From Texas to Tenting

It’s crazy that today is June 9 and that I’m flying to California as I write.  In 4 days, our 36th summer at Campus by the Sea will begin with staff orientation, and between now and then, I’ll calligraphy the addresses on Derek and Julie’s wedding invitations.  And try to catch up with myself.  It’s been a wild ride since returning from our 10-day California trip the first two weeks of May.  I know . . . what’s new?  Fair enough.

We repeated the cycle of returning home early Tuesday am on May 16, and were thrilled to have a 24-hour visit with my sweet sister Laura and her husband David.  We always love to have time with them, so this somewhat serendipitous encounter was full of delight.  Best of all, we got to celebrate her birthday a few days early.  Very fun!

My sister Laura is well-celebrated by her husband, David, and Paul at the Friesen B and B.

Counseling consumed Wednesday and we sorted ourselves out a bit on Thursday before flying out Friday for Dallas-Ft. Worth to speak at the Hallmark Baptist Church for the second year in a row. Sean and Janelle Willeford once again organized the conference and we happily reconnected with many couples we had met last year and met many new couples. The conference went well Friday night and Saturday, and then on Sunday, Paul and I taught a very large Sunday School class and also spoke at their worship service. We’ve really grown to love Pastor Mike and Diane Haley, and we so appreciate their hearts for marriage and missions. They are faithful servants of Christ and God is using them.

We also love to spend time with the Willefords any chance we can.  When we met them years ago, Sean was a Division 1 college ATC (certified athletic trainer) who had graduated from University of the Pacific a number of years before Lisa.  He has been helpful in mentoring her in the field for years now.  God is now moving Sean and his family from the playing field to the mission field.  They’re preparing to be career missionaries in the Philippines and it’s refreshing to hear their enthusiastic vision for serving the kingdom in this new way.  Great days!

We also managed to squeeze in a lovely visit with some of my cousins, as well as with one of Paul’s nieces, before returning to Boston.  Delays out of Dallas allowed us to continue the pattern of arriving early Tuesday morning: like 1:30 am.  It felt good to crawl in to bed by 3 am.

We really bonded with these couples at Hallmark Baptist Church in Ft. Worth.

The Willefords—Sean, Janelle, Aaron, and Ashton—will relocate to the Philippines in the next couple of years.

Pastor Mike and Diane Haley are wonderful shepherds to the flock at Hallmark Baptist.

Less than 24 hours after returning home, we were more than happy to return to the airport to pick up daughter Lisa, who spent the two weeks between her job ending and leaving on a missions trip to Israel with us!  What a gift!  Long time dear friend Liz Aleman also joined us that night and we spent the next almost 3 days doing a lot of talking, laughing, touring, and playing “Nickel.”   Paul and I did spend Wednesday counseling, but on Thursday we “kidnapped” Barbara Steele and spent several hours wandering through the Arnold Arboretum, enjoying the end of the 2011 lilac extravaganza.  It was a perfect day in every way!

Barbara, Liz, and Lisa at the Arnold Arboretum.

Is there anything more fragrant and beautiful than lilacs?

More laughter, talking, and “Nickel” on Thursday night before taking Liz to the airport Friday am.  Such a great visit!  Liz has grown up beautifully and is making a difference for Jesus at law school in San Francisco.

Not to allow any moss to grow under our feet, we were on the road just after noon Friday to Myles Standish State Park for our annual H.I.M. tenting family camping weekend.  The sell-out crowd (30 families - 130 campers) was well organized by Jim and Sue Martis, who do everything for this weekend except the minimal program, which Paul does.  It was a gift for us to have 2 of our 3 daughters with us for the weekend.  It’s been a long time since any of the girls were with us on Memorial Day.  Paul took full advantage of them and had Lisa speak one night, via interview, on decisions she had made at college that kept her pursuing her faith, and had Julie speak another night about her call to Africa.  Widening the circle beyond family, he also interviewed Jeff and Judy Heath and their daughters, Katie and Stephanie, who are career missionaries in Chad, Africa, with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  In a few weeks, they’ll wrap up a year-long furlough and return to Chad.  Their interview was very informative and we all gained a clearer understanding of their life in Africa.

The weekend was a huge success.  Great meals, lively community interaction, sweet times of family worship and devotions, and s’mores added the exclamation point at the end of each nightly campfire.  There were two other milestone moments in the weekend celebrated in the midst of community.  Glen and Barbara Franks honored the 13th birthday of their twin daughters, Alli and Vicki, with a rite-of-passage presentation of their family crest, framed, and presented by their brothers.  Several close family friends gave “charges” to the girls to add ballast to the importance of this milestone.  Moments like these are so deeply meaningful to Paul and me as we witness the sincerity and commitment of families as such to be intentional in establishing legacy.  This was a definite highlight of the weekend.

The other really big highlight was the baptism of the Gaudet family.  In my March 17th blog, I mentioned that the body of Christ had expanded by at least one as a result of the March 3-5 marriage conference.  That surrendered life belongs to Ken Gaudet, whose wife, Amy, and sons had been praying for him to come to Christ for years.  The family decided that they wanted to be baptized together during the tenting trip.  Wow!  I wish everyone could have heard them testify to the work of God in each of their lives.  This, too, made the weekend unforgettable.

Lisa talks about why she’s committed to following the Lord.

Another night, the campers heard from Jeff and Judy Heath and their daughters Stephanie and Katie, about their life as missionaries in Chad.

A bunch of happy campers enjoying Jiffy Pop around their campfire.

Allie and Vicki Franks show their framed family crest, given them by their parents in honor of their 13th birthday.
The Gaudet family chooses to be baptized in the midst of the H.I.M. tenting community and speak powerfully of the work of God in their lives.

 Monday morning, the third annual Memorial Day parade was held on our camp circle, and serving as Grand Marshall once again was Glen Franks, who served our country a number of years ago.  Old and young, on bikes or walking, most joined the festivities in some way.  Music this year was provided by Bailey Berglund, who brought his slide trombone for the occasion.  It was good to pause and honor those who have sacrificed greatly to protect our freedom to do exactly what we had been doing all weekend: freedom to gather, to worship, to support each other.

Glen Franks starts the parade . . .

. . . and our sweet almost-17-year-old dog, Baker, brings up the end, flanked by her new best friends, Jonathan and Benjamin Yoder.

Oh—there was one more highlight: Lisa, Debbie Crane, and I ran in the Hyannis Road Race early Sunday morning.  :)  Lisa ran the half-marathon for “time” (and would run another half the next weekend in Vermont as my running partner for “longer time”) and Debbie and I ran the 7.2 mile run.  It was a blast!  We were done running and back to camp before some people were even up.  :)

Before the race . . .

 . . . and after.  Still smiling!

And so, another Memorial Day camping trip is in the history books.  The only real disappointment of the weekend was that Thora Eames was out of town, so we were unable to have her as the guest of honor at the campground.  Other than that, we were blessed with spectacular weather and many wonderful memory-making moments.