In August 2016, I had the amazing honor to serve as the evangelist for the second week of the annual Malaga Camp in Newfield, New Jersey. The camp is a town within itself with named streets, houses and cottages lining these streets, an outdoor pool, an ice cream parlor, a dining hall, and at the center is a tabernacle where the community gathers each morning and evening during the two weeks of camp for worship and preaching. As I shared with Nancy and the kids about this camp, I told them they would need to travel with me when I was scheduled to return in 2020.
So, for four years, our family has been looking forward to a fantastic trip to New Jersey where we would visit with Nancy’s dad (Carl) in Emerson, New Jersey (northern New Jersey) prior to heading to Malaga Camp. Our plan was to travel into New York City while visiting Carl, where we would take in a Broadway show, see the Statue of Liberty, visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, etc.
As with all things 2020, our plans started to unravel in March with the pandemic closures and travel restric0ons. We watched as New York and New Jersey were announced to be “hot spots.” We started to wonder if Malaga Camp would have to cancel their 151st Camp Meeting and whether we would still be able to travel to New Jersey. In June, I spoke with the camp president who confirmed they were planning to move forward with the camp. He and I spoke throughout the month of July and we made our plans to go ahead and travel.
We embarked on our travels on Wednesday, July 29 at 4:15am. We were very blessed with smooth travels, arriving in Emerson, New Jersey around 9:00pm Eastern Time. We made the drive in less than 16 hours. It was great to visit with Carl and his friend, Mary each morning and evening, while during the day, we would make a day- trip into New York City. As you may imagine, we were unable to visit much, but we were able to drive through Times Square on multiple occasions with very little traffic. We saw the New Year’s Ball, Rockefeller Center, Broadway, etc. I will admit my own fear when we first crossed over the George Washington Bridge. It was well worth it. On Saturday, we boarded a boat from Liberty Park in New Jersey to travel to the Statue of Liberty. Our family was six of the eleven passengers on the boat. The boat’s capacity is over 400 people. We were able to keep “social distance” and enjoyed Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. As we stood at Liberty Park and at the Statue of Liberty, I was struck with the New York City Skyline, being reminded of September 11, 2001.
We headed to Malaga Camp on Sunday where I was excited to reconnect with brothers and sisters I had met in 2016 and to introduce my family to them. Like many camps, the reunion/homecoming mentality was amazing. Each evening Sunday-Friday, I had the opportunity to preach and on Monday-Friday, I led a Bible Study on 1 and 2 Peter. We were witness to people reconnecting with Christ, surrendering their lives to Jesus, and experiencing the healing power of Christ in their lives. I was blessed to pray with people and to speak with people about how God was using the messages to speak to deeper places in their hearts and minds.
While we were at camp, our van began to “act up.” It would crank, but it would not start. As with so many things in life today, I Googled the symptoms, only to discover it could be a $1,000 or more repair. During worship on Monday night, I asked for a suggestion of a good mechanic. A member of the camp community gave me a phone number and name. I called on Tuesday morning and he was willing to get me in immediately. I took the van to his shop as Tropical Storm Isaias was moving into the area. The rain was coming down in buckets as I dropped off the van and headed back to the camp. While I was leading the morning Bible Study in the Tabernacle, the brunt of the storm struck, knocking limbs down all around camp. I looked outside through the back door while I was teaching, only to witness the local fire department coming onto camp. We found out later that two of the homes on camp had large branches break through their roofs. Needless to say, Bible Study was shortened on Tuesday.
As the week progressed, I checked on the van, while also checking with my local mechanic here in Albion to get his diagnosis from a distance. On Friday, I was excited to hear from the mechanic and find out the cost was $115. God had provided a great mechanic and a generous mechanic, as he only charged me for the part and the diagnosis. Thank you, Jesus!
When we left Malaga Camp on Saturday, we decided we would round out our journey with a quick trip into Washington, DC. We were able to park near the Washington Monument, walk The Mall seeing the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Capitol Hill. We drove past the Pentagon and the Supreme Court and saw the White House from a distance.
It was truly a memorable trip! Thank you for your prayers.