Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Family Camp Twenty-Sixeen

This year's family camp was very different from in years past. We realized early on in the year that we did not have enough teenagers to make up the usual kitchen crew. The crew is usually in charge of setting and clearing the tables, putting the food out on the tables and then bagging it after every meal, as well as doing the dishes. This year, we divided the entire camp into three teams, allowing for everyone at the camp to get involved with what had formerly been "crew responsibilities". Each team was assigned one meal per day. It was amazing to see how many people were ready to jump in and get involved wherever they were needed! Working together as a team with people of all ages became a very positive change for our camp.
It was an amazing blessing from the Lord to see how everything came together and played out so smoothly.

In the afternoon, everyone would break off in groups for some kayaking, obstacle course rounds, multiple games of prison ball and underground church.

On the last night in years past, it has been tradition for the crew to have a little fun doing something a little more goofy :) We decided that we wanted to keep up that tradition. We purchased 100 hats from the dollar store and handed out different styles to the three teams...the tables also were decorated with colorful tablecloths :)

The greatest blessing of all this year was in the wonderful messages that we received from Pastor Tim Huggins (The missionaries that Kayleen and I stayed with in Japan)
We also witnessed the baptism in the Eagle Fern River of Annalise, Ania and two other girls from Hillcrest Bible Church.

"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
 Romans 15:5-6

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." 
1 Peter 4:10

Monday, August 8, 2016

Gone Campin' ;)

Thursday afternoon, we packed up the van two hours later then planned and we were on our way to Rainier! Leaving behind the 86 degree weather of Brush Prairie, we were all ready to feel some cold mountain air. If the weather predictions were right, it would be reaching low 30s during the night at our little Ohanapecosh campsite :) Everyone had packed warmly in the event of that happening :) The campers were quite lively for the first part of the car trip, but by and by, they slowly faded into silence. When I looked at the seats all around me, I found that I was the only one of the kids still awake :)

We passed through the town of packwood, a kind of backwoods country town. Little old men stood at the gas station fueling their old trucks, clothes were hanging out on the lines to dry as we rolled through Packwood's farmland...we passed Packwood's little two-room college and an out-of-place looking "Great Wall of China" restaurant.
But it was the general store that we were bound for to purchase four bundles of firewood ;)
For some reason that day there seemed to be a large population of Model A's and old trucks rolling through town. Leisel tried not to look too longingly at every coffee shop we passed ;)

I began getting a little nervous as we neared our campsite because the temperature hadn't even dropped ten degrees from what it had been when we were back home :/ (but we did finally get our colder weather the very next morning;)
Our noses were immediately greeted by the smell of campfire smoke. Jonathon and I started counting the raindrops as we put together the tents.
Setting up camp this year was much easier then in years past since we were doing it in the light of day. By the time we had both of the tents set up and Austin had a good sized fire going, mom had the chili and cornbread already heated up. 

We finished dinner with just enough room left in our stomachs for a s'more and toasted marshmallow :) The kiddos were ready for some good ghost stories as the sun began to go down. For the next half hour, we older ones reached back into our memories and figured out the scariest ways of retelling old ghost stories. The mosquitoes put up a good fight that night attacking our small circle of campers.
The only thing that gave of us some relief was the smoke from the campfire that kept them away. Dad never could figure out why the camp smoke always seemed to follow him. It brought him little comfort to be reminded that smoke does follow beauty ;)

 As the fire slowly faded, we all decided it might be a good idea to head to bed a little earlier that night. Everyone quickly adjusted their sleeping bags in the dark and settled in for the night. Jonathon made a passing comment that he thought it had been a bad idea to stick the two tallest people in the family with their sleeping bags at either end of each other as his foot came in contact with the camper opposite of him.

There had been a running debate the previous night as to whether or not to put the fly on the tent. Everyone was relieved that the fly had won out when we woke up the next morning to a steady rainfall...It wasn't just pleasant little droplets falling from the sky either but large, intrusive boulders :)
Jonathon had woken up enough to start singing "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." None of us felt quite ready to brave the elements, so after exchanging a few words, we rolled over and went back to sleep. The rain had tapered off an hour later as we all began to slowly rise. But rain or shine, it's hard to have bad weather when you're all together as a family :)

Most of us have become full-fledged campers in a matter of four years! But there are still some that do not fully appreciate the romance of roughing it. We definitely get to see each other in our most unglorified states for those four days...without any make-up and no showers at all :D

It always looks like a family reunion is going on at our campsite :) 

Even after twenty-eight years, Dad still can't figure out why it takes 11 people so very long to make it out to the car :) But alas, we finally got all of those last minute things that we needed and we were off to go hiking. Leisel took out her iPod and piped John Denver songs in the car because Jonathon said that it was tradition to listen to that on the way up to our hikes.

We ended up taking two totally different routs on our hikes this year, both completely unplanned. Our first hike was to be up to Burrows. When we reached the turn off in the road, someone advised us that unless we had hiking sticks and the appropriate shoes, it was probably not very doable. There were several glaciers along the pathway with a rather steep drop-off on the side. The trail that we turned off on instead was equally lovely though. Although, the view was obscured at the top because of the dense fog. 

I love the differences in scenery between the two hikes that we take. Sunrise has a more kind of arid beauty that reminds me of cowboy country. Paradise, with its lush green hillsides covered in wildflowers, has some (literally) "heavenly" views :) There really is no way to describe it...It just leaves you breathless, wondering at the Creator who made all of this for me! 

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." Psalm 34:1-3

Most of the family ended up taking a nap on the way back, but for some, the fear of a tired dad's driving kept them awake.
That night, there were few people willing to brave the cold temperatures of the creek below our campsite. But when you're keeping such close quarters, it does feel good to take a dip in the water to freshen up :) Austin always had a fire ready soon after we made it back up to our campsite - shivering. 
We came to the conclusion that we actually end up getting more sleep when we're out camping then we do at home. As soon as the sun began its descent, the tired campers began thinking about bed and started the process of retiring for the evening.

When we got up to Paradise the next day, the parking lots were completely packed and cars lined the street all the way down the hill. We drove down until we found a spot near the bottom and then began the long trek up.

Somehow along the way, our trail had been redirected and we ended up going a completely different rout then we usually take. We came across spots completely covered in snow where it was either slide by accident or just sit down and sled purposefully :)

At one point along the way, Austin seemed to be getting a little weary with the heavy load that he was carrying. When I offered to take a turn at carrying his backpack for him, he responded, "What I'm doing is wimpy compared to what they marines do. They run up these hills with their heavy backpacks. I'm just walking. So I'm training."

The view just kept getting lovelier as we reached a higher elevation and the snow-capped mountain rose into view...till suddenly we came face-to-face with the mountain! It was then that a few of these campers decided that one day they were gong to climb Mt. Rainier. The Lord had perfectly planned that moment, because just then we had a perfect view of Mt. Rainier, unobstructed by the fog. But as we began our descent, the fog began to roll in again and shroud out the mountain.

I've heard Washington described as looking somewhat similar to Switzerland. But I got to thinking about that on the hike, and I don't think you can compare the beauty of Washington to anywhere really! It has a very specific kind of stunning beauty (And Switzerland may share just a few of those aspects  ;)

As we reached the end of our hike, Jonathon stopped me to listen to something that he was hearing in the distance. Someone at the bottom of the mountain was playing Bonnie Prince Charlie on the bagpipes.

It seemed Sunday morning that the whole campground was emptying out.
 We're never really ready to leave when the time comes for it. But we left with the blessing of knowing that this is only our first vacation of the year...we have yet to enjoy the many wonderful traditions of Manzanita beach :)

When all thy mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I'm lost
in wonder, love and praise.

O how shall words with equal warmth
the gratitude declare,
that glows within my ravished heart?
but thou canst read it there.

Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
hath made my cup run o'er;
and, in a kind and faithful Friend,
hath doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ;
nor is the last a cheerful heart
that tastes those gifts with joy.

When nature fails, and day and night
divide thy works no more,
my ever grateful heart, O Lord,
thy mercy shall adore.

Through all eternity to thee
a joyful song I'll raise;
for, oh, eternity's too short
to utter all thy praise!

Mt. Rainer 2016 from Lynnae Spafford on Vimeo.