Our time in both of the programs (Basketball Camp and Adventure Camp) ended Thursday, but we're all in a state of both agreement and excitement about what's next for our kids. We were given just three days to know, love, and speak truth to them, and it was such a demonstration of God's ability to get things done despite limitations. At the morning basketball camp that my own team ran, we were happy to see a few new faces. Our basketball drills turned into a game of kickball. Watching them connect with the kids as they played, I was so impressed by the talent that some of the people in this group have for sports ministry. Over at the Roc Salvation basketball site, the team got the chance to present the Gospel by way of the "flipper flappers," and the kids understood and opened themselves to the message, some even sharing things they already knew about Jesus. The team was so thrilled to see how well some of them already knew their stuff! I'm glad to know that New Day will be running the program all summer, providing the opportunity for continuing growth.
Rheeme Zayed, Claudia Masters, and I had become friends with a girl our age named Elizabeth at Adventure Camp, and Wednesday brought the opportunity to answer some complicated questions she had, resulting in a great discussion. After learning that she didn't have access to a Bible, I promised to get one to her, so, during the lunch time in between camps on Thursday, I went to a local Christian bookstore with Erica Schiller and Emily Fonseca to pick one out. We found the perfect one for Lizzy, and it meant so much to her. It brought Claudia, Rheeme, and I so much joy to see the work that was started in her, but on a larger scale, I'm amazed at what was started in all of the other kids during this one-on-one buddy time. Where they lacked love, God filled the need. If they felt like laughing, singing, running around, or talking, then they were free to do it. When they were confused, Kaitlin Barnello was armed with an ingenious comparison of the Trinity to Transformers. By the end, the kids even began to connect with each other. The stories of how people were impacted on the Roc Salvation side were so similar to ours that it's boosted my hope for what comes next: different teams will come in and out, but whoever they are, there's no question that God will carry the process through to perfection. Before they went home for the day, we invited everybody to the "Thursday Night Lights" weekly basketball scrimmage at New Day. Man, were some of those little kids unbelievably skilled! Back at the church, we had a great worship time, discussed this week and the future, and prayed over our wonderful AIM leaders, who did the same for us. It wouldn't properly be one of our trips without dance parties or serenading on the last night, so we did plenty of both.
Cleaning and goodbyes this morning were so tough. We got Crucified Ministries back in order, and after lots of pictures and hugs, Beka, Rae, Larry, and Steve (the AIM leaders) waved and danced on the sidewalk as we drove away and left Johnstown for our cultural day in Pittsburgh. We went to an outdoor mall where we shopped and ate, rode up an inclined plane and saw the view from a balcony, checked in at our hotel, and went to the PNC Park for a Pirates game. Such a busy, fun day! It was great to bond with the entire PA team one last time, and a perfect send-off for our time here... even with the excessive heat, humidity, and sweat we got to enjoy. What a blessing and a surprise it's been to see how God has chosen to use each of us.