For this camp we take about 60 kids from the inner city areas of Phoenix and scholarship them to go on this 6 day camp in the mountains of Colorado. Pretty much all of these kids are coming from homes where the parents could be in prison, on drugs, alcoholic's, or they could quite possibly be living with their aunt, uncle, or grandparent's house. So many different stories of the individual circumstances these kids face on a daily basis. This being my third year I felt so privileged to be apart of what this pastor in Phoenix has been laboring for the last 35 years! I was a counselor, led worship for most all the chapels, and then had a chance to share what the Lord had placed on my heart for His children! It was a difficult thing to counsel and give guidance to these kids, yet at the same time do your very best to show them love in every way possible. They are going to test your patience in every way to see if your love is genuine. So all week long I feel like a total failure at this. Constantly being "that guy" that is telling the kids, "Don't climb on that,...Don't hit him!...Don't jump in the river!...Why would you throw your trash on the ground?" Just to name a few. But these kids have never known someone to care enough to give them boundaries. Through all the hardness of being a leader and giving direction I had to do my best to show love in the times of ministry and show them the love of our Father in heaven. The last service of the camp, Wednesday night, the pastor really leave it open as a time of rejoicing and sharing. So we do a little dancing, a little lot laughing and enjoying being ourselves. Then we formed a huge circle of chairs in the chapel and put a few different microphones on stands in the middle and one by one these kids got up and would share a bit of their story with us. Without one kid going twice we sat there for 2.5 hours listening to these kids pour their heart out from past pain and what the Lord had done. IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING THINGS I HAVE EVER WITNESSED! Knowing that these kids have seen some really tough times in their lifetime you start to get a picture for the story behind their faces. This one is quiet because he never had his parents growing up, and never knew what it was to have a family that loved him. This one is 14 and has to hide his dads alcohol when he is to drunk otherwise he would just keep drinking. The stories were endless and unbelievable! Getting back to Phoenix I stayed with the friend of mine that flew me out there and his wife. Their condo is in the Glendale area, which is about 400 yards (Ok maybe 500 yards) from the Phoenix Cardinals football stadium! My time with them was really good as I was able to continuing sharing what the Lord has been doing in my life over the last year. It was a really good time of connection and just talking about life. The night before I was to head back to KC my friend says that he wants to bless me with $1,000. With which I was able to buy the Rosetta Stone levels 1, 2, and 3 for Polish, and also put some money towards a car. It was just so incredible the way the Lord continues to surprise me in the way He provides for my needs and wants!
So, returning to KC I'm absolutely blown away once again by the way the Lord works and gives above and beyond all I can ever ask or imagine! It was a quick week in KC then I drove up to Michigan to spend about 12 days with my family. I think this was a very timely and much needed extended trip with all my people. What an amazing time we have whenever we get together and start being ourselves. But really it was a blessing to spend time with family and just make that connection of seeing their faces =) I was able to visit a few friends as well and just share what I had been up to the last year and a half I've been away. And it was nice to celebrate my birthday back home this year. I liked that alot. I felt a lot of love.
After that good but long trip home I had all of 1 full day back in Kansas City to wash all my laundry and pack up all my gear. Me and my best friend headed to out Colorado for a week of camping and hiking. But my favorite part about this trip, no computer, cell was turned off for most of the trip left in the truck, and we got alot of time to just experience God in the mountains! Our schedule was pretty much like this: Wake up each morning round 6:30 er 7, have an amazing breakfast over an open fire, then head out separate ways for an hour to an hour and a half to spend some alone time either in the Word or in prayer. And I'll tell you, how can you not talk to God when you've got a devotional spot like this???So that time each morning was pretty much AMAZING! I've never been able to concentrate so easily on reading the Bible or talking to the Lord. With absolutely no distractions, just a quietness of gazing at the beauty of His creation and the simplicity of Truth from His Word. I think the Lord knew I needed this time of just being still before Him and remembering His promises for my life. But also this was such a good building of friendship time between me and my best friend Mark. The whole time we were out there we just felt so privileged to be able to take a week and just spend it encouraging one another and going on journeys together through some of the most AMAZING scenery you've ever seen! We hiked every day some place new. It was really neat to see the different types of climate in such a small area. You go to one side of a mountain and it's more prairie and grasslands with birch trees covering the landscape, and the other you can have a pine forest with tons of rock landscape with little streams and rivers running in and out of them. A really cool spot that we found was Horse thief falls. It was about a 3 mile hike to the falls, and since this was the third day into the trip we thought it would be a good idea to do a little wash up with my fair trade soap. We might be men but sometimes you just gotta take care of business so nothing starts growing in unwanted areas. I'll tell you that water was COLD! Straight out of the mountains! But really it was all fun, there really wasn't an area that we didn't enjoy. The hiking everyday kind of just blurred together as the week went on. But we did have our sites set on doing one hike before we left Colorado. Pikes Peak! Oh boy, did we ever! So, pikes just kept getting pushed back on our agenda list. So it ends up that we have one last day to do it. Saturday, which is the day before we leave. So we decide that we're going to do a light hike on Friday so we don't leave ourselves dead for Pikes. Well, Friday we decide to do Dome Rock, which we thought was about a 5 or 6 mile hike. Turns out that it's actually about a 12 or 13 mile hike. The first 4 miles of the hike are beautiful with tons of landscape, a rushing creek that the trail is following, with tons of rocky mountainous landscape to gaze upon! Well, we get to Dome Rock, it's pretty cool, then we keep going thinking we've only got a couple miles till we're back now. Turns out not to be the case. We then continue another 7 miles of mostly uphill hiking. Not a very good idea the day before doing Pikes Peak. So things are already working against us for our 13 mile hike the following day. Early Saturday morning we get our stuff together and head out to hike up Pikes Peak. The only problem is we only know a general area of where the trailhead is. You would think being one of the main attractions in Colorado that there would be signs to direct you to the trailhead. Not the case. So we drive around for an hour and a half looking for the trailhead, finally we stop and get directions from a native (took asking 2 different people since the first had never been there before) So finally at 8:45 am we start the hike. By this time it's about 85 degrees with direct sun beating down on us. Mind you when at that elevation the sun feels that much hotter since you're closer! The first 3 miles of the hike are straight up, but it feels more like we've done 5 or 6 miles at this point. So we get to a mile marker which says, "Pikes Pike 9 more Miles" At this point I'm hurting all over, my legs are feeling fatigued already, my hips are a bit sore from the ridiculous hike we did the day before, there is NO WAY I'm going to be able to do the next 9 miles. I actually tell Mark to keep going convinced I wasn't going to do it. As I'm sitting there I have rather obese people running back DOWN the mountain. So I start thinking, "There's no way they are on their way back down from the top, there has to be a spot that levels out soon!" So with a new burst of energy I decide I'm doing this stupid thing! I take off after Mark who is quite a ways up the trail by now, and sure enough the trail levels out and is quite a bit easier than the first 3 miles. The next 5 miles go by fairly quickly as the terrain is much easier now that we've climbed in elevation quite a bit. Reaching the 4.5 miles left sign Mark and I kind of separated and started going at our own pace. The elevation was definitely now being felt more and more as we were getting higher. With about 3 miles of trail left a few things are happening, I start feeling a bit dizzy and just a little out of it, my legs are now to the point of simply going on only because of will power, and I'm thinking, "I need to get to the top so I can ride that stupid train down, because there is no way I'm hiking back down this thing!" Getting close to the 2 mile marker my stomach is now feeling so normal. So I think to myself, "Maybe I need to eat something?" So I pull out a cliff bar to snack on, not so much a good idea, I feel even more sickly now! About this time a couple that I had passed earlier on is now passing me due to my slowing down in pace. The man asks me if I'm doing alright I gesture something I can't really remember. Something like, "Um, yeaaaah, I think so." He asks me if I have enough water, I say I've got about three quarters nalgene left. He asks if I have any food, I say yeah I've got a few cliff bars. So they continue on up. I sit there a few more minutes and then find motivation in getting to the top so I can get down. Also at this point we've been above tree for the past mile, so things are getting sparse. I catch up to the couple that had passed me and tell them I'm sticking with them till the top! So we continue up the mountain at a enjoyable pace. I asked them what time they had started and I found that they had started at 6:30! Somehow me and Mark managed to catch them starting a whole 2 hours and 15 minutes after them! That's how ridiculously fast a pace Mark was setting! FINALLY reaching the top in just over 5 hours I'm exhausted and ready to be back down, after making some connections with this couple they ask if me and my friend would like a ride back down the mountain as their son was picking them up at the top. I happily went and found Mark and told him he can do what he wants, but I'm riding down in a car (He joined me happily) As this was our last day, we were feeling rather accomplished to finish this ridiculous hike! 13 miles of trail for the most part all uphill, and going from 7,100 ft. up to 14,100! For sure the hardest hike I've ever done! I can see how people would just die on the side of the mountain! Especially if you didn't carry enough water with you!
Being back in KC now for a couple weeks I've been getting back to a normal routine of volunteering about 16 hours a week for the grounds crew here at the House of Prayer. There were alot of questions in my heart about this coming fall if I would be doing school or not. The past few weeks I have been praying alot asking the Lord if He was going to provide me with the finances to continue at the music academy. At the beginning of the summer the Lord spoke a couple things very plainly to me. #1 That He wanted me to volunteer my time because I was working for Him and He was going to provide for me. #2 He asked me a question. "Isaac, are you going to be able to trust me if I wait until the day before the money for school is due, and then pay for it?" So the whole volunteering thing over the summer has been such an amazing thing! It's kept my heart excited and trusting in His provision. You can't really complain about what you're making when you're not getting paid at all =) And you can't really complain about the hours you're working when you're volunteering your time. So it really helped me understand all the more that HE IS my provider, and there wasn't one time that I couldn't pay for rent or have food for the month. So then in response to #2, I knew that God could do things like that, but I wasn't really expecting Him to. So the past couple weeks I've been really telling the Lord that I was okay with whatever happened. If He provided the money and I went to school, AWESOME, I'll do school. But even if the money doesn't come, that I'll be ok with not doing school, because He obviously has a plan to teach and train me for the things I'll be doing! So there was just this peace about school going either way. So, just this past Thursday I get a call from a friend of mine that I've known since March. But he's been one of those people that I've just felt like the Lord has called me to come along side of in prayer, discipleship, and just encouraging Him. So it's not so much that we've had alot of personal contact since he lives in Houston. Anyways, he calls me Thursday and tells me that the past week him and his wife have been praying and felt like the Lord told him to give me money for school. So, He's giving me $1,600 for school! CRAZY!!!!! God is sooooo good! So, I still need another $900 for the semester, but I'm pretty sure that won't be very hard for God. Oh, and one of the coolest things was He called me on Thursday, and the deposit for classes was due Friday =) THE DAY BEFORE THE MONEY WAS DUE GOD CAME THROUGH!!!!!!! JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD!!!! So, it's been an amazing summer, I can't believe how fast it's gone by, but I've enjoyed it thoroughly! I've got a wedding end of August down in Houston that I'm shooting, so I won't be able to join the family in their visit to Minneapolis =/ but I guess that just means I'll have to get up there another time. May God continue to bless our familys!!!
P.S. Click on all Pictures to make them HUGE size.