Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting ready

We are only three weeks away from the Oregon Joni and Friends family retreat, and it's kind of push time to get ourselves squared away and ready for camp. Denis and I have dragged the medical supply box into the living room, but have not inventoried it yet. Our friend who has agreed to work with Denis as the nurse this year is coming over today to look at the stuff with us. I've started reviewing the medical information from families and organized it into an easy to carry chart that we'll print out when it's complete.

One of the most exciting things for me is that I get to be a typical STM this year. For those of you new to Joni and Friends lingo, STM means Short Term Missionary, and that is what volunteers are called. Most STM's who go to a family retreat are paired up as a "buddy" for the week to a family member who has registered. That person might be a child with a disability, a typical child who has a parent or sibling with a disability or an adult with a disability. The week is spent hanging out with your "buddy", building a relationship, serving the family, attending activities through each day.

I have never gone to Joni and Friends Family Retreat as an STM, I've only been the nurse. As the nurse, I enjoyed having the freedom to rove and get to know everyone a little bit. But I know from observation that the STM experience is very different. STMs who are paired as a buddy get to know their one family very well and bond closely with them. It can be difficult, trying, challenging, but on the flipside so rewarding. STMs tend to leave camp exhausted, but overwhelmed by the blessing of being so intimately involved in an amazing family and having been a selfless servant for the week.

I have no idea who I will be paired with, hopefully someone slow - as I'm not fast myself. Not knowing is part of the situation that makes it stressful or scary to go as an STM. But, the pairing of STM to family is a total God-thing. Being out of control of that is precisely what makes it so wonderful. God pairs buddies very well. And if the pairing is hard or challenging, it's because God has a growing to do in me. Stepping out beyond my control is something that I am excited about, because that is precisely when I get to see God work.

We are still very short of STMs for our Oregon camp that is Aug. 14-19 at Rockaway Beach on the Northern Coast. We really would like 30-40 more STMs so that all of the families can be served. Aug. 14th is a training day, then families arrive for camp from the 15th to the 19th. If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass on the info.


David Cosand said...

How very exciting! So much growth and learning can take place in our imbalance. God is remarkably faithful to give us His courage and confidence when we step out in service to Him and others.
I'm looking forward to reading about your experience at Family Retreat. Joni is such a lovely and eloquent person and the ministry that God has entrusted to her is wonderful.

Caleb LaPlante said...

I love Joni and Friends! Considered (seriously) going on a Wheels for the World trip in 2008. Then got married and bought a house. But my heart will always be with their mission.

You will be great as an STM too. I find it's in the "stretching" times that I am drawn even closer to Him. What a wonderful and personal God we love and serve.

Prayers for you guys for the retreat!


Tracy said...

Stretching and imbalance is precisely what I was trying to convey in this post. Learned years ago that one of the best ways to see God work is to let Him put you in situations where you feel that you cannot do the task at hand.

I don't do that often enough...

judi said...

proud of ya.

Heather said...

Oh Tracy, you will be so fabulous as an STM!! I know you will be priceless to the family that you are with. I can tell you how much Davin's counselor meant to me. Also, I learned so much about trusting God through that whole week. I am excited for you!! I wish we lived closer so we could come to the same camp.

Tracy said...

STM update - last I heard, we still need 20-30 more volunteers to make camp this year go as smoothly as possible. God is in control, so I'm not worried, but it would be great to have all hands on deck.