Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Sunday evening, Sweetie and I went not to a retirement dinner, but a reFIREment dinner for Pastor Roger Sasse, executive director of Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries. NLOM runs Camp Carol Joy Holling, which is where Sweetie and I met when we were on summer staff together eleven years ago. And for anyone who knows Roger, the term reFIREment is much more appropriate than "retirement." Even though he says he's taking a month to do some in-depth study on the feeding habits of the great northern pike, I don't think he'll ever truly retire. He just has too much fire in him.

The dinner was great--there was a suitable combination of reminiscing and roasting, the highlight of which was the long-time director of buildings and grounds returning an entire toolbelt worth of tools that had fallen off the back of Roger's pickup over the years, then going backstage and wheeling out a gigantic electric generator that Roger apparently at one point had let fall off the back of his truck when he forgot to put up the tailgate.

Oh...and the food. The food. The. Food. Was. Amazing.

I know it sounds weird to hear that about camp food, but ever since NLOM hired an executive chef for their retreat center food preparation, meals at camp (which have always been above average) have become works of culinary art. Savory, tender beef tenderloin strips marinaded and with a cracked pepper glaze. Chipotle roasted shrimp. Au gratin potatoes (the real ones, not the ones out of a big box). Two different vegetable salads. I can't even begin to adequately describe how good the spread was.

And then there were the desserts, which honestly were as good as you'd find at any fine restaurant you'd ever go to.

An all-around wonderful time. We were at a table with old friends, got to catch up with other old friends from camp and from campus ministry, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Kiddo was with us, too. Sweetie and I had told him in the morning that we were going to be going to camp in the evening, and his first question had been, "am I going to get mosquito bites?" We had assured him that no, we were going to be inside. When we got there, we were so proud of how nicely he sat through the hour-long dinner, followed by an hour-long program. He listened, looked around, and intently paged through the books we had brought for him. After the final speaker, the synod bishop closed with a prayer and had everyone stand up and hold hands during the praying. Kiddo prayed right along, holding Sweetie's and my hands. When the prayer was over, he looked at me and asked, "Daddy, is this church?"

Hm. Is this church? Well, not really in the sense in which he was asking the question.

So my initial answer was "no, but it's like church because we prayed and talked about Jesus." As I spoke, though, my words sounded awfully hollow to me. So I interrupted myself.

"Actually," I said, "yes. This IS church. It doesn't look like our church at home, does it? But this is a big church that looks like a camp. And kids and grownups come and sing and pray and play and learn all about how much God loves them."

Kiddo thought about it and said, "that's really cool."

Yep...very cool indeed.

Happy reFIREment, Roger!



David said...

You were right about it being church. Church is who we are and what we do, not a place where we go. And what a great way to celebrate reFIREment.

mark said...

Man! I wish I could have been there. Sometimes I wonder why I moved so far away! Roger is AMAZING and I wish I could have been there to celebrate with everyone else! Glad you all had a good time!