But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law – Galatians 5:22-23
I caught a fish the first couple of minutes I was there and that was it. I was done for the rest of the time we were out on the pond. Dad caught a fish and then the turtles began circling the bobbers and it was time to go!
Dad loves God and enjoys nature. I think that’s why his mission to build a Christian youth camp in Brazil was so successful. It was built from his heart with the Biblical and architectural skills he learned in college. It was also built from a love of being outdoors and witnessing God’s powerful creation as the backdrop to teaching young people about the revealed Word of God.
God opened up an opportunity in the mid-1960s to begin dreaming about the camp.
I must have been three or four years of age. I recall the day almost as if it were today. I remember it in first person and imagine it as a movie scene as well.
My father was sitting in our rocking chair in the living room. I am guessing it was either early morning or late afternoon with the sun shining directly into our front window.
I was next to him and he picked me up and sat me on one knee.
“Do you know what a camp is?”
Puzzled I replied, “no.” But I was curious.
“Well, it’s a place young people can go and learn about Jesus.” I believe he also elaborated on some of the fun activities available in such an environment.
Fast forward years later. In my mind’s eye, I see that moment as a movie scene. The silhouettes of father and young daughter sitting in a chair against the backlight of the sun beaming through a full plate glass window with sheers.
Camp Mount of Olives is 44 years old this year. It’s been a place of peace, a place where Jesus comes alive as much as He ever is. He comes alive in the love the young people have for each other. He lives through the teachings of the leaders in and out of class. He lives in the laughter of those who sit along the hillside singing songs, telling stories and bouncing jokes back and forth. His character shines in the sportsmanship among those who love playing sports and hiking the trails.
The campers invented a motto back in my day. I goes like this, “Eu amo o AMO.” It means, “I love AMO,” the acronym for the camp in Portuguese (Acampamento Monte das Oliveiras).
We loved it then, and young people love it today!
Sitting by the pond a couple of weeks ago with Dad reminded me of the peace I felt every time we went to the camp during its formative years, carved out of Brazilian virgin forest and shaped into the heart of Jesus.
Those days were adventurous, with my father being the first Indiana Jones-type figure I ever knew in person, but looked more like Clark Kent! Underneath it all lies the heart of a lion with the gentleness of a lamb in all he does.
There’s so much more I could say about Dad. But mainly I can say he is a man of peace, always seeking to make peace and lead anyone to the Prince of Peace for their ultimate benefit.
Thank you God for my father who exemplifies peace every day, in work, rest, humor and focus. Bless the work of his hands as he seeks to reflect Christ to those around him today.