Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on February 12, 2016
There’s an interesting story behind this picture. I wasn’t even supposed to have the opportunity to visit this orphanage in Costa Rica. As soon as I found out there was an orphanage I so desperately wanted to visit. Since I was a little girl the thought of adoption has always been in my heart. On a typical day I normally wear my “I Am Second” bracelet as a reminder that God and others are before me. Not anymore.
While on my week long mission trip in Costa Rica we were going through the book “Humility” which is something I very much strive for, hence why I wear my “I Am Second” bracelet but I don’t have that bracelet anymore. I have a new one.
During the visit to the orphanage as I was saying my goodbyes, I knelt down giving hugs to the kids and the little boy in the bright blue t-shirt pointed at my bracelet. I looked up at him and in my not so good Spanish said “¿Quieres?” trying to ask if he wanted my bracelet. He shook his head yes so I took it off and gave it to him. Walking out of their loving home on my way back he had ran out to me with a bracelet on his hand. I thought he was giving me back my bracelet and I said “no Es para tú” attempting to say “No, it’s for you”. One of the three volunteers who made the orphanage visit with me, turned to me and said “No, he’s giving that to you”. It was a rubber band loom bracelet that he must have made himself. I was so surprised and grateful for such a kind gesture. I wear it everyday as my new reminder to stay humble.
God is so good. On our extremely long flights back to Seattle I was praying constantly about what was next for me and praying for all of the kids and staff I was fortunate enough to interact with in Costa Rica. SAMBICA has an after school program on Wednesdays where each intern gets to be a camp counselor of a small group of kids. We returned from Costa Rica on Tuesday so the very next day back we were right back into the swing of things. During our Wednesday morning meeting we were told we were going to have a few new students joining us this week and that one was recently adopted. As soon as I heard “adopted” I instantly was thinking “Oh my goodness! That is so great,” as we continued to learn that this student also didn’t speak very much English. At this point I was thinking, why on earth would they speak Spanish, they probably speak French, or Chinese, anything but Spanish. I was wrong. Alright Lord, what is that supposed to mean? What are you trying to tell me? I believe He’s bringing my passion for adoption into my everyday life and that is an amazing blessing!
Written by Patricia “Dyno” Elders
Posted by Christine Szekeres in Elementary Events on October 16, 2015
Salmon Days 2015 was a huge success! How does one define success? Here at SAMBICA, seeing the joy on the faces of kids and youth, seeing families spend quality time together, and sharing Christ’s love in the community is success.
With five giant inflatables and our new 9-square-in-the-air game, the SAMBICA inflatable zone was packed with families from open to close. All team members (full time, interns, and volunteers) were encouraged to join in on the fun – and they did! It was exciting to see our new high school part-time team, interns, board members, and full time team remembering why we do what we do at camp – love our community.
I have been with SAMBICA for 6 summers and during this weekend I was reminded of the great community we are in. I’ve had the privilege of doing many different jobs on camp, some have been on the phone or behind a desk. It was overwhelming to have campers and parents come up saying hello that I know. Working at SAMBICA has been more than a summer job, it has allowed me to enter into the lives of our families and walk alongside them in this journey of life. It is an honor to be reminded of that great ministry.
Not only did I see families and faces that I know, I also had the chance to meet many new ones. We got to share SAMBICA with many new families in the area, many who had just moved to Washington in the past few months. I hope to see them again and be able to know them as family too. That is success!
Written by Liz “Happy Feet” Pearse
Posted by Christine Szekeres in Intentional Programming on September 18, 2015
As Fall returns to SAMBICA we will have many opportunities to create programming for the various groups, both youth and adult, that visit SAMBICA between September and May.
One of our first groups this season, Seattle Christian High School, presented a wonderful opportunity to create some intentional programming for the group while allowing the new intern team to take the lead! With 245 students, the plan was for a large-scale game of Mission Impossible on the upper field. The students engaged fully with the intern team and the game, making for a rousing experience that the seniors engaged in wholeheartedly (and competitively):
“3…” I looked around … confused, trying to find the missing bucket of tennis balls for redistribution (so all the players could have a chance to grab a ball at the start).
“2…” There it is! The seniors are hogging the bucket. Hmmm, this isn’t going to end well.
“1…” “Hey, wait, guys! I want to…” My words were not to be heard as a loud, booming “GO!!!!” echoed through the field’s loudspeakers.
I stood there in shock as bunch of senior guys took the entire bucket (at least 150 tennis balls), ran across the field (ignoring the hits along the way), and dumped them all into the goal (an airplane with a trash can). Game over!
My head spinning from their competitive ferocity, all I could think was, “Wait, why am I surprised? Seniors win no matter what, right?”
The switch is now edging to the halfway mark as we begin to turn “on” our fall, winter, and spring seasons with an increasing number of youth groups and youth events. Our vision at SAMBICA is to “inspire youth to a relationship with Jesus Christ,” and our goal this year is that half of the guests we serve are youth. Once we finish raising all of the funds to turf our field, we will be able to provide even more programming and activities for youth throughout the winter (when our field is traditionally a mud pit much of this season). I, for one, am looking forward to more ferocious games and opportunities to engage youth at a deeper level this year.
Written by Lily “Hemi” Semenyuk
Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on June 12, 2015
As I flip through photos of our recent trip to Costa Rica I’m amazed by how much happened in the short time we were there. In a week’s time our team of 12 was able to help support a fellow camp in the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica called Campamento Roblealto. The week started off with almost a full day of airplane rides and layovers, with most flights including some type of set back or delay but thankfully no missed flights! The delays gave us all a chance to relax and fellowship with one another.
Lesson 1: Don’t always be focused on the tasks that you miss the time to fellowship.
Finally touching down in San Jose just before midnight the 12 tired Sambicaites had arrived! With no missing luggage and no international incidents we were picked up by our old friend Adam who worked with our team to make this trip possible. After about an hour we arrived at camp and most, if not all, headed straight to bed. The next day we began our orientation and the first of our few work project days. The task was simple: use old tractor oil to stain the outside of two fairly sized cabins whilst not inhaling, letting it make contact with our skin, or falling off a ladder. By the end of the day each of us had done at least 2 of these. Many inside jokes and more team bonding occurred and it was a nice time to enjoy the sun and get some manual work done. My first task was to help hold a ladder while someone else was painting. My mindset was still set on the typical American thinking, “If we had more paintbrushes then that would multiply the amount of people staining which equals being done faster.” completely missing the fact that, as small as I felt my job was it was still important, it also gave me a chance to pray and think about things and enjoy the amazing sun.
Lesson 2: No job is too small, if done with the right attitude and mentality.
The second day involved much of the same work as well as a large thunderstorm that began to rain us out, but we were able to complete both of the cabins in time. Next up, on the weekend was children’s camp. We were working with a group called the Hope Project that works with under privileged kids in some of the poorer surrounding areas. The director of this project, a man by the name of Jugo, I had the pleasure of meeting last year when our group of interns came to help out and do similar work in Costa Rica. This man truly has a heart for all the kids he works with and you can tell by watching that they all love him. Before the kids arrived we were given the opportunity to decorate the dining hall in a way of welcoming them and giving them a surprise. Our team was given a bunch of different art supplies and everyone went nuts! I personally am not much of an artist and when it comes to things I don’t know and my natural self says “stand off to the side awkwardly and watch while trying to composite a plan.” Well at first as I was watching everyone I noticed something that seemed out of a strange reality TV show/home improvement show where everyone is scrambling around to get supplies and everyone is working on completely different things with no theme in mind. Instinctively I want to have a plan set. But a beautiful thing occurred. Everything worked together! I mean to help with a visual, we had balloons, giant colorful paper pompoms, paper ring chains, palm trees made out of paper bags and tissue paper, colorful cloth pendants with the camps name on it, egg cartons spray painted different colors, different signs welcoming the kids, cut out paper stars and black lights on the windows. Our efforts though whatever initially our motives were, they ended with a product that said “Hey Kids, We love and care about you” And that was all that needed to be said.
Lesson 3: God takes our mess as it is and He turns it into something beautiful for His glory.
The kids were greeted like stars as they entered into the dining hall giving high fives to staff and taking their seats. I will remember the look on their faces and the slight gasps as they were told they could eat and ask for as much food as they liked. This is not a problem we seem to face here in Bellevue, but to them, this was more than just camp. Our team was split into two work shifts and we took turns helping set up for meals and cleaning dishes, as well as having time to play with the kids and hang out with them. Our time with the kids involved playing in the pool, many of our staff went through the mud obstacle course, helping with a scavenger hunt, as well as being able to arrange a mini carnival for the kids. There was even a day we were able to introduce Mission Impossible to them! For me it was interesting to note that even though a lot of us could only communicate through broken Spanish and hand signals, all the kids wanted was to play with us and to know they were loved. There was many fun times and it was sad to see them all have to go back home. To many of us it was a sad thought that this was only a slight respite from their normal hardships that they face daily. But it is not us that gives this to them, but God. And God was who we were there to give glory to.
Lesson 4: Showing love brings glory to God.
In conclusion, I believe that this experience was truly a life changer for all, and I know everyone took away different things. But these are the things I will keep with me. That and the memories of the delicious food I ate that entire week.
Written by Josh “Motor” Murakami
Posted by Christine Szekeres in Interns on March 26, 2015
About three and a half years ago I found a place that changed my life, a place that has helped to shape me into who I am today. The people there redefined my view of Christianity and taught me about who Christ is and what his love is capable of. The place I’m talking about is the high school I attended during my sophomore and junior years. I was blessed to be poured into on a daily basis by the teachers, coaches, and the rest of the staff. During that time I was going through a lot at home and it was a time that now when I look back on it I can see just how much of a blessing that school was for me. That school is where I started to make my faith my own.
Turn the page, and I am in a different place in nearly every sense of the word. So much has happened, so much has changed, but I haven’t forgotten the place I found years ago. No longer a high school student, I am currently interning at a new place. This place has also changed my life, and this place even now as I’m writing this is constantly helping to shape me, helping me to grow in Christ teaching me how to live a life glorifying to him. This place is SAMBICA, and it too came into my life at a pivotal moment. God brought SAMBICA into my life when I was struggling to remember what I had learned just a year prior, when I had just finished teetering on the edge of holding on or letting go of my faith. A fire had been lit and what I needed at that moment was a chance to share that light with as many people as possible. I needed to pour out and I needed to be poured into, I needed a family in Christ. I needed SAMBICA.
Since becoming an intern at SAMBICA I have been blessed with a multitude of opportunities to work with youth of all ages, to laugh with them, to teach them, to listen to them, to be a light to them. It has been amazing to see God work through all of the people here at camp and to watch as little sparks begin to appear. One of the ways that I have been able work with the youth is by going on school visits. There are a few visits in particular that I know I won’t soon forget.
A little over a month ago Coach (Matt Wimmer), West Beach (Gerald Bouknight), and I had the privilege of visiting The Bear Creek School for their first ever volunteer service fair. We went there to tell the students and their families about different ways they could volunteer their time to help out at SAMBICA. What was really special about it was that at the same time we were able to talk with them about our mission and vision and explain the purpose behind what we do at camp and how in there volunteering they would be able to help us to do that as well. One of the other awesome things that I was able to do is reconnect with some of our campers from the previous summer. Gerald and I got to sit in on a camper’s choir rehearsal and I was able to help one of our campers revise a personal narrative in their English class!
During this same school visit I remember walking down the hall and seeing it lined with student art. They had recently done a project where they used words written in different fonts and sizes to create images. One that caught my eye was a silhouette of a girl all by herself, the student had used words like, “sad, alone, listen, and fear,” to create the image. However what was even more powerful than this picture was what was written on the piece of paper that hung next to it. On it the student had re wrote those words but in between each row of them she had written 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” As we left Bear Creek I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic as I recalled that place I found a little over three years ago.
Fairly soon after our visit to Bear Creek, Coach, West Beach, and I had the privilege of visiting Seattle Christian for their high school chapel service. As soon as I learned about our upcoming trip I couldn’t help but feel extremely excited. This visit was unlike the previous one as this time coach was to be the speaker at their weekly chapel service. Coach spoke to the students about how God’s love NEVER fails and I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I looked around the full multipurpose room as students listened intently, laughing at the right time and nodding their heads at different things. It was a familiar and beautiful sight to see. My heart felt full as a thought occurred to me, these students had found a place.
Towards the end of Coach’s talk Gerald asked the students to write down on a note card something that they needed prayer for so that we as a team back at SAMBICA could lift them up in prayer. After the students were done him and I went around and collected the folded notes. Later that week we shared the notes with the rest of our team, we read the prayer requests out loud and then one by one we prayed for those students and students everywhere. Afterwards I realized something else, these kids were going through a lot just like I had been during that stage in my life, and God with a love stronger than we can comprehend had blessed them in a similar way by providing for them an avenue to be poured into. During that chapel service I realized I had somehow come full circle. God has blessed me once again by giving me this opportunity and others like it to bless others as I have been blessed.
Written by Mackenzie “Bingo” Davis