After we arrived at the dinning hall, we found out that we were going to have a handful of STMs--Short Term Missionaries.
Katya, of course, was going to be paired with Marica, a young woman whose eyes I could instantly see contained wisdom, and the softness that comes from deep pain borne in life. My heart felt even more sure she was right for Katya when Marica told us that she had just recently spent time in Ukraine, serving in orphanages, and she was so excited to arrive at J and F and find they had paired her with Katya!
Then Kristina was paired with Nicole, Marica's younger sister, who was a pleasant girl, serving at her first J and F camp. Last but not least, Chad was paired with Ashley, an energetic 19 year old with a wide, friendly smile that made me instantly feel happy. I was mildly surprised that both of the more typical sibs were paired with STMs. I later learned that in addition to the special needs director having specifically asked that they do so if there were enough STM's so that Chad and Kristina could get some extra one-on-one attention during the week, that the camp itself often tried to do that, simply because they know that the more typical kids in the special needs family get short-changed in the attention arena no matter how much a family tries to balance things out fairly.
Our next surprise was that the STM's took care of getting ALL our food from the food bars and the kitchen! We only had to sit there and relax! Chad was thrilled that they were having spaghetti and meat balls! Since we had a conversation with the J and F when they called us about the girl's dairy allergies, I was prepared to keep an eye on the food that came to make sure it was dairy free. But as tired and distracted as I was, I didn't think to ask about the meat balls! When one of the STM's went to the kitchen to ask specifically about the bread, she came back to tell me that she was really sorry but they had just informed her that the meatballs had Parmesan cheese in them . . . UH OH! BOTH girls had just eaten two apiece! We determined that rather than assuming our week had just been **ruined completely** by the mishap, we would pray first of all that God would protect the girls, and secondly, we would do every thing we knew to do herbally and OTC for allergies. Thankfully, while both girl's had issues with mildly stuffy noses that night, that is ALL that came of the mishap, so we are still praising God!
When we were walking out of the dining hall, poor Nicole had her ankle go out from under her as she went down the step. This landed her flat on the hard patio style area, leaving her with a rapidly swelling ankle, and a lot of pain. After the camp Dr., Dr. Chris, examined her, he got Marica and told her that she needed to take Nicole in for further examination.
Thus, just like that, we lost two of our STM's! But not to worry! Always ready to deal with any crisis it seemed like, the leadership of J and F stepped up and filled in for Marica and Nicole that evening!
We were soon directed to the main tabernacle area which we quickly came to call "The Dome" for ease of speech. There was some singing, some speechifying . . . then ice-cream afterwards. The girls were provided with non-dairy frozen treats since the Coconut Ice Cream I had helpfully tried to take along for them had the container tip, and most of the ice cream puddled out after someone pulled the plastic container of grapes out to snack on.
(Ashley, Chad's STM, kindly insisted that she would take the whole ice chest to the kitchen, clean up every thing, and make sure that the items that needed refrigerated were taken care of by the kitchen staff. Bless her for all her kindnesses to us!)
The "Ice Cream Socialization" time was a lot of fun. The kids also discovered that there was a great playground very near to where we were staying, so they made good use of that area as well!
Soon enough, it was time to tuck our family into the very tiny room! It housed all six of us--just barely. Two sets of bunk beds, and a double bed were put into a miniscule room. We had to ask the kids to get into bed if we wanted to walk in the tiny aisle to get to the bathroom! I could definitely see why they wanted a family with out mobility issues for the room! However, we finally got everyone showered and tucked into bed for the night.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be really hard to get everyone to go to sleep as excitement was running high, and then everyone only slept lightly and woke up whenever anyone else got up to the bathroom all night long. That was rather miserable, and this poor Mom was exhausted by breakfast the next morning!
--To Be Continued