(The little girl in the picture isn’t me)
Laughter fills the air as the birds, squirrels, and maybe even a bear or two sleep. “Shhhh,” Mrs. B. puts her finger to her mouth and looks around at us conspiratorially.
Yes! It’s story time.
Sitting near the fire with a marshmallow jutting off the end of a long stick I can’t wait for it to brown just right so I can stick the oh so sweet gooey gob in my mouth.
A hush falls around the campfire with only the crackling of the fire as the flames lick the log in the middle of the circle of big rocks. All of us girls quietly eat our marshmallows.
In a hushed tone Mrs. B. begins to tell us how Jesus probably sat at a fire just like this one and talked to his disciples. Then she goes into a story that leaves us hanging on her every word.
It’s church camp and I never want to leave!
I’ve never been to church camp before. I’ve wanted to come so bad. I had to attend Sunday school long enough to meet the requirements to be able to come and Mama and Daddy argue a lot because Daddy doesn’t like that, but he finally gave in.
Today was so much fun! We gathered around a big table and I got to pour some white thick stuff into a mold. Mine says, “God Bless this House.” I can’t wait for it to dry so I can paint it.
We got to swim in the big lake today, too. I like that because I can go under the water and nobody can see me. It’s quiet, serene, and I can hold my breath a long time. I wish we had a lake at home so I could go under the water and Daddy couldn’t find me.
We have to memorize a short scripture in the Bible and when we do we get a reward. I haven’t been able to remember to many but I’m sure proud of the felt sticker I got for the ones I did remember. And we got to color pictures of Jesus. I’m having so much fun!
Mrs. B. seems to like me I think. When she sees me off by myself she’ll come and sit beside me and we talk. Of course I can’t tell her the secret Daddy said not to tell anyone but I like her and when she tells me Jesus sure does love me, tears spill down my cheeks.
These past two weeks have been heaven for me. I feel freer than I have ever felt and there’s no arguing or fighting or trying to hide from Daddy. God? Why can’t I stay here forever?
Arriving home I’m so proud of my plaster of Paris “God Bless this Home” and want to hang it on the wall. Mama helps me. I show everyone my rewards and the pictures I colored of Jesus and the small stick figures we made of lambs. I can’t stop telling everyone at dinner all about what I learned and how much fun I had.
Mama and Daddy don’t say anything as I expound on all the wonderful things I experienced but now my sister wants to go. A big argument breaks out and ruins all the good feelings I have.
That night as I lay in my bed with tears soaking my pillow I remember Mrs. B’s words…
Jesus sure does love you.
I was never allowed to go back to church camp again but the seeds were planted.
Proudly made in 1951 and hangs today on my wall.
Blessings to you.