Slowly the hail receded, followed by heavy rain. We waited it out for a little while and Melody got calls from next door giving her updates on the storm. She decided to take us there when the rain became a heavy drizzle. My car was parked between the two buildings and we were relieved to see that the all glass was still intact, not even appearing to be damaged. Dazed, we stepped inside the next building, assaulted with the smell of fresh bread. People of all ages milled about. I asked where we were, if this was a bakery. Someone explained that the building had multiple purposes as a bakery, French Camp Visitors Center and I don’t remember what else. Judging from the “LSU” logos emblazoned on our sweatshirts, everyone immediately surmised where we were from and that we’d been travelling the Trace.We were introduced to a young lady named Summer whose smile and relaxed manner instantly made me feel at ease. The receptionist made a call to the Park Service Ranger to get
the status of the storm system. In the meantime we introduced ourselves to a Canadian
couple who were RV-ing down the Trace on their way to New Orleans. The receptionist got off the phone only to tell us that there was a Tornado Watch on until 6PM that evening and parts of the Trace were likely closed due to the weather. They advised that we detour to the nearest interstate (some 20 miles away) and find a place to stay before continuing our journey. The Canadian
couple liked this idea, and left as soon as the rain let up. Jordan and I stood there looking at each other, wondering what in the world to do. Our campsite in northeast Mississippi was already paid for. We didn't particularly want to detour so far off the Trace, and we were fairly certain the Bed and Breakfast in town was out of our price range. We hung around for a bit, waiting at least for the rain to stop before making a decision. In the meantime we were introduced to the locals who'd taken shelter in the Visitor Center.
A dark haired twenty-something girl took it upon herself to answer our questions about the city and it's inhabitants. She introduced herself as Tekoa (Teck-oh-uh) and I immediately commented about her unique name when she cheerily informed me, "It's the name of Hebrew town where the prophet Amos is from." I thought to myself, "Well this girls parents certainly know their bible!" In a short amount of time we learned that the little town of French Camp (pop. approx 350) is home to a Christian Academy/boarding school of sorts for children and young people from broken homes. I was intrigued, and asked Tekoa several questions about the academy and how she was involved in it. She runs the local thrift store owned by the academy. Summer joined us while we talked and slowly the Visitor Center emptied of the people who'd taken shelter there. It became apparent these girls worked together for this organization. They dropped hints about their passion for working with teen girls. I felt a tug on my spirit, sensing they were of kindred heart and mind, so I spoke up and said, "I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that you girls love Jesus a whole lot. Otherwise I don't think you'd be doing this out here. Am I right?" Smiles spread across their faces as they affirmed this and Tekoa started sharing openly of her passion to show the girls she works with what walking with Jesus looks like in a practical, every day setting. She spoke of how she strives to set an example for them in purity, that there is contentment in singleness. Tears pricked my eyes. She was speaking our language. We learned that Summer ran the Bed and Breakfast and oversaw the Hospitality portion of the Camp. They briefly shared their testimonies of how they ended up serving the Lord in tiny French Camp, Mississippi - a place we'd never heard of until then. Summer asked about our testimonies, and I began to cry, overcome by the providence of being stranded in this town with these people. It was becoming more apparent with every passing minute that God planted us there for a purpose. We'd asked Him to guide us and we knew we were in the very palm of His hands... but it was about to become so much sweeter...
Continued... (I know, but I assure you it gets better.)