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October 25 to 28, 2018

DEAR 2017
"Victory in the Great Controversy" by Margie English
November 2 to November 5, 2017
by David Trexler

Deaf Evangelistic Adevntist Fellowship (DEAF) hosted the DEAR camp meeting at Camp Blue Ridge in Montebello, VA on November 2 to 5. The camp meeting has been at Camp Blue Ridge for many years. It is a favorite location and time of the year because of the fall colors in the mountains.

Margie English, a member of DEAF, was the camp meeting speaker. She shared four presentations on “Victory in the Great Controversy.” About 40 people attended the camp meeting. DYAC had its meetings in another building but we fellowshipped together during free times and meals.

On Sabbath, we were delighted to witness the baptisms of four persons. It did not rain when we started the baptism but rain started to fall at the end of the service. We were delighted to use a “sauna” pool for the baptism because the weather was cloudy and cold. The water was heated by a wood stove and was very warm. The four who were baptized were Christopher and Lisa Emery from Maryland and Ezra and Senovia Miller from Tennessee. Lisa Emery was a faithful Lutheran. She surprised us when she announced her decision to be baptized into our church earlier that day. It was a difficult decision for her but the Lord has blessed her.

Dates for the 2018 DEAR are October 25 to 28. Plan to come to our lovely place in the mountains with beautiful fall colors.

DEAR 2016
"Happy, Healthy, & Holy" by Pastor Alfred Griffith
October 20 to October 23, 2016

DEAR 2015
"Happy, Healthy, & Holy" by Pastor Alfred Griffith
October 29 to November 1, 2015
by David Trexler

More than 30 people attended the DEAF Camp Meeting at beautiful Camp Blue Ridge in Montebello, Virginia October 29 - November 1. The secluded camp is up in the mountains near the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, allowing campers to leave the world behind. Pastor Alfred Griffi th was the featured speaker who gave a much needed fourpart series titled “Happy, Holy, and Healthy.” Several other activities kept the campers busy. The campers especially enjoyed Norman and Cathy’s play, the same one that was later done at the Silver Spring, MD Thanksgiving dinner.

A real highlight of the weekend was witnessing Sara Johnston re-baptized in the cool waters of the little lake.

DEAR 2014
"Revive Us, Lord" by Esther Doss
October 2 to 5, 2014
by David Trexler

The DEAR Camp Meeting at Camp Blue Ridge in Virginia on October 2-5 was a time to get away from the world. Surrounded by beautiful fall colors, hearts were ready to focus on Jesus. Main speaker Esther Doss (AR) shared a series on how to walk closer with Jesus by first taking a look at Enoch’s life. Attendees kept busy with devotionals, meetings, Bible games, a candle vigil, crocheting ragrugs, hikes, and, of course, visiting with like believers. The warm fire in the fireplace was a real nice touch. Sabbath afternoon was a real highlight as Katrina Mansell was baptized. Cathy Ingram did a fantastic job organizing the event.

Four old college mates from RIT in New York had a fun reunion. Two lived across the hall from each other; two were good friends; two used to date. Some had not seen each other in over 20 years. Never did they dream during those days that they would meet at an Adventist Deaf event, sharing the same faith. Praise God!


"ABCDEFG" by Esther Doss
September 26 to 29, 2013
DEAR 2012
"Revival & Reformation is Our Greatest Need" by Alan Meis
October 4 to 7, 2012
DEAR 2011
"The Holy Spirit's Call to Faith, Prayer, and Work" by Pastor Alfred Griffith
October 27 to 30, 2011


"Christ is the Answer" by Elder Jeff Jordan
October 21 to 24, 2010
by David Trexler

DEAR was held at Camp Blue Ridge in Montebello, VA from October 21 to 24, 2010. The guest speaker of the four part series was Pastor Jeff Jordan presenting—Christ Is the Answer. His messages were well received by over 50 campers. On Friday night the communion service was conducted by Elder Paul Kelly. The weather was perfect for the camp meeting in in the autumn setting with colorful foliage decorating the area.

Deaf Young Adults for Christ (DYAC) gathered there as they had their own program which included our lay training workshop with Elder Paul Kelly and Elder David M. Trexler. The parliamentary workshop was given by Elder Kelly and they had a good mock board meeting that gave 16 young Deaf adults more confi dence and experience in running the meeting effectively.

The campers came from many different states such as: Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. Pennsylvania, California, and West Virginia. They returned to their homes spiritually and emotionally refreshed.

DEAR 2009
"Is Christ Your Final Answer?" by Elder Paul Kelly

DEAR 2008
"Get Out, Get In, Stay In" by Elder David Trexler
October 23 to 26, 2008
by Cathy Ingram

From October 23-26, 2008, the Deaf Eastern Autumn Revival Camp Meeting (DEAR) held its 8th straight year long weekend camp meeting at Camp Blue Ridge (CBR) in Montebello, Virginia.

Moore than 60 campers attended the DEAR campmeeting in which they came from various states such as New York, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

The 2008 theme was ‘Come Unto Me.’ The guest speaker was Speaker/Director David Trexler of Adventist Deaf Ministries (ADM). He gave three presentations entitled, ‘Get Out’, ‘Get In’,and ‘Stay In’.

On opening night, the campers flocked to the Lodge building to hear DEAR Director Cathy Ingram, an employee of the National Park Service, give a PowerPoint presentation on various wild animals of North America, and they had fun guessing the names of them. Ms. Ingram wanted to educate the campers on the importance of preserving God’s creatures.

The campers attended a public forum, and Speaker/Director Trexler gave a report on ADM’s projects on Friday afternoon. Campers were given their opportunity to suggest several ideas/projects that would be brought up at the annual ADM’s meeting in the summer of 2009. Afterwards, some of the campers went to the go-kart track whereas others attended Ms. Frances English’s craft making class.

The Lord’s Supper was administered in the Lodge building to welcome the Sabbath on Friday evening. In addition, a baptismal occurred on Sabbath afternoon. It rained all day, however, at precisely 2;00 p.m., it stopped raining. Daniel Patrick Foley a.k.a. ‘DP’ of Massachusetts and a student at Gallaudet University was baptized. David Trexler, along with the assistance of Paul Kelly, baptized DP in the cold lake. Miraculously, after DP was baptized, it started to rain again! Praise the Lord! Later on in the evening after sundown, the youth group performed a skit. A traditional candlelight vigil was given in the evening. Rosella Kelly, the DEAR’s Youth Director who is the daughter of Pastor Paul Kelly, led the candlelight vigil. After the program, we all had a fun time eating ice cream and playing a game, Musical Chair. On Sunday morning, everyone bid his/her farwell with the intention of making plans to return to Camp Blue Ridge again next year. The date for next year’s DEAR Camp Meeting will be announced soon.

DEAR 2007
"The Day After" by Elder Jeff Jordan
October 25 to 28, 2007
by Cathy Ingram

This year, the DEAR (Deaf Eastern Autumn Revival) Campmeeting entered its 7th straight year at Camp Blue Ridge (CBR), located at the Blue Ridge Mountains in Montebello, Virginia near the National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. The Blue Ridge Parkway’s meadows, mountains, valleys, and old farmsteads are magnificent sights to behold.

A total of 60 campers attended CBR and they came from various states: New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Connecticut.

This year’s theme was ‘The Day After’ by Jeff Jordan. Pastor Jordan is from the Southern Deaf Fellowship in Atlanta, Georgia. He gave three presentations: Friday morning: ‘Signs of Christ’s Second Coming’; that same afternoon: ‘Events between the Present and the Second Coming (i.e., the Beast will force the people to worship the Beast instead of Christ); and during Sabbath sermon: ‘Jesus’ Second Coming and the New Earth’.

Pastor Jeff gave the audience a great comfort by telling us not to worry about the great tribulation that will come soon but to thank the Lord that His second coming will be the greatest event in the history of the world!

Thursday afternoon a few campers arrived. That evening we were in the Lodge building and David Trexler the DEAR director gave an opening and welcoming introduction. Being an amateur ornithologist himself, a PowerPoint presentation on birds was given out and we had fun guessing what bird was shown on the slide. Afterwards we had fun chatting with old and new faces.

That Friday afternoon we had planned to go to the go-kart track, however, it rained all day and a song fell on everyone’s head:

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

But there's one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me

While it rained, everyone had fun that afternoon. After lunch, we had lots of fun playing games in the Mess Hall such as Music Chair, Elephant, and a touch game called Telephone.

On Friday evening we had the Lord's Supper in the main Lodge building to welcome the Sabbath.

On Sabbath after Jeff’s sermon and just before lunch we all gathered for group pictures. That afternoon some of the campers went sauntering near the CBR hiking trails, others stayed in the Mess Hall playing Bible games and the rest went canoeing at the pond.

In the Mess Hall that evening the youth group performed skits and afterwards we had our traditional candlelight vigil. We wrote our confessions on a small piece of note paper and discarded them in a small brown cardboard box. Then the lights were turned off and each one of us lighted our own candle. The room shone brighter and brighter. We could see that the glow of the candlelight represented Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world.

After the candlelight vigil we all had ice cream and apple cider.

Sunday morning we had brunch and the Camp Blue Ridge Store opened for those who wanted to purchased souvenirs and snacks for their trip back to dear ‘Home Sweet Home.’

David Trexler was this year’s DEAR Director, his very first and last. For those who wondered why it’s his last year as the DEAR director, Pastor Trexler has been called by the Lord to be the new Director/Speaker of the Deaf Adventist Ministries (ADM) in Mesa, Arizona. We thanked Pastor Trexler for his hard work while he ministered to the Deaf Adventist members and non-Deaf Adventists in the Metropolitan Washington area and to many other deaf people throughout North America.. Thank you David and may God be with you on your mission to ADM.

DEAR 2006
"Preparing for the Harvest" by Jim Hovey
October 12 to 15, 2006
by Jim House

Prologue

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 an extra special meaning as many of us who 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 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.

Thursday evening

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), 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 presentation 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!”

Sabbath

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 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!

Saturday evening

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

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 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.

Epilogue

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 darkness covered them.

It was almost dinnertime and we were in the dinning 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 viewing David’s DVD library about “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” every Saturday evenings. We told him how much we have learned from his DVD’s and about the Bible.

Walking up and down the steep hill to the many cabins above and below were no fun for two of us elders but we have survived. We were told that walk 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.

DEAR 2005
"Marriage Supper with the Lamb" by Elder George Belser
October 27 to 30, 2005
by Jennifer Witteborg

Leaving the bustle of the city behind, we arrived at Camp Blue Ridge where DEAR (Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat) was being held. The leaves were all showing their colors of red, orange, yellow, and gold with some green lingering. Although it was chilly, the sun was shining, the water on the lake was shimmering and the faces of new and old friends were enlightening!

The DEAR committee comprised of Jim House, Wendy House, Mike Dobson, Cathy Ingram, Francisca Trexler, and Elder David Trexler did a fantastic job of bringing us a weekend of many good memories. The cabins, the food, the scenery and the schedule were all set up together in a seamless way.

Temperatures were cold outside but the fireplace in a town hall kept us warm and cozy. There was something mesmerizing about having a fire going while visiting with friends. A total of 70 people converged on Camp Blue Ridge from New York, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington and Arizona.

The guest speaker, Elder George Belser, did an excellent job of explaining the importance of the Marriage Supper with the Lamb (Jesus Christ). He wove the other verses in the Bible to make a tapestry portrait (picture) of what it really meant to prepare for the Marriage Supper with Jesus.

Elder Belser spoke of the wine made from water at Jesus' first miracle on earth (at a wedding party). I had always thought the way Jesus spoke to Mary, his mom, “Woman, what have I to do with you?” was rude. Elder Belser said within the language and culture of that time, those words were actually showing love and endearment.

In between the spiritual food we received from George Belser and others (sharing their thoughts and prayers as well as signed songs), we laughed, cried, and played.

Thursday evening, the youngsters and I went down to the Campfire Bowl. It got too cold and I went back to find out what happened to the others of my generation. I found them all sitting around the town hall fireplace swapping stories, dozing off in chairs, and relaxing with the sisterhood/brotherhood of our Christian family.

Friday afternoon, we went up to the go-kart facility and paid $3.00 for a ride. Some of us were quite rough in handling the go-kart and all of us were laughing. Big Mark, CBR's manager/host, was laughing along with us. I had never seen someone so relaxed during the chaos we were causing by banging into each other with the go-kart. He was a good sport!

Friday night was supposed to be held at the Campfire Bowl but being wiser, the committee canceled it because the temperature plummeted to 30 degrees. We ended up staying in the hall and chatted again around the fireplace.

Sabbath morning, we had a wonderful service especially at the conclusion of Elder Belser's uplifting sermon. The songs, sung by Vonne Gulak, Cathy Ingram, and Francisca Trexler, were so inspiring that I could 'hear' the angels singing along with their signs. Yes, I am deaf AND sane.

Sabbath after lunch, we gathered for group pictures, and then went off to hike at Crabtree Falls. Some of us stayed at the town hall next to the fire place.

Those of us who went to the falls had a wonderful time. The falls were not too far from the parking lot and some of us continued up to the top of the mountain. One New Yorker commented, “You can leave me here when you head back to New York tomorrow!” It was truly a beautiful and perfect for hiking.

After dinner, we played music chairs and laughed so hard, it was crazy. Dan Campbell helped by indicating to two switch persons, Don Stringfield and Pat Bryant, as to when to turn the lights off. The kitchen lights were still on, and the fire was still shining in order to see even with the lights off.

Mike Dobson and Pastor David Trexler played a trick on us by pulling the fuse in the building making it pitch black. It was the moment that my son, Erik, wrestled me for the remaining chair – and finally shoved me off. We all know how much he loves me, right?

Then Francisca led us through what Elder Belser called a “very spiritual note,” and all of us agreed with him. She gave us papers and pens, and encouraged us to write down (for our own eyes only) all the sins that we were withholding which kept us from walking with our Lord Jesus Christ.

We turned off all the lights, and one by one, lit our candles – going around the room. After all the candles were lit, we then could see each other. We stood and paid homage to our Lord Jesus, the LIGHT of the world.

After that, we discarded our pieces of papers with the horrible sins into the fireplace. Once everyone had completed that, we then blew out the candles. A few of us gave emotional testimonies.

Sunday morning brunch ended with a drawing for prizes which included a beautiful bouquet of autumn-colored flowers, hand towels and a pumpkin. A lot of email addresses were exchanged, photos taken and hugs were given.

In the parking lot, everyone commented that coming back had to be a must. Hope to see you in October, 2006. See you then - I hope!


Here is a generous letter from the Camp Blue Ridge Director, Mark VanArsdale, for DEAR 2005.


DEAR 2004
"Noah" by Jim Hovey
October 28 to 31, 2004
by Jim House

Days of Preparation

For many weeks, as the DEAR 2004 committee led by several volunteers and myself at Mike Dobson's home in Virginia and online in AOL Instant Messaging chatrooms. This was the first year that 2004 committee appointed me take over as a Director as Mike, the previous Director wanted to take on a lesser role for this year's camp-out. It turned out that Mike played a major role as always even though he was the webmaster and treasurer. Francisca Trexler from Maryland was appointed as assistant director and took care of the youth program and a zillion other minor details. The success of DEAR 2004 would not have been possible without these people and others like my wife, Wendy from Maryland who developed the surveys and Pastor Trexler who pitched in with needed advice or essential errands. Let's give a big round of applause or "up-plause" (hands-waving in the air) to these special people.

Heaven on Earth

On Thursday afternoon October 28, 2004, 35 people came to our favorite "heaven-on-earth" at Camp Blue Ridge (CBR) for the Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat (DEAR) 2004. It was a mini-preview of the long awaited heavenly reunion as old friends who haven't seen each other for years embrace in enthusiastic bear-hugs. Some of us were DEAR regulars who come to CBR year after year for true spiritual refreshment, while others came on glowing recommendations of brothers and sisters in Christ who had came to CBR in previous years.

After dinner, as I began my director's introduction with a "Fall-flavored" PowerPoint slide presentation, I started by thanking people who have volunteered to help with the planning and noted that DEAR would not be possible without them. Noted that of the 61 people who registered, 15 states were represented, led by Virginia with New York ranking as a close second. Maryland was a distant third while other states were represented by one or two people. After going through a few dull but necessary "housekeeping rules", I pointed out some major news events that surrounded previous DEAR campouts, noting that this year was one of the most exciting election years ever. I said, "It does not matter if you want things to remain the same, or if you want a change, it is important to speak out." This then led into a round of introductions by the DEAR campers who had arrived thus far. We learned that most of us came to seek a closer relationship with God.

The "Perfect Storm"

More people arrived during the night, traveling through the foggy mountain roads. Many of us have experienced times in our lives when we were confused and not sure of which road to travel. It had seemed as if a fog had descended upon us and blurring our path. Well, Friday morning was like that - it was so foggy we could not see more than 20 feet ahead of us. But by the time we had finished breakfast, it was mostly sunny. Our God is always with us; and He lights our way every day.

There was a movie a few years ago called "The Perfect Storm" about the crew of a fishing boat that survived a monster storm. This movie was based on a true story about a major storm off the coast of New England that was actually three bad storms in one. All the weather patterns came together at the same time to create one of the worst mega-storms in recent history. This should remind us of the coming crisis in the last days of earth history when the angels will loosen the winds of God's wrath upon the earth.

Here, I would like to say the perfect storm is "the storm that has not hit us" but instead let us look at the different elements of what we did experience. We had feared a rainy day according to weather forecast, but it turned out to be a false alarm. We were thankful for the sun, even if it came with the clouds. We were thankful for the colorful leaves on the trees, even if half had already fallen. It was not cold at all; the perfect Indian summer weather gave us a respite before we go headlong into what may be a cold winter. Upon returning home to Maryland after DEAR, a few friends did mention some rainy weather.

The "First Storm"

On Friday morning, October 29, Jim Hovey, Executive Director of Adventist Deaf Ministries (ADM) Arizona presented a series of three sermons about Noah and presented lessons from his life that we should apply to our lives today. The first sermon Friday morning verified once again that The Flood was a real historical event, supported also by many legends in different cultures. The ark, we learned had been built exactly to divine specifications by Noah. For comparison's sake - it was about half as long but much wider than the Queen Mary ocean liner, now berthed at Long Beach, California. If The Flood did not happen as the Bible said it did, then the Scriptures would not be dependable for us.

After a relaxing afternoon for many of us, we welcomed the Sabbath during vespers by Bunny, Jim Hovey's wife. She took a tube of toothpaste and squeezed all the contents out into a bowl. Now, try putting all the toothpaste back into the tube. She was illustrating that we need to be careful when we speak. Because if we say wrong words, we can never "un-say" those words back into our mouths.

After the vespers, Hovey presented the second of his series on Noah. This time we learned about how Noah lived to receive God's grace. The book of Hebrews says Noah had faith. He had never seen a raindrop before. He could have come up with "better ideas", but he knew that God's way is always the best. Remember, this is the Old Testament where many stories seem to portray a vengeful punishing God, but a deeper look at Noah's life shows that God has always been the same. His love and grace are present when people choose to follow Him every day.

The Sabbath Rest and Celebration

The population at CBR swelled to about 55 on Sabbath morning, October 30. Some people had arrived during the night and others came just to spend the day with brothers and sisters in Christ among nature. Pastor Paul Kelly from New York led a lively discussion on Daniel chapter five about Belshazzar's surprise party that witnessed the fall of Babylon and the conquest by King Darius of Medo-Persia. The kingdom of gold had fallen to the inferior second world empire portrayed in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream in the second chapter of Daniel. Alluding to the ongoing series about Noah, this party was another example of God's response when people continue to reject His pleadings for salvation. Meanwhile, Francisca Trexler led an outdoor Sabbath School class for the youth group of four teenagers, two boys and two girls.

The worship service concluded Jim Hovey's series on Noah. Jim drew many parallels between conditions in Noah's lifetime and conditions that we see every day. The Bible does not tell us much about the technologies during the pre-Flood era, but we look today at the rapid technological changes, especially in genetic engineering and other medical feats and can only wonder what technology was like back in Noah's time. When we get to heaven, I am sure we can ask Noah ourselves. In his day, the Bible only says that people were continually thinking with evil in their hearts.

The afternoon was definitely a cause for celebration both in heaven and on earth. Mike Dobson was rebaptized by Pastor David Trexler of Silver Spring Church in Maryland on the shore of CBR's Lake Skipping Stone, publicly rededicating his life to God. Shawna Jackson from Maryland signed a couple songs celebrating Mike's renewed commitment to the Lord, and Steve Nobles from Oregon performed a short skit. All of us were joyful, knowing the angels are celebrating in heaven for Mike too, and knowing that the miracle of salvation is more awesome than the miracle of creation. Many of us in our hearts rededicated our lives to Jesus, asking Him for more strength to bear the temptations that may come our way.

One Brief Shining Moment

After dinner, the cafeteria became the setting for the highlight of the day - the humble act of foot washing and the sacred Lord's Supper. Here, we followed the example of Jesus who came down from heaven above to serve others. Pastor Trexler led us in the Communion service with Hovey's assistance. We all partook of the bread symbolizing His Body that was broken for us, and drank the wine (actually grape juice) that represented His Blood that was shed for our sins.

After the Communion, all of us hiked up the hill to the campfire for a candlelight vigil. We were pleasantly interrupted by a group of Brazilians from a church in Richmond, Virginia who had occupied the rest of CBR. They brought us a huge dish of yummy "home-made" apple crisp. Then Francisca tried to lead us in a candlelight vigil, but it was so windy that the candles kept blowing out. We knew Satan would do everything to stamp out God's Truth throughout history. But we also knew that God's truth could never be completely extinguished, because for just ONE BRIEF shining moment, more than 40 candles were lit and raised high in the moonlit sky, defying the winds. Each of us also had a small piece of paper where we had written our sin that we wanted God to forgive. We all threw our paper into the fire, which assured us that God forgives our sins if we ask Him and He will give us power to live as Jesus lived. We knew God heard our message of commitment to Him.

From DEAR to a Deer

Sunday morning on October 31 was bittersweet. We had to turn our watches and clocks one hour backwards the night before, so that gave us an extra hour to chat or to sleep. At daybreak, many of us got up and began to pack for our trip home. We all had a hearty brunch of pancakes and fruit. After Sarah Johnston from Maryland gathered all the meal tickets from the DEAR participants, Wendy Hill-House led a ticket raffle where children drew winning tickets for prizes such as potted mums and small pumpkins. We presented a scarecrow doll to the caretaker of Camp Blue Ridge, and then drew the grand prize ticket. The grand prize was a complimentary package at DEAR 2005 and it went to a young lady, Monica Spangler from West Virginia. Then there was a slide show of pictures by Mike Dobson and Pastor Trexler taken throughout the weekend. Steve Nobles performed another skit; this one about loving our enemies. Then the staff opened the CBR store where many of us went on a buying spree to take home some souvenirs of our spiritual weekend up in the mountains. After finalizing the bill with the camp caretaker, Mike Dobson, Wendy and I were the last to leave.

Wendy and I went up Interstate 81 until she saw a sign announcing fresh apples in Woodstock, a small town and turned off at that exit. We toured an orchard a few miles up the road and bought some apples. As we were heading back to the highway, we noticed the traffic was backed up as if there was an accident further up north on the highway. Instead, we used US Route 11 north, which roughly paralleled the interstate. Soon we got onto I-66 and found ourselves trying to evade what looked like a runaway charter bus as the bus driver was going pretty fast weaving between all the lanes. Then we were stuck in the legendary DC traffic as their annual US Marine Marathon was winding down to a close. Finally, we got back onto the main highway going through DC, but at our exit, we nearly hit a car that was parked just around the bend beyond the exit.

Wendy and I met some friends at a Mexican restaurant. On our way home, about five miles before arriving to our humble abode, I stopped at a light and waited to turn left. As the light became green, I turned left onto a divided highway and saw a patch of fog. We were just about ready to cross the bridge when I saw something white and brown standing in the middle of the road. A deer???? No!!!! Yes!!!! I slammed on the brakes so hard and skidded at an angle while the deer turned to look at straight in my eyes. Wendy burst into laughter so hard because with the loud screeching sounds from slamming on the brakes, the deer was still standing there as if he was trying to figure out what was going on around him. I prayed and held my breath until I actually nudged the deer lightly on its hind legs. The stag finally took the hint and scooted away - jumped over the railing into the woods. She said, "He must be deaf!" We do believe angels were with us that night on the way home from DEAR and helped avoid injury, and there was no damage to our rental car.

Stay Tuned for DEAR 2005

Please make your reservations at CBR for DEAR 2005. Again, it will be on the last weekend of October 27 - 30, 2005. This will be DEAR's fifth year and the committee is coming up with some exciting plans. No need to bring gifts because the traditional 5th anniversary gift is wood, and we will have plenty of trees for you to enjoy. Mark your calendar now and visit this website http://www.deafellowship.org/dear/ often for updates.

DEAR 2003
"Constant Growing in Christ" by Elder Alfred Griffith
October 9 to 12, 2003
by Jennifer Witteborg

Red, gold, yellow, green leaves and the blue sky all merged to make a wonderful palette that our Creator used to remind us of His wonderful love.

Fifty people from California, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington State, all came and worshipped together. Fellowshipping under the canopy of colors, we talked about God's love and our Christian walk. On both Friday and Sabbath, people went for hikes. Canoes were taken out on the lake, which John Wehrli (VA) says is a REALLY BIG POND!

Pastor Fred Griffith's sermons on "Constant Growing in Christ" were exactly what I, and many others, needed for our souls. He showed us how to use Sanctuary in our prayers to bring us closer to God who is holy and GOOD. Pastor Griffith explained that all our pain, our loneliness, our hurts can ONLY BE comforted by Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Living Water, the Light of the world, the Bread of Life, and our Advocate. He explained that trying to look at the world's way to help get rid of our pain, loneliness, and hurt may temporarily help but usually it just numbs us. Jesus will be right with us through the pain. Our pain may still be with us every day but because Jesus is with us, we'll be able to stand strong and tall. The depth and width of his sermons on God's love and sacrifice is so big that it would take books and books to explain it all.

Francisca Trexler lead the youth group in a study of the Garden of Eden, and how sin started. This was timely as the youth discussed the ways the the Devil still tries to tempt people, especially youth. She encouraged them to stand strong for the Lord.

Pastor David Trexler led a lively Sabbath School lesson. He first said that many of us are thinking to ourselves, "That Jo-nah! What is wrong with him? Why didn't he obey God in the first place?" Pastor David Trexler explained that Nineveh was a city in a country near where Iraq is today that had hurt and killed Jewish people.

Jonah may very have had relatives that were hurt/killed/raped by people living in the Nineveh area. Pastor Trexler explained that we must love our enemy.

Someone asked if God loved Lucifer, who is now Satan, the Devil. Pastor Trexler answered, "Yes." This sparked a long discussion into the afternoon.

Bottom line is that we must love our enemies and spread the Good News to them.

Mike Dobson, coordinator of DEAR, gave a timely presentation on fall colors and how leaves change their colors.

He explained that each leaf is like a tiny food factory. The leaf uses sunlight, things in the air, water and a green matter called CHLOROPHYLL. When fall begins, the leaf starts to die. There is less sunlight because the days are shorter. When the leaf begins to die, the leaf no longer makes food. The chlorophyll breaks down and the green color begins to disappear.

Sabbath ended with a sacred celebration of the Lord's Supper.

Afterwards we all headed up to the campfire. Each of us received a candle. Francisca asked us people to think about the retreat, what we've learned and how God is in our lives. She lit her candle and then used her candle to light her husband's candle. He then lit the person's candle next to him, and so it went around the circle.

At one point, half of the people had their candles burning, and half didn't. The fire glowed in the middle, and it was really emotionally touching.

After all the candles were lighted, testimonies were shared. The most memorable for me, was Josiah Kelly's encouragement "that when we go back into the world, and the pressure is on us, we will remember the 50 people that are here now supporting us, and we will remember to be strong! We will come back next year and become stronger still. So don't forget that there are 50 plus people here supporting you when you go back home!"

We ended by lifting our candles to the dark night sky, showing that we want to share the Light of the World to the lost and lonely souls out there.

Pictures were taken, friendships were made, and spiritual growth was made. May we continue to grow constantly in Christ as we continue to do His sacred work. We look forward to the next DEAR at Camp Blue Ridge!

The hosts, Potomac Adventist Deaf Ministries at Silver Spring Church in Maryland and Vienna Church in Virginia, announced shortly before the retreat that this annual event would become known as the Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat (DEAR), which replaces Eastern Deaf Campmeeting.

By deciding on a different approach than other campmeetings, we offer members and friends alike to come for a spirit-filled weekend in the fall.

The next retreat will most likely be held October 28 - 31, 2004 at Camp Blue Ridge. For more DEAR information (and photos!) can be found at: http://www.deafellowship.org/deaf/.

Please pray and save up so that you can join us in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the wonderful fellowship of our sisters and brothers in Christ.

DEAR 2002
"Refreshing My Down Times", "Refreshing My Guilty Times" and "The Day God Eavesdropped" by Elder Paul Kelly
October 10 to 13, 2002
by Francisca Trexler

The first retreat held at Camp Blue Ridge (CBR) last year (2001) was timely. In spite of the saddest events of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, we still attended the spiritual retreat at CBR. We all needed to be away from the busy city.

Twenty-three people attended the CBR last year, and this year thirty-six people attended the retreat.

Again, the retreat this year (October 10-13) was timely, and helped us get a much needed spiritual rest because a sniper had just recently killed 9 innocent people in the Washington, D.C. area. It was such blessing to know that CBR was a wonderful spiritual uplifting event to most of the campers.

The people said that it was good to be at the CBR to get the spiritual food to help them to get through with another tough year. It was good to have CBR supporting many campers in the fall.

Elder Paul Kelly gave a series of spiritual sermons. The series Elder Kelly gave were titled, "Refreshing My Down Times", "Refreshing My Guilty Times" and "The Day God Eavesdropped."

The campers really enjoyed and benefited from Elder Kelly's sermons. He spoke of the love of God and His caring of His people on earth. God Himself wants so much to have you all in heaven. Let us give our lives to Him and prepare ourselves for His glorious coming soon.

It was such blessing to know that CBR was a wonderful spiritual uplifting event to most of the campers.

Sabbath afternoon, most of the campers had a enjoyable hike in the woods. Some went canoeing. The youth seemed to enjoy the activities the most, as they used up their energies.

One person said that hiking in the woods gave them time to think about God's great handiwork. That was what the Sabbath is all about!

Elder David Trexler gave a very meaningful sermonette for the footwashing and Communion (Lord's Supper) at the close of Sabbath. It was the best moment to give ourselves to God once more.

Afterwards, we had a wonderful candlelight service and campfire on Saturday night. We passed around candles to each of the campers. The candlelight is the symbol of having the Holy Spirit in our lives. Once we lit the first candle, that was used to light the second person's candle. This was done from camper to camper until all the campers had lit their candle.

Then there was a solemn moment as we thought to ourselves about giving our lives to Jesus Christ with the help of the great Holy Spirit.

Then we brought the candles up high above our heads and it was bright among us. We took turns to pray to God individually.

After the service ended, it immediately became foggy. God performed another miracle by holding back the fog until we had finished our service - just like last year when He held back the wind until we finished our service.

Sunday morning, all the campers were busy cleaning the cabins before we ate a good hearty breakfast. Then all too soon it was time to leave CBR in the early afternoon. But we had good and uplifted feelings and blessings from this wonderful retreat.

All the campers are looking forward to coming back to CBR again next year. Overall, it was wonderful and memorable.

Why did you come to CBR?

  • I’m the only deaf SDA in my hometown and I want to go to camps when I can. Norma Bushey from Morganton, North Carolina
  • I missed the Midwest Deaf Campmeeting and wanted to meet other deaf SDAs. Bruce Buzzell from St. Louis, Missouri
  • I wanted a break from school. Farrah Gooding from Toronto, Ontario
  • I want new experience of camping with nature. Edy Holm, Gallaudet student from Sweden
  • I want to make new SDA friends from other states. Wendy House from Crofton, Maryland
  • Want to meet my Adventist friends. Bryan Jones from Jacksonville, Florida
  • I want to listen to God’s Word in nature. Josiah Kelly from Rochester, New York
  • I want to meet new friends, other deaf SDAs and need a break from the city life. Robert Miera from Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • I want to grow spiritually and have a closer relationship with God. Paulino Patino from Rochester, New York
  • Want to meet friends. Gregorio Perez from Tabasco, Mexico
  • I want to see my old friends. Ben Santiago from Vienna, Virginia
  • I come to visit friends. Donald Snider from Rocky Mount, Virginia
  • I want to leave the city and come to nature. John Wehrli from Springfield, Virginia

What is the best part about CBR?

  • I benefit from sermons and fellowship. Norma Bushey from Morganton, North Carolina
  • Hiking and I got wet! Farrah Gooding from Toronto, Ontario
  • Enjoy fellowship with Adventists away from the city and learn about God. Wendy House from Crofton, Maryland
  • Beautiful nature and good support from friends. Bryan Jones from Jacksonville, Florida
  • I like meeting deaf people – we communicate the same when we discuss the Bible. Lee Roy McKinney from Bones Mill, Virginia
  • Canoeing and hiking. Gregorio Perez from Tabasco, Mexico
  • Fall is the best time of the year to be in nature away from the cities. Ben Santiago from Vienna, Virginia
  • Nice cabins. John Wehrli from Springfield, Virginia


"Friendship Evangelism" by Elder David Trexler
October 11 to 14, 2001
by Beth Dobson

(No group picture for 2001)

A total of 23 deaf and hearing members converged on Camp Blue Ridge in Montebello, Virginia, which is approximately three hours southwest from Washington, DC. The camp turned out to be a reprieve for a number of the members because of the recent attacks on our priceless soil as well as the transportation and security hassles that remained etched in their memories. Most of them reside near the Pentagon, where they have had a chance to view the burned out section that was very disturbing. Curious onlookers were mum as they visited the memorial nearby that was filled with flowers, pictures, and writings that many people had already placed in a certain spot in honor and memory of those who perished unexpectedly. As Elder David Trexler eloquently stated, "Yes, the attacks absolutely stunned us, and they changed our lives forever on September 11, 2001. What those suicidal terrorists did was outrageous, but they did not deprive us from our ongoing relationship with our beloved Lord. They helped us be drawn to Him! We have to be vigilant of Christ's imminent return at all times from now on. Time is of the essence that we fulfill the Scripture by spreading the Gospel for Christ."

The topic of Elder Trexler's six sessions focused on friendship evangelism, and especially why it was so essential in our Church. He explained that friendship evangelism is "an unstructured, informal, conversational approach to sharing FAITH in the context of everyday life." He stressed that "the primary way to reach unchurched people is through personal relationships." Friendship evangelism is not about memorizing a fancy speech or Bible verses in order to impress new members. It is about being yourself at all times.

There are five steps to ensure effective friendship evangelism. Mingling with others is one of the avenues of winning members to Christ. Trexler pointed out that the "first step is to mingle with people you already know." Christ mingled with a myriad of people during the course of his lifetime. He loved associating with them even though there were probably times in the late evening when he was mentally exhausted. The second step is "showing compassion to those around you." Trexler emphasized that the most "powerful demonstration of compassion is through the act of listening." Listening to anyone at anytime is an excellent vehicle for winning the confidence of your new members. If someone is hurting inside, listening to him/her is indeed an easy way to help him/her heal. Ministering to someone's needs is the third step in sharing your faith with him and her. "Ministry springs from a heart touched by God's unconditional love that is expressed in service toward the practical needs of those around you." Elder Trexler cited examples in which Jesus ministered to people that are mentioned in the Bible. Responding to one's needs is a very important ingredient in your personal ministry. You can help someone who is stressed out. You can provide childcare for mothers who do not have time alone for themselves. You can aid a family during a crisis. You can help someone find a job. Once you play a significant role in helping someone, he or she will likely be indebted to your Christian service.

Winning the confidence of others cannot be manipulated or forced, but it can happen through a non-manipulative, caring love, which is the fourth step according to Elder Trexler. It often occurs in so many small ways. Members were struck by two verses that Trexler displayed on the projector. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers [and sisters]. If anyone has material possessions and sees another person in need but does not have pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" 1 John 3:16-17. The final step is knowing when to invite new members to Christ. "Sharing the gospel best happens in an open, trusting relationship using language that is relevant to the context and needs of the person." A member is urged to "water the seed he or she has planted with kindness, but not use more words about religion." If a new, potential member wants to know more about the Bible, let him and her TELL you.

The retreat, which was from Thursday, October 11 to Sunday, October 14, 2001, turned out to be fabulous for each and every member because he or she had a chance to go hiking near a beautiful man-made oval lake as well as going into the forest in order to appreciate the foliage. Some of the members participated in an exciting canoeing race in spite of the chilly weather. The most poignant event was when we surrounded a fireplace near the campground on the last evening of the retreat. Francisca Trexler and Michael Dobson gave each and every member a small candle, which represented Christ. The candle was lit while the gusty winds were trying in vain to extinguish the fire. A prayer was uttered asking the Lord to shield us from the gusty winds so that we can lift each candle in the air in order to give thanks to Christ who died for our sins. To our astonishment, each candle was successfully lifted in the air and the wind did not snuff out the fire until everyone was filled with satisfaction for what Christ had done for him and her! It was then the fire on each candle was subsequently quenched.

Many of the members did not particularly want to leave the site at all, as they were in a very serene and tranquil environment. Here are the comments that some members shared with me.

  • "Camp Blue Ridge was a wonderful and beneficial place to get away from our busy lives. The retreat did boost our spirits. We look forward to going there again next year." --- Francisca Trexler, Lanham, Maryland
  • "I do not belong in the world or in school either. I belong right here at Camp Blue Ridge!" --- Mahalia Palmer, an 8th grader at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School in Washington, DC
  • "I especially enjoyed the fire which was very memorable. The view of the camp is wonderful because of the different colors. Going there made me forget all about my stressful days! David's presentations were excellent. My family and I will love to be at Camp Blue Ridge again next year. We really loved it there!" --- Barbara Santiago, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • "Wow! What a great escape to go there! God's foliage was such a beauty and His skillful art was magnificent! The best part of the retreat was no cooking! What a relaxing environment to be at. David's spiritual lectures were soothing and helpful. I definitely will go there again next year." --- Cathy Ingram, Hyattsville, Maryland
  • "I had a wonderful time! Elder Trexler's sermons were very good. I learned something about friendship evangelism. The camp is a beautiful place to rest your mind!" --- Ruth Ann Dabney, a SDA member from New Jersey

We all need to shore up support for each other during this difficult time of national crisis, fear, and personal tragedy. We can be assured of one fact. Our God is in control, and we will find out some day how September 11, 2001 fit into His Plan toward Christ's imminent return. I believe Samuele Bacchiocchi, a retired professor of Theology, in his October 2001 e-mail entitled "Reflections on Terrorism" stated the following so well. "The Scripture teaches that the conflict between the forces of God and the forces of Satan will intensify as we draw closer to the Second Advent. Apostasy, lawlessness, terrorism, and rebellion will increase; suffering and persecution will culminate in a great tribulation; the Gospel will be preached as a testimony to all the nations." Do not be alarmed, my friends. There is indeed hope. "So take heart! This world is not our final home. We were created for a new and better world where there will be no terror or evil of any kind. Jesus has a world without fear just waiting for us! All you have to do is give your life to Him, and He will make you a citizen of His kingdom. Why not sign up with Him now and develop your first friendship with Him, too (Seibold, 2001, p. 14)?

Reference

Seibold, Loren (November 2001). Signs of the Times. Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association.