The Summer I Became A Missionary
I am flabbergasted.
A little less than two months ago, I travelled to Dahlonega, Georgia as the incoming videographer for Life Teen Camp Hidden Lake. This was my first time being on the East Coast, let alone a summer missionary.
It took me two flights, one layover, and a long drive to get to camp. Georgia is 6 hours ahead of Hawai'i but praise God I was able to adjust in no time. I arrived during breakfast time, said hello to the team, and knocked out in my room until dinner time. It was a Thursday night and my bunk buddy, Rosie (what a woman) brought me to the room where the "Burning Bush Adoration" was to take place. Oh boy did that night leave me speechless. For the first time, in a long time, I sat at the foot of the Blessed Sacrament along with a room full of middle schoolers who desired to be with Jesus. With outstretched hands, these kids gazed in awe at the Blessed Sacrament, many of them cried in the presence of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was present in that place.
"How did I get here?" I said to myself... "Lord what do you need me to do?"
I got to camp a little earlier than the next session, 2 days to be exact, but those 2 days made a big difference. Being the introvert that I am, it took me a while to get used to saying hello to everyone. Can you imagine me, a girl who came from the opposite side of the country, arriving to camp halfway through the summer, having to learn 50+ names? I was shooketh. But literally by the grace of God, I learned it all in one week.
I held a lot of fears entering in this space: fear that nobody would like my videos, fear that I wouldn't meet the expectations of others, fear that nobody would love me, fear that people would leave me as an outcast, fear that they would judge me for who I am and what I've done.
Something I'd like to call myself out on is the fact that I always talk about my fears. I used to be so hard on myself for talking about it all the time in sharing, until I realized that fear is always going to be with me. Even if I have to say "faith over fear" a billion times, I will continue to say it. I choose faith but that doesn't mean I will never feel fear again. Some of my favorite quotes I found of google says this:
The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident. - Max Lucado
Fear is a self imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be. You must move against it with the weapons of faith and love. -Rick Warren
I've come to understand that fear is inevitable and still, I continue to choose faith. Choosing faith and trusting in God's providence resulted in a fruitful experience. I witnessed the fruit of His labor at the end of each week when I would sneak into the main meeting space (MMS) to watch the reactions of the campers as they watched the highlight video, as well as, in worship during 'praise & thanks' with the entire staff after shutdowns.
Contrary to all the photos I've posted on social media, there were days that were harder than most. I remember one day, I just felt so overwhelmed and unloved. It was nobody's fault; it was the evil one working hard to devour my joy, telling me lies while I continued to carry my cross. I couldn't smile, and if I did, it was forced. I was easily irritable and disconnected. Every now and then, when I'm overwhelmed, I get lost in thought and distance myself, I like to process things alone at first and keep to myself. By evening time, I ran to the chapel, sat in the corner, and balled my eyes out. All my emotions came to the surface and I just remember asking God to take the lies away. After a good hour, I gained my composure and decided to call it a day so I began walking back to my house. Along the way I ran into a friend, and she looked at me in the eyes and asked, "Are you okay?" --- yeah I lost it. I spilled out my heart aloud and her eyes looked at me with so much empathy (like the Blessed Mother, truly) and she said, "Megan you are so loved. Just because you came halfway through the summer, doesn't mean you're loved any less than the rest of us" --- Oh how much peace and healing that came from that simple affirmation. God answered my prayer.
As the videographer, my role was peculiar and I loved every minute of it. I worked behind the scenes majority of the time but I was also able to connect with the teens in little moments. For example, during hikes to the alter or walking down "main street". Being on Service Crew was all the more fulfilling. Service Crew consists of Hospitality, Kitchen, Maintenance (Facilities), and Media. We were such a weird bunch, but that weirdness made it so much more fun! I can't even find the right words to explain this team, but they have been such gifts to my life. They're a breath of fresh air that I needed after getting comfortable with my own solitude in 2020. I got a glimpse of what the Body of Christ looks like when all parts come together to glorify God. I've made life-long friendships this summer. Though we live in different parts of the world and are pursuing a new mission in our homebound, the community we've built at Hidden Lake will always remain in our hearts; I know that for a fact.
God has never failed to pull a seat for me at the table. Even when I try to run away or disconnect myself, God comes through and pulls me back to my senses. What did I do to deserve this grace? Every now and then, while I walked around camp to capture footage, I looked up at the trees and exclaimed, "I can't believe I get to do this." Despite feeling tired throughout my day and practically running on empty, God's strength sustained me. Even when I was taking videos of the same activities each week, nearly getting my camera dirty from the rain, mud, and every organic thing at camp, I still found joy in the fact that I was serving God's people. I always looked at each video as a gift for campers. What a blessing is it to know that with photo or video, we are able to freeze time and capture moments that people can look back at for the rest of their life. The stories that we get to tell through photos and videos are amazing. It's been such a joy to serve in this way.
On a funnier note, my superlative is BEST DRESSED. hahaha. I was obviously from the West Coast.
There's this really cute cafe in The Square called Canopy and Roots. They were building an underground speakeasy and they also have a yoga studio in another room. It really inspired my passion to own my own coffee shop one day! It'll be my passion project when I turn 30, for now, I'll be living my 20's building my portfolio huhuh.
I'm pretty sure God was laughing at me this summer when I decided to leave my guitar at home and take a break from singing. After singing in choir for so long, I guess I got burnt out from having to learn so many hymns/mass settings at the last minute. I went to Georgia thinking that all I'd be doing is strictly video and praying. Yeah I was wrong lol. I had enough time throughout my day to do leisure activities. People left their guitars in the hub (we even had a chapel guitar) so from time to time, I would take it in my office and do my mini-praise and worships between God and I. Eventually, I joined in on jam sesh's and led worship for P&T and atop the mountain.
It's not that I'm trying to hide my gifts, I just don't like boasting about them. I share them when the time comes and when I do, I don't hold back. I personally think it'd be really selfish of me to try and use my gifts all the time because truthfully, I'm not the only person in this world who can sing or make videos lol. I know that for a fact and it's why I don't make it the first thing I mention when I meet new people. I would want people to love me for the person I am, not just for the gifts I bring to the table. `
A question a friend of mine posed to me as we sat on the dock a couple nights before we left was:
What is God pulling you out of and putting your heart into this summer?
Here's an excerpt from my journal that I wrote on August 8 during morning prayer:
I believe that God is pulling me out of sin and into a life of purity. God is pulling me out of the prison of my mind, and into freedom. God is pulling me out of the victim mindset, and into the victor mentality. I look back at the photos pre-summer camp and remember how I felt when I took them. The Rule of Life has helped me practice self-control. Here at Hidden Lake, I fell in love with Catholicism again. I learned that God is always pursuing me and He continues to commune with us in the Eucharist.
A part of me felt like it was chained up and locked in prison. I felt like I needed to keep my Starbucks job. I needed to stay in Communications jobs. I needed to stay in Hawaii. But here God tells me to go, to be free, and to serve His people. This is the most free I’ve ever been and God has been holding my heart in his hands. This “new fire” that we’ve been focusing on this entire summer, has manifested itself in my heart.
At the beginning of the year, I asked God for an expansion. Expansion in my relationships, in my faith, in my art, and most especially in my career. In my mind, my vague plan after graduating college was to find some full-time job within my communications degree and move out of Hawai’i, possibly back to SF where my heart was still clinging onto. But God answered my prayer in a different way (per usual).
God took my little “yes” to follow His will into the unknowns of this year, and gave me something better. He called me to the North Georgia mountains and gifted me freedom in the form of serving. I never knew I needed freedom until God revealed what held me back. Sin, shame, fear, and worldly expectations. God knew that before anything else, He needed to heal my heart. For the first time in a long time, I could breathe again and little by little, my ember grew into a new fire.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” That scripture is truth my friends. I can’t find the right words to explain how becoming a summer missionary for Life Teen has changed my life, but let me just say that the Holy Spirit is REAL. I’ve seen it move through out a room full of strangers and I’ve felt it move in the warmth of my hands. I’ve seen it move in the staff and the teens who've stayed at camp. In our surrender, God moves. He wants you and I to be free; free to worship without fear, free from sin, free to love. God will meet you where you are, sometimes all you need to say is Come Holy Spirit
I know I’ve been posting a bajillion (however you spell it) photos but I just hope that goes to show the gifts that God has given to me through this mission. It’s been healing and humbling to be in that space.
The glory of God is man fully alive, and boy was His glory abundant.
I pray I continue to trust in the Lord and have a deeper conversion in my heart for His will and His love.
Here are just a few pictures of our community