After Mom’s memorial service we headed back to Dallas. School was starting for our three children, there were two horses, pigeons and chickens to take care of, the girls were into their music lessons, Dirk was practicing with his soccer team, I was teaching a seminar for a Sunday school convention, Chris Phillips, a member of our Bakerville CT church was coming for five days, and two days after he left, the Depuhls were arriving from Christ Camp in Germany for four days on their way to the Christian Camping International Convention in Glorietta, New Mexico – of which I was Chairman.
Yes, it was a crazy three weeks, but the seemingly necessary pace of life kept us focused on current and future events. There was very little time to think about what had happened to us in the previous month. Chris’s visit was therapeutic. He had been a college freshman when we left Connecticut, I was the minister for his wedding, and now he was in the pastorate. The Depuhl’s visit was brain stretching. They had asked Sally Jo and me to come to Germany two years before to help them turn the German farm that he had inherited into a Christian camp. This had been an incredible experience – the old farm buildings were stone, the roof was tile, and they enclosed a large cobble stone court yard. Now they wanted guidance on programming, their brochure, etc.
As for the camping convention – I had delegated everything possible to proven people and they had carried out their assignments incredibly well. Glorietta is the Presbyterian Church’s camp and conference facility. Their staff knew their business, their facility was beautiful and functional, and the hundreds of participants could stay in 1st class rooms, dorms, bring their own trailer or tent, whatever their budget or preference, and we could all eat together in their large cafeteria.
Apart from checking with key people, I was free to be with Sally Jo. During the five days of the convention we were able to spend time with camping friends from around the country, really the world, and meet with people who were interested in our coming to work for them.
It was a wonderful week. I remember sitting in the front row of the auditorium when the photo summary of the convention was completed – and as everyone stood and clapped, I sat and hung my head in tears, tears of thankfulness: the convention had gone well! I had been God’s provision to direct this first International Christian Camping Convention. And the convention was God’s provision to me – I had to see the convention through to a successful conclusion, and did. Meanwhile, Sally Jo, who had watched from the back, was also in tears – tears of pain, confusion and hurt. Camping friends hugged and comforted her.
The drive home was a long one. I remember sitting with Sally Jo in a motel in Wichita Falls, Kansas, at the end of a long day’s drive. We looked at each other – both exhausted – and realized that we had decided to decline every potential job opportunity. Now what? No choice. Get up the next morning and finish the drive to Dallas. It was a long, quiet ride. My mind would go to verses I lived by, that I believe:
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will direct your path.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” — Romans 8:28
- “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack any good thing.” — Psalm 23:1
- “Be still, and know I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” — Psalm 46:10
Great verses, but…
We had gone to the convention fully expecting to leave with God’s quiet peace in our hearts, the confirmation of what we should do next. Nothing. “God, where is your guidance, where is your provision?”
We got up early the next morning, drove through horrendous rain (description from Sally Jo’s diary) and arrived home for lunch. It was Saturday, October 31, and as we ate together, we all had stories to tell. But when our children asked about a job, laughter turned to silence. It is tough to tell your children – “sorry, but we still do not know what we should do next.”
At the end of the day we sat down and opened the accumulated mail. In the mail – Deerfoot Lodge, in Upstate New York, was seeking a new Director. I met their qualification requirements. Then my heart sank. The deadline for applying was past.