I spent a summer in New Mexico doing volunteer work at various places. I assisted with religious education, I worked at a food bank, and I helped severely disabled children. A religious order I considered joining managed the volunteer program, and during those three months, I lived in their convent. The sisters provided food and housing, and we had many different experiences while serving with them. We also participated in the prayers of the sisters, which really helped grow my faith.
I received an assignment offer to become a counselor in a camp for adults with developmental disabilities. I loved music and prayer, and I had prior experience in working with developmentally disabled people, so this opportunity excited me. Still, I felt a bit anxious, because I would be a stranger to them, and some find this unsettling. But, I went anyway.
When I arrived at the camp, I attended a meeting with all the campers and other counselors. I assumed I would be with one of the counselors and assist wherever I could. They explained how we would arrive at our destination, and assigned me the task of driving three campers to the site. It sounded like a good idea, except I had no idea how to get there, I would be driving a car which I had never driven before, and I had never met the campers! But this was my duty.
I found out who my passengers were and which car I would be using. The head of the camp said I could follow him. But, what if he lost me! I had no map of the unfamiliar area. Luckily, he drove slowly, and it proved to be a beautiful day. I started the car without issue, but then the windshield wipers started wishing. “Just turn them off,” you say, but I tried every button available, without results! I had to quickly pull out, anyway because I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t want to wreck the car, so I tried to drive, stay caught up with my leader, while still searching for the wiper button. Stress filled me. Could I really do this? What I had gotten myself into? And where in the world was that stupid wiper button?
As I continued to tail the camp leader, I heard soft giggles from the campers in my car. They did their best to stifle themselves, knowing I already felt stressed. In a soft, helpful voice, Julie finally said, “I think your windshield wipers are on.” Her sincerity was touching, but hilarious. I laughed out loud, and soon, we were all laughing. There I sat, driving a van on a sunny day with windshield wipers swiping at full speed.
As it turned out, I had a wonderful time. The campers were enthusiastic, and I slept in the same cabin with them. Their incredible faith proved simple and honest, with such reverence for Jesus and joy for the life and creation He has given us. I felt exhausted by week’s end and slept for two days, afterward. However; the experience was something I’m glad I didn’t miss. By the way, eventually I turned off the wipers!