The Feast of Tabernacles this year was really the first time we've done the whole 8 day campout, and it was incredible! I will try to give as good a description as I can, for those who have never experienced this appointed time of YHWH before. Pictures with text first, then I'll add more detail and some videos!
We arrived on the afternoon of October 13th (Sukkot began that night at sundown) and had to set up camp right away. We were assigned a certain area but could choose the exact spot to set up within that area. This is where we chose, behind EVERYONE else and next to a creek.
I was so thankful that Joe slept during most of our set up time! He is a very needy baby, so I wouldn't have finished before dark! So he was having sweet dreams while we labored away.
Myles didn't get to camp until after the evening service started, sometime around 8, and we all crashed right after it ended. I think this picture was taken at naptime the next day.
Oops! He wasn't really asleep!
The kids made these leaves to help decorate the "ceremonial sukkah" outside of the large meeting tent. This is the one Jayla made.
I failed to get pictures of their other decorations. I know they helped make some chains too!
Friday night during the service.......within just a couple of nights, we started bringing a quilt with us for them to lay/sleep on. One night we had FOUR sleeping kids and had to hike up to the farthest camp site to get them to bed (the only negative to being that far away)!!! We just woke up a couple of them and carried the youngest two back on a golf cart (the taxis that the security guards drove).
This was so funny! One lady decorated her "yard" with flamingos dressed as Israelites! Click on the picture to enlarge so you can see all the detail. Too funny!
After bringing a juvenile black rat snake to camp with us (it was in the bag with the tent poles), we then found this green snake. It was very pretty! I just happened to have someone's number who could help us identify it, so I sent him pictures. With confidence, he told us it was a Northern Rough Greensnake, the only "true" green snake in the state! We all really liked this snake, even Myles!
We only had it this close to Joe because we'd had it several minutes already, and it was just trying to slither away. There was no fear of it biting, BUT even if it had bitten anyone, it was so small that it would just feel like a little pinch. And we knew it wasn't venomous. So we knew what we were doing before we stuck the snake in the baby's face, I assure you! ;-)
Our tent! Compared to other Cub/Boy Scouts, this tent was a mansion (and nicknamed that!), but here at Sukkot there were some HUGE tents, probably some as big as our house!!!!
Jayla and Jacob spent a few nights in their own tent!
Jonathan had his own tent, but as you can see, it was already having problems. It was thrown away before we left!
Jonathan had a total BLAST all week, after telling us he thought he would be bored! However, he doesn't smile much in pictures, so it may be hard to tell just how much he was actually enjoying every minute!
And I just LOVE pictures of him holding Joe.
I think this was the night I stayed at camp with the two littles and missed the service. Joe was working on getting his top two teeth (finally) and had a fever for almost 3 days straight! I had to hunt down some medicine to give him some relief. The oils and teething tablets just weren't enough. Poor kid. :-(
The tent is a goner!
This is a blurry picture, but it cracks me up! Jonathan just woke up and poked his head out like a little gopher!
Jonathan was going to build a debris shelter and sleep in it one night (for a learning experience as well as for Boy Scouts, but he was going to before they planned to as a group), but he never had time to finish it. There was too much to do, and we eventually decided he could just do it at home. He had limited time with his new friends! But this is what he accomplished on it.
I guess I didn't get a final picture, but Jack had actually covered it with leaves too! I was kind of glad he didn't finish it......we used these sticks for the fire!
The inside of the large tent where our evening services were held. It had to be big enough to hold 1100 people!
We finally made our first fire! We always got back so late after the service, plus we joined other families around their fires, so we just didn't have the need for one. Oh! I started this with some Vaseline on a cotton ball and a magnesium fire starter! It was something I'd been wanting to experiment with, but I think next time I will bring that AND matches!
Daddy and Joe by the camp fire. It was pretty cold that day!
The reason I don't have many pictures of Jacob and Jayla is because we didn't see them very much! We would see them in the mornings for breakfast, or as they grab some granola bars and head off to dance class or to play with their friends, and then we wouldn't see them much (or at all) again until supper time! They were just having so much fun playing and going to their classes. Honestly, I think everyone in camp knew who Jacob was by the time it was over. That kid is not too scared to talk to anyone! (I'll tell a funny story about him at the end.)
We invited all of the kids' friends (mostly Jonathan's) up one day for sandwiches, chips and cake (leftover from supper) one afternoon. They were a hoot!
Playing in the tent during some free time.
Ah, Myles caught some pictures of a couple of the kids in their classes!
We did sleep in the van part of the time, mostly because Joe likes to nurse a LOT during the night, and I just couldn't get comfortable. I did make it 3 nights in the tent, and then I was in the van for 3 nights before anyone else joined me, so not too bad! We'll work on that! ;-)
I think his teething pain was gone by this time, and he was SO much happier! What a sweet little face!!!!
This was one of our dance classes. You can see most of the background too for the stage. It served many purposes, and they did a great job on it!
There's Jayla in the light blue dress with her back to the camera! She is a great dancer and taught me some steps to some of the songs.
Two sweet sisters that were hanging out with some of the boys their age. They came up for the lunch and campfire.
He loves to be found. :-) Look at that SWEET SMILE!!! <3
They made these hardhats and colored the shirts in their classes, and this was just before they sang their song on stage.
My crazy kids wanted to SWIM before we left! Jonathan was helping Myles finish cleaning up the camp site (finding any trash, burying the fire, etc.), so he was going to swim later but didn't get to.
Bad picture of the Marketplace
The HUGE meeting tent!
I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of/with Mason Clover or Rico Cortes!!!! We love those guys! There were other great teachers and worship leaders too, but these guys are definitely among our favorites!
We went to our first (full) Sukkot this year with Lion and Lamb Ministries, and they sure know how to conduct worship, teaching and fellowship times! It was all amazing, and as I sit here typing about it, I REALLY want to just go back there NOW! I will take the cold, wind, rain, etc. any day if we could be there all the time! One day soon we won't have to leave though, and the best part is, we will get to "tabernacle" with our Messiah Yeshua!!!!!!!
I don't even know where to begin, so I will just go through the days. We set up camp immediately after we got there. Before I even stepped out of the van, our neighbor came over to introduce herself. (They had an incredible tent!) By the time we were done setting up, it was time for supper. Myles was still not there, so I had 5 kids, a stroller and lots of plates to carry! It all worked out beautifully though.....everyone was so helpful!
Myles missed the intro on the big screen, but they ended up playing it every night. It was a video showing the whole earth (like in Google Earth), then it zoomed in to North America, then Oklahoma, then the camp grounds......it gave a good perspective of just how small we are and where we are in the world. Then they showed some computer generated models of the tent, went through the back door and showed everyone (CGI) waving leafy branches. It was really cool, especially the first night when we really were waving branches!!! I was kicking myself that I didn't have the camera on me at the time. Jack was really getting into the branch waving, and I really wanted a picture of my cute little worshiping boy!!!
The following day we had our first dance meeting/class that was required if we wanted to dance in any future classes or during worship. They just had to go over some dos and don'ts, mostly for safety. The boys had absolutely no interest in dancing up to this point, so they didn't go. Later in the afternoon they had their first children's classes, one of which was dance, and they realized that they actually love it! Ironically, Jayla didn't enjoy her dance class because it was too slow for her, since she already knew the steps they were learning. Ha! It worked out though, as she was able to be more of a helper later on.
During the children's classes there were some optional teaching classes we could attend. We had to take Joe with us, but one baby when we're used to 5 was a breeze! The first day though, we had a welcome program, then the teaching times were later. Oh! And right after this welcome meeting, JACK had practice for his song he was doing that night! This isn't the greatest video quality, but it was such a fun song, and I am glad he got to be a part of it. (Jack was the last of the 3 boys to come out, and he stood in the middle.)
I had a really hard time keeping him awake right before they went on stage! He was about to fall asleep just minutes before, so I had him drink a lot of water and run around outside. Then, just before the boys went on, he didn't want to wear his hat. They hadn't practiced with them, so he didn't want to wear it out there. I finally convinced him to keep it on just seconds before they went out, and he almost took it off on the stage! We made it through just fine though, then about 5 minutes after he was done, he was sound asleep on the blanket in front of us! HAHA!
The next day was the weekly Sabbath. We just had a morning service (with Glenn McWilliams teaching) and an evening service. The evening service was a huge production called The Consolation of Israel, and it was so good! This is the one Jayla danced in for one song, and here is that video!
The program, The Consolation of Israel, was about the story of Israel throughout history, and how she had an adulterous affair with other pagan gods. YHWH divorced her (Jer. 3:8) and is now calling the REMNANT of Israel (not just the Jews/Judah, but all 12 tribes, anyone who has been grafted onto the Messiah) back to HIM!!! HalleluYAH!!!!
Sunday, the first day of the week, which is NOT a rest day, it was on with the regular schedule! Dance classes in the morning (playtime for the boys), children's classes and adult teaching after lunch, supper at 5:30 and then the evening service at 7:30. There was just enough time to fellowship/play with friends, but not enough to get into trouble! ;-)
On this particular day (Sunday), I was walking CONSTANTLY! Joe was not feeling well and had a fever, so I "stayed home" with him while Myles went to the teaching time and the kids went to their children's workshops. So I took a walk with Joe in the stroller to comfort him some, which did seem to help, but the fever persisted. So I decided to walk some more and go find him some meds! I had brought teething tablets and essential oils, both of which helped some, but he was in PAIN (teeth) and needed some relief! I found a family with young children and a TON of meds, so they just gave me something for him. He ended up running a fever (had to keep him on meds or he was miserable, but happy with no fever!) for THREE DAYS!!! His teeth finally broke through, his fever broke and he was a completely different child! Whew!
So anyway, part of our walking was also to find Myles after the teaching part was over. I didn't find him, so I went back to camp. Right after I got there, I noticed I had a voice mail on my cell phone. It was now half an hour after the kids classes had ended, and Myles had not picked up Jack yet. UGH. Here we go back down there again! By the end of the day, I was totally exhausted, my back hurt, my ankle hurt and I was getting blisters!!! We may request a closer place next year! Ha! It was still a great day though. I think that was the day I stayed at camp with the two littles while Myles went with the older three to the service. Once Joe was feeling better (on meds), we just continued activities as normal. It was fun to meet people as we were walking though, and everyone was so kind and compassionate, trying to figure out how they might be able to help me with Joe. I was so thankful that our kids were not truly sick the whole time though! What a blessing!
There were a couple of days when I didn't go to dance class, in part because of my ankle and blisters, though I could have if I REALLY wanted to......they weren't that bad, just annoying. I was just tired and needed a break, and I knew Myles wanted to go to the Morning Midrash times. He loved them! It was kind of a Q&A time with a different teacher each day, and he learned a lot. I am so glad he is at the point now where he is really hungry to learn more, and he is!
Tuesday was our free day. The only things scheduled were an optional tour of the Lion and Lamb offices, a health seminar in the afternoon, wedding renewals in the evening and a movie at the same time (different place). We decided to go to town to get some things at Wal-Mart, eat at a diner, do laundry, then back to camp for the movie. It was a fun day! We met a few other campers at the laundromat and saw others at WM. We even saw Monte's son Ephraim with his family and another couple at WM as well as the diner! The movie was Secretariat. I'm sure it is hard to pick a good family movie that everyone will approve of, but this one was pretty good. I'm not sure my kids really followed the storyline since the boys were playing some, but Jayla just kept saying that she LOVES this movie (because she LOVES horses). We also had drinks and snacks while we were watching it, and Jack and Joe fell asleep at their usual time!
The bulk of our time there was the teachings and evening services. The teachers for the different times were Eddie Chumney, Rico Cortes, Glenn McWilliams and Oswald Garagorry. Dr. Jeff Coffman and Dr. Monty Harris also held some health seminars. I didn't get to hear them all, but the ones I heard really knew how to STUDY the Scriptures and then TEACH it to others! I learned so much, and I know Myles did too!
For worship times, we had the B'nai Shalom (L&L) worship team, which is AWESOME, and also special guests Brenda Wheeler, Mason Clover and Mishkanim. They were all great!
A funny story about Jacob.....one day the staff was having lunch. We were only supposed to have supper in the dining tent each day, not breakfast and lunch, but Jacob didn't realize this. All he knew is that people were eating, and he was hungry! Actually, he said he was starving! So he decided to join them. We heard later that he was so kind, inviting anyone and everyone to sit with him (which they did) when he saw they didn't have a table yet. He spoke graciously to everyone and was very hospitable. Once the table was full, he counted everyone and went to get a stack of cookies, then proceeded to pass one to each person! I was told he had the hospitality of Abraham! When I told him later that he wasn't supposed to be there, his eyes got really big! He wasn't in trouble, but he didn't do it again once he realized his treachery! Haha!
I just can't say enough about the teaching and worship times we had all week! One memorable moment was when I was sitting with Joe, and I think Jack was asleep on the quilt. We were singing praises to the Father, and I looked at Myles, and he was raising his hands in pure worship! I don't see that often, and it brought a tear to my eye!!! And to hear him as he talked about things he was learning, and his excitement.....it was so awesome!
The final service was the Simchat Torah service. Each Sabbath we have a Torah teaching, and we'd just had the last one, so this was the service where the Torah is "rolled back" to the beginning to start over for this next year. It was so precious to see how everyone responded to the Torah scroll when it passed by, and then some even danced with it. What a blessing the Torah of YHWH is!!!!
but his delight is in the TORAH of YHWH, and on his Torah he meditates day and night.
One final thing I can't forget to mention is just the over all atmosphere in the camp! We had security and had rented the entire park, so everyone there was with our group, no outsiders were allowed in. This made all the difference in the world when it came to letting our children roam around freely. We just set some general ground rules, like not to go inside anyone's tent or RV and to meet us at certain times, but otherwise the older 3 kids had quite a bit of freedom, and they completely took advantage of it! I had zero safety concerns while there though, even though I didn't know everyone there and "you just never know......", but really, with our own rules in place and security (lots of them!) and other parents helping to watch kids, I really felt that our kids were safe! It is a feeling I don't have very often in today's world!!!
One more thing I almost forgot to mention. The Youth and College and Career also had some really great activities, some late at night! They sounded and looked like a lot of fun! Some of the activities included an ice breaker, camp fire jam sessions and a starlift on the beach! The youth also did a special dance for us at the end of the week that was really fun. Oh, I got that on video, and I need to put the kids' video on here as well! Here ya go:
I got special permission for Jacob and Jonathan to dance as long as they were in the kids' circle (for safety), so here is Jacob's first dance!
And here is Jonathan's first dance, his favorite song! Myles stopped filming when the song ended, but everyone loves this song so much they repeated it TWO more times! Jonathan didn't know any of the steps, so I thought he did pretty well keeping up! It's so cute how he jumps! Hehe! Jonathan is the taller boy in the white shirt, and Jayla is to his right.
Well, I may add more things as they come to mind, but for now, all I can say to wrap up this blog post is......I wish we were still there. *sigh* One day soon we will not have to leave, and we will be in the New Jerusalem with Yeshua our Messiah!!!! \o/