Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weeks 3&4

                 The last two weeks of June reminded us of how loving our Savior is. It is amazing enough that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). But on top of that, God gives us hundreds—no—millions of blessings. He has given us food, safety, health, family, friends, and a country that allows us to worship God without fear. On top of that, he has given (to the members of Fide especially) opportunities to serve him and others, special talents to use in his service, and success in those opportunities. We have immeasurably more than we deserve.
                Imagine you are standing under the majestic Niagara Falls. You hold out your hands under the water—trying to cup as much of it as possible—but it fills your hands and runs over. You can try as hard as you can, and you just won’t be able to fit all of that water in your hands. That’s what it’s like to try to understand our Savior’s love. The little that we can grasp is amazing, but his love overflows to us more that we can understand, imagine, or even hope for.
That love and grace of God has been evident these past two weeks as we served at Living Word in Waukesha and at St. Paul’s First Lutheran in LaCrosse. God gave us more opportunities to teach children about this overflowing love God has for them as we helped run our first soccer camp of the year. We’d like to think that we’re in pretty good shape, but there wasn’t a day of soccer camp that we finished without needing a tall glass of water and a powernap. At the camp, we each served as the head coaches for the three age divisions. We had a lot of fun running drills and games, getting kicked in the shins, and teaching the kids about their Savior. Twice a day, all of the campers would meet together at the edge of the field—once for the new soccer skill for the day, and once for the devotion. I think the kids learned during both sessions, but the latter was far more important. One quick story:
I had the privilege of coaching the oldest group of campers. They were, for the most part, very cooperative. They really enjoyed playing soccer and were willing to learn from an amateur like me. There were a handful of the campers, however, that were…well…a handful. As tempers flared and children melted down, I too got a little frustrated. But these setbacks (as I originally saw them) were a great chance to teach the kids about repentance and forgiveness. Most importantly, I could tell them that Jesus had forgiven them for their fits of anger and unkindness, but we also got to talk about how we treat other people and how Jesus wants us to treat others. I think they had heard the “talk” about forgiveness before, but we explored the new concept (to some of them, at least) of forgiving and forgetting as well. After all, what good is it if you tell someone that you forgive them, but in your heart, you are still holding on to your anger and frustration? Are we modeling Christ-like forgiveness if we say “I forgive you,” but we don’t also forget it?
                At the last day of camp, our group huddled up for the last time. I asked the campers how they thought the day went and they all told me it was great. I wasn’t too surprised by this. They weren’t quick to complain. When I asked them what they like about the day, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

Coach Caleb:      “Well what did you like about today?”
Camper #1:         “We didn’t have any fights today and we all got along.”
Camper #2, 3:    “Yeah, that was great.”

The maturity and growth I saw from these 9 and 10 year olds was astounding! They had not only learned this idea of repentance and forgiveness, but were already applying it! What a blessing to see God working in their hearts!
                In Lacrosse, we got a chance to set aside the cleats and shin guards in exchange for a little more time teaching music. The VBS was a blast! The kids really enjoying stomping, clapping, and do-si-do-ing to some of the bluegrass songs. On the last day of VBS, we took the kids up to Grandad bluff so they could look out over God’s creation. They were pretty amazed at what they saw when we arrived at the top.
                A big thanks goes out to the Niemis for hosting us—thanks for playing cards/scattergories/boggle with us!  We finished off the week with a concert and a worship service in Racine, followed by another concert the next day in Winona, MN.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue our summer ministry. Stayed tuned for more updates.
God bless!

Caleb Schmiege