Friday, August 1, 2014

Knitting Jesus

In our program at Cross Bar X we do a portion of our day called “skills classes”. During this hour long block of time we teach our campers a definable skill that they can leave camp with. Often  it is things like auto repair, carpentry, baking, fitness, music or such. We have this built in to our schedule and believe fiercely in it because we know many of our campers don’t always get to learn hands-on, real life skills, because of the environment they live in and the struggles their families face in just surviving and making it each day.

I've taught our middle school and high school girl campers a knitting skills class for the last 7 or so summers. In knitting class the campers get their very own set of knitting needles and a skein of yarn to take home. It is always a highlight of my summer, and not one camper has failed to learn to knit after my skills class!

But, it is also about whole lot more than just knitting! One thing I quickly discovered is that while we knit often the campers start to unravel their stories a bit, share their lives and struggles and concerns. I’ve learned things that are deep and profound during our knitting classes about the lives of our campers. I’ve also gotten to share a lot of hope and truth of the Gospel as needles click and yarn is unwound.

This week we had 5 middle schoolers join Joyce (my fellow co-hort/teacher, and our favorite volunteer RVer) and I to learn basic knitting. During the week, one girl, "Dee" from Albuquerque shared that it had been her dream to learn to knit. I sort of snickered at her confession at first, thinking she might just be being a dramatic pre-teen... but then she shared that when she was little she'd see people knitting on TV and she'd go find pencils and string and pretend to knit... she shared how excited she was to learn! 

Excited she was! Through out the week she took off and really showed herself to be a natural with yarn and needles. Each class she made huge progress and wanted to learn more. In addition, to learning to knit herself, she served as translator to a fellow non-English speaking classmate. Her and I basically taught another girl to knit via translation, when my simply worded English didn’t cut it. It was amazing to see how well we all managed that little challenge between the two of us! 

Today was our last class. She showed up to class with a completed scarf…. lovely and without imperfections. Before the class she pulled me aside and said, “I know this is asking a lot, but if you have extra yarn could I take it home with me to do more?” I said I "wasn’t sure, but we’d see", as I want to keep things fair and not make other students feel bad for not getting another skein of yarn too. 

In class I showed her how to finish (bind off) her scarf and she sat happily with it around her neck just watching others knit with a smile on her face. I slyly passed her another skein of yarn and she beamed and started right off knitting another. 

After class I left and was about to get in my car when up ran “Dee” saying, “I just wanted to tell you how thankful I am for your time and that you cared about teaching me to knit! It really was my dream, I know that sounds silly, but I’ve always wanted to learn, but I never knew anyone who could teach me! Thank you so much! I know you didn’t have to spend your time with us, that’s really cool of you to care about kids like that…” She hugged me twice and ran off waving her completed scarf in the air. 

Cross Bar X typically exists to share the Gospel… I have found, however, that often it is little things, like learning to knit, that allows kids to feel the love of Jesus. There is something about time and intentionality that opens hearts and breaks down walls. While I didn’t get to talk with Dee about Jesus, I know she felt loved and special and really if that was all she left camp with I'd call that a sweet success! The great thing is that I know, in addition to learning to knit, she also learned about God and his love (not just from me) but from her counselor and many of our other staff and Bible teachers. 

I am beyond thankful that God has allowed me to live and serve at CBX
Here our family gets the opportunity to be the hands of Jesus... the ones that knit up in love. 

“That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3

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