What’s up people of the interwebs?!?!?! Noah and Ali here, back at it again to bring you the daily scoop from Tuesday! We know it’s late, but just think of it as typical Pollard fashion (read: typical Ali fashion).
Surprisingly however, Ali’s day began at 5am. “5am!?!?” you may ask, and yes. 5am. You see, the biggest, and hardest surprise, for an already grumpy and sleepy Ali when arriving at camp, was that there was only one bathroom for every 10-12 campers. Yes, each bathroom has the necessities: a small shower, sink, and a toilet crammed between the two. This means that when you are in line you never know if you will be waiting five seconds while somebody spits out their toothpaste or if you will be waiting for ten minutes while somebody decides to shower. Each person has come up with a unique way to combat this struggle. Some have decided just not to shower for the duration of camp (looking at you Lief and Franny) while Emma and I have decided to work together and wake each other up in “the middle of the night” (again, 5am) to shower and then go back to bed. (5am really isn’t that bad, Ali – Noah)
After morning wake ups, the leaders (which we are, surprisingly 😉 ) all met to discuss how camp and small groups were going as well as have a small devotional to help start the day off right. From there, we woke up the campers and went to enjoy our “Swiss Breakfast Buffet” (read: deli meat, cheese and cocoa puffs (yeah, the cocoa puffs surprised us too)). Noah: It was quite the experience as it was the first time my cereal was ever melted by my milk, which had been served to us heated.
Following breakfast was a quick worship time and small devotional before having our first-ever English class. In day one of English we like to set sail on the adventure of delving into a new and different language. (Noah, what are you even typing?- Ali) (Is that even the right use of delving? I just thought it sounded good… Dan please save our wretched souls-Noah) To begin the maiden voyage of English class, our groups made modge podge (is that right?) covers for journals, cutting out pictures of things we like from magazines. Though it got messy, the relationships that were being built were worth not being able to separate your fingers (just kidding, it wasn’t that messy). Then came the alphabet, first learning the letters, and then of course, the song! The struggle got real as the campers in our groups taught us the Romanian alphabet (read: how to grunt in multiple different ways to represent the letter A) Personally, though tough to pronounce, I enjoy the A with a roof over it; it is quite aesthetically pleasing. I just took the computer from Noah, I am sorry you all had to read that – Ali. English time is a great chance to connect with campers in a smaller setting other than your small groups for nightly devotions. My group went around and talked about why we picked the pictures that we did for our journals and that was a great way to open up a little more and learn about each other.
English was followed by a rotation of sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball and frisbee) and then lunch. After lunch, we had free time and team time. Noah went and played soccer with a camper and tried learning more Romanian. I, Ali, had to reorganize things for the night’s program before we all met for team time. Team time is the one chance we get to gather as only Americans and talk about how we are doing mentally, physically, and spiritually (Noah, please stop chanting “USA! USA!” that is so rude). This is when we get to read your comments that bring us so much encouragement, thank you!
Afternoon games were held indoors due to rain and then after dinner we began the program. I’M BAAAACK- Noah. If you read my bio, you may remember the prayer request that Ali doesn’t lose her mind… Well, during program Ali was unveiled along with Morgan and Emma… (Just Emma). These three hooligans took center stage in what can only be described as 80s work-out gear, running around with slightly more coordination than a chicken with its head cut off. They for sure got the energy high as all the campers were laughing and joining in with the Professor Trelawney level crazy games.
After the fun was done, worship continued followed by a talk by Justin, a 20 year-old missionary from Iowa who is working in Romania for a year and a half. He talked about how God forgives you of all of your sins, no matter how bad, sharing his own struggles in High School with addiction and how his faith was strengthened through that. In small groups that night, I (Ali again) was frustrated because one of my girls just was not getting it. She agreed that God forgives our sins but is still positive that she is going to hell because of her actions. We explained that God forgives everything and still loves her, but she was not absorbing that. We are praying that as camp continues, she will be more open to sharing with us and also open herself up to God and the idea that she is loved and forgiven. As hard as it is for all of us to accept God’s grace, we see that those who have grown up rejected and abandoned have an even harder time trusting that God could love them and forgive them. They’ve struggled their entire lives with the shame and guilt, thinking that their situation is their own fault, or that God forgot about them – and it takes time (and patience) to help them see that the good news of the Gospel is real! Please pray with us that the walls that have been built up are broken down, even if one piece at a time.
At this point, the challenges of camp and the heaviness of our campers stories have started to take its toll on the team. We feel ourselves running out of energy and stamina and our positive attitudes have moments of wavering. Although the campers aren’t opening up as easily, we can feel the weight of their pasts and we long for them to understand God’s love for them. It can be really hard with some of the mental capacities of the campers, but we just want each camper to understand to the best of their ability that they ARE loved and that they ARE forgiven, no matter what their pasts hold. This is the message that Katrina shared while offering a devotional to the American/Romanian leaders early Wed morning – she talked about when Jesus rebuked the disciples and said “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” It was a powerful reminder that God has made His message of love simple enough for even those who think like children to understand – and while depth is good, we must also believe this truth as a child does.
The campers have also started to share their fears of going back home. They say that at camp they feel safe and close to God, but they know that when they go back to where they live, they can’t be close to God because the people they live with swear and do bad things and they can’t ignore that. Please be praying for them as the transition home starts to become more real.
To lighten the mood… JOKES WITH JESSE
What did the green grape say to the purple grape?
Stop holding your breath!
Thanks to Jesse’s mom for that one!
To everybody reading and DIDN’T ask for a shout out Cough Amy and Kira, this isn’t you Cough : Thank you so much for your support and prayers, we love hearing from you and are continuously encouraged by your words.
To Kira and Amy: Y’all are alright too.
To Brian and Momma P: Yes, I am in Romania. Although, as a team we agreed that if I were to run away I would go to the Hershberger’s, so you got that right Brian. Thanks for all your comments and love, we don’t want to leave here but miss you guys. Come here instead? – Ali (with input from Noah)
To JP: Where the cheesy jokes at man? Kidding, we super appreciated you sharing your heart in the last comment and love hearing from you. LOVE YOUUUUU – Ali and Noah
To Shawntel: Sammy’s selective memory has been at it again. I think the whole team has learned to keep their eyes peeled for his bright orange water bottle that seems to be left EVERYWHERE. On the bright side, he didn’t leave it at the top of the mountain when we went hiking. That being said, Sammy is doing well and wants you to know that the team has been bonding over different pronunciations of your name (Cabbage started it after your first comment and it has really brought us all together ever since)(edit from Sammy – Alissa had just as much hand in it as Cabbage) < I tried deleting that. – Alissa
“Just this: hi to everybody”- Beni (the coolest Romanian around)
“Beni is the SECOND coolest Romanian around” – Iazmin
Shout out to Molly for the best note ever! It had me smiling ALL day! 😀 – Alyssa
To Syd: I think I’m picking up what you’re laying down. Your letters continue to make me laugh and smile. Also, good luck to everyone at orientation today! I’m glad I’m not there! – Mo
Shout out to the twins: I got your letter yesterday, thank you very much it had me laughing for a solid five minutes! Stay out of my custard! – Mo
To Kira: I can only think of you when I sing the “Who I am” song. – Franny
To Kira: I am still singing the Joe song regularly. – Emma (and Ali, but mostly Emma)
*As mentioned in my (Noah’s) bio, references are the best. That is all.