Perfect "Imperfect" People (Barnabas, Term 8, 2010)

This week I had the privilege of meeting some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my 37 years on this planet. While Camp Barnabas is always a special experience for me, this week proved to be one that was extra-ordinary. At the beginning of the week I thought I was just going to serve Deaf and/or Blind people, and I was SO wrong. God had so much more in store for me, and for the 500+ people who attended this week's Term. Let me share a few highlights with you...

Upon arrival, I was told I was going to be in a Cabin Mom in Cabin G2. I was slightly bummed, as it would mean I wouldn't get to be with the staff that I had Term 7, but I knew that God had something for me there too. During our Training Rotation, I found out I was in G1 again, and what was on my form wasn't correct. I was SO EXCITED. I was also REALLY nervous because the Volunteer Coordinator said that I was in G1 because it was an American Sign Language (A.S.L.) Cabin. While I had practiced this Summer, I hadn't practiced as much as I felt I needed to be prepared for a Deaf Cabin. However, I knew that God wanted me there, so I knew it would be okay.

At our Cabin Meeting that night, I found out that we had the Senior Deaf Cabin. I will openly admit that I was a little saddened by that because I wanted to be with the little people. Of course, now I'm thrilled that it worked out the way it did!!! We had young ladies in their late teens and early twenties. Only one of them was completely deaf, the rest had implants or could voice well so signing wasn't ALWAYS needed.

Each person in our cabin brought something unique to the group, and I was constantly in awe of how unique each one of us was created. From campers, to Christians in Action (CIA's), to staffers, this week was incredibly memorable. What was even more amazing was that I got to know campers from other cabins too! Due to the fact it was deaf and blind week, I wasn't chasing kids all over the place like the Autism Term last week, so I really got to know more people than I ever have at Barnabas. It was amazing.

Tonight I want to write a little bit on each person. I might forget someone because I'm incredibly tired tonight, but the good news is that I can add more tomorrow! *grin*

Carmen was a CIA in my cabin that constantly amazed me. CIA's come to camp to help serve others. She wasn't a "camper", she was a volunteer (like me!), which was REALLY cool! I can't recall the disease she was born with, but she doesn't have arms at all. She has two legs with a total of four toes. Carmen is wheelchair-bound, but is incredibly self-sufficient. She steers her wheelchair with her foot and has a cup with a straw in it so she can bend over and drink at any time! One day during our time at the Silver Lining, she taught us how to write with our mouths! That's right, she writes with her mouth! It is amazing, as her writing looks more legible than mine does! She also eats at home with her feet! So, yesterday for lunch, our cabin sat on the floor and ate with our feet! While some of the girls were better than others, it proved to be an incredible experience for everyone. Of course, Carmen did it the best out of all of us! Cyndy Teas, one of the co-founders of Barnabas, came over to eat with her feet as well as several others on staff. It was a lunch I will never forget! The REALLY cool thing is that Carmen is moving to the neighborhood where my parents live! I think I have my new movie buddy! *grin* Carmen amazed me time and time again. It was wonderful!

Kortney was one of our campers that always made me smile. I MEAN ALWAYS made me smile. Kortney carries the joy of the Lord with her everywhere she goes. She could lip-read, talk, and sign, so it was always fun to communicate with Kortney. She had a sign-name already when she came to camp (I will write more about Sign-Names later) but she was given a new name when she was in our cabin. We called her Crazy Kortney in Sign Language. While she is far from crazy in reality, she always had something funny to say or do and I was constantly smiling when she would talk or sign. I was also amazed at how well she can pray. She touched my heart more than she will ever know.

Berenice was a sweet young woman who could read lips, sign, and had a hearing aide. I found Berenice to be an incredible young lady. In our devotional times, she was always willing to participate and share her heart. She was also sweet to everyone in the cabin. I sat down to talk to her at one point and was honest that I was re-learning sign in a way, and she was so patient with me. If I get in for Term 8 again, I hope she's in my Cabin. Perhaps next year I'll know more sign and be able to communicate more with her.

Hayle was a camper that had an implant, could sign, and read lips. Hayle always had a smile on her face and really has a heart for others. She got up at one of our meals and signed "I Can Only Imagine." It was beautiful. She wants to be a CIA next year. I hope she gets to do that. I think she would make a FANTASTIC CIA!

Becky was a camper who intrigued me. She struggled with being homesick quite a bit and the first part of the week she struggled. I prayed a lot for Becky because I kept sensing the young child inside her wanting to fit in, but it was tough for her. She pushed her CIA away, and that broke my heart. However, as the week progressed, Becky did better. I was thankful I got to see what God did in her this week. She went from not wanting to do activities, to actively walking to them and participating in them. While my heart still leapt for her CIA, I was glad Becky let God in to change her. That made it all worth it.

Lauren was an AWESOME CIA. She was paired up with our only completely deaf camper and she did an AMAZING job. She is a student at a nearby college, studying to work with the deaf population, and she helped our entire cabin immensely. I worked pretty closely with Lauren throughout the week and I was amazed by how mature she is at the age of 21. I hope she returns to Barnabas next year, as I don't know that Term 8 would be the same without her. I am also looking into taking some more signing classes at the college she attends. Who knows, maybe I'll see her sooner than Term 8 next year! *grin* She was AMAZING!

Colleen was a CIA that had such a tender heart. She was really good with ALL the campers. Colleen was always willing to help out, and never complained. On the Creek Float (there will be separate post about the activities because it would be too much to post tonight) she was my hero in helping me and Torrey. She was worn out by the end of the creek float, and cried at the end, but it was precious. I KNOW that God was singing over her all week! She impacted me more than she will ever know.

Megan was a CIA and her assigned camper did not show up. Initially she was bummed not to have a camper, but as the week progressed she learned that God had a reason for that. Megan is an amazing woman of God and it was cool to see her connect with everyone as the week went by. She was more supportive than she will ever know.

Stephanie reminded me of another CIA we had Term 7. Stephanie served as a CIA and did an amazing job with ALL the campers. I can still hear her laugh. She was a joyous young lady who knows how to sign very well. Of course, it helps that her Mom is an interpreter! (It's almost like she cheated! Just kidding!) I really liked her a lot.

Emily was another CIA and I didn't get to know her as much as I wanted to this week. She was always nice to everyone and had a smile on her face. I was glad she was in G1 this week.

Emma was a CIA that I prayed for quite a bit. She had a tough week and I found myself praying a lot for her. She seemed really sweet, but I know this week wasn't necessarily her idea of fun. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hope she comes back next year and experiences LOVE from her camper. She was a sweet girl who just had the hardest camper in our cabin. That's a tough spot to be in. I will say that I think she did the best she could, and I believe that God was pleased by that.

Sherry served as our interpreter, and I REALLY liked her. It was fun to have another "adult" in the cabin to talk to, but it was even more exciting to learn from her. She taught me a lot of signs, as well as about the deaf community. She's the only person I know with a Bachelor's Degree in Sign Language. She left camp early, but I was blessed by her continually. I hope to see her again. She blessed me more than she will ever know...

Erin served as the Special Diets cook and she took INCREDIBLY good care of me! Since I have a special diet, she always made sure I had food and really poured into me spiritually. During one of our parties, we just sat and talked. At the pool party I was injured and she pulled me aside and prayed for me. That blessed me more than she will every know! I really enjoyed the time I spent with her. I am blessed to be able to call her a friend.

Tilor served as a Wrangler, but she was part of our cabin too. (A Wrangler works with the horses out at camp.) One night I was injured during the pool party and she was SUPER nice to me. She was helpful to everyone in the cabin all week, and while she was the silent assistant in many ways, she really blessed my heart.

Justin was a camper who is amazing. Justin wasn't in my cabin, but I got to know him briefly before the dance the other night. Justin was born with a disease that I can't recall the name of, that forms tumors on his face and head. He is blind and has a hearing aide. I will be honest, when I first saw Justin, my stomach turned. At first glance, he is tough to look at. When my stomach turned, I literally stopped and prayed. I don't want to be like the world who judges people by what is on the outside of a person. So, when my stomach turned I was not happy! Right then, I stopped and prayed. Instantly, I felt better. I told God I wanted to be his friend. So, before the dance I went up to him and introduced myself. He is such an amazing guy! God taught me so much in that short conversation I had with Justin. I hope to meet him again and talk to him. He was really nice. God taught me more than I could every type out on here about inner and outer beauty by that 14 year old. Today before I left, I literally bumped into him because I wasn't looking where I was going, and I had a thought. He is perfect. The world may not think so, but to me he is perfect. One of my favorite moments this week was when he got up at the end of wrap-up and played his guitar. He is just a kid with a really challenging physical body. I liked him, and hope to go back again next year Term 8 so I can talk to him more.

Megan was a blind camper that I met on CIA Arrival day. Megan is completely blind, but that doesn't stop her! When I met her, it made me wish I was in her cabin because I liked her A LOT! I saw her throughout the week and we always said hi to each other. She amazed me.

God taught me the most through a little girl named Torrey. Torrey was in my cabin and from the very beginning, we "clicked". Torrey was born with Cerebral Palsy and walks sort of like me. Torrey requires a little bit of assistance when she walks, but can walk independently if she wants to, or if she is in the cabin on a flat surface. Torrey is completely deaf. The moment I walked in the cabin, she asked me my name (Which I understood on my own! Yea!) and we continued to sign for about an hour. Lauren was her CIA, so if I got stuck on the signing, she was always willing to help me understand what she was saying. Torrey was INCREDIBLY patient with me if I got stuck signing. She also taught me A LOT of signs this week, so by the end of the week we were communicating pretty well. Torrey doesn't talk at all except to say "Bahbahbah" if you're not looking at her and she wants your attention. I learned a lot this week about how little I think when I talk out loud. I just open my mouth and the words come. For Torrey, she signs EVERYTHING. Of course, for her it's easy and she REALLY enjoyed it when she was around other people who signed fluently. I didn't blame her at all. LIving in a hearing world, I can see where it would be more fun to be with those who sign fluently.

The amazing thing about Torrey was that most of the time we didn't communicate a lot. We just sort of understood what the other person was trying to say without saying a word. I learned this week to be okay with just sitting with someone. And honestly, it was nice. Sometimes she would take my hand, or just look at me and grin, or we would just watch what was going on around us. I was blessed by that. I remember at one point thinking that being able to sit with someone and be quiet and still enjoy their company is an incredibly rare thing for me in a hearing world. I liked it a lot once I got used to it. Initially it was hard and I worked to fill the silence. By the time we reached Say-So last night, I understood how blessed silence can be. I considered that to be a HUGE gift from the Lord.

There will probably be more posts about Torrey to come because God taught me SO MUCH through her. I sit here tonight and miss her already.

So I could go on and on about the incredible campers out at Barnabas. (And in days to come, you will get a glimpse of Camp as I share the completely random things that happen!) For tonight I will end with this thought:

The world considers the Carmen's, Justin's, deaf, blind, CP, whatever it may be, as less-than-perfect. I can honestly say that after this week I think the people that are "imperfect" to the world, are actually perfect! They are just as God created them to be...and they are perfect in the skin they're in!