On July 7, I arrived in Albion with a lot of confusion and very little direction. I knew I was going to be helping at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer sports camp as a huddle leader, and I knew I needed to be at Albion College by 2pm. And that was about it.
It was approaching 2pm when Chance and I made it to the campus. Using what little data I had left on my phone, I frantically tried to find the Baldwin building on my maps. Fortunately Chance is better with maps than I am, and we arrived with just enough time to spare. After getting my room key and other supplies, I threw all of my bags on my dorm room bed and hustled back to Baldwin.
I sat in a circle of chairs with about 25 people I did not know. I had no idea what we were about to do. And I was definitely unaware of what the week before me had in store.
Within an hour, I had nearly everyone's name memorized. I learned the man next to me was named Jim. He's referred to himself as a "Christian Farmer -- in that order." Like with many other people, I had to tell him, "My name is Calli, you know, like California..." I was referred to as California for the rest of the week. I liked Jim, he was a cool guy and always had a friendly smile to share.
I learned a lot more about my fellow huddle leaders than just their names. I got to listen to many of their stories and see how God was working in their lives. I know "the youth" get a bad reputation sometimes for our apathy, "millennial" attitudes and not attending church, but I will say God isstill working in our lives. He is still present, He is still using us, and He has given us more passion that we know how to use sometimes.
This group of people inspired me. Here they were, sacrificing a week of their time -- time that could be spent working, with family, or vacationing -- and they had more joy than any group of people I've ever met. They have such a passion for the Lord and sharing His love with others, and they are truly genuine about it. No one is going to give up a week of their summer if they half-heartedly care about something.
So that sums up about the first three hours of camp. The other 140 hours that still remained are even better...
The campers arrived on Monday. I had 5 seventh and eighth-grade girls in my "huddle." They were all volleyball players here for the volleyball part of this FCA sports camp. If you know me, you know I have an extremely limited experience with volleyball. As they were arriving I greeted them with a smile and a warning, "Hi! I'm Calli! I'm so excited to be your huddle leader. You're going to get to teach me about volleyball because I've never played before." They all responded with the same nervous smiles and hellos.
"Is this your first year of camp?" I'd ask them. They all said yes.
"Awesome! Mine too. We'll just get to learn everything together!" I answered back.
So you can imagine the thoughts that are going through these poor middle school girls' heads. This is the girl I'm supposed to be learning from this week? She's supposed to help me?
Trust me, I was more nervous than they were. But it was okay because I learned a much-needed lesson: BE HUMBLE.
I arrived at this camp knowing very little, and I knew even less about the sport I was supposed to be helping with. But the wonderful thing was, I had no pressure. The week quickly became about God and His power -- it had nothing to do with me. I hope I will be able to continue to live my life in this way because last week left me feeling more content, confident and calm than ever before. I don't think my life was ever mine to control. It's amazing: the less I felt in control, the more sure I was of everything. It doesn't make sense, I know. I don't think it's something I can really articulate, but I know it to be true.
I also learned how much God actually loves us. I've known this and I've loved God my whole life, but His love was never more tangible. We were singing at chapel on Thursday night and I was sitting towards the back. All of the kids were scrunched in the front of the room, trying to be as near the stage as possible. They were singing loud with hands raised. Terry, a football player from Wayne State, was dancing in the aisle like there was no tomorrow. Lauren, a gymnast from Western Michigan, was right in the crowd of kids with a huge smile on her face. This was a room full of true joy, and it was all because we were celebrating God's love. And I imagine the swelling happiness of my heart as I watched everyone celebrate God is how He feels when we realize that we are so deeply loved by Him.
I thought I was going to be the one doing the work that week, but instead, I was impacted. I got to witness the five girls in my huddle go from nervous girls to friends that helped each other and smiled and laughed together. I was able to meet with each of them for a while and hear their stories. None of their lives are easy, but their joy, care, and attitudes were amazing. If these 12 and 13-year old girls can find happiness in tough times, I know I can too.
At the end of that week, 48 kids recommitted their lives to Christ, and 13 more accepted Jesus for the first time. God is on the move, He is working. We just have to be humble enough to let Him do the work, and let His love take care of us in the process. Fight the good fight!