That’s right! that is the title of my article. Quite confusing and you may wonder why. But let me tell you a story first and what I learned from my experience in United Youth Camp 2013!
As a counselor of our dorm, I woke up a bit earlier than everyone in our room. Wrapped in my thick blanket, I said my morning prayer and woke up the boys. It is time for our early morning discussion. After that, I told them that this is the day that we all been waiting for — the day we will conquer the wilderness and confidence course!
Everyone is excited, be it first timers or even those who have experienced this day before. What we are about to do that day is the much talked about activity, before and after camp. Everyone knows that it is the most challenging part of the camp and it really amazes me how my campers are thrilled and exhilarated even though they know how difficult the day ahead of us.
After our Christian Living Class (CLC), we prepared for our journey together with our sister dorm. As expected, everyone is really excited and confident that they can finish this day without any doubt. As for me, this is my sixth time going through this routine. I mean, what else can go wrong? I know all the drills; I have gone up and down the wall climb, swung through the zip slide, crossed over the monkey bridge, and crawled through the mud tunnel. All these I have conquered. Little I do know; I am up for the most challenging day of my life — and a lesson that I will never forget.
So, we embarked on our journey. Nothing unusual happened. We hiked and get through the wilderness trail very easily though some are tired walking. We got to our first confidence course, the wall climb. As expected, everyone was able to overcome their fear of height. From that point, I felt very confident that we can finish the whole course in no time.
When we finished and decided to move on to our next confidence course, everything changed — at least for me. As we climbed a ravine, we accidentally encountered big bees. I suddenly felt a searing and burning pain on my head then another one at my back. I was stung by the bees together with the other dorm’s counselor. Self-preservation kicks in. I shouted, “everyone, get down! Get down!” The intense pain I felt running through my head connecting to my back sends me sliding down the ravine. At that time, all I wanted is to get as far as possible from the tree where the bees live. I never felt pain like that before. So far, it is the most painful thing that I experienced in my entire life (exaggeration aside)!
From that point, I was not the same. My energy sunk and I can see that my campers were affected with how I am acting. To make things worse, it started raining — really hard. I was not able to get a raincoat because the raincoats were just enough for the campers. But I felt somehow happy for the rain as it numbed the pain I felt to some extent. And so there we were standing near a river. As we are waiting for everyone to finish the monkey bridge, we heard of a rushing and gushing sound coming from the upper portion of the river. So we immediately went farther from the river as we watched the water rising — I was scared.
With the rain pouring so hard upon my cold and tired body together with the gnawing pain I was feeling from the three stings I got earlier that afternoon, I was not yet ready for a bigger challenge for that day — emotional defeat. Fear and doubt started to creep in my head. I had to admit, I wanted to go back to the campsite and get first aid for myself. I was READY to leave behind my campers and everyone else just for the sake of my comfort.
I told myself that I have every reason to get medication but something kept my feet from running away. I looked behind me and saw the look at my campers. They are wet, tired, and scared of what we are facing. That is when I realized that sometimes we have to be strong not just for ourselves but also for the other people who are looking up to us. I quickly slap my face but only in mind and not actually doing it as I may look silly. I quickly remembered one of my favorite scriptures. It is a quote from Moses as he instructed Joshua to be strong. It especially struck me not just because of the encouraging message Moses gave but it is addressed to ‘Joshua’, the same name as mine.
Joshua 1:9 reads, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The words of Moses resounded in my head and I suddenly felt renewed strength within me like being I am being electrocuted. Truly, God’s words are POWERFUL!
I relearned faith that night. Through the human eyes, we are being defeated by the many challenges of that night; the hard pouring rain, the coldness of the environment, the lack of light, exhausted bodies, and radiating pain (for the three of us stung by the bees), everything is against us. But through the eyes of faith, we have seen the promise of God that He will protect us, guide us, keep us, and will NEVER forsake us. Through the eyes of faith, we have seen that promise beyond our present circumstances, and were assured of them and embraced them.
I Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” If we fail, it is because we lack love. That night, we finish the whole course. Though we are dirty, tired, cold, and with little injuries, our eyes are sparkling. Our hearts are smiling knowing that we accomplished something that night greater than ourselves.
As for me, those bees are not all bad news. In spite of them hurting me, I admired their dedication for their colony. They are willing to serve their queen to the point of death. Bees will die once they let go of their sting. I am sure they know that and I am sure they have counted the cost before stinging me. Yes, it is true that they might act on instinct but it does not disqualify the fact that they taught me very valuable lessons.
This year camp’s theme is “Be Anchored to God!” Those bees taught me a deeper meaning of that theme. We must be anchored to God as those bees being anchored to their colony. We might lose something at some point of our Christian walk but we will never lose everything!
I am privileged and humbled to be part of UYC 2013! Those memories will never be forgotten. Those lessons will always be with us. Now that UYC for this year has successfully concluded, I am looking forward to next year’s camp not just for the memories but also for the lessons. See you all there, next year!