May 14th 2018
As usual, Doug and I have kept ourselves pretty busy. There were a lot of things we needed to take care of, in the short amount of time we had left at the Slabs.
Doug spent days in horrific heat, digging a huge septic hole through rock hard clay for Connie’s new home. Then he spent a few days fixing things in her 5th wheel and making sure everything would run smoothly until we could return the following winter.
I spent the last week or so taking her for groceries, and helping her to budget her finances so she had enough to make it through the month. Unlike before, she now has a fridge and stove, so her grocery list will take a drastic change, but she will have to be prepared to buy water and propane as well.
On top of daily bible studies with Pastor Dave, we also filled our days visiting with the many friends we have made there over the past several months. Our days started around 6:00 am with coffee for anyone coming by, and on occasion a home made breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and toast. Through out the day we also served many lunches, and of course a lot of water and the remains of supplies such as clothing, toiletries, medicine and food. In the evening, we would occasionally bring out the propane fire-pit and many of us would gather to visit under the desert stars. Many stories and a lot of laughs were good medicine for most of us. Our camp had become a pit stop for many people who live there. We love each and every one of them!
We also added a bit of solar to Connie’s unit and filled our own roof as well. As a side note, if you are looking for solar, Solar Mike from SunWorks at Slab city has the best price, workmanship and product that we have found. He has lived and raised his family in the Slabs for over 30 years. He came highly recommended to us from various people across California and Arizona. Solar Mike and Billy who worked on our rig were fantastic, and the stories they had to share about their lives in the Slabs were equally interesting. Very nice people!
By the time it came for us considering heading back north, it was with a great deal of sadness and heavy hearts. I know a lot of people have been concerned for our safety out there, and I suppose if I were reading some of these tales, I too would be fearful if my friends or family had decided to call Slab City home.
We did see a lot of people suffer from burn outs, sadly some people did die, and the Slabs is dotted with a great deal of criminal activity. With that said, there are some fantastic people there just trying to get by and survive in one of California’s most desolate areas. With the water now shut off for residents in the nearest town, life is going to get a lot harder for those who have no way to leave during the summer months. We worry for them.
On our final day there, so many people came by to spend the day with us and say goodbye. It was touching to say the least. Both of us shed several tears. The most touching moment was when Steve, a resident who was parked close to our camp, called Doug to the side. He said that he had been watching everything we had been doing out there over the months, and he wanted to give us a gift on behalf of everyone from the Slabs. He said that he knew no one there had a way to repay us, so he wanted to bless us with something he thought we could use. Then he handed Doug a professional truckers GPS system. When Doug came in the unit to show me what Steve had given him, and why, all we could do is stare at each other in disbelief and tears in our eyes.
We hosted one farewell BBQ, then began to pack everything up. As had become a tradition, those with water bottles that needed filling came by to get them topped up from our tanks. Then we pulled the rig over near Connie’s and plugged in the vacuum so we could give her carpet one good final cleaning. One of the hardest things I had done to date, was say goodbye, knowing it would be several months before we could return. We shared a lot of hugs and tears, and promised to write often and keep in touch with some via text messages.
As we headed down the hill, we ran across a few more camps that needed water, so we stopped and gave them what we had left. Then we drove on in silence, praying that everyone we had met there, would be alive and well when we returned.
One person once said… “you shouldn’t spend so much time there because you live in an RV, and before long you yourself will become Slabbers.”
It’s an honour to feel like we are welcomed and belong there. God’s purpose is always perfect. I’d take being called a Slabber any day if it meant that we belonged to a community that cared as much as the one we were leaving behind.
Reflecting back over our time in Slab City, we absolutely believe that God led us there, and there is much work to be done! If we accomplished anything in our first year, it would consist of relationships, trust, hope, love, acceptance and community. Our camp was and will always be a safe place. We don’t care if you are poor, broken, addicted to meth, a transgender, gay, have a criminal past, or have difficulty fitting in to the social circles that are there in abundance. All we have ever asked is that you be respectful…. and those are words we never actually had to say to anyone except one individual.
For the most part no one ever asked us for anything, aside from help. It’s true that we have had our share of frustrations and difficulties. Nothing every runs smoothly, and on occasion you have to deal with a difficult person as well. However, when you weigh the good with the bad….. in this case… the good surely wins.
In leaving the Slabs this year, we feel like we have been somewhat successful in leaving behind a greater sense of community for some people. Many individuals who would spend time at our camp actually got to know people they had previously only known by name or the rumors that fly around the Slabs quicker than the Navy fighter jets! How cool is that 😉
Onto out next adventure as we make our way back home. God please bless the Slabs, and keep our friends safe and well.
“WE’LL BE BACK!”
Sherry, Doug, Chicago and Journey.