The sign says it all! The tiny village of Ridge is surrounded by ranches with herds of Black Angus cattle, fields of hay, and some antelope and deer. The ranches don't look much like the ones in western movies. The houses are ordinary, sometimes double-wide manufactured homes, with barns and sheds that are basically just like those on farms. From the main highway 20 miles along a dusty road to the turnoff at Ridge, it is another three miles through ranch land to the camp. Frank was joking along the way that it was more of a cowpath than a road, but it was actually better than that, although when it rains it becomes a gooey mess.
When you expect the worst, it is always pleasant to find that things are much better than you expected! True, the cabins were rough and rugged, there were lots of daddy-longlegs, and the tabernacle had a sawdust floor and really uncomfortable benches. But the people were friendly, the food was excellent, and the outdoor setting for the camp was gorgeous. Lots of pine trees and hills with beautiful wildflowers in abundance. The worst part------the cold weather! In an unusual year the temperatures were really, really cold in the early morning and just a little warmer in the afternoons. One morning it was 44 degrees, but most mornings were between 48 and 55 degrees. In a warm building that's bearable. But in an unheated cabin with open spaces between the floor boards, it is really hard to get out of those blankets in the morning and undress to get dressed! We had a cheerful yellow nine-patch quilt on our bed as well as two good blankets, but for two nights we still needed to put on more clothes when we hunkered down for the night. Actually, we were reminded of our India days when we went to visit Laura and Evan at boarding school. Several days were cloudy and rainy just like Ooty, the town where the school is located, as well as being very cool. One night the thunder actually rolled across the hills. I had always heard that phrase, but now I really understand what it means. The lightning show was spectacular, and the rain came down on the tin roof of our cabin. It was just like Ooty. Of course, to complete the comparison to India, the electricity went off in the night and didn't come back on till mid-morning the next day.
This is the tabernacle on a sunny morning. The sides can be put down to keep out the wind and the rain. The preaching was good, old-fashioned holiness preaching, but the evangelist had a sweet spirit and a great sense of humor. His name is E. R. Trouten, he was a Wesleyan pastor for a long time and later taught at God's Bible School in Cincinnati and Hobe Sound Bible School in Florida. There were a good number of teens at the camp, and he continually urged them to think about their spiritual life and what God required of them. But he did it in a sweet way, not condemning them.
We shared every day, twice a day. Each service had a "missionary moment" and Frank and I took turns talking about our personal calls to missions, some outstanding moments from our work in India and our short time in Ukraine, along with our hopes for the future. It was a little daunting at first to think that we had to speak sixteen times, not including Missionary Day when we were responsible for two full services. But it's amazing how the Lord helped us think of interesting and challenging things to share each day. On Missionary Day Frank preached on the Great Commission in the morning service and in the evening we gave our Ukraine presentation. The offerings were good, and people would continue to press money and checks into our hands throughout the week. They love the Lord and they want the whole world to know how wonderful God is. One young man, about 12 years old, came to our cabin just before bedtime one night and gave us three dollars. He had missed the offering on Missionary Day and he wanted to be sure that he participated in world evangelism. His name is William, but everyone calls him Wills. God has something special for Wills----he has a tender heart and a loving attitude.
In spite of the cold weather everyone had a good time at camp. The teens were fun and friendly, the cooks were fantastic, and the other adults were committed to hearing God's Word and obeying His commands. I'll just put in a few pictures of different people below so you can see their lovely smiles. We were ready to move on at the end of camp, but we will remember this as one of the most interesting experiences we have ever had on Homeland Ministry Assignment.