You offer hope when our hearts have hopelessly lost our way.

What a month. 4 weeks ago today was my second night of Camp Friends tour, the overnight at Alli's house, heading towards Ohio Camp.

First off: the group. I will be honest, I was petrified about my CF group. I didn't feel like I knew any of them super well (except Alli) and was pretty confident they'd all hate me. After the first 15 minutes in the van with Ashley, Andrew, and Caleb my fears were relieved. Honestly, even if every camp we went to was awful (so far they've both been incredible) I would so do this trip over again just because of how amazing my group is. They've helped me so much emotionally and spiritually already and even though there are ways in which you have to learn to deal with each other when you're living in a van for 9 weeks with 4 other people, I praise God for the laughs and tears and prayers and talks we've already shared.

Alli and I talked the other day about how we don't think we made Camp Friends because we're great at it, we think God knew we needed this growth and challenge to break out of our comfort zone and realize what we can do with His strength. That's a huge blessing. Andrew and I talked about how if we could talk to people about God as easily as we can talk to people about FC, we'd be able to plant seed everywhere. We want to have that same passion for God as we do for FC. Hopefully this summer is helping us all with that.

Ohio Camp: The theme at Ohio Camp this year was Carrying the Torch. We focused all week on different characters (Old and New Testament) who were examples of steadfast service and running the race. Nehemiah and his being willing to go to a home he'd never seen to help his people, Hannah and her willingness to devote her son's life to God's service, Matthias and his service through thick and thin, Esther's self-sacrificial nature and bravery, Paul and his willingness to change and devote his life to truth...It was a wonderful week. Lots of kids, so that was a challenge to get to know everyone, but it was perfect as our first camp because it was very structured and we were really able to break out of our shyness and get into Camp Friends mode quickly. The Minks and Tharps (camp directors) were SO sweet and helpful and encouraging, and we had a blast. My cabin was mostly Juniors and I feel so blessed to have gotten to know them and we had some great conversations. King's Island day was a blast, we went back and forth between chaperoning younger kids and just hanging out on our own so that was a cool experience. It was amazing how quickly our CF group bonded and we had some amazing talks reading through Diligently Seeking God and praying together at night. The night that really defined the week and changed me the most was after war games when the entire camp went out to the soccer field and laid down on the ground and stargazed while Mr. Minks read verses about creation and God's glory. Immediately gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. And then we all sang hymns while we were just looking up at the stars. One of the most humbling experiences I've ever had. No distractions, not looking at anyone, just looking UP. It was such a blessing. The singing was amazing with Matt Johnson teaching some new songs, and we felt like overall it was powerful week.
 My awesome cabin after war games. Love you girls! Come stay with me at Falcon Days!
My crazy ginger Zeta buddy Anna-Katherine :)
We loved our chaperone group #1 at King's Island!
Our first KI coaster! (Andrew doesn't ride coasters....)

Off Week #1: After Ohio Camp we headed to Dahlgren, IL for Preacher Training Classes. No, I didn't start preaching. Ashley's parents run a week of classes for preachers of all ages, and the girls cooked and slept while the boys went to classes. It was tiring but so good for Ash to get to be with her family while they're in the states from Fiji. The girls studied the women in Jesus' genealogy during the week and that was so interesting and encouraging. I also got to go to services at Benton which is where I grew up visiting my Mamaw and my Great-Grandma so that was wonderful and really sad/weird going there with Mamaw not there for the first time. I got to see Papaw and even got him to come to worship with us, so that was a blessing!

Minnesota Camp: Or "Northland Camp" as it is officially called. It was incredible. We had heard horror stories of the mosquitoes and let me tell you, they weren't exaggerated. And if you know me, you'll think that a plague-like number of mosquitoes would dissuade me from enjoying the week, but camp was so good that we all agreed it was completely worth the mosquito bites. While Ohio was 200+ kids, Northland was 60, so it was a crazy change of pace. But such a blessing because we really got to know every single kid and felt really close to them all. Mr. and Mrs. Lanning were so loving and really helped us do our job, just like the directors had at Ohio, and we had so much fun while being challenged by the story of Joseph and his following God. Talks with Hannah Greiving (love you bestfriend) and Andy Cantrell were so challenging and encouraging. Our canoe trip on Thursday was a blast (thank you, Daniel Reeves, for tipping our canoe....) and the late night singings with high schoolers were incredible.

You have no idea how much fun these boys were.
Love this group.
The Cantrells. Seriously, this family changed my life this week.
So grateful for good talks and hugs and early morning coffee with Hannah.

Off Week #2: We hung around in Minnesota for most of this week, which was so awesome because we got to keep hanging out with campers. The unique thing about MN camp was that they almost all go to church together, so at the end of the week of camp it wasn't tearful (until we left yesterday). We went to a Twins game, the Mall of America, to go see Brave, and to fireworks Wednesday night after services. We stayed with the Manz family for a few days and then with the Jones' and had so much fun at both places! One of the awesome campers, Phil Cade, was baptized on Sunday night and it was such an honor to get to be there. It was hard to leave. But now we're in Racine, WI at the Bean's house having a blast with them and getting some good rest! I got pretty sick at the beginning of the week and am about to go to a walk-in clinic (Thank you, Mrs. Bean!)  so hopefully by the time we leave for Chicagoland tomorrow night I'll be good.

Twins game! The 3rd base coach goes to church with the MN camp kids at Northwest!
Exceptionally hot 4th of July at the Manzs'!
Late night fireworks with Kelly, Jojo, Phil, and Alli downtown :)

Some of the most powerfully useful thoughts of the trip so far for me: 
1. When God says "lay up treasures in heaven" what does that mean? Well...what's the one thing on earth that is permanent? Your soul. So our job here is to get souls to heaven. To get people's one real "treasure" to heaven.
2. I don't have to see results immediately. Whether it's from planting the seed about FC or trying to show people God's love. But when I get to heaven I want to see someone who can say "you said _____ to this person and she shared it with me and it changed my life." It's not all about numbers in a building or applications the week after camp.
3. Our job here on earth is to show people that God is good.

Thank you Andy and Hannah and everyone who is challenging me and helping me find my service.

Overall: God is so good. This trip has been amazing. It's seemed like forever but also has flown by. I don't know how that works. But I'm learning and growing so much.

"Let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, let the blind say I can see, it's what the Lord has done in me."

Thankful for our common love.