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Camp Balchyoca – update 2

I last left off saying that my reader from last year, Ragne, was going to be baptized. It turns out, not only was Ragne going to be baptized, but Martin as well! To connect the dots, in 2005 Peter and I were in Tartu doing a six-week LST mission and Peter read with Merlin who soon decided she would like to be baptized. She became an active member of the church and still continues to be, she is a leader in the Tartu Church of Christ. Her brother, Talis, started coming to church too and to the different activities of the church. Last year, Talis, read with Peter while we were in Tartu doing LST and he was baptized at the end of our trip. Talis has been sharing his faith with his friend, Martin, and Martin decided this summer that he too would like to give his life to Christ. It is truly amazing to see the fruit of God’s work, to know that our trip to Tartu in 2005 meant something, DID something, changed lives. It excites me for this trip we are on now… What is God going to do in the hearts of the people we will meet with? What is God doing in the hearts of the people we connected with at camp?

The rest of Camp Balchyoca was amazing. I witnessed the teens forming wonderful friendships, and certain quieter, shy teens coming out of their shells in ways I had not yet seen.

Our team was in charge of Wednesday’s lesson and afternoon adventure (a game with a point or message). Peter prepared a great lesson on clothing yourself with Christ and Reid and JP assisted him during the lesson. JP dressed up as dorky Peter and Reid dressed up as cool Peter. After the lesson the rest of the teens along with an Estonian teen, Elli-Maria (who read with Stefi last year and came to camp for the first time this year!) acted out a play of the different spiritual clothes we can put on, from Colossians 3:1-14. They demonstrated through their play what the different unspiritual clothes can do to your life an ended the play with Jesus (as played by JP) coming and helping to put on LOVE.

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14 NIV)

They did an amazing job and I was so moved by their message and performance, and so proud of them for working together to come up with a way to communicate this message. I heard such great feedback from many people about both the lesson and the play.

In the afternoon on Wednesday, we did the afternoon adventure which was a game of capture the flag but tweaked to further communicate our message of spiritual clothing. Each home base (or castle as we called it for the game) had three items of clothing in it from the other team and we had to cross into the “enemy’s” territory to retrieve the clothing and then try to make it safely back to our own territory without getting caught. The whole camp seemed to really enjoy this game and didn’t want to stop playing when the bell rang and it was time to move on!

On Thursday we had a talent show and each cabin prepared something to share with the camp, many of them based on the theme of shining like stars in the universe (which was a theme for the week). There were lots of great skits, songs, and other acts! Since Thursday was the last night, we also had a special adventure following the Talent Show, which ended around 11pm! We walked to the beach and the sun was just about to go down. There was a quick message (just a few minutes) about walking in the darkness and trying to find God’s light. Fireworks started to go off and then we were each given our own mini flashlights to represent the light that God gives to us when we seek for Him. Then we took our lights back to Balchyoca to see what would happen of we all shined our lights together. Back at the camp we started a massive bonfire and spent the rest of the night visiting with our friends and enjoying one another.

The last day was filled with lessons, singing, food and laughter, and a crazy Olympics in the afternoon. Then we sadly cleaned our cabins and prepared ourselves to say goodbye to our new friends, some of which we will see again in Tallinn this week, but for some, it is questionable when we will see them again. This is always the hardest part of our mission trips: saying goodbye without knowing when you will see your new, dearly-loved friend again.

The camp ended with parents arriving and we sang a few songs together as a camp and then had a beautiful slideshow that documented the entire week of camp in a powerful way. It was beautifully made and brought tears to many eyes. Once it was done, the goodbyes started and more tears were flowing. Before we knew it we were on a bus back to Tallinn, wondering how half of our trip had already flown by.

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