The long awaited moment finally arrived—we were going to Oshkosh! For some of us it started on Thursday night, Aug. 8, 2014, with our sleeping on the Austin South Church floor. Anticipation was running high and most everyone was awake by 2:30 or 3 and in the van by 4:30 AM Friday. After a long day’s drive we arrived in St. Louis for the weekend. With usual helpfulness the Pathfinders helped prepare the St. Louis Church Sanctuary Sabbath morning by putting things in the pews and opening blinds, then participated as the praise team for church. It was great to see the Olin family again! Sabbath afternoon we went to the free St. Louis Zoo with Pathfinders from the area. Sunday was spent at the historic Cahokia Indian Mounds and at the famous Arch (naturally!).
Monday it was on to Wisconsin! We found our campsite and quickly set up camp just in time to keep our reputation intact—it rained promptly after we arrived! The rain continued on into the next morning and the dirt roads became a muddy mess! Vehicles were getting stuck and mud-stained feet was the fashion statement of the day. In spite of that, everyone was cheerful with spirits undampened. Our club went exploring to see all the different camping areas and where the activities were located. They also discovered the intoxicating appeal of pin trading! Naturally, the international pins were the most sought after, though finding and talking to people from different places was the most fun part!
Every evening all 47,000+ of us gathered on the great grassy field to sing praises together, to pray,and to listen to beautiful music from talented folks from all over the world. There were baptisms every night as well. The highlight, of course, was the drama about the story of Daniel, bringing it to life, showing that those 4 Hebrews were teenagers who were just like teenagers today, kids who faced hard decisions and didn’t have all the answers but chose to follow God no matter what—they were faithful! And God showed that He is “Forever Faithful” as well. There was a short sermon afterward by Pastor Sam Leonor from LaSierra University which was always interesting and to the point.
There were so many choices of things to do, one could not get around to everything, of course. There were many honors that could be worked on, music and drum-corps competitions, a Creation booth, 2 life-size Sanctuary models, fun activities like bouncy houses, the German Carousel and rock-climbing towers. There was a petting zoo, and Gunther the Lion (a real male lion who was not in the petting zoo -- you could not pet him!). There were a couple of Christian ventriloquists who did presentations, and a multitude of other things I don’t have space to mention. There were also food tents of many varieties. The Filipino one seemed to be the most popular with long lines, though the Haitian food I sampled was pretty good, too.
Another aspect that really made an impression was that every club was given a shofar, or ram’s horn, brought from the land of Israel, and these were to be blown at 9:00, Noon, and 3:00. Wherever we were at the time we would stop, find a person or several, friend or stranger, and pray together! It was awesome! If the staff forgot, Pathfinders would remind us it was time for prayer.
The final meeting was delayed because thunderstorms were moving into the area. We all formed little prayer groups and asked God to protect us and to deflect the storm if it pleased Him, but however it turned out, we were in His hands. The program then proceeded . The rain finally started to fall, but was fairly light at first and there was no lightning. Most people just stayed put even if they didn’t have rain gear because they didn’t want to miss anything. The final drum corps came out and played with water dancing off their drums, and the fireworks were spectacular even in the rain.
Fortunately the rain didn’t last long. Next came two days of driving back home again and drivers trying very hard not to fall asleep while doing it! An overnight stopover at Tulsa was very helpful. We heard about a club from England whose van caught fire and burned along the freeway in Chicago as they were heading out. They lost everything, but no one was hurt. In spite of that they had a wonderful attitude, saying that just like Daniel’s friends had a fiery trial, so they had endured a fiery trial, but no matter what, “God is Forever Faithful”! Evidently other Pathfinder clubs have rallied to their aid and taken them shopping to replace clothes, and their passports have been replaced, so God has indeed been good!
Pray that we all will be faithful to Him as He is “Forever Faithful” to us!