing the way that I love camp, I sorta surprised myself with my hesitance.

Eight days ago, when my brother showed up on my doorstep, one of the first things we talked about was the possibility of him volunteering at the camp.  He’s unemployed and I really don’t make enough to support us both, but we agreed that it would be a good thing for both of us if he could come help.  At seven-thirty on Monday morning when we were driving through the fog to work, I really expected him to grouse and complain, but instead, he said, “I’m really excited to be going to work with you.  This is going to be cool!”  It was early in the morning…  Even on work days, I’m not really fully awake until about 10:30 AM…  So, I don’t know if I hid my shock very well.  But I was shocked! 

All week long, I’ve worked.  9 hours on Monday.  9 hours on Tuesday.  11 hours on Wednesday.  And 15 hours today.  And I’ve watched my brother laugh and smile and meet people and do everything he’s been asked to do and never complain (even when he was digging post holes in 90 degree heat in 100% humidity with sunburn on his sweet, bald head!)  I see in my brother that excitement I had four years ago and it has inspired me.  It has renewed me.

This morning, I drove to work by myself.  Bubba drove separately so that they could use his truck to haul stuff at the camp.  And on the way, I had a moment of dread.  Oh, Lord, I feel like I haven’t even slept.  But then, in the very next second, I took a deep breath, sat up straight and said, “I will have a good day today!  I will not get frustrated or upset!  I will be the port in the storm!”  And by the time I drove the 18.5 miles to Falcon, I felt like a new woman! 

All day long, I’ve been tempted to get upset.  We had a bit of a “Murphy’s Rule” day where everything that could go wrong, seemed to.  My speaker’s flight got canceled due to weather and he was stranded in Oklahoma, leaving us speakerless until tomorrow night.  My recreation director got into a car accident that damaged his truck pretty badly.  Until late afternoon, I had 7 showers that didn’t have curtains because Lowe’s no longer carries extra-long shower curtains.  I had three counselors and about 7 campers cancel on me with no notice.  But even as all of this (and much, much, much more) went on around me, I just couldn’t bring myself to get upset about any of it. 

By Sunday afternoon, I have to be ready to receive 250 more campers and staff.  It’s my largest camp and I’m not ready.  I’m getting ready to work a series of 12-15 hour days where I will be sweaty and busy and I’ll be in “crisis” gear almost 100% of the time.  I will miss meals.  I will have my feelings hurt.  Irate parents will yell at me because their child didn’t get to the room in time to claim a bottom bunk.  Grumpy teenaged girls will complain about having pizza again.  And workers will complain that I assigned them to a group that requires them to climb the stairs and that they don’t have private bathrooms.  BUT IT’S ALL WORTH IT to help these kids reach the mountaintop and find Jesus there.

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