Two Amazing Weeks at Acampamento Peniel

Oi!  Wow, my stay in Brasil is already halfway over. 🙁  This thought is really sad, but I’m thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had during the past month, and it has been neat to see how God has worked.  My prayer is that God will use me for His glory each day and that He will continue to teach me and work in my life.

After Semana de Musica Sacra, Josh and I spent 2 weeks at a camp down here.  Semana de Musica ended on Sunday, July 10, and on Monday morning Josh and I (and a bunch of other people) took a bus to Acampamento Batista Peniel in Iguato (about 2-3 hours away by bus). The camp is great…it was a new experience and is not really comparable to Iowa Regular Baptist Camp (the camp in Iowa that I have grown up going to), but it is such an amazing place with a wonderful ministry.

The first week of camp was for 14-year-olds and older (no maximum age limit, though most of the campers were teenagers and young adults).  We arrived at camp thinking that we would be on staff that week.  However,  the camp is run by only a few people, and our help was not needed, so we ended up being campers that week.  It was surprising to get there and not be needed, but God’s way is always perfect.  I really, really enjoyed camping that week, and I would not have traded it for anything. 🙂

Singing in InglesThe speaker spoke from Nehemiah, and one of the counselors and a wonderful girl named Esther translated for me and Josh. Thursday night was the low point but yet also the high point of the week.  That night we received news that Felipe, a young man about my age, suddenly died. The details are not important right now, but it was definitely unexpected. A lot of people from his church were there, and almost everyone (if not everyone) cried that night. Camp was one of Filipe’s favorite places to be, and he touched so many lives. I had actually just talked to his brother the Sunday before when the Semana de Musica orchestra went to his church, and I heard that another girl from Filipe’s church had just talked to him that Sunday as well.

Friends Comforting Each OtherThe night we received the news about this wonderful young man was a night like I had never experienced before.  Everyone was shocked by the news and ached, but it was also neat to see how everyone was there for each other, comforted each other, and prayed with each other. It was hard not being able to really say much because of the language barrier, but I think hugs and tears say more than words. I did pray in English with some the people, because in a time when everything seems awful and everyone feels so helpless, lots of prayers are needed.  I realized that, if anything, God wanted me to be at camp that week to be there on Thursday when the tragic news was received.  The whole situation was a reminder that life is but a vapor, and we never know how long on earth we will have with another person.  It was also a reminder that God’s way is perfect, and even though no one knew why it happened, God had a plan through it all.

One of my favorite activities was on Friday afternoon of that week before jantar (supper).  Josh took me to a really cool place called “the rock.” He had gone up there with some other guys earlier in the week. We went through the forest up a mountain, and there were a bunch of giant rocks at the top. It was cool to look out over the valley and see the awesomeness of God’s creation.  In the area where Josh led me, there was a huge rock wall (“the rock”), and we rock climbed for a little while (rock climbing is one of my favorite things to do!). It was a lot of fun! 🙂 The week of camp ended on Saturday morning, so everyone said their goodbyes and loaded up on buses to head home.  I had a wonderful experience at camp, made new friends, and definitely saw God’s sovereignty and power.

The week of camp ended on Saturday morning, so everyone said their goodbyes and loaded up on buses to head home.  I had a wonderful experience at camp, made new friends, and definitely saw God’s sovereignty and power.

The next Monday morning, July 18th, Josh and I left for camp again.  This time, we would be helping with the children’s camp for children ages 6-14.  When we drove up to the bus stop that morning, I was mobbed by 3 of the girls who I knew from Semana de Musica Sacra! 🙂 The children’s week was absolutely amazing, and I could tell you so much about it! I was a salva vida (lifeguard) and counselor. I wish I could have connected more by speaking in Portuguese, but I know God still used me in ways besides just words (again, hugs, smiles, and tears are a wonderful language). It was so much fun to be able to spend time with the kids with their energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity.  One of my favorite moments of the week was when I got my picture taken with one of the boys, and after he took the picture he told his friends, “I got a selfie with an American!” 🙂

The theme of the week was “The Secret Formula”, a scientist theme, and the speaker was really good. He spoke on different godly characteristics and attributes, such as the Fruit of the Spirit.  The gospel was definitely preached and seeds were planted. On Friday night, after the evening service, we counselors lined the bridge and the kids came through to give us hugs and say goodbye.  A good majority of us (kids and counselors) cried.  I realized that I might never see these kids again on earth, but I know that these children heard the gospel, and I hope that someday in heaven every one of them will be there.  Counseling at camp was such a great experience, and I hope that God will give me the opportunity to do it again someday soon. 🙂

Eating lunch at kids camp – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Here are some of the things that God has been teaching me:

  1.  God is sovereign and has a perfect plan in everything, and I need to depend on Him and trust Him to be in control each and every day.  I often find myself trying to do things on my own strength or in my own way.  However, I cannot fully serve God when I am not depending on Him and allowing Him to take control.
  2. Relationships matter.  It can be easy to get caught up in the business of life, whether it’s work, school, or other everyday activities.  However, people matter most, and while work and school are necessary, I need to make sure I am not letting those activities get in the way of my relationships with God and others.
  3. Ministry is not just “big” things, preaching a message or playing music in church.  Ministry is serving others in everyday life, whether it’s doing a simple act of service, giving a smile or hug, or taking the time to talk to another person and encourage them.