Camp was.. something.
Let me set this up first. The last time I went to church for something aside from mass was almost 5 years ago. The last youth rally I attended was when I was … 16 maybe? The last church camp I attended was the year I turned 17. The last time I did a church play/musical was in 2010. Ever since then, my life has been eaten up by school and Tumblr. A-levels is no joke, and nor is medical school. Keeping up with studies and Photoshop has swallowed the past five (almost six!) years of my life.
I entered a spiritual drought without realising it.
I know, for some of you, this makes little sense. But my faith has always been a huge part of me. Ever since I was 13 years old, reading the Bible, going for church-related things, World Youth Day!.. all of that was a lot of who I was. I think ‘growing up’ forced me out of it. Or at least, I chose to take myself out of it.
So when I sat in the Melaka-Johor Diocese van with Albert and the deacon’s assistant (he was kind enough to drive all the way. It’s almost 2 hours and a half, guys, it’s no joke), it was kinda alarming to open myself up to this experience again.
It had been a really long time.
The deacon met us after the toll in Melaka and the first thing he asked me is “What happened to you? What happened to studying theology?”. And I swear.. I can’t forget how I felt at that moment. A mixture of surprise that he remembered this information from FIVE years ago and a rush of mixed emotions thinking about that 13-year-old girl who wanted to go to Franciscan University. It was a dream I had TEN years ago, a dream I let die because it wasn’t ‘conventional’. So, I told him that ‘life didn’t work out’ and he said something that made me tear up in it’s simplicity: Don’t give up on your dreams. It may not be now, but it will be time someday.
Albert and I were the only two people from our medical school to go. There were a total of 28 students, mostly from Newcastle, Taylors and IMU along with one or two others. I guess it was lucky that the people who were attending this camp were the usual ‘camp-goers’ because it was easy to mesh. Or maybe the fact that we were mostly medical students/medical personnel that allowed us to be automatically open to people, it’s a default setting.
Our sessions were good, though I admit the information wasn’t things I have never heard of. That does not mean that I learned nothing: it was more of the experience for me. We had Adoration, we had morning reflections, we opened the Bible!, something I had not done in a very long time. I could go for Confession, I could talk about how much my faith meant to me without feeling the condescension from people.
What more is that this whole thing was a step out of my comfort zone. Since there were only two of us, Albert and I managed to achieve Brownian motion by zig zagging between groups of people, making sure we managed to make connections with the others. I had to get a ride back to JB from the students from Newcastle because Albert was heading up to KL to meet his parents and the deacon had something else to attend to. They wanted to do a bit of sight-seeing in Melaka before going back and so I spent a total of 6 hours with them, without having a familiar face to lean on. They were good kids (kids because they were all younger than me) and really kind to me. I was blessed to meet such nice people.
Having time to immerse myself back into religion was amazing. I think that’s what it feels like to regain something you’ve lost. I had been so miserable and depressed lately that this was a drop of water into my very parched soil. I am glad I went despite my apprehension.
It was worth it.