Welcome from Paul

Camp Penuel Costa Rica has a specific focus to give children ages 7-11 the opportunity to know their heavenly Father through Christ Jesus and the abundant life that he offers through the power and love of the Holy Spirit. The Vision is to rally a multi-ethnic team of support to work towards providing facilities of excellence and diversity so that each child can have a wealth of new, safe, and fun experiences that they will remember for their lifetime, but more importantly, that are God-anointed and forever will change their lives for good.

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August 2016 - Breaking Free from a Competitive World / Camp Update

Posted by on in Kingdom Talks
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Dear Friends of the Camp,

As the Olympic Games are unfolding once again, we marvel at the accomplishments of the likes of Katie Ledecky, an up and coming USA swimming champion, and of others like Michael Phelps who won his 19th gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Just for the record, Costa Rica holds one gold medal in the history of the Summer Olympic Games, and it was won in Atlanta in 1996 by Claudia Poll in 200 meters freestyle. I remember because I was new in Costa Rica back then, and it was a big moment for our little country, and I especially remember because my daughter had just been born in January of that year, and I thought to myself, “One day.” Well, my daughter is about the same age of Katie Ledecky, and “that day” never came. My daughter was a very good swimmer, and I just played tennis with her out at the camp the other day and she displays remarkable athletic ability, but I’m happy with the way that my daughter turned out, without gold medals dangling from her neck, as I see her develop her life in her Lord Jesus Christ.

Before I tell the story of one girl in particular who attended our recent English Camp, I don’t want to downplay the importance and value of achievement in a competitive world. A family in our church in Esparza recently returned from our local Costa Rican Olympic games, competitions at a National level, and their 9 or 10 year old girl just won at least 5 medals including two or three gold in gymnastic competitions. This girl, at the age of 2, was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer and not expected to live, but she conquered the odds and through that and the help of her parents is learning to conquer in all aspects of her life. We live in a competitive world and achieving in this arena is one aspect of how we grow and also build self-esteem.

But competition isn’t for everybody. Some people aren’t good at sports or music. Some people don’t stand out academically or as the “life of the party.” But they are just as important in God’s kingdom as the jock, as the beauty queen, as the nerd who everyone looks to for test answers. That’s why at camp, with the help of our trainers, Debbie and Burt Laine, we equip our very loving mission teams and local staff with tools such as non-competitive games so that everyone feels wanted and important in God’s family. By intentionally not competing, everyone turns out a winner and has the opportunity to focus on what God wants to do in his or her heart at camp.

Camp Appreciation Letters

Before each camper leaves, we ask him or her to express in the form of a letter what he or she received or learned at camp. Listen to what these recent 12 year old English Campers had to say about their experience at camp and the work of our staff:

  • You have marked a change in my life, and I wish that they would never go and to have more time together with you. I love you very much.
  • I learned that human love fails and is imperfect, but God’s love is perfect and never fails.
  • You taught me to never give up or give in, and I met a staff person with the same name as mine. They made me feel like we are one family. It makes me sad to think that I’ll never see them again.
  • My experience at camp is awesome. Jesus touch my heart. The fire of Jesus touch my life. The camp is a experience incredible. (exactly in his words)
  • The camp is the most beautiful experience that I’ve had: the bonfire, the pool, the games, and I’m not going to forget the words, “No more Spanish from this point on!”
  • God is important in my life. In the camp I learned new games, new songs, and we all learned to love God and Jesus..
  • The Camp is beautiful and fun. It’s big and amazing. I love Jesus and I love the girls and boys in the camp.

Now, listen to this letter in its entirety. I believe that her story represents a lot of young people’s story, especially the child who doesn’t match up to the world’s standards and shows how an intentional, loving camp environment can change his or her life forever. Here’s what she wrote:

Thank you, God, for letting me meet new friends. I also want to thank the English Camp Staff (Mission team and local helpers) for making this camp one of the best moments of my life, and I believe that I will always have them in my heart and I will never forget them. When I came to camp, I was afraid that no one would accept me or like me in the English Camp, but now I believe that I have new friends. Now that we’re going home, I am going to miss them a lot. I thought that they would be angry and scolding people, but when I got to know them, I said, “Wow! These are incredible people and a lot of fun to be around.” Here’s what we did:

  • Water games
  • Making cookies
  • Walking through the Memorial Garden
  • Play volleyball
  • Play foosball
  • And a whole lot of other things, but the most important thing is that I love all of you a lot.

At the camp, our desire is that no one falls through the cracks, not one. We know that this is the desire of God’s heart as well when Jesus says: “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep (Luke 15:6).”

There’s a place for competition, but I truly believe that this girl’s life has been shaped for eternity because about 20 staff and her classmates showed her what she didn’t expect and through this experience, she learned just how important her life is and that she is valued just for who she is, not for what she can do.

Summer 2016 Camp Highlights

To God be the glory:

  • 30 local children came from 3 local schools for just one morning and all of them asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Comment – I am a firm believer that the gospel of Jesus Christ never is manipulative. Jesus says, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The gospel was clearly presented, and they responded freely.
  • A group of 20 adults with special needs plus some of their staff and family kicked off our camps from June 26-29. This was the third time that we’ve worked with this foundation, and each experience has brought us closer to the Lord and to them. Their genuine worship of the Lord really touched our staff.
  • English Camp – Over 20 6th graders came from our church’s school. The letters mentioned above come from this camp. My deepest appreciation to the youth group and their three leaders from La Crescent United Methodist Church in Minnesota for their hard work, dedication, and teamwork, and never give up attitude to finish off an amazing first week of camp. Each of them is dear to my heart and to all of the campers. A big thank you to Debbie and Burt for driving from the Duluth area to La Crescent to lead the training before the mission team came down!
  • July mid-year break Camps – we received four groups and over 200 campers in the last two weeks from various places: near our Port City of Puntarenas, two groups from the San Jose area that included some campers from the Caribbean side of the country, and we finished off with a camp from a nearby, small, but growing town of Labrador (That means “worker,” not a Black Lab.) The children really opened their hearts and received the healing power of God for a lot of past wounds.
     
    I was really touched by the last group from Labrador, which is their third time coming to the camp. Incredible breakthroughs are happening in this town where God is “returning the hearts of the children to their parents and the parents to their children (Malachi 4:6).” In their first camp, which I wrote about a few years ago, a tiny 6 year old camper’s family was just starting to split up. The girl received a bible at that camp, and had the mother read from the gospels every night instead of a children’s story. The power of the gospel changed the mother’s life, and the father came back to the family shortly after and the entire family, brother, sister, and parents are a strong force in the community. It all started when this little girl came back from camp the first time and said to her mother, “We’ve got to talk.” With that boldness and faith, mountains are being moved in Labrador. What touched me in this camp was the last night. Each member of our staff talked about their past life without Jesus and then how Jesus broke those chains as they put their faith in what he did for each of them on the cross to pay the price for our sins and our past. Each staff member declared what literally Isaiah 53:10 states, “We are the lineage of Jesus Christ” now and our past is in the past and the life we now live we live with a new heart, a new outlook, a new hope. After these testimonies, many, many children said these words to me, “My mother doesn’t treat me right, but I love my Mother. Pray for my mother, pray for my family, and pray for me that I can love my Mom.” I believe that the Lord truly took this pain out of their heart and we are seeing the fulfillment of Malachi 4:6 in these last days. Entire families are being restored! One father, upon receiving his daughter and hearing her testimony at home said, “What’s happened to you girl? I want what you have.” Other mothers expressed, “When are you going to have a camp for us?”

We shall see what God’s plans are for us. I’m praying, and I ask that you pray with me. Thank you for helping us to plant the powerful, life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the Costa Rican people!

Paul

Kingdom 2016 08 Walking to the Pool
Walking to the Swimming Pool

Kingdom 2016 08 Prep Work Before Camp Opens
Preparation Work Before the Camp Opens

Kingdom 2016 08 Always a Favorite Rain or Shine
Always a Favorite Rain or Shine

Kingdom 2016 08 Great Leaders Alexa and Lavon
Great Leaders Alexa and Lavon

Kingdom 2016 08 Return Gift Bouquet of Moringa
Return Gift Bouquet of Moringa

Kingdom 2016 08 Circle Will Not Be Broken
The Circle Will Not Be Broken

Kingdom 2016 08 Storytelling with Flanelographer
Storytelling with Flanelographer

Kingdom 2016 08 Storytelling Childrens Theater
Storytelling Children's Theater

Kingdom 2016 08 Nature Art
Nature Art

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Guest Wednesday, 19 December 2018