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DEAR 2005

"Marriage Supper with the Lamb" by Elder George Belser

October 27 to 30, 2005

by Jennifer Witteborg

Leaving the bustle of the city behind, we arrived at Camp Blue Ridge where DEAR (Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat) was being held. The leaves were all showing their colors of red, orange, yellow, and gold with some green lingering. Although it was chilly, the sun was shining, the water on the lake was shimmering and the faces of new and old friends were enlightening!

The DEAR committee comprised of Jim House, Wendy House, Mike Dobson, Cathy Ingram, Francisca Trexler, and Elder David Trexler did a fantastic job of bringing us a weekend of many good memories. The cabins, the food, the scenery and the schedule were all set up together in a seamless way.

Temperatures were cold outside but the fireplace in a town hall kept us warm and cozy. There was something mesmerizing about having a fire going while visiting with friends. A total of 70 people converged on Camp Blue Ridge from New York, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington and Arizona.

The guest speaker, Elder George Belser, did an excellent job of explaining the importance of the Marriage Supper with the Lamb (Jesus Christ). He wove the other verses in the Bible to make a tapestry portrait (picture) of what it really meant to prepare for the Marriage Supper with Jesus.

Elder Belser spoke of the wine made from water at Jesus' first miracle on earth (at a wedding party). I had always thought the way Jesus spoke to Mary, his mom, “Woman, what have I to do with you?” was rude. Elder Belser said within the language and culture of that time, those words were actually showing love and endearment.

In between the spiritual food we received from George Belser and others (sharing their thoughts and prayers as well as signed songs), we laughed, cried, and played.

Thursday evening, the youngsters and I went down to the Campfire Bowl. It got too cold and I went back to find out what happened to the others of my generation. I found them all sitting around the town hall fireplace swapping stories, dozing off in chairs, and relaxing with the sisterhood/brotherhood of our Christian family.

Friday afternoon, we went up to the go-kart facility and paid $3.00 for a ride. Some of us were quite rough in handling the go-kart and all of us were laughing. Big Mark, CBR's manager/host, was laughing along with us. I had never seen someone so relaxed during the chaos we were causing by banging into each other with the go-kart. He was a good sport!

Friday night was supposed to be held at the Campfire Bowl but being wiser, the committee canceled it because the temperature plummeted to 30 degrees. We ended up staying in the hall and chatted again around the fireplace.

Sabbath morning, we had a wonderful service especially at the conclusion of Elder Belser's uplifting sermon. The songs, sung by Vonne Gulak, Cathy Ingram, and Francisca Trexler, were so inspiring that I could 'hear' the angels singing along with their signs. Yes, I am deaf AND sane.

Sabbath after lunch, we gathered for group pictures, and then went off to hike at Crabtree Falls. Some of us stayed at the town hall next to the fire place.

Those of us who went to the falls had a wonderful time. The falls were not too far from the parking lot and some of us continued up to the top of the mountain. One New Yorker commented, “You can leave me here when you head back to New York tomorrow!” It was truly a beautiful and perfect for hiking.

After dinner, we played music chairs and laughed so hard, it was crazy. Dan Campbell helped by indicating to two switch persons, Don Stringfield and Pat Bryant, as to when to turn the lights off. The kitchen lights were still on, and the fire was still shining in order to see even with the lights off. Mike Dobson and Pastor David Trexler played a trick on us by pulling the fuse in the building making it pitch black. It was the moment that my son, Erik, wrestled me for the remaining chair – and finally shoved me off. We all know how much he loves me, right?

Then Francisca led us through what Elder Belser called a “very spiritual note,” and all of us agreed with him. She gave us papers and pens and encouraged us to write down (for our own eyes only) all the sins that we were withholding that kept us from walking with our Lord Jesus Christ. We turned off all the lights, and one by one, lit our candles – going around the room. After all the candles were lit, we then could see each other. We stood and paid homage to our Lord Jesus, the LIGHT of the world. After that, we discarded our pieces of paper with the horrible sins into the fireplace. Once everyone had completed that, we then blew out the candles. A few of us gave emotional testimonies.

Sunday morning brunch ended with a drawing for prizes which included a beautiful bouquet of autumn-colored flowers, hand towels, and a pumpkin. A lot of email addresses were exchanged, photos taken and hugs were given. In the parking lot, everyone commented that coming back had to be a must. Hope to see you in October 2006.

See you then - I hope!

Here is a generous letter from the Camp Blue Ridge Director, Mark VanArsdale, for DEAR 2005.

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