Does that mean I’m fluent?

I attended a jovenes camp last month, organized by a local Baptist church. It was at the Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) campground, which I was told by a number of people was a beautiful place, nice cabins, etc, so I was kind of excited to go check it out and participate in the camp.

It was a great location, property on the shores of a small (but dirty) lake, and far enough out of the city (about 30 minutes) that we could see more than two stars at night (about all we can see in the city).
Worship Room The worship building was by far the newest and nicest.  It reminded me of a cross between the worship areas at Cedar Campus and Gitche Gumee.
"Dining Hall" There was one large indoor arena with a basketball/volleyball court and a kitchen attached; we used one end of it as the dining hall.
Men's Dorm The “cabins” were… a little disappointing, but not by any means unusual. There were cement bleachers along one side of the arena, and the sleeping areas were under that, lined with bunk beds.  All the guys were in one room, and girls in another.

There were three seminars each of the three mornings, with the following topics:

  • Working in a Team
  • Commitment
  • Dating and Engagement

Guess which one was the most popular?  Yep, Dating.  In fact, when they announced the locations, people started running (yes, running!) to make sure they got in the dating seminar.  I’m not sure why, since the schedule was structured so that everyone attended each topic once…

I sat in on the Commitment topic the first day, presented by a Chilean pastor who really connects well with the jovenes.  I enjoyed it, and was looking forward to seeing what the other topics included in the following days.

Well, that night after the evening program I checked in with Miqui, the jovenes pastor at our church and director of the camp, to see how he was doing and if I could help with anything.  He told me that the Working in a Team and Commitment speakers weren’t going to be there the following day, and asked if I could take one of them.  (Or at least that’s what I thought he said, given that it was in Spanish at 10:30 at night after a long day.)  So as I got ready for bed and waited for the lights in the guys’ room to be turned off, I started thinking through and jotting down notes about what I would do with the title of Commitment.

The next morning, before breakfast, I talked with Miqui again, and got some things clarified.  The pastor who spoke on Commitment the day before had a planned trip, and had already set up another pastor to take his place.  It was the Working in a Team seminar that needed a leader because of a recent change of plans.

So with about two and a half hours before it began and few salvageable notes from my hurried prep for Commitment, I started to work.  The only real idea I had was a team-building activity called Flip the Blanket.  I learned it from InterVarsity in 2005 and facilitated it at our team retreat last December, so I had at least done it recently.  Remembering what I could about debriefing a group after an activity like this, I quickly wrote down some possible debriefing questions, found a couple of blankets about the right size, and really just trusted that God would direct me.

And He did.  There were about 30 jovenes at the session (normally way too large of a group for this activity) but by splitting the group into two, it worked quite well.  I just stood back, making observations that I would later use during the debrief.

By the time both groups were done, I had quite a few notes and questions ready to talk through with them.  It was a challenge debriefing with 30 people, ages 15-26, but for the most part they stayed on topic, listened, and dialogued well.

God clearly gave me the right questions to ask and comments to give.  Somehow I was able to relate different aspects of the activity (interactions between the two groups, interactions within a group, leaders, evaluating ideas, etc.) to the same concepts within the church (how do churches interact with each other and share ideas?, who are leaders in the church?, etc.).

In the end, the activity took about 20-30 minutes, and debriefing, talking through these topics, and praying took about an hour.  I think it went quite well, and hopefully they left with some challenging things to think about.

And it was all in Spanish, with about two hours of prep.  Without a doubt, I could not have done this without God.


The next morning, I was looking forward to listening to the Dating talk, when Miqui came up to me and asked if I was ready to do it again.  What?  Apparently the scheduled speaker wouldn’t make it that morning, either.  Well, at least I was ready that time…

So, after leading two 90-minute sessions in Spanish, all with about two hours of prep… Does that mean I’m fluent?

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One response to “Does that mean I’m fluent?”

  1. Steve Barnhart says :

    It’s a work of the spirit, hey? You’re fluent and people think Lindsay is Bolivian. God works in mysterious ways. At least you didn’t really need the instruction on dating any more…

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