North American Youth Congress 2017.
Life changing, each and everyone of these opportunities/events were life changing. Each for a different reason, but epic reasons nonetheless.
So here’s a summary of each:
Camps are always awesome, spectacular, just all the adjectives you can think of. But this camp, I had the opportunity and privilege to be on staff for the duration of Senior Camp. Not to mention my third year in the Kids Camp drama and a week at Junior Camp that changed my outlook on ministry…It also taught me that everyone is human and that sometimes humans can be mean, very mean.
During kids camp, I learned some things about myself that I had never seen in myself. Number one: I can be a overly sassy, I’ve always known this but it’s seemed to get worse since I’ve been a teenager. Number two: I have a really bad habit of being easily offended and getting bitter because of it. Since June, I have gotten better at not being so affected by words and not letting myself dwell on them for so long. During Junior Camp, I just learned that I need to put people on pedestals just because they are in ministry. You get hurt, they get hurt, and no one is happy. But senior camp is where I learned the most.
Senior Camp was spent going back a forth between college session and high school sessions to help out and be there. I was mostly in the Hyphen, or college session, since they needed me most over there. I poured my heart out in these sessions, and ultimately learned that I am lazy when it comes to prayer and I need to change that. Also, I don’t need to be just like my mentors to get to the places in ministry and in God’s Kingdom where God wants me. He wants Kelly Cole, not a copy cat of someone else. The last thing I learned is that God’s voice speaks and moves in everyone. You don’t have to be a preacher’s kids from a long lineage of preachers, or you don’t have to have a last name that is “up-there” in the organization. Your promise still stands and will be fulfilled, no matter who you are.
The services were phenomenal, I have NEVER been able to feel a shift in the atmosphere so clear as I did during this camp. And EVERYONE felt it. You could tell in the worship, in the messages, and in the whole body of students/young adults that were there. I will never forget it.
Los Angeles was a period of roughly two weeks were I was taught SO many things about ministry and about myself and my calling. Debbie Saiz was my parent’s youth pastor back in the day and she asked for me to come out and spend some time with her and her church. From laughing to crying, from counting coins to ministering to kids, it was a crazy ride. She taught me things that will forever stick with me. So many times she told me that “My calling would make room for itself” and I haven’t stopped repeating that in my head, daily. When I first landed, everything felt foreign and awkward. I had only heard stories and hugged this lady every couple of months when she visited our church. Now I was spending two week in her home, meeting her family and friends in the area, and experiencing her church! I thought I was WAY in over my head. But as the weeks went on, and the conversations got longer (and funnier), I suddenly didn’t want to leave.
I met so many new and interesting and HILARIOUS people on this trip. The people at Bayside Apostolic Center are some of the most hardworking, and prayerful people I have every met. I met, quite possibly, my most favorite human being on the Earth. Brittney, if you’re reading this, I love you so much and I need to fly out to see you RIGHT NOW. I met some pretty cool puppies too. Nutty, Bailey, Zini, Chicki, and Delferd, you made my heart swell with each bark.
The days spent watching the turquoise waves, eating IN-N-Out burgers, and riding through the terrible LA traffic are days that I replay over and over in my head. Getting cupcakes out of ATM’s at midnight on Rodeo Drive, and going to Zara every other day are definitely two activities I wish I could do a little more often. The connections I made in LA and the connection I made with God in LA are/is something that I will never take for granted. The whole experience was something that I would love to relive everyday for the rest of my life.
NAYC 2017 was literally a whirl wind experience. First off, I went ziplining and almost died, but I survived! But that wasn’t what was so life changing about this NAYC. I had already been to one NAYC before this and it was spectacular, but it didn’t even touch the surface of the NAYC.
Let’s start with that first night service. Michael Ensy spoke a powerful message that left me in TEARS. By the end of the night I was long gone, and my feet were killing me. It was a crazy night, where I kinda met the guy I liked at the time at a crosswalk and barely had time to introduce myself. Said guy would end up standing me up and rejecting me, but that’s for night two.
Day two was great, we got to hear about our call to greatness and yada yada yada. we went shopping, it was fun, we ate food, it was good. But the night service is what changed EVERYTHING. So, that guy I was talking about, well I had been seeing/DMing this guy in about June when we followed each other on Instagram. He was cute, Pentecostal, and seemed like he was interested in me. I should have shut it down when I saw how many girls he was “hitting-up” to meet at NAYC, including me, but I didn’t because he was cute and seemed interested. And when we met at the crosswalk, the look he gave me was literally all I had ever dreamed of in life. So we decided to meet at the night service and he said that he was on my way over to my section to talk. So I waited, and waited, and waited some more, till I had LITERALLY WAITED AN HOUR AND A HALF. Meanwhile, the pastor of my church showed up to sit with us and asked if any guys had asked for my number(he said this jokingly and had no idea was I was looking around frantically for someone who would end us never showing up). I smiled and mentioned said boy and how he was supposed to be showing up, which he responded to with a joking glare and a hug while saying “If he stands you up, he’s not worth it.”. I only laughing, because deep down I knew.
So service begins to start and prayer takes places, led by friend Kendra Shock (someone who I look up to in the ministry, like a lot, and people say I look like her so…). At this time, I’m disappointed and upset at the fact that ANOTHER guy had rejected me and left me broken heart. I thought this one was different, so as I turned to look for him one last time and desperately trying to hold myself together, my pastor catches my attention and looks at me and says “Give me his number, I’ll give him a piece of my mind.”. To this I smiled sadly, and began to sit down, pulling out my notebook while tears rolled down my cheeks. My pastor then would speak into my life, in such a heavy way that I was determined that there was NO WAY some BOY from Texas was going to ruin my joy and my happiness and my destiny for that night. That night was the same night that I received confirmation after confirmation on what God was wanting me to do in my life.
Day/Night three. No words. Well, actually, there are so many words. But I can literally find no way to describe this day accurately. So no words.
So this was basically all of my summer. A hectic two months that felt like it flew by, but at the same time felt like a lifetime. So thank you to those who made this summer happen, and I can’t wait for many many many many many more like it.
(I also went to Disneyland while in LA. Dreams really do come true y’all.)