On the opening day, we greeted the families with a festive, wedding-like atmosphere. Many families attend camp year after year and we were definitely excited to see them again. But for me, it was particularly exciting to have several families come for the first time whose children receive therapy at our rehabilitation center.
|Maxim and his dad participating in morning exercises|
|Welcoming Mark and his mom to camp|
|Oksana and her 2 daughters, Tonia and Katya, coming into camp with the help of a volunteer|
|"LOVE" - my group for the week included families with the youngest kiddos!|
|Ivanka and her grandma|
Every year we strive to have a volunteer paired with each child with a disability and their family for the week. The role of volunteers is to serve the needs of their child as much as possible throughout the week and, by extension, to serve the rest of the family. I was blessed to be paired with Maxim, a 7-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and deafness who has come to camp for several years now with his mother, Marina, and sister, Dasha. His father was unable to come due to work.
I had a wonderful time serving this family by spending lots of time with Maxim, which included frequent walks in his stroller, sitting together on the big swing, and playing on a blanket during our small group times. God blessed me with this precious little boy who breaks into a contagious smile or laugh at the sight of a familiar face, interaction with another child, or the vibration of a percussion instrument in his hand.
Because Maxim is deaf, he really was a perfect match for me. I've been in the little kids' group at camp before and my broken Ukrainian is often very difficult, both for them and me. But with Maxim, my language skills were not a hindrance. I could use any method I wanted to interact with him and show him love without the concern for whether my words were right...so freeing!
Please join me in praying for this family. Marina has heard much truth from God's Word over the years that she has come to camp - please pray for her repentance. Also, I am excited to start rehab with Maxim in September and see what progress he is able to make. Again, his deafness is helpful for me because it means I can work with him alone, which is something I haven't been able to do with children since I arrived - so I'm looking forward to that.
We discussed the retreat theme of "Love is..." more specifically each day with topics such as words, time, gifts, and help. In the mornings, children and parents had separate small group Bible studies. This is a really special time for the parents to spend only with other adults, knowing that volunteers are caring for their children. We had a group for the 4 dads and then 4 small groups for moms. We are grateful that several of the moms are believers now as a direct result hearing God's Word in previous camps. Please pray for God's work in the lives of the moms and dads who heard the truth this year.
After Bible studies, we had various activities people could get involved in, including crafts, learning to play adapted harps, games, spa salon, and cooking classes. Smiles were abundant during these times!
After dinner each day, we all gathered around the campfire for the evening program. It was a beautiful setting in the forest and everyone enjoyed this time of singing, dramas, presentations of the groups, games, and hearing the Word.
Thank you to all who prayed for this camp. God met our needs in regards to finances, volunteers, weather, health, and all the daily logistics. Please continue to pray for God's work in the lives of those who attended. I hope that this week I will be able to post blogs about adult camp and other summer activities, so stay tuned.
For now though, I leave you with this beautifully created boy enjoying the beauty of God's creation and I trust and pray that you too have eyes to see our Creator's beauty around you.