This weekend Heather and I drove over bumpy roads to the campo, or into the country, to work at a youth camp. There were lots of new experiences, some fun and many stretching, and I thought that I better share them before I forget.
Let's start with the program. I got there, and there was a schedule, like, written out! This may sound normal, but you have to remember that we were in Bolivia. This, along with the fact that the kids were all playing soccer and volleyball, reminded me of my camp. For the first two or three hours out at the camp I had to hold back tears because I missed Arrowhead, the camp that I worked at last summer, so much.
The kids at this camp were just great. They were between maybe 8 and 20 something. I fit right in as a camper and went with the flow. God blessed me with begin able to understand almost all of the Spanish that I heard this weekend, so it was pretty easy for me to connect with them. However, once in a while I didn't quite get what was going on, and I would ask one of the girls what we were doing, and then I had a friend for the next two hours. They were so willing to help explain things to me! I loved it! I gave them some English words and expanded my Quechua vocabulary by two phrases.
The kids in the city that I work with are used to having missionaries in and out and have a pretty good idea of what life is like for us in their heads. The kids out in the campo may not have seen more than five gringos in their lives. They kept asking me questions, like, "How many days did it take you to get to Bolivia? (this boy thought that we drove)" "The US is a country, right?" Some of the questions were the same, though, "What is food like in your country?" "What is the climate like there?" I loved getting to see their lives, too. They are all very hard workers and know way more about walking around at night without electricity and taking advantage of running water when you have it than I am.
The food was such a challenge for me. Three out of our four meals there were lamb meat and potato soup. One of them was with noodles, the other two were with rice. The other meal, our breakfast, was bread and corn drink. These may sound good, and the bread and api (corn drink) were, but that soup was hard to stomach. They pile it on your plate, no crackers or sides, and culturally you have to eat it all. The hardest part? They eat almost EVERY part of the animal. My one normal piece of lamb all weekend had hair still attached to it; the rest were pieces of the back with the nerve cords still in it or a chunk of fat with bones and a little meat somewhere in it. Speaking of fat, the soups are just dark yellow with all the grease in them, and that just isn't easy to stomach when you already don't want to eat the food in front of you. God gave me some grace in being able to just eat without thinking about it, but I also did a little feeding of the dogs that hung around.
worship at camp
The speakers at this camp were pretty good, although our full day there, Saturday, we had five meetings! We sat on backless benches, and sometimes I was counting the hours until I could go home. I know that Heather had a hard time too, but I was impressed with how she thought it was worth it to go without comfort for a few days to help the kids. Also, the worship was sooo enthusiastic; I loved it!
Now that I have my feeling down, I have to say that there was more to this camp than hard experiences for me. I was really impressed with the kids' faith and spiritual knowledge and how they were genuinely excited about getting to learn about God for three days. The program did a great job of educating them about things that they just don't hear about, and also the leaders were great at leveling with the kids. I am glad that God had me there at that time, and that He taught me more about serving joyfully even when I don't want to.