Week two of our eight-week PPP loan is nearly wrapped up. After seven weeks of neglect, our grounds have received a swift makeover… lawns mowed, weeds whacked, piles burned, sprinklers fixed, and landscaping cleaned up. In addition, the kitchen inventory has been organized, freeing up food nearing its expiration date to a willing staff. The shop continues to be overhauled and prepared to be a space that is efficient and organized. Inside the office, staff is buzzing with handling refunds and donations, as well as brainstorming and implementing innovative ideas for our campers sheltering at home this summer.

One of our projects during this 8-week time frame is to mill and cut the lumber for Mallory’s Bench Project. Many of you responded to this American Heritage Girl’s invitation to sponsor a bench, and 28 benches were funded! Our team is preparing everything for the day when Mallory and her troop can return to Calvin Crest to assemble, sand, and install the benches all over our grounds. Each bench will have a lovely plaque to whom it is dedicated, and we can’t wait to see how these benches bless future guests of Calvin Crest.

It has been a gift to have 2/3 of our staff back at work. It was hard to say goodbye to our food services staff who have no hungry guests for whom they can cook for the foreseeable future. We are grateful for each one who served our guests with a smile and grew much during their time on staff: Tim Simms, Zirbel Klapste, Tori Wade, Caleb Richmond, Jireh Tavera, Elijah Yamamura, Colin Dunn, and Joel Pena, who also served on the Outdoor Ed team this past year. Each brought unique gifts to our team and will be missed.

In an ironic sense of timing, our bookkeeper, Janis Johnson, had also announced at the start of this year she would retire at the end of April. After five years of spreadsheets and QuickBooks and warms hugs, we celebrated Janis last week and said farewell. This week, Garrett Marshall, our Marketing Manager announced he had a new marketing opportunity in his hometown of Kingsburg. Garrett has built an impressive video library at Calvin Crest and has done a fantastic job with communications over the past five years. Even more importantly, he helped to shape the culture on staff in ways that were fun, creative, and life-giving. Again, bittersweet, we honored Garrett and sent him off with our blessing.

So, about a dozen staff remain, working with all their heart to serve this place they love. What a strange season this is! Who would have ever thought two months ago when we were wrapping up a normal week of Outdoor Ed that life could change so drastically, so quickly? If we are not careful, it might be tempting to only see goodbyes and a sense of loss crowding in around us.

Thanks to the recommendation of a fellow staffer, I have been reading Jerry Sittser’s book, “A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. He writes, “It is therefore not true that we become less through loss—unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left but an external self entirely under the control of circumstances. Loss can also make us more. In the darkness we can still find the light. In death we can also find life. It depends on the choices we make.”

We choose hope. And at Calvin Crest, hope springs everywhere. Wildflowers and dogwoods are in full bloom, creeks are rushing, and wildlife seems to appreciate roaming freely. We sense God’s goodness to us in providing these eight weeks of work, even though we know not what will follow. He has provided abundantly for the staff, physically and emotionally. Your words of encouragement and prayers can be sensed in the air we breathe and bring strength to our bones. More than $123,500 has come in so far in response to our recent appeal, reminding us that God will provide as resources are needed. God is supplying new energy to pray and dream about the future post Covid-19. Yes, there will be a new reality after Covid-19, and even if we have to rebuild from the ground up, we want to be ready for it.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

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