Saturday, July 19, 2008

My week at Joni and Friends

Summing up my week at Joni and Friends is difficult to do in a blog. I went in without knowing what to expect and I left with a new perspective on people with disabilities. While I used to pity disabled people because I felt like they were missing out on life, I have realized that they’re not missing out at all. In my previous blog, I pondered the concept of child-like faith. Simple faith. Many of the campers I was privileged to work with had such a simple understanding of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, that did not prevent them from exhibiting the joy of the Lord in their life. Sometimes, I think that they’re not the ones missing out…maybe it is us (we who are packing our schedules to the brim, we who are being swallowed by the concerns of the world) who are really missing out on life. Moreover, I was taught that everyone is disabled in some way. While some have physical disabilities, others may have emotional or spiritual disabilities that are hidden from the world. In the end, we are all incapable in some way. The physically disabled must rely on the help of another, but we are all spiritually disabled without the assistance of God. I wish my words were convincing enough to make everyone go out and serve at a Joni and Friends camp. But alas, I have found that the joy in serving at JAF is something that I cannot adequately articulate through a blog. It is simply something you must do willingly and lovingly.

The camper I had was a boy who was 16 years old and he had down syndrome. Although it was hard to understand him at times, we had a lot of fun together. We did swimming, baseball, football, basketball, and we played at the playground. I learned a lot about patience from his parents and he taught me a lot about unconditional love and reliance. Not only did I have a great time with the campers, I also had a lot of fun with the fellow STM’s (short term missionary). It was great to see such a diverse group of people serving. They were encouraging and uplifting.

Luke 14:21 - Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

This is a great inspiring video:

This is a poem about my camper, Scotty:

The long road was sprinkled with dirt from below,
Antique houses sat on one side; on the other laid a grassy knoll,
Sunlight poured down from the sky above,
Much like when the sky opened and down floated a dove,

I watched you dance for as long as I could,
And as you spoke, half of what you said was understood,
The other half fell upon the ears of the Heavenly Father,
As you smiled back into the crowd at your father,

Bringing back memories of me at three,
Together we conquered the slide and sat under a tree,
You talked to yourself like everything was grand,
You’re really no different; you’re still a part of God’s plan,

You ran around the bases as if rules did not matter,
And you swung the bat like you were a mean batter,
God’s love comes in different packages and you surprised even me,
For I was the one who needed to wash in the Jordan River so I could see,

We are all blind in some way or another,
And can we call ourselves Christians if we can’t serve our brother,
We are all sinful in some way or another,
And what is love except the love shown by all those mothers,

Tears flowed down my cheek,
As I learned many things in that week,
Love melted eyes that were haughty,
All because of a boy named Scotty,


Lyzzi said...

"Sometimes, I think that they’re not the ones missing out…maybe it is us"

I think I would have to agree on this... We were created to enjoy and to glorify our Creator, yet we pack our schedules so that we can "enjoy" life. But really, we can't even find enjoyment in life at all unless we first find a relationship with Him. Developing this relationship, of course, requires clearing our schedules, not filling them, in order to give Him all our time and efforts. Why do we have to make things so complex when simplicity is all that is required?

Good blog... thanks for your insights!

Anne said...

That was realy good writting Chris.I really like the poem about Scotty too! He's such a sweetheart. Now it just makes me want to go back.....:) Hope to see you again next year!

Jasmine said...

I think you captured the experience quite well! But even so, it's hard to make others understand the experience, unless they actually experience it. Watching you with Scotty that week was such a blessing, not just to me, but many others I am sure. I am always amazed at what God teaches me each week I serve at JAF Family Retreat. No matter how many times I've gone, I always learn something new.

That poem was amazing, you need to share it with Cheryl B. I know she would want to read it, she's always looking for things for the newsletter and I think that should be in it.

God bless you and I hope to see you again next year!

Jasmine Crawford