Slideshow image

Last week, some staff and volunteers from Tenth had the chance to travel to Pioneer Pacific camp on Thetis Island with 120 Afghans for the now-annual Newcomer’s camp! Alongside Pioneer’s summer staff and several Pioneer youth programs, we were a full house of about 250 people (special shoutout to the kitchen for their hard work all week)

There were so many moments of joy scattered throughout the week; biking, swimming, paddling, archery - often for the first time in their lives. I was so encouraged by the way that the staff and volunteers surrounded everyone with love and laughter. I enjoyed lots of good food, new friends, and nights of staying up to play cards with Afghans much later than I should.

So many Afghans and Canadians came back to Vancouver missing camp deeply but filled with memories and friendships. Pray that these friendships will continue to blossom over the summer and through the rest of the year. I was also so encouraged by the depths of friendship and support already there between Canadians and our newcomer friends.

One of my favorite parts was to see how excited the newcomers were to try new things, and the way they wouldn’t stop talking about it afterwards. One morning, I was helping on the boat dock, launching canoes and kayaks onto the water. A very excited woman came down, and as she was getting in, she mis-stepped and flipped her kayak into the water. Immediately, she swam around to the ladder and got right back up onto the dock, ready to get right back into the kayak. On another day, I went kayaking with a lady who had never been before (she also cycled for the first time in her life that same morning), and we were out on the water for probably half an hour. We were talking about how peaceful the water was, looking up at the trees and down at the sun reflecting off the water. She was raving about it for the rest of the day!

On the final evening, we hosted a time after dinner to wrap up the camp. We gave a place for folks to share what the week had meant to them. It was really cool to see how so many Afghans had been touched in different ways. Some connected over activities, others through conversation or food, but many remarked that they had come to camp not knowing many people and were leaving with so many new friends and experiences. They spoke to the strength of the relationships they had built with so many volunteers from Tenth and other communities. Throughout the week, the barriers between Afghans and Canadians were broken down. We all gathered as a single family, interspersed amongst each other. 

Tenth, thank you for the ways you’ve supported this meaningful ministry during Refugee Friendship Month in June and throughout the year. I trust that God is doing some incredible things amongst his people. 

Jonathan Yee is a Canada Summer Jobs staff at Tenth Church, longtime CREO leader and UBC Forestry student.  Enjoying his time walking alongside newcomers this summer, Jonathan is also helping with Tenth Global events and communication.