On November 25, 2018 I wrote some further reflections about the 1960 camping trip on which Connie and I met. This story is so powerful because it reflects the hand of God in such a definite and providential way.
One more story from the 1960 Wyoming trip. Somewhere in the middle of the camping experience, one of the teenage young ladies, Sally Ley, developed a serious case of appendicitis. Remember, this is way before cell phones were contemplated. I’m not sure that remote area would even have cell tower accessibility today, even though it is not too far — as the proverbial crow flies — from Buffalo, Wyoming.
Evidently the wrangler who was with us rode down to the ranch with a plea for help. The legendary “Wyoming Jack”, who was the operator of Paradise Ranch, sprang to action. He contacted a pilot who flew his single engine plane to our rescue. That’s right. The pilot landed his plane in the long, narrow meadow, at 8,000 feet, that is identified on official maps as Soldier Park.
Our campsite was probably a half mile up into the woods from where the plane landed. So, the wrangler brought an Army surplus stretcher, and a group of us alternated carrying her over uneven terrain to the plane. She was in pain and the whole ordeal was very intense and scary. But that skillful mountain pilot took off over a bumpy field and got Sally to the hospital and safety.
Above is a picture of the plane, with the pilot, some of the group and Wyoming Jack, waiting for the stretcher to arrive. Fourth Baptist youth activities seemed to frequently bring adventure and drama into the mix. It was kind of like a modern reality show without the TV cameras.
As young people we thought this adventure and drama was great stuff. Continental Casualty Insurance Company paid out many claims during those days to Fourth Baptist. No wonder that kind of insurance can’t be obtained anymore to cover medical claims for church youth groups.
I haven’t thought about this experience for many years, but I see it in a different light today. Just three years before that trip our dad was taken to heaven in a single engine plane crash. At that time in my young life the Lord gave me Ps. 91:2 as a life verse. The Psalmist says, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” That truth and promise has been an assurance and blessing many times since. Here I am as a young Wyoming cowboy in 1960.
Today it occurred to me that verse 11 in that passage may have been in operation during that time on the mountain long ago. It says, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” You see, it was just a few nights after this rescue flight that Connie, under great conviction, trusted Christ as her Saviour at that high mountain campsite. If Sally’s episode had ended in tragedy, could the mood of the whole camp been drastically changed? Instead, it was a true “mountain top” experience.
That is all in God’s hand. There is much that we do not know or understand. We do know that our great God cares for His own. How he does that is His business.