At the end of April we were able to help with the deaf camp here in Colombia. The deaf church continues to grow and one project dear to their hearts was to realize a deaf camp. We encouraged them in this project and agreed to subsidize several campers. But other than that, the deaf church leaders did all of the planning and organizing for the event. This was a major event that involved a great deal of planning and organizational structure. The camp went extremely well with only a couple of minor problems and was culminated with 22 baptisms and a moving communion service to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It was another giant step forward in their growth and development as a fully independent Christian church.
For months the leaders had been promoting the camp and collecting the registration fees. They had contacted different camp facilities as our own camp in Villavicencio is still too small to handle a group of this size (this is one of the reasons we’re embarking on the work crew & camp building project, see the Jan-Mar 2011 Newsletter for more info). While we hope to improve our camp as we work to develop the additional acre we purchased, we simply could not handle this event so soon. The deaf church found a private Christian camp in the area of Chinauta, about two hours west of Bogotá. They negotiated the costs and reserved the camp. All was set for our great Easter week deaf camp.
Early on Thursday morning (6AM) we began to gather at the deaf church. There were two large busses that were soon packed to capacity and a bit beyond. I drove down as well hauling some supplies and so as to have a vehicle available in the case of an emergency. Since it was Easter week there was a mass exodus from Bogotá as hundreds of thousands of cars try to escape the city for a time of rest and relaxation. Our two hour drive took more than twice as long as we crept out of the city at a snail’s pace.
So we arrived at Chinauta for an eleven o’clock breakfast! and immediately began our sessions. That evening we filled all of the bunk space and had several people sleeping on foam mattresses on the floor. I slept in my tent on an air mattress, as did about eight of the deaf who had tents. We had packed this facility to its maximum capacity and even a bit beyond. They had less space than what it had appeared in their brochures, but in spite of that it was as very nice location and everyone enjoyed the nicely landscaped surroundings.
The long weekend was jam-packed with activities as the deaf used the time to the maximum benefit. Their sessions went almost non-stop for the entire time we were there with very limited free time. We had more than sixty deaf people present. Since my sign language skills are still very limited, I was given the job of baby-sitting the children of the deaf parents so all of the deaf could attend the sessions. I kept them busy with activities and worked with them for the entire weekend. Needless to say they kept me very busy as well. I also served as life guard at the pool whenever people were swimming. My other job was that of camp nurse, since I was the only one with any first aid training.