Saturday morning Cissie, Lindsey, Casey, and I got up and went to the beach for the morning. We took our Bibles and had an awesome quiet time on the beach and it was so awesome. We were the only people for a long time. I really built great relationships with these girls. Casey, Lindsey, and I all worked last year and Cissie is just incredible. She truly has the gift of prophecy and I had never experienced that before. The girl speaks Truth like nobody’s business and it’s awesome. She encouraged me so much. We had some training that afternoon and then all went to Kemper’s family’s condo (another huddle leader) and grilled out and hung out til time for fireworks, which we watched at the pier. We had a wonderful night, but by the time we got back, I wasn’t feeling so great and was really worried about being sick.
Sunday morning started out with our own church service lead by Natalie and her husband David. The rest of the day was supposed to be beach day, but by this time 4 of us were really sick. Our awesome trainer Kenlyn (I’m obsessed with her name by the way. As in I might steal it for one of my children one day) took Kristen, Cedric, and I to immediate care where we waited for over 2 hours just so the doctor could talk to us for 2 minutes. Ridiculous. The verdict was that we all had bronchitis. Awesome. I basically spent the entire day in bed. Our verse for the week was Romans 12:2 and obviously the year is 2009 so we somehow started calling the sickness R12209. By the time we left camp today, over 20 people had been infected. The good news is that none of us were contagious anymore by the time campers got there.
Monday came all too quickly and I was really struggling. I was feeling miserable and just didn’t think I could lead these girls and was so worried about what they would be like. I had 2 amazing huddles both last year and the week before and I was terrified this would be the nightmare huddle that apparently everyone has to experience at some point. At first the girls were not as receptive to me and I would have liked. They were really quiet. I didn’t really have any extreme leaders that stuck out and just took the lead and that was really hard considering I felt like I was dying. On the bright side, they were getting along with each other great, but that’s not so great when you’re dying and just want to sleep and they have no respect for you at all and don’t listen and won’t go to sleep. Yeah, we had a lot of respect issues those first few days. But don’t get me wrong, not all of them were like that! Just some. Enough to make being sick 10 times worse. Tuesday and Wednesday were still pretty rough. I was really trying but I just felt like I wasn’t getting much from them.
Tuesday at the very beginning of the service one of the girls in my group, Jeannette, leaned up and reached over to me and said “Miss Caitlin can we please go outside” and when I saw how much she was crying I just grabbed her and we ran outside. (yes, they called me Miss Caitlin. Funny how the week before everyone thought my girls were my leader and this time they acted as if I were 15 years older than them) She just grabbed onto me and just collapsed and couldn’t even talk. I finally figured out that one of her friends had been shot and killed and she had gotten a text message right as the service started. We sat on the pavement outside, in the rain, and just cried together for a while. It just broke my heart to think that she was experiencing something like that and that she lives in an area where that could ever be an issue. After a while we went back inside, but it was a rough night. Our group was supposed to go on the prayer walk but she didn’t want to go and had gone back to the cabin so I had to go and talk to her and get her to come. I just felt like she needed to be with us and with her sisters in Christ so that we could pray over her and with her. I was really hoping that the prayer walk would change my relationship with the girls, and I wish I could say it was something drastic, but it wasn’t. It did, however, bring them closer, but it was hard to see them getting closer and not be allowed to be a part of it. I just wanted them to like me and want to hang out with me and talk with me about things.
Wednesday I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had been having some dress code issues with some girls and had to make them change on multiple occasions. Dress code is a big deal down there. No short shorts or tank tops, and we have the say on what makes shorts short. One girl was ridiculous about it and was constantly disrespectful about everything I said. Some adult staff had even said something to Jennifer and Lindsey (our coordinators) about it and that just set me over the edge because not only were they putting out a bad name for themselves but for me. I was talking to Linds after skit practice and before dinner one night and she told me I just needed to go back to my cabin and give them all a little talk about it, so I did. I was so mad, and I am not generally an angry person, so they finally got it. I was still very distracted and discouraged even as service started that night. I also had a girl, Alex, who wouldn’t answer any questions, wouldn’t have a conversation with me, and would sit and stare during worship. I had tried everything and just couldn’t do it anymore. At one point during worship, Lindsey and I just hit our knees and started praying for her. I told God I was done and it was in His hands and I needed Him to do something that night because I couldn’t do it anymore. I have never prayed for someone so hard before in my entire life. I was hysterically crying because I just wanted her to get it. That night the message was about overcoming adversity and hard times. He ended with a clip from The Passion of the Christ. I had seen it once before, so I knew what was coming, and I immediately burst into tears and just sat with my head in my hands. I could hear it all still, of course, and I found myself saying “I’m sorry” over and over again and begging them in my head to just stop. All I could think was “just stop.” Of course I know and understand what Jesus did for me; that’s what I live for. But God really allowed me to see it in a new light that night. I realized that not only did Jesus get up to heaven and look down at the earth and say, “That was definitely worth it” but He would do it all over again. For me. I am not worthy of that. I am not worth someone dying, especially in such a horrible way. It was as if God was allowing me to see His love in a totally new perspective. Pierre (speaker man- awesome man) asked that everyone who was already a believer to just start praying and at that moment I just started praying for Alex and literally begging God for her salvation. I don’t think I have ever prayed for anyone or anything like that before in my life. I just wanted her to get it. I wanted her to know and experience God like I do on a daily basis. When we finally looked up after Pierre asked them to stand, 3 of my girls were standing, and one was Alex. I just could not believe how quickly God answered that prayer. Pierre told them that their huddle leaders were going to talk and pray with them when they got back to the cabin, and then I started crying even harder. I just felt so inadequate and unable to be a part of this. I don’t deserve to be a part of God’s huge plan in their lives like that. I felt so humbled and in total awe of what God had just done. We went back to the cabin and I sat outside with them and made sure they understood what exactly was going on, and they totally got it. I’m not a big believer in the whole I say this and you repeat kinda thing, so I told them to just tell God, out loud, what was going on in their hearts and ask Jesus to be their Savior. Their prayers were so precious and sincere. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I am so proud of them and so happy that I have 3 new sisters in Christ. I have never seen a drastic change in someone like I saw in Alex. The next day the girl would not shut up. She started opening up left and right and was having fun and bonding with the other girls. Side note: at our last huddle, Alex told me that she didn’t want to be here for the whole first half of the week and thought I was weird during worship and too happy, but now she knows why I’m always so happy. Thank you Jesus!
I have always believed in spiritual warfare, but I have never experienced it like I did this past week. It all started with the R12209. It had so many of us down and Satan really used it to get to me. I felt so discouraged and beat down and like I couldn’t lead these girls. I really struggled to get through our first day together as well as our first huddle meeting and just knew that they weren’t opening up because they basically hated me. I subconsciously allowed Satan to fill my head with lies and I believed them and fought that all week long. Lindsey had a girl in her huddle who used to be in a gang and whose mother had been stabbed by her step dad only 3 months earlier. She told Lindsey that she used to see demonic visions and described them rather vividly. Lindsey had the hardest time sleeping the next few nights. One night she woke up at 2 am and had to grab her Bible and read Psalm 91 (it’s about protection) over and over until she could go to sleep again. Wednesday night a bunch of us gathered around her cabin to pray for her and for her girls and for the war for these campers’ souls that was most definitely going on. Even while we were praying, the devil was still at work. The same girl (who was also saved that night, praise Jesus!) came out of her cabin and told Lindsey that her stomach was hurting. She could hardly stand up because it hurt so bad. All week Pierre kept saying that the biggest tool the enemy will use against us is distraction, and that’s exactly what he was trying to do there. We sent Linds to go take care of her and kept right on praying. At the same time, in Kemper’s cabin, he had a middle school boy under the bed with blankets all around him terrified because he said he felt like the devil was trying to get inside him. Seriously? What next? We just kept on praying and praying and praying until the girl felt better, the boy was out from under the bed, and we all finally stopped feeling so uneasy. After that, Linds was finally able to sleep. In fact, her and her roommate Lauren both slept through their alarms the next morning and both of their huddles totally missed morning workouts. Thanks, God. The whole week we all just had this sense that there was this huge spiritual war going on and we were so unaware of all that Satan was trying to do.
There is an all girls FCA camp in North Carolina called Black Mountain. It’s a sports camp where teams are brought and aren’t told that it’s an FCA camp until they get there. And it’s in the inner city. Kinda rough. A lot of the girls hate it when they first get there and hate the huddle leaders too pretty much. Week 1 Lindsey and I talked about maybe working it next year and by the end of week 2 we were pretty much sold. Alex actually came from Black Mountain and I feel like God put her and diva in my huddle to prepare me for just a small taste of what is to come at Black Mountain.
I spent Friday night at Jessica’s house with her and the boys (Coach is in Russia). It was exactly what I needed. I love those boys so much. Kirkland is so much fun and Charlie is just too cute for words. I love playing with them and being with Jessica. It’s so nice to have a friend who is older and knows so much more than I do but can still talk to me like a friend, not like someone who is above me. She had a shower to come to in Atlanta today so I rode back home with her. I just love talking with her. I have said this before, but I pray that I can be even half of the wonderful woman of God, wife, and mother that she is. I’m so blessed to have that family in my life. And Coach, if you read this, I missed seeing you! Guess I’ll have to wait til December. :(
Let’s revisit the R12209 for a moment. Friday during our lunch meeting after the campers left we found out some very interesting information. Apparently a camper from week 1 was hospitalized on Monday with swine flu. His best friend was at our week 2 camp and had to be quarantined for 24 hours and tested. Luckily, his results came back negative. Long story short, our R12209 is suspected to have legitimately been a mild case of swine flu. There was a possibility that we were all going to have to be quarantined at Epworth and they were actually figuring out how things were going to go down if we had to stay past Friday. Crazy stuff, my friends. This also really shows what a great sense of humor God has. First of all, Daddy told me, jokingly, that I was going to get it at camp. Second of all, I said 100 times that I would be livid if I got it in the US. Third of all, God used it to keep me here (where I really needed to be) instead of going to Mexico. And then gave it to me at the exact place I felt Him calling me to be and still brought me through it. What a funny God we serve. By the time we actually found out about it, all we could even do was laugh.
And so concludes week 2!