“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you...Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)
When we pass through the waters, God is with us. How many times has this promise from God’s Word been put to the test in our camping ministry? We have lost count! Floods have brought us to help others, as our ministry team has lent a hand in Iowa and Mississippi. Floods have scared us as they whisked away our campers on Huck Finn rafts. And floods have brought us to tears, as Kent has battled overflowing toilets and drains. Yet God has been faithful through it all.
So, today, for your entertainment, I bring you another suspenseful episode of Adventures in Camping, the continuing drama where one must always expect the unexpected. The scene is Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp, a lovely camp nestled on a hilltop above the Maquoketa River in Jones County, Iowa. It is mid-November, an unusual time for all four of the camp’s cozy lodges to be rented. Our adventure unfolds during supper on Friday evening.
Scene 1 Timbercrest Lodge Kitchen
Camp Manager: (rushing into the kitchen after checking in a group) Well, the first group is checked in, now I’m just waiting for the others.
Manager’s Wife: (turning from doing the dishes) Honey, there is a toilet that needs your attention on the boys’ side of the lodge. (Manager nods and heads towards the appointed rest room. Just at this moment another group arrives and his attention is focused on the new guests)
Manager: (smiling) Welcome to Pictured Rocks Camp. Let me show you to your lodge.
(A little while later. Manager stops through kitchen on his way to that restroom again. He holds in his hand a sign that says “Out of order.” He gets a piece of tape and proceeds to the plugged commode)
(Meanwhile back in the kitchen, dinner is being served and dishes are being washed)
Cook: This sink just isn’t draining. Is there a plunger around here? Oh, I found one (cook begins the active job of plunging the sink)
Guest: (poking his head in the kitchen door, speaking to the manager’s wife) Can you come here for a second?
Manager’s Wife: (looking up from her dishes) Sure. (She follows the guest out into the dining hall, drying her hands on her apron)
Guest: OK, stand right here. Now smell (She sniffs the air). Do you smell something odd? (She wrinkles her nose at a definite odor in the air)
Manager’s Wife: Yes. I will let the manager know about it right away. Thank you. (She quickly heads back to her dishes, which she would much rather do than deal with this smell)
(A few minutes later, manager once again enters the kitchen)
Manager: Well, all the groups are checked in and settled.
Cook: (gesturing with plunger) Could you please take a look at this sink?
Manager’s wife: The guests want you to sniff out in the dining hall right away.
(Manager, torn between the sink and the dining hall, gives the sink a few good plunges and then heads out to deal with the guests. Cook, manager’s wife, and volunteer staff finish supper cleanup and say good night)
Scene 2 Manager’s House
(Later that evening, back at the manager’s house)
Manager: (coming in the door) Hi. All the groups are settled for the night. Everything is under control.
(1:30 a.m. Telephone rings. Manager leaps out of bed)
Guest: (anxiously) Hello, this is one of your guests in Timbercrest Lodge. We have a major plumbing problem. None of the toilets will flush, the showers are all backed up, there is an awful smell, and I have some desperate ladies in my group who want the rest rooms fixed pronto…
Manager: Yes. I see. I will be right there.
Manager’s wife: (wandering out sleepily) Who was that?
Manager: (flipping through a phone book) It seems there is a major plumbing problem.
Manager’s wife: Oh, no (sitting down, realizing it is a long night ahead. Manager proceeds to make calls to plumbers, none will answer their phones. After one more try, he hangs up. The phone rings again)
Guest: Did you call a plumber yet?
Manager: (keeping his voice patient) Yes. I have just called a couple of plumbers, I will be right up (gets dressed and prepares to head to the plumbing disaster)
Manager’s wife: I’ll be praying for you!
Scene 3 Timbercrest Lodge and Manager’s House
(For this final scene, the stage is split. One side shows the manager at the lodge, surveying the plumbing problem; the other side is the kitchen of the manager’s house. The manager just shakes his head as he sees the floor of the rest rooms and smells the awful odors. He attempts to telephone the plumber again. The manager’s wife, knowing she cannot sleep with all this going on, fixes herself a cup tea, gets her Bible, and settles down at the kitchen table for a long night of prayer)
Manager’s wife: Lord, I don’t know if You fix plumbing problems, but I know you can do anything. If you could please send us a plumber right now, that would be a big help.
Manager: (finally getting through to a plumber) Yes. Can you come right away? Thank you very much.
Manager’s wife: Lord, please give my husband the strength to get through this night, and please fix the plumbing.
Manager: Good! (Happy that a plumber is on the way, the manager grabs a mop, and heads to the rest rooms to begin the task of mopping up the overflowing sewer water)
Manager’s wife: (unaware that a plumber is on the way) Lord, it’s me again. Could you please fix the plumbing problem?
Manager: (seeing the plumber drive up) Thank you so much for coming!
(For the next couple hours we see the manager and plumber trying every trick to get the sewage system unplugged. We see the manager’s wife continuing to knock on the Lord’s door, asking for help)
Manager’s wife: (the clock on the wall says 3:45 a.m.) I’ll stay up until 4 a.m.
Plumber: Well, let’s try this electric snake one more time (manager and plumber feed the electric snake into the outside access to the pipes once again)
Manager’s wife: (4 a.m.) Dear Lord, I’m asking just one more time. Will you please fix the plumbing?
Manager and plumber: Hooray! (After many unsuccessful attempts, the plumber and manager have victoriously pulled out the clog from deep in the sewer system. Water can flow through all the drains once again. Manager helps the plumber pack up and thanks him again and again. Manager proceeds to mop and freshen up the rest rooms, so the guests can awaken to a pleasant new day)
Manager’s wife: In Jesus’ Name I pray, Let Your will be done, Amen (heading to bed)
(At 5 a.m. the manager tumbles into bed. His wife is overjoyed at the success of the plumber. They try to catch a few hours of sleep before serving breakfast to the camp guests. The next day at camp there are no more plumbing disasters. Praise the Lord!)
And so ends yet another suspenseful episode of Adventures in Camping. The victory is the Lord’s. Diligent labors and persistent prayers won the battle of the clogged sewer system and conquered the November floods! Yay, God!