Sunday, August 7, 2011

A bit belated, but... Camp 2011!

Good thing this is my own blog, and I can make it as long as I need it! Enjoy the novel, if you choose!

Monday

I woke up and packed, because I didn't really do it ahead of time. I sort of only did my laundry Sunday night, and I left everything I'd need in a jumbled mess outside of my room. I also made a posting on Facebook, and successfully Rick Roll'd Braden before leaving for camp.
We had to travel to the camp in a Durham bus this year. Our own charter bus was used to ferry the Seattle group to the camp, and it actually broke down in Ritzville... Many thanks to Durham for letting us use their bus for free the entire week (well, we paid for gas)!
Got to camp, and was a little disappointed to find out that I was not going to be in a room with my friends (though I wound up making new friends, so I won't complain anymore). Lunch was... I don't remember. It was good. All the food that week was good. End of story about the food haha. Until Thursday.
Saw Sabrina and Rachael for the first time in a year! It was great to see them again, and I hung out with them a lot of camp.
Team games today were just coming up with our names and a cheer. I was on Team 1, who came up with the name Sumo Cupids, and our cheer was Godzilla or something. I don't remember. I had to pee so bad throughout the entire thing that I literally just ran out as soon as our cheer was done. Totally did not realize that there were now bathrooms in the gym (where we were) so I ran to the main dorms like mad, almost mowing someone over in the process. Wound up missing most of the team cheers, and the ones I was there for I mostly didn't understand.
After that was dinner, and then free time until chapel. Can't remember for the life of me what I did during that time. Probably talked with my friends Cameron, Braden and Trevor (and a few others... I think that's right...).
Chapel was amazing. If you've ever been to church camp, you know that the last night usually has the most intense worship. Well, not to brag or anything, but our first night was similar to what most people would expect on the last night of camp, and it only got better each night. The sermon, I can't recall what passage was used (I really only remember the worship, and for the sermons throughout this week I'm going to rely on whatever notes I may have scribbled down), but it boiled down to what love truly is. God is love. It's not that we love Him, it's that God love(d/s) us enough to send His Son to die for us.
At some point during all the worship, I prayed for healing for my best friend and older sister. Probably at multiple points. I also kept record of another prayer, asking God to help me become the man He wants me to be.
Night games were improv and planning for our infomercial. I didn't go up for improv, I would have entirely screwed it up for my team.
Sleep was difficult. Freshmen and sophomores aren't the best roommates when you want to sleep.

Holy cow that was long, and that was just Monday!

Tuesday

Woke up, ate breakfast. It took a bit longer than usual, haha, mostly due to the number of students practically doubling from previous years.
Morning chapel. I only wrote down one sentence from that morning, so it must have been good. I write less if I'm too captivated by the sermon to remember to take notes. "We must show love to all, whether close friends and family, or those who have mistreated us."
In room devotions, our room counselor asked us to share when someone has demonstrated their love for us. I shared about when Bethany spent an entire night until maybe three in the morning talking to me and helping me get through a very difficult time. Even now, what she did back then means so much to me.
Paintball!! I only went out once, and it was for team games, and I was shot right in the eye (had a mask, don't worry) before I had a chance to hit anyone else. Brendan, one of my team counselors, couldn't see where I was hit, even though it was obvious. :p Sorry Brendan, I'll never let you live that down.
Then we discussed more for our infomercial, though it wasn't filmed (mostly) until that evening after dinner. Sort of changed the plan, I now played the role of a Morman with three wives! You had to see it, it was pretty funny. I think that will be the only time a girl actually *lets* me shove an egg into her forehead. Possibly the only time I'll ever do it, but who knows. But now this is out of order, as that was filmed right before dinner...
I just hung out at the camp after lunch, waited until 4, which is when my team agreed to meet to film. Jordan (the cameraman, who deserves much respect) was busy though, so we helped fill water balloons for Water Wednesday. We only got to filming at about 15 minutes before dinner.
Evening chapel was intense. Everyone was asked to lay down their fears, anxiety, depression, doubts, etc. and just surrender entirely to God. The sermon was about two things, if I'm following my notes correctly. A: Love is a decision. I have to wake up each morning and choose to love God, to live for Him. 2: The camp speaker talked about how Jacob wrestled with God all night, and wouldn't give up until God blessed him. We were asked to pick a friend who we know (i/wa)sn't saved and to pray for their salvation in earnest.
There were no night games on Tuesday. Thank the Lord for that one. I was dead tired.

Wednesday

I'm just gonna skip straight to team games, because all I wrote down during morning chapel was the chorus from the song "Dear X (You Don't Own Me)" by Disciple. Great song. I love it. Until further notice, it's my favorite song.
Water games. This includes everyone's favorite, TUBE MADNESS. Plus a water balloon version of Capture the Flag, a waterslide relay, and an interesting mix of Dodgeball, Capture the Flag, and a pool that we call Poolboy. My team won half and lost half. It was tons of fun, though!
Oh, and by this time, the mosquitoes were killing me. I finally stopped using bug repellent, and they didn't bite me nearly as much, but I had several bites swell up larger than 50-cent coins. Apparently my body chemistry decides to attract bugs when I'm wearing repellent, and to repel them when I'm not. =/
Went swimming (both sessions, though the first I was hardly swimming) after lunch. The first session I hung out with Cameron, and after he left to go do something I played my ocarina by the lakeside and drank my huckleberry milkshake. Second session, Rachael was there and we hung out, got into the lake, had a ton of fun. There was a lot of discussion about some sort of dinosaur group, and digesting (figuratively literally) my resume to get into it. In the end I got kicked out permanently. :p Gotta love friends with an imagination haha. That was a blast.
After dinner Rachael and I talked a bit. We didn't really get to know each other much last year, so we talked and got to know each other, and just had a real great time (well, I did at least. I hope she did lol).
Wednesday night chapel was a tough time for me. The sermon was about the man who asked Christ (as they both hung on crosses) to remember him when He entered His kingdom. I am really curious as to where our camp speaker found the story of that man, I will have to ask him soon. Anyway... After that sermon, after learning about this man's life, all I could ask God was "Why will you save a murderer/thief, and yet you won't heal your own daughter?" I wasn't wondering why God would save the man, that's entirely understandable. But why won't he heal Bethany? I'm still looking for that answer. Worship continued on after the sermon, but all I did was pray and cry. I was so confused. I didn't, and still don't, understand. Eventually it got to the point where I felt freezing. And in a room full of more than 100 teenagers passionately worshiping God, that's quite something. Especially when you consider that I thrive in temperatures that most people would deem chilly. I walked out of the Chapel, confused and thirsty. I wasn't walking right. It was a struggle to get from the chapel to the restroom's water fountain, and that isn't a far walk. I don't even know how to describe how I was walking, apart from it wasn't right. There was this weird twitchy thing going on with my arms, and once or twice I grabbed my head, bent over and growled/grunted/something along those lines. Weirdest thing ever.
I saw someone from my church who I look up to, a fellow named Matt, and I asked to talk to him. Though it sounded very choppy, and it was hard to speak. Before we started talking, he told me that he had been expecting me. And while I didn't realize it that night, I know now the answer to my question (sort of...), because Matt gave an answer and he had been expecting me. That can only mean God intended for me to talk to him.
I asked Matt why. Through the sobs, and the gravelly voice, and my odd head-grabbing and bending over deal, I asked him why God wouldn't heal my older sister. He said he didn't know. He also told me, though, of Daniel, who once prayed for something for three weeks before he realized that God had answered him on the first night of his prayer, and the angel who spoke to him after three weeks took so long because he had to fend off the prince of Persia (I can only assume that name refers to a demon of some sort, one of great strength).
I was aching all over, and I was still freezing. Matt had me stand up, and he popped my back (it popped in at least 10 different places), and I didn't walk oddly anymore. But still I ached, and was freezing. I went back into the chapel, and prayed for a friend who was crying as much or more than I had been. It seemed to calm my friend down (and I will not name the person. I am fairly certain that this is not my story to share, so what was wrong (which I would find out Thursday) and who it was will remain a mystery to all of you).
Oh, I neglected to mention that at this point, my room had been vandalized. Someone went in and grabbed someone's duct tape, a bunch of people's stuff, and duct taped it all around the room. Walls, ceiling, etc. They even taped the toilet (and then someone used said toilet... I'm just glad I never saw the result of that). My stuff somehow escaped notice, and was just fine.
Anyway, after chapel I went back to the room and just laid down. I was sweating up a storm, and it was at about this time that I realized I had a fever. That explained the aches and the chills. But our room was flooded with staff who were trying to figure out who did it, and the lights didn't go off until 2 or 3 in the morning. Not good for someone who is sick. I slept a grand total of 4 hours.

Thursday

What a day. I spent most of the day in bed, sweating, sick. Breakfast, I ate a little bit of cantaloupe. I tried sticking out morning chapel, but by the time worship was done I just had to go back to bed. Pastor Joel excused me from games. I missed lunch. I almost went home. But with just 10 minutes to spare, I felt better. No more fever. Pastor Joel gave me the okay to stay the remainder of the camp. Second session of swimming was over at this point, and I had to practice for the gong show with my team. Dinner has never tasted so good. It was teriyaki chicken, and it was the only real meal I had that day.
I took no notes during the Thursday night sermon, and I can't remember it at all. Worship was crazy. I talked to my friend whom I had prayed for the previous night and discovered what was ailing them, though I was unable to help at all that night. That friend wept so hard and so long.... Once again I was confused as to why God didn't help this person, and later that night it finally occurred to me that Matt had given the answer I believe I need. Though I was never able to share with my friend. I only pray that it is the answer.
The Gong Show was crazy, and I don't remember too much, except for Rachael's team doing a dance to a Frank Sinatra song. That song was stuck in my head for days. FOR DAYS.
The skits that my group did aren't worth mentioning. One was gonged, the other received low scores from all except the camp speaker (IIRC).

Friday

Ate breakfast, watched the camp DVD. Props to Cameron and whoever else put it together. They only got one hour of sleep on Thursday night/Friday morning. Rachael and I decided that she's my little sister and I'm her older brother! That was the highlight of my morning.
I then proceeded to pack, and cleaning assignments were given to most of the people in my room. A few others and I were told to just sit tight. We then had our bags searched, because over the course of the week, 3 iPods, an MP3 Player, and about $65 were stolen from my room. Nobody else had that issue. It was assumed someone from our room did it. Nobody had the goods. So I said my final goodbyes to my Yakima friends, Rachael, Sabrina, and Aust(i? e?)n, and we left. It was great to finally get home.

If you actually read this entire thing, you were either at camp, or you just love me. Or you think "religious experiences" are a joke and you wanted to laugh (you know who you are). Or you were bored and had nothing better to do than to read my novella of a blog. Or you were tagged in my Facebook post (which probably means that one or both parts of the first sentence in this paragraph applies to you). Whichever applies to you, I love you all! Thanks for reading! =)

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Silenced in the name of tolerance"

A man was fired from Home Depot. Why am I starting my blog with this? You will see when I get there.
The first amendment of our constitution gives us the right to freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. The fourteenth amendment says that individual groups of people can not be treated unequally.
Canada is not so lucky. They have banned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. This means that Christians no longer have the right to believe the Bible in the many places where it says that homosexuality is a sin, in Canada, and speak out about it.
You're understanding this, right? It is ILLEGAL to be open about being a Bible-believing Christian in Canada, because that discriminates against homosexuals.
In 2008, an American author named Ted Dekker published a book called Sinner. This book is about Christianity being outlawed in America because it discriminates against other belief systems, as it says it is the ONLY right religion. The "Tolerance Act" outlined in the book repeals certain aspects of the first amendment, namely freedom of speech. The amendment, as it is in reality, says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The so-called "Tolerance Act" changed it to say: "... or abridging the freedom of any speech that does not publicly defame, slander, or libel another person's race, national origins, or religion; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble..."
Do you see what I'm getting at? It is only a fictional story, but today we are closer than ever to that becoming reality.
A worker at Home Depot was fired because he refused to take off a button on his work apron which said "One nation under God, indivisible." But homosexuality can freely be advocated on Home Depot work aprons. ( http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147497324 )
Anybody who has heard this story already may also note that the incident of this man being fired and the allowance of homosexual advocation are not the same incident. However, the fact remains that someone working at Home Depot can not wear a button which says "God" on it but people can openly wear an entire apron devoted to a LGBT film festival.
It may also be noted that they offered to let him wear a different button, which said "United We Stand." Still patriotic, right? But what about this man's personal beliefs in God? Why can others' personal beliefs be all over their aprons, but he can't have a single button for his?
( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33505354/ns/business-local_business/ )
Equal rights do not happen by reversal. We Christians are now the ones who are persecuted in this country, because of our beliefs. And that fire is fed by people like the Westboro Baptists, who claim to be Christians, but they preach a message of hate rather than what the Bible is *really* about, which is love.
I was told recently on a status of mine on Facebook, by a friend of mine, that people didn't really care what I thought seeing as I'm just an ordinary person. That can no longer be said. People will care that I believe homosexuality is wrong, even though I also believe that as a Christian it is my duty to love all others, not just those who agree with me, and not just those who don't sin (but who is sinless other than Christ, anyway?). People will care that I believe in a God who claims to be the only God, and the only way to Heaven. And I run the risk, in the future, of being fired from a job for being a Christian.
Home Depot will not have my business. Not now, not in the future, unless they should decide to reinstate Trevor and allow his button to be displayed, or until the equality goes the other way and other personal view things such as advertisements for the LGBT film festival are also against company policy. Until things are made equal, I refuse to give them my business.
"Sinner tells the story of a free land where people who worship as they please and say what they believe are suddenly silenced in the name of tolerance" (taken from the synopsis on the back of the book). And America is working on making that story a reality.
I will stand for my beliefs. This is the land of the FREE. I am free to believe what I wish. And if the day comes that I am no longer legally allowed to stand up for Christianity, for Jesus Christ and the message he had, and for the Bible, I will become a criminal, because I absolutely refuse to change my beliefs.