First Light and Thrice Clear.
The group of young people gathered around the fire pit as the grill was almost ready. Chit chat about the evening gave way to hot dogs (tube steaks) and s’mores (roasted marshmallows on graham crackers layered with chocolate). We explained some Bible verses about the heavens and God’s record of creation in Genesis. After a bunch of questions about God’s handiwork, we cleaned the goo off our hands and moved from the fire pit to the dome area where I had set up two small telescopes and a few binoculars. After handing out planispheres, the first star to be seen was Vega. I got the young people started on learning to focus binoculars while Faylene gave some more instruction on the planispheres.
The night sky was superb, which was a direct answer to prayer. Surrounding areas were cloudy or misty while the sky above us became open and clear. We danced around the sky looking at prominent stars, identifying constellations, and even observed a globular cluster or two. Both of us talked and answered questions non-stop. Everyone left with stories and new knowledge. Faylene and I stayed an extra hour to wrap up and enjoy a few extra looks at the rising Milky Way. We left the property thankful for a special evening. The story picture captures the scene, since the older adults never had a chance to take a picture. This observing period was “first light” (or first use with a group) at Day 4 Observing Site at our country property in North Carolina.
The event brought back memories because clear skies are never guaranteed. This is the third time I have witnessed God clearing the skies for a group. The first was in the Philippines in a forest area near a small school that had lots of Aeta children. I did a presentation, praying for a clear sky. It was completely clouded over. They were all waiting to look through a little telescope and binoculars. I checked the sky one last time. In a small clearing in front of the school, there was a hole through the forest canopy to view part of the heavens. The clouds had parted. I quickly got the teachers, the 40 children, and the chief of the local Aeta village in lines to look at the Pleiades, which was centered directly over the little glen.
The second time skies cleared was at our mission station in Laguna, Philippines, where a class of 50 from the community and many others from the compound were arriving to watch a lunar eclipse. Faylene and I were to give a talk, walk through the lunar eclipse with them, and sketch the moon changes as a demonstration. Again, it was completely clouded over after sunset. I told the director that it did not look good. The Holy Spirit gave a very short instruction to my heart, “set up the equipment.” An hour later and twenty minutes after the eclipse started, the whole sky opened up and stayed open until the eclipse was nearly done. This kind of clearing almost never happens in the lowlands of the tropical Philippines.
So, “thrice” have we been blessed to have the heavens open up for groups. I am thankful. Roland
Psalm 136:2, 7-9 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever…the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and the stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever.