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Gospel Music and Camper Vans – Vanessa Visits Red Deer

By Tandy Balson

Gospel Music and Camper Vans may not seem like a natural mix. Nevertheless, Tandy Balson finds the experience to be the highlight of her summer.

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Gospel Music and Much More

Attending the Canadian Gospel Music Celebration in Red Deer, Alberta is always a highlight of the summer for my husband and me. We have just returned home from our eleventh consecutive year at this uplifting experience.

We are encouraged by the morning chapel times, with stirring music, a challenging message and some light hearted moments. The afternoon and evening concerts feature well known and local performers.

gospel music and camper vansGospel Music and a Heart for the Lord

Actually, the word performer seems too impersonal for the talented people on the platform. Their heart for the Lord comes through clearly in the lyrics that lead us to praise God for his love and the sacrifice Jesus made for us. The melodies go from lively toe tapping and hand clapping beats to gentle, soothing worship.

The artists on the platform often use humour to have us laughing. Moments later, their words and music have us raising our hands in worship and praise. More than once tears streamed down my cheeks as the message stirred my soul.

They share scripture, life experiences and prayer as well as music. We are told not to leave with memories of them but of our all powerful, all loving God. This is ministry at its finest. It is also why we go back, year after year.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, God had a few surprises for me this year as well.

Cgospel music and camper vansamping Nearby

The first concert starts on Thursday at 6 pm. They continue throughout the day and evening on Friday and Saturday, finishing about 11 pm Saturday. For this reason, we join many others who bring their RV’s and camp in either the neighbouring campground or in the overflow area behind the venue. It’s wonderful to just have a short walk across a parking lot to reach our accommodation.

This year, we were excited to stay in Vanessa, our camper van. In previous years we had noticed RV’s dry camping on the perimeter of the front parking lot. We brought along a portable generator and planned on doing the same. Upon arrival we discovered generators were not allowed. This made sense because with the number of units there, the noise would be too great.

We hadn’t booked a spot with power hookup since we didn’t think we’d need it, but fortunately a few were still available.  Better yet, they were the same price as ones without electricity!

No Dry Camping

We were led to the side of a big metal barn on the far edge of the parking lot. When we found out we couldn’t dry camp, this was the area we’d hoped for. In previous years we had a tow behind trailer and this was our favourite spot, as we weren’t on the hot pavement and it wasn’t as crowded. Imagine our surprise when our Pleasure Way van was directed to park beside two other Pleasure Ways.

The owners of the other vans came out to meet us. Pleasure Ways like ours are no longer made and hard to find. They had both owned their vans longer than we had and had never parked three in a row before.

We were soon to discover the one next to us was a 1996, like ours and the other one was ten years newer. Everyone was interested to look inside the other vans and discover the similarities and differences. All had their own colour schemes and a slightly different configuration.  Each couple had stories of driving hours to look at and purchase their vans. As I said, they are not easy to come by. This created an instant bond between the owners.

gospel music and camper vansBonding

Actually one of the bonds had started many years ago. The owners of one of the vans were part of the blessing God had in store for us. My husband was the first out of our van when we parked. I heard excited voices and quickly followed.

A reunion was taking place. We had first met this couple over twenty years ago, when we lived in British Columbia. Initially we met through the alumni of a personal development seminar.  Later, my husband and I became part of a small group who attended monthly worship gatherings led by this talented couple.

We hadn’t been in touch since we moved to Alberta thirteen years ago. Hugs were shared as we reminisced. It was a blessing to reconnect and reminded me that God works in mysterious ways – even using a camper van named Vanessa. It makes me wonder if this was a one-time blessing or if God has something else in mind for the four of us. Only time will tell.

Hive of Activity

The other surprise came in a lesson from an unusual source. There were a set of bleachers stored against the side of the barn directly across from us. Under one of the benches was a very large hornet nest. These insects were buzzing around constantly and a few came for an unwanted visit.

As I watched from a distance, the phrase hive of activity came to mind. So often in life I engage in this kind of behaviour. In fact, the option to do just that was before me at this music festival. If I chose to take in all of the events, I would be swept up in a hive of activity. Instead, I chose to take some quiet time, away from the crowds, and reflect on what I had seen and heard.

God has many lessons for me every day but I will miss them if I don’t seek time to be still and listen.

I thank Him for the music, the ministry and loving me enough to speak into my heart. I also thank Him for the gift of Vanessa, the van and look forward to whatever adventures He has planned for us.

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Tandy Balson

Tandy Balson is a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer and observer of life. She is also a also a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadioContact us if you are a truth seeker and need some answers. Read and hear more from Tandy Balson on the contributor’s page or on her website,

Tandy’s show, “Time With Tandy” airs on HopeStreamRadio. In her program she reflects on spiritual lessons from her observations of life, to encourage and strengthen us in our faith.

listen to HopeStreamRadioYou May Also Enjoy These Podcasts:

Brad Hewey – Grace Outpoured

James Bruyn – Walking With God

Lynda Lewis – God, Who Do You Say I Am?

Queue –sheadquarters

Images Courtesy Of:

Music Band – profivideos

Pianist – Free_Photos

Pleasure Way Camper Van – Pinterest

Friends – Foundry

HopeStreamRadio has been a huge blessing to me. Since I moved away from an area that had a lot of good Christian radio I have been looking for a station that I could listen to and be encouraged by. HSR has filled that void and it has also been exciting to be a part of the team that contributes to HSR.

Mike from MS