This past week Jerusalem Ministry held our 6th annual Arts and Crafts Camp for elementary school girls from children homes around Seoul. This year we had 34 girls attend from six different homes. Girls and volunteers who have attended multiple camps and the staff all agreed that this was our best camp yet.
One volunteer mentioned to me an appreciation for our ministry that, “You (Jerusalem Ministry) give the girls a home (more than a building) and show them they are not an outsider… and there is hope for what they want to do.” While our camp was just 10am – 3:30pm for three days, during those hours each day the girls were with 43 loving, committed volunteers in one room. The volunteers were patient, affirming, and never judging, critical, or negative. The girls were basically surrounded by love, and it was beautiful watching them bloom as the camp progressed. Girls that never smiled were smiling by the end of the camp. Girls that were very insecure and fearful of the camera were finding safety being with the volunteers and even smiling with them for pictures by the last day. Girls that were used to complaining or being negative most of the time were learning how to be thankful and freely express joy.
Here is a story from one volunteer, Danbi, about a girl from my children’s home she worked with, Hwa Yeon. Hwa Yeon can be a bit feisty and I was curious how she would do during this camp. This is letter from Hwa Yeon to Danbi on the last day…
“단비쌤 저 화연이에요. 과자집 만들때 제가 짜증을 많이 냈는데 쌤은 뭐라고 하지도 않으시고 도와주셔서 감사해요. 그리고 사랑해요. 다음에 만날때는 더욱 선생님이랑 친해질래요.” In English, “Dear Danbi teacher, this is Hwa Yeon. When we made the gingerbread house I expressed a lot of frustration but you were patient and helped me a lot. Thank you. I love you. Next time we meet I hope we can grow even closer together.”
Here is a picture of Hwa Yeon and Danbi at the end of the camp…
God is good! With every camp our staff continues to grow in faith and hope for the children of North Korea. It’s our dream to set up an environment like the Arts and Crafts Camp for the orphans of North Korea where they can be surrounded and overwhelmed by love, affirmation, and peace. God’s love truly transforms. Please enjoy the pictures!
Like last year we welcomed the girls in the morning by having the volunteers line up and cheer as their names were called out. The girls smiled more and more with each day of this and we could tell they were being blessed.
Their first craft was making a treasure box. On the inside of the lid we had them glue mirrors to it, that way every time they open their treasure box and see their reflection they can be reminded that they are God’s treasure. This picture is of Min Seung from my children’s home with volunteer Pauline.
Here our staff Jee, who directs the Arts and Crafts Camps, is working with Eun Suh from my children’s home.
In between crafts we would have lunch. On Day 1 we served the girls pizza. To encourage thankfulness and joy we always made sure the girls would say, “Thank you,” upon receiving their food or other things. Here is little Su Jin from Myeongjin Home receiving her pizza and being reminded to say, “Thank you.” 6th grader Ye Rim who has attended the camp multiple times is smiling next in line as she watches. All the girls soon caught on and we saw more and more smiles as a result.
For the next craft each girl received a new hoodie jacket and were able to sew buttons, iron patches, and add other things to the inside and to the outside of the jackets. Here is Sky with Soo Jeong from my children’s home. I love how Soo Jeong put the teddy bear patch in her pocket. The girls were very creative!
Volunteer Luna, staff Mijeong, posing with Ga Eul from Myeongjin Home and her own personally designed hoodie.
On the morning of Day 2 the girls made picture frames and were each given a photo of them with a volunteer from Day 1. I was really impressed by Ga Eul’s creative frame.
At the end of each craft, Jee would welcome up different girls and volunteers who wanted to present what they made. Usually the girls are very shy and insecure, but as the camp progressed more and more of the girls grew in confidence and also loved hearing their volunteer share about the craft for them and affirm them for what they made.
In the afternoon of Day 2 the girls made their favorite craft: gingerbread houses! We used graham crackers instead of gingerbread but they still turned out great! Here is Mu Bi from Myeongjin Home with volunteer Judy…
Before making the craft, Jee shared the Gospel with the girls in Korean and shared about how wonderful heaven will be. Jee wanted to inspire the girls in making the homes (mansions in heaven) and also give them an opportunity hear the good news. The girls were all attentive as Jee shared and were responsive to her prayers. After that the girls got to work and we saw some very creative gingerbread houses. This one was my personal favorite: Baby Jesus in the Manger. So creative! That was made by a 5th grader, Hanna, from Gyeong-dong Children’s Home.
We also played games in between doing the crafts. For this game the different groups had to line up in right order whenever Jee would call out different things, such as, “Line up in order of height!” Upon completion the team would all have to raise their hands and the first few teams would score points.
On Day 3 we had just one craft in the morning (making cards for each other) and we also had some time for painting nails and face painting. The manicure time was a huge hit for all the girls as they connected deeply with the volunteers painting each other’s nails and quietly talking together. Here volunteer Maggie is getting the best manicure of her life by two of the young girls from her group…
This girl, Su Ah, never smiled. Her first camp was two years ago and she was scowling the whole time. She participated, but had her guard up the whole time. Last year she returned with the same scowl, but participated even more and we could tell that love was breaking through. This year she was scowling the first day, but by the second day she couldn’t hide her smiles. The fact that she even posed for pictures this year was huge. God is good!
This girl, Ye Jin, from Dongmyeong Home, was attending the camp for the first time (6th grader). She avoided the camera the first two days, but by the third day she had grown so comfortable with the volunteers and so safe with the love in the room that she willingly posed and smiled for the camera multiple times. Here she is with Sky…
In the afternoon of Day 3 we all commuted to City Hall to ice skate outside together. This was our first time doing an outside activity during Arts and Crafts Camp and the girls loved it! This was only my second time ice skating since I was small child and I was nervous, but I knew I had to for my girls. The only other person I have ever ice skated for was my wife Sky when I first asked her out and she requested me to skate with her; I think these girls are the only other people who could get me out there. I skated with each of them and did laps around the crowded rink. This picture is of me with Min Seung and Hwa Yeon…
Here is a group shot of Sky, the girls from Geon Home (where I’ve served for 7+ years) and me. We drove the girls to and from the camp each day.
And last a group shot of all the girls and volunteers from the camp…
Hope the pictures blessed you! You can view more on our Facebook page, “Jerusalem Ministry.” Please make sure to like our page!
Our next camp will be our 7th annual soccer camp in six months, July 21 – 23. My boys talk about it year round and are always excited about it.
Psalm 68:6 – “God sets the lonely in families…”