We’ve now had 2 five-day sessions of Vida Joven outreach camp here, and on Thursday, the third and final one starts. It has been incredibly beautiful to bear witness (and even get to contribute to) these camps, seeing Pico Escondido used for what it exists for… after a summer full of encouraging the north american workteams about the importance of this camp property and of how their work enables here enables kids to meet Christ here, it is such a gift to get to see this place in action.
The experience has been moving in many ways (which I'll comment on in another blogpost sometime soon), but I think most of all I’ve been moved by the tremendous amount of LOVE in this place. It is absolutely mind-blowing and heart-swaying to experience, and I’m not even sure how to describe it. (Well, First of all, God loves us all so much, from the saintliest of preachers to the roughest rebellious teens (he rejoices in the 1 lost sheep! Over the 99 who already followed) and that love itself is rich and fulfilling.)
But perhaps most salient here for me is that the Vida Joven leaders/counselors and staff are some of the most loving people I have ever met. They are filled to the brim, over-flowing with Christ’s love, which they accordingly pour out in the most self-sacrificial ways to the kids of this country. I am so blessed to be around them and have this example of self-emptying love, which looks a whole lot like the way Christ loves us. A lot of these counselors have had their lives transformed by Christ through vida joven and now they cannot help but share this best way of life with the kids of their barrio. They care so much about these teens that they’ll sacrifice so much of their time and energy – both day-to-day and here at camp – to be able to share the hope and joy that they now have in the Lord.
(and with Vida Joven, it’s not about numbers of converts or “saving souls” – it’s about loving kids, and loving them so much as to want them to also get to experience life with the one who gives order to the stars and to our lives. THIS is what sharing the gospel should look like, no doubt about it.)
And not only that, but also, these leaders/staff extend their love to even me. I have been blessed beyond measure to get to become close friends with some of them. I don’t understand how it is possible in such a short amount of time, but I just love them so much. They are so so dear to me and I was already in tears yesterday with the departure from camp of one friend who I won’t get to see again before I leave (someone I’d basically only known for 5 days – but love for brothers and sisters in the family of Christ can grow quickly, I suppose!). Yesterday felt like the beginning of the end of my time here (sorry for the melodrama), because I know that next week, I’ll have many more similar goodbyes to say. Frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it all. I’m hoping that I can say “hasta luego” (see you later) and not “adios” (goodbye), Lord willing. (More on that idea another time!)
But sadness aside, what’s important is that my heart is so full right now. So full of love, beauty, joy, emotion … and it’s not by my doing in any way, but only by the Lord’s. I feel so full of love from others and of love for this place and these people, that really it can only be contained in God. It’s a Psalm 84 kind of love, a kind of loveliness that is so sweet that only the Lord can contain it.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
- Psalm 84
His love is better than life, and this life (especially right now! :)) is too good for words. My heart is full, and I’m oh so incredibly thankful.
Your prayers have been so impactful and I am so thankful for those too. I pray that you also may experience God’s loveliness in such a way that sweeps you off your feet.
peace and love,