A little background on kitchen duties first, a typical day if you will. Day begins at 6:45 when you wake up and stumble out of bed to get to Devotionals by 7:00 am. Immediately after you go to the kitchen where you begin breakfast as fast you as you can because you only have the next hour to feed around 100 people, after breakfast rush is over, their are so many dishes that many times you must stay in the kitchen to keep up with them. Many times you don’t get to eat breakfast because it is all gone, or you eat a very late breakfast say around 10:00am when you finally finish the last of the dishes. By then it is usually time to mop or sweep floors until around 10:30 and it is back in the kitchen at 11am to start lunch prep. Once on lunch prep you are usually doing a mix of chopping veggies, or slicing meat or dishes, always the dishes. So. Many. Dishes.
Lunch is served at around 1:15, again the same routine you stay in the kitchen to keep up with the hoard of dishes coming at you, because if you don’t you can say goodbye to any break you might have had. Again, the food all gets eaten, or you eat really late. Dishes and cleaning is done around 3:00pm, this is the longest break, about an hour depending on what we are making. Oft times we must come back earlier for different meals. This was a normal routine in the kitchen, you hardly saw the light of day, well you did but it was through the windows or when you rang the bell. Again the same thing for dinner, cook, don’t eat, clean, off at around 8:00pm. So what we have is a 13hr day with very little break. On the first week of summer, it was this routine however added to it was a snack that needed to be made and ready by 3:45pm for the kid campers. This meant more prep, which meant a barely 30 minute break in a 13-14 hour day.
One particular week I was in charge of the kitchen, I had some amazing help from staff that had been there for a while, but it was me in charge and making sure things ran somewhat smooth. This was the first time I had ever been put in charge of any kind of operation, or team. This was the first time I ever headed anything up like this, after being put into the kitchen a couple months prior having absolutely zero experience in this field whatsoever. I did my best, I did not do perfect of course I failed at certain aspects of it. This is expected. However on Wednesday of that week we had the first inspection in one year, a surprise inspection in fact. We found out that the sanitizer that is used for cleaning the dishes was completely out, this is something that could easily be used to shut the kitchen down entirely. However after seeing all the left overs labeled and dated, the inspector decided to be lenient and let us fix this mistake. So, this day we had to take every dish, pot, utensil, cup and pan in the kitchen and soak them for 30 seconds in bleach water. We had to completely clean out the Dry Room, and the walk in fridge, all on top of fixing both lunch and dinner. I lined out the team and they got to work, they did an amazing job, all while cooking. We started the process at around 12:00pm and A couple of us were in the kitchen until 9:30pm. It was pretty successful day, but proved to be a day that wore all of us out, we continued to clean into the week making sure everything was up to standard.
It is a very hard place to work, some people are cut out for it and have a heart for it. It taught me a ton, it showed me what being a servant is and putting yourself away. However it begin to wear on me, and it started to change my attitude, not from lack of trying for everyday I would say “I do this for God, I do this because I love God”. The more it wore on me however, the less I said this unfortunately. Finally I found myself grumpy, cynical and just overall kind of depressed. I didn’t like people, and I didn’t want to be around them and I certainly did not want to be in the kitchen. I pressed on but finally I was faced with a situation that normally I would handle with patience and kindness, but handled with anger. I walked out and sat in the field for around 20 minutes spending precious and valuable time with Christ. In a way asking Him to relieve this what had become a burden of the kitchen from me, but most of all the anger that was welling up inside me. I don’t often get angry, it isn’t me anymore. This was what scared me. I told God, “if I could simply leave kitchen and be on ops (maintenance) than I feel like the change of pace, the getting outside and all would do me good” I wanted anywhere but the kitchen, not for the sake of getting what I please, but for the fact that my attitude was becoming something that did not reflect God’s nature or character.
So I head back into the kitchen and I have a talk with those I became angry at, and became angry at me as well. I apologized and from their repented of my anger. I felt so sorry and taken aback at how I had acted that it was as if a new me was viewing the old me and became almost in tears. It was mentioned that if the kitchen isn’t a place that I can be that I should talk to Luke and see if I could move to Ops. He happened to be in his office at that moment so with no time spared I had a really good conversation with him, and he agreed to allow me to switch positions. This was the turning point, a new chapter that seemed to blossom into joy and peace and best and most importantly of all, me turning my face wholly back to Christ.
The very first day, though plagued with idea of being a failure, and having a certain person tell me they were disappointed in me, I still felt a freedom, and a happiness. Not just a freedom to do what I want, but a freedom from anger and darkness that was pent up. That night I had an amazing conversation with a really cool summer staffer about feeling like a failure and such, it made me realize that though I may have not made an entire summer in the kitchen, I am still here at camp, where God wants me. I am still living out His will for me, and I believe in an even higher capacity. The following week instead of waking up early, being in the kitchen then going to bed at 10pm curfew, I worked hard in the hot sun, I was able to build relationships with some of the teens, and I got off at 4:45 to go swimming. All was well, I realized God didn’t put me in an “easier” position, he simply opened a door of ministry that not only did I not know existed, but never thought I would be a part of. Just in the last week of being on Ops I was able to minister to several teens, two in particular and one who became very close to me. He would hug me and tell me he loves me, gave me a huge hug when he left. He lives around 4 and a half hours away in Gresham, OR and I have plans to visit. These teens have real issues, drugs, depression, sex. However they feel that many of the permanent staff (not as a slight to them) are not trustworthy, or too judgmental to open up to in this way. I can be pretty immature sometimes, but it is in this ability to relate that comes their ability to open up to me, and not be afraid to tell me all these things. It was because my face was now turned toward Christ that I was able to open up, to love, and be honest about my past and who I am that these teens could come to me.
I sat for two or so hours with the 14 year old from Gresham, OR. By a little stream, in the shade on a hot day. He told me how much more he valued his family, he opened up about certain things he was running away from at home, and I was able to instead of just saying “oh thats bad, you shouldn’t do that”. Say “I have done that too, and I won’t lie it feels good. However you find yourself stuck in an altered reality where when you are normal, nothing seems that great. And look at how amazing things are right now with the sun and trees and shade, could anything make this better? And if so, would you want it to for you could never enjoy it fully without it.” I found myself truly connecting, and ministering to these kids, and its amazing and made any failure I may have had worth it, makes every insane rule that Bighorn has worth it.
This is still a difficult job, but like one of my good friends and teens said as some of the other summer staffers were kind of being reintroduced to some of us after being on Achieve Camp where they are paired up 24/7 with special needs children so they don’t really interact with other summer staff for that week. As he said “Yah dude, Brad is like, running around hugging everybody and stuff”. Yeah, pretty much. I still keep in touch over FB Messenger with these kids, and hope they really do change for the positive and decide to follow God.
I even got to raft with the teen from Oregon’s family, and had a really good day and an awesome talk with his dad who was a really neat guy, and actually did teen ministry for years. So all is well, and God is working in amazing ways. It is quite a job this, some people work at Home Depot, some have offices as a CEO for a big corporation, some are mechanics, and they all make the world go around. This is a job where self needs to be put away every single day, and when it is amazing things happen in the lives of others. A job where through Christ I have seen personally the change in these kids for the better.
I think the biggest difference of this job is that we don’t get paid. This is purely volunteer work, in fact in order to become permanent staff here we must pay 150.00$ a month in order to live. Which means in essence that I must raise support, I have had a really hard time with this because I don’t like asking people to spend their hard earned money. Maybe because I felt like I wasn’t worth it, partly because I didn’t have faith that God would provide. Now I realize the money isn’t for me, yes I might get a pair of headphones, or a pair of shoes. Mostly it will go toward simply allowing me to serve God where He puts me. The money is simply a tool that is used to reach people, to serve people. I feel more and more each day a strong pull toward Mexico, and I will be corresponding with Timo’s father who is a missionary in Mexico and has been for 30 some odd years. I will be telling him where my heart is and what I would like to do. I simply want to help people, God has put a yearning in me to go to places where they have next to nothing, and are still so happy with life, and family. To go to a place where people value people, where hearts are open to God’s word. But a place where a simple building could mean the world to them, or another hand to help at an orphanage. This right now I believe is what God is calling me to do with my life, it is the first time where I am no longer running away from, but running full force towards. And though it may seem like a cop out in today’s society to not have a “job”, or earn a “living” I have found it to be one of the most difficult things I have done in my life, to let go of self, and to serve.
So I ask my readers not just for money, but for something even more important and powerful than that. But prayer, that means more than a million dollars, than 4,000 lbs of gold any day. It is more precious than diamonds or silver. If you would like to support me monetarily than email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can tell you how you can do that. I will also be setting up a donate button that you can press and it will go strait to my paypal account. Again, if you can’t support with money I don’t care, but I think anyone can support with prayer. God bless and I am sorry for the long wait for the update, it has been a crazy last couple weeks, and finally the stars aligned just proper for me to finally write!