Summer 2017 at Eagle’s Wings Camp
by Marite Bortnikova
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
(2 Timothy 4:7)
This past summer could definitely be nominated as the wettest, longest… and best ever! It seems at the end of every summer, with a smile on our faces, we exclaim that this was the best summer ever at Eagle’s Wings! Why do we say this? Because God is so mighty and we experience His care, love, joy, challenge and victory every day.
This summer was one long marathon race that we ran together, with a wonderful staff and campers. We started with training camp where staff all came together to prepare for the season. It is a true joy to watch our own youth, who themselves were once Eagle’s Wings campers, now giving up their summer in order to serve others, challenge themselves and achieve victory. After each camp, we all grow, and this helps us see the world from a different point of view. We are able to witness what wonderful things God can do in the lives of these children… in just one week’s time.
Often, when the children arrive at camp, their parents are more worried than they are themselves. The children are ready to embrace a new experience, meet new friends and feel what it means to believe. Of course, we wouldn’t survive without the fun and sports activities! These days that we spend with the children are a special adventure both for the kids and for us. Long after the camp week ends, parents continue to enjoy their children’s stories, and witness joy in their shining eyes, and that, in turn, brings a smile to their own faces. A sincere smile and true joy can change many things.
Running one camp might have been exhausting enough for some, but we continued on with our marathon race. Praise God that He so miraculously renewed our strength and prepared us spiritually to continue the work He began. It was important to uphold each other with encouragement and support. Additionally, when a camper would approach us and say, “Thank you! I’m so glad you’re here!” it would give us the encouragement to push on and serve the Lord.
Parts of this summer-long marathon were more difficult. How do you show love and give your attention to a child who comes from a really difficult background? How do you not wear out when you feel the lack of love and hope around you? Apart from God, we could not do it. At this year’s camps, we hosted many more orphans, growing up in orphanages, than in past years. We cannot limit the love and works of God, and I’m so glad that these kids, who have suffered so much, had the opportunity, even for just a week, to be in an environment of love, trust, joy, safety, friendship, laughter and attention, where they could feel special and important. Was it easy? I can tell you it was not, hearing their life experiences and seeing how they struggle. However, during the days of these camps, these kids were able to look at the world differently and understand that God loves them and is near.
One of the most memorable moments was when God brought us all together quickly, just on the second night of camp. As is our custom, we were all together singing songs of praise to God when the campers and leaders all formed one line, put their arms around each other, and slowly swayed back and forth, singing praises to God. It was so wonderful to see how these teenagers opened up and felt the presence of God. These days at camp are unforgettable, and we thank God for His wonderful works!
This summer I also came to understand that rain, mud and chilly weather doesn’t dampen one’s ability to be joyful and enjoy every moment. We simply had to adapt and enjoy ourselves. We finished this marathon race with 8 camps, 290 campers and 50 leaders and helpers. We are very thankful for the experiences, for the challenges, for the victories, love and joy. Faith, friendship and fun were experienced every day this summer. At the end of the summer, we had a leaders’ retreat by the sea. When I heard their testimonies of personal victories and revelation, my smile became bigger and bigger, and I had a heart full of thanksgiving for all that was experienced. God is good and His love is unmeasurable.
Toward the end of summer 2017, something wonderful happened — water baptism! Two of our youth helpers were ready to be baptized, and this was a huge encouragement to all of us! As 2017 comes to a close, the impact of our successful marathon of summer camps continues to generate smiles, strengthen spiritual journeys and extend God’s hope and love to hundreds of Latvian children. God’s miraculous work continues!