Amira, Sarah, Miya, and NyAshia (Nee-ah-shah), names I chose to use purposefully because they all mean princess in some way, are the beautiful girls I had the honor of reading to every night and tucking into bed. They were each their own unique self and I love and miss them dearly. They have captured my heart in that one week of Royal Family Kids Camp forever. To think they each have a story that I do not know where someone took advantage of them and/or forgot them breaks my heart. They deserve to hear every day that they are beautifully created by God, that they are loved, and that they are special because God made them. We will never realize how powerful those words are to them! God did however give me a glimpse.
I had worked all week as a staff member. That means I had the privilege of decorating and setting up the special events, such as the carnival. Some of the work was fun like creating signs out of foam and painting them, but other tasks were difficult or should I say time-consuming, like setting up the event. Things felt like they were not coming together, but then the kids showed up with huge smiles on their faces and excitement in their steps. They loved dancing to the “DJ” music (Spotify) and dunking their beloved counselors and staff in the dunk tank! In moments like this where I was with the kids and seeing them enjoy something I worked so hard to help put on, it was satisfying work!
By the time Thursday rolled around though, I was exhausted and feeling like I had spent myself for nothing. I didn’t see how I was making any impact in the kids lives beyond insuring a good time. What was the value in that? I walked into counselor relief, the time where I tucked the girls in bed and gave the counselors a break, with excitement and heaviness. It was my last chance to impart God’s love and my love. I was going to give it everything.
I had purchased little books for the girls and written them each a message in them. I wanted them to always be reminded that someone loves them, is praying for them, and thinks they are special. The book was You Are Special by Max Lucado. In this book, a little wooden creature visits his creator who tells him, “You are special because I made you, and I don’t make mistakes.” After NyAshia read the story and everyone followed along, the girls went to bed. I went to each girl and I told them, “You are special because God made you, and he doesn’t make mistakes. I love you!” I poured all my love into those words as if I was telling my own children. Miya and Amira were almost asleep. As I bent over to tell Amira, she stirred a little. I left the room and was picking something up. As I look up, Amira bolts from her bed and embraces me. Suddenly I feel like the message had gotten across and they understood how much I loved them, how much God loved them.
As I left that night, I was overwhelmed with emotion, wishing I could take these girls home forever just to embrace them and tell them I love them for the rest of their life. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Who will tell these girls they love them? Who will share with them the love of God? Who will tell them they are beautiful and that they are special? Who will say it and believe it? I believe every child deserves to hear those words. When these kids are told the opposite and feel the opposite from the very people who should be telling them these things, these words are a powerful life changing truth. They may not hear it every day of the year, but they will never forget that one week where they heard it. Prayerfully, they will be back in some 300 odd days to hear it again and hopefully I will be there to reiterate it.