This spring I received a text asking me to help out in kindergarten at Oklahoma Campmeeting. I was surprised; I hadn’t seen my friend Joyce in years. What would make her think of me? I hesitated; I hadn’t even planned on going to campmeeting. We were using Wil’s vacation time to go see family. The boys were busy with work and school.
There had been a number of large expenses this year, mostly involving our vehicles. Someone pulled out in front of my husband causing a wreck. Her insurance totaled our car, which meant purchasing another car. The insurance company didn’t think much of our Jetta TDI- certainly not giving us enough to replace it. We had to spend more money out of pocket to buy something comparable- a Passat TDI. It was quite a bit older than our Jetta. Also it didn’t quite get 50 mpg like the Jetta did, but 40-45 isn’t bad. We kept the Jetta and were in the process of rebuilding. That was taking up time and money. It didn’t seem wise to add another extra expense.
I didn’t really want to drive anywhere in my van. It only got 15 mpg, and needed some work. There were so many reasons not to go! But I told her that I would ask my husband and pray about it.
When I asked Wil, he didn’t hesitate. He just said, “She wouldn’t have asked you for help if she didn’t need it.” We decided that even though the whole family could not go, Melissa, our teenage daughter, and I should go and help. We asked one of Melissa’s friends to come along as well. Joyce was excited, instead of one helper, she was getting three. We were looking forward to it too.
We had known there was a possibility that Melissa’s friend might not be able to go. But Missy was optimistic; right up until the time we found out her friend couldn’t go. I tried hard to think of someone else. I earnestly, repeatedly prayed, “Father, You know it will be so much nicer for Melissa to have a friend. You asked us to go, You need to provide!” By Thursday we still hadn’t found anyone, and we were leaving on Friday. We continued to pray for our Heavenly Father to provide. I thought of a friend several years younger than Missy that really liked children. I called her mom Thursday afternoon. She wasn’t able to go, but her older sister, Michelle was no longer busy. On Wednesday, both Michelle and her mother were strongly impressed that she didn’t need to be taking a college class during the summer, so she dropped the class was signed up for.
Yes, it was going to be an extra expense, but I gave that to the Lord too. “Father, You asked us to go. I’m trusting in You to provide.” I received a phone call. A friend offered me three campmeeting sites she had paid for but couldn’t use. I only needed one. I received another phone call. A different friend wanted to ride with me and split gas expenses.
We had new shocks put on the van. But it had weird electrical issues going on that we hadn’t been able to solve. Either it didn’t have a left turn signal when it was getting dark outside, OR the running lights would stay on even when you turned the van off, draining the battery. The turn signal didn’t bother me. I really only wanted to drive during the day anyway. I could get around the problem with the running lights by disconnecting the battery when I parked. Our son showed me how so I wouldn’t have to ask for help.
I had planned to stop on the way there to purchase food, but we were running late. Again, I asked my Father to provide. We needed to get set up and be there in time for the Friday evening meeting. The only way we could do that was to skip the trip to the grocery store. We could just eat at the cafeteria until Sunday when we could go and purchase food. When I arrived Joyce handed me two meal tickets for the whole 10 days. The conference had given the girls meal tickets as teen leaders. Since only lunch is served on Sabbath, Joyce fed us breakfast and supper. I bought a meal ticket for myself and the food situation was taken care of.
When the girls chose to go, they did not know whether or not they would be able to participate in any activities with the kids their age. We assumed that if they were allowed to, they would have to choose one class to go with- either earliteens or youth. Either way there were some activities that they would miss out on entirely. But again our Father had that taken care of. They were given wrist bands that allowed them to attend any activity with any class! We had chosen to go thinking they might not get any!
The whole campmeeting the blessings never stopped. When it rained, the campsite God chose for us did not flood. The campsite that I would have chosen flooded. The girls noticed. Michelle told her Mom that every day there was a new blessing!
We went to every kindergarten class, helping with crafts, stories, and songs. God led in the selection of camp staff assigned to help out as well. Our talents were varied; where one of us lacked, another made up the difference.
The girls each worked with a different group of children, and loved it! Several times the girls chose to come in during the day and help prepare the crafts for the next meeting. I became Joyce’s assistant. The challenges weren’t new to me. I have been a leader in Kindergarten Sabbath School and worked with children’s ministries before. I held the 3 year olds that were sad, wanting their parents. I sat between the rambunctious 4 year olds. I walked with the ones that had too much energy, doing whatever I could to help her program run more smoothly.
On Wednesday, my friend and I wanted to go to town to pick up some things. I reconnected the battery and started off. The road to get into the summer camp is long, with lots of curves and hills. I was on my way out, coming down the hill, when my van died. I had no power steering, and worse no brakes. In my panic, I cried, “LORD!” I heard in my head, “You have an emergency brake.” I immediately used it and came to a stop at the bottom of the hill.
I assumed that I hadn’t tightened the battery tight enough, so I got out and tightened it. The van still wouldn’t start. I did the only other thing I know how to do. I checked the oil. Could I have destroyed the engine? “Please Father, no, don’t let that be! I came because You asked me to, don’t let that be!” There was plenty of oil. I talked with God. I remembered the year they had to pull me out of the ditch when I backed up too far. I remembered the year that a different van we had died there on the campground. A member of our church put it on a trailer and towed it the four hour drive home. “Father, don’t let me be ashamed!” I said over and over again. “You asked me to come, don’t let me be ashamed!”
Some ladies drove by, and my friend asked them to send camp staff to help. “Father- don’t let me be ashamed!” Immediately after the women left, we saw a UPS truck coming into camp. My friend said, “They won’t stop.” But he did. He asked me what was wrong and I told him. He said, “Let me see…” He put my van in park and it started right away. He smiled and told me that he didn’t know about anything under the hood, but that much he knew. I thanked him and praised God that I didn’t need to get help from the staff again. I turned around and went back to camp. I was still kindof shook up and we didn’t really ‘need’ to go to town…
The next day my friend asked me if I had driven the van yet. She didn’t say it, but I’m sure she didn’t want to ride home in it if there was the chance of that happening again. Neither did I. I called a mechanic friend of ours and asked if I was correct that the battery coming loose could cause me to lose both the power steering and the brakes. After getting professional confirmation, and making sure the battery connection was much tighter, I was willing to drive down those hills again.
Friday, I decided to go to town- this time by myself. If I skipped the afternoon meetings, I would have plenty of time to do some shopping and get back in time for supper. I was halfway to town on a bumpy dirt road when it seemed like I was dragging something. Maybe a flat? There was no one out here. “Lord! You asked me to come! My husband’s not here to take care of me. My sons aren’t here to take care of me. Father, I need You to take care of me.” No, it wasn’t a flat. One of the brand new shocks was dragging. Ok. Now what? If any of you lack wisdom… “Now what Lord? You promised me wisdom.” The only thing I could think was to wedge the shock up between the spare tire under my van and the frame and drive slowly. So I did that.
As soon as I got into town I stopped to check it again. A man came over and told me where to go to replace the bolt that I had lost on that bumpy road. The lady at the auto parts store sold me the part and directed me to a tire shop to get it put on. But the response at the tire place was, “We can get you an appointment for next week.” I couldn’t wait till next week and I certainly couldn’t drive four hours home like this! “Father!” I asked them where I could go and they gave me directions to a different tire shop. I started following the directions but right around the corner was a place that did oil changes. They didn’t seem busy at all. There were four men just standing around. Maybe? I stopped. They told me that their tire shop around the corner did this kind of work. I let them know that I had just been there and I couldn’t wait until next week to get the shock put back on.
One of the men went under the van and tightened the other shock. The bolt I had purchased wasn’t the right part. My heart sank. The men looked at each other. One of them said that he knew right where the bolts were at the other store, and drove off. In a few minutes he returned with the right bolt. It didn’t take very long for them to have the bolt put back on. When I asked how much I owed them, one of the men asked, “Does $10 seem fair?” I was so grateful! I remembered as I was driving away that I had asked the Lord not to let me be ashamed. He is so sweet to me! I really would have been embarrassed. And If the shock had fallen off at the camp, I would have needed to get someone to go and get another bolt; they could have come back with the wrong bolt just like I had done. It could have been a long drawn out process with many trips to town. Or worse, it could have happened on the way home… My heart was full of praise to my Father who was right with me taking care of me! It amazes me is that I still had time left to get my shopping done and be back for supper! By the time we left campmeeting every one of us knew that God had orchestrated everything. He was in control; He would provide.
I came home to find out that Wil had worked overtime while we were gone. The overtime was more than enough for the small expenses we had paid to go. What I had thought was a sacrifice wasn’t a sacrifice at all. Isn’t that the way our Father works?
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19