As Logan Burda- one of our FOCUS missionaries- would attest, the weeks leading up to boot camp are usually pretty chaotic, undoubtedly due to spiritual warfare. It's not that complicated: Heaven and Hell are real, and the devil simply doesn't want people to go to camp. He works in whatever ways possible to get us to never walk through the doors of the retreat in Wahoo. In my few weeks before camp, I had met with Logan several times and I was aware of the number of people dropping out for silly reasons: there's school work, it's busy, blah blah blah. I was no exception. Of course I was excited to go, but suddenly before camp I had exponentially more homework, there were group projects and presentations piling up, no time to study for my midterms, and I seriously considered not going. Looking back, it seems silly because I knew this camp was happening for months, and was I really unable to prepare my schedule to fit in this camp? Yes. Obviously I did. I am glad the devil didn't quite get to me enough to convince me not to go, but I wished everyone who had signed up was able to join me.
At camp, there was so many awesome things that happened. Friday night, we had a couple of talks and Mass together as a group. The talks are soooo amazing because our campus is blessed with some great missionaries. They love the Lord, and I've never seen so much excitement and joy in people. Honestly, one of my highlights of camp was hearing Max Chapman talk about the Holy Spirit; he is hilarious, joyful, goofy, and such an example of the joy that comes from a deep relationship with God. There's several things that his talk helped me understand, but I think it was even more inspiring just to see him and witness his joy. And he wasn't even trying. :) Also, at my first bootcamp, Friday was an intense night for me because as I was in adoration in the chapel, and I was struggling with so many things that were being rooted up from years of hurt. At this camp, I was able to look back and see how much I've grown since the last camp and see how God has healed me in many of those ways. That feeling of knowing God is working in my life despite all of my failures is one I cannot explain other than say it's pretty legit.
Saturday is the heart of the retreat. We have two 3-hour blocks of adoration- one dedicated to receiving healing from the Holy Spirit and the second for praying to the Holy Spirit for the gifts He wants us to have to help the people in our lives, with an emphasis on the Charismatic gifts. The healing session was powerful for me. I came into camp with a short list of things I knew I wanted to pray about, but once again, God helped me understand why I was truly there. Through confession and the prayer team, I was able to understand the root of some of my struggles, which allowed me to present that core issue to God. I pretty much never have an opportunity to have three entire hours in adoration, and for some that might sound really long, but it's like new life in pouring into my heart! There was so much healing I needed in areas I didn't even realize, but the Holy Spirit knew and he dug them up for me! It was hard to face those things, but God was right there; what could I fear?
After we have time in the healing adoration block, we get to take time to open ourselves up to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It's necessary for us to receive personal healing and grace from God first, so then we are open and equipped to share that love of God with the people in our lives; this is the target of this session. I came with a list of my family, my friends, and random people who I've encountered recently, and I was able to take 3 more hours to pray for them, and ask God to give me the gifts necessary for me to reach those people and help them grow closer to God. Now, I didn't come away from camp with a sudden, tangible gift, like praying in tongues, but I felt a huge call to pursue these gifts in my everyday life back in school. In fact, as I am writing this, I have a booklet sitting next to me I need to go through to help me discern my gifts a little further! (I should probably do that right now... thanks for the reminder! Haha). In the end of that session, I felt more understanding of the patient obedience God is calling me towards. He wants to work through me, and He wants to give me gifts, but I'm not ready. Now that I recognize that, I can begin working towards that openness. It's a process, and after camp I am equipped to do just that.
As I drove home from camp, it felt like my soul had been pushed, pulled, and reformed in so many ways... in so many GOOD ways. This camp is pretty intense, but one of my favorite things I have done in quite a while. God is so real, and He loves us all so much! He's calling us all to be His children, and as we give our lives over to Him, He wants to love through us and bring all of our loved ones closer to Him. I am thankful for our missionaries who put so much time into this camp because it's awesome. It's just so awesome. I could say that a million times, and I could go to camp a million times and never have the same experience. I'm in a totally different place than I was last year, but God knew that and provided accordingly.
Your brother in Christ,
Support Jared and students like him in their Catholic faith! Go to our donate page and select "Mail Appeal".