Working 14 hours days and running on a less than ideal amount of sleep certainly adds to the challenge. Particularly for a person whom when left to their own devices will happily sleep for ten hours a night and I'd be lying if I said I took this all in my stride all of the time.
Despite the extreme weariness I feel as this experience is coming to an end I already know that all of those difficulties are going to be the things that make my time here one of growth and character building. I'm cringing slightly at the use of that term. It's one of those sayings that when you're of a certain age you hear your parents and authority figures use as justification for undertaking unpleasant tasks.
I'm unsure how much of my character I can credit to cleaning my room, but carrying on going when you feel like you have nothing left and pushing yourself to the limits is where you find out what you're truly capable of.
Bad things happen
An extremely common argument for proof that God cannot exist is that if he did, why would bad things happen? Now I'm not comparing my sleep deprivation to WWII but I have been reminded over the last month how the difficult times provide us with opportunities. Not only as individuals to adapt and show grit but also opportunities for people to band together.
My Waterfront team and myself have rolled our eyes and stamped our feet at the many mechanical failures, scheduling errors and unexpected curveballs we have dealt with over the summer yet we know that if it had all been smooth sailing it's unlikely we would have become as close as we have.
Against all odds
Every Thursday evening the camp holds what we call a Galilean service. This happens at the end of the camp week and it is supposed to be a time of reflection for the campers as they assess what they have learned about themselves and Jesus over the week. What makes this truly special is the lighting of candles and sending them floating across the river, thanks to our music leader who painstakingly attaches around 150 candles to pie plates in order for this to happen.
Last week the wind made this no easy task. And the passers were desperately trying to protect the candles from being blown out but to no avail. Not only was the wind against them but the current was also washing everything in to shore rather than carrying the candles away.
Eventually the staff changed tact and gathered up the candles and made them into a giant cross on the beach using their bodies to shield them from the wind. Against all odds as far as anyone could tell all of the candles were lit and the sight was spectacular.
The kids all left after the service but most of the staff lingered to take in the view before "Happy Birthday to Jesus" was sung and the candles were blown out. Many people later referred to the service being one of the most beautiful that they had attended.
Emotions are all about contrasts. If we never felt sad how would we know we were happy? Of course it's difficult in the midst of struggle to find the positives but when we open ourselves up to accepting help from others or even just accepting that perhaps we need to change our plan of attack then you give yourself the chance to experience something more powerful and memorable than if everything had gone the way you had envisioned.
Maybe when plans go wrong it's because they were our own plans rather than the plan God has for us. As difficult as this can be to accept sometimes, there are some beautiful, unplanned moments just waiting to be had.
Helen McIntosh is a 21 year old trying to create more than she consumes. Writing is a way of banishing any circulating thoughts to make way for the new.
Helen McIntosh's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/helen-mcintosh.html