Vacation Part 1

Dear Father,

Thank You for all the wonder and beauty and love You’ve allowed me to see, especially lately.

It’s been an amazing few weeks.  On the 8th Laja got her way and we showed that frog movie.  0;-)  Maybe it was still a little embarrassing but seeing and hearing my friends laugh made it worth it.

And then two days later we packed the kids into the van and were off to Wisconsin.  We set out from Nebraska on Friday morning… June 11th, I guess it was.  Poor Persi got a little carsick.  I forget how novel a car ride is for the Tunnel kids.  We were all grateful she adjusted quickly.  Shelby and Jessie kept the kids’ from getting bored by playing “I Spy” and word games they must have learned Below.  It was great just to hear them playing.

To break things up for them, we stopped at every used book store we passed.  Sometimes I see children bent over cell phones and those handheld games and it makes me wonder what their futures will be like.  Will they be able to imagine and invent as much as previous generations who had less?  But seeing those kids’ excitement over plain, old books… it restored my hope, Father.

They went to bed early that night after I sang “Tender Shepherd” at Shelby’s request.  It seemed to have an effect on Laja.  At times I wondered if this trip was the best idea for her but by the end I was sure it was.  Mostly because she told me but I also don’t think You would have allowed me to go if it would hurt her.

Since everyone rested so well the night before, the 12th was when we got our first hike in.  Evan found a dead squirrel which made some of the younger kids cry.  Owen, Portia, and Laja seemed to think I was the best one to handle it.   I suppose maybe I was.  I told them that everything lives and dies but how death is never, ever the end.  Shelby held my hand for the rest of the hike.  I think she was thinking of her parents.  I know in the future she’ll have more questions.  Please help me to give her the answers she needs, Father.

On a far less serious note, poor Laja was really having a time of it.  I guess she took my concerns about her caffeine intake to heart and decided to quit coffee during our vacation.  Big mistake.  I found her outside Saturday night holding her head and I thought she’d had a seizure.  It turned out only to be caffeine withdrawal so I started the 13th with a run to the nearest cafe.  I’m not sure if she was happier to see me come back or see the blended iced mocha with a shot of coconut that I was holding.  0:-)  Sometimes I think she worries a little too much about what I think.

We spent the rest of Sunday at one of the lakes and ended it around the campfire.  There were shooting stars and something about that prompted Asher to ask me about You so we all talked a long time about You and Heaven.  Children often seem to have a better understanding of You and Home than adults, I’ve noticed.  It touched me so much to hear them talk.  They built on what each other said and never criticized.

Homesickness seemed to hit us all in unison Monday.  While I still felt close to You, surrounded by all the wonders You created, I did miss my friends back in Dyeland.  The cell phones were used a lot that day with calls back and forth to Dyeland and the Tunnels.  To keep the kids minds off that, we played football and softball and tag and Hide and Go Seek.  I think the kids definitely had the advantage on the last one.  I couldn’t believe some of the tiny places they got themselves into!

Tuesday was a very laid back day.  We did more hiking and swimming and fishing.  That night we toasted marshmallows and told stories around the campfire.  Since the site of the fire gave us full view of the cabin door; Portia, Owen, Laja, and I stayed out and kept talking while the kids slept.  Persi had fallen asleep on my lap so she stayed with us, too.  Somehow we got to talking about some of my past assignments and I found myself opening up to them more than I usually do.  I kept looking down at little Persi and thinking of all the children and all my friends and praying that bad things never come to them.  But I know that even if they do, You’ll be there with them always.  As much as I love them, I know You love them more.

After a while it was only Laja and me so we just sat quietly, listening to the owls and watching the stars and the bats.  Suddenly I felt more strongly than usual that this part of my life… it won’t last forever.  Laja must have sensed something of what I felt because she reached for my hand then.  I think You probably heard from us both that night.

Jeff just got back next door.  Please help me to find the right words for this assignment, Father.



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