Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chapter 10

10.  Shining His Light
I could spend hours telling stories about being on tour that summer but I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with a few highlights.  I'll begin by saying that a bus built in the early 1970’s might not last a whole three months of driving over 5 hours every single day.  In the summer.  Down South.  During a heat wave.  The air conditioning broke.  ......Of course it did.  The bus was about 30 feet long and there were approximately 20 of us on it for at least 5 hours each day. We would get on the bus early in the morning, travel through the day and debark in the afternoon at a church in a different city far from where we'd been the night before. We'd spend the day doing devotions, listening to music, sleeping (lots and lots of sleeping) and getting to know each other. Teammates had come from all over the United States, Canada and even one girl was there from France. We had different denominational backgrounds and I learned much about the beauty of tradition from some of my friends as they learned a lot more about the grace and freedom found in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Our mission was to bring encouragement and prayer support to churches throughout North America as we made our way to a coastal airport to depart for whatever foreign country in which we would perform concerts, bringing Jesus to a hurting world through music. We often prayed for the people for hours afterward as they lined up to receive a personal touch from the Lord. We saw many miracles both spiritual and physical.

Since our team was headed to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Belize for about 3-4 weeks from the end of July to the beginning of August, we started out in central California and made our way through the southern United States from the middle of June to the middle of July. When we were finished with the overseas portion, we'd fly back to Miami and make our way back to California, concert by concert each night for the final Homecoming concert at the end of August in Visalia, California. At that concert, all 7 teams would gather for a special "thank you" concert for the families and supporters of the ministry.

Each person on the team had a job to do and mine was to be the bus cleaner.  Another girl and I had to clean the bus after we arrived at the location every single day.  Every single day.  In the heat.  Without air conditioning (have I mentioned that?).  I remember being sweaty and dirty every single day before having to go inside a new church and be pretty & sweet for a bunch of people I'd never met before. I am a neat freak and hate being dirty at all, therefore while I was cleaning I know that I said words that perhaps were a tad bit colorful and certainly had to repent for later.  Oh well, I suppose you can always say that it "built character" in me.

I must mention here that we had the best director in the history of the ministry and he and I are still good friends today.  He was fun, intelligent, talented and had a true heart for God.  All the girls had crushes on him.  Except for me, of course.  Remember, I had my true love waiting for me at home.  Besides that tiny distraction, the girls on the team really developed strong bonds with each other and we made both hilarious and touching memories ministering, laughing, praying and crying together.  

I now call that tour “the spirit of Toilet Harrassment tour”.  This moniker sets it apart from later tours by being the only one during which a morning was not complete if one of the ladies didn’t get on the bus with a story about a toilet catastrophe at her host home, or the restaurant or at the church.  I remember that we were at a Burger King in El Salvador and one of the stalls had a toilet that wouldn’t flush.  So we agreed that anyone who “had to go number one” could use that one and anyone needing, um, more time should use the other stall.  

I should probably mention that while we generally did one concert per day in the States, we usually did two or more per day when we were overseas. So often times we wore our "concert attire" all day long. That year we had two dresses, a one-piece blue-green A-line skirt with button-down top and a fuscia one-piece A-line belted made of fabric which wrinkled easily and breathed not well at all in the Central American heat.  The ladies all had matching earrings and necklaces, black patent leather high heeled shoes and black panty hose. No, don't worry, I didn't have heat stroke by the end of each day (sarcasm inserted here).

Well, my violinist friend was the last one in to the Number One stall and as we're washing our hands, chattering and giggling, suddenly we hear her chagrined voice, “oh noooooo!”  

“What’s the matter?” someone exclaimed.  

In a deeply saddened voice she told us through the stall door, “my concert necklace just fell off….Into the toilet.”  

Groaning as one, we turned to the attendant – foreign restrooms often have attendants in them – who promptly said, “no problemo”.  When our friend came out, the attendant went in and fished out the necklace with her bare hands (feel free to be nauseous) and proudly tried to hand it to our friend.  Smiling weakly, she took the necklace gingerly between her index finger and thumb and gritting her teeth, she dropped it into the sink.  Washing it thousands of times would never erase what we all knew to be true about that necklace.

Throughout this tour and the next three years of college and other mission trips, I struggled mightily with panic attacks and an irritable gastric system.  Traveling only made it worse.  But I was determined to let God’s light shine through me.  I remember one particular afternoon in El Salvador, we were all visiting someone's home in the mountains overlooking an incredibly large lake and I experienced the same shortness of breath, tunnel vision and clawed hands that I had back in high school during my senior year.

I needed to get out of there but had no where to go. It freaked us out and especially my director, who'd begun to look at me as his little sister (I was 18 at the time). He carried me outside where the breeze from the water refreshed me as the team prayed for me. I was so embarrassed but also was scared. I was questioning the Lord, my body, my mind. I didn't know anything about "triggers" and if I had, I don't know that I could have pinpointed anything specific about why my body had rebelled against me. Of course, now I know exactly what was happening but at the time, it was merely something I tried my best to strive to overcome it myself.

In Belize, I had an intestinal episode that kept me running to find bathrooms at the most inconvenient times and places. Yet I managed to perform at the concerts, praying over others, watching them receive miracles from God and still act like I wasn't becoming more and more terrified of my own body and mind.

Only after my mother went back to college, earning dual bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology, did the Lord show us that my episodes were bona fide panic attacks and were probably kicking off an illness known as irritable bowel syndrome.  Later when we were armed with this new information, Mom and I went to the doctor.  After many tests and years of searching I finally understood that I had these issues, what triggered them and that would have to learn how God could make a new miracle through me.


  1. Angel,
    Thank you so much for opening yourself like this. I pray this continues your healing and I know it will be a treasure for your future little ones (in Jesus' Name!!).
    This chapter really made me smile. Oh, the memories! What a special, life-changing summer we all shared. It's funny what sticks in our memories--I must not have been present for the necklace mishap because I have no memory of that. I do, however, remember pulling over somewhere in the AZ or NM desert because of your need related to your membership in the IBBA. And I think an accompanying UTI which was making parts of your summer miserable. Anyway, I remember all the girls holding those blankets up to make a stall (how many germs lived in those things?!). If I ever said or acted toward you in a way that was not supportive or understanding, I truly apologize. God has worked a lot on me over the years, as well. All praise and glory to Him!
    I had no idea that you were still in contact with our fabulous director. Please pass along my contact info (my email should be on my fb page, or just message me). I would love to re-connect with him. :~)
    Growing up in Visalia and with the Celebrants made it a little inconceivable how all of you from out of state/country viewed the experience. My parents always opened our home to Celebrants, missionaries, and others over the years and for me it was just the way things were. I think my brother's favorite house guests were the girls that were participating in the California pageant one year! Anyway, my two Celebrant summers absolutely shaped my adult life and I am thankful that fb has brought so many of us back together.

  2. Shelley, thank you for reading it! And thank You for the encouragement toward my future little ones.
    Yes, we had pulled over and made our little makeshift "potty stall" for me. I forgot I had a UTI that summer and you're right about it making me miserable! Even so, I would have still made us pull over in the middle of that desert for my potty stop. Hahahaha
    I am definitely who I am today because of being with the Celebrants those 3 years. I'm proud of who we've become and I'm proud of you too!!