There’s no doubt that summer is over here. The geese are massing for their annual trip South (I envy them their early departure) and we’ve had frost on the windshield already. No frost on the pumpkins yet. No pumpkins. Didn’t plant any. If we had the deer probably would have eaten them along with the sunflowers. Other than that and a few other pests it was a pretty good summer. But let’s start at the beginning.
Last Sunday the pastor was asking the congregation for examples of joy. Some of the responses were single words and he tried to get some elaboration of what the person was referring too. He had enough examples and was turning back to get in gear for the sermon when I put up my hand so he missed it. I don’t particularly regret not getting to say “The joy of being forgiven for confessed sin. And, no! I don’t want to go into details.”
The summer started that way for me. My Christian walk has not been one of constantly onward and upward, but one of two steps forward and one, two or three back. It has been kind of iterative as well; even those things I thought I had mastered have been opportunities for relearning and sometimes re-re-relearning. But God has been gracious with this prodigal and the summer began in such a period of grace.
June 20th we pulled up stabilizers and moved our home on wheels back up to Bethel Gospel Camp for the July camps. It didn’t take long to get settled and the Internet dish working and it wasn’t long before others started showing up for the camping season. One couple of note were Don and Sarah Gossen. They had embodied the admonishment in Luke 12:33 & 34 to:
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.(New Living Translation from http://www.biblegateway.com/)
They had recently sold their house and all their stuff and he was working fulltime at the camp for the summer and she was working part-time at the camp while winding down at work. In September they head to Belize to work with some missionaries there. He worked ceaselessly hauling away the grey water and providing some momentum to my putterings in maintenance. Together we got a lot done in July and he carried on and got a lot more done after our scheduled departure from camp on August 3rd.
A lot of maintenance activity is the fighting of moths and rust. That is figuratively speaking, of course. The predominant insect at camp is the mosquito and the predominant decay is wood rot. Some of the things that were accomplished in July beyond the normal holding the line were: a new zip line launch tower, so the kids were only scared while on the line and not while getting onto the line; addition of screen doors - if you can’t stand the heat add some cross ventilation; a BBQ fabbed out of scrap metal lying around; the dorm entryways taped, mudded, textured and painted – completing the job started by Dale and me last year; and a few other projects as well. Two of those projects are worth mentioning. The first was mostly Don’s. I was around while it was started, but spent some time at the doctor’s and nursing a chest infection while Don carried on alone doing a two man job all by himself. The job was re-roofing four of the old dorms with new steel roofing. He also added some bracing so these ancient dorms may still serve for several more years.
When we were in Alvin, Texas, working as SOWERS at Victory camp in November, we went down to Hitchcock, Texas to visit a couple of other SOWER projects. One was a CEF camp and on the tour of it we were shown a table game called carpet ball and told how popular it was. This got added to the project list for Bethel. Meanwhile pastor Mike Ginther spoke early this summer at Big River Bible Camp and saw a table game called torpedo ball which was very popular there. He brought most of the materials needed. In short order Mike, Don and I had put together a game that no matter what you call it is a real crowd gatherer. Basically it is like shuffleboard with pool balls. You can learn more about it by googling “carpet ball”. Later, Don and I built a structure over it and after we left Don added the roofing. I don’t know who added the light that is in the picture – just want you to know it was not me. I have an electrical license to worry about keeping. :0)
Juanita worked in the office and unofficially provided some mentorship to some of the young female counselors. It is often the unofficial duties that have the greatest eternal value.
August 3rd was our last day at Bethel Gospel Camp. We said our goodbyes and prayed with some special friends we had met over the past three camping seasons.
Just as we started rolling, Carol, the camp cook, came out and handed us a traveling meal. It sure was appreciated several hours later as we got our rig set back up on the homestead.
A bunch of the campers and counselors waved as our rig pulled through the parking lot. One or two of the crowd were probably glad we were leaving. This was our third summer at Bethel. Before we started parking our rig there, there were no people around on the weekends and there are always some in any group who will take advantage of any situation. The camp board policies are quite clear about getting prior approval before using camp property and equipment outside of camp days. Our being there on the weekends was probably a stumbling block to those who did not or chose not to understand the policies or the legal and insurance realities that drove them. Reality is often a stumbling block for our fantasies, isn’t it?
Juanita had wanted to be close to town for the birth of Debbie’s third child which was due in August so we had committed only to working at camp until Friday, August 3rd. As our time at Bethel wound down I realized that it doesn’t take two grandparents to wait for a grandchild and sent out some e-mails about short term employment. The best of the positive responses ended up with me agreeing to start work at Redwater, Alberta on Monday, August 6th. This made for a busy weekend making sure Juanita had what she needed to stay and making sure that I had everything needed to go. It was also a long weekend where Nick and Becky had come to visit and we had planned on pulling a bunch of stuff out of the sea can to get at some furniture so they got sucked to the vortex.
Friday: get rig ready to roll; leave Bethel midday; get set-up back home - park, position and level trailer, mount and aim satellite Internet dish, get out the generator and a compressor fill up a flat tire, jump start and do everything else to get another car on the road (insurance, battery, oil change, wash well enough to see out the windows - it had been parked for two years]).
Saturday: sort out my tools and find trade certificates and photocopy and fax to new employer; empty half the sea can; deliver furniture; pick-up dining room table top stored at repair shop for two years (sorry Dwight)
Sunday: church in morning; lunch with family at only restaurant in town open during long weekend (yecch) and get to Edmonton in time to get laptop at bus depot (main bus depot freight office closed – beg ticket agent for laptop, it’s not there, drive to other bus depot before it closes and laptop is there) and write 3 hour safety test to get CSTC (Alberta Construction Safety Test Certificate). Fall into bed at 1 A.m. and get up in time to follow confusing map to workplace in Redwater by 7Am Monday.
The work was ten hours a day for twelve days straight. The drive to and from Nick and Becky’s was an hour each way unless I stopped to buy replacement tools for the ones I broke. It was a bit strange being back working with tools after eighteen years of supervision and management and two years of retirement, but enjoyable. It is kinda nice to just show up and be told what valve you are working on next and have somebody else responsible for finding spare parts and not have any people issues. The work was broken up by scheduled breaks so the days didn’t seem that long. I quickly fell into a monk-like routine. Juanita didn’t find it quite so easy as she didn’t have work and commuting to fill her days, but she got a lot done around the trailer and learned how some of the things worked that I had always taken care of.
I was back home late on August 17th in time for Juanita’s birthday the following week. On August 23rd Debbie and Ernie were blessed with a son, Kohen Asher, to join their two daughters Sonja and Sasha. A healthy 8 lb. 3 oz. They called at five AM and Juanita went into to stay with the kids and by 7:47 Debbie had given birth.
We are starting to think about heading South in mid October and have put out feelers about work. The most likely scenario is we will work at a former SOWER project (the project got dropped through a clerical error) in November while we check out some possible work in Mexico for the balance of the winter. SOWERS has gotten complex about applying for the January to March assignments so we will probably do MDS work in March or just come straight north from Mexico if we end up working there.
Next summer? We have applied to do some employment type work in Regina in April and then we come back to MeadowLake for the summer. If no volunteer opportunities present themselves this will probably be the summer to start building a workshop/great room to handle those situation where there is too little trailer for family gathering.