It had been three hours and forty-seven minutes since I had last seen my parents. They had sent me off with farewell kisses and my mother, with tear filled eyes.
"Be safe. May the lord watch over you."
Her words echoed in my head as I sat in my seat, alone, on our camp's means of transportation. My parents had sent me off to the nearest Church camp without any sort of warning to me. I mean, I wanted to go and learn how to spread the word of the Lord, I just wasn't prepared. They gave me the news about five days before the pick-up day. I honestly wasn't surprised. My parents had wanted me to be in the Lord's grace ever since I was conceived. They had always been protective over me, guarding me from the sinful ways of man.
No one had chosen to sit next to me on the bus, so i had decided to open my Bible to get some reading in. I had guessed the reason why the children seemed to be intimidated by me was because of my appearance. My head cloth was wrapped over my so called 'sinful' hair.
My dark, thick hair only came down to about my ears. It was a result of an incident that occurred a few months ago. I had accidentally chopped a small, but noticeable, portion of my hair whilst I was fixing one of my frocks. I had scissors in my hand when I took a fall, and they snapped shut on impact over my hair. My mother was devastated. I was taught it was a sin to have short hair. It was 'ungodly' for girls to have short hair. My parents decided the best thing to do was pray for my forgiveness and to just cut the rest off. But, to remain sinless and pure, my parents bought me a large cloth to keep over my hair. It was white and cotton, and covered my hair completely, with the exception of my bangs. The cloth tied under my chin and was also secured by a hairpin or two, thanks to my mother. It was an adjustment on my part, but I suppose I must do anything to please our Lord.
My head was in the clouds as I was reading my Bible. I world seemed to disappear as I read through the many chapters I had seen before. I was currently reading the Book of Galatians: Chapter Four, and I suddenly found myself reading aloud the passages to myself.
" Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world," I whispered to myself as my fingers touched the warm leather of my book. "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son-"
My eyes looked up immediately from my reading as I heard my name called. "Yes?" I replied, shutting my Bible slowly.
One of the camp counselors at the front of the bus was staring back at me with a smile, holding clipboard. "Oh, there you are! We're just making sure everyone's here, sweetie."
I smiled faintly back at her, nodding my head. "Yes, ma'am."
I held my Bible in my lap and gazed out of the window to the cornfields around us. I hadn't really noticed how much there was until I actually was able to stare at it for a while. It just kept going and going, and going, no matter how long we kept driving. The sun would occasionally get in my eyes and I'd look away towards the other window, causing a few of the children to stare at me.
"Alright, children, we're going to make a short pit-stop in a town coming up." The same counselors began saying to us. "How many of you all need to use the restroom or call your parents?" A few of them raised their hands. I just remained still and silent, as always. The counselor kept talking. "Alrighty, after we stop and get back on the road, we'll be at camp in about an hour. Then we can get settled in and start some good old worship!"
Most of the children cheered and clapped, I only smiled and sighed to myself. Although I went to church with my family every Sunday and Wednesday, I was always up for the word of the Lord and to listen to the stories of the Bible.
A few of the kids started to gasp and laugh as they clustered by the windows of the right side of the bus. I stretched over to see what all of the noise was about, and saw we were approaching a welcome sign to the town we were entering.
WELCOME TO GATLIN. THE NICEST LITTLE TOWN IN NEBRASKA.
We quickly sped past the sign, but I could tell the kids got good looks of it. Some of them giggled, saying, "It's so small!" and "That's nothing compared to Omaha!". I held back my laughter and thought about the name for a moment. Gatlin...where had I heard it before?
Our bus pulled into the town and we were met with nothing but abandoned buildings. Most of the kids were taken back, including me. I heard the counselors chattering up at the front of the bus, talking about how this wasn't safe and that we should just find another place to stop. Eventually, they decided that we were brought here for a reason by the Lord, so we should stay. The counselor whom was driving the bus spoke up as we stopped.
"Okay kids, Miss Kathy is going to go try and find a telephone and a place with restrooms real quick so we can get back on the road. Everyone stay in here until she gets back, okay?"
The children all replied with "Okay"s and "Yeah"s. I, of course, stayed silent. I opened my bible back up once more to continue reading.
I prayed that hopefully, this wouldn't take too long.