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America Conferences/Seminars Friends Life My Family Pentecostal Photography Religion Travel

Western District Camp Meeting 2009

After the end of the short cruise we drove to Lake Havasu, attended our Sunday service, and by 4:00 in the afternoon we had pulled our rig onto the highway and were headed to Santa Maria, CA. for the Western District camp meeting. I cannot remember a better one. It was outstanding in every way.

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The preaching was phenomenal, coming from Rev. Brian Kinsey the evening preacher and Rev. James Hughes the daytime preacher, and including four preachers from the district, in addition to Rev. Mullings who preached on Monday night. I missed hearing the Wednesday morning local preacher, but I can vouch for the others as being superior. Rev. Ed Allard was the Tuesday morning preacher and in a sincere, positive manner, he challenged us as Apostolics to take a careful and honest look at ourselves. “Has our gold turned to bronze?” He clearly asked for direction from our elected leaders. It was a powerful, courageous message, that resonnated soundly with the congregation.

DSC_0011The teaching and preaching by Brother Hughes was profound.

One problem existed: For the first time I can remember, none of my children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren were with us at camp…until Thursday evening when in came Chris and Christina and their two youngsters.

DSC_0014Friends ministered to each other.

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Families reveled in the presence of God.DSC_0029

DSC_0005New dedications were offered up to our God.

Family Apostolic Camps–the best meetings I have ever attended. Another one coming up in a couple of weeks in southern California: If at all possible, be there. All over the country–please, make your way to an Apostolic family camp! They’re the greatest!

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America Christianity/Religion Friends Life Pentecostal Photography Social Travel Uncategorized

My friend, Lillian White

“Mom, no one is that sweet.”

I smiled and assured my daughter. “Yes, Rebecca, she is sincerely that sweet.”

The subject of that long-ago discussion was my friend, Lillian White. Rebecca was a teenager, and although I had known Lil since before Rebecca’s birth, it was my serving on a ladies board under her direction that had put me in close and frequent contact with her, affording Rebecca the opportunity to regularly observe and develop her own friendship with this unique, godly lady.

I’m not sure how much later it was after our first conversation, that Rebecca said to me, “You know, Mom. She really is as sweet as she first appears.”

It is true. Lillian White is extraordinarily pleasant, agreeable, courteous and charming. She is a Christian.

It was in 1957 when Jerry and I first came to California that we met Lil and her husband, Sam; people who would develop into lifelong friends. Pastor for more than thirty years of a thriving church in Bellflower, he and Jerry served on ministerial boards together, and we have sat in countless camps, conferences and other special meetings.

We’ve wept over our families, laughed almost uncontrollably, admired each others new babies and grandbabies and great-grandbabies. We’ve shopped at thrift stores and at Nordstroms and at Macys. We have attended weddings and funerals and anniversary services; we’ve given and received gifts. We’ve visited each other in hospitals, and when Jerry was lingering near death after his horrendous accident, Lil held my hand in the waiting room, and told me God would take me through.

We’ve complained about things and told jokes around camp fires. We’ve shared chicken and dumplings and chocolate cake and once we traveled all the way to Maine so that Sam could eat Maine lobster.

We’ve camped side by side and have taken more than one extensive motor home trip together. Once five of us ministerial friends–all in motor homes–traveled from one coast to the other. In New York City–think of it now–as five long motor homes in New York City were trying to stay together, and as Berl Stevenson was leading that day, he came suddenly to a multi-level bridge, New York City traffic snarling famously.

“Everyone’s on their own,” he squawked into the CB. “I’m going this way.”

Jerry and I found ourselves separated from the pack, but quickly found our way and met up with the others at our destination RV park, but alas, there were no Sam and Lil. We waited, worried, and about five hours later, here they came…fresh from wandering the streets of New York City in a 34 feet Country Coach motor home. Lil had been in tears.

Through all these years, midst turmoil, trying situations and tense moments, never has one cross word been exchanged between the Buxtons and the Whites. It’s precisely true. We are friends.

Now, Sam and Lil, both in their 80s, are retired and living in northern Arizona, but we met up at our camp meeting in Santa Maria. The phone had rung before we left. “Shirley, this is Lil. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it to your birthday party, but I want to take you out for dinner when we get to Santa Maria.”

And so, on the Sunday before camp began, here came Sam and Lil who took us to the village of Guadalupe where we ate what may be the best steak dinner I have ever experienced. I helped Lil from the car and led her in to the dining room. In recent years she has developed Macular degeneration and can see very little. She can’t read at all, and Sam won’t let her try to cook. It breaks my heart.

But she is as beautiful as ever, as thoughtful, as sweet, as kind…as Christian.

She had bought a card to celebrate my birthday. “I had to get someone to take me to pick it out, and I told them it might take me a while,” she explained when she handed the beautiful card to me. As I read it, she finished. “This was the first one we found, and although we looked at others, I knew this was the one I wanted to give to you.” She beamed.

“Pretty, isn’t it?” Sam put in.

“Happy Birthday, My Friend

We’ve been friends for a long time now. And we’ve seen a lot of changes through the years.

but our friendship has never changed except to grow stronger.

Our busy lives have sometimes kept us apart, but even then, I’ve always felt close to you.

and then when we’ve gotten togther again, I’ve always felt we could take up right where we left off.

I’ve been lucky to meet new friends along the way,

but none can compare to a true and trusted friend like you.

So on your birthday, I want to tell you how very special you are to me. We share a wealth of memories and such warmth and closeness that only real friends can have.

And that means the world to me. (D. Walley Hallmark Cards)

I love Lil White and count myself blessed that she calls me friend…and yes, Sam is sweet too. I love him as a brother.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Animals Christianity/Religion Conferences/Seminars Family Friends Pentecostal Photography Religion Uncategorized

Final Face of Camp

It would be foolish to neglect picturing both the day and the night speakers at our recent camp, for truly, the preaching was the high point of that exceptional gathering. Rev. Bill Davis is a prolific writer, (including, surprisingly for some–Westerns) and preaches in a unique, unforgettable manner. Beginning on Tuesday, a different pastor preached each morning, followed then by Brother Davis. Every sermon was exceptional.

Rev. Jerry Jones is known around our fellowship for his studied, dynamic preaching. He is amazing, and was no disappointment in Santa Maria.

My two favorite men at camp: Jerry and Michael

The cute lady with a hat!

A little girl was tugging along this bull dog, whose name she told me, and whose I have forgotten; I know it was a lady name, maybe Madeline or something like that. Anyway, the dog did not want to walk, her owner insisted she would walk, and after I snapped a few pictures, that little girl tugged on her lazy pet, urging her down the driveway. Reluctant dog probably weighed as much as did her owner. It was hilarious.

I could go on for days posting pictures of camp, but it must end here. Come by my place sometime and I’ll show you dozens more.

Cheers!

Edit: Because it is important that all of you see this, I’m moving here a comment and my response .

Steven Saiz // August 11, 2008 at 7:51 am (edit)

Sis. Buxton, great coverage of Camp Meeting. Thank you for attending and being a part of this great meeting. You and Bro. Buxton are dear friends and it was great to see you there!

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL MY READERS: Pastor Steve Saiz was the coordinator for this excellent camp meeting, and it probably is impossible to calculate the time, energy and money he expended on producing this momentous event. As you come by here, (or go to his site) please leave a note of thanks and appreciation for both Steve and Debbie, two sweet, remarkable people.

Many of you know a new district has been formed–called the Southern California District. I understand, Brother Saiz, that you will be the coordinator for our first camp there next year. Any hints? Where? When? Who? How?

Now don’t be reluctant to let us in on early plans. You know any secret is safe here. )

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My devotional blog is here.

Categories
Children Christianity/Religion Photography

Faces Around Camp

Children are the best humans on the globe. Take a look at a few I gazed on this past week at the camp in Santa Maria. This three-month-old beauty is named Sabrina (I think. If I’m wrong, someone let me know and I’ll correct it.) Her parents attend Pastor Paul Walker’s church in Desert Hot Springs, CA. Is she not the cutest thing! It is such a blessing to be granted a long life, and one of the benefits is seeing godly young people grow up, face early struggles, but continue to walk with Jesus, marry in the faith, and begin a family of their own. That’s the case with the parents of this child. I don’t even recall their last name, but through the years I’ve seen them in sectional and state functions and when we visited their church, and now they are married and have brought their gorgeous child into the world, and when we are in meetings together, they bring her over so I can know her. I pray for this couple and for other such young families, for I feel deeply the tremendous challenge they face in nurturing and training children in such a world as ours.

I have pictures of Andrew and cotton-top Marc Stevenson cutting apples in our pre-school in Garden Grove. Now both Marc and Andrew are pastors in the San Diego area. You know how impressive and highly intelligent and destined for greatness are Andrew’s children: I’m sure you’re aware, seeing they’re my grandkids and I’ve clipped lots of pictures here and have written a million or so words about them 🙂 Marc’s children are equally beautiful; actually they’re breathtaking. Meet Luke.

He stared me through when I first pointed the camera his way, then impishly hid his face. I waited.

During the Friday morning service, I sat a few rows behind this somber little girl. She was poking around in her things, occasionally taking a bite of cookie, then of a sudden, she struck this pose. I have no idea of her name. I just know she mesmerized me.

At the conclusion of one of the morning services, I was struck when I saw this group of people praying in the altar area. Sometimes preachers ask families to come forward and pray for each other, but that had not at all been the case during this service. It appears that spontaneously these children had gathered about and were praying for their parents.

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Children Christianity/Religion Photography

Glorious Camp

The last day of camp has scrolled into view, and from my seventh heaven perch, I pronounce it marked with excellence: From my memory cache as I pull up camps of both close and distant years,  I judge this one–Santa Maria 2008–unsurpassed.

I started feeling better when on Wednesday morning, Michael rolled onto the grass beside our motor home in his ’72 Volkswagen pop-up-top “Hippy” van, which after service on Tuesday night, he and his friend Brandon had driven from Lake Havasu, AZ. to Ventura, CA. At 3:00 am, they had pulled over somewhere, slept for less than an hour, and had then driven onto the Santa Maria Fairgrounds.

“Mom, I feel like I’m in a candy store,” Mike had told me on the phone as they pedaled our way. “I can’t wait to be there.”

Last afternoon, I walked the grounds, and the tents erected on the far lots cheered me, as did the youngsters riding bikes, little boys throwing footballs, coveys of conversation on white slatted benches, BBQs smoking, the exhibit hall buzzing, and the food court throwing out the scent of sizzling hamburger and salty french fries. Beautiful children smiled at me, and I asked Dayna, (who I don’t even know) “May I take your picture?” and she smiled shyly as I snapped the shutter, and Berl’s great-grandson teased me and covered his angelic face.

Preaching that surely caused angels to lean down for a listen soothed and invigorated me. Federated in worship, a thousand voices anointed me, waves of manifest glory edged healing into my broken places. I saw God, high and lifted up…and all was well.

Young ministers who expertly and humbly spoke messages from God affirmed my thought that The Church is in good hands. The Way choir (comprised of young, unmarried people from around the district) effected such grand and magnificent music as should be heard in the finest of concert halls, except that their singing was accompanied by such deep and sincere worship that only in chambers of the sacred should such performance occur.

God’s in His Heaven; All’s right with the world. (Robert Browning)

Categories
Christianity/Religion Family Friends Photography

The Hole

There is a hole here–here in Santa Maria–here at the camp meeting. It hovers over the sum of the thing, extending its vacuous, invisible tendrils in a hang that floats over the big tent; and of greater consequence than the tent, are the hearts, for the hole is a canyon whose gap tears at us; likely not all the hearts, for there are some who are oblivious, but into a slew of hearts, and I tell you frankly, into mine.

I’ve hesitated over writing such a piece, and even as I tap the computer keys, I’m not sure I will have the (excuse me for the crudeness) “guts” to press the submit button. But I’m pretty gutsy, and honesty is important to me, and while I know one does not have to blurt out every thought, nor discuss each mundane (or otherwise) personal issue to be honest, and I do understand there are things best left unsaid, this happening is such a vital part of me, and so tearing at my soul, I feel most compelled to write.

It may be a conglomerate of happenings that have fed into my angst; I know for sure of a couple  that are contributing to my unease: None of my grandkids are here, and none of them will be here, and if you recall last year, youngsters were tearing around by the score and there were tents set up beside our motor home and Rebecca was sleeping on our couch, and Thane had his 5th birthday cake on the picnic table outside, and it was controlled, exuberant confusion.

Andrew and his brood can’t be here, for his job situation forced him into work this week. At the last minute, Rebecca had a scheduling problem and she and Nathaniel can’t come. Steve and Dearrah aren’t coming, but…hang on…one glitter of light…Michael will be here this morning…but with no grandkids.:(

And could this sense of loss I’m feeling be connected to my recent birthday when I turned 70? I don’t think that to be the case, but I’m trying to analyze everything, for with all candor, I feel awful.

I won’t stay with this feeling, I promise you, and more importantly I promise myself, for despite the ugly hole, there are positive elements in the atmosphere and I’m wise enough to look forward and anticipate such development. Overarching the chasm are Truth and Stability and Faith.

Some of you understand on the flash, for you too observe the gorge and its ugliness. Notable are you who have helped carve the gaping place, or slipped into its edges: You went kicking or screaming, or silently, or feeling helpless at its creation. Others may see the hole as a glittering place; you occupy the ground from which the hole was dug. You’re the new, the fresh, the launcher, the pioneer. But wait, you there on the excavated mound, you too may sense hole and loss, I give you that, while on the very moment you are giddy with the spinning of precision, and inoculated with faithfulness to honor and to principle. You wear the mantle of discovery and of intrepid and bold architect. I understand that, truly I do, and you know I admire your many abilities, your intellect, your passion, your preaching.

But yet remains the hole.