In The Thick of Winter

Daily life here at Barakel has begun to feel normal. I’m getting used to the schedules, the activities and the responsibilites. This past week I kept busy with chapel cleaning, ice-making, program work, and odd jobs.

Temperatures were nice and low this week, except for on Thursday when it warmed up a bit and we lost some patches of snow. This meant that some of the ski trails had to be closed, but other than that all the activity areas kept enough snow to remain open. We even got a good blanketing throughout the weekend of the cold, fluffy flakes. At times the entire world looked like a snow globe. It was beautiful.

Both sides of the lake had teenage campers from various church youth groups. West side had the Senior-highers and East side the Junior-highers. I worked on the West side with the Seniors. The speaker for the week on the West side happened to be my uncle, Ken Pierpont. Hearing my uncle speak was a treat. He’s one of my favorite speakers. My cousins Chuck, Dan, Wes, and Hope came along with him. My uncle’s oldest son, Kyle, was also up and had brought his youth group. So it was a regular old Pierpont reunion. I hadn’t seen either Kyle or Chuck for the longest time, so it was good catching up with them and the rest of the clan over the weekend.

Sunday afternoon I went home for the first time in four weeks and was able to go to church with my family. Reuben came along and we stayed the night before leaving early the next morning for Traverse City. We brought my brother Luke with us and traveled to Northwest Michigan College for my test. “Art of the Western World” was the DSST test I took and thankfully passed. Even though the roads were a bit snowy, we made it back to camp mid-afternoon. I Praise God for more college credit and safe travels!

Luke will be hanging out with me this week and helping with the work around camp. Luke is already taller than me and he’s not afraid to work, not to mention he’s a lot of fun to be around. We got a lot of work done today with his help!

Luke and Reuben with a truckload of tubes that we moved this afternoon.

While it’s hard to believe it, this is the mid-point of the winter retreat season here at Barakel. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! Keep praying for Camp and the campers that will hear the Gospel preached this weekend. Pray that hearts will be changed and an eternal impact will be made through the camping ministry here at Barakel!

Shoveling, Tubing, and Ice-making

A white onslaught of snow and ice tried to hide the road as I returned back to camp midday Tuesday. I had passed my Astronomy test which I took in Traverse City that morning, and even though I was nervous about the test I did well. The roads on the way there had been clear. Not so on the way back. But God was gracious and I arrived back at camp late afternoon intact.

The next day began with the weekly West Side chapel cleaning with Lee and Reuben, followed by Staff Fellowship. Barb – who has served in Africa for the past 30 years as a missionary and is now on staff here at camp for a year – shared her testimony with everyone. Hearing of how God had taken care of her through everything from wars to a plane crash was encouraging. All the staff had lunch together and then went back to work.

The Hockey Rink with a fresh coat of ice.

Ice skating is a highlight of the retreats for many, so making the ice and maintaining the rinks is a big deal. Jeremy Linsley shared his knowledge of ice making with me Wednesday afternoon and put me to work. I helped snowblow and then sweep off the ice. Thankfully both jobs are accomplished with tractors. We then put down a couple of fresh sheets of water on the ice. The job of ice laying is a little tricky as you have to try and keep the massively long hose from going over where you’ve already been, but I mostly got the hang of it.

The rest of the week before the retreats started I spent doing various jobs around camp. The biggest of the jobs was snow removal. Thursday between a couple of snow shovels and a snowblower, Reuben and I cleared half of West Side camp. The ten-degree air kept us from overheating and we even had the joy of knocking down some huge icicles.

The tubing hill is another highlight of winter at Barakel, and I had the privilege of helping run the hill for the first time Thursday night when we had people from the community come and tube. Tubing was fun to watch and I even went down the snowy hill for the first time.

Reuben hard at work shoveling in front of a West Side lodge.

The view early in the evening from the top of hill was amazing – Venus was shining brightly over a few black clouds on the horizon as the last tinges of sunlight faded away and night took over. It was a beautiful sight that I won’t soon forget.

Friday evening the retreats started full swing and on the East Side it was our last Father-Son retreat of the winter. I saw four boys who all had been my campers over the past two summers and was able to meet and talk with their dads. It was a lot of fun.

The weekend flew by and I was exhausted by Sunday afternoon when all the campers had left. So today has been spent mostly resting and catching up on sleep, but I will be back at it tomorrow morning! Pray for us at camp for our strength and joy as we serve for Christ’s glory.

 

 

 

Snow!

We got a healthy blanket of the stuff this past weekend. The snow fell mostly late Thursday night and left a good eight inches on the ground, making everything a beautiful winter wonderland. This is what I expect of a northern Michigan winter. I love how the snow transforms and gives new life to an otherwise dull landscape.

The snow makes camp life busier as we prepare for the campers, but it is definitely worth the work. The campers were able to enjoy tubing this weekend, unlike last weekend when we didn’t have enough to open tubing.

The big project during the week was painting a sign to put up here at camp for 2012. Reuben Peck and I worked together for the most part tracing the design and then painting the five sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood that made up the sign. The goal was to get the sign done and up for this weekend’s retreats, but by Thursday it looked as if it wouldn’t be done in time. Reuben decided that it would be done in time and took up the challenge and kept working on the sign late into the night and finished it just in time. I on the other hand had succumbed to a cold so I went to bed early that night. Thanks to Reuben’s efforts the campers had a very cool sign to take pictures by this weekend.

Friday I was in the skate hut for late night skating and it was a lot of fun to see the fathers and sons come down to skate and play hockey. Barakel has a nice hockey rink and a second rink just for skating giving the campers plenty of ice. The next morning I got up bright and early to drill some holes for ice fishing with Reuben. We have the hang of the auger now and we drilled the holes very quickly compared to last weekend. My morning schedule was free so I caught up on sleep a little bit and then kept busy in the afternoon with human ice bowling and flag football. Flag football was hilarious to watch as all the guys gave it their all on the snowy field. Definitely more entertaining than professional football any day.

Sunday was another full day and I was pretty worn out, but God gave strength and everything went well. After worshipping with the fathers and sons in their chapel the little guys left for their own chapel message. Their ages ranged from six to eleven and they all were full of energy, so keeping their attention is quite the trick. I helped out with them and it was neat to see the little guys learn about Christ as Chris Knobloch taught them.

After helping with lunch dishes in the dining hall I went to church at Christ Our Life Church with the Boeve family who are on resident staff here at camp. The building was small but the people inside filled it with life. It was good to spend time in church with fellow believers and hear the Word preached.

Keep me in your prayers as I take a DSST test on Astronomy tomorrow for college credit. I love the stars so studying for the test has been enjoyable.

God has provided greatly for me in many ways, and I am thankful for all of you who have been an encouragement to me and have been praying for the ministry here at Barakel. You are a real part of the ministry here through your prayers.

First Retreats and Loads of Fun

Busy and exciting. That’s how I would describe this weekend. This weekend began the winter retreat season here at barakel with two retreats: College and Career on the East Side of camp, and Father and Son on the West Side. My work was mainly with the Father and Son group.

Campers on both sides of the lake started showing up friday evening, all excited and ready for the weekend. I got to run the Thunder Express with Lee Brown in the dark for the campers who were brave enough to slide down the ominously black tunnel. Mostly it was the fathers and sons but a few of the college and career people came over. Seeing little guys going down the dark hill with their dads was pretty entertaining. Everybody absolutely loved it, and since we had a little snow on the ground they really shot out at the end of the tunnel.

The retreats kick-off with the first evening chapel session. Tom Harmon was speaking to the Fathers and Sons, and on the East side Doug Rutledge spoke to the College and Career group. I went over and sat in the East side chapel and listened in on Doug. He preached on the will of God and doing what’s right. His basic point that I remembered was that no matter how lowly the job, God can use you. It was good solid stuff and he was an entertaining speaker as a bonus.

After evening chapel I didn’t have anything scheduled so I was able to go down to the ice rink and watch people play hockey. There were also lots of former summer staff that I knew from the past two summers that I was able to see and visit with.

While the darkness was still thick, Reuben and I went down to the lake the following morning to auger some holes in the ice with Lee Brown. This time it wasn’t just a practice run. After drilling Thirty-one holes in the ice both Reuben and I had the hang of drilling holes with the power auger down. I absolutely loved being out on the lake and seeing the dark skies turn light while thick snowflakes fell.

Human Ice Bowling. Where fathers toss their small sons into plywood pins.

The rest of the day was spent helping with human ice bowling, broom ball, “egg zipping” in the west side chapel, and flag football. I even got to join in on a couple games of broom ball for a team that was short a player. I knew the guys on my team already and we had a blast. They won both games and went on to win the finals with the help of my younger-bigger brother, Taylor, who filled in for me.

The rest of the Chapel sessions during the week were a little different from the first one. The first chapel Tom Harmon spoke to the whole group of Fathers and Sons, but for Saturday’s and Sunday’s chapel some of the younger boys left midway through the chapel to go to a chapel service geared towards them. Chris was the speaker and did an absolutely fantastic job of keeping the attention of the kids and teaching them biblical truths. I was there for “crowd control” but Chris was great with them and I didn’t have much crowd controlling to do. The little guys really seemed to enjoy it a lot and learned well.

Zach, Dan, Me, and Reuben in front of the pink elephant of Mio Pizza.

Sunday afternoon after all the campers had left, a couple of my good friends from this summer, Dan Knox and Zach Waltz stayed the afternoon and went and had Mio Pizza with Reuben and I. The pizza was excellent as always and the fellowship with the guys was great.

All in all it was a great, exciting week and a good beginningg to the winter retreat season. Today I’m taking it easy and doing a bit of reading for my coming test on Astronomy. I thank you all for your prayers and support, you have been a blessing and an encouragement. Continue to pray for the ministry here that we would be used by God for His glory.

P.S.

Both of my trailer-mates and fellow seasonal staff guys have blogs which they update regularly. Check out Reuben at lausdeoatcamp.blogspot.com and Cody at excitingcody.blogspot.com

It has begun…

A bright sun and blue skies made the day cheery as I drove up to camp earlier this week on Tuesday. The roads were clear and made for easy traveling. I arrived at camp mid afternoon.

In little more than an hour I settled my things into what will be my new home for the next few months, a placed affectionately called the “trailer” by the young guys who have lived in it during the summer as YAPs or as Seasonal Staff like me. I have two “trailer mates”: Cody and Reuben. Cody is the “old guy” who has been around and knows all the ropes. This will be his third winter season here at Barakel. Reuben is the “young buck” and is new to seasonal staff like me. I’ve known both of them for the past two years, and we all get along well.

Yesterday I enjoyed the special “staff fellowship” time with all the full-time staff and the other seasonal staff. We spent the morning singing, hearing the Bible recited from memory, then listening to the Gardener’s life story, and even shared communion as a group. I had the privilege of hearing my dad guest preach during the fellowship from 1 John 4 on the subject of loving each other. Messages like that are timeless and I know I needed to hear it. You should read 1 John 4 if you get the chance. God’s word is powerful.

The rest of yesterday afternoon I spent learning some camp procedures and then working together with Reuben on assembling some broom ball goals. That was pretty much the whole day, and after supper I made my way down to the ice rink and played a game of hockey with the numerous staff children and Cody and Reuben. My skating and hockey skills are lacking but I hope to improve them over the winter.

Reuben carefully cutting out a bowling pin.

My first full day of work was today, and Reuben and I spent it working together on a few different projects. We put foam on hockey goals, repaired and replaced “human ice bowling” pins, and learned the ropes from Lee Brown on ice fishing procedures and even augured a few holes in the lake. The ice is a healthy five inches thick, so it should be good and safe this weekend for the many campers who will want to fish.

It's ice auger time!

Campers will be arriving late in the day tomorrow, so it should be a full, busy day. I’m excited as they come. Pray that we’d be prepared and give the campers a great stay here, but most of all that they would see Christ in us as a staff.

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