Make sure to read the update below from our first summer camp….a truly unique experience for all of us!
Young Life Middle East: Holy Land Region Prayer Requests
Dear Regional Team,
I know it has been a few weeks since we last sent out our Praises and Prayers Update. With the heavy load of summer activities upon us, namely camps being underway, this update will likely come to you on a once a month basis. May the stories, updates and prayer needs bless, encourage and inspire you to continue joining us on this incredible journey that is Young Life in the Holy Land! Today’s report will focus only on the camp we just completed…it yielded so many amazing moments there was no room in this report for more!
- A (BIG BIG Praise!): Yesterday we concluded our first camp of the summer. It was a camp brief in length (only 2 days) but monumental in terms of impact, on both the campers and those of us privileged with leading it. Even in this place which constantly poses so many new layers and experiences, this camp was a unique one for us. It was a combination family/adult and special needs “Capernaum” camp. Instead of just inviting these special needs kids and adults to camp, we decided to invite their parents to come with them! The majority of these “campers” came from Palestinian Muslim families, many observant and practicing their faith. There were blind campers, deaf and mute campers, some with severe mobility limitations, several confined to wheel chairs. Yousef did an amazing job as camp speaker, sharing about how we are God’s favorite creation, how he created us just like we are, no matter our physical or mental state and loves us just like he loves everyone, even able-bodied people. At the last club he shared the story of the paralytic in Mark 2 (the cornerstone scripture of all YL Capernaum ministries) and talked about how while Jesus can be a physical healer, it’s the healing on the inside that is most important, which is offered to each of us, maybe even especially those in the club room that day. By the end of camp, so many stories had unfolded that it’s hard to know where to begin in relaying them. Here are few quick “snapshots”:
- One young woman, Aida, began to cry once she was on the bus and headed to camp. When her leader asked why, she explained that the last time she got on a bus and left town, it was to go and spend some time in an orphanage and she was so afriad she was going to be left again. Imagine Aida’s joy when she got to camp only to be welcomed by our program character “dancing painters” (including RT member Ned Erickson!), who twirled her about and then led her and the other campers to the field for mixers and games. Aida ended up sitting up front at every club and only being sad when she learned that she would not be left behind at camp! (Here is Aida during our field games)
- On our last night of camp, we had our special needs dance party. One young woman, Miral, who had been struggling to suppress a constant smile since arriving at camp, told her leader she wanted to stand and dance…and so she did! With two leaders steadying her, she stood from her chair and made her way into the middle of the crowd where she danced until her legs could no longer hold her up.
- One of the younger campers, Miriam, also in a wheel chair, but unable to stand at all, captured the attention of one of our visiting American work crew team members Camile. Camile spent hours holding Miriam’s hands and stroking her bare feet that were bent at such an angle that she could not lower them to the wheelchair pedals. But the most memorable part of this interaction was Miriam’s mother who could not stop filming the two of them on her cell phone, the whole while smiling from ear to ear. I understood immediately; she had never seen someone else show so much love to her disabled daughter. (Miriam, her mother, Lauri and Ned at camp)
- But no one left her mark on camp more than Sauson. Sauson deals with severe mobility issues. She is not confined to a wheelchair, but she struggles to walk and moves very very slowly. When we reached the field for our welcome “mixers”, even though there were leaders to assist her, she slumped down against the fence and rejected all invitations to participate. Later, at lunch, Sauson began to cry, stood and then lumbered over to a chair, away from the eating area, where she sat crying. One of the YL volunteer leaders went over to sit with her. Sauson then explained to Ruba that she rarely left home and that she was not able to eat by herself, unable to use her hands for lifting utensils. She was embarrasd to sit at the table where others might notice. Ruba hugged her, then went and filled a plate, returned and sat there patiently feeding Sauson. From that moment on Sauson smiled, participated and even surprised us all when she struggled to her feet at the last club and asked Yousef if she could say something. Yousef leaned the microphone to her lips and this is what she said: “I have never in my life experienced any moments like this. No one in our village cares for us like this. And what I realize here is that is it not the person who has the problem with their body that has the problem. No, it’s the person who has a problem in their mind towards the person who has a problem in their body that has the problem. Thank you for showing us that we are special and that we can do things that normal people do."
(Ruba and Sauson eating lunch at camp)
We have many camps to go….the summer season is only beginning! Please pray with us that the camps to follow will yield similar amazing moments and life-changing, Kingdom memories.
So so grateful for our team…you guys!