The Rainbow Gathering was phenomenal and words can hardly express my feelings for this trip I went on. I flew out to Minneapolis, MN where I began to meet everyone I was going on the trip with. Everyone was so wonderful I knew it was going to be a great experience. Normally the pre-gathering school is roughly two weeks long, maybe a bit less, due to the low numbers of new attendees the school was only two days long. During that time they take time to pray for everyone. This year we only did the newest members because of lack of time, and when they prayed over me I was blown away about what they were saying. Many talked about how I was a treasure, all in different ways. One woman said she saw me in a dazzling sequin dress behind a curtain getting ready to unveil what I had. For a laugh this sequin dress came into play later on. The other one that sticks out to me is when Nigel said he was thinking of me as a penny and how I think the things I do are small and insignificant but God sees the greatness in it. Then he stepped on a penny right then and gave it to me. It’s interesting to see how God places little things like that in out life.
Finally we packed everything up in the two buses we took down to New Mexico and were on our way to meet Jesus at the gathering. The trip down was great and with limited stops for fixing the buses. We had 27 people on the trip and took two buses that have been transformed into homes. Rachel and Nigel live on a 1963 bus that may have always been livable, but the boys, John and Josh, live in a 1991 school bus that they made into their home. We drove down into Iowa, took a right in Des Moines to drive through Nebraska (boy, was that thrilling), drove into Colorado, and then down into New Mexico. The gathering was in the northwest corner of the state near the city of Cuba. For being a big desert New Mexico was actually very pretty and while in the gathering it wasn’t too hot either because we were in the Rockies at 9,200 feet.
Once we packed everything in and found our spot to set up camp we immediately began cooking food and serving while we also built everything in the camp over the next two days. I was lucky enough to be on the small crew of digging the latrine, a latrine big enough to serve thousands of people for two weeks. It was a big hole. I was double lucky because at the end of the trip I was privileged enough to bury that same latrine after everyone had used it. When I say we built our camp I mean we basically built everything we needed. The only thing we didn’t do was weave together our tarps and tents. We built stadium style seating around the fire pit, shelves to store all the dishes, a dish-washing station, a place to serve all the food, and even a spice rack. You name it we had it, or could have made it.
After we were all settled into our new home for the next few weeks we began to be able to really connect with the people at the gathering. It was encouraging to see that those who came in and sat down actually wanted to talk about God and other beliefs. However, I think that my most interesting conversations were often times the conversations that did not include God. I enjoyed those times because I was really able to connect with people and try to understand them more by talking about things they wanted to talk about. It was also great to get to know the other people on the team and we all had a special bond that was like family. It was wonderful knowing how much I could trust them all even though we just met.
God really showed up at the gathering. It was so evident he was there that it has actually been hard being at home because I miss the whole atmosphere of the gathering. While there we saw miracles that you normally do not see. I met a man who had 14 seizures the night before we met him and after we prayed for him he only had two seizures the whole week. The first one I was standing right there and was actually able to put my new CPR certification into practice, but the second seizure made for a far more miraculous story. It happened during the night all the Christian kitchens get together for worship time. He fell over and a man from our camp prayed over him and immediately all his muscles relaxed, then he sat up and realized he was sitting on his knee. His knee that had a fake kneecap and pins, he then got up and realized he was not hurting anymore and he did not have limp either. He felt his knee and could not find any hardware and he began to run around the meadow, which is something he has not been able to do since he had the surgery. Even more things were healed in him that night, and he knew exactly who was behind it all. For the rest of the week he was showing off his new abilities and praising God the whole time. God healed a few more people in our camp in a wide variety of ways, from Fibromyalgia to a sore on a nose. He even healed me of asthma, depression, and my long-term sinus problems. A few nights before we left for New Mexico God told me to trust that he could heal and put down all my medicine. This was such a radical idea since I had been having asthma attacks nearly every night and was dealing with depression and sinus problems on top of that. In any case I believed he could heal me and I have not taken any medicine now for two months. God is so good and it is purely amazing how much he worked in people this year at the gathering.
Besides feeding breakfast, lunch, and dinner we also had other ministries. We set up a foot washing station and handed out free clothes, we had a great shoe repairman, people brought him some awfully tattered shoes and he brought them back to life. There was a prayer tent we set up and we had one person in there nearly all day by taking roughly one-hour shifts. We played music during the day too. This was such a blessing to have for a few reasons, one because we did not really have a worship leader but the few people who kind of knew how to play guitar really stepped up to the challenge and it turned into a wonderful thing, secondly I loved having the music because whenever I had a not so spiritually high moment I could just be quiet and I would hear the music playing which really brought my spirits up again. Another Christian kitchen that was there was called Bread of Life and they set up a prayer and prophecy tent in front of out camp. That was such an amazing addition because people would go in there and come out so encouraged and it just made everyone so happy. Other than ministry we also had our daily duties to attend to. Such duties included gathering firewood, fetching water for cooking and washing, cleaning dishes, making and serving food, and some people had the dirty deed of tending to the latrine.
It is extremely hard for me to put my experience into words and the words I have used only give a small glimpse as to what happened. All I have left to say is that every time I talk about the trip I get so excited and could talk for hours. This excitement also comes with disappointment though because it makes me realize I have to wait a whole year to do it again. God has also told me that I’m going to be doing this for a long time, which means I’ll hopefully be joining what is called the traveling Jesus Kitchen. The traveling kitchen not only goes to the national gatherings once a year, that’s what this gathering was, but it also goes to the regional gatherings all over the country year-round. Potentially I would be getting a bus and converting it into my own home and joining the other seven people who are currently or about to be on the traveling Jesus Kitchen. I always knew I was supposed to work in the ministry but I never was positive where I was going to be. God really narrowed it down for me this summer. He showed me exactly where my passions lie and that even though I grew up in a comfortable lifestyle this is where I fit in. This life just makes sense to me and I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for it. God is so good!