Friday, May 1, 2015

The Summer of '97; the Sequel

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you probably already know that Tall Timber Ranch holds a very special place in my heart. It's where I met my sweetie, and where our courtship sparked, it's where he popped the question a couple of years later and it's where we visit when ever we get the chance. It is also where we lived the first summer after we married.

Grasshopper Mountain in the morning light
 Having worked in the kitchen for summer camp the year before, I was ready and willing to give it another go. I was prepared for the long tiring days because I also knew the rewards that came with the job. Being a part of a team effort that reached children of all ages and introduced them to the love of Jesus was worth every aching muscle, even every burn from the grill. Not to mention,Tall Timber is located in such a beautiful setting, it takes your breath away every time you walk outside and face the massive mountain range that borders the camp. Yep, I was looking forward to another experience at the camp.

making pans and pans full of jo-jo's!

The catch was... what about Bruce? Well, I certainly didn't relish the idea of being separated all summer. Being apart the year before had been challenging but we weren't married then! We thought the idea of living at the camp for the summer to be a fun one, if we could just find a way to make it work on his end. The only way was if he could land a job near there. Hmmm.

He began detailing the criteria he'd need for a temporary job.

1. Construction work, obviously; something he enjoyed doing would be sweet.

2. It needed to be located close enough to Tall Timber that commuting wouldn't be a big hassle.

3.  It needed to be one job- something that would last from June-August or Sept.

4. Preferably paid by the hour, not a bid, at prevailing wage.

And just to make it a little more challenging, he added that it would be nice if he knew the person or company well enough ahead of time to know if it would be a good working environment.

Well, that's quite a list and once I heard it my heart sank just a little. It wasn't that I doubted God could orchestrate it. It was that Bruce was painting a pretty tight circle around our mission opportunity. Add to this, I really needed to give the camp a definite answer about the job and soon. With no leads on any carpentry work and a decision about the assistant cook position waiting, the pressure was getting rather intense.

Finally the moment arrive where we said, Look, do we trust God or not? We believe He's calling me to come back and work at the camp. We want to go. Do we say yes and trust that God will bring Bruce work? What if we say yes and no work develops for Bruce and he has to return home in order to work? Can we deal with that? With prayer and faith, we decided to go for it. I called the camp and affirmed I would be there in June.

The next day... the VERY NEXT DAY, Bruce got a phone call from a contemporary in the construction world. A builder/supplier of log home kits, he was calling to ask Bruce about doing some sub-contracting work for him... (which he'd done in the past) and as the conversation developed, Bruce explained what our plans for the summer were.... and guess what???  Mr. M. just so happened to have a log house kit being erected in Leavenworth Wa, which was a 40 minute drive from Tall Timber. He needed someone to come in and do specialty trim and finish work. By the hour. It was enough work to last all summer. Would Bruce be interested?

the house Bruce worked on that summer. 

I chuckle every time I tell this story or even think about it. That's just how our God works! We step out in faith and He meets us, greets us, and when it comes to wants and needs, exceeds us!

So, that is how a few weeks later we loaded up my car and his work truck and headed over the mountains to our special camp. We spent the next 3 months living in a dorm style lodge, playing house parents to a building full of college kids.

Shultze Center, the dorm style housing where we lived.

It was a very different summer from the one before. That first summer I was learning my way around the kitchen and the quirks of the schedule. I was there with my daughter, rebuilding our relationship, missing my fiance and being stretched in various ways.

That second summer, feeling seasoned and comfortable, I was able to relax and find ways to play a little bit more. Bruce took a week and volunteered as counselor for Sr. High Camp, we enjoyed some weekend hikes and camp outs. We mingled with college kids and not only laughed at their antics but readily joined in. (OK--we might have even instigated some of it.)

date night for the love-burkes. We went to Leavenworth one night for the outdoor summer theater!

I've been back many times over the years, to help out in the kitchen when needed and even do a few stints as camp counselor but it's those summers of 1996 and 1997 that stand out in my memory the strongest. How God used those times to stretch our character, build our faith, heal our hearts, bind us together, and bless us in unimaginable ways.

the view of the camp from Eagles Nest Mountain.

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