4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water. (John 4:4-15, New International Version)
In the Creation story of Genesis 1, the second day is the only day that lacks the words, “And God saw that it was good.” I’m not sure why there was this omission of God’s proclamation of acknowledging good in the separation of the waters above and below. Maybe because all God did was separate the formless void? To complete the story, we read that at the end of the sixth day God saw everything that God had made, and it was very good.
We know that water is essential to our lives. We know that we can go longer without food than water, and still survive. For me, water has been more than simply the fluid that keeps my body healthy; it has been a source of joy and wonder.
That joy and wonder almost didn’t happen. As a child, I failed my beginning swimmer’s test! But because my parents, and especially my dad, worked with me to move on from that setback, I did eventually learn how to swim, and I have enjoyed being around water ever since. I have reveled in God’s marvelous creation through snorkeling in crystal clear waters. I have had the opportunity to enjoy canoeing, kayaking, and rafting in some incredible places, and I have traveled across open water in ferry boats to beautiful islands.
I have also had deeply profound experiences sitting beside streams of living water, streams that remind me of the story from John’s gospel as well as Psalm 23. I recently walked along Deep Creek at the Collins Retreat Center, hoping to see returning Coho salmon. With the rainy days that preceded my walk, there was a lot of cloudy water and no fish were spotted. But while my original intent was to see fish, my experience left me once again in awe of the way that water shapes my life and the lives of all creatures on Earth.
I know that water is to be held in respect and awe, because if you are careless, water can cause great harm to property and life. I was recently asked by one of my daughters how I knew to teach her to never turn her back on the ocean, given that I had grown up in Minnesota where tides and waves really aren’t a thing. I must have learned the lesson either through my water safety training or from those who know the ways of water in the Northwest. We teach this lesson out of fear. As I was writing this it occurred to me that we could also teach this lesson out of reverence for water as a representation of God. Always face the ocean out of respect and recognition of the power of God’s creativity.
What stories do you have to tell about water and God’s creativity? We’d like to hear. Please drop me a note.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: Waterfall at Camp Latgawa (Todd Bartlett)
As promised last week, here is some information from the parent survey that accompanied last summer's camper survey across the denomination.
Parents rated their child’s experience at camp on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “poor experience” and 10 being “superior experience." In Oregon-Idaho, our average was 9.13, slightly higher than the national average of 8.98! In rating a list of aspects of camp that included quality of food, age-appropriate activities, communication with families during the camp week, maintenance of facilities, staff training, check-in, communication before camp, cost of camp, effective teaching of faith, and systems to address bullying, parents had a high level of satisfaction ranging from the mid 80’s to the upper 90’s. Check-in on the day of arrival had the highest level of dissatisfaction. We will work on that.
Parents also observed changes in their camper following camp: 69% of parents noticed at least one positive change in their camper. These changes could include singing Christian songs, more pleasant to be around, increased helpfulness, greater interest in attending church, engaged in a conversation about God/faith, spending less time on electronics, leading the family in prayer at meals more frequently, or reading the Bible more. And 29% of parents identified three or more of these changes in their camper!
A few quotes:
Our kids have been attending camp here since they were 3rd graders and next year will be their last as campers. This has been one of the best things ever for them. They would miss just about anything else before they would miss camp.
He had a great time, However, for the first time ever he had issues with being homesick and had a small case of anxiety. The Camp team was awesome when the issue came up. I am sure he will want to come back next year.
It warms my heart that this is a camp my daughter looks forward to, starting the day after camp is over for the entire year. She recently expressed an interest in becoming a counselor, which really tells me how much this camp means to her. Amazing!
If you're a parent, you may already know the joy and pride that come along with that huge bag of dirty laundry your kid brings home from camp: it's the discovery that your child has made new friends, grown in faith, and found a sense a belonging in the community that was formed at Wallowa Lake, Magruder, Sawtooth, Suttle Lake, or Latgawa. The parents in last summer's survey testified to the transformation they witnessed (see the article above).
But even if you're not the parent of a camper, you have the opportunity to participate in supporting that transformative experience through your donation to camp and retreat ministry. Thank you!
*PHOTO: The clothes are still clean in this photo from the beginning of the camp week