As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, July 3, 2014

East2West 2014 - Praising Jesus, Kids in Tow

One week ago today we undertook our first camping trip with our three oldest boys to attend East 2 West, Canada's biggest Christian Music Festival.  Our journey began back in the fall when a friend posted on facebook, "Who wants to go to this with me?" I had never heard of it before, but three of my favorite bands were the main acts each of the nights - Jeremy Camp, The Newsboys, and Third Day.  We were given tickets to a Newsboys concert in our hometown a few years ago which we took the boys to, and it was our first shared concert experience with them.  It was such a powerful experience to share with them, because contemporary music and worship was such a big part of my conversion, and something I don't often have an opportunity to engage in anymore.  Being with the kids at a live event and seeing the way it really resonated with them as it did with us made us eager to attend East 2 West, since it was so close.  And so in January, in order to get the early bird prices, we locked in our adventure and bought tickets.

The day that we left was crazy.  It was wet and rainy, and it took waaaaaay longer than we anticipated to pack.  We had hoped to be on the road around noon, but didn't get away from the house until nearly suppertime.  On our way to my inlaws to drop off our three youngest children, one of them was sick in the car - so we dropped our babies, stomach flu and all, off to their rockstar grandparents, who graciously agreed to keep them despite their sickness.  We didn't arrive at the concert venue until nine o'clock in the evening, but had made arrangements to stay with my Aunt that evening to avoid camping in the rain.  I should mention here that there were eight of us travelling together - Jeff and I, our three kids, my mother and nephew, and our friend - and despite the fact that we offered to split up between her place and another Aunt's, she insisted we all stay.  She and my uncle opened their home to all of us, giving us a dry place to stay for the evening and warm up after a very wet and muddy first concert.

Jeremy Camp was amazing, but the weather was so wet and we were not really set up (we hadn't brought our chairs in and had been driving all day).  The grownups all loved it, but the kids were tired and anxious to get back to my Aunt's.  The next morning one of my boys woke with the stomach flu, and had to stay behind at my Aunt's with my mother while the rest of us ran our errands.  While we were out my husband started feeling ill, and we wondered whether we should bother trying to set up our campsite, or just stay with my Aunt for the weekend (she had offered that we could set our tents up in her yard).  Feeling defeated and wondering if everything was against us, we decided we would at least check out the campsite.  If it was muddy and looked as though we'd be miserable there, we would go back to my Aunt's. We finished our errands, grabbed lunch, and set off for the venue once more.  And I'm so glad we did.

When we arrived we discovered things had dried up significantly since the day before.  Even better, our campsite was right next to the concert area - we could see the stage from where we were!  Since we were worried about anyone else getting sick this couldn't have worked out better.  If someone was sick, or tired, or otherwise wanting to stay at the campsite, they would still be able to see the show.  It was perfect!  Jeff, who is the most organized and thorough camper I know, set us all up, and we felt more like we were at the Ritz than tenting all weekend.

Our sick boy came around mid-day, and my Mom called and said he wanted to meet up with us, so they came.  By the time they arrived he was back to his usual self, and you never would have known he had been sick.  Feeling slight disbelief we counted our blessings and headed out to enjoy the second headliner for the weekend - The Newsboys.  Our kids were all big fans already, and The Newsboys are so electrifying - they really are the perfect act to bring kids to, because they are just full of energy.  It was such a great experience to see the kids get into it, and of course us too.  After the encore the band ended with their version of "Revelation Song," a praise and worship song that they covered.  I thought it was such a beautiful way for them to give glory to God, and so humble for them to choose a song written and made famous by someone other than them.  The evening ended in a prayer, and it was just beautiful. I was so grateful to be sharing this with my oldest boys.

Some of our crew, waiting for The Newsboys
The stage

Day three was a big one for me, because Third Day was the headliner.  Anyone that knows me knows I'm a die-hard Third Day fan (I even walked down the aisle to a Third Day song from their first Offerings album, All the Heavens), and I have never seen them in person.  They came so close to me a few years ago, less than a day's drive away in New Hamshire, but I had a small baby and could not attempt such a long road trip with my nursing babe.  I was so looking forward to this concert!

When my third son (the youngest on our trip) got out of his tent that morning, I could tell by the look on his face that he was sick too.  We went about our morning as usual but when he threw up, I resigned myself to staying back with him for the day (which was no big deal, since we were set up so well).  Everyone else was going to the beach and he desperately wanted to go, so we packed a bowl, gave him some Gravol and hit the road.  Again, like his brother, you never would have known he was sick.  He ran around, soaking up the sun, eating fries and grilled cheese, and loving life.  And I was really beginning to appreciate the gift of being away without little ones.  As much as I love having them around, this time I felt like I had more opportunity to engage with my older boys. I threw the rugby ball with Jeff, our friend and the boys, and I built sand castles with the kids.  I even went in the water for a bit.  It was a glorious day.

So grateful for his quick recovery

My boys soaking up the sun
We returned and spent a lazy afternoon in the sweltering heat at our campsite, then just before the opening act my husband started to feel ill again. Everyone else headed over to the concert and I stayed behind with Jeff, hoping against hope that he wouldn't get sick (though truth be told he kind of wanted to, because he felt like if he could just throw up he'd feel better).  I had no problem staying back with him and I stormed the Heavens for some kind of relief for him, but I didn't have high hopes.  On our way to the bathroom an event volunteer asked if we needed a medic - that's how bad he looked!  They thought maybe it was heat exhaustion, but when he said there was a stomach bug going through our family they were like, "okay, keep walking then!" Haha!  Miraculously he came out of it, and was feeling well enough to head over for Third Day.  By the time we made our way over Stephen, who had been sick earlier and had not slept all day, began to complain of a headache and sore belly.  The announcers were saying, "ten minutes to Third Day", "five minutes to Third Day", and I was walking back to my campsite to get medication for my boy. Noooooooooo!!!

We made it back just before the band started, and my Mom and friend took turns sitting with Stephen, who fell asleep just before the start of the concert and slept through the entire thing.  I got to spend the entire concert about twenty feet from the stage.  I saw them up close, and it was just amazing!  I've been to many concerts, but this was by far the best.  You could tell the experience that is behind this band, they are just so good at engaging the crowd and sharing their faith in a way that is real and not manufactured. It was simlutaneously a rock concert and a worship service, and to call it incredible would be such an understatement.

I was this close!

Mac Powell on the big screen

Worshipping with my love
 I was as ministered to by the people who attended the event as by the acts themselves.  I was able to get as close as I did despite the large numbers of people because everyone was so nice and accomodating.  Nobody squeezed their way past anyone, or looked down on you for going past them - everyone was attentive to each other.  I didn't know when I bought my tickets whether there would be any other kids there, but the event was crawling with them.  People would set up their chairs for the show and their children would  be playing games and running around next to them, dancing and playing late into the night.  The most powerful thing was to witness parents and children together sharing in this experience of Jesus, praying and worshipping together.  It was an experience I will not soon forget, and I am so thankful that in spite of the many things that seemed against us, we were able to go and experience the Lord in this way.  To remember what it's like to lift our hands in prayer, to be taken away in a song, to pour our hearts out to Jesus and not care who's watching.  And most importantly of all, to share it with our kids.  Thank you so much, East2West.  We will definitely be back next year.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6


  1. What an adventure!!! We have a "joke" that someone gets hurt or sick no matter what or when we plan a vacation or trip. It never fails. We almost always still go, though, as long as the germs aren't too bad.
    Glad you had such a nice time! Here to next year all the boys staying happy and healthy!

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