I am just warning you, this post will be long. If you are here to see pictures of my cute babies, you will have to visit another day!
First of all, what is Ozark Mission Project? Well, here is what their website says:
Ozark Mission Project (OMP) is a unique camping experience and is a great opportunity for sharing ones skills and energy to clean up, fix up and paint up. Working and playing together, we meet new friends while growing in the faith and having a great time.OMP brings together youth and adults for service in the spirit of Christ to individuals and families (called neighbors) who are in need of minor construction and yardwork. OMP is not just about the physical service projects, but more importantly, meeting the social and emotional needs of some people simply needing a smiling face to visit with.
During the week, the campers are divided into service teams called Family Groups. These groups include five or six members from different churches who go into surrounding communities to help the elderly and the poor. Each day the Family Groups venture forth to paint, build, clear brush, or do any other task that is needed. After working they return to camp in time for supper and then enjoy recreation and group activities followed by sharing and worship.
I couldn't have said it better myself... moving on.
As a teen, I went to OMP every summer starting at the age of 13. I can truly say that OMP shaped my life in more ways than you could imagine. Not only my faith in God, but also my faith in His people (not to mention I also met my husband there...) Before this year, I had been to 10 OMP camps. During college I went back as a driver, and on volunteer staff. It was such a huge part of my life. After John and I were married, I sort of retired from OMP. Last year, my friend Clay was talking about OMP (He is our youth minister...at least he is until Sunday.) I said how much I missed it and I wanted to go back. Well, Clay jumped all over that I asked if I would be on volunteer staff for a camp he was directing next (this) summer. I said yes, as long as John's job would let him work from home that week. Noah was just 2 months old at the time, and I thought surely in a whole year I would be ok to leave him for a week. Then, a few months ago, Clay emailed me again asking if I was still on board. Ummm, no. I was so wishy washy. With somewhat good reasons. The biggest being John needed to be out of town that week. I gave Clay my final answer of no. Apparently, God had other plans.
I kept hearing and kept hearing "OMP." The church was short drivers. As it got closer (like less than 2 weeks before camp) they were desperate for drivers. At this point, I am sort of hearing the call from God, but I am hanging on to my "I have two small children" excuse. So, several of us from the church go out to eat for lunch one day. I left for an appointment. Then I get a phone call from Mom saying, ok, well we worked it out. She was going to keep Hope, Shauna was going to keep Noah, and I was going to be a driver at OMP. Alright God, I hear you, but now I don't know that I CAN leave Noah for that long. Hope would have a great time, but it is hard to explain to Noah that Mommy will be back.
The next day, Clay and our intern Kathleen asked if I was on board. I was still very wishy washy. I told them, if ANYONE called to ask if they still needed a driver, to say "YES!" so I wouldn't have to go. I was getting sick to my stomach thinking about leaving Noah. I absolutely knew Shauna could handle him. And I absolutely trusted her with him. There are less than a handful of people I would leave my baby with at all, much less over night...for several nights. She is one of the very very few.
Then, the week before camp, a few kids from our church actually dropped out. Kathleen said they might not even need me to go now. That's when my attitude changed. I realized how much I wanted to go. How much I NEEDED to go. Working at a church sometimes makes it hard to worship there. There are always a million things going through my mind of things I need to do, things I need to email so and so about, etc. I needed to "get some Jesus" back in me. Kathleen and I spent an entire day on the phone with parents, pleading for one more camper. God provided. Lindsey was coming.
Then Clay posed the question, did I want to be a driver, or be on staff as a tool coordinator? It was my choice, but Kathleen would go as the other. Umm, I looove OMP, but I don't know tools. Kathleen has been on paid staff, so I knew she was a better option. And I could totally tell she was dying to be on staff again. Plus, I really wanted to be in a family group. I might have made Kathleen promise to visit my worksite every day, bring me Sonic, and basically be my personal OMP staff person. I am just saying it's possible that I would stoop so low.
Camp was wonderful. I had a group of 4 boys, which is rare. I thought it was awesome. They all worked so so hard (except for painting...they HATED painting.) We were group 1A. They called me Mama Bear, and I called them my cubs. I also told each of them that they were my favorite. And they were, each for different reasons. During the week, my group of 5 built a 30 foot wheel chair ramp, painted a carport and steps, and screened in a porch. But more than that, I met some amazing people, laughed harder than I have in a long time, and renewed my spirit. It was a God thing that I ended up at OMP that week. I will always believe that. I will always be thankful for that.