Guest blog entry by Paul Thomas
Joy asked me to step in and write a blog post for her. I’ve done the admin side of Orphan Camp for the last couple years, which keeps me busy making sure that kids, staff, toys, buses, and food is all where it should be — so not a lot of time to play with the kids.
(I’m totally fine with this. Some have these gifts, and some have those gifts…)
Because of this, I get a “bird’s eye view” of the event. A few things jump out at me, as I watch the day progress.
For example, you sometimes don’t expect the people who are the best with kids to be the best with kids.
Some people who seem tough and serious on a daily basis have hearts of oak that can give the most steadfast, deep love to some of the kids who need it the most steadily.
Sometimes, people who have no experience as parents turn out to be experts at connecting with somebody who needs somebody to connect to.
Seeing kids grow up over three summers is, well, amazing. And heartbreaking.
And obviously, there’s a lot of smiles and laughter, but that’s kids for you!
What isn’t in these pictures is the staff of both the orphanage and the facility where we host the event. Obviously, the kids are the focus of the day, but they’re not the only ones we have the chance to show the love of Jesus to. The orphanage staff get a fun day while we take care of their kids, but they also get a few minutes to talk with believers who try and explain why we spend our “free time” doing this.
(Our time isn’t free. He paid for all of it. We can just try to use it well.)
Similarly, the staff of the facility are bemused and appreciative that, on this blazing hot summer day, a bunch of foreign strangers are eagerly taking on the work of setting up and breaking down the tables and chairs, cleaning the pool, serving the food — jobs which normally would fall to them. We’re frank with them about why we’re eager to do this.
(“In all humility, consider others as greater than yourselves.”)
Maybe the best is seeing some of the kids who have left the orphanage as they blossom in the care of a foster family or their new adopted family. We invite these kids back every year so the staff can see beloved little ones as they blossom and grow.
I am very grateful to the volunteers who come and make this event fun and loving. I am very, very grateful to the supporters around the world who have made this possible thanks to contributions and prayers. (Two years with beautiful, sunny days, despite being in the middle of a rainy season? What are the chances…?) Most of all, though, I am grateful to have been given a little way to serve, and to try to show these kids and the staff what Christ’s love means.