Have you ever gotten lost? Really, truly lost? If you have, then you understand how 5-year-old Katie felt when she got her directions mixed up at camp meeting.
It happened in the beautiful country of Botswana. Katie and her grandmother had gone to camp meeting in a large bush area, which was located near a dam. On Thursday afternoon Katie went to play with her friends near the dam, but later she decided to return to her grandmother’s tent. Somehow she got mixed up, and instead of walking towards their tent, she walked in the opposite direction. She didn’t realize she was walking away from the camp.
When the other children returned to their parents’ tents, Katie was not with them. Grandmother wondered where she could be, and when the sun began to set, she became worried. Concerned, she went around the camp, asking if anyone had seen her, but no one could remember exactly when they had seen her last.
The days are hot in Botswana, but after the sun sets it can become cold very quickly. Grandmother knew that Katie could not stay warm in her T-shirt and skirt after dark.
During the evening meeting, an announcement was made, asking for volunteers to help search for Katie. Everyone prayed that God would protect her and that she would be found safe. The campers spread out to search for the little girl. Some hurried to the lake where she had last been seen. Someone found a child’s shoe print in the damp sand. Could it be Katie’s shoe print? They followed the prints until they disappeared in the tall grass.
By this time it was 10:00 p.m. They searchers were tired, but they couldn’t sleep until the little girl was found. Eventually someone brought in a searchlight from town. Other searchers walked in front of a truck, using the headlights as a guide. They found more shoe prints and followed them across small streams and through more tall grass. Then the tracks led into a thick forest. They noticed the spot where she had taken off her shoes, and then they followed her footprints. Now the batteries of the lights were growing dim. Where was Katie? Finally, around 1:00 a.m. their faint flashlights shone on the little girl, sleeping on the ground in the middle of a path.
“Look!” one of the searchers whispered. “See how her head rests in her arms? And her shoes are lying neatly beside her. How tired she must be!” Someone reached down and gently touched Katie. She woke up and lifted her head and looked at the circle of concerned faces around her. She recognized her pastor and was not afraid. The searchers gently hugged the sleepy girl and wrapped her in a warm jacket, eager to reunite Katie with her worried grandmother.
Such a clatter of excitement arose when the searchers returned to camp with Katie! Everyone gathered at the big tent for a middle-of-the-night praise service. The campers listened to the searchers’ report and rejoiced with songs and prayers. Grandmother’s voice rang out loudest of all, thankful that little Katie had been safely found.
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