For nearly two years we worked on plans for a national deaf camp in Colombia. We did a trail run last year and it went very well. So we felt all was set for a full fledged national deaf camp this year. We made our plans and all was moving along very well. In Colombia publicity had been sent all over the country a full year before the camp was to be held and interest was very high. Everything was moving along very well and the deaf in the entire country were looking forward to the event.
Then, at the end of October last year my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and the treatment regimen meant that the camp event was suddenly in doubt. I could not leave her until she was through with her treatments as I wanted to be here with her and be here to take her to the hospital for each treatment. But I would also need to be in Colombia for the camp to be held. So I informed the deaf church that the camp might have to be canceled. They were very concerned for my wife and began praying for her. They were very understanding about the circumstances but also hopeful that we would still be able to hold the camp.
In spite of the uncertainty, More and more deaf registered for the camp. In spite of a cost of some $70 per person, interest was so high that even the unemployed deaf were finding family to sponsor them. We found ourselves having to limit the number of people who would be permitted to come as we simply did not have space at the camp for so many people. We had only forty nine beds and felt we could take another thirty or forty people if they brought tents. An absolute maximum would be some one hundred people.
We had hoped to have the camp expansion further along and so be able to house more people, but we simply did not have the funds to move the building along as quickly as we had hoped. As a result, we limited the camp to a maximum of one hundred people. As the time drew near, Jeanie was doing well with her treatment and we felt I could return to Colombia for a short trip in order to hold the deaf camp and then host a work crew that was scheduled after it. I traveled back to Colombia at the very end of March and the deaf camp was to be the 4 through the 8th of April. There was much to be done to prepare, but we trusted God to help us.
I arrived back in Colombia and immediately headed down to Villavo to prepare the camp for the deaf Christians. I worked furiously to get things ready, scheduling cooks, buying food, and getting the bunks ready to be occupied. I traveled back up to Bogotá to pick up Dewayne, Lorrie and Dewey. We headed back down to Villavo on Tuesday to finish getting ready. The deaf arrived by bus Wednesday night. To our shock there were 132 people on the busses! Fortunately there were twenty two tents as well. So we managed to crowd the 132 deaf and 10 cooks and staff into our two acre church camp with only five bunk rooms, five bathrooms, and forty nine bunks.
For the next four days they had their teaching, preaching, and games. I prayed that the one septic tank would not back up and overflow! They were all packed in like sardines in a can, but still they enjoyed it and had a great time. It was an inspirational time filled with great Biblical teaching for life and family and a lot of fun as well. We crowned a great week with sixteen baptisms. By the end of the week all were asking about next year already and talking about all of their deaf friends they wanted to invite to come along next year. Obviously we have a great need to finish some of the additional cabins so that we can house more people at our camp location. But we have a full year to prepare and we can count on the Lord and all of you to help us get ready for all of the people who want to attend this exciting event by the time it rolls around next year.