Our first task this past weekend was stuffing as many pillows, sleeping bags, and duffels as possible into our small SUV. We crammed them in, floor to ceiling, hoping that the ones carrying precious cargo like Twinkies and Nutty Bars weren’t smushed on the bottom. After Doug and I fit ourselves in front, we were off. The bus we followed was no longer a school bus. It had been converted, as had many of the fifty-some teens inside. We hoped it would hold even more changed lives on the way home.
An hour and a half later we arrived at camp. Teens shouted and shot hoops in the gym while leaders brought out build-your-own taco salads for supper and talked last-minute details of the weekend’s events—1950s-themed fun, crazy games and contests, time for building relationships, and powerful messages and worship time.
There were many things to endure throughout the weekend—frigid temperatures as we trekked over flooded, frozen paths from chapel to gym, gym to cabins, cabins to bathrooms; cold water in not-so-sparkling showers; a shortage of toilet paper; inch-thick mattresses on creaky metal bunks; sleepers who snored or tossed above you all night; and of course those precious teens who never stopped buzzing on Mt. Dew.
But we endured the inconveniences for the wonderful times of bonding with friends, laughing hysterically, learning from God’s Word, singing songs to our Savior, and worshipping through Communion. By the end of the weekend, several teens had given their lives to Jesus, others had recommitted, still others had been asking, searching, and letting seeds be planted. It’s incredible what God can do during two nights away at a less-than-luxurious retreat center!
I hope to put fingers to keyboard on my own books someday. I have jotted down plenty of ideas over the years, some in scattered notes in my computer files, others on random scraps of paper stuck in old journals or my Bible. Several of those ideas are intended for teens. If I ever sit down to write them, no doubt they will include bits and pieces of memories from times like we had this weekend.
What ministries, jobs, or experiences in your life have provided great material or inspiration for your writing?