Friday, July 22, 2016

Camping Might Just Save Your Soul

This post is inspired by a prompt from Reflections of a Mother's Heart

The prompt was "Did you ever go camping with your family? Where? Record one exceptional camping experience."  

Our family never went camping. Having a farm to run kept us pretty close to home. On top of which, if we were going to take a vacation, why would we want to go out in nature and have all that work to do. That would be no vacation.

But there was one thing we did every summer. Family Camp Meeting! This was the time we looked forward to each and every summer. 

Sebring Holiness Camp was just down the road from us. Close enough that we could all go during the day and the guys came home to milk the cows in the mornings and evenings. 

*Photo credit ... wish I had my own but these pictures all came from  Sebring Camp Ground Facebook

Sebring Bookstore
The last few years we attended, my
 mother also ran the little bookstore at the camp. It was a small building the size of a garage, in fact, I think it was a garage or shed in the winter. But we loaded it up with shelves for books. Folks came by to browse and purchase books and music during the off times.

Oh, the memories and friendships that were built on that campground. Ten
Cottages with front porches line the
sides of the tabernacle
days of meeting with the Lord

 in an open-air tabernacle. Little cabins with porches built all around the tabernacle. If you owned one, you could enjoy the services right there on the porch.

Normally, we borrowed an RV from some friends and stayed in it. The campground had a large area with hook-ups for this. There were also dormitories. I got to stay in the dormitories one year when I finally became a teenager and was able to participate in the teen program.

The teens had their own tabernacle where they worshiped in the morning and met in the afternoon for fun such as skits, or maybe just to head to the pool.

 In 1975, the cost for ten days of camp was a mere $10-$15. Of course, we were obliged to also serve meals and wash dishes. Not really the drudgery you might think, though. We loved helping the elderly with their trays and singing was often heard wafting through the campgrounds from the cafeteria. 

In the evening service, everyone joined together in the main tabernacle for amazing worship time. We had a wonderful pianist. She had such a talent. She could hear a song and begin playing it as if she knew the song all her life. What melodious tunes would come from that piano! We all remember that music like it was yesterday. She played by ear. The year I was there as a teenager, she would come to our meetings and play. I recall a couple girls introducing a new song. By the time they had finished singing it through, she was playing it like she has known it all her life.

I imagine she was an inspiration to me for playing the piano. I never became brave enough to try to play by ear, but I practiced enough to read almost any music you put in front of me. I remember telling Mom that hearing her play made me want to give up playing.

Most of my memories were in the children's tabernacle where we learned Bible stories and sang songs on our own level. In the afternoon, we returned for arts and crafts. One year we made a painting on glass. We painted the back blues, whites, and greens. This created the background for our picture. Then on the front, the picture we painted the pictures. I was sort of a 3-D effect.

These things were wonderful but the greatest event for me happened right in the tabernacle. There were 2 evangelists that year taking turns preaching. I don't remember the names, but one preacher I loved to listen to, the other, not so much. The less desired preacher had a way of speaking that tickled my friend and I. We called him Popcorn because of the rhythm of his speech.

But on the final night of camp meeting, he got my attention. He preached the infamous "Hellfire and Brimstone" sermon. My grandfather had recently passed away, so the reality of death was near to my heart. That night, I left my seat and walked the aisle. I knelt at an altar and ask Jesus to forgive me and He came into my life. Jesus remains on the throne of my heart to this day.

And that is why I still long to attend camp meeting. Many of these places have gone by the wayside. Many have shortened their meetings to a week or less. But my understanding is Sebring is still a ten-day event.

Do these pictures bring back any memories?

Do you have any memories from Holiness camp meeting?
[Sebring, Camp Sychar, Indian Springs, Camp Adrian, or others]

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Burnt Offerings for Bible School

It's Bible School time around here. Everyone is gearing up to have a week of fun and Bible learning for their children. Yes, lots of fun and learning, but I think it doesn't shine a candle to when I was a child.

THE last time Mom came to visit, she brought me a bag full of pictures. I found a couple VBS pictures in the pile so let's do a little reminiscing ....  about the wonderful days of VBS when I was small.

I came across this photo from 1968 which had all my closest friends in it.
That's me on the far left. Renee on the far right.
Shari and Joyce on the back row right.

Each of us were always invited to the other's Bible Schools. This particular year, all of us attended (at least on picture day) the Beech Mennonite VBS. Renee, Shari and I were friends from birth and and we attended the same elementary school. You would find us at many of the same functions through the year. Joyce and I become close friends in 5th grade when we were assigned to a different elementary school.

There I am...front row, 2nd from the right.

 This picture is another year at the Mennonite Church where my friend, Renee attended.  The biggest thing I remember about the Mennonite Bible School was playing Red Rover on the lawn and we sang songs with signs that looked like road signs. The had a message like this....

and let me tell you
of the Christ of Calvary
He forgave my sins and he saved my soul
cleansed my heart and he made me whole

Then there was a song on 'newspaper'

Christ died for me
if I believe
I'm saved eternally
That's wonderful  "EXTRA"

These songs were so special to me that as an adult leading children's ministries, I looked for them and found that they were created by Child Evangelism Fellowship. Kids still love them today! And you can still purchase them. Child Evangelism

My mother was the VBS director at our church, so we were smack dab in the middle of everything there. I remember loading up our station wagon with a abundance of kids. You didn't need a seat belt or car seat back then so we packed in like sardines in a can. Not sure what's so fun about packing into a station wagon, but I have fond memories of it now. Maybe just because you can't do it anymore.

When we arrived at Bethany UMC, there were kids everywhere. We had a great time making beautiful crafts, playing in the church yard, sneaking into the belfry to ring the bell (I'll bet the neighbors enjoyed that), singing lots of songs, raising money for missionaries. It all ended on Sunday night with a program for the parents.

It was a tiring week for my mother, I'm sure. One year, we quickly gathered up all the supplies after the program,placed them in garbage bags, and headed on home. This included the several hundred dollars raised for missionaries. 

 So, the next morning when Mary,  arrived to help with the housework, she picked up the garbage and took it to the burn pile and started the fire....

I'm not sure how long it took to discover what happened, but we did realize that the offering had become a burnt offering! Well, at least we were able to collect the coins from the ashes!

We had some great summers back in the day. What about you? What do you remember about Bible School as a child?