Every person has their reason for travel—whether it is for fun, enlightenment, business, or because unrelenting parents force them to. This past summer, I made my reason for travel serving others at a Younglife summer camp called Timberwolf Lake. The often frigid Michigan air of Lake City would sound unappealing to any high schooler getting ready to enjoy the warmth of a Kentucky summer break, but the three weeks I spent at Timberwolf Lake beat any day sitting around in the sun. Working there revealed to me not only things about myself, but also about everything around me.
At first, I was less than thrilled to stay away from home for three weeks. Upon arrival I became immediately homesick, very far away from any friends or family. The work was challenging, every face a new one and I felt incredibly overwhelmed with it all. I struggled greatly the first week with this and soon discovered I could not defeat this on my own. I talked to my work crew boss about it all and she was thrilled I had decided to share my troubles. She deeply encouraged me to see the important work I was doing and that I was meant to be here. Stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture—that could make or break the situation. “You know,” she began, “No one’s forcing you to stay here. You can go home any time you want.” This statement hit me with an unusual force. I realized going home wasn’t an option for me. I had to stay and finish what I had started, and that was the greatest decision of my life! In the end, I was changed in ways I can never understand.
I saw God work in beautiful ways there. The idea of a Younglife summer camp is to share the message of Christ with the campers and leave them with a choice. At Timberwolf Lake I witnessed hundreds of students choose to follow Christ—a truly humbling experience. I could not help but just fall down in the grass, stare up at the blue sky framed in drifting white clouds and gape in awe of what happened there! I remember at times I would wrestle with God in that place, but I remember more times when I felt God painting a delicate smile on my face. I became aware that I was home anywhere God was, an amazing cure for my rampant homesickness. He became my home away from home.
Timberwolf Lake also showed me incredible fun. Every night we work crew kids would stay up until one in the morning on the denim couches in the lobby, just talking and laughing. We got in trouble a few times for staying up so late, but our bosses were secretly thrilled that we were connecting in such a powerful way! I felt that work became more play by the time our three weeks were over. The bonds made there have not left me despite the fact most of my work crew friends live across the country, evidence of the very epitome of wonderful moments in life.
Becoming changed doesn’t happen often. Sharing this change happens even less. The greatest changes cannot help but be reflected outside us though. My travels to Timberwolf Lake brought about such a change in my life. It was more than a simple experience; it was a chance to grow, to become someone better. And that is something unlike a picture or a memory or some far off place—it is something I will never lose.
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