A few days ago I returned from my annual pilgrimage to the mountains of Pennsylvania. This is the 33rd year straight that I have made this trip. Each year is special and each is also a family reunion of sorts. Teenagers who hung around my campfire are now in their forties with teens of their own. When I first went I was a mere 25 years old with babes of my own. Now I watch my grandchildren learn the ropes of learning how to work and serve in this community. Young men with braids down their back are now dying what little is left of their hair blue in a vain attempt to hold on to a visage of youth. Over the years we have grieved the loss of 'family' as they have left this festival for one that is far grander. Many very much loved 'family' were not there this year due to changes in leadership making it at times hard to even be there without them.
When I first began serving on volunteer staff in 1985 I was honored to work with Liz and Elayna cleaning the six packs, a name we had given the outhouses which were in groups of six. Three on each side much like a six pack of beer would be packaged. My children came along holding doors and sweeping floors and spraying down the bath house floors. When the children were older I moved on to supervising Individual Campsite ushering. I did that for a few years but clearly not my gift. :)
When Phredd asked me to supervise the Deaf Ministry I was more than excited and very humbled knowing that my sign language skills were far less than many of the volunteers I would be working with. I loved this assignment but to be honest it was very time consuming. I spent months leading up to the festival compiling lyric sheets often having to type out the lyrics before the whole 'cut and paste' thing became available. So when in 2006 my son in law Chris started a new ministry at another festival , Purple Door, and then at Creation in 2007 I was a little reluctant to give up the ministry that I enjoyed so much. After prayer and council in 2007 I became know as the "Ice Pop Lady".
Chris designed a super cool wooden box that was secured on the cargo bed of a John Deer gator. It has straps to secure three 5 gallon jugs, a ice pop cooler, a trash can, a cup holder, a storage box and a candy box. Just add Gatorade, candy, water, ice pops and prayer and I was set to go. So for six years now I have spent the last week in June driving over the fields of Agape Farm in Shirleysburg, PA hunting down weary, hot, tired and thirsty volunteers at the festival in hopes of encouraging them and refreshing them and trying to be sure that they do not feel invisible.
Why you may be wondering am I posting this when it has noting to do with Haiti or Jacmel Bay? Well this is why...
I was working my 'ice pop' cart at the Fringe Stage. Doing my normal thing..ice pops, water, candy, Gatorade...when a golf cart with two volunteers backed in beside me. I gave the driver and his passenger a ice pop. The driver said "Didn't you just get back from Haiti?" I told him that I was there in March. He said that his passenger was just there as well. At this point of course all ice pop work on my part comes to a halt and I became engaged with this young man in conversation about our adventures. He told me he was ministering in Port Au Prince.I tell him that I go to Jacmel. He says "We went to Jacmel for one day." So I tell him about my family there and about the Deaf that I am working with there. I tell him about the sea glass necklaces. At this point his jaw goes slack. "No way!! I bought one of those necklaces! A deaf girl came to the house I was staying at!" He described the packaging and the necklace and sure enough it was one of the Jacmel Bay artists that he had met.We were both more than a little excited. Remember, there are only seven deaf artists working with Jacmel Bay in Haiti. This young man from SC meets me from NC in PA and we discover over an ice pop this wonderful connection.
Many thousands of people come to this festival for the amazing music and ministry that happens from the multi media state of the art stage. All the best known bands and speakers come from all over the world come to share with the crowds messages and songs..I don't get near the stage very often any more. ....well except to hand out ice pops...but still God creates divine appointments along my way. These appointments offering encouragement and reassurance that He is with me. God does not need all the extra 'stuff'. He speaks to His children in so many ways. Can He use the music? The speakers? He sure can. And does. But if we are available. If we are serving Him, he will and does speak in the small stuff. In the ice pops..He reminds us that He sees us and that what we do matters....We are not invisible.
I am so encouraged by this divine appointment. God reminding me that Jacmel Bay is touching lives. In Haiti. And in golf carts on a farm turned music festival in PA.