(Click here to check out the entire interview)
What an awesome privilege we had to meet Steve and Jackie Clark, as well as their son Steven, as we served as Camp Host at Lucerne Campground in Manila, Utah. We not only became friends, but we now consider ourselves extended family. Like myself, Steve grew up in Maryland; he married Jackie (from New York). Along with their son Steven, they serve as Campground Managers for four campgrounds in the Manila, Utah area. Join us "Under The Awning" as we spent a few minutes chatting will our newfound friends.
(Click here to check out the entire interview)
We are glad to be a part of what God is doing with Good News Daily Ministries ... #BIBLICALTEXTING
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, thendo we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:24–25
Our adventure up Hope Lake Trail (Our First Hike - EVER - 2.5 Miles)
In hindsight, this lake is appropriately named; seemed like everyone that we encountered on our way up, was “hoping” to make to the majestic site.
Mike and Amber had asked us if we wanted to go on a “little hike” with them to Hope Lake; we said “Sure, that sounds like fun”; well, it was fun, but it was also an adventure.
We had no idea, what lied ahead. The sign at the beginning of the trail head said that the trail was 2.5 miles long, I’m not sure who did the measuring on that, but they were WRONG. We were not prepared at all for what we were about to encounter. Mike and Amber are hikers, so they had some of their hiking gear in the back of their pickup truck, but even they said that they should have had their “real” hiking backpack for this trip. Adriene and I were dressed for any “little walk”; I did have on my hiking boots, but Adriene had on just her tennis shoes that she had. Neither of us was prepared for what we were about to encounter.
It didn’t take long for us to realize, that not only were we not prepared in our attire, we certainly were not prepared physically. I usually walk around the campgrounds that we visit, not only to meet new people, but also to get a little exercise as well. I’m so glad that I have been doing that, because those “campground” miles paid off. I certainly got tired, but while going up the mountain, my second wind kicked in, and it wasn’t too bad. I was praying diligently for Adriene; she endured , but she struggled most of the way. I’m proud that she continued; one step at a time. Mike and Amber went ahead, we lagged behind a bit; I stayed back with Adriene. Mike and Amber were “motivation” from the front, while I was trying to motivate from the back.
One thing that inspired us, is that Mike and Amber, who hike quite a bit, said that this was their most difficult hike, and here we are, hiking with them on our very first hike. We were not prepared, but were excited of the fact, that we were able to do it. Mike was also recovering from a recent fall while he and Amber were on a trail ride on their bikes; so he was still nursing those wounds. Along the way, we told people that it was our very first hike, some of them were pretty astonished that we chose “Hope Lake Trail”, to get our feet wet in hiking. We met lots of people on our way up the mountain; many of them were not too encouraging, telling us how far we still had to go, because they were on their way back down. But, most of the people would tell us that “It will be worth it, when you make it to the lake”. From what we have heard, the common saying in the hiking community is “It’s just around the next bend”. Well, we went around a whole lot of “bends”, more commonly known as “switchbacks”. At one point, a guy told us that we had to go through at least 35 “switchback”, before we would make it to the lake. He may not have realized it, but that was really discouraging for us to hear, especially, with the level of pain that we were enduring at the time. Then there was the guy that said that we were 1/3 of the way there, when we thought we were getting close; that was a “downer” as well.
There was one continual motivation for us, all the way, from the beginning of the trail, to our destination, and that was the views. There were spectacular views all the way, and you know me, I don’t go very far without my camera, so I was making frequent stops to take pictures of "Gods Creation”. There was something spectacular to look at around every turn; from the mountains, to the waterfalls, to the flowers, to the valleys, to the rock formations; even when we saw evidence of previous avalanches. It was so beautiful to see. The views gave us a legitimate “excuse” to stop for a while, to take pictures, and trust me, I got a lot of them. I even took a few pictures of the people heading back down the mountain, as we ascended. There were hikers of all ages; from the baby being carried on mom or dads back in a backpack, to young children, to the teens, to young adults, middle aged hikers, and yes, there were a few “Senior Citizens” on the trail, showing us how it should be done. It wasn’t uncommon for us to encounter dogs on the trail as well, it was a “family affair” for many. Speaking of family, it really surprised us, that as we ascended the mountain, we actually were able to get a “strong” cell phone signal; Adriene and I both took the opportunity to contact our family, to let them know where we were, and that we were safe, and doing great. Adriene actually, took the opportunity to record a “Marco Polo” recording, to send to our daughters.
On one occasion, we were speaking with a few older ladies, during one of our “frequent stops” and they could tell that we were not particularly prepared; they told us to drink plenty of water. We told them the we “should” have enough water for our hike. Well, they walking at little farther down the trail, and a few minutes later, one of the the ladies came back and offered us one of her unopened bottles of water, we were grateful for her generosity, but we didn’t really appreciate her, until later, when that bottle of water was all that we had left to drink. We had gone through the bottle of water that Adriene and I were sharing for our “little walk”; that “angel” with the bottle of water was a Godsend.
We continued our trek up the mountain, until we finally made it to the illustrious “Hope Lake” - We Made It, and yes, it was well worth it. It was amazing to see this majestic lake, up in the mountains at over 11,000 feet above sea level. The water was absolutely beautiful; it could have been fifty feet deep, and you could see the bottom; the water was so clear. With the mountainous backdrop and spots of snow still evident, it was quite picturesque.
I continued to think about all of the “life lessons” that we could attain from our experience of climbing up the mountain; most of which would center around preparation, endurance, steadfastness, and of course, hope.
By the time that we arrived at the lake, and experienced its majesty, it was already 5 p.m., so we knew that we didn’t have much time, before we needed to start heading back down the trail. We knew that it would be getting dark about 8 p.m., and based on how long it took us to get up the hill, we started on our decent. We were certainly optimistic about going back down, but we quickly realized that the “muscle group” that we were using going down, would be pushed to the limit as well. The rough terrain of the trail, required you to continually be looking down to determine where to place your support stick, and subsequently, your foot. Setting your foot down, in the wrong place, could have easily resulted in injury. I’m certain that I was just as prayerful going down the mountain, as I was going up. My prayers were twofold, first that we would make it back without injury, and secondly, that we make it back to the truck before dark. We knew how rough the terrain was, and we didn’t want to traverse that with limited visibility. As a result, there was a lot less photo taking while heading back down.
As we continued our decent, I was confident that going down, was as difficult as going up. Logically, I know that it was easier, but I personally felt more pain in my feet during the decent. We kept pressing our way, and praying that our “test”, would soon be over. Well, we finally got to the point where Amber said, “What a beautiful sight”, she was excited; we looked up, and Adriene thought that we were looking at another patch of snow. It was then that I told her, “That is not snow Babe, that is the parking lot - we made it”. My prayers were answered, we made it back to the truck safely, and before dark. We were all so relieved to make it back; we were sore, but excited. We quickly loaded the few things that we had in the bed of the truck, and lifted our aching bodies into the truck. It was then that we took time to pray, and give thanks to the Lord for His covering, and protection. We then proceeded with the 3 - 4 mile ride, back to Matterhorn Campground, where we were staying.
As difficult as our first hike was, with the elevation, the sun, the steep grades, the switchbacks, the river crossings, the aches, and the pains, I was motivated to prepare myself, get the right gear, and to continue hiking. As this hike showed me, if we prepare ourselves, we can accomplish our goal; through the good, and the bad, the tough, and the not-so-tough.
Wait, isn’t Facebook the place where you post how great your life is? Aren’t you suppose to just show all of the “mountain top” experiences that you have? Well, if the the Bible speaks of “valley” experiences, why can’t we.
In Psalms 23:4, the Bible states:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou artwith me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
“Ye though I walk through the valley …”; just because we go through “valley experiences”, doesn’t mean that we have to live there; remember, it says “through” the valley. I believe that the faster that we learn how to go “through” the lows in our lives, the more we will be able to appreciate the “highs”.
We just recently left the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado, but the spectacular mountain top views that we experienced, didn’t come without “the valleys”. We don’t always talk about the “difficult days” in our nomadic lifestyle, but they do come. Mountains are gorgeous to look at, but remember, between every two mountains, is a valley.
We recently experienced (our very first hike) up a mountain; the views from the top were spectacular, but climbing from the valley was “grueling”. We were better able to appreciate the mountain top, because we appreciated “every” step during the climb.
Food For Thought:
What “valley” are you experiencing today? Celebrate the victory, from the “Mountain Tops”, but learn how to appreciate your experiences, “In the Valley”. God is with us there too … #PsalmsTwentyThree
As our time back at our “sticks and bricks” house is winding down, I’m reminded of how important it is for us to “deal with” issues in our lives, "up front". Even in our pursuit to follow the Call of God on our lives, the “issue” of dealing with our “sticks and bricks” was always present, and at some point, we knew we would have to go back to address it.
Early retirement, selling our house, and most of our possessions; going from 5000 square feet, to 400 square feet, is not the answer for most people, but each of us have had things in our lives, where we would have been “better able to serve”, if we had addressed those issues up front. We now find ourselves, back at "the house”, getting rid of “excess”. Some of the things that we are uncovering have been “buried” for many years, and now we are temporarily away from our assignment, to deal with “stuff”.
Is God calling you to do something special for Him; do yourself a favor, and deal with the “stuff" up front. Get rid of the things that no longer add any value to your life, or serve no purpose in your pursuit of God; your future depends on it.
My Piece of Advice:
Take the time now, to deal with the things that you have “hidden” in your garage; if you don’t do it now, you will certainly have to “take a detour” from your journey, to address them. Many of us choose to just “close the garage door”, and pretend like the “stuff” is not there. It may not be a “skeleton in your garage”, but it is still “stuff” (relationships, unresolved conflicts, bad memories, excess weight, etc). Many people park on their driveway, only because their garage is full of “stuff”; altering its intended use. It makes me reevaluate my priorities; I “protect" my “stuff” in the garage, and park my vehicles on the driveway … Hmmm.
Evaluate your “garage”, and “Deal With It”.
It wouldn’t be a good feeling, to hear the voice of God calling you, but you have to ask God to wait a while, because you need to “go back” and deal with “some things”.
Most of you know, that Adriene and I are RVers. In the “World of RVers”, traveling with excess weight is a major issue, and an ongoing challenge. As a result, you will find that many people will “purge” their rig (their RV) on an annual basis, and then incorporate the “1 in - 1 out” strategy. It looks like this: If something “new" comes in the rig, something “old" goes out; you don’t keep both. This strategy serves two purposes; it affords you the opportunity to evaluate what you are carrying around, and it also forces you to heavily evaluate, what you are bringing on board (if it does not serve a specific purpose, it does not come on board).
More often than not, if you are called to “take on” an assignment from God, there is likely also something that you will have to “get rid of” as well.
That’s all for now; see you back on the road, real soon …
Knock Knock; Who’s There; It’s Verna …
It was a Saturday afternoon, we were in the rig relaxing; I was watching TV, and Adriene was on the phone with a friend. That is when I heard a light knocking at the door. Our main door was open at the time, but the screen door was still shut. She says, "Hi, are you Robert; I said yes I am, she said I have been looking at your flag everyday, and I finally went online to look you up; I wanted to come over. My Bible is falling apart, and I thought that you might have some tape so that I could tape it back together.”
That is when I went outside; I told her that I not only would help her to repair her Bible, but we would also bless her with a new one. I opened our storage bay where we keep our bin of donated Bibles that we give away along our journey. I told her to take a look, and see if she saw a Bible that she liked; it was then that I went back in the coach to get Adriene. She was still on the phone, but I asked her to call the friend back, and come outside with me; I introduced her to our guest. I didn’t know her name at the time, but she recognized Adriene right away. She had been on our website, and she also had seen Adriene the night before at one of our campfire gatherings. By then, she had found a King James Bible, that she was looking for; I left Adriene outside to spend time with Verna, while I went inside with Verna’s “tattered” Bible to tape it up a bit.
Adriene and Verna spent a considerable amount of time together, while I stayed inside, and prayed for this “God Ordained Encounter”. Verna shared her life with Adriene, and Adriene ministered to her needs, and prayed with her. After a while, Adriene came and got me, I went back out and presented Verna with her “repaired” Bible. That is when I actually learned what her name was. Verna continued to share her life, and her love of God, and His people. She too has a burning desire to reach the lost.
It was no mistake that we had the opportunity to connect with Verna; I believe that we “entertained an angel unaware”. Verna, would likely not be welcomed in many churches today, but she embraced a love for Christ that is seldom seen by many “Churchgoers”. Some would consider Verna as homeless, but after spending time with her, she appears to have everything that she needs. She lives in a car; coupled by a little tent to the side, but for her, it is her “mansion” in the desert. She also took the opportunity to give us a tour of her “setup”; “organization is the key” she said, everything has a place, and everything in its place”.
Verna expressed such a desire to win souls for the Kingdom of God, and shared some of her successes and failures along the way. It was so ironic to me that Verna was parked just feet from our gathering of beautiful Monaco coaches, worth thousands, and thousands of dollars, but I truly believe, that Verna was one of the “richest” people around us; she had a deep love for Jesus Christ, and a love and desire to share His Word. During our conversation, she mentioned that she was going to give away one of her appliances, because she didn’t have any electricity to power it; well, that is when the Lord reminded me of a portable inverter that we had in the rig, that we seldom use. We had the opportunity to bless Verna with power for her appliances, and the “Power of God’s Word”, with bibles that she can give away as she shares the love of Christ. She was so excited, and it was a tremendous blessing to us as well.
Many in Verna’s circumstance would be shunned and overlooked, but Verna reminded me that we are all God’s children, and He loves us all the same. I’m believing that God will continue to use Verna in a mighty way; continuing to build the “Church Without Walls”. Thank you Verna, for your sweet spirit, and for sharing the Love of Christ along your journey ...
Sunsets are a daily reminder that time goes on, but tomorrow is not promised, no matter what you choose to do with your day. Sunsets give me the opportunity to reflect upon what I have accomplished on any given day. Did I waste it on frivolous things, thoughts, or actions, or did I do something productive that will assist me in accomplishing my goals, dreams, ambitions, or destiny.
Sunsets can be absolutely beautiful, but their beauty is a constant reminder, that an end is coming. If you are reading this today, God has blessed you with life; sometimes we take our life and liberties for granted, expecting that we have another opportunity in the morning. But as you see the sun setting in a persons life, you can only wonder how they feel about how they spent their day.
Seconds turn into minutes, minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years. As the years roll by, how are we preparing for our sunset. Are we waiting for tomorrow to do what God has called us to do today. Are we waiting for “Oneday”, when all of the stars align, and everything is in place.
As I look at a calendar, I see Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but I don’t see “Oneday”. “Oneday” will never come.
I’ve been told that the most valuable property on earth, are graveyards, because graveyards are full of dreams, goals, and visions for great accomplishments, but the resident was waiting for “Oneday” to pursue them; but “Sunset” came first.
The Word of God (Psalms 118:24) tells us that “This is the day, that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”. This reminds me of the importance of “today”, rejoicing in today, but preparing for our impending “Sunsets”.
If you find yourself on Highway 60, anywhere close to Miami, Arizona, do yourself a favor, and go by "Joe’s Ribs". A family friend of ours “Joe Miller” owns the restaurant, so we decided to stop by for a visit since we were passing through that part of the country. We were certainly not disappointed; Adriene ordered the “Rib Platter”, and I ordered the “Brisket Platter”; yes, our fingers were in each others plates very quickly. I’ll use the KFC slogan on this one; those BBQ platters were “Finger Lickin’ Good"
We decided to stay in Miami, AZ for the day, and evening, so we ended up going back to the restaurant a second time to spend a little more time with Joe, and his beautiful family that works along side of him. While there the second time, a customer came in; he goes by the name “Ponch”. As Ponch was waiting for his order, he moved to another area of the restaurant so that he could watch the sports channel on the TV; it was then, that I struck up a conversation with him. Our conversation started as we talked about the military; as we were were both veterans, but it quickly turned to me sharing some "Good News" with him. Ponch’s order came, but he continued to listen and talk. A seed had been planted, and had begun to fester in him.
When Ponch finished, and paid for his meal, he headed outside to his truck; there were windows on the front of the restaurant, so I could see him. He then came back in the restaurant to get me, and asked me to come outside with him; he wanted to show me a bumper sticker that he had on his truck; It said “Jesus Is Enough”. I commended him on the sticker, and asked him “Jesus is enough for what?”. That is when Ponch lit up a cigarette and shared with me about how he used to be an “Altar Boy” as a child, and was baptized. He also shared about how his mom would invite the Priest over for dinner. I then asked him about his personal relationship with Christ, and that is where his story ended. I shared with him the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and the difference between “religion”, and “relationship”; Ponch threw down his cigarette; that is when I shared the plan of salvation with Ponch, and he prayed with me, and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of his life.
We were out on the sidewalk in front of “Joe’s Ribs”; we had to move out of the way as I hugged Ponch, and welcomed him to the family of God. There were more customers coming in, so we moved to the side. Ponch thanked me for our time together, and introducing him to Jesus. I gave him one of our ministry cards; he jumped in His truck, and off he went.
I thank God for preparing a way for my encounter with Ponch, and preparing his heart to receive His Word. Welcome to the family Ponch.
And There We Built An Altar … (Miami, Arizona)
As we take off, heading out on another trip, I am always thinking of the journey of Jesus during His earthly ministry; everywhere He went, he changed the lives of the people that He encountered. As we travel, that is also our desire; we want to impact lives everywhere we go. As we identify the needs of the people, we yield ourselves, and our ministry to meeting those needs as best we can, and trust the Lord to make the difference.
I took off of work on Friday, so that we could get an early start on our trip out West. Our plan was to go to visit Adriene’s sister in Arizona, on our way to the desert land in Quartzsite. We have been there before, but we know that that congregation of people is part of our assignment, so we will continue to make that trek every year until the Lord says different. The desert population of Quartzsite, Arizona, swells from a few thousand people, to an estimated million-plus people during this time of the year. It is the largest (campground) in the country during this time, and a great opportunity for us to share the Good News of our Risen King.
The first leg of our westward journey took us from San Antonio, Texas (our home-base), to Ft Stockton, Texas. On travel days, we usually get an early start after sunrise, and stay on the road until about an hour or two before sunset. If we can avoid it, we prefer not to do any nighttime driving. We pulled into a familiar rest stop in Ft Stockton to spend our first evening. Honestly, I think I may have missed a ministry opportunity. We are always trying to be sensitive to the leading of the Lord in where we stop, or spend the night. A couple of hours prior to our stopping for the evening, I had pulled over to a rest area for a quick stretch and “potty break”; while there, I saw a couple outside walking their dog; we noticed each other and exchanged waves (they too were traveling in a motorhome; we parked behind them). Adriene told me that the guy looked like he wanted to get my attention as I was heading to the restroom. When I came back, they were about to pull off, but I rushed outside and went to speak with him at the drivers window. I introduced myself, and as I usually do, I also introduced he and his wife to our mission on the road. I gave them a couple of our ministry cards, and found out that they too were planning to stop for the evening at a campground in Ft Stockton, Texas. The campground that they were going to, was one that we are familiar with; we had stayed there last year. After our short encounter, they pulled off and headed back on the road; we ended up seeing them a couple more times on the road.
As we passed the campground that they were stopping at, I wondered if we had missed an opportunity to minister to their needs, but we continued on the road and ended up spending the night at a Ft Stockton rest stop. Our goal is to never allow our planned schedule, to get in the way of yielding to the leading of the Lord. Often, when we are stopping for just the night, we will stay in rest stops, or an occasional Walmart parking lot, because it is “free camping”, and we are leaving early the following morning. We are fully contained, so hookups to electricity and water are not required.
Before pulling off from the rest stop the following morning, I noticed a guy riding down the shoulder of the highway on his bicycle. The ironic thing that I thought about as he continued his journey, is that I’m sure that he considered himself “self-contained” as well. I’m sure that he had everything that he “needed” with him. After looking closer, I realized that he even had his companion with him; his dog was riding in a milk cart attached to the back of his bike. Seeing this reminded me of the importance of exercising our faith; taking what we “have” with us, and believing God will provide for our every “need” when the need arises. We have to always remind ourselves that, just because our rig is “self contained”, we still have to trust God to provide for our needs.
We know that our calling to “campground ministry” is not normal; it’s not “church as usual”. We are always excited to see others that are serving the Lord, outside of the box of “normalcy”. This trucking company is taking a bold stance for Christ. As we were heading down the road, I thought that it was just another fellow believer proclaiming their faith, but in short order, we passed a truck weight station, and we saw two more trucks lined up with the same proclamation of Jesus in John 14:6 (“I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by me”). We realized that each of these trucks had a different email address on the back of them; on the side of the trailer, it says JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, big and bold. I’m sure that the impact that this trucking company is having in the trucking community, and on the highways of America, is immeasurable. I asked myself, the journey and ministry of Jesus was not normal, why should ours be? I’m confident in knowing that this trucking company is not blending in with the crowd, it is standing out among all others.
We woke up that morning, and found that two other coaches had pulled in overnight. One thing for sure about spending the night in a rest stop is that, you never know who your neighbors will be in the morning, but I get excited to see fellow RVer’s, because I know that they represent the community that God has called us to. We consider every RVer as a potential member of our “Church Without Walls”, and as a result, I find myself already connected as we serve as Pastors to this mobile community. We have a common bond, and we use that bond as the catalyst to help us in leading our community to Jesus
It was a new day, and we were heading back out on highway 10, heading West. After our morning routine in the rig, and checking out our rest stop surroundings, I prepared the tow vehicle, and the motorhome for take-off. Every travel day starts off with a time of prayer and thanksgiving before we take our places in the “cockpit”. Once I got the GPS started, and Adriene prepared the “navigators area”, we were ready to head for the on-ramp for another day of travel. In our planning, we anticipated doing between 300 and 400 miles per day heading to Arizona, but as I previously mentioned, we just never know. Our travels today took us from Ft Stockton, Texas, through New Mexico, and into Wilcox, Arizona. As sunset was looming, Adriene pulls out one of her navigator tools; the Next Exit Book, and starts looking for our next resting place. The Next Exit Book is just that, it tells you what you will find at each exit along a particular stretch of highway. It has become a key tool in our arsenal of “travel tools”. We also have the Next Exit App on our cellphones, but Adriene prefers the feel of flipping the pages of the book, and making notes in it along the way; it is alway good to have a “Plan B” when we come across areas of the country when we see the proverbial “no service” on our cell phones.
We pulled in to another rest area for the evening; we got settled in and it wasn’t too long before we were starting up the generator to get some dinner going, and searching for the perfect movie. One of our ministry partners blessed us with a “Roku Stick”, which provides us Netflix, Hulu, and Pure Flix. As long as we had cellular service, coupled with unlimited data, we were set for a movie night at a rest stop in the plains of Arizona. We had a nice evening; even with the “low roar” on vehicles passing on the highway, we still rested quite nicely.
The following morning, we had our sites set for “Crystal’s House”. We set the GPS to lead us to Phoenix Destiny RV Resort in Goodyear, Arizona. Crystal is Adriene’s sister, and also one of our ministry partners. As we travel, we look forward to visiting those that have aligned with our vision, and helping us in fulfilling it. Check-In time at the campground was 3 o’clock, but we arrived at about 2 o’clock. The main office was closed, it was a Sunday, but the security guy got us all checked-in ready to head to our site. We were only planning to stay at this campground for one day, but we reserved this campground for a couple of reasons; one was that it was a nice campground, that was close to Crystal. Secondly, we wanted to be at a campground for a night, before heading out to the desert that next day. We wanted to dump our waste tanks, and fill up our water supply as well. I also wanted to get a layer of road dirt off of the rig and tow vehicle, before heading back out again.
We went over and spent much of the day at Crystal’s house. Actually, Crystal was heading to California the next day, so I suggested that Adriene spend the night with her that night, while I head back to the campground and crash in the “Bachelor Pad” for the evening. She didn’t argue one bit about that suggestion :-) Before, leaving for California, Crystal blessed us and the ministry alike. She not only blessed us in our immediate needs, but also provided Bibles and food to share with our community in the desert (food for the the soul, and the body); she was quite the blessing …
I went back in the morning to pickup my co-pilot; Crystal had already left for the airport heading to California; we loaded up her “blessings” into the car, locked the house up, stopped by Walmart for a few things, and headed back to the campground. Check-out time for the campground was at 11 o’clock, so we had a couple of hours left to finish our preparations for heading to the desert. We had a “short” day of travel (only 150 miles), to our location in the Quartzsite desert. While outside finishing up, my neighbor came out of his fifth wheel trailer to meet me. I was in the middle of dumping the tanks, so rather than shaking hands, I gave him an “elbow bump”. His name was Paul, and he was a Retired Army Airborne Ranger; I found out that he and his wife were Christians, and their son was a Pastor that was starting a church in his home in the area. After spending a little time “jousting” each other, as retired Army and Air Force people tend to do, his wife came out and I had the opportunity to meet her as well. I shared our mission for campground ministry with them and they were very excited to hear about our assignment. I gave them a couple of our cards and they pledged to pray for us and our travels. They were heading out, so I finished up outside, while Adriene finished up inside. It was finally time for us to leave, so we pulled out, got the car hooked up, and started on our way to Quartzsite.
Come to find out, while I was outside finishing up, Adriene was inside in “creation-mode”. Adriene has been adamant about us eating healthier, and I am onboard all the way. If you are not careful, it is easy to get accustomed to “eating as the locals” everywhere you go, but we all know how that story will end (unhealthy living). She has been making us some fruit smoothies on a regular basis in the morning, and I am loving it. She made us a smoothie with blackberries, bananas, grapes, and whatever else; all I know is that it was really good. It didn’t hurt that it was also “good for us”. I’m always looking forward to her next “Magic Bullet” creation.
Well, it just so happened, that this day (Monday), was my official second day on leave, but it also was the first day of the “Government Shutdown” that took place. I wasn’t too concerned about the shutdown, because in my mind, I was in “leave-mode”. We knew that the shutdown was looming before we left on Friday, so I had made preparations at work before leaving on Thursday.
While we were at Walmart that morning, I gave my supervisor a call to touch base about the shutdown, and to see how he wanted to handle the signing of documents putting all of us “Government Employees” on furlough status. He agreed to send me the documents via email, and I agreed to sign the documents electronically, and return them to him. Yes, I signed my furlough papers, while sitting in the desert in “ministry mode”. My supervisor confirmed that he had received my documents, and that was that. The shutdown only lasted one day, but come to find out, the government shutdown saved me a day of leave because you can’t be on leave while you are furloughed … All I have to say about the Government Shutdown is “Thanks”.
When we arrived at our planned “boondocking” location, I pulled over to go in the office to pay our “camping fee” and register to stay in the area. At the time, I didn’t realize why there was no line, until I got closer and someone yelled out of their vehicle “just drive on in and find your spot, there is a government shutdown and no-one is in the office”. I didn’t think about it ahead of time, but the area that we were headed to, is managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) … government employees. We headed down the winding desert road, until we came up on our “community in the desert”. Our rig is made by Monaco, the community that we “campout” with in the desert are other Monaco coach owners. We initially connected online at the iRV2.com Monaco Forum, and established the iRV2 Monaco meeting area. When we pulled up, I walked into the area to see what the parking situation was; well, the main circle was already full, so people started parking on multiple bands behind the main circle. We ended up four rows back, but it still wasn’t too far away from the main circle, and still in the midst of fellow “Monacoers”.
As previously mentioned, we were in the land of “boondocking”, which means there are no hookups at all (no electric, no water, no sewer, and no cable); everyone has to be self-sustaining. Effective boondocking takes a lot of practice, but we are learning more each time we experience it. From our “campsite”, if you find yourself in a pinch, you can move from your campsite, drive and a mile down the road, dump your tanks and fill up with more water. That is what you are paying for when you stay in this area ($40 for a 2 week stay - do the math, that is about $3 per day) - no brainer on that decision for us.
After getting settled into our spot, I didn’t waste any time, I was heading out to see who I could see, and meet whomever I could meet. There were some people that I recognized from last year, but there were many other new faces to meet as well. The community was very welcoming, and I immediately found myself in “Campground Pastor” role. A couple of people came, thanking me for the Bibles that we gave out last year. One lady came and led me to her coach so that she could let her husband know that we were there. His mother wasn’t doing very well, and he was in need of prayer.
Just because people are out “camping”, doesn’t mean that they are not dealing with real needs in their lives. During our time in the desert of Quartzsite, we were dealing with the need for salvation, issues of serious health problems, divorce, family separation, alcoholism, and homosexuality, among other needs. We don’t take likely the role that God has put us in while ministering to our “congregation” in the desert. We had the opportunity to build upon existing relationships, as well as foster new ones. We were “camped out” with people from all over the country, as well as Mexico.
The beauty of camping out with other “Monacoers” is that we are all there to help one another. Everyone, has their area of expertise, and everyone was willing to share their specialty with the group. Motorhomes are very complicated pieces of machinery, and having others with similar models, and similar problem areas, is nothing but a positive. I am not necessarily mechanically inclined, but I had people over at our rig helping me resolve some of our “motorhome issues” as well. We didn’t really have mechanical expertise to share with the congregation, but we brought “spiritual covering and guidance” to the group.
We even had a few guys come over to help me with our tow vehicle, it decided to overheat during our time in the desert. Just to give you an example of the generosity of the group; after our tow vehicle overheated, we determined that I would need a new thermostat installed, well, one of the men in the group let me drive his truck into town to the automotive store to get my needed parts. The store didn’t have my specific thermostat in stock, but ordered it for me, with the expected arrival of the following day. I placed the order and came on back. The next morning, I called to see if my part had come in; it had. I went out of our rig and walked around our camp for a few minutes to see if anyone was out and about; there were a few guys out talking so I went over to them to see if anyone could take me to town to pickup the parts. While talking to them, another guy walks up and says “Aren’t you the one that is fixing your tow vehicle?, I said yes, he told me that I could take his truck and do what I needed to do, they were going to do some sightseeing with another couple for the day, and wouldn’t need the truck”. I am confident to this day, that I don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know mine, but one day after meeting him, he let me take his truck to town; now that is “community”.
Church takes on a different definition for us when we are traveling. It is indeed, “Church Without Walls”; there are no pews, there is no choir, there is no praise team, there are no flashing lights; just a group of people, with needs in their lives, that need to be met; whether they be spiritual, or tangible. Introducing people to Jesus, the problem solver. I think this best resembles what Christ did during His earthly ministry, He came upon a need, and addressed it, either publicly, or privately. Lives were changed, and people left different than they were before they encountered Him.
We also went to visit the “Big Tent” a couple of times. Anything that you need to enhance your RVing experience, can be found in, or around the Big Tent; it is the major draw for some people to visit Quartzsite each year; not to mention the typical 70-80 degree weather. We came across a booth for those that were planning to travel to Alaska, well Adriene and the booth attendant decided to break out in the “Alaska State Song” together; they drew applause after that one. We only purchased a couple of things at the tent, and on our second visit, we toured some new motorhomes and visited some of the surrounding vendors. The “Big Tent” is a must-go if you are in Quartzsite this time of the year, but it was certainly not our priority.
Remember the food that Crystal blessed us with for the community, well, the day of the group potluck, Adriene went out and found some other ladies that were willing to help her cook the meats, so that we could share it with the congregation that afternoon. The “potluck” is to the RVing community, what the “fellowship dinner” is to the local church. It is a great time to meet new people, and “enter” into each others world. During the potluck, and the evening campfires are times when many needs are identified, so we don’t miss them too often. I’m told that there were 50-55 rigs in our group, that equates to 100 or more people joining us this year. I’m known as Pastor Robert in our congregation, and I don’t take that lightly. Adriene and I, and the partners of Altar to Altar Ministries are becoming the Church Without Walls in the Quartzsite desert; I’m excited about what God has in-store for the future.
We stayed in Quartzsite for about a week, before we decided to continue our travels further west. We hadn’t told them yet, but we decided to continue west into California, so that we could go and spend a little time with Adriene’s niece that had delivered her 2nd child, just about 2 weeks prior. That is also where Crystal flew to, so this would be a surprise to her as well, and we would be able to give her a report on how she blessed our “desert congregation”.
“And There, We Built An Altar …”
Stay Tuned ... There Is Lots More To Come ... Click here for more photos from our trip
It was Thursday morning, and I still didn’t know where the Lord would have us to spend the long weekend. I tried to get us into a few RV Parks, but, due to it being a holiday weekend, lots of parks were full. Then I went to my Good Sam RV Park app on my phone, and my search led me to Johnson Creek RV Resort & Park. It was great to see that the park got perfect ratings from Good Sam (10/10/10), so I decided to give them a call. I was speaking with a young lady on the phone, asking her if they had any openings for the weekend; initially she said that they were full, then she said, "wait a minute, we have one spot", I asked her if it was a "pull thru" spot and she said that it was. I then said "sounds good to me; sign me up". It was then that we got our reservation, and our "assignment" for the weekend. I sent Adriene a. message and told her where we would be going for the weekend. The plan was to leave right after work, so that we would arrive at our destination before dark.
We knew that we didn’t want to go too far away from our San Antonio "home base", because our second daughter is expecting to deliver her first child, our third grandchild, within the next week or two. She is expecting to deliver in Kyle, Texas, which is about two and a half hours away from our weekend assignment at Johnson Creek RV Resort. I call the campgrounds that God sends us to "assignments", because we always know that God has a specific work for us to do when we get there. We seldom know what that "assignment" is, until we get there, but we wouldn’t be on a "faith journey", if we knew everything ahead of time.
Friday after work, I headed home and Adriene was packed and ready to go; I had put most of my things in the rig on Thursday, and my last few things were in the back of the car already. We keep the coach pretty much "ready for take-off" all the time, with the exception of food, and minimal clothing, I usually get the refrigerator cooling the night prior, so that we are ready to head out the following day. We grabbed the few things Adriene had, along with a few bags of food, and we were heading to the motorhome, so that we could get out of town before the major "rush-hour" traffic got too bad. It wasn’t too long, and we had everything loaded. We realized that the refrigerator had turned off for some reason during the day, so Adriene took the car to get a bag of ice to put in the cooler, while I got the motorhome ready. By the time she returned with the ice, I had the refrigerator working again, but we used our large cooler and the ice to keep our food cool until the refrigerator was cooled down. I pulled the coach out of storage, got the "toad" hooked up on the back, and we were ready to hit the road. We were on the road heading west by about 5 o'clock, expecting to be at Johnson Creek, in Ingram, Texas, by about 6:30.
Traffic wasn’t too bad, but "rush-hour" was certainly evident. Other than a few stints of bumper-to-bumper traffic the trip went very well, and un-eventful. By the time we arrived at Johnson Creek, the office was already closed, but they had our site assignment and a map on the door waiting for us; we were heading to site #40. We debated whether we should "drop" our tow vehicle at the office, our pull it all the way to our site. Our first impression was that it might be a little tight, but I decided to keep the toad connected, and headed to our site. Our coach and tow vehicle combine for about 60 feet, so campground (big rig) maneuverability is always a consideration. We made our way to our site (actually, just past our site), and Adriene said "there is site 40"; by that time, I was too far to pull straight into our "pull-through" site, so I had to disconnect the tow vehicle at that point, back it up, so that I could back up the coach, then pull into our site; Adriene pulled the car in behind me. It was time to get the rig leveled and set-up, before it got too dark outside. I still ended up doing a couple things outside with my flashlight in hand, but we were all settled in for the evening.
Saturday morning, we got up, had some breakfast, and I headed over to the office to "settle our account". It was then that I realized that we were at the right place, at the right time; our assignment was revealed to me. I had the pleasure of meeting Angelique; she was managing the main office. As she was processing my payment, I noticed the scripture on the wall behind her; Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. I told her that was one of my favorite scriptures, and as I often do, I asked her if there was any type of church services provided at the campground. It was then that I shared with her about our ministry and calling to campground ministry; I also gave her and another gentleman in the office, a few of our ministry cards. She was so excited to see what we were doing. Once she finished with the business at hand, she told me about Chapel in the Hills, the on-site church services, and also shared with me that the owners (Tom and Lisa) are devoted Christians, and the campground was built on biblical principles. Knowing that we are also believers, and now knowing our mission, she also shared with me an overarching prayer need for the owners of the park. Tom, was in need of divine healing in his body, and we were asked join them in prayer for his healing. I began praying immediately, and after leaving the office, I started to walk the grounds and pray for the souls that God would entrust to us during our stay. I also took the opportunity to take a look at the “little chapel” on the grounds that the congregation had outgrown; I also went over to the new “Chapel”; which is a converted western dance hall. I was peeking in the window, when one of my new brothers opened it up for me to go in and take a look. Before leaving, I took to opportunity to pray for Chapel in the Hills, and the services to take place there in the morning. I got back to our rig, and shared with Adriene about our assignment; not knowing that God had even more in store for us.
I had decided to go back to San Antonio that afternoon (about an hour and a half ride) to support my supervisor, as he was having the "homegoing" service for his 92 year old dad that passed away a few days earlier. He was to have full military honors, and the family memorialized him beautifully. He left behind his wife of 70 years (yes, that is not a typo; seven-zero years of marriage), 4 children, and many grandchildren. Adriene went along with me, even though neither of us knew his dad, I wanted to be there for support; he was really glad to see me, and a few more of my coworkers. Funerals always give you the opportunity to reflect on the impact that you are having through life, and it did that for us as well. After leaving the services, we grabbed a bite to eat, and started heading back to Johnson Creek, our home away for home for the weekend. As I was driving back, I was thinking about what people would say about me at my homegoing service, when I go to be with the Lord. I often think about the impact that I am having on the lives of the people around me, and this occasion was no different. By the time that we got back, Adriene was yawning, and ready for an afternoon nap; I went outside and did some reading.
One of the great things about living in RV parks is that sitting outside is a great way to meet people; while outside, I noticed that a few of the rigs had “yard pelicans” outside of their coaches, and I was reminded that there was an RV Club known by their pelicans. Low and behold, I was right; the Texas Boomers were at Johnson Creek for an RV Club rally, and from what I found out, there were about thirty people there for the rally. I had the opportunity to meet a few of them. We haven’t joined any local clubs yet, but we may at some point. Our goal is to be on the Campground Mission Field fulltime, so local clubs don’t fit very well into our vision. We are however part of a few nationwide clubs (FMCA, Good Sam, and Escapees).
As I often do, I began to walk the campground, praying for the residents, and taking pictures of the area; capturing memories to reflect on. Johnson Creek RV Resort has a pecan orchard on it, but I never did go through the orchard to see if there were any pecans laying on the ground; I really don’t even know when pecans are in season, but it did bring back childhood memories of my siblings and I picking up bags of pecans in my grandparents backyard. They had a “massive” pecan tree, and we spent hours picking up pecans when we went to their house in North Carolina to visit. Now that I look back at it, I think my parents and grandparents could have broken some “child labor laws” with that one. :-) It was a nice, quiet evening; we watched a little TV and called it a night, with high expectation for the chapel service in the morning.
We got up early enough on Sunday to have a little breakfast, and a time of devotion before we started getting ready to head out for service. We decided to wear our Altar to Altar Ministries shirts, which always give us an opportunity to share what God has called us to do with others. The service started at 9:45 and it was 5 minutes walking distance from our site to Chapel in the Hills. When we got the front door of the “new chapel”, Lynette, the Co-Pastor, met us at the door; then introduced us to Pastor Roy. He recognized us right away. I’m not sure if it was our ministry shirts, or if he had been on our website, because he had our card in his front pocket; one of the brothers had passed our card on to him. They welcomed us with open arms and as we typically do, we headed close to the front, to find a seat.
Service opened up with a time of praise and worship; we felt very comfortable because we knew every song that the praise team sang; the words were provided on screen, but I was able to close my eyes, sing the songs, and enjoy myself as the presence of the Lord was ushered into the house. As service progressed, Pastor Roy was praying for a couple of families; one of which was going on the road fulltime. He then invited Adriene and I to come up; the Lord had led him to pray for us, and for the next level of ministry that the Lord was leading us in to. The Lord met us at the altar, the Pastor Roy confirmed what God had been placing in our spirits. I was so grateful, that he yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit, to call us up, and pray over us; I think I may have been weeping from that time on, until the end of the service, because I knew that we were exactly where God wanted us to be, at the right time. We met the Lord at the altar of Chapel in the Hills. Pastor Roy preached a message from Mark 10:46-52, and confirmed my prayer for both physical, and spiritual healing in the house.
When service was over, we took the opportunity to pray for Pastors Roy and Lynette; they too, confirmed the timeliness of God sending us to them. We are so excited to see what God is doing through their ministry. After prayer, they invited us to join them for lunch and a time of fellowship with them and other members of the Chapel in the Hills family; we graciously accepted. Over lunch, they poured into us, and shared their ministry needs with us. We had an awesome time “breaking bread” with them, and getting to meet some of the church family.
Once we got back “home”, we relaxed for a while and waited for the Dallas Cowboys/Greenbay Packers game to come on. That was a really good game, but Dallas lost out in a “cliff-hanger” at the end. Adriene is a pseudo Packers fan, so that made the game even more interesting. Before the game, I said the Cowboys would win by 3, Adriene said the Packers would win by 3 – the Packer won by 4; oh well …
Later in the evening, Adriene and I went out to “walk the grounds”. After I took her over to look at the “Little Chapel”, we were walking down the road, and a gentleman called to us to get our attention. He had been in service earlier; his name was Paul. As Paul approach us, he said “tell me about Altar to Altar”. We began to share with him the mission and vision of Altar to Altar, and shared the importance of an experience at the altar. Paul then, shared with us. While we were sharing with Paul, God showed up again. We saw a lady riding a golf cart down the driveway of the private residence; it was Lisa, co-owner of the park. She rode over to us with her 2 dogs in-tow. We began to introduce ourselves to her, but she already knew who we were; someone had passed one of our ministry cards to her and her husband Tim. Yes, this is the same Tim, that was in need of a healing in his body.
After Lisa introduced herself to us, and shared their prayer needs with us, she asked us if we would like to go back to the house with her, and pray for her husband; without hesitation, we said yes. She went back to the house to let Tim know that we were coming. God opened an opportunity for us to go in, fellowship, and lay hands on Tim’s need; knowing that by the stripes of Jesus, healing was going to take place in Tim’s body. Tim has a great sense of humor, and also has a testimony that God is healing his body. By the time we left, it had gotten dark outside; Adriene turned on her iPhone flashlight, and we made our way back to the rig. God is so faithful; we are so glad to be able to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus.
Unfortunately, it was Monday morning (Columbus Day), and it was time for us to leave Johnson Creek RV Resort. I was outside beginning to prepare for departure; while outside walking around the rig, I started talking with my neighbor for a while, then I look up, and there was Paul walking down the street towards us. He said that he had been walking around the park looking for us. That confirmed my need to get us some type of signage to put at our campsite. Paul thanked us again for our time there, and welcome us back at any time. He also allowed me to pray for him before leaving. Paul has actually inspired me to be more, and do more.
Once I got everything finished up outside, and Adriene had finished up inside, it was time to build an altar. I put it at our site as a symbol of the visitation of God; both at our site, and at Johnson Creek. Adriene and I closed out our time there in prayer, and we were pulling out of our site by check-out time (11 o’clock)
And There We Built An Altar …
Blessings Everyone ... I'm Robert Allen, and my wife is Adriene Allen; we are the Founders of Altar To Altar Ministries, and we love to travel and share our travels with others. Join us on our journey, it's going to be a great ride.