With hugs and tears, we said our final goodbyes to our LifeShape Brazil partners. But, we know that our time together was fruitful in fellowship and service to the Lord, especially during our experience leading an overnight camp.
At the beginning of our final week together, we prepared to host middle school students from the ages of 12 to 15 for the “Overnighteen” camp. After praying for the three days we would spend with the campers and some practical training in safety and evangelism, we met the campers with excitement and laughter at Água Viva, where the camp was held. Though we all were placed in different leadership roles, our team was impressed by the overall maturity and excitement of the campers.
We all started bonding with them on the first night, as we had a short worship service and dinner together. The camp was divided into two teams, blue and red, that competed throughout the week. One way the camp creates team spirit is through team cheers before every meal. With about 30 minutes to prepare, the team with the best cheer enters the food line first. The enthusiasm in each team was palpable, and the losing team always had good sportsmanship.
Though the next morning was early, everyone was ready to get started with the first full day of camp. Another service was held in the chapel which was very powerful because several campers either dedicated or rededicated their lives to Christ after the sermon. During our team times, we had a discussion about how we can be sure the Bible is true, then practiced our cheers for lunch.
One of the main ways our teams and rooms bonded was through the games in the afternoon. Whether competing in tug of war, having a donut-eating contest, or playing steal the cone, both teams were filled with enthusiasm and team spirit, which is what makes a camp experience great. The free time in the evening was when our relationships with the campers grew the most through our conversations and games together.
The next day had the same schedule as the last: we listened to another very affecting message in the morning service, spent time discussing in our teams, played games, and had dinner. We continued to be impressed with the campers throughout the day and into our bonfire night with worship and testimonies. We enjoyed pizza while talking in our rooms on the last night. On the last day of camp, after our final service and games, campers asked the LifeShapers and Fellows for selfies and said their goodbyes.
Not long after, we said our goodbyes to our friends in LifeShape, which was the most bittersweet part of our trip. We planted a tree near the driveway of Água Viva to represent the three weeks we spent together, then watched them leave with a sense of grief but also satisfaction. Our trip to Brazil was very meaningful, and we could have asked for nothing different. God has used us to minister to the organizations and people in Brazil, and he used the people of Brazil to teach us more about him and his Church.
Despite a language barrier between us and many of the campers, our experience helping to lead camp was a great partnership for our trip. We know from the past that this camp affects teenagers’ lives significantly, and we were thrilled to participate in even a small part of that. We will all miss the friends we made in Brazil, but we know that our time together was by no means wasted. We thank God for the new perspective we gained on the worldwide Church and we will continue to pray for the students we helped lead during camp.