"Preparing for the Harvest" by Jim Hovey October 12 to 15, 2006 by Jim House
Once again, Camp Blue Ridge (CBR) was the scene of the sixth annual Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat (DEAR) camp-out. This year, like in past years, more than fifty campers sought refuge from their hectic lives back home. Fall was in the air – the leaves were awash in orange, red, yellow, brown, and still green hues of autumn.
America had just survived “The Attack of the Killer Spinach” where instead of tomatoes like in an old movie, spinach grabbed the headlines as the unlikely origin of e-coli poisoning that killed one or two people and sickened about two hundred across the country. Further investigation revealed findings that wild boar running through the spinach fields in California was a possible source of the outbreak.
For the first time, the DEAR committee advertised not only cabin lodging, but also motel lodging and for the adventurous type - tent lodging. Campers can now choose where they want to sleep. As expected, several young hardy souls opted to rough it for the weekend. The weather was nippy, the mercury dropped to near-freezing temperatures during the first night. With colder low temps forecasted for the rest of the weekend, nearly all the tent campers changed their minds and slept in the cabins for the remainder of the campout. The tent city took on extra special meaning as many of us were Gallaudet alumni. In many cities that weekend, there were tents erected in support of the now concluded protests over the selection of Jane K. Fernandes as the ninth president of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.
The committee was hard at work planning a successful campout in spite of the turmoil that rocked the Silver Spring Deaf Group and the area’s deaf members. Earlier in the year, the Executive Committee of the Potomac Conference voted to terminate David Trexler’s position as pastor. A tsunami of hundreds of letters and phone calls poured in protesting the decision. One testimony cited the growth of DEAR over the years from 23 campers in 2001 to 67 campers in 2005. In an answer to our prayers, the Conference reconsidered and reinstated Pastor Trexler on the condition that the Silver Spring Deaf Group must become a company, which is the first step toward being recognized as an independent church. On October 1, 2006, Deaf Evangelistic Adventist Fellowship (DEAF) came into being – less than two weeks before the yearly DEAR campout.
During the welcoming ceremony, Jim House (MD) led a humorous presentation where he quickly went over the rules of Camp Blue Ridge and answered questions about accommodations. Once that was out of the way, there was an “ice-breaker” activity where everyone was to introduce themselves, say where they were from, how many times they attended DEAR and why they came. The first two people to introduce themselves were newlyweds, Josiah and Monica Kelly, who first met at DEAR 2004 and recently married in West Virginia in early September. Many of us can agree that we do receive a spiritual blessing from the fellowship each time we come to DEAR. Friday
Jim Hovey (AZ), a speaker of the 2004 DEAR campout, started his new series on Friday morning “Preparing for the Harvest”. He listed three things we must have in order to reap the harvest of souls before the coming of Jesus – we first need a compassionate heart, then a disciplined mind, and finally, a bold spirit to win souls for Christ. Like building blocks, each of Jim’s presentations in the series built upon the previous sermons.
Friday afternoon, we had FUN! Some of us went canoeing on the lake. Some of us went on hikes around the camp. Some of us went racing. Racing? Jim House said, “This year was my first time to race a go-kart at CBR. Yes, there is a small racetrack – I never knew where it was. Each year, I was only 20 feet away at the campfire during nighttime and I never saw the go-kart track until now in broad daylight!”
While many of us had fun that afternoon, it was also a time to prepare for the Sabbath. After dinner, to help us keep our thoughts on Christ during Sabbath hours, we decided to have the foot washing and the Lord’s Supper on Friday night this year instead of Saturday nights as in previous years. During this Communion ritual, our hearts were directed to Jesus as we recall what He has done for us on Calvary and what He is doing for us from heaven – giving us the power to live like Him in these last days of earth’s history.
Sabbath morning, bright and early the air was crisp after a chilly night. For many of us, it was the first night that the temperatures dipped below freezing. The day warmed up quickly as we studied in the Sabbath School lesson about how God created man and woman. After Jim Hovey gave his second presentation, we had lunch and a photo shoot. Because it was cold outside, we got to stand still for the shutterbugs in the comfort of the heated cafeteria and did not have to shiver with blue faces.
In our daily Christian walk, our goal is the Promised Land. We are pilgrims on earth, walking to heaven. A popular Sabbath activity is to go on a nature hike. Many of us went to Crabtree Falls, a short distance from the camp. In years past, we went to the bottom and all of us hiked up the trail as far as we could. We imagine the top of the falls as our ‘Promised Land’. This year, there was a twist. We decided to drive up to the top and walk to the waterfalls. For many of us drivers, it was also a challenge just to drive there. We went several miles on a one-lane dirt road. A sign said that the road is recommended for four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Well, nine vehicles, mostly mini-vans, not four-wheel drives went on that road. A lot of locals who came in their high trucks, Jeeps, stared at us as we drove carefully up the road. We forded two streams and swerved slowly to avoid rough potholes, steep cliffs, and deep ruts. At the trailhead, many of us walked down an easy path, which became more difficult to navigate. Those who were not up to the trek turned around and went back to the vans while the rest of us continued. The real reward of the day was the panoramic vista at the top of the falls as a small group of us looked over the cliff with the rushing water beneath us. Someday we will stand together at the sea of glass near New Jerusalem; we will all eternally thank Jesus for carrying us through our lives on earth.
Someone reminded us that it was almost five o’clock. Time for dinner and the cafeteria closes at six o’clock. Oh no! Will we make it back in time? We frantically hiked back up the hill to our cars and went back down the hill on the narrow dirt road. Again we had to avoid rough potholes, steep cliffs, and deep ruts. Fortunately, we did not encounter much oncoming traffic on the way out. We all made it back to the cafeteria with ten minutes to spare. Whew!
As Jim Hovey presented his final sermon on preparing for the harvest, we stood ready to answer the call. The evening ended with our traditional candlelight vigil. Everyone stood hand in hand in a large circle inside the Town Hall. Each one of us lit a candle. The candle represented the Holy Spirit in our lives as we reflect the Light of the world, who is Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Then some of us shared stories of how God led us through good times and bad times. We praised God for each victory, and we shared tears at each setback, knowing that Jesus will lead us through.
Sunday morning we woke up and started packing. The sleeping bags were rolled up and the floors were swept. Some people went the extra mile to sweep the leaves off of the outside walkways. After everyone had packed, we all went to the cafeteria for a late breakfast.
Once we all had finished eating, Jim House said a few words. He thanked everyone who had helped on the DEAR 2006 Committee. He also thanked Mark Van Arsdale, the business manager for Camp Blue Ridge, and presented a check for more than $300 from the offering that we had collected during our Sabbath services. Well, actually, the total was $300.03. Mark thanked us and said that from last year’s offering, CBR was able to purchase wood outdoor dining furniture for everyone to enjoy when the weather permits.
Then one of the staff went to open the Camp Blue Ridge Store so some of us could buy snacks and souvenirs for our trip back home. The rest of us went out to the parking lot and chatted for as long as they could while the committee met with Mark to wrap up their business and make plans for DEAR 2007.
For those of you who came, do come back and bring your friends!!! If you who have never been to DEAR, do come next year as it will be the seventh time we have had this campout.
Below is an article by a first-time DEAR participant from Florida, Velma Wright.
My Story By Velma M. Wright
Thursday, October 12th, three deaf people and I, one of the SDA members from Port Charlotte, Florida arrived at Camp Blue Ridge at Montebello, Virginia shortly after three in the afternoon. We were all first-timers at the camp. Bunny and Jim Hovey had arrived first and greeted all of us with hugs. I knew them before at Deaf Expo in Orlando, Florida. It was great meeting them again.
While waiting for more people to come, we stood around, huddled together trying to keep warm. The weather then was not so nice. The air was frigidly cold and oh, so windy. Our hairs blew every which way but who cares in an area so beautiful. We got to see the surrounding, the lake, and the beautiful fall foliage. We came just in time to see the sunset, the shinny rays leaving the beautiful, brightly painted leaves and then the darkness covered them.
It was almost dinnertime and we were in the dining room waiting for more people to arrive. Pretty soon they came one by one and greeted us like old friends. Then David Trexler and his wife, Francisca came whom we were all waiting to meet. I had friends over at my home to view David’s DVD library about “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” every Saturday evening. We told him how much we have learned from his DVDs and about the Bible.
Walking up and down the steep hill to the many cabins above and below was no fun for two of us elders but we have survived. We were told that walking was good for our hearts. (smiling) But, all in all, we truly enjoyed our social and meeting times together with our new friends at camp, especially when we share our thoughts about the Bible.
Unfortunately, we had to leave early Saturday morning to go back to Florida. It took two days to reach the camp and returning back to Florida in one day Sunday was not a good idea. Next time we will fly up. In ending, we wish you all a Happy Holiday Season and a good and healthy New Year 2007.