When Deb and I started praying about leaving our careers to join the SOWER ministry, one of our unresolved concerns was that we would be leaving in Colorado some very deep-rooted, long-standing friendships. “How would we do being separated from these friends?,” we wondered. A parallel concern was how we would do in a mobile ministry where the group of people with whom we would work continues to change each month. Hmmmmm… We are both fairly social, “people-people” and friendships are important to us. In fact, we are dependent on them. Darting around the country certainly appealed to us as adventure-seekers, but the lifestyle left a “friendship hole” in our personal community. For we are called to encourage one another and to build one another up..., to share joys and to bear one another’s burdens, right?
Brothers and Sisters in Christ are called to community. From the beginning God has made it important for man to be part of a biblical community. Both horizontally and vertically. Horizontally, we are the most comfortable with our lifetime friends, obviously. These are friends with whom we can share our deepest thoughts and life experiences. These people are like warm blankets that envelope our soul. Our lifetime friends are back in Colorado. We miss them often. What we did not fully realize is the role SOWER friends would play in filling the “friendship hole” in our personal community. All of the SOWERs we have met have been genuine, enthusiastic, sociable, and like-minded. We are all Christians, we are all servants, we are all retired, we are all RV’ers, and we are all together for three weeks with the exact same agenda, so there is a lot of common ground. When you are with such a group for so much of the time, it only takes three or four days for jocularity to set in. “How many SOWERs does it take to screw in a light bulb…?”, you may ask. Beyond the monthly project, the extended family of SOWERs is connected electronically, all across the country. SOWERs have a dynamic eMail prayer chain; we pray for fellow SOWERs whether we have met them [yet], or not. And SOWERs always seem to find time for regional get-togethers each month (there is always a lot of food). For three weeks each month we are all on exactly the same schedule, so the thousands of SOWERs all have exactly the same time constraints and commitments.
At the project, in the first week we learn about each other, hear testimonies, learn quirks and personalities. The second week we begin to feel comfortable and start to ask deeper questions and share a little more; we even begin to tease each other. We learn of life stories, past ministries, amazing gifts and talents. The third week cements our relationships and builds hope that, post-project, our paths will cross again. For a fast-paced three weeks, we have worked, prayed, camped, played, laughed, and shared meals together. In this time, we have gleaned from each other and grown personally; we have new exposure to His Kingdom and are better prepared for meeting future friends. And then we move on.
SOWER friends are wonderful new friends, but they are friends for a season and for a reason. We believe that He has given us season friends to help us to reconcile our concern about leaving lifetime friends in Colorado. And He has given us season friends to further convict our hearts about His mighty outreach across this country. He is doing it by giving us more and more friends than we have ever before had! Not only the SOWERs that we are meeting but also the friendships we are making with the wonderful camp staffs at all of the places where we have been graciously allowed to share our talents.
As Deb and I continue our travels in this favored ministry, we realize that the God who blessed us with the opportunity to join SOWERs has also provided us many seasonal friends to help fill the “friendship hole” in our personal community. But He has also given to us an opportunity to first-hand witness how expansive and dynamic His reach truly is. Our lifetime friends may be in Colorado, but our Friends (with a capital “F”) are now EVERYwhere. They are not just at bible study in Colorado, or at the office, or “down the street.” We are developing a God-given network of friends that literally spans the entire country.
It has not happened yet, but Deb and I so look forward to crossing trails and meeting again face-to-face with “old” SOWER friends who have been on past projects with us for a season and a reason. In the meantime, we cherish the lifetime friendships that are “on hold” for a while.
Being a RV’er is not just about freedom, travel, and independent living, it is also one of the common denominators you find in an often overlooked, yet sizable community. When you talk to someone in the community of full-time RV'ers you know from the get-go that you have a lot in common: you are likely retired, you like to meet new people, and you have at least two hobbies in common (RV maintenance, and a passion for new experiences).
Rallies are a great way to experience this community! Wherever two or more are gathered, full-timers or not, an RV rally breaks out! The RV community is very social. Without exaggeration, I describe the group as gregarious, honest, and charitable. Less obvious is this group's strong mechanical aptitude (things do tend to break when you move your home at 62mph down a busy, bouncing highway day-after-day!) and love for small dogs (yip, yip!). And, of course, we all love ADVENTURE!
When RVers assemble for a common theme, it is called a rally. It could be a rally for Freightliner owners, solar modifications, craft shows, NASCAR, ham radio, folk music, Jeeping, geocaching, an expedition to Mexico or Alaska, water-sports, photography or ministry (the list is endless, actually). I have no way to know for sure, but my guess is that there is no time in America when there is not an RV rally somewhere, of some kind, of some fun theme. Check out the YouTube below for a rally that was themed, "Out of This World!" (SEE KEN AND DEB AT 46 SECONDS!).
In addition to experiencing a greater sense of community, full-time RV’ers tend to live less stressful lives than their retired, non-RV’er colleagues. After all, they have minimal possessions to maintain, no yardwork to burden them, they have virtually complete control over when and where to travel, and when they want to travel, there is no concern about prepping or packing because everything they have is usually right with them. It is not unusual to find a warm group of "RV strangers" coming together around a roaring and talkative campfire to chat and share stories of everything from great parks to bad roads. The most impressive virtue, however, is the RVer's willing, cheerful helpfulness. No matter what kind of challenge travels in your motorhome brings, there will always be a fellow-RVer willing to help out! Most RV'ers, especially full-timers, will tell you that since they started their RV'ing adventure they have developed a significantly expanded social network.
memberships we enjoy
The RV community is full of exciting clubs, each with its special focus on the mobile lifestyle. Some are focused on philanthropy and service. Some on exploring America's great camping spots. Some are RV brand specific, and others are focused on topics so mundane as RV maintenance! Here are our favorites: