30 Jun 2007

 Day 1 by Tim Hu

Day 1… I guess the first thing I saw was Tina yelling “Yay We’re back!” and I saw the hope center sign from the pictures and I said to myself… I’m here =D

There’s not much to say for the first night but I have a lot of things to look forward to and to be excited about. I’m working with the 5-6 year olds and I hear they fight sometimes so hehehe gotta worry about that. But the thing that interested me the most was what Mary said to us tonight.

Something about only 10% of kids in DC go to college and how unfair certain things are here. How her oldest daughter was already denied certain good charter schools. Those thoughts just really resonated but also shocked me a bit. College has never been an issue for me personally, I just assumed I would go to college after high school. I never thought about NOT going to college. Apparently the schools in DC are some of the worst and yet I go to one of the best schools in the country (TJ). The difference kind of scares me because I never really think about how lucky and well off I am. A lot of things just shocked me a bit tonight.

I really have alot to think and worry about though tomorrow with how to work with the kids and everything. I just hope that thoughout all this we’ll be able to make a difference. But I have a feeling that for me Little Lights will be a life changing event.

Life just won’t really be the same after all this.

Day 2 by Dana Sheng

Hey all. greetings from the Hope House.

well today was the first day of Camp Heaven! for me, it wasn’t that bad, but for some it was very exhausting.

I had a few high and low points today. My high point was during small group time because i got to have some interactions with the kids. O ya, this year I am with the 7- and 8-year-old girls. One of the low points was when I realized that even though I knew some kids recognized me, they didn’t seem to be close at all anymore, which made me sad, but then I realized that well it is the first day, and also they’re growing up. My other low point was when one of the staff members told us that we can’t just try to love them. we know that we have to discipline them, too. And that was kinda hard for me because my natural instinct is to try to be friends with everyone, and even though I want to discipline I am afraid of being disliked. But overall, I think I am more confident than last summer.

I also realized today that I am taking this whole experience much more seriously than last time. For example, I have been thinking a lot today about how their home environments are affecting their attitudes and behavior. Last time I was more like that’s so sad. Now I find I am analyzing everything more and wondering how to find the right balance between befriending and disciplining them. I have to think about it.

Anyway, an overview of what happened. Since it’s the beginning of the camp, everything today was more about rules. Especially the 11- to 13-year-old girls were supposedly having lots of attitude and not listening. And the 5- and 6-year old girls were fighting a lot already. (Which made me think about how all the kids I know don’t seem to be like that) I feel sorry for the counselors and leaders who have the more troublesome kids, but I guess that is a good learning experience.

So prayer requests: Give everyone the right mindset to be ready to do everything God has set for them and for no one to get discouraged. Help the kids to realize how much everyone is doing for them. Especially Beverly, a counselor, who had a very hard time today with the older girls.

Bon Jon (Jonathan) said @ dinner, which was hilarious by the way because of the eating competition and completely random dinner conversations, it’s the first day and there’s already drama-people are calling each other fat 😛

Oh and I thank God for Dwayne and Daniel, two students who graduated from high school and went to college and are currently helping at Little Lights- they are good role models for all the kids. My luck to everyone and hope for a fabulous week!

Day 3 by Kyle Lee

The second day of Camp Heaven was nothing like last year.

I saw familiar faces among the counselors, teen counselors, and even some of the kids were the same as last year. The kids may have come back for another year of Camp Heaven, but their attitudes and actions were completely different. Last year the kids were indifferent or totally rebellious to me, but this year under the leadership of one of the year-round staff members, the kids were extremely responsive and open to meeting new people. Sure, there are always a few kids that have to be sent to the time-out table, but this year the kids just responded so much better. Even so, watching the kids interact with each other gives us a stark contrast of behavior just between kids here in D.C. and the kids back at CTPC. Some kids are openly trying to undermine authority while other just want some attention from the councilors, teen councilors, or the visiting councilors. Working with these kids shows us how tough they act in this environment. Knowing that only 10% of these kids will graduate high school and go to college is even more depressing. Knowing that we are here to assist in making a difference in these kids’ lives makes a difference. Pray for our safety, the safety of the kids here, the safety of the councilors, for God to give these councilors wisdom and patience while dealing with these kids, and the kids’ futures as they grow in this community.

Day 3 continued by Jonathan Chiu

At my second day of camp, I had an almost ideal counselor-to-student moment: Sitting on some plush Smithsonian couches, taking in all the A/C, I was talking to D (De’Andre) about my Carmelo colored basketball shorts and he suggested I get matching Carmelo shoes. I asked him how much they cost, and he said “$80”, and I said that’s too much. He asked my how much my glasses were, and I told him, “more than $100”. He said, “why didn’t you just get the Melo’s and skimp out on the glasses?” My response was, “I gotta see dude! I’d rather be able to see than to look cool.” We laughed it off.

I’m working with the oldest kids in the camp, the 11-13 boys. They look big but I’m reminded of their youth by observing their conversations and playing games with them. I’m learning a bunch through Mr. Mikey by how he’s loving the children and showing them love, but in a very tough way, aka tough love. I can see how they like him, but yet respect and listen to him at the same time. It’s an important counselor-student dynamic and I find it hard to lay down the rules for these kids who are just trying to be kids. Some of the things that they are disciplined for, I find these actions actually pretty funny myself. I guess it’s the inner-child inside of me. But I think the difference between me and them is that I know when to be silly and when to be serious. They just need these boundaries so that they can make good decisions in the future.

At the beginning of the day, before the camp program started, Steve gave a lecture on anger and passive-aggressive style anger. There were different types of anger, and I realized that I fall under the passive-aggressive style of anger as well as the “mad-driver” style of anger. I can expand on what these actually mean sometime later, but basically, it’s just hard for me to accept the fact that I have these different character flaws and that I’m in need of change. Steve said that just like the kids are learning to deal with anger (hence the large amount of verbal fighting and physical fighting that counselors have to constantly attend to), so must we deal with our own anger healthily as well.

I’m only covering very surface level material, and maybe I’ll write more on my personal xanga page, but for now, that’s all. Plus I need to let the girls sleep since I’m using the computer that’s in their room.

So overall, it’s not easy, but it’s been a learning experience; I’m learning about myself, about God, and about these kids. I definitely will need time to just process what is happening, and this blog consists of my preliminary thoughts that will hopefully spur me to continue to reflect on what has happened and what will happen this week.

Please continue to pray for the team, and most importantly, for the kids’ hearts to be open to Jesus as the savior of their lives. Maybe not necessarily this summer, but even down the road, when they get older.

Day 3 continued by Grace Yeh

i love little lights. the funny thing is that I think i like my girls BECAUSE of their bad attitudes. tina said thats weird and laughed but.. hahaha. yeah. it was a pretty tight day today.. very much more chill than the past two days where we had several rebellions and riots within a group of 12 girls ranging from ages 11-13. actually on the first day of camp the girls pretty much overthrew our head counselor and started trying to do their own thing.. it was mm pretty scary. my head counselor was seriously on the verge of crying the first day of camp. (i was pretty worried that she was really break down and start crying in front of the girls…) In essence the first day of camp was… the counselors had an all-out war against the girls; we just duked it all out= aka: the girls were completely out of control (which is a very scary thing to think about let alone experience) Despite the rough beginning, I truly do love the girls for who they are. Oddly enough I admire them for their sass and their attitudes (sometimes 0_o).. having lived such a rough life, they’re mad strong and tough, slow to trust others, very circumspect for very good reasons…But sometimes they say the funniest things in the world, things I know I shouldn’t be laughing at… but Im actually howling on the inside.. To the girls I’m a mix between a older sister and a young counselor. This experience has been precious in every way.. I learned a worlds a lot about some of the teen counselors, my girls, and the Little Lights staff and I’ve come to admire and respect them all a ton more. There’s a lot more I want to and think I should say, but perhaps this is a good stoping point for tonite. =) g’nite

[i apologize beforehand for the posssible numerous typos that may have marred this blog.. my only excuse is….. zzzzzzzzzzzz]

Day 3 continued by Alice Yeh

So after three days of Little Lights, I have to say it’s very eventful. I was pretty anxious before and on the way to the Hope Center. I felt like I wasn’t ready and I wouldn’t be able to be useful but just get in the way. When we got there, Mary talked to us and after that I felt much better. As I began to relax, things began to get better. The first night we just sat and talked. We started organizing things out and I got assigned to girls ages 5-6. The feedback was that they cried more then fighting. So after that I got pretty anxious again about it. I think I prefer fighting to bawling personally. On the contary though, on the next day when I met my girls, they were quite… rowdy. Immediately three girls got into a fight… so that was a rocky beginning. As the day went on though, I got closer to each girl seperately at the park and the plentiful trips to and from the bathroom. They may have an attitude sometimes and get a little grumpy but we usually reconcil quickly afterwards. The great thing about my group is that though I may have slighted them by maybe scolding them or not giving them what they want, they overlook it after a while.

One morning, a girl named Beverly (actually it was only Day 2) came to the group with her head hanging low. She was unusually quiet compared to yesterday (Day 1) where she was probably one of the main trouble makers. I cautiously edged toward her, squated down next to her, and asked her what was wrong. Through many “what?”s and “huh?”s from me I got the story out (or at least the outline). Apparently she got in trouble at home and she wasn’t over it yet. Her telling me this surprised me and showed how much she just needed someone to care enough to ask what’s up. On the way back to the church, I sat next to her and held her hand. Slowly she emerged from her shell and started smiling. By the time we reached the church, she was bouncing along with all the other girls.

These girls really taught me perserverance and patience. Though they are pretty uncooperative sometimes and just want me to give them what they want, I learned that if I get them to calm down enough, they’ll listen. If I explain to them, they’ll listen. These girls are amazingly smart, they just aren’t as fortunate as us. Mainly, these girls taught me to appreciate. Though we all complain about school, yes it’s hard but if you think about it… it’s great we have these opportunities. Now all I have to do is keep that in mind when it’s junior year and I haven’t slept two days in a row 😉 . I’m going to leave on this note because I’m definitly overtime (Grace said to be off at the latest 11:40 and it’s 11:45 >.<).

Night.

Day 4 by Mason Hsu

Yeah I’m kinda tired right now, so sorry if this blog is incoherent or has lotsa mistakes. Anyways today is the second to last day before we all go back home. Its kinda weird because every year doing Little Lights has felt like a totally new experience and every single time it feels like we have to leave right before we finally get used to everything. I personally have learned a lot of things on this trip, like how I’m pretty passive- aggressive when it comes to anger. One of the most important things that I’ve learned is how to be assertive when dealing with people, and how its best to get straight to the point when dealing with problems so it won’t grow. It’s also kind of funny because I learned some things during my 9 and 10 year olds’ small group, like how to fling newspaper off of a table with a yardstick, build a wrestling ring out of popsicle sticks, and how not to touch the metal part of a hot glue gun. The most important thing i picked up during our small group, however, was that through God, anything is possible (Matthew 19: 26). I don’t think I cited that verse correctly lol but anyways that seemingly simple bible verse was part of what kept me going through this week. Through my own personal weariness, uneasiness, and impatience i felt ready to give up many times during the week, but that verse stuck with me for some reason and kept me going, because I knew that even though I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything by myself, many things could be accomplished by having faith in God. I think I’m taking too long so I’m gonna end with some prayer requests. Please pray that our skit tomorrow would be interesting for the kids and that they would learn from it, and pray for Johnz since he has to summarize at the end. Pray for us to have a great last day at camp and a safe trip to the retreat. Pray for the counselors, since some of them have been having a hard time and will need to be doing camp for another 6 weeks. Most importantly, though, pray for the kids. Pray for their futures, their families, and pray that one day they would get to know God.

 Day 4 continued by Tino Ko

Hello. As the week progresses, camp gets more and more tiring. Still, I can’t believe it’s been four days already… ok well, that’s pretty believable, but what I can’t believe is that we’ve only got one more day with these kids. It happens every year, but it’s always surprising how short a week is. It must seem even shorter for the kids. At least for us, there’s some sense of continuity – we recognize kids from last year. For them, the group of visiting counselors during the seven-week summer camp changes every week. Every group/child has around 7 visiting counselors over the course of a summer. Why would they remember us as more than a vaguely familiar face, if even that? They probably wouldn’t. I don’t know how they can show us so much love when we come and go with every week. It’s weird to think of Camp continuing for six more weeks without us. But it’s not about us and making us feel useful. It would suck if Little Lights only ran when we’re here. =P With our week up, I just hope that the Camp continues to reach out to these kids and pull them up and support them – give them hope that they can graduate to great, the Jesus way. That Little Lights is blessed throughout the year with God’s presence here with the staff and the kids, to help the kids through their struggles. The staff here is amazing. My group had to have a talk yesterday with Ms. Mary and Ms. Linda, the Camp coordinator and disciplinarian, which was sad, but it was great to be able to see Ms. Mary and Ms. Linda really take the time to talk things through with the children, getting everyone’s story, respecting everyone while keeping them all in line, etc. Their reasonings were grounded in the Bible, and they talked to the kids with love, emotion, and faith, not just as coordinators and disciplinarians.
Throughout out the week, we saw glimpses of just how little they have to work with – how little they’re given, how hard it is to get anywhere. It’s… surprising.

Good night

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