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Friday, August 7, 2009

Royal Family Kids Camp

It took me a while to process camp this year. It was a great year. It was a year with several firsts. We had new directors, lots of newbies, and an extra camper and counselor.

Royal Family Kids Camp is an amazing organization committed to seeking out the lost. We are blessed to get to know these kids for one week of their lives in hopes that we will meet up again someday in the Kingdom.

Who are these kids? Well, their label is ‘Foster Kids’. Some call them rejects. Some call them trouble. Most don’t even think of them at all. God calls them precious, wanted, beautiful, and loved.

I call them mine.

My first year attending RFKC was when my two children were 2 ½ and 1. I first heard about the camp at church when I was pregnant with our second dd and they wouldn’t let me go! I waited an entire year and when I heard the stories from the first year I was crying all the way through the service. I couldn’t explain why it hit me so strongly, it just did. I needed to go.

I went.

I was forever changed.

Several of my girls stole my heart that year. L and A, especially. L’s smile was so beautiful and bright even though she had been abused and neglected. She was hopeful and full of love. I miss her. She went home after camp. I saw her the following year when I had her cousin in my cabin. She was still just as beautiful. I have never heard what happened to her. God knows.

A was so scared and lost that she resembled a frightened animal. And she acted like one. She shied away from physical contact and struggled to interact with the other children. The first night at camp when we were getting the girls ready for bed, she curled up in the farthest corner of her bed and wailed. She wasn’t crying; it sounded like she was keening. Her eyes were as wide as saucers and she was shaking so hard that the bed was moving. That moment and the look in her eyes changed me forever.

What could have happened to her that would cause her to act like that? Maybe I didn’t want to know. No, I was sure I didn’t.

Going home and releasing these kids, my kids, back into the awful reality they lived was very difficult. The weekend we came home, I was singing in the choir and we sang, “God Will Make a Way”. I bawled all the way through. In front of the entire congregation for all three services!

My heart was broken for the least of these.

There was never a question that I would go back. I could not stay away. I think it was more selfish than anything. I was blessed by these children beyond measure. I felt useful; like I had something to offer them. Even if it was just sitting and listening.

Each year had at least one or two girls that I wanted to bring home. Some kids were too painful to be around because of their hurts. Like the seven year old who wanted me to write her letter to God. She couldn’t write or read very well but she really wanted to send a note to God. I instantly spread out on the floor with the rest of our cabin and she simply stated, “I want my parents to stop molesting me so I can go home.”

It was too much. My heart broke even further. This beatific child, who was so abused by the people that were supposed to protect her, was praying for them. The tears flowed heavily. She looked up at me with an angelic expression and asked, “Why are you crying?” I wanted to say that I was crying because her innocence was taken. Or because her life was altered forever and she didn’t even realize the extent of it yet. I wanted to tell her that I was crying because no one was there to protect her.

I simply said that I was sorry for what had happened to her. I excused myself and went for a walk. I cried like a baby.

There have been years that the kids have asked me to adopt them. I would if I could. But how do you explain to a child that you love them but are sending them back to the hell that is their lives? It doesn’t make sense. It still doesn’t ten years later.

C was another girl that stole my heart. She was scared of everything and wouldn’t go anywhere if she couldn’t hold my hand. She rarely spoke. She just sat by my side and held my hand. Her brown eyes were full of a depth of hurt that I would never begin to understand. But she trusted me to take care of her. There was a quiet pain and shame that made it almost impossible for her to behave normally. We made it through camp and watching her walk away tore a piece of my heart out.

C came back the next year and I was shocked by what I saw. She came off the bus smiling and talking to everyone! She was a different kid. I am not sure what made the difference, but it was astounding. She was enjoying herself and I was enjoying watching her. I took almost as much pleasure in her as a parent would have. She stole my heart all over again. As I watched her leave that year, I knew that she would be okay. I knew that God loved her more than I did and He had a plan for her that was already set in motion. I just wished I could see some of it.

M and K were two girls that I desperately wanted to adopt. They were amazing young ladies who will forever have a place in my heart. M aged out of the system and I see her occasionally. She is doing well. K I have never seen again.

It is amazing to think that on a Monday morning you can meet someone and by that evening you love them. I don’t understand it. But it happens. God causes a love to grow and then allows our hearts to be broken by them. Just as His heart breaks for them.
I never understood the term ‘Holy Love’ until I met these kids. They have such an amazing ability to love despite the horrors done to them. They are precious and they are loved. I can only pray that they can remember the love they felt and the God they learned about at camp.


2 comments:

Robin said...

Well said Renita. I have enjoyed and treasured my 4 years with these kids.

Kristine said...

Wow, Renita. What a moving post. I can't imagine how your heart feels to leave these kids and go back to your own. What a blessing to be involved in something that is so easy to see where you can make a little bit of a difference, to show--and to see-- a little bit of the love of Jesus, even in a short time.