After a long period of time with no volunteering trips with our RV, we finally finally are able to get back out there and go. As I mentioned in my blog post titled “Purpose and Plans”, everything kinda stopped in 2020 for us due to Rotten Rona. In 2019 we began the volunteering plan, in 2020 it screeched to a halt. Only two projects total for us and BAM, done.
A few months ago we decided it was time to hit the road again. We looked through the options of faith-based camps to serve at and though we prefer to serve closer to home, we were drawn to one certain camp in middle Tennessee. It would require twelve plus hours of travel to arrive there towing our 36′ fifth wheel. This would be our longest trip ever towing our 5th wheel. But, sense of adventure kicked in, as well as a compelling interest in this particular camp, so we signed up to serve at Lighthouse Christian Camp.
You undoubtedly don’t need me to tell you this, but the Mr is the driver of our truck towing our fifth wheel, and I am the passenger. Wisdom tells me that one day I should at least attempt to get behind the wheel. You never know what might happen and I’d need to drive…. yeah, I don’t want to think about stuff like that. And honestly I’m not just a passenger. I, uh, tell him where to go. Gently? I try. 😏 Google Maps Lady has historically been in charge of navigating but after this trip, she and I are no longer on speaking terms. I haven’t fired her completely, but she took us and our F350 towing 36 foot fifth wheel to places that a Smart Car wouldn’t fit. In torrential rain. Over the Mississippi River by way of two lane bridges that scream “rickety”. Rough road, narrow lanes, heavy rain. And you can’t see in this picture below, but the bridge is not flat. You drive up quite a slope and then back down again. Over the Mighty Mississippi River. I texted our youngest daughter at that point in time and asked her to tell everyone we know that we love them. And to tell them to meet us in Heaven please. Was the driver nervous and scared?
No, no he was not nervous. But look out that window. Do you see a river? Do you see anything? I rest my case. Google Lady received an official (loud) verbal warning for taking us on that bridge.
But I must be honest, the vast majority of our traveling to and from Tennessee was splendid.
We stopped overnights at several RV parks, our favorite being a Corps of Engineers park on Lake Wappapello, Peoples Creek COE. It was so beautiful, but again, Google Lady tested us mightily by taking us on a quite circuitous and cumbersome route 35 miles out of the way, through obscure streets in tiny towns. People stopped and stared, like “what are you doing HERE?” The gate attendant at the COE said “Why on earth did you go that way???” when we told him it was quite a ridiculous trip getting there. He advised us about a better way upon leaving. Twenty miles less travel. In a related story, I’m in the market for a good road atlas. Paper and ink. 🙄 But isn’t Lake Wappapello lovely?:
After traveling through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky we arrived in Tennessee. It did not take us long to absolutely fall in love with the hills, rivers, trees, lakes in Tennessee. The Smoky Mountain National Park is absolutely stunning. Have you been there? You need to drop everything and go to Tennessee. And THE WATERFALLS!!! Oh, the waterfalls…. we didn’t get to see them all which only means we WILL return to this gorgeous state.
The upper left waterfall is Fall Creek Falls near Sparta, Tn. 256 feet drop and stunning!!! There are two people standing on a rock at the bottom of the picture near the trees. Top right is Burgess Falls. Bottom right is Twin Falls in Rock Island, TN.
I took so very very many pictures of Smoky Mountain National Park. It’s a must see park. We must return, though, without our doggy so we can do some hiking and visit the buildings at Cades Cove. No pets on trails in the park.
Everywhere we go we’re pretty curious what camping is like in the area. Near Center Hill Lake there is a state park. Edgar Evins State Park. We found the campgrounds and drove through to check out the sites. You need to understand this part of Tennessee is total hills. Big, big mountain-like hills. Trees, trees, trees. Lake shores are pretty vertical and rocky. The roads in this park were narrow and had a mountainous, winding feature with tight turns. The result for this campground is campsites that look like this:
Every single campsite was on decking connected to the narrow winding camp road, high above the lake. I cannot imagine parking our camper in one of these spots. But there were some sizeable motorhomes in some of the sites.
All of this beauty was amazing, but nothing compared to the time we spent at Lighthouse Christian Camp. High on a mountain ridge above Center Hill Lake is the location of this camp. Staffed by some of the kindest, most generous folks we’ve ever met. The founders and staff have a heart for under-resourced children, serving a fourteen county area in Middle Tennessee. Working with churches and public schools, they identify children who would benefit from the camp experience, as well as once-weekly after-school program spring and fall. At no charge ever to any of the children. But their mission doesn’t stop there. They are able to provide individual apartment homes for up to eight widows, as well as two large homes staffed by two wonderful couples who provide temporary foster care for sibling groups. Everything they do is funded by generous donations. Everything they do is out of authentic desire to serve Jesus by helping others. Hands and feet of Jesus, people. It was such a blessing to be part of, if only for a short time.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
Scenes from the camp. The wording on the deck railing in the lower right picture says: Welcome to God’s Country.
We spent three weeks at this camp helping out wherever needed. We were blessed to be able to help with their annual CATCH event. Caring Adults Touching Children’s Hearts. This involved a Saturday on Center Hill Lake with around 62 children who have never been fishing or been on a boat. Folks donated pontoon boats and fishing boats. And their time. DeWayne was on a boat with another man and two young boys. They helped teach the boys how to fish and caught 17 total fish that morning! I imagine that some of DeWayne’s family and friends are thinking “We weren’t aware that he knew how to fish!”. I stayed back on the shore with a group of fun women and helped prepare the awards and set up tables for the lunch.
I can tell you what impressed me the most about our time at Lighthouse Christian Camp and the volunteers I met from the local area. All the churches work together. No competition, no “our church is better” mentality, none of that. Several different denominations, and non-denominations….one goal. Loving Jesus and serving others in His name. As it should be.
It was not easy to say good-bye at the end of our stay. We definitely hope that God provides a way for us to serve again next spring at Lighthouse. In case you’re wondering, we belong to an organization called SOWERS. Servants On Wheels Ever Ready to Serve. It’s an RV group for Christians who feel led to travel and volunteer. There are many such groups you can join to assist you in your desire to volunteer at various places across the nation. We’ve been happy with SOWERS.
If you know me very well at all, you may wonder exactly what skills I possess that would be useful for anything. 😂 I wonder the same thing all the time. I was a Radiology Tech from age 20 to age 62. Now, the hubby is skilled in numerous areas. But me? Well, I show up at the project and just pray that I don’t mess something up to the point they ask me to leave. And I’m happy to report, so far so good. God can use anyone with a servant heart and a desire to make a difference in even the smallest of ways. I absolutely love the volunteer life. Behind the scenes simple work. We have found this journey God is leading us on so very fulfilling.
Fun time with the man of my dreams. It was a blessing to work along side this man. And the free time was awesome!!! Rainy days called for card games (Golf), and Carpet Ball in the camp shelter house.
After a month back at home we head south for November. Stay tuned for a blog forthcoming at some point.