Daffodils and the Postage Stamp #169

Thirty years ago, the second year in our new home, my mom and dad came for a visit.  Dad could never sit still, so he taught son Dirk, 11, how to drive our station wagon. They hooked up our small trailer and proceeded to move stones from a stone wall in the back of our property to build a 109’ stone wall across the front of our property.  Inside the fence dad planted daffodil bulbs in clumps from one end to the other.  Dad knew the daffodils would make beautiful flowers in increasing numbers year after year, with very little care. I have planted many more over the years and now I give away about 1,000 daffodils each spring.  People enjoy them – deer do not.

Rich Sylvester and Russ Boronow spent many summers together at Deerfoot Lodge.  Today Rich is the Director of Mont Lawn camp/conference center, and he hired Russ as the Director of Mont Lawn’s conference ministry.  This camp/conference is part of the Bowery Mission in NYC.  Each year 210 children, 95% of whom live in poverty in NYC, come to the camp for two weeks – 840 campers a summer.  Rich has worked hard to change the staff from being almost totally white young people to being over 50% minority.  Almost all of the staff are college students.

Russ has been working with Rich on the camp program for the past four summers, then switched to the conference ministry which has been expanding.

The Bowery Mission has recognized the excellence of the work Rich and Russ have been doing, and has gradually invested funds for the improvement of the facility.  This year the mission is investing about $1,000,000 to build two large lodges – each of which has several bunk rooms with handicapped bathroom facilities.  These rooms open up into a room with a vaulted ceiling where everyone can meet.  A third building will be built in the near future.  They are beautiful.

Rich and Russ have been bugging me to come see the facility development, meet some of their staff, and hear how the lives of some wonderful children and groups from very disadvantaged situations are being impacted.  Recently I drove down for the day, taking with me 275 quality daffodil bulbs that will bloom over a three month period.  Next spring Mont Lawn will be alive with daffodils – that in future years will make more daffodils.  Multiplication…

After walking around the facility for a good hour, we sat down on picnic tables in the new pavilion.  They told me of their love for the kids, the groups, the place.  They are excited, and should be!  We talked about the tough situations they must deal with, yet the joy remains!!!

One of the funny things I learned about was when a hunting store was going out of business; they brought all of their unsold clothing to the mission in NYC.  It was decided that perhaps giving camouflage clothes to street people might just not be a good idea!  “Rich, pick out what you can use, and sell the rest.

The staff went through the “goods” and picked out what they could use.  A staff member took the rest to his hunting club…$20 per item.  Back came several checks made out to the Bowery Mission, and a bundle of cash. I asked Rich if he turned in all of the cash.

He said “of course.  About 20 years ago I went with you to the Speculator Post Office to buy stamps for Deerfoot, and pick up the mail.  You then put your own letter on the counter – and bought a stamp for yourself”.”

Integrity is like daffodils – once it is planted, it has long term results, and it multiplies. Integrity is an integral part of living In Partnership With God.  Exodus 20:15

It’s Different – He Is Our Grandson!! # 168

Like the others who come to pick up campers, Sally Jo and I stood back from the dining hall.  The piano and the guitars played and the campers sang the choruses – the same ones that were sung when I arrived at DL as the new director in 1982.

Unlike the others, I slipped into a location where I could hear Chief Ron encourage the campers – really challenge the campers to live their faith as they go back to their homes and schools.  A clear message powerfully delivered!  “Treat people like you know the Lord Jesus would have you treat people”…then he got specific.

We were in front of the dining hall as the excited campers came out to their waiting families.  Jashton ran up to us; “This was the best year ever – AWESOME!!!!”  Yes, I choked up.  He introduced us to his friend, Evan.  They were campers together the previous summer.  Soon Evan’s parents were with us.  Great fun!  Evan is Valerie Lyle Kent’s grandson….she was the camp nurse for several summers.

Jashton showed us the pictures taken of the two of them – in camp and hiking.  Their counselors introduced themselves.  Evan’s mom, Heather, said we just had to get the boys together this next year.   (On September 28-30 Sally Jo and I will drive to New Jersey to take Jashton to Evan’s home.)

Then Jashton’s mom, Jennifer, arrived.  She and our son, Dirk, had been leading the program for a week of children’s camp at Camp Fowler – eight miles from Deerfoot.   Again we hear and see Jashton’s excitement as he told his mom this was the best summer yet!  Both Dirk and Jennifer have been on the DL staff.

At the Circle of Friendship we sing “Jesus is with me where ever I go”, Chief Ron again encourages the campers to let their lights shine, and Ken Hoffman, facility manager (and so much more) closes in prayer.

The comments I read on camper questionnaires and in grateful parent’s letters came alive!

Jashton is in Middle School. For those of you whose kids who have been through these years, I need say no more.  The students are frequently mean to each other, particularly those who are better at academics then athletics.

Deerfoot Lodge is a breath of fresh air for Jashton.   He can be himself, and almost not worry about what others think.  He meets campers from many different states and countries.  He signs up for instructional areas he enjoys. Jashton struggles to pass his “point and back”, like so many.  (We have already worked on this – he will be ready next summer).  Jashton enjoys the games – he does not need to be great to have fun.  He receives focused attention from his counselors – like every camper does. Few know his dad is the pastor of “his” church, and only a few staff know he is our grandson, for most do not know our last name.  Jashton is free to be Jaston at DL!

The quiet time and the After Breakfast Bible Studies Chief Ron gave probably included few new biblical teachings – Jashton, and his two brothers have been taught the Scriptures at home and at church from a very young age. Jashton has seen the Christian life lived by both sets of grandparents.  He has sung at camp the same choruses and hymns for three years now – he knows them.  And the hymns are sung in “his church”. Deerfoot provides wonderful reinforcement – the same truths coming from different people.

Jashton’s life is different because of Deerfoot Lodge.  And Sally Jo and I experienced the joy and thankfulness so many do.  Jashton is “growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” – just like Jesus did. Luke 2:52

Praise be to God, and thanks go to Chief Ron, the summer staff, and to the 400+ people who contribute each year for operations, camper and staff scholarships (college is expensive!!!!!!!!!!)  I dare not forget the many who pray for the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge day after day, week after week, year after year.  Yes, many do.  And a special thanks to the19 men on the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors.  Three times each year these men come together on Friday night for the Saturday Board of Director’s meeting.  Their commitment of 3 weekends a year is incredible.

All of the above live “In Partnership With God.”  This partnership is huge – and the impact on young lives is huge!

In Partnership With God…beginning again

Dear Friends…and I think of you as such even though I do not know who most of you are!

Many of you have asked if I have died.

It has been a good summer, a busy summer, and now it is time to get my IPWG going again.

Friday I was at Mont Lawn, the camp where Rich Sylvester has been director for four years.  Rich hired Russ Boronow as his assistant.  Both were long term DL campers and staff… like over 10 years.

Saturday I focused on helping Sally Jo get ready for the lunch to be served after church Sunday for about 200 people when the mission team of 15 she led to Nicaragua will report to many members of the congregation some of their experiences.  After the lunch I head to Whitaker Lake for 2 days.

I plan to have the next IPWG on your screen Tuesday morning, and then successive Monday mornings.

The first will be about having our grandson as a DL camper – 3rd year.

The second will be on the value of a postage stamp.

The third will be about the significance of a gift to me by a DL staff member.

Yes, I am alive!