The old church van bumped its way down highway 27, just south of Sebring, Florida. I drove the “nice van” and my Jeff, well, being the quintessential gentleman drove the old one. Our passengers; a group of teens who called themselves ‘The Remnant’. They laughed and chatted and sprayed way too much cucumber melon cologne. Our destination: a camp outside of Miami on the everglades side. You see, Florida had been hit by a hurricane. Andrew, to be specific. So with our group of believers, we were going to hold a Vacation Bible School for a poor church that had lost so much.
If you know anything about Florida, especially in the summer, you know it’s not just hot, its pea soup muggy. Bugs abound, so don’t even think of breathing with your mouth open. Would it cool off in the evening? Of course, like hot soup is cooler than boiling soup. … We knew we were up for an adventure , but what we didn’t expect what we would find.
We eventually made it to our destination We drove down a long sand drive and pulled into a make-shift camp. There was a dining hall, a kitchen, and our cabins, all of which consisted of plywood for walls, a plywood ceiling. Our bunk beds made with uneven two-by-fours, so when the person on the top bunk moved the whole bed would rock. We spent four days in the Summer heat sweating with children who had been traumatized by the storm. Our youth group, true to form gave from their hearts and by the third afternoon, the subjects of our mission really seemed to be having a great time.
It had been a long day for Jeff and me. Sleeping with teens in a normal situation is fun with all the laughing and cutting up, but this place seemed to keep us from sleeping at all. Driving all day, working with kids at the church, home to supervise dinner and clean-up. We had divided chores among the youth group. This nights dinner had been spaghetti, which sounded good in theory, except that the guy cooking didn’t know the water had to boil before he put the pasta in. The spaghetti all melted into one glutenous lump which we sliced and served with sauce. (Kinda chewey!)
So after all of this, Jeff and I felt the need for some “alone time” . We escaped to the empty mess tent. The sun, just making its descent, made everything fade to that purple summer haze. Frogs croaked, and mosquitoes swarmed against the netting. The quiet felt so good. Then the door creaked. And three smiling faces peaked in. “What cha doing? Can we come in?” Laura, her sister, Kelly and Marissia grinned.
Our hearts melted. “Of course.” Then one by one, they all joined us. So much for alone time…. Jeff and I looked at each other and smiled. This was far better. We spent the next few hours with these precious teenagers laughing like we usually did.
Sometimes a gift from God is unexpected. Sometimes the connections of the heart are the purest form of the Love of God.
Look for His blessing. It might be right in front of you.
Grace and Peace