Monday, August 20, 2012

End of the Road

For all of you that have stuck with me since December, I thank you. It has been a long and joyous adventure from the time that I started my first day as seasonal staff on January 3rd, to my last day at camp on August 13th. So much has happened that space would not be enough to tell all the stories of memories past from this summer, spring and winter.

I go now on to a new adventure. I start my schooling at Grand Valley this Saturday, and from there on, I go where life takes me. I follow the road less traveled, and I run with perseverance the race marked out for me.

The purpose of this blog was to keep all of you updated on my time at Camp Barakel these past nine months, and it has served it's purpose well. But other doors have now opened, and I find myself at the end of the road called Barakel. I currently have no plans to continue updating this particular blog, sad as it is.

My hope is that should I ever go back to Barakel again, I shall pick up right where I left off here in this last post. But for now, as the winds of change guide me on a different path, I leave you all, faithful readers, with the hope that God blesses you in all things, and that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I called this blog Laus Deo, or All Praise to God. This rings true for all to hear.

Laus Deo, Friend

Reuben Peck

Friday, May 11, 2012

Epitaph for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch

The past few weeks have flown by, and I've stayed pretty mum on what's been going on. A number of things have happenned, many not so noteworthy, which is why I'm here today writing a blog, and not a Facebook note. =)

My last blog post was the 17th of April, and I'll start there. Barely ten days later, I came home, possibly for good. For our family, for those of you that don't know, we bale hay in the summer, and our "summer" season is starting this next week. (hoorah) My mom and dad really wanted someone to be home to take care of Grandma and Grandpa so that they could focus on getting some winter projects done, and start getting ready for the summer season. So it was with mixed feelings that I left Barakel on the 28th, not knowing if I would even be coming back for the summer, if at all.

Since I've been home, a number of things have happened. First of all, and fairly important to me, my phone completely broke right before I left, so I have had to be without a phone since then. Thankfully, I am getting new phone today, so hopefully that'll take care of that problem. If you've tried texting me or calling me and I haven't replied, I apologize, but I've been in a little bit of a pickle. You know how hard it is not to be able to play Draw Something when you don't have a phone? *sarcasm* =)

On a very serious note now. Back when I came back to camp in March, I bought ten boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch before I came up. For those of you that didn't know, I absolutely love Cinnamon Toast Crunch. After almost two months, that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is finally gone. I feel as though I should say a few words about how delicious it was. There, I said a few words. =)

The other important thing that has happened since I got home was my Grandma. Last Monday, my Grandma had to go to the Emergency room. We found out since that she had suffered massive internal bleeding and had lost over 1/3 of her total blood. She's been in the hospital since then, but it looks bright that she might be coming home soon. They've had her on an IV since she got there as well. They finally narrowed it down to what they think was an ulcer down her esophagus, approaching her stomach that allowed so much blood to leak out. When she went in on Monday, they tested her and found out that her hemoglobin was down to somewhere around 4-2 or something like that. I'm not very technical when it comes to this, and it might not be the right number, but from what I've heard, the normal amounts are in the 12's. They've given her five "doses" of hemoglobin since then, and she's back up in the 10 range now. They had a lot of specialists in there, and they did an (endoscopy?) to ensure that it was in fact an ulcer. She seems to be doing a lot better now, so that is definitely a praise.

Now back to me. =) As far as my summer goes. I was really torn. On one hand, I felt like I needed to be at Barakel, but on the other hand, I knew that my parents would greatly appreciate it if I stayed home to work and help out around home this summer. To make matters even more complicated, I got a call from Best Buy this last Wednesday, wanting to hire me for their Geek Squad position. For those of you that know me, I've always wanted to work at Best Buy in the Geek Squad ever since I was 12 or 13.

I've always told people who asked why I worked at Barakel this, among other things. I work at Barakel because it fulfills me so much more than working at a paying job. Working at a place that helps people, and glorifies God at no pay fulfills me so much more than working at even a "perfect" job that I get paid for. And so it is. It's decision time.

My pocket is going to be much tighter, I won't be able to spend the quality time with friends back home that I'd like to, and I'm turning down my Best Buy job offer, but I'll be at Barakel this summer. I hope to be riding the bus a lot this summer, so if any of you ever go to drop off a camper, you'll probably see me this bus riding and helping with luggage. I'll be lifeguarding again this summer, and helping running the Zipline as well. Hopefully, I'll be able to counsel a few weeks too.

Life doesn't always go how you want it too, and I've been finding out that often times it usually doesn't. I've learned and am still learning to put to death what I want, and what I want to do, and to be willing to do the things that I was meant to do. Total submission isn't meant to be lived based off of me. I am supposed to live in total submission. 

My Address for this summer is going to be :
1798 Shear Lake Rd.
Fairview, MI 48621

I'd love to get any letters and packages you may desire to send. I'm pretty good at writing, and I promise I'll mail back. So until we meet again, I bid a very fond Adieu, and may the Cinnamon Toast Crunch rest in peace. =)

Monday, April 16, 2012

As the Spring and Winter chapters wind to a close, all that I can say is Laus Deo. All Praise to God.

Greetings! It's been a very long time since I've posted here and an update on life is far overdue! Since my last post, many things have happened, and I've been finding out the mercies of God as I've been going along on my trip. I should probably start back at where we left off...

The weekend was March 3-5 and we had a completely filled camp coming to hear Kempton Turner speak, and to enjoy the tubing hill, cross country skiing and some delicious hot chocolate. just five days earlier, the camp staff was praying for snow, as our cover was slim, and it looked like we were going to be hauling snow to Snow Valley again for the last time. We were praying for snow, and Kevin, Lee and I were singing for snow. Well, whether it was our prayers or the fact that God sent us snow just so Kevin, Lee and I would STOP singing, God sent the snow. And when God sends the snow, HE SENDS THE SNOW!
We got around 13-14 inches of snow that evening, starting at about 8:00. Because of the heavy snow, the power went out at around 3AM and because of a lack of heat in the lodges, we had to send all the campers home after supper on Saturday. All around though, it was still a great weekend! The gospel was presented, and  the retreat was enjoyable for all!

Just before the retreat started, I was in Boys dorm to shovel pathways, and I decided to take a walk down memory lane and go up in the attic of Boys Dorm #4. For those of you that don't know, I think it was back in the 70's a fire destroyed part of the roof of Unit 4. The fire was put out and Engineers still stay in Boys Dorm number 4, but the charred wood remains a testimony of how God gives and takes away, but always provides for us.

After the last retreat of the winter, I came home for two weeks to catch up on work around home and to be with my family. My grandparents have temporarily moved in with us from Illinois, due to my Grandpa's declining health. He suffers from Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease which, in it's advanced state, leaves him very dependent on help from us. It was a big relief for my parents for me to be able to be home and take care of Grandma and Grandpa, so that they could focus their energy on things that needed to be done around the house and elsewhere. So even though I stayed at home a good bit of the time, I was able to get out and catch up with some good friends, which was a blessing. I got to hang out with my great friend Jacob Hartges while I was back, and needless to say, we did have some fun.

I also found my dream car while I was home. Now I know it's not a Bugatti Veyron, but this car tickled my fancy.

The Dining Hall before we stripped the wax and Paint

After my two week break at home, I went back for cleaning week at camp. Cleaning week at camp is an all staff all out project cleaning both the East and West Side of camp. the first week I worked primarily with Mike Baker and his crew cleaning Heritage lodge, and then towards the end of the first week, I moved to Snowshoe lodge with Paul Gardner and Kathy Curtis. The second week I was in the Dining Hall all week working with the Boeves and Sam Doyle. Even though it was hard work, I had a grand time. The Boeves are very easy to work with and have fun with at the same time, and I cannot say how grateful I am to have them in my life. The first four days (M-Th) we deep cleaned the dining hall. We vacuumed the cobwebs all around the dining hall and wiped down the ceiling and walls with Murphy's. If there is still a big clump of dust in that dining hall, I would be surprised. The next few days, Mr. Boeve and I worked on removing the paint and old wax from the dining hall and kitchen floor. It was a long, tedious process that involved a lot of scrubbing on our hands and knees, but again, I could not be more grateful to be able to spend that time working with Mr. Boeve.  

I came home for Easter two weeks after cleaning, but before I left, two important events graced my life. The first, I got to have a guys night with Alex Boeve and the remains you can see here. What good times with Alex!

The second event that happenned is that we had the Boeves over for supper! Kevin made his world-famous-in-michigan cheesy potatoes as well as a *delicious* dessert of Brownies, and I made a casserole of Chicken Croissants and some hard to make Orange Jello. Supper was a success, I must say. The croissants were still a little undercooked, and the squirrels dined fine on the brownies that night, but it was a success.  

Those were his glory days right???
And hey, we even got Mr. Boeve into playing Rock Band. Reliving his glory days.

Thankfully for me, Kathryn Hendrickson was able to give me a ride home for Easter, and we had a very epic road trip, or so we call it nowadays. This time that I've been home I've been able to do a lot of planning and scheduling, and thanks to God, I can now say I'm going to Grand Valley State University this fall. I'm going to be dual majoring in Communication Studies/Broadcasting and Advertising/Public Relations. It's going to be a long path, but one that I am very much looking forward to! While I was home, I went over to Grand Valley and registered for classes and got my very own GvID!

God has been wonderful in providing for me this winter and spring, and I very much look forward to see how he uses me this summer at Camp. If you would, please keep me in your prayers as we continue the spring season and head into summer. Pray for the campers and staff that will be here this summer. Pray for us as staff, that we would be Christian hosts and that God would be glorified. Also, please continue to pray for our financial needs at Barakel. We work as missionaries here at Camp, and we are able to do that because of You! So thank you for that, very much! 

It's been a long blog post, and if you've stayed with me until the end, you deserve a gold star! Thank you for your interest in Me, Camp Barakel and Laus Deo. As the Spring and Winter chapters wind to a close in my life and summer shows its head around the corner, all that I can say is Laus Deo. All Praise to God. 

Laus Deo

Monday, February 20, 2012

Catch Up, Not Keep Up

Good Morning!

The sun in shining, the birds are singing, the ice is melting, so I thought it a very appropriate time to sit in the office and write a blog post. :-) I'd like to update you all on what's been going on the past few weeks, and also kind of give you an inside look at some other things we've been doing on the side.

As far as seasonal staffing goes, I've kind of settled into a routine schedule, along with my trailer mate, Kevin. Tuesdays we always check ice fishing equipment and repair any broken lines. This is a fun, but often tedious job because usually a lot of the lines need re-stringing and need fresh sinkers and lures on them. The best part of ice fishing equipment checking is the ride back up the hill. There's a fairly steep grade going up the hill, and We have to gun it to get the truck past the steep part, which is always fun, especially when there's a fresh layer of ice. :-)

Tuesdays we spend doing an in depth cleaning of the West Side Chapel and Old Headquarters. I've gotten to be a professional at sweeping the pews and underneath them. This always takes all morning, and occasionally, we've had to come back and finish a few things in the afternoon.

Wednesday is always another momentous day, because we have what we call Staff Fellowship time. We meet for an hour for a time of worship and teaching, followed by a fellowship lunch time afterwards. This last week was different because instead of fellowship and worship, we had a potluck instead. After the potluck, Kevin and I were in charge of creating an activity for all to play. We decided to have a staff wide bingo night, with joke prizes including a picture of Kevin, coloring books and a cap pistol, all from the dollar store. The staff really got into it, and the prize of the night went to Mrs. Boeve.

Thursdays are definately exciting because we get the schedule of who's coming up for the weekend and what our schedule is. It's always exciting for us to find out that someone from the summer or someone we know is coming to wash dishes, work in the kitchen, or work on the tubing hill. This weekend, we had a very large group of ex-summer 2011 staffers come and work this weekend. Kevin's lady friend Emily, along with Marissa Ruedel and Kristen Kutz came for the ladies. For the guys, we had Danny Simon, Ben Cooper, Tim Houston, Dave Houston (Who I now affectionately call my "fb buddy") and Stephen "Danger" Sovis. It was a great group of guys and girls to work with this weekend, and I couldn't help but wish they came up again soon! This really goes to everyone that comes up during the winter to help work. It's nice to see people from last summer and back home come up, but it's always sad to see them leave again. I was able to snap a quick picture of Kathryn, Me, Kevin, Danny and Ben before they left. What a good looking group!

Fridays always have an excitement to them. For us, it's the day that the retreats start. There's many things to do on Fridays, and it's a very full day. Usually the big thing on the list is running. Running is where we turn on lights, check hot water and lodges, and put up schedules for both sides. Some weekends we've had to do table tents, which is replacing the pictures inside the napkin "tents" with the weekend's theme. Then of course, there is always the fun job of shoveling snow if needed, and salting the paths. This usually takes all morning and most of the afternoon, but I usually get about an hour, maybe two in to rest before officially kicking off the weekend. Most weeks, I'll be a parking host from either 6-8:30 or 6-10:00. Snack starts around ten, and for the last three or four weeks, I've been leading the "Icebreaker" as we call it, and occasionally the sponsor meeting as well.

Then comes Saturday and Sunday, which are retreats. That topic, my dear readers, is a whole new world. =)

They say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and in this case, Jack's name is Reuben. Last weekend, we had the chance to go to Boyne Mountain with part of a school group, and we were able to ski the whole day for just $14, which was a great blessing. I experienced going down my first double black diamond there, and two staff kids and I, Alex and Daniel, decided to go July on February and ski without our shirts on, with shivering results. =)

On another note, since we've been up here, Kevin, Cody and I have been doing a Bible study with a couple of staff kids, as well as 5-6 guys from Fairview. We've been going through the book "The Measure of  a Young Man" by Gene and Kenton Getz. We're about done with the book now, and it's been great being with the other guys from Fairview, and getting to know them. There's been talk of doing another bible study on another book, and I hope it continues.

I would really appreciate prayer from all of you, specifically in a few things.

First of all, that God would continue to provide for my financial situation. It's looking like I'll be coming home for about two weeks in mid-march, and then coming back through April and May, and then transitioning into Summer Staff as May ends and June begins.

Secondly, pray for Kevin and I. We're going down to Jackson, Michigan to New Tribes Bible Institute, and Spring Arbor University with Dave Douglas and Dan Haines to "recruit" summer staffers. So pray for us as we travel down there, and as we talk with students about camp tomorrow.

Also, please keep praying for the teens that are coming this weekend and next. Last weekend we had both sides completely filled with Jr. High and Sr. High students. These next two weeks are going to be completely filled again. If you would, pray for the students, the sponsors, and the speakers that are coming up these next two weeks.

Thank You for reading this blog post! I know it's been a couple weeks since my last post, but it's been pretty busy here. I hope to have another post out next Monday so stay tuned!

Laus Deo,


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Afternoon One and All!

After two busy weekends, it's good to sit back and reflect. It's been a very busy two weekends, with many stories, and many blessings. Though I don't have many pictures to post this time, I will make it up next week with a torrential flood.

These last two weeks, my biggest project was creating a video template to use for the Sr. High and Jr. High teen retreats. I can't count the number of hours that was spent making a three minute video, but if I had a dollar for every hour I worked on the video, I'd be able to take a hungry family of four out to lunch, to say the least. =)
Needless to say, I finished a working project last Wednesday night around 12:45 in the morning. The way it works is that after a working template is finished, then after the campers have turned in their pictures and videos, we go back and replace clips and pictures with media the campers give us. I'm not sure if anyone has ever used Corel VideoStudio X4, but if you have, I'm sure you feel my pain. Somehow the audio and video never quite lined up, which made all the projects take about twice as long as they needed to. Anyways, we had a working template finished on Wednesday night.

Since we only had one copy of the video editor, Jeremy and I decided to take turns. The campers turn in the pictures and videos Saturday night at supper, and then we have until about 8:30 Sunday morning to have the videos done. We agreed that he would work on the video until 12:30ish in the morning, and I would have the early morning shift. Thankfully, Jon bought another copy of the program, and we were able to work simultaneously, but even so, the video finished rendering at about 4:30 this morning. You can see it in the box below, and I've even included a little blooper reel that didn't make the final cut into the video. Enjoy!

Other than that, many other things have happened these past two weeks. I worked with Mike Baker this week hanging up two bearskins in the West Side Chapel, and there is a miracle story to go with that as well. Just imagine scaffolding and heights, and use your imagination. =)

This week was also unique because we had Sr. High Campers on one side, and Jr. High campers on the other side. Because of this, Jon and I were in charge of creating an ambush to fill up about an hour in the afternoon, right after lunch. The planning itself didn't take an incredible amount of time, but still, it was nice to plan an ambush period. =)

The snow keeps coming, and we have a good base on the ground! The last two weekends we had all activity areas open, Praise God!

As we go into the next weekend, I would appreciate an and all prayers you can spare =) Specifically:

--A Praise that God is providing for my financial situation, and that he will continue to provide
--A Thanks that I am back to good health and staying that way!
--Pray that God would provide for this summer, as we have applications for summer staffers coming in now!
--Prayers that God would lead me as I decide on my plans for this spring and summer, and further on to which College I'll be attending in the fall.

As always, I would love to hear from you all! I love getting letters and mail and anything you'd be willing to send!
We give all praise to God for the great things He has done!

Laus Deo!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teen Retreat One!


Another week has past, and as I stop and reflect on the prior week, I can only say that I got through it only by God's grace. While it has been a wonderful and truely unique week, It has been one of many challenges that I could only have gotten through by Grace.

But enough of that, on to the week!

The big project for this week was the Barakel sign. It was a rather spur of the moment idea by Jon and Jeremy it seemed, but most of Wednesday, and literally all of thursday, Kevin and I traced letters, and then painted them on to five slabs of wood. The words "Camp Barakel 2012" and a Blockhouse took what I estimate to be a total of 31 man hours on Kevin and my part to complete; out of those 31, 19 of those were mine, and 7 of them were overtime hours. We began the tracing on Wednesday afternoon after a few technical difficulties, and began painting thursday morning. Jon and Jeremy wanted it done by thursday night so that it would be dry in time for the retreat on Friday, but at the end of our work day, there was still much to be done. I came back after supper and continued painting, and needless to say, it was done by Friday morning. My head didn't hit the pillow until a little before 2:00AM, but the sign was done.
I think me staying up until 2 had something to do with Jon and Jeremy hinting that we wouldn't be able to have it done by Friday, something which I consider to be an outright challenge. This goes without saying that the new sign looks spectacular!
This is what the sign looks like with a very morphed out Marr Baptist Church in front of it!

Marr Church in their Morph Suits!

It ended up looking very beautiful, but the only way that Kevin and I were able to get it done was by God's grace and strength. We hope that as campers see this sign, they will be reminded that God has blessed Camp Barakel. And Lord willing, we are planning on keeping this up all year round! So if you come up this winter, spring or summer, you can look forward to seeing this!

In other news, this past week was a tad on the hard side for me. I've been fighting a cold since Tuesday, and hopefully, I'm beginning to lick it. The symptoms disappeared on Thursday, but were back in full force for the weekend. I had a little bit of an incident with some carbon monoxide on Friday night, and my voice was completely shot for the weekend as well, which makes it extremely interesting for doing announcement and reffing broomball games! =)

Today, Kevin and I went to Mio Pizza with two other staffers, Kathleen and Kathryn, and had supper with them and the three Linsley children. I must say, I'm addicted to these Linsley kids. They are just great. =) I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time with them as this winter continues. =)

This weekend was another weekend of firsts for me. This was my first time reffing the teen retreat broomball games, which was a great experience! This was also the first week that I did announcements! I must say, though my voice was cracked, I believe it's my destiny to talk in front of a microphone forever and ever. =)
Between late night skating and programming, and getting up early for ice hole drilling, I managed to squeeze in about nine and a half hours of sleep over the weekend, though I only cranked out three and a half on Friday night. =)

As I head into this next week, I would really appreciate prayers for many things!

--That God would provide for my financial needs
--That God would keep me healthy and keep my energy up
--That God would continue to use me for His glory

After much delay, I finally sent out my support letters today, and hopefully, the Post Office does a timely job of delivering them =)

Until next week!

Laus Deo!
Reuben Peck

Monday, January 9, 2012

Greetings from Camp!

It's beeen twelve days since my last post and one very important change has happenned: I have moved to camp! January 2nd came around and amidst many last minute scrambling and packing, I managed to arrive in more or less one piece. =)
I'm staying in what we affectionately call "The Trailer" with two housemates; Cody Leonard and Kevin Pierpont. If you know either of these two great guys, you can find Cody's blog Here, or Kevin's website/blog here. Both are seasonal staffers like myself, although Cody is in the maintenance department.

This last week found us quite busy preparing for the first winter camp of the winter. Our first full day was Wednesday, and after staff fellowship time in the morning, (A time of praise and worship) we started our work. Like I mentioned earlier, I am working with Jon Ford in programming, and Kevin is working with a great guy named Jeremy Linsley, though both Jon and Jeremy are our bosses. The first day, Jeremy took us into the garage of the program department, showed us two unassembled broomball nets and with a smile on his face, promptly told us good luck and strolled out of there. It was soon thereafter that he tweeted about us. To quote him, this is what was said "Just gave and Rueben their first job as Seasonal Staff... assembling new pond-hockey goals for broomball. Excitment abounds "

Day two was filled with excitement as well. We work up before the sun and were treated to breakfast in Fairview by the full time staff guys. The rest of the day was spent doing little projects, but most importantly, we completely refurbished the entire human ice bowling set. The pins were in very poor condition, probably due to the account of too many campers sliding at full speed into them. We ended up completely rebuilding one of them and refurbishing the other nine. Needless to say, we were proud of our work when we had finished. =)

Friday was the big day, mostly because all of us here at Camp were excited for the arrival of east and west side campers. We were very honored this weekend to have Tom Harmon speaking to the fathers and sons on west side, and Doug Rutledge speaking to the College/Career fellows on East Side. What we were not exactly happy for was the high forties and low fifties temprature that we had on Friday afternoon. What little snow we had left on Friday morning was gone by the afternoon, and a very muddy camp remained. It would be a clear analogy to say that the ice rink looked like the top of a glass of ice water. =) Though we were pretty worried, the day cooled off and fortunately the ice froze over in time for some late night skating.

Saturday began early. I woke up a little before six and Kevin and I headed down to the lake to drill holes for ice fishing.
 The rest of my day included mostly shadowing Jon in the daily activities so that I can run much of the program with him gone in the coming weeks. We ran many broomball games, as well as Thunder Express and a flag football game. My day rounded out by hearing an excellent message from Doug Rutledge, and then running late night skate. For those of you who don't know what late night skate is, it's ice skating and ice hockey that runs until a little after one in the morning. So for me, my day started at six and ended at about 3:30 in the morning. Talk about a long day! Today marks my day off, which is why I'm so glad to be writing this.

I've had mailings for many of you that I planned on sending out last week, but it seems like time flies by, and I am just now getting ready to put them in the mail today. Lord willing, you will get a letter from me soon!

As we head in to another work week, and another camping weekend, please continue your prayers that the needs of camp would be met, as well as our financial, physical, and spiritual needs as well. God is good and has and will continue to provide, and I cannot wait to see how he takes us from here!

Laus Deo!
Reuben Peck