The youth group just returned a few hours ago from a trip to CreationFest in Pennsylvania. This is a 3 1/2 day Christian music festival. We listen to music which runs almost constantly from 9am to midnight. We hear some amazing bands and have some world-class speakers.
This event takes place on a converted farm which has porta-potties, camp sites without water and electric and some showers (ours were a 15 minute walk from the campsite and with a wait, very few had a shower). It was very sunny, somewhat humid and a bit warm (mid 80's, which gets hot when AC isn't available). This really is camping out, and not the spa treatment you get camping at a camp site. On top of it all I got sick Monday and the cold stuck with me through the trip.
This passage in Romans really hits home when I think of the trip...
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
We suffered (man did we suffer, I didn't brush my teeth once, I feel bad for the others) but I saw some amazing perseverance as well. Christine Merola spent the entire week at one stage or another listening to music and speakers; when the Newsboys concert was delayed 1/2 an hour, making for a very late night, everyone stayed through to the end. In the end the Newsboys moved everyone in our group, even when my throat hurt so badly I couldn't speak and my body was so exhausted I wanted to collapse, I felt the energy and drive to jump and dance with our group through two songs. It was well worth the effort.
Everyone who went to the concert grew as individuals and in their relationships with Christ. One person who came and is not a Christian found comfort and some real excitement in the Newsboys and Toby Mac. She didn't commit her life to Christ, but did begin listening to His word and thinking about coming back to the faith. Kate, Amy and Kim grew a passing acquaintance into a strong friendship and even a bond that I believe will continue past Creation. There's no question that the character of each person grew significantly.
And lastly hope. I don't think a single one of the 18 of us had ever hoped for a shower more in our lives! Seriously though, our faith grew and there was a strong understanding that no matter how much we mess up Jesus made the supreme sacrifice and will accept us in Heaven.