I’ll never forget the day my dear friend, Velma, told me she got a boyfriend. It wasn’t so much the “getting” of the boyfriend but just how it happened. It was the early days of popularity of the internet and show like “You got mail” were attempting to adequately cover the societal shift to the information highway. So, when Velma told me that she found her new “beau” online I almost fainted. The next news was she was getting married! Well, that was over a decade ago and the incredible man that captured her heart was none other than Alan Smith.
Alan passed away on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 in his home surrounded by loving family and friends. The moment after Alan left this earth he experienced eternal life and I am sure heard those precious words, “Well done my good and faithful servant”. You see, Alan served God and His Kingdom faithfully for many years. He was a missionary overseas and, after meeting Velma, became a missionary to foster children and former foster youth.
One of Velma’s requirements for dating, and eventually marrying Alan, was attending Royal Family Kids Camp (RFKC) every year. Velma has been the RFKC Nurse for as long as I can remember. Now, thanks to online dating, RFKC had a nurse and another male staff. Alan ran through the ranks of positions at RFKC and was a counselor, a special assistant and eventually promoted to “hoser”. Let me tell you about the greatest “hoser” that has ever lived!
After Alan’s stroke, his body wasn’t functioning in top form. Alan began to question his ability to participate in RFKC. As leaders, we encouraged Alan that his “brokenness” was actually a blessing. It displayed the character and faithfulness of a God-follower to hurting and hopeless foster children in a real-life manner. The abused and neglected children were able to witness, firsthand, what overcoming looks like through the life of Alan.
One of my many roles at RFKC, or one I would delegate, was hosing down the camp facility to minimize dust. Upon glancing over at Alan one day as he was reading a devotional, God prompted me to give him the position. Now, if you are a male you know how tough it is to hand over a garden hose to someone else. I think men secretly live to water their lawns, wash stuff off and hose things down. In humble obedience, I turned over the hose to Alan Smith and never toughed it again for years! Alan became the official RFKC Bakersfield “Hoser”.
Alan was an integral part of RFKC. RFKC became known not for Alan and not for Velma but for Alan and Velma. The staff and children were blessed to know him, to live with him and to experience the joy and suffering of his life. Alan was RFKC. He embodied all that we attempted to teach those we served which is to create positive memories and live right with God and man. The catch is doing this in the most horrific and negative circumstances of abuse and neglect. Alan was able to show the children, through his life example, that he was an overcomer. Alan was able to put his life on display and share that even though you experience pain and hurt one can find peace and joy if you live in and for Jesus!
One of the qualities I loved about Alan was his incredibly rich and vibrant sense of humor. Although I was the “butt” of his jokes on multiple occasions, I delighted in his wit. At one of our “welcome home dinners” Alan told the crowd that we were mistakenly following me as their leader. He said, “I mean this guy can’t even count. I don’t think he can count past three. In fact, at camp, he makes everyone stop what they are doing by shouting One, Two, Three and then he makes everyone clap for him!” Alan, shared this gem due to the crowd control tactic I learned from an educator wherein you get attention by yelling “One, Two, Three” and everyone claps once.