dakota and the dome.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week 1 is finished.

It's Sunday night, I [thankfully] have a night off thanks to my gracious supervisor, and my mind is full of everything this past week has given me. Memories of the kids singing and dancing, hilarious quotes, adventures days, tired mornings, late nights, and everything good that a week can hold.

I can sum of my first week of program with this single quote.

"This is the most important thing you can be doing with your life right now."

It was Friday night, it was almost midnight, I was tired, exhausted and somehow still filled. Somehow in the midst of my smelly clothes and dirty hair, in the middle of my completely and utterly exhausted body, my spirit was soaring. I was taking my hair out of my low bun that has complimented my outfit for this entire week, beginning to comb out the knots when it came into my mind. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It made me freeze for a second. It literally came out of nowhere - came into my mind as a full sentence, something complete. A complete thought. A complete thought from God.

My heart stopped. God just spoke to me. God just told me that, and I was completely sure of that. I stopped everything, sat down on my bed, and reflected on what those words meant. It meant that I did what he called me to this week. It meant he was pleased with my work. It meant he was delighting in me. And more importantly, for the first time in a very, very long time, it meant I was doing something right. My heart overflowed, my heart began beating faster and faster, in that moment I knew that everything was right. Everything was where it was supposed to be, and everything was falling into place exactly the way God wanted it to.

I went to bed that night on a spiritual high so large I cannot describe it. What I did this week, and what I will continue to do for the rest of the summer is the most important thing I can be doing with my life right now. There is literally, nothing else that can be more important than this. This beautiful, amazing, and blessed opportunity I have to love on kids who need to be loved so much. To speak truth into their lives. To help them realize just how much God loves them. To help them believe that he will never, ever, leave them - no matter what happens.

This past week, Dakota House helped me achieve a lot of that.

The title of this post, "dakota and the dome" is a reference to our Thursday adventure day, where we took the kids and staff out to Fresno Dome, for an afternoon of rock climbing, dinner, dome climbing and more. We spent the late afternoon climbing on the saddle, watching tiny kids meet huge slabs of granite, and reaching new heights. We built a fire and cooked a traditional camp out meal - hot dogs, chili, GORP ("good ol' raisins and peanuts") and 'smores for dessert.

What a joyous time it was - I was watching the sun slowly make it's way down the western horizon on the longest day of the year, and suddenly, I was at peace with everything. I looked around, and what I saw only supported that fact. The counselors laughing around the fire, cooking the last hot dogs. The girls singing worship songs with Collin and his ukulele. The other kids chowing down on 'smores and GORP, with the biggest smiles on their faces. It was a peace I haven't experienced since campfires at Dedetepe, and I know in that moment, God was smiling down on us.

We made our way up to the top of the dome, where the kids began to rejoice over making it all the way up. The smiles on their faces made the long and difficult hike worth it. We did a bit of tai chi, laughed a lot, enjoyed the beautiful view, and the company of others. I sat with the girls near the edge as we watched the sun go down, and in that peace, I knew I wasn't the only one God was speaking to. The girls began to sing the song "All in All," a favorite of Dakota House. The words rang out loud and clear - "You are my strength when I am weak. You are the treasure that I seek. You are in my all in all." That says a lot for these kids. And the fact that they believe it, they want to sing it, and they want to live it made all the tiredness and exhaustion worth it.

The week was hard. The week was difficult. I was sleep-deprived, I was tired, I was wishing for a break, but it didn't matter because all that mattered was that God was reaching these kids through my work. He was revealing himself and his great, huge, love through my lessons, my actions, and my obedience to him. All I wanted was for these kids, most of whom come from difficult situations to feel loved, to feel okay, and to be kids again, if only for a week. I was no longer the most important thing in the world. I embraced the servant's heart, and gave myself to these kids, and God spoke to me, telling me that there is nothing more important I can be doing with my life, than what I am doing right now. And that is all that matters.

I said goodbye to Dakota House yesterday morning, wished them well and received many goodbyes and come visit us soons. In a week where so much felt unsure and difficult, where the transition from operations to program proved harder than it seemed, God spoke to me. I once wanted this summer for myself, to grow and learn and be molded by God, and now I know that part of this summer is for me, and the other, larger, and more significant part is for the kids I will encounter.

The best part of that statement I heard, is that it made sense. In my life, it always seems as though there is something getting in the way of where I'm trying to go with God. Something walks in slowly, with a sly grin, something attractive and beautiful, something that walks through my line of vision and takes my eyes with it. And suddenly, I'm not focusing on God anymore. And that's not okay. The fact that I know that there is nothing more important than what I am doing right now, is a constant and strong reminder that whatever else I want to achieve isn't worth it. I'm finally in a place where I feel at peace, and I think that everything that is trying to steal my attention isn't going to be strong enough anymore.

I want to hold onto this feeling forever.
And the summer is just beginning.

Respectfully submitted,