It wasn’t terribly surprising to find that there was not a Disney quote to go with the subject of this post, well at least not on the face of it. Perhaps a little deeper digging might have found one, but the idea is not that I spend all night looking for a quote to go with a blog post I haven’t written so I decided to prioritise the post over the title.
Summer is sweeping in and soon the children will have broken up from school and will be everywhere. I look forward to the summer still. It’s a different anticipation now than it was when I was still a kid and summer meant six weeks off school away, mostly, from the bullies and able to just be me. For the last six years, and again this year, summer has meant eight nights under canvas spending seven days as part of a children’s team at New Wine North and East summer conference.
The dreams that creep up on me somewhere around March are usually the first indication that somewhere in my subconscious I am already beginning the countdown. I have a tendency to dream that something’s not quite right, either I can’t find which cowshed I’m supposed to be in or I’m really late for team time and miss the important stuff although I know the normal layout of the Newark Show-ground like the back of my hand by now and haven’t ever been late enough to team time to actually miss anything. Even with the dreams it takes a while for my conscious thoughts to catch up with my subconscious.
July, the month of preparing and more often than not some element of panic. For the first few years I knew I had my gorgeous Eurohike Paint Your Own tent that had been lovingly decorated for me by my best friends in my house group, a snuggly warm sleeping bag and a big backpack that matched to carry everything in. I even went so far as buying a camping chair in the same fabric as the sleeping bag and backpack. The main panic was the paperwork, where had we put the essential letters that had the tear off part that was our ticket and conference badge? Even after no ticket year and the wait in the information office which ended in relief we would still panic when the paperwork was mislaid. Two years ago a very sad time came; after years of being used for one week in the summer and being put away perhaps a little carelessly my beautiful distinctive tent that had a double skin so never leaked had succumbed to damp and mould and really was on its last legs. I borrowed a friend’s tent last year and got leaked on so the slight panic is in the hope that Fiancé’s tent won’t leak when I borrow it this year.
Looking back I have so many memories of great things that have happened at New Wine. Besides my love story starting there (which I will tell another time) there have been so many great stories of what God can do in the lives of these children. I’ll never forget the evening the kids left the venue late because they were all chanting ‘Jesus’ over and over, or the girl, Siobhan, who arrived at my group in Boulder Gang deaf but went home at the end of the week hearing after the kids prayed for her.
Every year I make sure that as we pack down on the Friday night I have made a list of every child that was on the register for my group. These lists go into the back of my journal and I try to remember to pray for the children from one New Wine to the next.I have the lists from 07 – 10 in front of me as I write this and I can remember children even from as far back as 2007. Some of them you don’t forget quickly and some will stay in your memory forever. From 2007 there are three boys I can still picture as if I last saw them yesterday.
Kids and what God does for them and through them are I guess at the centre of my focus every year at New Wine and as I go as a children’s worker that is only right but what then of the amazing people who are there for the team? Every year so far I have gone to New Wine leaving something not quite right at home. One year a very close friend and her husband were separating, other years I have been out of work and had to scrape together the train fare. I cannot pretend that there has been a year yet where I have been happy to get onto the train/into the car at the end of the week. Perhaps, as this year I’m leaving Fiancé at home I will be happy to come back. There are some pretty awesome people, well they have to be awesome for me to have felt so comfortable with them, who are there for the team members. They are our team pastors. For the past 3 years I have been able to talk to my team pastors without the usual clamming up and not being able to say what I wanted. God has worked in life at New Wine and these people have helped massively. Claire, Panda and Becki have all listened and prayed with me as I told them virtually the same story and felt like I was a stuck record waiting for the needle to skip. I guess Claire opened the door a bit, Panda was great at helping me step through and Becki went above and beyond. Becki’s pastoring last year led to me going to see the lay pastor at my church and working through the issues with him. Thanks to Becki and the lay pastor I don’t think the same issues are going to be as pertinent this year. Maybe they’ll be there in the background but there will be much more important things for me to want to pray about.
Whatever awaits me in the week after I watch my housemate get married I know that I have awesome team leaders and hopefully an awesome team pastor who I will be able to talk to. This year I am going to working with a younger group of children with the challenges that will bring but with God’s help and the support of my team, the team leaders and the team pastor I know that whether the challenges come from the children or from somewhere within me I will be able to handle them, although I’m not expecting that this year’s team pastor will be as willing as Becki was to bring a cookie to my sick tent.