My summer vacation started off quite regularly. My friends from school, whose amount had grown since my sophomore year, all formed plans to hang out during the three month break. Unfortunately, my best friend Irvin was caught off guard on account of his parents by getting informed of their plans for him to fly overseas to live in Hawaii for, at the least, three months. This obviously meant that Irv and I would not have a chance to conform to the layout of our plans that summer; one of which was our plan to share a cabin at Pioneer Bible Camp, which we had been attending annually for a few years.Order now
The change was unexpected. “Unexpected” had to have been the theme of my summer, due to the varying changes I underwent during the vacation. During my sophomore year, I went through a stage of minor depression. I was familiar with self-medication, but was always told by my mom that drugs were ground for disownment in her eyes. Her threats frightened me ever since first grade when I had first heard the word, “drug”. She would only mention the word when she was angry, and as I grew older I realized that this term was often used in association with my father and his habits.
The only thing I couldn’t understand is why my mother had put up with so much of his drug abuse, without disowning him. I guess it was because she loved him; but did that mean she wouldn’t love me if I fell into the teethed snare of the herbal essence? I didn’t want to find out, so when I was introduced to weed the first time in seventh grade, I turned it down. It wasn’t until the middle of my sophomore year, after being persecuted by both friend and foe for my lack of an open mind; and the recent uprising of my periodic depression, I curiously and expectantly gave into the enticement.
I’m going to be honest. I tried it, and I liked it. It didn’t just make me happy, but it made my friends happy. Irvin had been into it before I was, so he became even more of a friend than he already was. Nearing the middle of my Junior year, Irvin and I began selling the product to our friends and relatives. However, our legitimate interests had shrunk down to liking only a few things, as opposed to a variety of things, and due to our habits that had become iniquities; the light of our faith grew dim and blew out. We no longer considered ourselves Christians.
No, not even of the lukewarm kind. This was due to our growing database of what we thought was knowledge. Irvin and I, along with our new friend Isaiah got into an (at the time) uncommon set of beliefs referred to as, “The New Age Movement”. This set of beliefs leads us to believe that we were Gods, and that the universe was also God, meaning that we were godly extensions of our source. We believed that everything was interconnected, and that the universe, being an extension of us, had us in its favor. Living life with this belief made things a bit more entertaining.
Not only did our newfound religion allow us to partake in the activities of our choice: like smoking weed and selling it, but it also supported our choices, along with giving us the spiritual pie we desired. However, an odd event occurred in my home and within my head. Our beliefs started getting out of hand, and I began thinking that I alone, was God. This tends to sound funny at first, but understand that this was true for me at the time. Later, I literally went crazy, as I like to explain it. My mom and dad claim I was possessed, and I don’t disagree with them: I wasn’t myself.
The point is that I was no longer Christian, not even a bit. I had even gone as far as looking up fallacies in the Bible, and further, reasons why Jesus was merely a myth. About a month later I had almost completely recovered, which spawned the realization of how unrealistic I was behaving. Still not believing in Christianity, I continued life casually until school was out. Bible Camp was a sure thing for me. Fragments of memory reminded me of how fun it was, and assisted me in looking forward to the event. In spite of the memories of enjoyment I had about camp, I decided I would pack marijuana with me.
I figured that since I had no friends willing to go, I would do what I could to amp the experience anyway. The morning of the first day of camp arrived. I intentionally pulled an all-nighter the night prior, in hopes that I could sleep in and miss out. At about 7am, I decided I would smoke a bowl before napping. I was startled as my mother woke me, who upon entering my room was greeted with the pungent stench of burnt weed. My mother, being familiar with the stench, was not motivated to act pleasantly. She demanded that I got ready, Pastor Cindy was almost there to pick me up.
Mom had to come home from work because I was not answering my phone, and she definitely did not want me skipping out on camp. The car ride to the camp was momentous for me. I was tired, unwilling, and had the appearance of unfriendliness as well. I was left with a window seat next to Jamaica, Cindy’s youngest daughter. Jamaica and I have been familiar for a little under five years, but it would have seemed like we didn’t know each other during the car ride. Cindy made brief eye contact with me through the rearview mirror, “You tired? ” She happily asked. I turned from the window to see her in the same mirror. “Just a bit.
I couldn’t sleep until five in the morning,” I lied. “That’s odd. I figured you would have been excited. ” I didn’t answer that time. I felt like I was acting rude, but my mind was foggy and could not muster the will to form a response. I stared out the window at the familiar deadness we passed as we drove on the freeway. I would usually pass out during the ride to Liberty, Utah, which usually ended up lasting a good hour and a half, but Cindy proceeded with small talk and simple questions that kept me awake. We finally arrived at camp. Before I could leave the car, Cindy asked if I still had my phone on me. I did.
She reached back, “Hand it over,” she said sternly. Without thinking, I reluctantly released my precious device to be left in her care. “Thank you. Trust me, you won’t need it. ” She assured me. I felt like she was lying, but I knew that I wouldn’t have much use for it, since they tend to keep us quite busy with games, fellowship, and chapel. Uh-oh, chapel. I had almost forgotten about it. Basically, “chapel” as it was called, was an everyday church service that occurred twice a day; before lunch, and after dinner. In previous years, the chapel was home to great experiences for me, but this year I wasn’t Christian.
I knew it was okay though, because I could just get high before the services. Another shocking thought: I forgot to pack my weed, due to my mother’s close watch as I got ready to be picked up. How was I supposed to go through two church services every day sober? The first day of camp was basically a half-day, because the events didn’t begin until 4PM, when the counselors were sure that everyone that would be attending was present. An hour before chapel, I remember thinking that “the universe” would be able to teach me the things It wanted me to learn through chapel.
I was familiar with the belief of everything happening for a reason, so I was sure that me forgetting my weed had something to do with “the universe” intending for me to learn from the services. This motivated me to pay attention during the chapel services, with the hope that I’d pick up a gemstone of knowledge or two from the lessons. Day one of Bible Camp only consisted of the night service in the chapel, which was mainly an introduction to the speaker, Mike Shrock. Mike is a well-known evangelist who almost could not make it to our camp. We were very blessed that he was able to be there.
After chapel came a night game that took place in the field, where we usually park on the first day. The cars were gone, and the game was fun. My cabin and I ended the night with devotions lead by our assigned counselor, Lincoln. Lincoln was very encouraged and blessed, in his own words, to witness my transformation that week. Lincoln and our co-counselor, John passed around index cards and pens to the members of our cabin. Lincoln asked all of us questions that related to ourselves, and then to our salvation. One question was, “If you died tonight, do you believe you would go to Heaven, or Hell? I honestly did not believe in Heaven. So I wrote that I did not believe in Heaven, but believed in a form of reincarnation.
The following day, after the noon chapel service, I was asked by our co-counselor John if I would sit and talk with him. He asked me why I wrote what I thought about heaven. I told him my beliefs, along with why I thought the Bible wasn’t legitimate. I was surprised with the amount of knowledge this young man possessed. John is Christian, but he also once struggled with the same belief system I had inherited.
He asked me where I thought morals originated from, to which I replied, “After years of unsuccess, humans would eventually understand what was good and bad. ” But he informed me that the basic understanding of good and bad came from God, and not from ourselves. This way of thinking was intriguing to me, but not enough to simply convert me on the spot. The evening service came around after a series of athletically challenging activities. The campers all sat with their counselors on different rows. This was the first night that began moving my mind in a definite direction.
Mike Shrock began speaking about thoughts, and how we are held responsible to protecting our thoughts from outside sources. Everything he said was scripture based, I made sure. The verses he spoke about had me comparing my own beliefs with the subject at hand. What he spoke about almost fell in line with that of my own beliefs. I wrote down much of what he mentioned, but was focused on listening and not being inattentive. The third day of Bible camp lit up my morning. With a little bit of trouble waking up, I motivated myself with thoughts about activities that were on their way.
My plans failed for the second time that summer, in spite of their incompleteness. A heavy thundershower hit the mountain our camp was built on, which forced the counselors and staff members to keep the campers inside of the chapel. The program coordinators were able to keep us busy in the game room with tournaments and other activities, but I chose to spend a small amount of my time reading the good ol’ Bible. A counselor of mine caught sight of me doing this, but took no action. The staff member who noticed me, David, didn’t mention this until the next week.
Soon the maintenance crew and other staff members began arranging the chairs within the chapel area for lunch. I shared a great lunch with my cabin mates, finished up, and left in the game room with other campers as the lunch room emptied, and was set up for chapel. The oddest thing happened to me when I noticed chapel being set up; I was excited. I learned another grand amount of information from the talented Mike Shrock. He was an interesting speaker, he did not use notes, or a PowerPoint. It appeared like he was in the evangelical business long enough to be capable of preaching from his own knowledge.
Nevertheless, most campers enjoyed the food for thought he generously served us, especially myself. I remember his topics changing slightly as he moved from fisher of souls, to teaching the whole. By Wednesday night, he was no longer introducing new topics; but rather helping the mass of campers and staff members nail the foundation of information he spewed, to the ground. This was shockingly okay with me. After the night service on Wednesday, I honestly had come to the point of considering Christianity. A war of old thoughts and new thoughts had taken place on the battlegrounds of my mind, and the newer thoughts were nearing victory.
In spite of the upper hand, my new thoughts possessed over the old, there were a few bumps in the road that lead to my salvation. I was still contemplating the actual existence of the Christian deity, Jesus. I had accepted my research on his illegitimacy as fact, but the changes that were being implemented upon my heart were forcing me to think differently. Thursday afternoon chapel took place, which yielded another good-sized scoop of information for the camp and I. I pondered on the reality of a God-Man coming to Earth, saving many and becoming the greatest sacrifice known to man.
I wondered whether Heaven or Hell existed. Earlier, I thought the aforementioned places were used as scare tactics for children and citizens. What I had learned at camp directed my thinking elsewhere, and I slowly became a believer. The sun began its descent, and the evening came around. Thursday night chapel had also arrived; the second to last chapel, as it was most years. Finding myself convicted of my sins during the service urged me to believe that the Holy Spirit had made its way into my vessel. The service that night was tear-jerking to a few of the attendees.
After Mike was through with what he was talking about, he asked everyone but the counselors to bow their heads and close their eyes. He proceeded to invite those who had not yet accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior to raise a hand. The idea was, that the counselors in charge of the cabins would tap on the shoulder of a camper with a hand raised, go somewhere private with them, share the Romans Road with them while answering their questions, then end with a life changing decision from the camper seeking grace. Astonishing others more than I had surprised myself, I silently raised my hand.
Within seconds, Lincoln happily tapped on my shoulder, and asked me to go outside with him. I rose from my seat without looking around to remain respectful, and followed my counselor outside. It had become chilling outside, and Lincoln provided his coat for me to wear temporarily. We sat at a lunch table a few steps from the chapel’s entrance, and Lincoln opened his Bible to the book of Romans. I was very impressed with the content he had for me. Yes, I had questions, but Lincoln had answers that seemed to be fabricated by God Himself. The ride home from camp was entirely different than the ride there.
Pastor Cindy picked all of us up and instantly noticed the difference. She asked all of us if we had fun, and I was the first to answer. I told her about Mike Shrock, which lead to the apparent complaints Jamaica and Asia had about him. After that, I revealed to my church mates that I was not Christian on the way to camp. Almost simultaneously, everyone answered, “we know. ” I laughed it off, and told Cindy that I was interested in attending another week. The day camp had ended, Rhonda Ransom, the co-director and owner of the camp, introduced an irrefusable offer to the campers.
Apparently they were short a cabin or two for the next week, and were in need of more campers to reach their planned amount of attendants. My cabin and I strongly considered it, and to make a long story short, I ended up going, along with my entire cabin. My mom was very joyous with my return, especially with the change she noticed had taken place. After asking if I could attend another week at camp for only fifty dollars, she began tearing up. She let me know that she had been praying for the exact thing to occur. I wasn’t ready to quit smoking after the first week. The second week came and went, and I returned to my home.
My long absence from my town broke my customer base down about two thirds of its previous amount. Most of my friends and their friends had the assumption that I had quit: they all knew about my depart to Bible camp. I was very encouraged to quit smoking and selling, but the temptation was too close to resist. Just a couple of days after I prayed for God to move into my life, and take me out of the drug-scene, prayer was answered, but not in the way I personally would have answered it. My mom discovered an ongoing problem within our family that had become the basis for the recent behavioral change within my dad.
This forced my mom to pack her things and move out, taking my sister and I with her. After a month of living with my aunt in her single-room apartment, we found an apartment in Kearns. This change allowed me to leave my old school, where I thrived with selling dope and promoting malice, and introduced the possibility of a brand new start. I have been sober since the night of my family’s departure from my dad’s house, and have been actively associating myself with other Christians, motivated by a zeal for God and by staying faithful. The theme of my summer had “unexpected” written all over it, but I would not have had it happen any other way.