Loretta's made sure Dani gets Bible study in her day hab program because she knows how much Dani loves God. Perhaps that's why she invited me to her church's women's event last Friday knowing I'd enjoy the time with God too.
"Cabin retreat? You bet! Count me in. Just tell me when and where. It'll be so much fun!" I sqealed.
We set the date, talked about it for weeks, packed our bags, and blazed a trail to what has to be Missouri's most remote Christian camp. Clueless to the impending challenges ahead, we forged out of the city in her new light green Mustang with the wind blowing in our hair like Thelma and Louise. Had we known what waited ahead, we'd probably not stepped foot on the course.
Short of Loretta forgetting her washcloth, towel, and blanket, we were prepared for the trip. She had the directions her church had given her and I had my Garmen navigation thingamajig with the address typed in and the lady primed to boss us to our destination. Getting lost was as far from our minds as being abducted by aliens.
After driving an hour and a half the directions became foggy. Two highways merged into one somewhere along the way, but we were to follow only one. At one point the paper directions and the Garmen began to conflict each other, so I suggested we follow the eye in the sky rather than the more vague ink on paper. Despite our efforts, things went from bad to worse as the woman's voice led us to one isolated woodsy dead-end to another. (The horror flicks from my past began to surface.)
"Ok, everywhere we turn it's a dead end. I'll tell the lady in Garmen we want to go home and it'll take us back to the main highway we recognize" I proposed with shady hope.
Making our way back to the highway, we popped into the town hospital. (It was an emergency of sorts.) While Loretta checked the restroom's decor, I obtained directions from two employees in the lobby. With hope resuscitated and Loretta comfortable, we set out into what was now pitch black night.
Our new directions helped us get back on track but failed to account for a detour. We were tired and hungry by this time, so I got Jimmy on the horn at home and he began Googling our location in order to assist remotely, while Loretta called the women's leader at the camp. Her woman did not answer and I lost my phone signal. We were back to two conflicting directions and it was getting late.
At one point I recall saying, "When will we know whether to continue to pursue the camp? What if we never find it? Do we head back home, get a motel, or what?" I don't remember Loretta responding to the question. May she thought it was rhetorical. We were both so busy following the detour I don't recall waiting for an answer anyway.
Well down the detour, Loretta's phone rang. It was her pastor. I answered the phone, so she could avoid deer, and explained our location. Tapping Loretta on the arm, I motioned for her to turn the wild Mustang around for the umpteenth time.
After backtracking 5.8 miles we continued to follow the Garmen lady who was still conflicting our paper directions. "We're close, no actually we have arrived" I announced as we looked all around at nothing. Driving forward a little more, the destination flag moved behind us. We'd missed the no-so-obvious and had to maneuver a U-turn on a one-lane gravel road. "Turn around and take the first right and let's hope that's the camp" I said hoping it was my last act as co-pilot.
After following my directions to a tee for 2 1/2 hours, Loretta took a stand, "We aren't heading in the entrance until we know for sure this is it" as she positioned the "stang" to shed light on the entrance sign. Finally we had indeed arrived.
Topping off the adventure, we knocked the front spoiler of our athletic vehicle on a log that served as a parking stop which couldn't be seen in the inky air.
Wrangling our worn bodies out of the car, we dragged our wheeled luggage across huge gravel rocks and made our way to the front door of the lodge, which was locked. Checking the left side of the building to no avail, I returned to Loretta. About the time I got back to her, a beautiful collie rounded the other side of the house. As if it were her job to greet the guest, Lucy (whom I loved on a lot over the weekend) led us to the door that held the event.
Opening the door tired and hungry, we were greeted with the smell of homemade bread, chicken, rice, and gravy. The fireplace was crackling, the women were smiling ear to ear, and gifts awaited us at our seats. Perseverance had paid off. The worst was over and fellowship was about to begin.
We played games, sang, and spent our time focused on God. I came into the event knowing only one woman and walked away with 22 new friends, well worth our struggle to find the camp.
Believe it or not we got lost again when we left the next day, but got back on track more easily than the night before. I couldn't help but rest in the knowledge that with God we are never lost. He never navigates us to dead-ends or conflicts in His directions. He is a constant light to our feet and never leaves us or forsakes us. With Him we have peace no matter where we are.
We sure had a good time but it's good to be home safe and sound.