Story: Tori P. - as told to Marianne Thompson.
When Tori graduated from graduate school, she thought that finding a job wouldn’t be that difficult, but it became more apparent that it would be harder than what she expected. After much prayer and fasting, Tori was approached about a position at an alternative school. Something in Tori knew that this was the job she was supposed to take. So without a second thought, she accepted the position. While in this position, Tori began to pray for God to connect her to long-lasting, life-changing relationships. Not long after this prayer, she got to know a wonderful co-worker. As she began to develop the relationship with her, she found out that her son, John Wondergem, fosters children and was preparing for the first ever Royal Family Kids' Camp in Louisiana in 2014.
Tori had never heard of RFK before but felt like it would be something she would enjoy getting involved in and being a part of. Within a week of learning about RFK, Tori had 3 other people mention to her about the camp and how they thought she would be excellent helping at the camp in a counselor position. Tori decided that God must want her involved with RFK Camp in some way. Even though she knew no one associated with the camp, she signed up to be a counselor.
As camp continued that week in June 2014, Tori knew that she had found exactly what she was supposed to do for the rest of her life - work with children that are broken and overlooked by society. And the relationships that came out of camp that week were the long-lasting relationships that Tori had been praying for. She just knew that she was supposed to be a part of Royal Family Kids in any way she could.
Later that year, Tori found out that Julie, John’s wife, was pregnant. She could not be more thrilled for the Wondergem’s. However, not long after the great news, Tori began to have thoughts that she knew could only come from God. Her thoughts: that Julie would have the baby during the week of Royal Family Kids' Camp in 2015. It was a thought that Tori could not shake; she just knew that the Lord was telling her to be prepared for the Wondergem’s not to be at camp in 2015. Tori was not completely sure why the Lord would be preparing her for the Wondergem’s to not be at camp, so she began to pray and ask the Lord for His purpose.
Julie went to the doctor, and he confirmed what the Lord had been placing in Tori’s spirit. The Wondergem’s would have the baby the week of RFK camp 2015. Tori just laughed when Julie told her what the doctor said, because she already knew what was going to happen. The Wondergem’s weren't happy that they would be missing camp, but they knew Tori and the other staff involved would handle everything with excellence. Tori probably should have been stressed out and nervous, but she had peace that could not be explained. She knew it was because God, being the good Daddy that He is, specifically prepared the Wondergem’s and Tori for this adventure. God knew Tori’s name, and He knew that she would be the perfect person to assist the staff and counselors - just as she had done the year before to make sure the children that most have forgotten would have a week that they would never forget.
While at RFK in 2015, Tori’s understanding of the Father’s love and who He is grew to another level. Although Tori was not an orphan, she could see the love of the Father settle on all the children there throughout the week in different situations.
One of the many amazing stories that came out of camp in 2015 was the story of a little boy that came to camp with a lot of behavioral issues. Tori and the staff knew that camp was where he needed to be, because at camp, each child is prayerfully paired with a counselor. The boy immediately bonded with his hand-picked counselor. The trust and friendship developed between them quickly and deeply. "The best way to describe their relationship," Tori explained, "was like watching how Jesus loves us so deeply and with such care."
Because most of these children have never had a birthday party, much less a birthday present given to them, the camp gave all of the campers a huge combined-birthday party, as well as personalized birthday presents. This year, each boy received a basketball with their name on it. As this little boy’s counselor handed him his personalized basketball, the boy looked up at the counselor with the biggest grin and asked, “Is this my name?!” Tori and the counselor told him that it was and that the ball was all his. While the other kids started playing with their basketballs, all this little boy could do was sit with a big grin on his face, staring at his name on that basketball. Watching this little boy, reminded Tori that we are all children of God, no matter how left-behind we may feel. Tori's greatest take-away from Royal Family Kids' Camp 2015 is this, she explains: "God knows all of our names, and we are written on the palm of His hand, so honestly, He could never forget us."