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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sunshine Camp, Part 2

Now back to the story.  The training had started Wednesday morning and it was now Friday afternoon.  The students started arriving by the bus load from all over China. These students are the best of the best.  They were the top students from the best universities in China. And let me tell you there are a lot of students in China.  I helped some girls load there luggage up twelve flights of stairs, a few too many times. For an in shape person it would have been nothing, for me it was a marathon.  I then went to my room and met the three guys who I would live with for the next seven days; Stone, Kevin, and Paul. I was privileged enough to give Paul his English name. I have trouble remembering English names, Chinese names are a whole other story. His Chinese name is Pei Hoa, pronounced pay how. I was glad to give him my fathers' name.  Another thing that made me really happy was that all the guys in my group were from schools in Xi'an. So after the camp got over I would be able to continue our friendships.   Therefore the camp started out really good. Because the biggest reason I was there was to create relationships that would last. I wanted to influence people with love, and a different way of living, that they probably were not used to. 
From left to right: Paul, Sonny, Me, Stone, Kevin, and Tang Pan.  Awesome group of guys.

I will do my best to shorten this down, because there are so many fun stories I could tell.  The schedule was this; wake up at 7:20 breakfast at 8:00, 9 o'clock morning rally, then lecture and group discussion, then lunch at 12:30. 1:00 to 2:15 ping pong. That was a necessity. At 2:30 we had to be back for afternoon activities, they went until 5:00. Dinner was at 6, after dinner we had to be back in the meeting room at seven. We were usually done by 9:30. We went to bed anywhere from 11 to 12.  I take that back. I went to bed then, the Chinese students went to bed at 1-2 in the morning. They are so crazy. I did that for seven days straight. By the end I was terribly exhausted.
This was my Life Group. 

Some of the major highlights were seeing these students who have never truly opened up to someone in their lives open up to each other.  It is truly amazing to see people being vulnerable, so that other people can better understand the person underneath the mask.  The things we went over in the camp, like living with integrity, love, humbleness, leading with a servant heart and other basic things, were new ways to live for most of them.  The games we played were very basic, but they fell in love with them.  We sang the "hey macarena" song, and all 220 students plus danced to it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a ton of fun, but mostly because they were having so much fun. It was amazing just to see these students break out of their shell for the first time. The whole thing was incredible.  The most amazing thing though was to see how many students told me that they had never seen love like this before in their lives.  Almost all the guys in my group told me that their minds were changed in some way. That is a big step.
Carnival night, this was a booth where you could model newspaper clothing. Pretty awesome!

People left the camp in a flurry, I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone I wanted to, but I guess that is life.  I got home to where I live in Xi'an Saturday afternoon, exhausted and tired.  In the end the camp was everything I expected and more.  It is hard to put it into words. It was such a beautiful thing. When new life comes, new joy and new hope, it is tough to describe it with words. All I can say is that the people who started the Sunshine Camps are making an amazing difference in the lives of many.  Thank you so much for reading. Until next time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunshine Camp 2011, Part 1

Hey everyone!  I am still really tired from the last ten days that I was attending an international camp in Xi'an.  I need to write this post before I forget the interesting details. I hope you are all doing good. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I will break it down into two posts, possibly three. 

So I heard about this Sunshine Camp from a good friend about two or so months before it started.  He said it was so amazing and I had better volunteer to help with it. So I said I would.  I started to fill the application out and soon realized it would cost $200.  Not usually a problem, but right now I have been really low on money. I knew in my mind that it would be worth it, even though I was a little uneasy.  A little later some really amazing people told me they would pay for the camp. Because they understood what an impact it would have on me and on others. Going into it I had some expectations but nothing too huge. I was trying to hope for the best and expect the worst. 

The morning of the 13th, Andrea, a friend of mine here, and I set out for the camp with high hopes and bubbling excitement, well that was true for me at least.  It took us a little while to get a taxi, but not to the point where we were throwing luggage at the taxi's, just kidding we don't ever do that.  So before I go on you need to know that both Andrea and I don't have killer Chinese, hers is better than mine, but it is still very difficult to communicate an uncommon destination to an unassuming taxi driver.   So she tells the driver where we want to go and he nods his head like he knows.  We soon figured out that he had no clue where he was going. Long story short he stopped about five times to ask for directions and stopped at two wrong universities.  Finally we made it after about an hour of confusion. To look at the bright side it could have been worse, much worse.

When I got my name card it said Camper on it.  I had specifically applied to be a coach or counselor, not cool.  I found out later that day that if you're American you have to have graduated college to be a coach. At first I was disappointed about it, but later on I found out that being a coach had a ton of responsibility and not a ton of benefit. Being a student I got to hang out with the Chinese students way more.

So then I had two and a half days before the camp started to do nothing, because I had come early for training to be a coach.  But I got to play ping pong with the top ping pong player at the university we were at. He randomly came up to me and asked if he could play ping pong with me.  It was a lot of fun. He ended up letting me use an extra fan he had, which was such a blessing, because it was so hot in the dorms.
This is the dorm that I lived in for the whole camp. 

This is Nai Fan,  my ping pong friend. He was killer! 

This was the view of the little town from my dorm room. 

This is my friend Rambo and I! 
I will post the rest of the story in a few days time. Thanks for checking in everybody. I know I am not a good writer, but thanks for supporting me none the less. Until next time.