We had rented a pop-up camper to see if we could handle camping with a 12-month-old and another baby on the way. It was a hot, oppressively humid day that made breathing hard. Being close to 95 degrees was very odd for an October day.
To get some relief from the heat my husband took us to many quaint shops in Door County, Wisconsin. The air around us seemed to want to drain any energy right out of us. My daughter was finally ready to nap, and I hoped my unborn son would let me rest as well. At least the camper was under some large trees for shade, and we had fans to help.
Just as lunch was set on the table and our one year old was down for a nap, we thought we heard a radio broadcasting a tornado warning. We tried to seek where the noise was coming from, but the campground appeared very deserted due to the heat. The sky was bright blue with a few thunderheads over in the lake direction. We must have been hearing things, right?
We had no more than poured our drinks when a young man ran screaming through the campground, “Get to the tornado shelter!” We both looked at each other, and without a word I snatched up my daughter. Then as fast as a pregnant woman can waddle, I dashed to the campground bathroom. As I rushed to that bathroom, I prayed, “God get us there safely!”
My husband, panicked about what to grab in case the worst happened, stayed behind the few moments it took me to reach the shelter. Because he wasn’t with me, I felt alone, but I wasn’t.
Inside the incredibly hot, damp, sky-lit bathroom were a few older souls and one family. I squeezed my way past sticky bodies and hit the floor under the sink covering my daughter with my now wheezy, heavily sweating self.
My husband banged on the door to be let in not a few seconds later. The tornado which had originated out on the lake was heading straight for us.
While the storm took its toll in less than one minute, I was stared at by the largest pit bull I have ever seen. Eye-to-eye and close enough that I could count his whiskers, I made a discovery. This dog had something I did not–calmness.
A calmness–peace that surpassed all my current understanding–was what I needed. In a split second I had to decide to let fear grip me or let God keep me as calm as that canine. Psalm 4:8 came to mind: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
A wave a relief came over me while the sound of a roaring train surrounded us. My husband was not far from his family, but it was the Holy Spirit who was with me during this trial of faith.
Suddenly the sun poured in through the skylight as if nothing had happened. Our group made a collective way to the door and with a little effort opened it. What we saw was massive devastation. Trees were twisted in grotesque forms. Huge RVs were in thousands of pieces. The playground was obliterated, and a pickup truck was wrapped around a tree.
In that eerie sound of silence, God said to my heart, All is well.
We were stranded and were going to be for some time. Several of us assessed our water and food supplies. There was peace in this situation that was amazing. God had given us grace and mercy, not one person in the campground was injured.
It was getting to be nightfall. All the electrical lines were down so we had no lights and an inoperable bathroom. We had to trust God would get us out of this mess in His own timing. We could hear rescue squads trying to saw their way through the downed trees.
Our adventure ended around 2 AM with a trip through farm fields until we found a woman who graciously offered her old barn to house us. God’s provisions in action were evident through gracious people. We did not walk alone and we finally found sleeping arrangements set up by the Red Cross in a school.
The campground was a total loss and almost every camper was destroyed. As to our rental? It was moved about 6 feet with only one small dent in the roof. Everything inside was dry–not touched by the fierce winds at all. God provided in abundance! This was the only camper to come out intact. God sent trials to test our faith and blessings to see us through them.
God had taught me through a dog to remain calm. If God can care for a dog, how much more He cares for me!