CBM National Intern – Here Come the Suds

By CBM National intern, Timmy Martens – 


My best friend somehow believes I actually enjoy doing dishes. I don’t know where he got that from; maybe it’s because one of the first things I did when I got to Ponderosa Bible Camp for my rotation with CBM’s National Internship Program was to start preparing the kitchen for the summertime. Of course, that meant lots of scrubbing and elbow grease. It was fulfilling work, but I can hardly say that I enjoyed it….okay, maybe I enjoyed it a little bit. I mean, if I had to pick between shoveling mulch and doing dishes, I would probably pick doing dishes, which is funny, because I’ve also shoveled a lot of mulch over the past month. Not just here at Ponderosa Bible Camp (PBC), but also during my last rotation at Cornerstone Ministry Center. It seems that I just can’t get away from it. Oh well.

The amount of work and preparation never ceases to amaze me that it takes to get a summer camp prepared for the droves of adrenaline-filled campers who are expecting to have the best week of their life. We want to give them  just that; that’s what makes camp work so intimidating. We want the children that come through any of our camp programs to boldly proclaim to their parents, as they get into the car to go home, “That was the best week of my life!” That means the camp staff needs to be prepared, which means lots of meetings, which produce work days, which lead to special events, which lead to housekeeping, which ultimately leads to – drum roll please – dishes!

There’s something very therapeutic about dishwashing. Maybe it’s because it’s one of those jobs that has measurable success. You can literally watch your dish-pile shrink into oblivion (until the kitchen blesses you with more dishes). Maybe it’s because doing dishes is one of those two-person jobs, and I am of the personality that tends to work better when someone else is involved. I usually prefer to be the actual “washer,” which is the one who does all the scrubbing in the first sink before I hand it over to my “rinser/sanitizer” person. My secret goal is to be faster than that second person so they never have to wait for me. Usually, I’m pretty good at it, unless they bring a bunch of pans with crusted-on barbecue chicken sauce on the flat pans.

There was a time in my life when I used to work for my earthly boss’s praise. He would take his gigantic man-hand, slap it onto my shoulder,  look me straight in the eyes and tell me, “Timmy. Good job.” And that was my reward. Truth be told, it was a very satisfying reward. But like all earthly bosses, sometimes he wouldn’t clasp my shoulder in thanks. Sometimes he would forget, or he just wouldn’t know about the work I had done. That could be discouraging — doing something awesome and not getting any thanks for it. Then I encountered Matthew 6, where it says, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.” I changed my mindset, and now I don’t work for my earthly bosses anymore; instead, I work for the boss who  will never let me down, Jesus (and it  is always an added bonus when my boss finds out too).

Somehow I’ve “leveled up” to a new stage in my life where I now assign people to do the dishes while I put food away. It wasn’t just three weeks ago when I was kitchen supervisor. One meal, I ended up drying some dishes, and the other meal I just put leftovers into Ziploc bags. Sometimes I decide to be a cool “boss” and let all of my workers go while I finish up in the kitchen. You may be thinking that is a really selfless thing for me to do, but really,most of the time I just want some time to think and get my head back into the game.

There was another time I was working in the kitchen at PBC, and my kitchen workers were having way too much fun. They kept taking the excessive suds from the dishwater and shoving it into people’s faces. I didn’t care until my best friend (that guy who is convinced that I dream about washing dishes) decided to basically smack a handful of suds into my face. I should have seen it coming. The thing they kept saying was, “Here come the suds!” Shortly after, I “dismissed” everyone out of the kitchen and I finished up.

One of my main responsibilities here at PBC is to be one of the main leaders to the TEAM (Teens Excited About Ministry) members. They are the behind-the-scenes workers that keep the kitchen running and the camp clean. It’s tough work, and there isn’t a lot of earthly reward to it. But these students are accumulating some of the best rewards they can get in heaven, and I’m honored to do dishes with them this summer. Yeah, I probably do enjoy doing dishes. But you know what? Bring on the suds. I’m ready to get to work.
Edited by: CBM National

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