138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
Recently, a team of seven from The Bible Chapel returned from a week of serving with the Word of Life Camp in Chame, Panama. Every year, Word of Life hosts hundreds of children, many of whom come from the poorest inner-city conditions in Panama City, and gives them a fun-filled week of games with the message of the gospel at the center of all they do. In the following stories, two young women from the team share about their experiences from the last day of camp and the impact that serving has had on them.
I woke up this morning knowing that we would be saying goodbye to the kids, but that wasn’t something I wanted to do. As I walked down to breakfast, it hit me that these kids were leaving. Watching them bring their bags down from the cabins made it sink in that we were about to say goodbye.
When the kids stood outside the buses, I began to get emotional. I didn’t want the kids to return to where they were from. I couldn’t bear to see them leave this safe place. I hugged kids, cried for them, and prayed for them. As they left, I sat on the steps to process things. Watching the buses fill with kids, I asked the Lord why; why did they have to leave?
But He reminded me that He has plans for them – that they won’t be alone.
Echoing Emily’s thoughts, watching the children leave after I had become so close to them was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Two girls clung to me and all three of us were crying. We just stood there for a good five minutes not speaking but we were all thinking the same thing; we didn’t want to let go. I was afraid I would never see these sweet girls’ smiles again – that they would never braid my hair, and that I would never hug them again.
I got to know one of my dad’s boys in particular. He wasn’t one of the best-behaved kids in camp, but throughout the week he opened up more and more. By the end of the week we were doing handshakes, and every time he saw me he gave me a tight hug. He became like a brother to me and a son to my dad. Through God, I know that we will always have that special bond together.
Seeing where these children come from is heartbreaking, and sending them back is even harder. We need to hope and pray that after this week God will continue to put people in their lives who will encourage them in Christ and give them a big hug. I am also praying that God will give them peace, joy, friendship, courage to be bold for Him and, most of all, be a loving and forgiving Father to them.
Although it’s difficult to think of even half of the stuff that happens where they live, it is ten times more comforting that the creator of the universe has those kids safely in His hands.
Leaving such an amazing place is so hard, but I am constantly praying for what God has next for me and what He can do through me to make a difference. This trip has changed my whole perspective on life and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me.