Tag Archives: Toronto

Operation Freedom – Mission Log

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1:30 pm – The Camp Victory interns leave their apartments and head to camp. Luckily the Freedom interns have already left. Otherwise they might have questioned Pipes’ completely black outfit or Dallas’ dress shirt and blazer. (The SWAT Team and Spy Team leaders have to look the part.) As it is, they suspect nothing.

2:30 pm – The plan has been perfected. The staff are just gathering their materials. Synchronizing walkie-talkies, gathering ropes, checking over the fake registration forms… preparing snack. (Cookies and juice boxes are a necessary commodity when your teams consist of 7-10 year olds.)

4:00 pm – The children have arrived. The excitement level is at a new high. Trip forms are collected. Only eleven children have made it through the rigorous training week to embark on our adventure today. Eleven children. Eight leaders. SWAT Team leader Hoopz steps forward:

“CAMP VICTORY!”

YES CAPTAIN!

“WHAT IS OUR MISSION?”

GET KUYA!”

4:30 pm – Camp Victory boards the first bus on their journey to Camp Freedom. Juice boxes and cookies ensue.

4:55 pm – Camp Victory boards the second bus, now only minutes away from their goal.

5:00 pm – They file off the bus and start to march in formation. Camp Freedom is within sight. The leaders warn them to ‘look casual’. “Try not to look like a camp!”, “Oh wow, if they look out those windows…”, “Look at us, we just scream CAMP VICTORY.” One SWAT team member is overcome with excitement and does in fact scream “CAMP VICTORY”.

5:06 pm – The group arrives at their meeting place. A bridge on Driftwood Ave. They need only turn left and walk approximately two minutes to arrive behind Camp Freedom. We split into our teams.

Rumour and Snoopy stand with two children. These children were especially chosen for their incredible acting abilities and the fact that the Camp Freedom staff will not recognize them. Code names: Kimberly and James. They will walk directly into the action.

In their pockets: Fake Camp Freedom registration forms and an emergency walkie-talkie.

They are the Diversion Team, they will attempt to become a part of Camp Freedom.

Dallas and Bartowski also stand with two children. The only two to make it through their training. They will enter, but must not be seen.

In their pockets: Walkie-talkies, binoculars… and a whole lot of stealth.

They are the Spy Team, they will sneak in and find Freedom’s supervisor: Kuya.

Pipes and Hoopz stand with the rest. Seven kids. Will that be enough to capture Kuya? No one is sure.

In their hands: Ropes and all the strength that a week of intense training can offer.

They are the SWAT Team, they will complete our mission. They will GET KUYA.

5:12 pm – Victory is behind Camp Freedom. Pressed against a brick wall. They are ready. If the excitement level was high back at their camp… Well I can’t even think of a word to describe it now.

5:13 pm – The Diversion team is going in. They run down the alley to the front of the building. The leaders ask if they will run around the fence, or climb over it. The brave young ones decide to climb. The leaders cannot go further, if they are seen, the operation is ruined. As the Diversion team disappears their leaders run back to the group, turn on their walkie-talkie and wait with some degree of nervousness.

5:20 pm – Double Agent George has been contacted. The side door is opened and the spy team is going in. Their leader brings them to the door and gives last minute instructions. They run straight to the washrooms as planned. They then go on their search for Kuya. Now our only contact is over walkie-talkie.

5:23 pm – The SWAT team leaders are listening intently to the walkie-talkies. The spies have found him, but what are they saying? As soon as the words “The Fireside Room” are heard the SWAT team moves forward. They run into the building, this time the leaders follow.

The SWAT team hesitates as they see their target in person. His confusion grows as he starts to realize that Camp Victory is in his building. Finally one of the members runs forward and the rest follow. It’s a difficult task but with some prompting from Victory’s supervisor Kuya is captured.

The spies are retrieved from their hiding place. The Diversion team didn’t make it into program, but they were not recognized, and Kuya was fooled.

Camp Victory says a peaceful “Hello” to a slightly confused Camp Freedom, takes a group picture, and departs.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

[Camp Victory out]

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Peace in the Storm – Day 3/8

I lift up my eyes to the hills where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121:1-2

That has been my favourite verse since the first grade.Crosses

Today at camp we finished off our bead crosses we started awhile back. Diceyy and Gemini, two past leaders, stopped by to visit.

Diceyy asked me the kind of question I’ve missed since he left at the beginning of this term: “Can’t God do something?”

I told him that of course God can, only God can at this point. But that’s His choice. I told him that maybe God will choose to encourage young leaders like him to step up and continue to be an example to our kids. 😉

I’ve been ok.

Surprisingly ok.

God’s been so close in all of this. He just keeps reminding me that He’s here and no matter what changes around me – He stays the same.

The one time I’ve had trouble was whenever someone would pray that we have peace. My mind works so much in metaphors that I couldn’t stand people wishing peace for me when soon I won’t have Peace.

This morning I was reminded of what I taught the kids about peace in the summer. Peace isn’t everything being still and quiet and perfect. Peace is something that we have in the midst of the storm, in the midst of the chaos. Peace is from the Spirit and so it does not depend on circumstance.

The world can take my camp, but they can’t take my peace. ❤

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Day One of Eight.

Today we told the children. They were rather solemn. There were questions like, “Is Camp Peace closing forever? Is there no summer camp? Forever?” It hit us hard to have to answer those.

One amazing little boy had a little cheering session. Poor guy, I saw through it. I somehow ended up helping him with his homework (wow… I just realized how many little things got me to that point).  Well we were there with no one listening in and I asked him, “Are you sad buddy?”

“No, I am happy.” he said.

“Oh really?”

“Yes, no more Camp Peace for the summer. I get a break.”

“Well, yeah, I like breaks sometimes too, I get tired.”

“Yeah… When do we register?

“Register for what?”

“When do we register for Camp Peace again?”

Oh God just bless that little boy and his gigantic heart.

They don`t get it yet. They don`t know what two weeks means.

I told all the parents, they all felt for ME. It was kind of beautiful, they’re all so beautiful. They know this hits us hard. They know we adore their kids.

I`m kind of lost.
No more Camp Peace?
No more summer camps?

Are… are you… sure?

Um, I think so. I think yeah… I`m… sure… yeah.

You’re the defender of the weak

You comfort those in need

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Can you hear me?

glowytower

In the words of Michael Tait:

God can You hear me?
I need You here tonight
I’m tired of pretending that everything’s alright
And I know, I know that You hold tomorrow
But I need You here tonight

I want to feel

I need something real
I want to go closer to You
I lay down my will…

…Say won’t You say that
You’ll carry me
Carry me through the storm
Stay
Won’t You stay
Till the morning comes
Morning comes
Just stay

I know God can hear me. Now I want to hear from Him. I want to know how this makes Him feel. I want my heart to match with His.

Does His heart break?

I wonder.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22-23

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More than I could have imagined.

It went off without a hitch.

I never thought I’d be able to say that… But I did quote the Bible yesterday on the fact that God can do immeasurably more than I can imagine. He had shown me in His Word, now He has shown me in my life. I never could have imagined that this night could have worked out so well.

It wasn’t as if we had everything perfectly managed and set out. When the first bus arrived we were in a far from ready. We were running around instructing volunteers on the different stations around our makeshift Bethlehem. Somehow it all worked out. I ended up manning a station I hadn’t expected to – but it meant that I got to help my kids experience something of Bethlehem and talk to a bunch of other kids I hadn’t seen in awhile. It was so much fun.

I was in charge of our miniature production of the Nativity story.

At a trumpet call the kids walked into the Inn and the Innkeeper greeted them. Mary and Joseph walked in late and found that the Inn was full, they had to stay in the barn. We all ate together in our Bethlehem Inn. The Innkeeper brought food out to the barn for Mary and Joseph.

When the kids were finished and getting restless another trumpet sounded. Mary was holding the baby Jesus and three shepherds ran up too see the new born baby. Then they came to us, the people of Bethlehem, and told us about their night. That the Christ child was born.

Just as the sky was filled with Angels to announce the Messiah’s birth, I’m sure that room was filled with His Angels. Guarding our children. Chasing off the enemy who would like to spread his lies in their hearts. Making room in their hearts for Truth.

The volunteers were amazing. The actors were AMAZING. The kids are always amazing.

Thank you so much to those of you who were praying for us. I would say that God answered your prayers.

It was an amazing night.

I’m sitting here in complete awe at the things our God can do.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

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Glorify His Name.

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.Psalm 86:12 (NIV)

A week ago the second years went on a retreat with some folks from the Salvation Army.

Something that’s not at all uncommon at Urban Promise, we had know idea what we were actually doing. We just kind of go along with what we’re told.

The Thursday night before we had sat at our intern director’s house eating dinner before heading home after the trip to Quebec we’d just returned from (I don’t believe I’ve mentioned that on here. I plan to on a later blog, hopefully the next one.) He checked his email and told us our itinerary for Saturday.

We were tired. We’d just packed tons of Bible College knowledge into our poor heads and we’d done a wee bit of manual labour while in Quebec. Everything he read off would normally have appealed to me but for some reason my heart got heavier and heavier as he read. We would be talking about where we’d come from and learning about who we are.

Oh right.

And we were going to write a Psalm.

David was sitting at the end of the table and he says told that the looks on the rest of our faces were priceless. “WHAT!? A PSALM!?”

We were tired!

Luckily Jeremy’s wife, our Intern Mama, had the opposite reaction. She decided she’d like to join us, and for some reason this made everything seem ok and we stopped our silly worrying.

Saturday turned out to be a great day. There was a small group from the Salvation Army half of whom we had already spent some time with. We learned about God’s love, and how it’s important to spend quiet time with Him.

One activity that we did was to draw a tree that was in a way a timeline of our lives. At the bottom we had to write about our roots, the things that make us who we are. Then up the trunk we did a timeline of our lives with big events that had effect on us. At the top were the ‘fruits’ we hope for in the futures, things we expect God to do in and through us. THEN we had to present this to the group. A group consisting of some of my closest friends, some people I’d met four times, and some people I’d just met that day. I think, it was good.

We did a lot that day… But do you recall what we’d been dreading? All day I hoped it would just go away and I wouldn’t have to write a Psalm. “I don’t do poetry Pipes, I write prose, I don’t do poetry!” I told Erin, and she agreed. Then suddenly a switch flipped in my head. We just had to do what we do. I write, writing for God is what I want to do for my life, I just had to do it. And Erin could write a rap, she’d done it for fun before. I knew God would love an Erin Pipes rap just for him.

And so we just wrote for our God, and I’ve collected some of the results for you, Mine, Erin’s and David’s:

MyPsalmv2 copy

PipesesPsalmv2

DavidsPsalmv2

It’s not as hard as you might think. Give it a shot. Write something to God. I’d love to see it if you want to shout it to the world you could comment here… (I swear the world reads this thing ;)) or just store it in your heart and keep it between you and God. He wrote you the greatest love letter through His word. Write something back! 🙂

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My God is Always True.

MyKidsEditMy main role for the Celebration on Friday was to get my kids to there as soon as possible. They were doing a performance they’d done once before in the summer. Joining my past intern partner Spencer in a song he had written. I went in the afternoon with my room mates to find out how to get to People’s Church then left to head downtown and grab my kids after they were finished school.

The coordinator, Peter, had told me that I should try to get the kids there by five so that we could fit a quick practice in for them during the walk through. It seemed pretty impossible, the little boy that was coming wouldn’t be home until 4:05 and it took at least an hour to get there. So my prayer of the day was, “Jesus get us there by five.”

I had three children coming each from a different school. My plan was to meet up with whoever it was who would end up picking up kids with me at the first little girls house where her bus would drop her off a bit before 3:30. A little vampire jumped off the bus in full make up and informed me that she would be out as soon as she showered. One of the street leaders from our youth program showed up right on time, he’s a great young man, it was really cool to spend some time with him that day. We waited around for awhile then thought about running to get the other kids and then coming back. Turns out that wouldn’t have worked out at all… But luckily she ran out, ‘all clean’ (as Ronnie would say) just in time to stop us from making a poor decision.

Next we ran over to the school where the second little girl was waiting. This was a quick stop, she handed her bag to her brother and we were on our way.

(Remember when I went into my little rant about my 3 minute long pirate game at the park with one of my boys? Well a few days before Halloween he told me that he was going to be a pirate so that the next time we played pirates at the park we could dress up. I informed him that all of my pirate gear was at home but I’d get it at Christmas and then we might play pirates at the park in the fall. Right, so I saw the little pirate leaving his school in full costume that day. :))

So now we were ready to pick up that little boy with the 4:05 bus. It turned out to be more of a 4:20 bus… And there was a missing big brother. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to pick him up from his bus. Luckily the bus driver let me have him, we dropped his bag and art projects of at his friend, The Little Artist’s house and we went on our way.

I always prefer to take a Spadina streetcar, but we were pretty far from Spadina and children just walk so slow… So we decided on Bathurst street. I told the kids we needed to pray that we got a streetcar real fast… We had to run for it… But it was there just on time. We thanked Jesus.

It was a mighty long way to get to the church from downtown. Luckily the kids survived… Without too much complaining. It was past 5:00 but I told God that I knew He was big and I just wasn’t going to change my prayer.

When we got to the church we stopped off for a washroom break and then walked into the dark sanctuary. To my surprise (it being 5:30 by this time) the declaration that we were ‘just on time’ was made as we entered the room. But why was I surprised? I’d been asking God to get us there on time, of course we were on time, it just so happened that my guess of 5:00 was the wrong time.

Now, I was to help out back stage for the whole evening so I went back there and watched my kids being led onto the stage for their practice. I thought perhaps I should be waiting back there like I thought I’d be doing for their performance… But I just couldn’t help myself. I walked out to see them getting situated on the stage.

The three looked awfully nervous.

The song started.

Spencer started to sing.

The children stood there in a daze. Half giggly, half terrified. No words coming from their mouths.

Peter stopped the song and started to talk to the kids. I held myself back from running over. He seemed to be doing well, they were smiling and nodding.

So they started again. This time they sang the song through, rather quietly but they did it.

Finally I burst out to whoever it was I was sitting beside that I just wanted to be there. (They’ve never done it without me sitting in front leading them along .) They told me to go. So I asked Peter if I could just be there in front while they performed. I knelt in front of the stage and we ran through the chorus one more time. Can I just say, my kids are AMAZING little singers!?

The Celebration night was amazing. I got to hang out with children all night. I saw some amazing performances. Spencer did an amazing job at his song and although my kids continued to look nervous, they sang their little hearts out.

(If I can find some sort of recording of the song I’ll show it to you. I feel like there is one as I heard Spencer and the children singing after the Camp Freedom community night although neither Spencer or the Peace Kids were there. If not I’ll ask Spencer if I can post the lyrics, he’s an amazing song writer.)

After the program there was a big party going on in the other room. It was decorated beautifully. The kids were so excited. Three of our volunteers who worked all summer were there and we had a great time hanging out with them.

In the centre of the room there was a tree. On the tree were leaves from each camp, and the people at the Celebration night. The leaves were sharing all of our ideas of what makes a “Community of Promise”. At the end of the night I had to drag my kids away from putting leaf after leaf onto the tree so that we could make our way home.

tree

I saw pictures of the tree on facebook and I could pick out which leaves my kids had been doing:

Tree

mykidsleaves

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*photocred to: Sarah Masson

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