Monday, March 25, 2013

The Break of Spring

The Friday before last we cleaned the camp and got ready for the crazy children who were coming for the weekend. They were Intermediate age, so grade 5-7, and slightly terrifying. I only ever cabin lead teen camps but I love children, so it's not like this should be new to me, it's just that there were so many of them, and they were everywhere. The funny thing is boys and girls at this age sound and act exactly the same - insane. They stayed up until four in the morning and then told us their crazy sugar and Cheesie induced dreams which sounded like nightmares but apparently when you are high on sugar horrible things can happen in your dreams and you will always find them funny, example your dog gets eaten by a whale. Ha ha! My dog died! I picked up an entire bag of candy wrappers and Jones soda bottles from my girls' rooms when they left. It suddenly made so much sense why they had been bouncing off the walls, literally. Despite my fear of them (and you could tell I was nervous because I was trying way too hard to be funny) they were adorable. My favorite part about that weekend was the fact that Steph and Brad were the head cooks. I don't really know how this decision came about. I think maybe Andy drew names from a hat. I really cannot think of any other reason. There were two girls in my "cabin" (we all stayed in the lodges) who weren't Christians and were terribly afraid of offending anyone for their pagan ways. They knocked on my door near the beginning of the weekend with concerned faces and said, "We don't have Bibles." I assured them it was okay. But they weren't done. "It's not that we don't believe in God, we do, we're just not Christians and don't want to offend anyone. And we don't know how to pray, are they going to ask us to pray? I just know you say 'Amen' at the end," and, "What time do we go to bed? The schedule said eleven but I thought that because it was a Christian camp we would have to go to bed at nine." I wish. So cute though.

What an exhausting weekend right? Time for a break! WRONG! YOU MUST WORK UNTIL YOU DIE! That is actually the Auxano slogan. Andy spoke at the Spring Break camp and ended up comparing camp to a prison, which the kids found hilarious. I, on the other hand, know it to be true and wept inside. The weekend came to an end and the kids left and we then had a few hours to clean the entire camp before the Youth Work Week campers came up that night. We then spent the next three days working our butts off doing projects around camp along with the campers. The Auxano students were pretty upset that the RA's got a day off and they didn't. I almost didn't take my day off on Tuesday to show my solidarity with the students, until I got some sense knocked back into me (again, literally, I'm turning over a new leaf and trying to be a very literal person) and I realized being so exhausted I hurt myself wasn't doing anyone any good. We were picking up all the branches Paul was trimming off the trees and taking them to the giant bonfire we had built to burn them. I had been fighting negative thoughts all day, one second completely miserable and hating myself and then quickly reminding myself how blessed I am in a giant bipolar cycle that would seriously make anyone question their sanity. Not me, though, obviously. Then, because I was so tired, I made the poor decision to walk underneath the lift Paul was using to cut branches. I saw the branch hanging on the lift and I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't walk under the lift in case it falls off." Then I thought, "Nah." Well it wouldn't have gone anywhere, except that Paul who has been secretly trying to murder me for decades pushed it off just as I walked under it. Hmmm. He says he didn't see me. Do I believe him? No. He's just lucky I don't sue camp. It would be really awkward though, to sue camp and then not leave because I love it too much.

We had to get up at 6:30 am on Thursday morning to head to Victoria and serve more time in an out-of-prison field trip. Jim took us to Woodwynn Farms which is a farm for homeless people, as in homeless people go to live there and farm, not that they farm homeless people, which would actually be the opposite of the reason for their existence, and we worked our butts off again turning soil and making vegetable rows. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown on the ride going up there because I was so tired. During the morning meeting we sat in on with the staff and volunteers I tried really hard and failed to act like I was happy to be there. The guy next to me kept talking about positive energy and smiling at me. Maybe he could see the negative energy poring out of my eyes. Then he did a thankfulness dance and made us all do it. They kept going around the circle saying things like, "What are you most thankful for this morning?" and "Let's describe our word for the day: Celebration." I wanted to die. Then they asked us, "In two words describe how you're feeling." One would say, "Happy and content," another would say, "Peaceful and curious." I wanted to say, "SHUT UP, EVERYONE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, JUST... STOP TALKING." Buuuuttttt I didn't. Instead I just kept praying over and over that God would take my mood and turn it completely around. Eventually he did, but not before I nearly cried in the meeting like five times. It's not very often that happy people make me feel worse. I'm usually the one making people feel worse. I mean happy! Making people feel happy... Fortunately I wore my overalls with a plaid shirt and gum boots to Woodwynn Farms so I at least looked adorable, angry but adorable, like a little angry farm elf. I also found out pigs are disgusting creatures that actually probably should be eaten, just to put them out of their misery. I'm a vegetarian and animal activist. They are huge and ugly and could easily kill you just by sitting on you. The pigs there were 600 pounds. I was expecting to see Babe. But the other pigs ate him.

I wrote an email to the Mayor of Saanich afterwards that ended with, "I think Woodwynn Farms is doing something that could drastically change the face of Victoria for the better, even you don't care about helping people. My guess is you do. You're the freaking mayor for a reason." Only in the original I didn't say freaking. You know, cause he might not appreciate how wonderful that word is as a substitute for the f word. The next day we toured Level Ground Trading where they make their amazing coffee. The owner Stacie taught us so much I could never begin to explain it all. Plus I'm sick of hearing my own voice. Check out their website! Level Ground Coffee. They are so amazing and stand for everything that I believe in that just after one tour my new dream is to eventually work there, and I don't even like coffee. It is like a mean joke drink - it smells wonderful and then you taste it and it sucks.

Monday, March 4, 2013


I got a new name. Pearl. I like it because it reminds of an old lady and I took up knitting not that long ago and then knitted for three hours and put a kink in my neck that is still healing. Also, the students like to pretend I am old. They're all just waiting for me to fall over dead. And I don't blame them, a couple days ago I popped a rib in my back along with my sore neck and had to go to a chiropractor appointment in Lake Cowichan, so it's probably going to happen any day now, the dropping dead thing. I've had to sit out on a lot of work but I'm not going to sit around crying about it (that would be stupid, I got out of work). I also like my new name because I love the comic "Pearls Before Swine" which I can relate to, because I find myself frequently throwing my pearls of wisdom before swine (everyone else). Just kidding! The real reason they gave me the name Pearl is because I'm like a clam. You know, clammy hands and stuff. I mean because they want me to be like a clam, like a clam is my spirit animal. Maybe I'm not explaining this well. They want me to be able to turn the irritants in my life - grains of sand - into pearls. At one point it definitely sounded like they were saying there were a lot of irritating things about me but they eventually clarified that these things in my life were irritating me like chronic fatigue and depression and digestive problems. This was an area they wanted to see grow in me, something they already saw in my life and wanted more of. I found it really encouraging, especially to hear how they already saw that happening. I was definitely expecting to be ripped a new one (because they're all really just savage beasts up here) but instead it was all encouragement and simply confirmed my old lady persona. Right after they prayed over me Steph suddenly went to her room to get something and came out with a pearl necklace to give to me. She didn't know before hand what my name would be, she just remembered the pearl necklace and decided it should be mine. It meant so much to me I could cry just writing it.

THIS JUST IN: two of the girls were shrieking in the bathroom after waxing their legs. They decided they were sick of shaving and would finally try this other torture tactic called "waxing." My favorite was when I heard one of them say after yelling in pain, "Who decided this would be a good idea?!?!?!" On another really important note, some of the boys started playing Pokemon and the girls were getting all in a huff. It became a big problem, but not before I decided I would join in and play Pokemon too. Here was my thought process: instead of harassing them for playing so much, I would make them play with me and teach me their Pokemon ways, and only play a little at a time. Am I a genius or what? Turns out I just got slightly addicted and now want to play Pokemon all the time. The point is I don't. At first I decided I would read the Bible and then reward myself with some Pokemon until I realized how backwards that was, Pokemon being the reward for reading the Word of God. So I stopped and just play every once in a while. Gotta catch 'em all!

The week before last we learnt about First Nations Reconcilation. Mark Buchanan and Shane Woodlief, the pastors of the church we go to in Duncan, taught us. New Life Church has been building a relationship with the First Nation's community in Duncan for years and there is now a respect and trust growing that is beautiful to see. A bunch of us in Auxano go to Kidzone and play with First Nation's kids on the reserve. I feel so privileged to get to be a part of something that a few people at the church have spent years patiently pursuing in faith and prayer. We learned more of, or were reminded about, all the atrocities the church did to the First Nation's people and how spiritual damage requires spiritual healing. It makes perfect sense that the church should be the ones healing the damage they did, and yet here we have these incredibly broken people damaged by Christians in the past and now seemingly ignored by Christians in the present. Mark taught us about how the First Nation's people are our Samaria. Before Jesus leaves He says to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. To the Jews the Samaritans were their close neighbors, but totally looked down upon and ignored. When Jesus came along He focused a lot on witnessing to and healing the damage done to the Samaritans and tells His disciples to do the same.

Last weekend we had a "Ditch the Girls/Ditch the Guys" time. The girls stayed at Gussie's house in Sidney and the guys stayed at Matt's house in Shawnigan Lake. The guys did something really spiritual and watched "The Passion of the Christ." The girls spent almost the whole day talking about, but not really accomplishing, making a funny video of the random things we did. We went downtown in Victoria and had some fun in Value Village trying on crazy outfits, had some Bubble Tea in Chinatown then explored the top of Mt. Doug, headed to Gussie's beautiful house in Sidney for dinner then went to see Jen's sister Sarah perform a show at the Spiral Cafe in Esquimalt. Needless to say, a lot of driving. Gussie's house was beautiful. We felt like we were at a retreat, a big new house with lots of windows surrounded by the forest. I could have stayed there for a long time. It was a lot of fun, even if we were kind of exhausted and had to wake up the next morning to get to church at 8:30 where we were putting on the church service at Parkdale. The musically talented ones did the worship (AKA not me), a few of us talked about what we'd been learning and Brad gave a sermon on our First Nation's class. Then we ate lunch and hurried back to Duncan for Kidzone! We like to fit a lot of things into our days. YOLO, right? (You Only Live Once. Brad likes to say this about twenty times a day and no matter how much we fight it, it's caught on.)

The girls on Mt. Doug. From left: Katie, Steph, Gussie, Shayla, me and Jen