For example, this week, I was helping Addie at the new Snack Shack when a camper asked if the jar of lucky rabbit's feet stunk... I let her smell it (it smells like moth balls). She "ewwed" and a boy by her said he wanted to smell... he smelled and gave his opinion, "That's not so bad... it just smells like a urinal cake..."
Then another girl came up and told me about the time she was staring at a goat on her grandma and grandpa's farm and the goat charged her and gored her... she said "I was ok. But I have an extra belly button now..."
A pretty slender girl, who caught my attention from day one because of her elaborately braided and beaded hair, came up while I sat knitting and asked, "Whatcha making?" I said, "They're baby booties..." She said, "They're WHAT?" (obviously taking the more vernacular form of the word "bootie"). I smirked and said, "A baby bootie... it is like a little shoe, but they're called 'booties'." She collapsed in a fit of laughing... she's been my friend all week long and keeps asking "How's those baby ... shoes coming along?"
Then there are times I know God is leading the conversation.
One morning each week Tim and I take "morning round" duty while the counselors are at staff devos. We walk around and ensure campers are safe and not getting into trouble. This week I had to go down to an isolated cabin because the girls were using it. I sat outside enjoying the rising sun and brisk fresh air. Then a little friend joined me. She looked down at my round belly and said, "How many kids do you have?"
I said, "Well, I have 5 and this baby will be number 6."
She thought, "That's a lot to take care of! When you have kids you have to take care of them..."
I agreed with her logic and moral reasoning.
She said, "How do you do that if you work a job? Who takes care of them all?"
I explained, "Your right, but thankfully my only job is taking care of my children... I don't have to work a job outside my home because my husband takes care of us and provides for us with his job here at the camp..."
She said, "Well I am glad you take care of them..." (At this point I am beginning to realize that the concept of "taking care" of children is a big deal to this little girl.)
I say, "I am too... but mom's also need to love their children too... not just take care of them."
She was thoughtful.
I said, "Who takes care of you?"
Her reply, "I have foster parents that I live with."
I ask, "Do they take care of you?"
"I guess so..." was her shrugged reply.
I couldn't bring myself to ask the next logical question... "Do they love you?"
She then volunteered, "Yeah. My mom didn't take care of me... that's why I have foster parents."
She then asks the question I know is on her little heart, "Two of your kids don't look like your other kids... are they foster kids?"
I say, "No. They aren't. They're my children ... but they joined our family through adoption. Do you know what adoption is?" She nods. "If you are wondering (because I know she is), I love them SOOO much! God put them in our family and we are SO thankful He did... even if I didn't have them like I am having this new baby... I love them just the same!"
She then gives me guarded approval through side cast eyes, "Ok. That's good."
Then we get interrupted. God provided that moment for a little girl to learn something she needed to hear. Then it was over.
I realize new every summer that our greatest form of ministry at camp is simply living as a family, intact, functioning, loving and sharing real life in front of our campers. We sit and eat, as a family, in under their watchful eyes. We correct and teach our children as they observe. We worship together, as a family, and go to lessons. We relax and tickle and horse play on the grass after dinner as they mill around and even join in!
I was tempted in previous summers to feel like I ought to be "doing something", "serving more", "contribute something of value" to the ministry of Cross Bar X. It use to really eat me up because I felt like I've never really had "a place" to serve that I had impact or really fit my gifting.
At some point last summer I realized that I was already doing exactly what God intended for me to do at Cross Bar X... to simply live as a family in front of kids who don't often see functional ones around them.
He's called me to just be a wife and mom to my husband and children. To simply talk to kids, ask them questions and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. To love those around me well and share that love openly.
That is why conversing with campers is one of my main "ministries" at camp...