A huge shout out of gratitude to Sir Shiggity (Shannon) for coming to our camp when we pulled in to let us know what rumors had been flying around regarding Doug and I. To set the record straight, I spent the last couple of days visiting various camps and putting some nasty tall stories to bed. Shannon has been one of our dearest friends, and he was exceptionally concerned for our safety when he had caught wind of what people thought we were up to. Connie came with me, and we sorted everything out quite nicely 😉 Most of the camps had a good laugh after we had cleared the air and set the record straight. Friends like Shannon, or Sir Shiggity as most people know him, are gems!
Now we could get back to focusing on CHRISTMAS!
The last few days have been quite busy for us, and with Christmas, there has been a lot to do. On the drive down I had been filling out a lot of Christmas cards to go with some beautifully wrapped boxes of chocolate and fudge that we wanted to pass out to as many people as we could.
The look on our friends faces to receive a simple gift actually made me sad. I had set a few aside to pass out to some lone drifters that we knew were there but had no idea what their names were. When I handed them a brightly wrapped box with ribbons and bows, you would have thought they had won the lottery. It really broke my heart. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people who were sitting around their Christmas trees with family, opening gifts and preparing for a beautiful turkey dinner. These people are gob smacked with a box of candy. Next year I hope we can do more.
In spite of the fact that there is no snow in the desert, and it sure didn’t feel like Christmas, Doug and I would haul out the Christmas tree each morning, and he added a bunch of lights to the unit to make things more festive in our camp. We had loaded some great Christmas tunes and had them playing from sun up til we retired for the night. I think that sort of cheered some people up. Our camp was quite popular for coffee, tea, treats, hot chocolate and conversation.
Today, however, was actually very exciting for the children of the Slabs. For months, a friend of Pastor Dave’s had been working hard to get names and ages of children, along with their Christmas wish list, that was passed onto Hosanna City Church. The Church in turn had been working diligently to make sure each child on the list got what they wanted, and the gift that they would receive would have their name on it! I think it was a woman named Lynn who helped co-ordinate everything on the Slab end, but regardless she did a bang up job!
Although Pastor Dave was really ill, he had managed to get a huge ham and asked if we could cook it up and serve dinner to about 24 people that would frequent the church on occasion or those he knew would have no Christmas meal. We started the generator, put the ham in to cook, prepped everything else we would need to feed everyone, and then headed over to the Ponderousa around noon and waited anxiously with everyone else for the trucks to arrive from Hosanna City Church.
Pastor Josh, his wife Carrie (who was raised in the Slabs), arrived with their children, and many members of the church to spread some amazing Christmas cheer! Tarps were placed on the ground and covered with donations of shoes and cloths. They also set up tables where they unloaded and set up trailer loads of food and water! The youth , if I remember right, were the ones who would pass out bags so people could fill them up with essential supplies to take back to their camps. It was fabulous!
The best part came when it was time to pass out gifts to about 46 children. Pastor Josh’s son started it off by asking everyone to join in a circle while he shared the message of Christmas and the Gift of Salvation through Jesus. Did I mention this young man who took the lead was maybe 12 or 13 years old? I took a lot of video, but am opting not to post it because I do not want the faces of children who live there plastered all over the internet.
When Pastor Josh and Carrie’s son was finished, they moved over to a huge trailer and started calling children by name to come forward. If a child had asked for a purple bike with pink tassels, that’s what they got! I do not think I have ever witnessed such joy on the face of a child, and as each one was called forward, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. One little boy who touched me deeply was quite young. He may have been somewhere around 4 or 5 years old. His Christmas wish was a hamster cage. The kind that you can connect tubes to make tunnels and mazes. I am not sure if that cage actually had a hamster or pet rat in it, but he was grinning from ear to ear as he made his way back to his folks with a parcel wrapped in red ribbon that was almost as big as he was. Awe… the joy of true gifting 😉
Once they were done, Pastor Josh and his team told us to take any food that was left over and load it up in the jeep to deliver to Pastor Dave to put in the food pantry. As we were doing that, a couple of people took off in a truck to deliver some gifts to kids who were not able to be at the gathering. The adults left with bags of food and warm cloths. It really was a tremendous blessing to so many people out there! Member’s of the church left to make a two hour drive home, after some had stopped to see Pastor Dave and pray for him.
Once we had unloaded all of the food from the jeep into the pantry, I set out to get everything ready for our own big Christmas dinner at our camp. The ham was cooking nicely! I had mashed potatoes, veggies, apple sauce, dinner buns, stuffings, gravy, cheese platters and bowls of Christmas goodies all set and ready to serve.
Sadly, Pastor Dave was far to sick to come, so Doug took over two plates that evening and sat with him in the bus to have dinner. Connie and I set up the tables, put all the food out and waited for our Christmas guests. I was feeling pretty good about the spread we had set out.
However, no one came.
One guy was making his way over to join us, and then flipped out when he saw Connie butting a cigarette. He yelled a bunch of obscenities at Connie and I, and went on about a five minute rant of yelling and screaming before taking off. Poor Connie. She had seen him coming and had put out her smoke before we was within 100 feet of our camp because she knew it would offend him. Anyhow.. his loss, and quite frankly, I would have told him to leave my camp if he had decided to stay.
We are not sure where everyone else ended up. Numerous camps had large fires and parties going that night, so we can only assume the ones Pastor had invited opted out for a more entertaining evening. Regardless, Connie and I enjoyed our quiet meal, and then she helped me wrap everything up so we could pass out left overs later on. The two of us sang a lot of Christmas carols together which was pretty special.
Doug came back from having his meal with Pastor Dave and then lit our propane fire-pit. The three of us enjoyed some hot chocolate and shared stories of Christmas past. I was sure missing my family! However, there was something so peaceful just sitting there alone in the desert, by the fire and under the stars with my dear sweet friend Connie. We were where we were suppose to be, and that was fine by me.
From our camp to your homes – Merry Christmas everyone!