I'll be there for you
There are times in the UP Honduras calendar that are busier and more exciting than others, and the January “Summer” camps is definitely one of those times. Throughout the school year we normally have two after school programs and a Friday only program running, but for the January Summers we have four sites operating. Not only that, but the numbers in the programs increase too, with each camp opening its doors to about 50 children. And then we have the youth. Our youth and volunteers normally teach 2 classes and run games throughout the year, but since we have English, Art, Bible and Discovery classes running during these times we also have very high numbers of youth and volunteers around the office in the afternoons. But even at our best we have moments that sometimes bring us down a little.
Katie was explaining to the staff that had to suspend a child on the first day of camp…for stealing. Of all the things this child was stealing he decided to steal staples. He had stuffed rows of staples into his pockets and had obviously overlooked the more exciting items like pencils, erasers, crayons – you know…things that children tend to use- and more importantly there were doubts over him owning a stapler. As she was telling us this story her face betrayed an amazing amount of emotions. At first she seemed kind of angry with the child, but then she seemed more frustrated and confused by the “why” behind it all, and by the end of it she was laughing about it a little. Even though it was technically a crime, it wasn’t even a good crime. It made so little sense that it became ridiculous to us all. I wonder whether God feels that way about some of the things we do, that He is aware that we do wrong but struggles to understand why.
The Song of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5: 1-4)
I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
The important thing was that in the same way that God is always there for us, Camp Hope was there for the staple thief. Sure, he wasn’t allowed to come back the next day and perhaps he felt ashamed and embarrassed about it but I know that when he came back he was welcomed with open arms. I believe that this is what being Jesus’ hands and feet is all about. We don’t simply keep children busy with fun activities and impart knowledge onto them; we stand by them when they make mistakes and walk them to the other side. This is one of my favorite things that God promises us, not that troubles won’t befall us, but that when troubles do come, that He will walk us through them. I believe that this is what the Bible calls us to be when it refers to us, the church, as the body of Christ. Being an extension of Christ is a tough standard to live up to, and to make things harder for us, Paul, in 1Corinthians 11 opens up the chapter by saying the following: Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. How many of us could say that? I don’t think I could.
The great thing about my job here in UPH is that I don’t work at any of the Camps. The reason why this is great is because it allows me to visit all of the sites, and I get to see the bigger picture of UPH. While Camp Hope doesn’t know what Camp Libertad does, and Camp Alabanza is oblivious to what goes on at Camp Agape, I have been fortunate enough to be a witness to the fact that they are a part of one body. It’s a living out of Jesus’ words, about the left hand not knowing what the right hand does (Matthew 6:3). Even though the children are very different because of the different neighborhoods they come from, and the staff at each site are different too, the atmosphere is much the same. There is peace. The children know they can trust the staff, and they know that we care about them. In the first couple of days I even saw that all the camps played the same game.
The reason why I work here is not simply because I like the work and believe that God is in it, but because I can see that my coworkers are following Christ, and on those days when I doubt, I know that I can follow them.
Hugh Stacey- Director of Communications