Pastor Thomas Beneke, NewcastleThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
How do we deal with trauma? The children’s camp was a traumatic experience for many. Repeated loadshedding during storage/cooling and preparation/heating created the perfect environment for salmonella to spread in an egg casserole. As the weekend progressed, about half of those present fell ill: Children, helpers and cooks, some ending up in hospital. Narrative therapy is the name of an approach that helps us mend traumatic ruptures in our story and move on stronger. Anja and Brigitte have done such mending for us with their reports. They call a spade a spade, but still point us to the real author of our lives, who daily and richly forgives our sins, gifting us with life and salvation.
Anja Küsel, Pretoria – A beautiful time was granted to us. On arrival, the joy of seeing each other again after the children’s camp in March was written on many of the faces. Some new ones also had a little more uncertainty but also curiosity mixed in. They quickly found a place and a bed, and the boarding house became a little more like home. Getting-to-know-you games, skilfully led by long-time camp mother Anita Meister, accelerated this process. Thank you Anita, you are loved! After the evening programme, we still heard chatter/laughter in the rooms. Slowly the children became quiet.
Devotions and Bible lessons focused on our stewardship of God’s good gifts, which we receive from His hand and administer according to His will, in His kingdom and for the glory of His name. We were allowed to live out these gifts together in various ways:
– There was swimming, as the sun was shining brightly. The helpers also had to get wet.
– Music sounded loud and far and the enthusiasm was contagious. Here the children were allowed to praise their Lord and share the joy with flutes, brass and singing. We sang folk songs with the help of Uncle G.T. Meyer and Pastor Karl Böhmer on the guitars.
– Through art we can express our God-given creativity. Under the guidance of Imke Hellberg, who after years of leadership delivered her crowning achievement, the children created wonderful things.
On Saturday we had ‘Survivor’ as a farewell for the grade 6 group! The Warrior Cheetahs and the boys were well prepared for the challenge. Thank you for the fun. You were a special group!
Unfortunately, from the early hours of Saturday morning, people started getting sick, with upset stomachs and fevers. In the end, so many were ill that we had to send the children home early on Sunday and could not join in the service, which was very unfortunate.
We thank our Heavenly Father who was with us and kept us, gave us strength and guided us! We were grateful for every substitute mum, dad, grandma and grandpa who watched over the sick, brought medicine, filled juice, cleaned up, and took them home! So many people helped! We especially thank the new camp parents Berno and Liska Hambrock. Your strength came from above. You guided through the good and the crisis with much calmness and love. Kallie Kruse (who was there again for the handover) and Ingrid are warmly thanked for their long, faithful service! Thanks also to the Kirchdorf ladies and their team. Your hospitality and help during the crisis is much appreciated! THANK YOU!
Brigitte Böhmer, Kirchdorf – The Giant in “Us”: This is how the children’s camp started – joyful laughter, eager anticipation, nervous smiles, hugging, getting to know each other and working together as God’s stewards.
But then I met a giant. He is terrifying, scary and cruel. He knocked on my room door early in the morning on Saturday, looking like a pale little girl who said – “I’m very dizzy” – and almost fell over. Soon after I realised that the giant was much bigger. There were many children who suddenly became very ill during the night. We had a disaster and the giant settled down with us. He made himself comfortable – we were afraid of him and he took advantage of it. In a flash, each of us took initiative somewhere – taking care of the children, calling parents and families, arranging medicines, buying Energade or Coke, keeping the healthy children busy and breaking the fever in the sick ones. Everyone had something to do! We were able to quickly place some of the sick with grandparents or families, but most stayed with us. We had our hands full and the giant laughed. Just when we thought a child was better, the fever would rise again or a new child would come forward with symptoms. Then the giant grew and even got a name – the first results pointed to salmonella when the first child was admitted to the hospital. By the end, there were 12 in the hospital. Through the night we went, with torches and thermometers, buckets and rags, love and care. But we stuck together – we were there for each other and without saying it we had the same goal. We were stewards of God’s many gifts.
And then I realised – the giant in “Us” is much bigger, more powerful! When we work together, stand up for each other, strive towards the same goal, then the giant of this close community is enormous! It is the “together”, it is the “us” that shows the real giant of the world, namely our Lord. And HE meets us with His grace, His forgiveness, His love and care, which we can then only pass on.
As South Africans we are quick to resort to another coping mechanism for trauma, namely humour. I am grateful that at the Pastors’s Convention in Wartburg in March, we were able to joke about our experience with some of the cooks who had fallen ill in December and were now back, serving. I am also grateful that we did not have egg. For the planned new edition of the “Flavours of Time” cookbook, I suggest a section on “cooking with loadshedding”.