So Auxano is over. The only reason I know that statement is true is because we had a graduation ceremony and then everyone said goodbye and then I went home and I can't think of any other reason for all this than that Auxano must actually be over. Hard to say. The last two weeks of Auxano were great fun. We went on an amazing surf trip to Tofino. I had a lot of fun playing in a wet suit in the ocean and being trampled by waves but very, very little success with a surf board. Most of us succeeded at what we called "accidental surfing" only (when a wave shot us forward while we lay on our board without any effort on our part other than facing the right direction). Unfortunately I tired myself out playing in the waves for an hour before actually trying to surf so by the time I got out there on my sweet board, all stoked to finally know what it feels like to surf, I paddled around five times, got washed by the waves twenty times and was pretty much done with the entire sport of surfing for life. We all looked like a bunch of oompa loompas in our wet suits or beached seals when we laid down on the shore and let the waves wash over us and make molds of our bodies in the sand. The best part was when we were lying on the shore and a big wave hit us and, when it left, everyone was still there except for Steph... who had been washed up further on the beach. Eric and Brad were like two little kids that didn't want to go home. We went the next day but only half of us surfed, and once again there was Brad and Eric in the water and all of us trying to convince them to go home after hours at the beach. Instead of surfing the second day Shayla, Matt and I made friends with a squirrel and a Stellar Jay. We also found quicksand on someone's private property and had a great time sinking and struggling to get out. I mean, no we didn't. The squirrel was one of those cute little brown squirrels too, the ones getting taken over by the big grey ones. I say down with the big grey squirrels! We need to start equipping the little brown ones with defense mechanisms and warfare tactics. I say build a brown squirrel army and unleash them on the grey ones to kill them off. Now that I'm saying this it sounds a lot like a racist genocide... only for squirrels.
Anyway moving on, the last week of Auxano was a great end to the year. We had classes in the morning on the Bible (I know, weird topic) and in the afternoon we hung out with old people. The Spring Adult Adventure camp was up for the week and we got to help out and basically hang out with the "campers" (it was hard to think of them as campers when they could all be our grandparents). We played Scrabble, croquette, boccie ball, did crafts like permanent marker on coffee cups and painted Kleenex boxes. Katie and I ran the drinks station and made lattes and organized musical bingo from the 1920's. I think they thought that we thought that this was their actual era. There was one woman there who was 99 years old so it pretty much was. I wanted to ask her what the secret to life was but I couldn't bring myself to. What if she told me it was something I didn't want to do like you have to give up sugar? I couldn't handle the responsibility of knowing the secret to life but not being able to follow through with it. I'd rather live in ignorance. I keep getting distracted. I'm watching this creepy cult movie with Nicholas Cage called "The Wicker Man" and it keeps reminding me of Auxano, it's uncanny, like they took a camera and filmed our lives there. Just kidding! So what did I gain from these past eight months? A greater knowledge of the Bible, a closer reliance on God, really good friends, lessons in humility while still knowing when to stick up for myself, lessons in grace and forgiveness, greater discretion (I know, hard to believe), learning how to live in a community... and a boyfriend.
Pretending to be surferes.
Yes, you heard me. This year was really hard. Really good, but really hard. I think it could have been a lot easier. I'm trying to figure out why. I think maybe if I was to advise someone else I would say probably don't fall for someone at camp while you're still up there. I don't know but I would think that would end up complicating things a little bit. Wait did I say fall for someone at camp? I meant to say fall for a student... that's when things get awkward. I kept asking myself, should I fall for a student? And at first I was like mmm better not but then I thought you know this Auxano business is pretty boring. Let's spice it up a bit! Of course I didn't you moron! I tried so hard not to and like usual I just had to think hard enough and will my feelings away... oh wait, no, that doesn't work. If only life was so easy and you could choose who you like and when you like them. If I was going to give anyone advice from this I would say maybe don't tell the student you like them? Just a word to the wise. Not that I did that of course. Don't be ridiculous. But just let's say the student was a friend first long before he was a student and let's just I'm not perfect and I'm actually a Big Mouth Betty (see blog post Big Mouth Betty (Debby Downer's BFF)) and did tell the student I liked him, then felt like the stupidest idiot in the world and had to tell the leader and admit that I was actually a real human girl with emotions and then live with the consequences for the rest of the year. Now you understand my problem. But no longer! Auxano is over and God is still amazing, fancy that. So, if you too do something stupid like that don't worry, I am a living testimony that after eight months of awkward, you CAN survive. And the weird thing is people will still love you (not all of them, but you win some, you lose some). You will never be the same, of course, and people will point and laugh at you and call you a cougar and people like Shayla will say "ew" every time you're together and your leader will tell you it's lucky you weren't sent home, but hey! Isn't that what life is about? Blabbering to a student about your feelings for them and living out the next six months living with them and knowing everyone knows? Isn't that...? No? Huh. I was so sure.
I feel vastly overwhelmed by the idea of writing this blog post. I don't know why. It might have something to do with the fact that the stuff I want to talk about is vastly overwhelming. Yep. That's it. This week we had Randy Hein and Tara Teng teach us a class on "Social Justice." They taught us the difference between compassion, which is like giving food to a hungry person, and justice, which is like finding out why that person is hungry and trying to fix it. We are called to both, but most Christians just stick with the compassion part. Randy talked about the new-fangled idea that worship and justice should go together. And by new-fangled I mean it's aaaaallll through the Bible and yet we seem to ignore it. Justice is everywhere in the Old Testament and everywhere in the New Testament. Again and again God says, "Take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans and the foreigners," as in the most vulnerable in society and "fight for justice." But He doesn't say it like "this would be a nice thing to do, if you have some extra time." He commands it. It's as much a part of His law as "do not murder."
Tara Teng is this amazing girl who is all about ending human trafficking (some key words we discovered in describing what she does are "ending" and "anti." It's the little words that matter) and happens to also be Miss World Canada. I can imagine as a young child when people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up they would be quite confused to hear "I'm going to be an abolitionist beauty queen!" She travels around using her beauty pageant platform to speak against human trafficking, which most people don't know, isn't just a problem in far off countries but is a problem in Canada as well. What is human trafficking? It's defined as a "multibillion dollar criminal industry that involves the recruitment,
transportation, harboring, or delivery of people for the purpose of
slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labor." If you were to ask most people they would say that there is no such thing as modern-day slavery. We abolished it remember? Wrong! More children, women and men are held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade. It's the fastest growing industry, second only to the drug trade, and earns over $32 billion dollars. Humans are the second most trafficked "product" on the black market. In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world, but many others estimate that it is more like 27 million (see The Polaris Project), two-thirds of which are women and children and an estimated 79% are used in sexual exploitation. And what about Canada? We think we're pretty great, don't we. But Canada is a known source, transit, and destination point for human trafficking. Here are some sad statistics for Canada:
According to the RCMP, 800 to 1200 people are trafficked in and through Canada every year.
2200 men, women and children are trafficked into America from Canada
In Canada a girl can be sold for $15,000 and earn her owner over $40,000 a year for the purposes of sex.
Now, this is going to be hard to believe, but it was only in 2004 that Parliament finally passed a law that even recognized human
trafficking as a crime. Yay Canada. Always keeping up with the times. And it wasn’t until 2008 that someone was finally prosecuted after earning over $350,000 by sexually exploiting a 15 year-old girl daily
for two years. How much time did he get? Three years. Minus 404 days for time already served. Canada is known for its suckiness at fighting human trafficking. You should not distance yourself from it, saying ah well, the world is fallen. Sure go ahead and say that, but not at the same time that you buy that shirt from Wal-Mart that was made by a human trafficking victim in China or that chocolate from Nestle or you know, 90% of the cocoa out there that is harvested by a human trafficking victim from the Ivory Coast. Did you know that a lot of pornography is made using human trafficking victims? Did you know that the average kid starts looking at porn between 6-8 years old? They don't know they're contributing to girls being held against their will and raped over and over again. But neither do most of the adults who continue to look at porn. And what about prostitution? Prostitution has a lot of controversy because people assume the girls have chosen that work. If by chosen you mean an imaginary debt is being held over their head and they have been threatened, beaten and raped into submission, then yeah, totally. Chosen.
YOU AND ME are contributing to human trafficking by the choices we make every single day. YOU AND ME are the bad guys if we aren't doing anything to help. I don't know about you, but being so incredibly privileged and blessed with so much, I want to fight for justice. I want to get to heaven and hear God say, "Yeah, you did alright." What can you do? Educate yourself, educate people, buy fair-trade, start buying more from places that don't use forced labor, stop buying less from places that do (and if you don't know, start asking) don't contribute to the sex industry, write letters to our government (go here), just to name a few. Here is a cool website that rates industries by whether they are contributing to human trafficking or making efforts to end it: Free2Work. You can download it as an app for your phone as well. And just so you know, I have to start doing these things too, little by little, bit by bit. Even Tara Teng can do more. We all can. But make sure you do something.
I think this is the heaviest blog post I've ever written. You're welcome.
The Friday before last we cleaned the camp and got ready for the crazy children who were coming for the weekend. They were Intermediate age, so grade 5-7, and slightly terrifying. I only ever cabin lead teen camps but I love children, so it's not like this should be new to me, it's just that there were so many of them, and they were everywhere. The funny thing is boys and girls at this age sound and act exactly the same - insane. They stayed up until four in the morning and then told us their crazy sugar and Cheesie induced dreams which sounded like nightmares but apparently when you are high on sugar horrible things can happen in your dreams and you will always find them funny, example your dog gets eaten by a whale. Ha ha! My dog died! I picked up an entire bag of candy wrappers and Jones soda bottles from my girls' rooms when they left. It suddenly made so much sense why they had been bouncing off the walls, literally. Despite my fear of them (and you could tell I was nervous because I was trying way too hard to be funny) they were adorable. My favorite part about that weekend was the fact that Steph and Brad were the head cooks. I don't really know how this decision came about. I think maybe Andy drew names from a hat. I really cannot think of any other reason. There were two girls in my "cabin" (we all stayed in the lodges) who weren't Christians and were terribly afraid of offending anyone for their pagan ways. They knocked on my door near the beginning of the weekend with concerned faces and said, "We don't have Bibles." I assured them it was okay. But they weren't done. "It's not that we don't believe in God, we do, we're just not Christians and don't want to offend anyone. And we don't know how to pray, are they going to ask us to pray? I just know you say 'Amen' at the end," and, "What time do we go to bed? The schedule said eleven but I thought that because it was a Christian camp we would have to go to bed at nine." I wish. So cute though.
What an exhausting weekend right? Time for a break! WRONG! YOU MUST WORK UNTIL YOU DIE! That is actually the Auxano slogan. Andy spoke at the Spring Break camp and ended up comparing camp to a prison, which the kids found hilarious. I, on the other hand, know it to be true and wept inside. The weekend came to an end and the kids left and we then had a few hours to clean the entire camp before the Youth Work Week campers came up that night. We then spent the next three days working our butts off doing projects around camp along with the campers. The Auxano students were pretty upset that the RA's got a day off and they didn't. I almost didn't take my day off on Tuesday to show my solidarity with the students, until I got some sense knocked back into me (again, literally, I'm turning over a new leaf and trying to be a very literal person) and I realized being so exhausted I hurt myself wasn't doing anyone any good. We were picking up all the branches Paul was trimming off the trees and taking them to the giant bonfire we had built to burn them. I had been fighting negative thoughts all day, one second completely miserable and hating myself and then quickly reminding myself how blessed I am in a giant bipolar cycle that would seriously make anyone question their sanity. Not me, though, obviously. Then, because I was so tired, I made the poor decision to walk underneath the lift Paul was using to cut branches. I saw the branch hanging on the lift and I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't walk under the lift in case it falls off." Then I thought, "Nah." Well it wouldn't have gone anywhere, except that Paul who has been secretly trying to murder me for decades pushed it off just as I walked under it. Hmmm. He says he didn't see me. Do I believe him? No. He's just lucky I don't sue camp. It would be really awkward though, to sue camp and then not leave because I love it too much.
We had to get up at 6:30 am on Thursday morning to head to Victoria and serve more time in an out-of-prison field trip. Jim took us to Woodwynn Farms which is a farm for homeless people, as in homeless people go to live there and farm, not that they farm homeless people, which would actually be the opposite of the reason for their existence, and we worked our butts off again turning soil and making vegetable rows. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown on the ride going up there because I was so tired. During the morning meeting we sat in on with the staff and volunteers I tried really hard and failed to act like I was happy to be there. The guy next to me kept talking about positive energy and smiling at me. Maybe he could see the negative energy poring out of my eyes. Then he did a thankfulness dance and made us all do it. They kept going around the circle saying things like, "What are you most thankful for this morning?" and "Let's describe our word for the day: Celebration." I wanted to die. Then they asked us, "In two words describe how you're feeling." One would say, "Happy and content," another would say, "Peaceful and curious." I wanted to say, "SHUT UP, EVERYONE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, JUST... STOP TALKING." Buuuuttttt I didn't. Instead I just kept praying over and over that God would take my mood and turn it completely around. Eventually he did, but not before I nearly cried in the meeting like five times. It's not very often that happy people make me feel worse. I'm usually the one making people feel worse. I mean happy! Making people feel happy... Fortunately I wore my overalls with a plaid shirt and gum boots to Woodwynn Farms so I at least looked adorable, angry but adorable, like a little angry farm elf. I also found out pigs are disgusting creatures that actually probably should be eaten, just to put them out of their misery. I'm a vegetarian and animal activist. They are huge and ugly and could easily kill you just by sitting on you. The pigs there were 600 pounds. I was expecting to see Babe. But the other pigs ate him.
I wrote an email to the Mayor of Saanich afterwards that ended with, "I think Woodwynn Farms is doing something that could drastically change the face of Victoria for the better, even you don't care about helping people. My guess is you do. You're the freaking mayor for a reason." Only in the original I didn't say freaking. You know, cause he might not appreciate how wonderful that word is as a substitute for the f word. The next day we toured Level Ground Trading where they make their amazing coffee. The owner Stacie taught us so much I could never begin to explain it all. Plus I'm sick of hearing my own voice. Check out their website! Level Ground Coffee. They are so amazing and stand for everything that I believe in that just after one tour my new dream is to eventually work there, and I don't even like coffee. It is like a mean joke drink - it smells wonderful and then you taste it and it sucks.