Family Camp at Redwood Glen, Night 1.

I got up to leave at 2 am this morning. At 5:30, I stopped for a nap until 7. Got back on the road. Discovered that my cup wasn’t properly washed and had been unintentionally drinking very soapy iced tea for five hours. This made me very sick to the point where I couldn’t drive. So instead I went to the bathroom……….. anyway. That terrible few hours of my life, plus a few involuntary games of “Let’s Get Lost” set me very behind.

By the time Graham texted me to ask where I was, my handy dandy verizon navigator said I was about 200 miles away and I was in it to win it. No stopping, no singing, no thinking.. just driving. The urgency and reality of seeing the family just overwhelmed me. After 100 miles my phone died, and I thought to myself “the last thing I did this morning was reassure my mom that my phone would make it, and that I didn’t need a car charger.” Luckily, the GPS was just enhancing the mapquest directions I’d printed out.

As I began my ascent into hell (yes, I meant that) I started to get nervous and paranoid. I drove a steady 25 mph and pulled over an average of once every five minutes to let the people behind me pass. Just when I thought the roads couldn’t get curvier, they did. Or that I couldn’t see less in front of me.. it happened. Every time I about broke down and started to cry (ok, I was scared. I rarely admit that, but I was terrified) I’d see a street sign and be assured that all was well. And finally, there it was. A sign that said “Redwood Glen.”

I gleefully pulled in, found a parking spot, and jumped out to find everyone. Taking it all in, I stood in the middle of the parking lot and listened for voices I recognized, hoping to find them first. Except I didn’t recognize any. This was something I’d come prepared for. Not only have I never been to Redwood Glen, I don’t know many people from the Golden State division. So I walked up to someone and asked if they knew where the Coverts lived. They had no idea who I was talking about, so I said “what about the Birks?” figuring that it was probably silly of me to assume that in The Salvation Army, everybody knows everybody (don’t they??) I decided to try my luck with another group of people.

One of the ladies in the next group I hit up, Val, was very nice. She took me inside and introduced me to Bill… the camp director. As I assessed the situation, I began to freak out inside of me. They clarified that I WAS at Family Camp, and that I WAS at Redwood Glen. Not only that, but Bill pulled out the Family Camp Roster and couldn’t find “Birks.” It was at about this time that another group of people walked past, overheard what was going on, and asked if it was my first time at Redwood Glen. To which I replied “yes, I’m from the northwest division.” The man stared at me blankly and said “of what? …the military?” and I rolled my eyes a little bit.

It was only then that it occurred to me that I’d not seen anything Salvation Army; no shield, no crest, no flag, no uniforms, no Hallmark.. wait, I don’t even think Hallmark jokes are funny anymore! Turns out, I was not at The Salvation Army’s Redwood Glen but had somehow managed to find another Redwood Glen an hour away from it.

At first, I was all ready to keep driving. I did leave this morning all excited about sleeping alongside Birks, Coverts and Helms.. and was so desperate to see them that the hour drive through curvy roads in the dark seemed like nothing. The longer they debated over what directions to give me, the more I realized that I should probably just stay.

So that’s how I ended up here, at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church Camp. These people are so gracious and kind. Being served is humbling. It is also encouraging. This is the body of Christ, right? We are all one Family, the children of one God. How appropriate then, to have stumbled upon this. It’s also encouraging in terms of my walk. God’s got me; I always know that, I always believe that. But every so often, he reassures me. Here I am.. hundreds of miles away from home, with no cell phone reception, no real sense of where I am except for “northern California” and all by myself.. and yet God provided safety – comfort, even – and friendly faces for me.

Though I am so grateful for the hospitality of this family at Redwood Glen…. …. I long so deeply for mine at the one 40 miles away. 800 miles sucks.. but 40 can sometimes be even worse. If I stand outside and scream loud enough for them, they might hear me.


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