In one of the last days of the second camp, we had time after dinner to share about our dreams with our small group of campers. As coach assistant, I had the opportunity to assist the local coaches who led our campers through the activities and discussions.
In a room without electricity, each of our eight campers felt safe to share their dreams. One of the girls sitting to my right particularly caught my attention as I listened to one of my coaches translate. As she listened to the other kids, she crumbled and tore a piece of paper into pieces. I could see she was anxious about something, so I rubbed her back.
When the first kid finished talking, she volunteered to speak next. Before she began, however, she started sobbing. She said she wanted to tell us something she had wanted to share but was doubtful. From my coach, who spoke little English, I learned that her family life was broken. After she was done, all our campers took turns encouraging her and hugging her.
Our kids had never been to camp before. Some of them were farm kids who lacked strong family bonds, friends and love. They were from low-income homes and wore the same clothes every day. Our camp lectures usually entitled statements such as “You are Lovable” in the big screen.
Listening to their dreams was a humbling experience. As the day grew darker, our room became more intimate, and more kids shared. One wanted to help beggars, another one wanted to find a house for her parents along the seashore for their retirement, and another one wanted to become a professional basketball player.
When it was my turn, I shared my heart with the help of a translator. I talked about how God had given me hope and love in my darkest nights. At the end of my story, I told them God loved them, too, and he wanted to be a part of our lives, be with us in our darkest and loneliest moments. He can hear our prayers. Just like he saved me, he could save them, too.
I thank God for sending me to East Asia to share the hope and love he gives to anyone who wants to receive it.
Gabriela, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, served in East Asia with Go Now Missions. Her last name is withheld for security reasons.