During the summer of 2016, I interned at the NWYM office with Rachelle Staley in the youth/young adult department. She told my coworker Jess Ice and me that we were going to Quaker Cove to run a training program on child abuse prevention in order to better equip the caretakers, Liz and Karl Seume.
On the drive, Rachelle described the condition of the camp before Liz and Karl arrived. Stories of random strangers walking along the campgrounds, the burial site of a Native American being discovered on the property. Then her stories changed into how God had provided—sending mostly new mattresses the morning before a camp started, ways the community came together to patch up and work on the camp. As we arrived, I was astonished by how normal the camp looked, and the area was gloriously beautiful.
We stayed only two days but long enough to hear stories of camp transformation, and I was even able to help out. Many things ran through my head, but I had one constant thought: …they have done all this in a year. And with four kids under the age of five! That’s amazing, but they need more help.
I finished my internship and looked for new work. My heart was burdened with a desire to serve, and after a disappointing rejection I decided to connect with the Seumes about Quaker Cove.
I came up here out of love, to work as hard as I could to help my fellow Quakers in their task. And I admit I would have left by the third month if God had not strengthened my desire to help the Seumes for no pay except the cabin roof above my head.
After a jam-packed college curriculum, it feels nice to be able to set work aside at the end of the day. In the mornings when I check in with the Seumes for my assignment, I get myself ready for the joy and laughter that comes from James, Amelie, and Benny. I’m told the kids have a calm side when I’m not around, but I don’t believe that for a second. Life here at the camp is simple and from it I find peace.
Living in this section of Washington, where I know no one and communication technology regularly fails, causes isolation. I miss all my friends, family, and community in Oregon. But God has provided with some friends and bible groups where I get my weekly dose of socialization.
I struggle too. Some jobs are tedious, cleaning the cabins for the umpteenth time, knowing I will do this same job in a couple weeks. Some jobs are frightening as I climb steep rooftops to kill moss, and some are just work—cutting boards for this or that project and digging or painting for another. But I’m here to work, and in some strange way, that is love.
I recently heard that love toward a significant other has a few stages that begin with a fiery passionate love. You just want to hold your partner forever because you are intoxicated by their presence. Then stage two arrives and the adorable qualities become mundane, and you wonder whether you are with the right person. I feel I am in stage two. I’m no longer a superhero rushing off to save this camp. My desire to make a difference has evolved into living out each day and doing my normal routine. I no longer feel called to this work. I continue to work but I know that this is not where my journey is meant to end. Still, I can see transformation! Whether I leave tomorrow or at the end of September, a part of my heart and soul will always reside here, for I have bonded with the Seumes and their care and compassion for this camp. The glory belongs to God, who has used my work here to spread love these past seven months.
Love is tricky. Everyone has the power to make a difference in someone else’s world. It doesn’t have to be working at a camp for free. It could be going off to teach English at a university in China; it could be working as a busser, cleaning dishes for barely minimum wage. When we remember we are always living out love, we begin to change the world. And what a world it will be.