Caleb Collins – ECCC – Camp Baldwin, Alaska
I knew from the first day of the 3-4th-grade week that I was going to need some more help. I had two more kids that were on the autism spectrum, one of which was fully autistic but very high functioning, the other was dyslexic and had a speech impediment. It was made very clear to me that I was still making this summer about me and not about God. That Tuesday night I was looking back and thinking about the week that I was at Delta's VBS with their 3rd and 4th graders. I was picking and choosing which kids I wanted in my cabin and which ones I didn't. One of those was that high-functioning autistic kid who would break down and cry if anything didn't go the way he wanted it to. "I won't be able to take care of him the way he needs it," I told myself. I was right. Where I was wrong was the way I was approaching it. You've all heard me talk about how I can't do this summer on my own strength. I'm beginning to understand that more clearly now. We all know Philippians 4:13. Taking care of an autistic kid that just wants to have fun certainly falls under that umbrella. As the week went on, I found it easier to love on those kids, and those kids will forever hold a place in my heart. It was painful for me to put some of their stuff in their parent's cars because I really did not want them to leave. I've thought about each and every one of them every day since they left. Then this past week rolled around…
There were no kids on the autistic spectrum, no kids that needed special attention to make sure they took their meds and ate the right foods. These kids were in an age group where they're still young enough to see us as grownups (which still feels weird) and old enough that they can actually compete with us in games. On paper, this week should have been a cakewalk. BUT…I had this kid that found every opportunity to be disrespectful and disobedient and chose to talk back to me at every corner. 24 hours in, I was ready to take him to our program director, Mark, but my co-counselor who has the patience of a saint, and said we just needed to keep showing him grace. Wednesday night he had a talk with the Mark and he was less directly defiant. At the end of the week, I talked with Mark about what went on with this kid. I ran him through the gauntlet of how I wanted to nail this kid to a wall from day 2. As soon as I was done he nailed me to the proverbial wall with this question, "I understand, but has God ever shown you too much patience?" I just sat there on the tailgate of his truck, staring at the ground. Then he told me, "Don't let your anger fester inside of you. If something is going on in your cabin, come talk to me. I will help you through whatever it is. Just remember that the kid is not the enemy. You're a very competitive person, and by getting angry at that kid, you're letting the real enemy win. Don't fall into that trap so easily."
Every couple of weeks it seems l learn something else that I struggle with. This past week it was anger. The weeks before that it was patience. Prior to that, it was bitterness and forgiveness. I never considered myself to struggle with any of these before. But our circumstances don't determine the condition of our hearts. Our circumstances reveal the condition of our hearts.
Thank you for all of the prayers and support that all of you have given me. We're on the downhill slide now. I only have three weeks left. I've been up here for six. It feels like I've been up here for so much longer though, just because we've been doing so much, and wasting no time. Sorry if this blog wasn't as funny as they usually are, but as they say, “It really do be like that sometimes.”
For the kids and for the Kingdom,
P.S. Keep the letters coming. One of the most exciting times of the week is when we get back to the church after camp to check the mail!