The anticipation and excitement of an upcoming Camp-meeting holds different meanings to different people. People may have a specific need they plan to take to the Lord that week. Some are looking for a closer walk with the Lord. Others may just be looking for a week spent with the Lord. Still others, go simply for the fellowship with other believers. Regardless of their reasons for going, campers leave Camp-meeting with memories that stay with them a lifetime.
Getting the camper ready is a sentimental thing for me. Once we start opening the camper, the memories of past Camp-meetings and times in the the camper just start coming back to me. Memories start to flow with every step of planning and preparation for an upcoming Camp-meeting. The first look inside brings a warm feeling. Then each glance at the items inside evoke more memories. The fan is a reminder of how hot it is without air conditioning, how the sides of the tabernacle are garage doors that are rolled up to let the air in. Fans are positioned outside the tabernacle along both sides to help keep the people in the tabernacle cool. Thinking about the garage doors brings reminders of the trees and shades that surround the tabernacle. Thoughts go back to times sitting in front of the fans trying not to sweat until the next service. Then a reminder of the time the power kept going out due to the drain on the system. Those with enclosed campers suddenly found themselves in hot metal boxes while the air conditioning stopped. Those with pop-up campers were suddenly excited that even though their fans stopped with the electricity, air could still blow through the screens of the windows. Ours is a pop-up camper that does not have air conditioning.
Pulling out the cooler is a reminder of the trips into town for ice and water. Even the cool splash of water from the cooler can still be felt. Next, pulling out the portable dog crates bring memories of the dogs staying in the camper. Our shepherd mix, who has powerful jaws and can chew through anything is happy to stay in her polyester and nylon crate while the family attends services. Pulling out the little crate is a reminder of the time the little peke-pom, who has separation anxiety made himself sick in the crate. The poor dog had to be bathed and the only soap available to scrub the crate was dog shampoo. This is not a job one wants to do on a hot day, in between church services. After that, the peke-pom was given the run of the camper during services. He likes to sit on the bed and watch until the family returned to the camper.
Opening the camper flaps requires climbing into the bunks. Doing so is a reminder of how the family chose their bunks. Mom and Dad naturally got the queen sized bunk. Our daughter wanted the dog to sleep with her, so she insisted on the full sized bunk. Our son was afraid of the dark, afraid of strange places, and especially afraid to be in the pop out, so he chose the bunk nestled inside the camper. He did not care that his bunk doubled as the table. Of course since meals are provided, there is no need for the table, so the bunk could remain set up for the entire week. Then comes reminders of the time our son brought his thirteen inch television and video games in the already overcrowded camper, but never got to use them. Climbing into the parents bunk reminds of the time one of the supports popped out of place while everyone was sleeping. We were afraid to move the rest of the night. Looking over at our daughter’s bunk comes the reminder of the curtains being pulled and her dog peeking out the curtain to greet us as we got up early to shower before going to the dining hall for breakfast while our teens insisted on sleeping till service.
Thinking of the kids skipping breakfast bring reminds of the countless toaster tarts that had to be brought for the kids to eat because they wanted to sleep in, or did not like the lunch or dinners that were provided. Then there was the time my husband and I tried to pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave, but were not as up on technology and had to call our son on the cell phone while he was hanging out with the other teens at camp for step by step instructions.
Finally thoughts of the services come. The favorite preacher’s face comes to mind. Some of his sayings and favorite scriptures, the fact that he carried a towel to mop the sweat from his body as he preached in the summer heat are just some of the familiar things that always come to mind. There is also the preacher who was a missionary in the Philippines for years and learned to preach without his Bible. Even today he quotes one scripture after another in his message without the aid of his Bible. Memories come of the time spent in the altar, with faces buried in prayer even though the heat was smothering. There was the time we went to Camp-meeting with grief in our hearts after losing my brother-in law to a drug overdose, and hearing of my sister’s cancer diagnosis that very next day. Then, going up to the altar, asking for special prayer for my sister, not knowing if she would live or die. Thoughts go to the dear evangelist who truly came into our grieving and prayed with all his heart for comfort and for the healing of my sister with cancer. Though old enough to be my father, he is now a dear friend. The move of the Holy Ghost can still be felt with that memory. Praise God, five years later, my sister is still cancer free. Her husband, a nonbeliever, claims it was medical knowledge and new technologies that saved his wife. I know better. I know there is power in prayer. It was no coincidence that the tumor was fully encapsulated when they did the surgery, and they did not have to take her arm. I also remember the Holy Ghost I felt when we prayed for her. These memories prompted the memories of our children as they first seemed to feel the need to pray in the altars and the amazement we felt when our five year old granddaughter seemed to feel the same things we felt. She loves to pray for others and to be prayed for. I know its real to her. I am reminded of the times I prayed with visitors seeking deliverance from drug addiction and other bondages. I remembered the time the men prayed for a man with arthritis who walked with a cane. We did not see the change there in that service, but the next year he no longer walked with a cane. I remember the prayer for the person struggling with controlling his temper. I remember the lady who counseled me about praying for certain deliverances for people. She died the following winter, just fell over in church, and was gone. This was an abrupt reminder that some may be missing from the next Camp-meeting. There is no promise of tomorrow. With all the cherished memories, comes the reminder that we all need the Lord.
We have met so many wonderful people over the years, made so many friends at these Camp-meetings. I can remember different ones - things we've prayed for, things they have gone through and been delivered from. We enjoyed so much good fellowship and look forward to seeing everyone again. Last year we all met the dining hall for a Christmas dinner and the only heat was the stove in the kitchen. We were so cold and by the time we warmed up it was time to go out in the cold again. We were fascinated at how different the river at the bottom of the ridge sounded without the leaves on the trees. The campgrounds looked naked without all the campers. My daughter brought a friend, and it was good to hear the kids telling the friend one memory after another about Camp-meetings. It has been good and the memories keep growing. I thank God we have been blessed to discover Camp-meetings, but most of all that we have been blessed to live for the Lord. For all that we do, all that we experience, the Lord Jesus Christ cares for us. John 10:27 and 28 tell us “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”