We are at camp! The Children's Homes that we adopted our children through hosts a three day camp each year in June for foster families. During the three day retreat the foster parents attend classes to earn their training hours while the children participate in summer camp activities. For many of the children, depending on how long they have been in foster care this is their very first time to go on a mini-vacation of any kind much less a summer camp. The setting has a retro, sixties feel to it, complete with a lake, some really tall hills and mosquitos! I began coming here twelve years ago as an employee of the Children's Homes and then for a few years we attended camp as a foster family. We skipped the next few years because after we adopted our foster children we were no longer eligible to attend.
Shawn and I now serve as ambassadors for the Children's Homes and I also returned to work part time for the Children's Homes. So here we are again. Within minutes of our arrival I realized how much I have forgotten. I forgot what it feels like for our family to fit in. We see many other families here who look just like us. I forgot what it's like to not cook for seven meals straight! (A little selfish, but a BIG perk for a tired mama). I forgot about snack-time. The sheer amount of snacks provided by local churches for 600 plus people twice a day is an overwhelming sight! Every night at 8:30 the snack bar is open and the kids and adults are allowed to get two snacks or a drink and a snack each. The adults seem to accept this just fine but if I heard one child, I heard ten kids say in disbelief, "You mean I can have anything I want and I don't even have to pay for it"! Shawn and I had a good laugh tonight as we watched a boy who looked to be about ten or eleven years old with two slushies. He was drinking from a straw from each slushie at the same time. I think the snack bar at night is my favorite part of camp. The phrase "like a kid in a candy store" is so much fun to see in person! However, the most important thing I had forgotten was the feeling of heightened awareness of seeing Jesus so many times in one day. He's in the little faces of toddlers let loose to run on the chapel lawn. I saw Him today in the protectiveness of a foster dad's eyes. He's here, one family after another. Often, the only thing the families have in common is that they said "yes". He's evident in the smiles of the staff who work with and pray for these children and their foster families every day of the year. I thought about this a lot today. Why is the Holy Spirit's presence so strong here when it's not really meant to be a time or worship? I know why. It's pure religion. Pure religion, undefiled before God is to visit the fatherless in their affliction.