Wednesday, May 9, 2007

From the Archives - Part Two

Wednesday July 23, continued…
It’s very warm here. 107 degrees Fahrenheit. No shade.
OK. I exaggerated. We do have the shade of the motor home. All seven of us are sharing that 2-foot by 23-foot space. The Ellis brothers have ‘called’ the grassy spot right in front of the door. It’s a silly place to stretch out. I keep stepping on them.

The Steltings are experienced creation festers… this is their sixth year. You should see their suuuweet crib. (I’m chillin with 16 year olds and have learnt the lingo. )
Their 15 year old son, Dane, joins my crew for a few hours of flirting with females on the walkie talkies. After anonymously chatting with the beauties who were sun-bathing on the top of their econoline van behind us, and misdirecting other groups looking for each other, Derek and Dane determine it’s their right to “own” channel 6. Drew listens and learns.
When Panorama’s youth group arrives, the walkie talkies are abandoned. (Kevin’s van is filled with 8 senior high girls and 1 guy.) Clearly they need assistance with tents and tarps. Astonishingly helpful, my boys are.
While the teens are checking each other out, I wander over to Rick and Sandra’s shaded patio. (Next year I have to bring a covered deck too. Might have to rent a touring bus.) They are a group of 5 humans. Tracey, an elementary school teacher (Sandra’s friend) is with them, as well as their two kids; Kaitlynn (who just graduated from high school) and Dane. Seems like a saner assembly of individuals. They were wise to put Panorama and The O’s at the far end of their reserved patch of grass.

After a dinner of hamburgers, BBQed by Clint and Clark, we leave for the festival. This year, thankfully, it’s only a ten-minute walk. (Unlike last year, when we camped in the overflow lot. That was an agonizing 35-minute walk to the amphitheatre.)

The Steltings have a “spot” that they always sit at. And they invite my boys and I to use it as our home base as well. I am touched that they are so generous with their space. Drew is not so touched. He’s ticked. He wants to sit on the lawn, away from the searing hot pavement. He’s had enough of this holiday. He’s ready to go home.
I move our blanket into the shadow of the stage, where it’s still burning hot on our bums, but at least the glare of the sun is not in our eyes. He lies down beside me and falls asleep.
The rest of my guys sit with the Stelting crowd and make themselves at home.
Tait ( a rock n roller) finishes his set, and the emphasis shifts over to worship. Paul Balouche leads us (about 12,000 of us) in a few popular worship songs and I dissolve. Lack of sleep? Relief that I am no longer driving? Appreciation for the beauty of my surroundings? Sense of God’s hand on me? Thankful that I am able to be share this experience with my kids? Whatever… With Drew’s sweaty body cuddled up to my aching legs, I let the tears flow. Then wish I’d brought some Kleenex for the inevitable runny nose that accompanies crying eyes.
Will anyone notice if I wipe my nose on my t-shirt? I’m going to end up with snot dots on my sleeve. Gross. Maybe with this heat they’ll dry quickly. Obviously can’t wear this top again. Hope I packed enough clothes. Thank you God for the privilege of being here. Thank you for the kids that have been entrusted to my care. Thank you for the Steltings. They are a gift from you. You know what these boys’ needs are. I pray that a speaker or song artist will speak Your truth directly to them. Let this week be a life changing experience for us all.

Rebecca St. James’s set is cris. (That means fine, good.) Drew sleeps through it. As she finishes up, Brian R pauses behind me to say hi. They have just arrived. He shares his tale of woe of how unhelpful the volunteer parking staff were for him and Al. They ended up driving through the fields looking for the Steltings space. They knew I had a rented motorhome from BC and that Rick and Sandra had an old truck and camper. Up and down, row after row, for hours, til they discovered our spot. (It’s such a good thing I drove all night.)

Audio Adrenaline are getting on stage (the evening’s headliner band), when Drew wakes up with a bee in his bonnet. (More like a wasp up his wahoo.) [Drew just read this over with me. “I had a bee in my bonnet? What’s a bonnet? I don’t remember any bee.]”
“I want to go.”
“But Audio A is just starting, you like…”
“I want to go now.”
“Ok. Just a sec…”
I pick up our blanket and agree it did feel better to get my backside off that blistering hot tarmac.
“Want to sit over there with Derek and…?”
“NO. I want to go back to our motor home. Now.”
As we exit the festival site, he’s angry. He wants to go home.
“Take me home.”
“Yeah. I don’t like it here. I want to go to home. Don’t ever bring me along again. I hate this.”
There’s no reasoning with him. He’s 8. Overtired. And homesick.
We stop at the HoneyBuckets then set up our bed in the RV.
I hear Audio A belting out my favorite tunes. I wish I was a part of that crowd. I want to experience the ‘good’ bands with my older kids. Sing along. Dance? Sway. Jump. Cheer.
Maybe Drew is too young to bring to these things. No one else has brought an 8 year old. (For that matter, no one else brought 6 boys, 9 years apart in age.) Why did I buy Drew a ticket? Because I want him to be a part of this. And even though its way more work for me to have him with us, I believe this is where God wants him. Watching, learning, absorbing…
God, give me patience. I pray that tomorrow will be better for him. Bless us both with a good night’s sleep.

He falls asleep immediately, so I sit outside under the stars in the breeze listening to Audio A in the distance. I notice that our space has filled up. Brian’s tent trailer is next to the Stelting’s covered patio. Al’s camper is on the end. A mini city of tents (5 of them) separates their neighbourhood from mine. More families had joined our crowd.
The concert ends at midnight. Shortly afterwards, the guys are back “home” looking for night snacks and getting ready to crash. They choose to sleep out in the open. Their tents are going to be used as changing rooms and storage closets. Works for me. I’m beat.

Thursday July 24

My older boys make arrangements to join Simon’s (a friend from Fraser Heights) youth group on their excursion to the river for a swim. Max and Drew stay behind. The three of us end up checking out a few of the early afternoon bands (Pax 217 and Switchfoot), but are overheated and sore by 3 o’clock. (Max fell and got stepped on in the mosh pit.)
Kevin’s youth group decides they need to cool off, so as they prepare to head to the river, my 4 older boys, back from their earlier trip, invite themselves along.
I was transferring melted ice water into a bucket (so that Max and Drew could soak their feet… Almost as good as a dunk in the river?) when Sandra invites us to join her. She is taking the pick-up truck to the river. Do we want to join her and Dane and Tracey? Max and Drew long to go. So I accept her invitation.
“Are you sure you have room?”
“Yup. Go get your bathing suit on.”
She obviously doesn’t know me. I don’t do “wet”. She can take me to the river. Can’t make me swim.
“By the way, Tracey and I wash our hair and shave our legs on these river trips.”
Uh huh. The reason that I’ve spent a mini fortune on my motorhome, is so that I could do my personal grooming in private. Last year, brushing my teeth and plucking my chin hairs out in the open was … well… not something I’d ever want to do again.
The kids and I change into boarding shorts and squish into her pick up truck, happy to escape the heat.
Al and Brian and their sons follow us in their van. (Brian is camping with his oldest two sons, 13 and 16 years of age. Manageable. Al has his three sons along; 13, 15, 17. Easy.)
At the river’s edge, everyone peels off excess clothing. There’s a race to get in. I’m last.
Ohhhh. Oh My Goodness. This is so refreshing. Ahhhhhh. I’ll go in past my knees. Maybe up to my hips. Man this feels good. Great to get the dust and sweat off my legs.
“Want some shampoo?”
“Yeah.” When am I going to get another opportunity to clean my hair? These campsites have no hookup. No electricity. One central water tap, near the HoneyBuckets is our source for water. The shower trailer always has an hour-long line up. I can't imagine showering in my motorhome. This is it.
I dunk underwater for the first time in 20 years.
Max and Drew are shocked. Who is this person in their mother’s body?
Al and Brian look stunned as Tracey, Sandra and I suds up. They don’t know if they should continue talking or turn away.
Ohhh. This feels lovely. Maybe I’ll do this at Cultus Lake this summer. Nah. I never get this hot there. Plus I can wash my hair in the cabin. But, ohh does this ever feel good.
They pass me some cream rinse and a bar of soap.
I think I’m going to like hangin with these folks.
I’m getting stretched again. But it feels good this time.

Needless to say, we are all in great moods for the evening’s concerts. Every one of us has cooled down and cleaned up.
“I’m packing extra frozen water in this cooler. So come by and refill your bottles after moshing.”
“Anything else I should bring? Chips? Apples?”
“Nah. We’ll eat again when it’s over.”
“I’m packing some Kleenex. For when the worship songs move you to tears. Anyone else think they might need some?”
“Uh. Jane? You’re on your own with that one, soldier...” Derek replied.

After the worship portion is done, and the speaker is finished, I let the boys escape “Sixpence None the Richer”. They want to shop at the tents instead.
But we are all blown away by the Newsboys concert. They open with Shine and end with the Breakfast Song. Oh man. If you’re going to attend events like this, make sure you sit near some Pentecostals. Yeah baby.

We dance. And sing. And bounce. And laugh. And dance some more. SO much fun. This concert alone is worth the price of admission.
Thank you thank you thank you God. This was such a perfect day. Awesome. Wonderful. Thank you for these friends. Thank you for these boys. Thank you for this place. Thank you for this experience. Thank you for the visit to the river… thank you for music. Thank you for Pentecostals, starry nights, cool breezes, shampoo, snugly 8 year olds, new friends and down filled pillows.

Part 3 tomorrow.

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