In south central Iowa, four miles north of Highway 92, and south of interstate 80, lies a small village. The settlement is just shy of 2 square miles in area and lies host to a small but proud population of less than 680. And it is here, at the Keokuk County fair grounds that What Cheer flea market is held.

Over 17 acres of over 750 vendors gather together three times a year and the village of What Cheer comes alive. I serve on the staff for Bethesda House under the leadership of Pastor Jeremy Empie. We minister to the masses, and answer management’s invitation by hosting a service at the grandstand during the flea market sessions.

October 2018 was a rather trying experience. First of all, during our stay from October the 1st, to Sunday the 7th, a total of more than 6 inches of rain fell. I was not aware that mud was able to grind everything to a sudden halt. And it was during this deluge of water when, I believe, I was tested. Not just mentally, but physically, spiritually, and even emotionally.

There were a few of us who came out to the fairgrounds, but only three stayed for the entire duration. Myself, Pastor Jeremy, and a mutual friend by name of Jason. Jason was injured on the second night, where he nearly broke his wrist. He escaped with a bad sprain and the top layer of skin ripped off a small area on one of his palms.

The rains fell harder that night as we attempted to keep our tents from blowing away. A lot of back and forth and trying to communicate through the thunder and the driving rain. For an hour we literally held down the fort. Standing water turned into mud a few inches at a time. Over the span of a week our small plot of land was rezoned into a mud pit.

On the third night the rainstorms came again, but the wind wasn’t present this time. We figured the tents would shed the water, and they would be good for the night. However, one of the tents did not shed water; the canvas collected it instead. The steel bars buckled under the enormous pressure and collapsed in a tangled heap. Total loss.

We let it sit there for a day. We waited to see if there would be a break in the rain so we could remove it without being soaked in the process. Friday the 5th came, the rain broke for only an hour or so, and we began the process of removing the former fold up tent. It was too bulky and mangled to remove as it was. So in typical adolescent male behavior, using brute force, I removed one of the twisted and bent tent legs and proceeded to beat the heap as a means of breaking it into manageable chunks. I had a few good swings, and on the fourth swing it happened.

In the swings prior, I had broken some pieces apart–hinges, cross bars, support beams, etc. I hit the heap with such force that one of the metal bars swung around on its pivot. Its jagged edges swung back around and connected with the left side of my face.

It came down with such force that it fractured my left eye socket, missing eye by a fraction of an inch. The resulting photo was taken four days later. In the photo you can see that it caught my brow slightly, then caught my lower eyelid and the main force dealt out in the bruise. The impact resulted in a fracture in the orbital rim of my lower left eye socket. Specifically a zygomatic fracture. As I write this in mid-December of 2018, the remnants of the bruise are still visible, and the knot at the break in my eye socket can still be felt.

Despite what could have easily been the removal of my left eye, I can see (no pun intended) the hand of God moving during that miserable week. I learned to Praise God in the Storm. This link will send you to the song that best fits the point I am trying to make:

This is Pastor Amos reminding you that even though the storm rages on, and pain comes, there is a purpose for it. Keep it in Jesus.