Upon return to Colombia, I began work on our dorm building. Now, one month later, we have stopped work as we have run out of funds. We got almost all of the interior stucco on and the lights are installed and working. We got one coat of paint on most of the stucco that is in place. Then, as funds ran out, we brought the work to a close. But one rather odd priority was to paint a sign on the front of the unfinished building, naming the new dorm “Le Maisón Pinzon” in honor Juan Pinzon, our elder emeritus and the person whose vision and generosity was the beginning of our Christian service camp. Juan has had some health issues recently and at the rate we are moving towards finishing the dorm, we wanted to make sure he was given that honor while he could see and appreciate it in this life.
We have been working on the dorm building for more than three years now. We are still about $20,000 from being able to finish the building, so at our current rate of fund raising, it will take about three more years to finish the building. Yet three years ago, Juan had a pretty severe heart attack, which left some permanent damage. Then this past year he had a moderate stroke from which he is still recovering. So even though the building is far from finished, it does have a roof and it does have functioning lights. To some degree it is usable. So for a big birthday celebration at the camp this weekend, Juan and his whole family was planning to be present, so even with funds running out, I hired a painter to do the sign on the front of the building honoring Juan Pinzon and his family.
Some ten years ago Juan became aware that our previous way of doing camp was no longer working. We would simply borrow some church member’s farm, and sleep in hammocks among the trees during dry season. But as our second generation Christians are more city raised, that type of camping was not attractive to them. He had seen other camps where there was a dedicated property, with sleeping quarters, meeting pavilions, and a cafeteria. He negotiated the purchase of a country estate and gave generously to adapt it for camp use. The property has been used well beyond its capacity for many years, often with more than 100 campers and only 49 beds. Juan then purchased with his own money an adjoining piece of property with the idea of expanding the camp. Then his health problems began. For a couple of years he was not able to contribute to the expansion project and it sat idle. It was then he encouraged us to pick up the project and we stepped in.
He had laid the foundation for the dorm building but then it sat there and became overgrown in weeds. We started with cabins, a well, and tool room, then we began work on the dorm building. Juan followed the progress with great interest anytime there was work going on. Many people started joking with him that the “Pinzon mansion” was going up. Some where along the line, we decided it was actually a good idea. Since the word mansion in French is often used for a hotel, and Juan and his family have always exhibited the gift of hospitality, we decided to name the dorm “Le Maisón Pinzon” with Hebrews 13:2 as the Bible verse. That was the sign we spent our last few dollars having painted on the front of the building.
Juan and his family were unaware of this addition until they arrived for the birthday celebration Saturday. We invited him out back to the cabin for something to drink, and as he walked through the gate and looked as his beloved dorm project, he caught sight of the sign. It was an emotional moment for all present and Juan and his family were delighted. They had never asked for recognition and were a bit embarrassed, yet at they same time they were delighted. It is a fitting tribute to a very committed church leader and his generous family! Now we still hope to finish it while he is alive, so he can spend a night in it, but if that is not within the Lord’s plans, he at least has seen the dorm that will carry his name and memory into the future.