There’s No Place Like Kansas

Wednesday night I posted this picture to capture my anxiousness about going on my first youth camp trip as a leader.

How am I going to survive?

How am I going to survive?

The annual camp trip to Kansas has none of the amenities that a spoiled glamper (fancy camping) like me is used to. Add to that, I volunteered to teach the youth on sin. Thursday morning, I put on my bravest face and began the 3 hr car trip to St Francis, Kansas. We camp out on some land on the edge of the town. This town has a population of 1300. Here’s what camp looks like.

Our land, with a pond

Our land, with a pond

I was able to adjust to the “bathroom”, which was a toilet seat elevated over a hole, surrounded by a tarp. I didn’t even mind being with 37 kids, some of whom I knew, and some of whom I would grow to know. While I thought I would dislike losing my privacy, I liked being around the kids. There was always someone to talk to.

Thursday night, the wind was so strong, it nearly blew my tent off the ground. It made having a fire impossible, and kicked up all kinds of allergens. I barely slept that night, the wind was too much.

Friday’s fun was playing at the park in town, where the kids had a ridiculous time playing Slip N Slide kickball. The pictures show giant smiles on everyone’s face. Friday night was my turn to teach. I was blessed to have the leaders lay hands on me to pray. I opened by telling them I was so nervous about teaching that I felt like I could either puke or pee. With that icebreaker, I gave an abbreviated version of my testimony, then broke into Scripture and teaching on how hard it is to surrender sin. I was relieved when it was over. While it felt like I had only taught for 5 minutes, I’m sure it was longer.

Me teaching the youth

Me teaching the youth

Unfortunately, one of our girls (K) fell ill that night. The allergies were far too much for her, and her breathing was very labored. She was taken away to the hospital in town, by one of the families from the church who has a home in St Francis. They come out every year to help us with all the meals.

Saturday we woke earlier than usual to get our teaching in before we went into town for a service project. We visited a retirement community to do some chores (window washing, painting, cleaning). It was a blessing to them, and to us. We returned to camp for lunch then went off to Frogland, one of the town’s bigger ponds. Here we could play in the water, or just chill on the beach. This was also our day to visit Dairy King.

Hanging with my peeps at DK

Hanging with my peeps at DK

I spent my time at Frogland in the shade, but was coaxed out to play some beach volleyball. Volleyball is not my sport, but I had a blast getting silly with the group playing. I think my team even won.

Saturday night is when things got wonderful and weird. During worship, one of the girls starting showing symptoms similar to what K had experienced. It was determined she should go get checked out at the hospital. Larry was in charge of teaching that night, and he did awesome. 5 kids ended up giving their lives to Christ. It was a huge blessing. Larry’s teaching was followed by more worship, and prayer time. I prayed with one of my HS girls who was overwhelmed with joy at the news of kids being saved. But during the worship, K and another girl had to go to the hospital. That made it 3 girls in the ER. The leaders met and talked about what the plan should be. We determined that we were under attack by the enemy, and we were going to stand our ground and rebuke anything trying to distract from what we were doing. We prayed loud and hard, then broke into small groups. Two of the HS boys went around camp praying over the youth for protection (it was a cool thing). Not even ten minutes into small group time, we were told by the hospital that we should evacuate camp. Clearly something was in the air at our camp, and we needed to leave. We grabbed sleeping bags, and some grabbed a few items, and we fled to the homes of the two families from church who have places in St Francis. By this time it was about 10:30pm.

Morale was pretty good, considering what was going on. As we waited to find out our next move, another girl fell ill and was sent to the ER. We then got word the hospital wanted us to all shower and ditch our “contaminated” clothing. The local high school was opened up for us to shower and change. Hospital gowns were sent over, as well clothes donated by the two families, also clothes from a church. Some of the kids were also sent to the thrift store, which opened up to us, and donated items.

We were at the high school for some time, because it takes a while for everyone to shower, especially if there are only two bottles of shampoo. The school provided towels for us. All our clothes were put into trash bags, to be dealt with later. While we waited at the high school, a 5th girl fell ill and was sent to the hospital.

Once everyone was showered, we split the boys and girls between the two houses. Pretty much everyone fell asleep right away. We resolved that a group would go out to the land Sunday morning to pack up all the tents and belongings.

Sunday morning we did just that, breaking down camp in less than 90 minutes. All the girls that had been hospitalized were released with an epi pen and had received nebulizer treatment. While we still are unsure what had happened, the symptoms were dizziness, shakes and breathing problems. We tried to keep the hospitalized girls in vehicles without people who broke camp, as a precaution. The drive home was fairly uneventful, although one girl had a stomach bug and had to pull over to be sick.

Once we returned to Aurora, all the belongings were laid out on the lawn of the school to be collected. Everyone was told to wash all their clothes, and all girls had to discard any makeup, lotions or sprays.

Three of the five girls had return trips to the ER/Urgent Care after their return to CO Sunday. We’re praying hard that this is the end of whatever is attacking their systems.

So, that was Kansas Youth Camp. In the end, it was interesting. There was laughter, tears, and stories to share. Lives were changed, bonds were formed, and God moved.

Sunset on Saturday night

Sunset on Saturday night


Pics from the camp trip can be found here:

Beautiful Things

“You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us” – Gungor

I’ve been struggling to put into words what the last year has been like, from a church perspective. Some days felt like they held promise, some days felt like a punch in the stomach.

It was in March 2012 that our Pastor left. I wrote about it, and then wrestled with my feelings over his departure, as well as the departure of friends who didn’t want to be at our church anymore.

And that sucked. It really did. It felt like being dumped. But looking back at the Pastor’s leaving, I came to realize something. While I wanted to be angry at him, and I was, he didn’t have any control over the situation. God’s hand was over it. It was God who was guiding our church’s future, it is God who is guiding us. The faithful remnant that remained? We’re stronger, we’re lifting one another up in prayer, in encouragement, in fellowship.

I still don’t know what the future holds for Creekside. But this body of believers are united. We are seeking His face, His will, serving each other, serving our neighbors. We have a new Pastor now, and it seems he & his family are ready to jump in with both feet and stand side by side with us. And that, I thank God for. If the pain of change meant the reward of fellow servants joining Creekside, I thank you Lord for taking us through this.



I became a Christian in 1999, at Woodbridge Community Church in California. I spent the next four years growing closer to God and other believers with a church family that was my family. Because our blood relatives were in Canada, our CA family (Kroliks, Pursleys, Eseras, Merrits) were the ones we experienced life with.

The move to CO made us leave our family, and we searched for a new church. The first one we visited wasn’t right, so the following week we drove out to Aurora to try Creekside. We got there late, it took us 45 minutes to drive out there from our place in Glendale. But Dave was leading worship and it was awesome. We were excited to stay. Pastor Jim spoke, and he was a great teacher. We knew this is where we wanted to be. We made friends, had a family “adopt” us for Thanksgiving, it was all good.

Time passed, friends moved, we had our first baby, but we were in a groove. Then staff changes happened. The Pastor took a break from the church. People started leaving. It was a time of uncertainty. The Pastor came back, just long enough to leave again, this time for good. More people left. We wondered if we should leave too. We felt that way off and on for months, seeking God’s answer. We never felt that He wanted us to leave. Creekside hired an interim Pastor, Randy, someone to be our shepherd while we waited for the right Pastor. Randy was just what we needed to heal. Finally the Elders and Pastor Search Team had found the guy, and we were invited to meet him and his wife. We met Josh & Molly, and I knew he would do great. This man had such a heart for the Lord.

And now, a little more than two years since he came, Josh is leaving. I couldn’t stop crying when he announced it. My heart was breaking. I really felt that this was right. We had a wonderful teacher, who could teach God’s truth, make us laugh, and make us feel convicted. Even when we needed to take a break from ministry, we knew Creekside was hearing God’s Word.

I realize that God is always reminding me that I’m not meant to be comfortable here on earth. This isn’t my forever. Change is a part of life, a painful part. Right now, I want to guard my heart, to not feel so deep. And I do, I guard myself, because I don’t want to get hurt. 2012 has already held a lot of change. What doesn’t change is Him. People will come and go in my life, but He won’t leave. He will stay faithful, even when I don’t.

This isn’t going to be easy. And it isn’t comfortable. It’s uncomfortable.