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The 10 Year Old That Changed My Life

The 10 Year Old That Changed My Life
by Kimberly Dean

(excerpt from her diary)

I met little Jessica Moffitt for the first time on July 1, 2001. Just one month prior to her death. I was her counselor at Camp Happy Days and Special Times a camp for children with cancer and their siblings. Jessica attended along with her brother, Justin and sister, Kristina. I had heard of Happy Days before this year but never knew how to get involved until I met a man who coordinated it about 3 weeks prior to camp. I found out about a week beforehand that I had been accepted as a counselor. I began getting very excited! I got a call that week stating that I would be working on the ropes course. I told the director that I had a nagging foot injury that might impair my participation but that I would do my best. When I heard this, I was kind of sad because I very much wanted to be put with a child. But I decided to trust God and allow him to put me where he saw fit.  I totally believe that he intervened in this situation.  It is not normal for a terminally ill child with as many special needs as Jessica has to be put with a first year counselor.  I know that this was all God.  He answered my prayer above and beyond anything I could have imagined.  I thought the best way to show you what that week was like for me would be to let you in on what I wrote in my journals that week.
This way you can see what we did each day, my struggles, and her joy.  Every night after I got her settled in bed, I would sit outside our room and have my quiet time. I would read and study my Bible and write in my journal.  Here is what I wrote:

June 30, 2001 (Day 1 for counselors)

This is going to be amazing! The kids arrive tomorrow and I can’t wait to meet my new friend, Jessica. It sounds like she’s very sick and that there is a possibility that she may not be able to come. Lord, I pray deeply for her right now. If it is in her best interest to be here tomorrow, bring it on. If not, Lord, help me to daily lift her up to you. I pray for all of these amazing children. We can never completely understand what they go through.  Please help me to show the right degree of compassion. I pray for all of the counselors, also. Please help their focus to be on the kids and nothing else. Help me to be strong. Most of all Lord- Let my life be a witness to you!  These kids need you more than anything. I love you, Lord.
(*4:13)(*This refers to my favorite verse: Philippians 4:13, ” I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” )
July 1, 2001
Day 2- Wow! What a day! I never imagined it would be this hard! Jessica is probably the sickest of all the kids at camp. Her mother told me that the doctors have given her 3 months to live. Her radiation didn’t work and the doctors decided that another try would kill her. So they are now just trying to keep her comfortable until…………………………..
I have to figure out the best ways to bathe, take her to the bathroom, dress, and maneuver the wheelchair. I feel bad because I’m not very good at these things yet. Lord, I definitely need more strength than I anticipated. I’m so pleased to know that her parents are Christians.  I thank you for their trust and pray that I can live up to it. I’m scared. (*4:13)
(Today  we had a camp-wide scavenger hunt and Jessica decided that she didn’t want to use the golf cart we had been issued this time. So, I pushed her to 13 different locations, each on different sides of the camp ground. Wow, was I tired!)
*  She said to me after she was in the bed tonight that she forgot something. That she needed a good-night hug. What a doll!

July 2, 2001 Day 3
James 1:4b, “For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

Another “blow my mind amazing” day at camp. Jessica is such a precious girl. My heart breaks as I watch her sleep because her frail body looks like a corpse. I am completely confident that I am the receiver of all the joy in this situation. Today we painted ceramic teddy bears, made 3 pillows, swam(Which I couldn’t believe!) made tons of sweets in the bakery and got our faces painted for the skit we were in tonight. tomorrow she wants to go horseback riding. What a girl!

July 3, 2001 Day 4

I wish everyone could have seen Jessica dance. I was so proud. it was scary letting her go off with people who don’t know how she hurts. She was just on the dance floor in front of me, but still. I’ve become very protective of her. I love this girl so much. I’ve been getting choked up today. I promised her mother before camp that she would never see me cry. that if I needed to, I would get it out in the shower. I’m trying hard to keep my promise. when I took her to the bakery-I came really close to loosing it. In the wee hours this morning, we went to the bathroom and she was apologizing to me for having to get up during the night so much with her. I told her it was natural and no big deal. She said, “I can tell you don’t mind.”  She cracks me up!    Today we went to the wildlife show(she held a turtle, iguana, and some other animals), made 2 crafts, finished  2 projects in ceramics, went to the “cowgirls and Indians Luncheon,” rode a horse (whose name was “Soldier” which I thought was appropriate) and lost a tooth in a caramel. the Tooth Fairy will be visiting tonight thanks to her buddy “Shortcut” and the precious tooth fairy pillow she made for her. It is just inconceivable to me that this child is dying, no matter how skinny and tired she is. 3 months, I would not have the spirit she has. I just love her. what else can I say? “She was watching the movie “El Dorado” tonight and told me that she didn’t like it because they talked about gods and not the TRUE GOD. WOW!! Please protect this precious girl, Lord.

July 4, 2001, Day 5

I’ve never seen a more incredible smile. One of the guys (Khan) took Jessica for a ride in the golf cart after the Fourth of July Parade and let her drive. She was grinning so big! He promised to take her again tomorrow. She can’t stop talking about it and even got cocky enough to say that she was so good she could get her driver’s license.  Tomorrow is also
“The Prom”.  We had her fitted for her dress earlier in the week and it was a perfect fit- no need for any alterations. She is so excited that she gets to take it home at the end of the week. the dress is very pretty. She picked an off the shoulder green dress with ruffles. the ‘Glitz and glamour team” added a pearl trim and gave her a pearl necklace to wear. Today was the “Great Barrier Reef Beach Blast” where they brought in tons of sand and made a beach for the kids. We had a sand castle building contest while watching the Sea World Ski Team perform for us on the lake.

July 5, 2001 Day 6

I lost it tonight. She stood up and danced with Khan. She put her arms around his neck and danced. I couldn’t hold back the tears because at that moment she was a perfectly normal child. That moment will always stand out in my mind as the most profound example of what Camp Happy Days is all about. It was a good day. I have to admit, I started the day off a little frustrated.  She had to go to the bathroom 4 times last night,  all after 2am. I am so tired. Today, we built a picture frame with “Mr. Sawdust”, painted our derby car, and went for a drive with Khan for almost an hour. He took her all through the woods and showed her the ropes course (and explained how each task was performed), campsites, and plant life.  Later, he and “Velcro” cooked up a scheme to give her such a great surprise. “Velcro” took her picture this morning and that of someone’s driver’s license. he scanned both and made her a driver’s license. When we were driving today, Khan had a Sheriff’s deputy chase her down in his police car and charge her with not having a DL. It was all build up to later. Then, at the Prom, they called her up in front of the entire camp and asked her 2 questions(that we’d been secretively feeding her all day) She got them both right and they gave her the license. She was smiling unbelievably, Lord, you are so amazing. this week is almost over and I’m making it. the thing I pray the most is that none of the praise I have been receiving for my work with Jessica will result in anyone but you getting the credit. This week has been all you. Tonight, for the first time, Jessica talked about coming back next year. She has said all week that she wouldn’t be back next year. Maybe she really is gaining some hope. Lord, please work a miracle in Jessica’s little brain. Only you can do such a miracle. Please Lord, I believe with all my heart that if it is in your plan for her life- you can heal her. Please Lord- Please! July 6, 2001-Day 7

We didn’t do a whole lot today, A couple of art projects, some cupcake decorating, mining for gold on a special truck that showed up and finished up our picture frame.  “Doodles” made Jessica the most amazing frame with her name on it and the red, yellow, and blue balloons of Happy Days. It was such a sweet thing for her to do. Also we watched a skydiving team jump onto the main field, got soaked at the camp-wide water gun fight and attended the Talent Show this evening. We didn’t get to see much because Jessica was very tired but what we saw was cute. Kristina’s room did a skit and she was really funny. What a little actress! Lord, I just thank you for orchestrating my presence here. This has been more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Unbelievable. I’m going to write notes to both Jessica and her parents tonight and put them in her suitcase. I want them both to know how much I think and care about them. They are heroes here, too. It may sound crazy but I said last night that she was starting to believe that next year was possible and now-I do too.

July 7, 2001- Day 8(for counselors)

Thank you Lord for so richly blessing my life. I am constantly amazed at the wealth of love and grace I receive at the cost of merely giving my soul to my Creator and the one who loves it. I thank you for this week and pray that I never forget  a second of it. I pray that I will grow closer to you because of this experience and be able to remain close to Jessica and her family. Please protect all of them and if it is in your will for Jessica to leave us and join you-please prepare us all. You are an awesome God and I love you.

I can’t believe it has been 2 months since camp and 1 month since I lost my special friend. I will never forget her. Upon returning home from camp, I really felt God pressing on my heart to take a critical look at my life. I now wanted to do something that would help people on a daily basis and make a contribution and impact on the future. So using my Physical Education degree, I took a job at a private, Christian school teaching PE and coaching. It may not sound like much but with my passion for fitness and yearning to spread The Word, I feel it is the best thing that I can do. My experience with Jessica and camp Happy Days inspired me to do this. I have also vowed to return to camp Happy Days every year in her honor. I miss my little friend terribly but I am so glad that she is in Heaven because she is no longer in pain. I hope that everyone who reads this will allow themselves to learn from Jessica’s strength, compassion, bravery, and faith.
Think about what you can do to change the lives of others and that of your own for the better. And most importantly, for the glory of God. Don’t take any moments for granted. You are not promised more of them. If everyone who hears Jessica’s story does this-we can start a chain reaction and keep her memory alive.

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