Yesterday Maggie and Poco took up residence at Camp Something-or-Other. The name’s escaped me. The day before I watched Maggie meticulously choose, fold and pack for camp. Poco probably shoved hers in a backpack, last minute, and hoped for the best. She’ll probably be camper of the week.
As for me, while Maggie packed, I unpacked a memory. I went to camp once upon a time. We were living in DeKalb, Illinois and like my Grand’s camp, I don’t recall the name. But what marked me wasn’t the place. It was the gift.
As a preacher’s kid, money fell into one pot marked: Essentials. Camp didn’t meet the criteria, at least, outwardly. God only knows, sometimes, what someone really needs. But I was friends with Nancy and Ruthie, the two adopted daughters of Amanda and Rasmus. And during the time Daddy pastored that small Baptist Church, it felt like Amanda and Rasmus adopted me, too. Nancy and I were the same age. I loved going to their farm, sitting under Sycamore trees, having “tea” parties, sipping fresh cherry juice, nibbling frosted graham crackers, when homemade cookies weren’t available.
Rasmus, ruddy-faced Norwegian, never said much. Neither did Amanda. They just quietly went about doing good. On Wednesday or Sunday evenings when we had testimony time, Rasmus never spoke up, that I can remember. But he stood out. Like the times he just stood, looking down, hunting words. After awhile, he’d look up, wipe his eyes, then sit down. He stood for something. Words didn’t matter. He lived grateful.
And generous. Which is how I came to go to camp. It was my last summer before we moved to Georgia. I was nine. Like I said, it wasn’t the camp I remember but that somebody thought I was worth the cost. It represented such lavish love to me, and for me.
The best testimonies aren’t always how we say something. It happened for me once upon a time, at a no-name camp. Since then, I learned Rasmus, a common name in Norway, is a form of Erasmus, which means “beloved.” And 73 years ago, without a word, a Norwegian farmer’s kndness marked me as beloved.
Tusen Takk, Rasmus. (A thousand thank-yous in Norwegian.)
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