Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clown School

I didn't know about "Clown School". What would it look like or what would be appropriate for age and ability - BUT... God knew and provided the inspiration - and the extra smiles!
Graduates received a certificate of celebration and completion.


There was also a "curriculum" that included learning "tricks" making extra smiles, telling "Knock Knock" jokes and dressing up - their favorite part.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Designed to Define Lives

Once the families arrive, the kids make their way to the "Clown Station".
What started out as one rack of clothes and a few hats has definately expanded to exhibit His ministry of "Joy & Laughter". Everyone gets in on the act and acting up! Short-term missionaries love to put on a happy face and a funny hat in expectation of the arrivals. Young and old get in the "mood" of creating smiles.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On Display


"And My life is on display in them." John 17

The Clown Station was ready - all in place. I knew from experience it wouldn't stay that way long. As soon as the training, commissioning and lunch was over - the mayhem began; teenagers laughing, goofing off, trying on hats, wigs, and all manner of clothes to bring a smile to the families arriving.

Camp is best described by the laughter, by the smiles, and by the joy in the kids when they arrive to a "circus" of joy and enthusiasm. the newcomers were surprised, the returnees were eager, and then there were summed up as one tiny girl named Emily chased Care EE around and around the clown station- with wings on her wheelchair, trying to wipe a goo on my hand. She laughed so hard, ran over everybody in between, tireless in her pursuit of fun.

Something so simple and so simply redemptive of the mishaps, the mistakes, the misappropriations, the misinterpretation. this is what Camp is about, what He is about. I must remember to be about His business!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Enlarge My Territory

Jabez on Clowning: "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory. Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." 1 Chron 4:10

The was little to comple in the now massive Clown Station. Only setting up the makeup, and that required littel effort and only a short amount of time. The STM's (short term missionaries) began arriving on time but trickling in. Like a grand family reunion or homecoming, there were many hugs, questions about the "India Event" and lost of praise and committments of prayer.

This is my extended family of provision. Truly God is a great Provider. Many commented on how much the Clown Station has expanded - that it has!

After lunch, I made a Walmart run for last minute items. It was nice to get a break - probably the last one for five days. I feel prepared for His plans and purposes. Many times I have been afforded the opportunity to pray for various things and situations. The Father has them all covered, His mercy is new and expanding.

Bunches of Grapes

"This is how my Father shows who He is - when you produce grapes, when you mature as My disciples..." John 15:8

We're here, after a long drive through scattered rain, bathroom breaks, a short shopping spree, Mexican food and countless questions (are we there yet). We arrived at the familiar turn off Camp Allen road, the welcome sign bearing our name "Joni and Friends Family Retreat."

J, K and I arrived only a few moments before the truck from the office arrived. We had enough time to check-in to our rooms and go back to the main building to help unpack. the heat, the endless stream of boxes, the assembly of clown racks, shelves and hanging up all the clothes quickly wore us out in the formidable humidity. This year with the Clown School addition, we have taken over the entire front room.

I had to marvel looking around at the hundreds of hats and costumes. Bunches and bunches of His grapes - squeezed - to be made into the happiness and joy of His love - accepted, revered, honored and delighted in. The next two weeks are going to be some kind of FUN!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Vision

This year we celebrate our tenth year participating in Family Retreat Camp for families affected by disabilities. It will be the first year of "Clown School", for the campers. As I prayerfully tried to create something fun and fulfilling to share the "joy" of the Lord with the kids (ages 5-35) I was reminded of the time in 1997, hearing Joni Erickson Tada on the radio, discussing the first Family Retreat camp. My ministry was just getting started, but I thought "what a great place for a Clown School". I wrote the corporate office in California, explaining my idea. I got no response, UNTIL a year later when the Dallas area office opened. They called asking me to participate in another event. I replied, "Yes, I will do the event, but only if I can come to camp." They laughed, I laughed and I have been laughing, and experienceing the delight and deep happiness every year since. To see others (ones often ignored or heered) in an environment where they can be totally silly, where everyone laughs WITH each other, everyone is accepted and delighted to make others happy.

It always surprises me to see teenage boys (who are volunteering) put on big floppy hats with roses and feathers. It is one of the few places on earth kids (young and old) are completely safe to make "a fool: of themselves for the sake of others.

"We are fools for Christ." 1 Corinthians 4:10

I thank you in advance for your commitment through prayer and giving, to the work of Sunshine After Rain Ministries. In ten years over 150,000 people have been ministered to in 15 different countries around the world. That's a lot of smiles, more than a million miles, and your bank account in heaven filled with deposits increasing and gaining interest!

My prayer for you is for a heart of gratefulness for all the Father has given you, in resources, health, family and friends. We are ONE body, when ONE suffers we all suffer. There are no disabilities in heaven; we will all be changed, perfected in His image, and we will all still be smiling in His service!

JONI & FRIENDS - Calendar of Events


June 22
Depart for Navasotta
Leadership Meeting

June 23
Volunteers arrive for Training

June 24
Volunteer Training
Clowns Greet arriving families
Performance @ Family arrival - The RULES

June 25
Clown School: Young Adults & Child II
Bible Lesson
Performance @ Adult Dinner
June 26
Clown School: High School & Junior High
Bible Lesson
Performance @ Square Dance

June 27
Clown School: Child I
Performance @ Talent Show

June 28
Last day of Camp
Families leave with cheerful heart but tear-filled eyes
Return to Dallas

June 29-30
Back in Office in Dallas

July 1
Depart for Navasotta
Leadership Meeting

July 2
Volunteers arrive for Training

July 3
Volunteer Training
Clowns Greet arriving families
Performance @ Family arrival - The RULES

July 4
Clown School: Young Adults & Child II
Bible Lesson
Performance @ Adult Dinner

July 5
Clown School: High School & Junior High
Bible Lesson
Performance @ Square Dance

July 6
Clown School: Child I
Performance @ Talent Show

July 7
Last day of Camp
Families leave with cheerful heart but tear-filled eyes
Return to Dallas