At least twenty kids were still crowded around us, clamoring to be chosen, but there were only six name tags left. We had already gone beyond the number of kids we had planned for (84) and the name tags represented the absolute limit we could accommodate (96). What a difficult choice! But it is remarkable that in this context more than 100 kids would be excited about attending a two-day camp about Easter!
Saturday and Easter Sunday were chock full of noise and activity: boisterous children chattering and laughing, kicking up dust playing games and popping balloons, music and passionate teaching coming over the loudspeakers… All the games, teaching, and small groups were led by our Senegalese brothers in both Wolof and Sereer. At mealtimes, everyone gathered around big common bowls. In the evening, Corey projected the section of the Wolof film that shows how Jesus let himself be killed on a cross and then came back to life, as he had predicted. For many of the kids this powerful true story was new!
I got to help with this year’s craft. The kids learned quilling (Google it if you’ve never heard of it! I learned something new and had fun with this!) and made lambs to remind them of the camp theme, which was from John 1:29 “Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” As each group came into the classroom I asked why they came to camp. They all quickly answered, “To have fun!” Then I asked what holiday it is today, and it took each group a while before someone would say tentatively, “Easter?” But when I asked, “And what is Easter about?” I was met with silence. I trust that by the end of the two days of camp, they learned the answer to this question!
To be honest, when we got back from our whirlwind trip to the US a few weeks ago, I was tired and not sure that we should have an Easter camp this year. But our Senegalese brothers in Christ expressed such a strong belief in the significance of this event that we decided to go forward. It was hard work and there were some frustrating moments (like when it got dark and we realized none of the exterior lights worked!). Our own boys had fevers the whole time so we were taking turns running back and forth between taking care of them at home and working at the camp.
Now that it is over, we are completely exhausted. But three young men who grew up here and attended these camps every year when they were little and who are now strong believers and working in other parts of Senegal all traveled back to Kaffrine to help out at the camp this weekend. Seeing them bear witness to the transformation Jesus can bring reassured me that it is worth the effort! I thank the Lord for our Senegalese brothers in Christ who urge us on and who work tirelessly to bring the Good News about Jesus’ resurrection to those who have not yet heard!