Latvia Short-Term Mission Trip

The value of life for anyone with special needs in other countries outside the US is very low. Ugis Pallo is the pastor at the Latvian church that has this Special Needs Camp. Previously he partnered with another group to run a
camp for ten years. We want to support him and his efforts so he is able to build and sustain this camp ongoing.

Specific objectives for the team:

  • We will be showing the love of Christ in Latvia at a camp for special needs; a camp for students with special needs, moms and their siblings.
  • The team will plan kids programming – stories, games, crafts, and activities that retell the Bible theme and bring some American favorites for the campers and their “Guardian Angels,” buddies.
  • We will provide activities to connect with the moms. If God provides, I would like someone to work with the children.
  • Specific gifts/talents/abilities that you believe would best fulfill your objective?
  • Any or all of the following:
    • Willing to be a buddy for an individual with special needs
    • Passionate about encouraging and loving on moms
    • Trained in medical, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, special education
    • Passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with children and young adults

Support the Latvia 2019 Trip

You can give online at Valley Church’s Global Opportunities page

Wonderfully Made Family Camp 2019

Register for Wonderfully Made Family Camp 2019

If your family has been blessed with a child who has a special need or medical need, we would love for you to consider attending this event. If finances are a concern, don’t worry! We only require a small registration fee of $50 per family. All meals, activities, and lodging are covered! Each child with a special need will be paired with a volunteer from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. while at camp. Come for a relaxing and fun time!

2019 WMFC Registration Now Open for Volunteers!

Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC) was created to offer an authentic camp experience to families raising children with special needs. Every year WMFC utilizes over 100 volunteers–from one-on-one buddies to program directors, from a camp doctor to horse barn workers and more–to make camp a reality for the 40 families who attend.

WMFC 2019 will be held at Hidden Acres Christian Center from May 30–June 2. If you want to be a volunteer, the camp board invites you to apply online here. Because the camp serves a vulnerable population, the application process includes a rigorous background check. Volunteers also receive online and in person training to equip them to work with the children being served at camp, and meals and lodging are provided for all volunteers. Click on this link to begin the online application process.

If you have questions, you can leave them in the comment section below or at the WMFC Volunteer Facebook page. One of the camp board members will reply as soon as possible.

2019 Camp Registration for Families Is Now Open!

The WMFC planning board is happy to announce that the 2019 camp  will be held from May 30–June 2. Families can register, starting January 1, 2019. The only cost is a $50 registration fee. As in previous years, the camp has room for 40 families.

Families can register online by clicking on this link. If you have questions, leave a comment below or go to the Wonderfully Made Family Camp Facebook page and ask your question there. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!

WMFC, 2018: Where God Was at the Center

Jennifer Schwartz is today’s guest blogger. She reflects back on what touched each member of her family of 5 at WMFC, 2018.
In April 2016 we went from a “normal” family to a “special needs family” when our son’s doctor said Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  He was 3 1/3-years-oldwhen he was diagnosed with this random genetic mutation, which doesn’t allow his muscles to repair themselves. Over time he will continue to lose muscular function.
The year after our son’s diagnosis we found out about  Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC).  We didn’t know what to expect when we prepared for a few days at Hidden Acres.  To our surprise and enjoyment, we found a weekend tailor made for families facing any kind of special needs or disability challenge.  We knew our son would benefit, but we didn’t realize how much this was a positive experience for the whole family.
The planning members thought of everything.  We had a buddy assigned to our son who was prepared to handle his medical needs and listen to every instruction we shared, no matter how big or small.  Sometime we forget how much of their childhood siblings give up sitting at doctors appointments,  being caretaker. Both siblings (younger and older) had special times where they got to try new things  Our older daughter’s favorite is the climbing wall and zip line. Our younger son loved the nursery team. And we all loved pool time.
Parents got special attention too.  There was a pampering spa. My personal favorite was going on a trail ride with a friend who I have bonded with because of camp.  My husband was free to take a long run with another camp volunteer.  These are all things we don’t get to do often given our regular responsibility and caregiving hours.
Camp gave us time to meet other families without the need to explain our situation. They get it right away.  We have continued these relationships and the families have become part of our regular support network.  The faith focus of camp made it all the more special.  We had deeper conversations than can usually be bad. There were prayers for families and the struggles they face, and we worshipped as a group.  Reflection time as a family and individually was also nice.  This camp and all the volunteers who carved out time to make it unique and uplifting for the families that attend… are truly unique and a pure representation of servant leadership.
WMFC has been such a blessing to our family.  We enjoyed the relaxing weekend at a great facility and the opportunity to connect with other families in the special needs space with God at the center of discussions.

Puns, Cowboy Hats, S’mores, and More

Wonderfully Made Family Camp has been THE highlight of the summer for me the last three years.  As a board member my role varies from training volunteers to heading men’s group to being all around “go-fer” wherever I might be needed. In these various capacities I get to participate in pretty much every aspect of the weekend.

One particular memory was of a rambunctious 4 year old in a wheelchair.  This delightful guy was pure charisma. While a group congregated at the fire pit making s’mores, he wheeled around everyone with great finesse, having a blast, as were those watching him.  Not having any clue of my love for “punny” comebacks in any situation, he steered up to me, looked me straight in the eyes as I stooped down to be at his level. Slowly, ever so methodically and with absolute authority, he stated “I didn’t come here to listen to your lousy jokes!”  This kid obviously has the gift of prophecy.

Shortly thereafter,  a teen volunteer I know well gave this same dynamic youngster his beloved cowboy hat which he had coveted all evening. This act of Christian love brought tears to my eyes as I watched the extreme pleasure it brought to the giver and to the receiver as well as to his parents who watched the entire transaction transpire.  This is one of many reasons I so greatly enjoy participating in WMFC.

~ Kim Combes, WMFC planning board member and expert punster

A Favorite Spa Memory from WMFC, 2018

I had the honor to serve as the coordinator for the Massage and Spa at the Wonderfully Made Family Camp.  Having a background of camping, teaching/serving those with special needs, and also being a licensed massage therapist, I believe God especially equipped me for this position.

While the Massage and Spa are designed primarily for the adults, parents often bring their children in for a little “rejuvenation” time as well.  It is heartwarming to see kids and parents painting their nails together or washing each other’s feet and applying lotion!  Once we had a mother/daughter schedule massages together.  This year we had a mom, dad, and youth with special needs schedule massage time together.  While we are all in one room and everyone remains clothed, there are screens set up for privacy.  As we three therapists began working out the knotted shoulders and tired feet, we were privileged to be a part of a lovely family.  Mom and dad blissfully zoned out, but daughter chatted with her therapist, telling her about their adventures at camp.  At one point she asked her mother about something in the story, but the therapist, not wanting to disturb mom’s moment of peace, replied, “She’s sleeping.”  The daughter then called out to her father to engage him in conversation.  “He’s sleeping, too,” I replied.  The daughter then went on with her story to the therapist.  I couldn’t hear just what the story was about, but the daughter’s voice told the kind of wonderful family of which she was a part.  

The love among this family could be felt deep in our hearts and afterwards we all agreed it had been a blessing for us to be with them.  We had come to serve and encourage such families, yet afterwards we therapists were the ones that had been renewed.  It is truly an honor to serve the families that come to this camp.

~Erin Hefner, WMFC planning board member and keeper of a dad’s moment of peace

Inclusive Ministry Conference, 2018

The Des Moines Area Inclusive Ministry Conference is only a month away! It will be held November 9 & 10 at Valley Church in West Des Moines.

Early bird registration ($30) is available through October 14. Then the cost rises to $40 through November 8. The at the door rate is $50 on Friday, November 9. The Saturday rate is $35. All prices include lunch on Saturday.

To check out the speakers, exhibitors, the schedule, and to register, visit the Inclusive Ministry Conference website.

The conference offers workshops for ministry leaders, parents, and professionals. The conference planners would love for you to tell church leaders, educators, therapists, medical professionals, your friends, and family about this event.

If you have questions, click the “contact” link on the registration page and someone will get back to you.