Last summer was the first summer in three years that I was not a part of summer camp with Urban Promise Toronto.
The summer of 2007 I worked with the downtown youth at Camp Peace YMAD. I carried a red filing box all around the city and was assigned to be the ‘mind’ of a rather scatter brained, yet unconventionally wise supervisor. I enjoyed my role, but overall I don’t think I’d say it was a very ‘fun’ summer for me. Still, I knew God was there. I wanted to be there with Him. So, I knew I’d be back.
Now the summer of 2008 I wasn’t there for just a summer internship, that summer was the start of a year long commitment. My good friend and intern director made a decision that I know was God inspired and moved me to the Camp Peace kids camp. I asked God to give me a heart for my community – and He really did give me a deep love for the community, and the people who form it that only grew stronger as the summer ended and the year went on.
The summer of 2009 should have been the end of my internship, but instead I went into it knowing I would more likely than not stay for the second year internship. One thing I wasn’t expecting that summer was that our funding for a camp director would fall through, and I would for some reason or other be my supervisor’s choice for a replacement. With his constant guidance and encouragement I made it through the summer. Looking back it was probably the hardest summer of my life, but possibly the best so far.
Now about last summer. Last summer was different.
I should have spent it painstakingly searching for a job, but I didn’t. Each week my pastor would ask,
“Got a job yet?”
“Nope.” I’d reply.
“Looking hard yet?”
“Not yet.” I’d tell him with a smile.
Really I was just living for my next trip to Toronto.
Looking back I can see God’s working throughout the summer.
First Pipes told me that she’d been asked to go with a couple of families on their trip to Toronto so that she could babysit the kids at night. She could bring a friend. I told her I couldn’t, I might get a job by then. I asked God to please let me go anyways.
Nearly last minute, Pipes’ friend she’d asked bailed out. Well, I didn’t have a job yet, so I went. We got our own hotel room, and the parents let us take one of their vehicles during the day. We were able to hang out with our streetleaders, our intern friends, and even our kids during that short weekend trip. I went to Thistletown Baptist Church for the first time and the pastor ‘shamed’ me from the pulpit for never having gone before. (You know a pastor’s comfortable with you when he’ll give you a ‘shame on you’ speech in front of his congregation!)
A few weeks after that my family would be going up to the cottage for vacation, so… I didn’t want a job yet.
I kept busy most days, reading books and babysitting my niece.
One day a little girl added me on Facebook, I’d volunteered in her classroom my first year in Toronto. A couple days later her brother was shot and killed. I told her I’d try my best to come see her the next time I was in Toronto.
So many things were pointing to a need for me to go, but it didn’t feel plausible. It didn’t feel like the responsible thing to do. I thought to myself that if I was in Toronto I would feel like the Spirit was leading me to go see this girl. So I prayed. I asked God to make it happen.
Then my old partner Timo sent me a message:
Right now I’m writing cards for Camp peace kids.
Do you want to come on Monday to say Goodbye to them?
I also have the Bibles now.(finally!)
I was so mad at him. I live five hours away from Toronto, ‘Do you want to come Monday?’ didn’t make sense. Of course I did! Could I? Probably not…
I told him I’d think on it, and I started praying harder, and thinking harder.
Finally I broke down to my mom and told her everything I was thinking. She didn’t seem to think it was as implausible and irresponsible as I did. So I unloaded all of my thoughts and things happened.
The interns were in St. Thomas for the weekend. I asked if I could get a ride back with them from there on the Sunday. I booked a train back and somehow the last minute ticket was half the price I’d expected it to be. I had to be back Wednesday, so the ticket was for Tuesday night.
On the Monday I walked around my old community with my old friend. He gave Bibles and cards to the kids and I told them I was stopping by for a visit, to say good-bye to our friend with them. It was certainly a blessing.
I expected the next day to be a whirlwind, but prayer really does work, and God took care of my time management for me.
I went to Camp Victory in the morning. It was neat, but kind of hard to take. Being at Camp Victory summer camp was a difficult reminder that there is no more Camp Peace summer camp, and Camp Victory really isn’t… ‘my camp’. That’s the feeling I had from it all anyways.
I left around lunch and headed over to Camp Freedom to say good-bye to my lovely room mate and visit with her kids.
Then I went downtown to fulfill a promise to a certain little girl.
I knocked on the yellow door that I was told belonged to her.
She didn’t answer so I waited outside and chatted with some adorable little ‘Camp Peace’ kids.
I kept knocking, and waiting, and chatting.
I prayed, “Lord God, I really felt you wanted me to be here. If you have something for me to do with this little girl, you need to open the door. Literally this time.”
I messaged her on my phone and she said she was home. I knocked again and she came out.
We walked down the street and I asked how she was doing. She told me her brother had been going to take her to a movie. She was sad to have lost him, but she was being strong, she knew he would want her to.
She didn’t cry. I wanted to.
She told me about how some people didn’t like her brother, but she knew he was good. He was good to her. She told me about the funeral. She told me about how she was scared for school to start, seemingly she had a pretty tough teacher. Lots of teachers were at the funeral. She missed her brother, but she was being strong.
We ate at KFC and then we went and sat on a bench and talked some more.
I asked her about my ‘Little Best Friend’, I’d been praying and praying that I’d see him, but he was gone with his cousins. She said that after her brother died he’d laughed at her and made an awful comment. Then the next day he’d talked to her as if it was all ok.
I told her how sad that made me, since I’d seen him change so much in the time I knew him, since he’d met Jesus. I told her that the way he copes with sadness is to make mean jokes, just like her way is to stay strong. I told her how I hoped Jesus would help him change.
Then we started talking about Jesus. I told her about when he had become a Christian and I told her all about how Christ came to save us and all we had to do was asking for forgiveness and for Him to take over our lives.
“I’m asking.” she said.
It was lost on me, “Asking what?” I was waiting for the question she was asking me.
No, she was asking Jesus.
Over and over I’m reminded that God doesn’t need me. I had no intention of asking this hurting little girl if she’d like to accept Christ, not in this vulnerable state. I thought I’d just throw out the gospel in the form of my our mutual friend’s testimony and let it sit with her. But with the faith only a child has she knew that it made sense and she asked.
We talked a bit more about what it means to live for God.
Then I walked her home and ran off to catch my train.
God is good.
Soon after my family went ‘up north’ to the cottage for a couple of weeks. On the way home we stopped in Toronto and I dropped off a Birthday present for a little boy whose party I couldn’t manage to get to.
When I got home Pipes was hoping to go to Toronto for a day trip, to see the Victory kids end of the summer ‘Community Night’. I’d told the street leaders that if the opportunity came up I would go, so I said I was in.
I spent a week at the Pipes’ house and we went up for the one day to see the kids. They were amazing. Of course. It was well worth it.
At the end of my time with Pipes my mom came to pick me up. I was in the car on the way home when I prayed, ‘Ok God, I’m ready for a job now. I’d really like to start working. Now please just show me how you want this to work, the way that will bring you the most glory. If that’s me working my butt of for a job, I’ll do it, but if you have something else in mind, show me.”
The next morning I woke up and walked into the kitchen and my mom said, “I found the perfect job for you! There was a sign at the gas station…”
A gas station? Perfect job for me? Hm.
“There was a sign that said they’re looking for some one who’s taking a year off, and saving for University to work full-time days. So, drop off your resume today, and they want references.”
So, there it was. A job description that fit me pretty darn well. When I went in for my interview I had pretty much already been hired based on a good reference and she was just putting face to the name.
God had my job ready for me. And He let me say good-bye to Toronto in all the ways I needed to. He’s so good I can’t even believe it some times.
I’ve been writing this for a while, but I decided I HAD to finish it tonight because NANOWRIMO starts in a couple of hours and I’m participating so I surely won’t have time for blog posts. I’ll have to be writing about 1,667 words per day all month. I’ll likely pick up blogging again in December.