Last fall, when Juan was supposed to be looking for an on-campus job to work at while in school, he sends me a picture of a flyer from Pine Cove Camp regarding summer jobs for 2018. He wrote, "So, I have an interview for this tomorrow. What do you think?"
It was completely out of the blue and caught me off guard. I'd heard about Pine Cove on the radio every year, but I knew nothing about it or even where it was. The flyer said he could work for the first half of the summer, the second half of the summer, or for the whole summer. We'd already told him that summers full of camp, mission trips, and vacations no longer existed for him and that he'd spend each summer working and taking extra classes as long as he was in college. So I told him he'd probably have to tell them he could work for just half of the summer so he could take a summer class, too. It was still pretty early in the fall, so summer was a long way away.
He said, "Okay, Mom. Thanks." And that was that. He had his interview the next day, said it went really well and that they'd let him know.
His roommate, Sam, also applied.
By mid-December, they'd already chosen their staff and let everyone know. Juan never heard anything back from them, even though Sam did. So he kept on applying for any summer camp position he could, some in different states all over the country, assuming at least someone else from DBU would be going, too.
Juan came home for spring break still without a summer position or plan. We said, "You need to call Pine Cove to find out if they have a place for you." He did, and they said they'd already filled all of their positions. They had him reapply, though, just in case.
At the end of April, I sat with my small group and shared my upcoming prayer request--for my boys to find jobs.
Just a few days later, Juan texted me.
"Mom, I got a job!!!!"
"That's great, son. Where?"
"At Pine Cove. They called and said they had a position open in maintenance, but I have to work for the whole summer. I have to be there May 12th."
Then I looked at the calendar and realized that was only two weeks away!
He scrambled to finish the semester to the best of his ability (that's another story), while packing up his dorm room and getting ready for a summer away from home, working in a job he really didn't even understand what he'd signed up for.
(Meanwhile, David got offered a local part-time job that same week and started the following week. God sure does take us seriously when we pray.)
We had a wedding to be at on May 12th, so that posed a problem. But then Juan reminded us that Sam was going to be working at Pine Cove for the summer, too, and he had to be there on the same day. So they planned to drive down there together. We took him to Sam's house on the morning of the 12th, and that's where I found out from Sam's mom that the boys weren't allowed to have any type of electronics with them and that they would only have their phones on them from Saturdays at 1:00 till Sundays at 1:00-- only for 24 hours, once a week, all summer.
Wow. Only God knew the plans He had for Juan this summer. Taming that electronic addiction, putting him in a small, uncomfortable cabin, teaching him new skills that he'd never had a single desire to learn, working him harder than he'd ever worked before, stretching him and teaching him to rely on Christ's strength rather than his own, all while building him up spiritually, bonding him tightly with solid Christian friends from all over the country, giving him godly supervisors and mentors that believe in him and encourage him, letting him use his own spiritual gift of encouragement to others, drawing him much closer to his college roommate, and keeping him immersed in the gospel.
As much as I've missed seeing him and talking to him more than our once-a-week phonecall, I am truly thankful and once again in awe of how God is orchestrating the events of this boy's life. With tears in my eyes, I can only say, "Thank you, God."
Standing in the welcoming line to guide the parents who were coming to pick up their campers, also switching on and off with others to help carry all the luggage back to their cars. (And from what he tells me, that's the hardest job of all, especially when it's for middle school girls. They sure do pack a lot!)
While Mike, David, and I waited for his last recap meeting to get over, we had a little fun on the basketball court together.
Then I decided to peek in on the meeting (that I later realized we were supposed to be at).
The community in that room between the counselors and staff just blew me away.
Along with the prayer support that exists between them all. This is how they end every single week after the campers leave before they get the next 24 hours off.
Juan in one of the cabins (they change cabins often, depending on the number of campers), getting his laundry to take with us.
Just a friendly little armadillo walking by.
A quick pic of the cabin that I wasn't supposed to go in. Oops.
A quick pic for Laura, who's missing him, too!
Juan showing us his work area, along with all the tools and equipment he's using on the job. Here he is explaining the names for the tractors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and how each tractor matches its name based on the differences in the four gospel writers.
Sitting on Matthew, the tractor he uses the most.
New skills he never imagined learning, especially since he calls himself a city boy.
Now he has finally entered his dad's world. Mike was actually a little jealous of Juan's experience here.
We stopped for a quick family "selfie" before dropping him off.
Until his friends pulled up, saw us, and offered to take a few better pics for us. :)
He quickly had to change into the blue Pine Cove shirt to get ready for his weekly meeting before the next set of campers came. I'd hoped to get a picture of him and Sam together, but it started to rain, so we had to say a quick goodbye and leave.
But after witnessing just an hour or two of Pine Cove and observing all God is doing in, for, and through my son there, this goodbye wasn't a hard one. The next five weeks are going to fly, and I don't want to wish a minute of them away for him.
The director introduced himself to me and said how much they love having Juan there because he's such a hard worker and is always encouraging everyone. All I could say was how thankful I am that he is there.
Pine Cove truly is a gift from God.