I'm pretty much preparing to hear "I told you would enjoy yourself, Angie!". Well screw you too ;)
I'm talking about how everyone knew that I would actually really enjoy myself at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat but I think I enjoyed myself for a lot of other reasons outside of serving people and that's what I would like to talk about in this blog post.
My experience with JAF was unique. I mean, duh, everyone went for unique reasons and things that happened to everyone person was unique but, I must say, my experience was very Angie-like if that makes any sense.
I can't really get into much detail about the beginning of the week because of the legality of things but basically, God had a plan for me to get hurt and get some battle bruises which, to me, kind of proved that I am fighter and that I would much rather get some bruises than someone get seriously injured. I really think that surprised everyone, like, I was upset that I was hurt but I wanted to go back into the war zone if I had some control over the situation. Honestly, just so everyone is on the same page, I am not upset that I got hurt and I am not upset at the person that hurt me, I was upset that I didn't know more going into the situation. I'm also upset at the lack of communication but, that's whatever, it's over now.
^And that was Wednesday.
Thursday comes about and damage control needed to happen and again God worked in all the leaders and I was assigned to work with Deb, a older woman who was the assistant craft leader who has a disease that has made her retina weaker (something about degenerating). My job for the week was to assist Deb aka Minion (I was dubbed Mintoo) in little kid crafts and in telling her what was on the food line because she is not able to see the different types of food but knows what she likes. Working with Deb was better than I could have imagined. We're both fiesty, sassy, but we also have our sensitive sides. A lot of people asked if we were related but I promise, we are not related :)
Not being an STM to an actual camper was actually super neat because I got more freedom in a way and I got to get to know a lot more of the campers. Then again, I don't have any "close" relationship with any of the campers but I did get really close with three STM's that were all sisters.
Moving away from what things were happening on the outside, lots of stuff were going on inside of me and that's the most important thing I can stress: I went there one person and I came back another person.
For the first couple days I feel this detached feeling and it was actually really irritating but I covered it up with being aggressive and pretty rude to people. I can't exactly put my finger on it but a lot of it was fear and not wanting to change how I did things and I didn't want to just focus on the happy aspect (I still don't). I understand that it's a place meant to be happy but that doesn't mean that the negative things shouldn't be addressed also like with other STM's (which I will admit happened. But not against anyone in particular, just needing to talk).
So, on Thursday morning during butt-o-clock devotion, I admitted to my group that I've been feeling this hardness in my heart and that I would really like some prayer. I also vowed to myself that that day I wasn't going to complain about anything and just enjoy it (you'll be happy to hear that I only complained once that day) and God did SO MUCH to me in that day. Like, it was freaking amazing. I let myself feel and experience. I interacted with more people and I am so thankful I did.
To conclude, I haven't completely conquered my fear of disabled people but JAF really put it in perspective. I would like to personally thank everyone that donated money to me: Momma Stauffer, my dad, Tori Banks, Lauren Rumford, Wendi Voorheis, Chris Klimola, Darcy Pugsely Gene and Myra Dennis, Random guy at B-24's and most importantly Cross and Resurrection Lutheran Church for matching my funds.
And I would also like to thank everyone that I met at the family retreat. All of you helped me so much last week and I enjoyed getting to know you. I will always remember all of you and I am excited to stay in contact with you all :)