Prayer is such a great mystery and marvel in the life of Christians.  It is fascinating how the Lord answers prayer.  Yet, when prayer is answered suddenly and completely, I can’t help but wonder, does the Lord have us ask for things that are about to happen?

Several years ago we had the honor to have a couple from Wisconsin who are in disability ministry visiting our home.  I love having guests.  In fact, years ago we built a large second story room that was to have two purposes.  It was a meeting place but also a place to house visitors.  After a few years, the meetings that were being held in our home slowly dissolved.   But we continue to use the room for guests.

Mostly, it is for teenagers who seem to wander in and out of our lives.  Teenagers are some of my favorite people.  Face it, if they aren’t your responsibility,  they are exhilarating folks to have around.  Because every teen occasionally needs a place to hang out for a day or two, our home is spacious and pretty convenient.

Last week, we had a visit from members of our family.  But today as I was preparing the house for our next visitors, I prayed, “Lord, I would love to have someone else to stay in our home soon.”  I reminded the Lord that we had built this room as a “prophet’s chamber.”  It would be nice to have someone in ministry come who needed a room.

A couple of hours later, we got a call from Tony and Jo Piantine.  We met years ago at a disability conference.  Their younger son, Dan, had a severe disability that meant that he was required to spend many hours each day in a portable machine that helped him breathe.  Dan died when he was 21 or 22 about 15 years ago.  Since that time, their other son, Tony, Jr. has headed a ministry which has built a camp for persons with disabilities in Wisconsin–Camp Daniel.  Their website is

Jo and Tony, Sr.  are an important part of the ministry.  They were in Florida resting before summer hit again.  As soon as Jo identified herself, I knew God had heard and answered my prayer.  Of course, I invited them to stay with us and they accepted our invitation.

Again, the dilemma of prayer, did the Lord remind me of the original purpose of our upper room because they were coming or did he answer my spontaneous prayer?  Either way, can you imagine having a God so intimately involved in our lives that he works things out in minute details?

In Deuteronomy 5 from The Message, I read this morning, “What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us?”  Sure, there are times that we pray and wait and listen for years for a deep yearning that can only be expressed in prayer.  But aren’t we all grateful for the special times that we pray and two hours later, the phone rings and our prayer is answered.

Have you had a time recently when God answered a prayer immediately?  What is the prayer you have been praying for years that seems to be left unheard and unanswered?  Do the times that God answers immediately encourage you that God hears but his timing is different?

2011 Florida Summer


Monday, May 16 to Friday, May 20, 2011

at Lake Aurora inLake Wales

Cost is $545

for information, contact

Rev. Joe Trementozzi


This is Special Touch Get-Away sponsored retreat/vacation for people who are developmentally disabled.  To see information about Get-Aways closer to your area, see the Get-Away webpage to see when and where all of these retreat are being held.

Special Gathering’s 

Camp Agape 2011


Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30

For information, contact

Linda G. Howard at

Richard O. Stimson at

Costs are from $160 to $230, depending on level of supervision.

Retreat/Camp Agape is a held at Life for Youth Camp in Vero Beach, Florida

1462 82nd Avenue

Activities for the weekend include chapel twice a day, paddle boat, speed boat, pontoon boat, go-carts, putt-putt golf, basketball, crafts, game room, water slide, swimming and snack bar.

All cabins are air-conditioned.  Chapel attendance is required.  Registered nurse on the camp grounds and on-duty 24-hours a day.  All med administered by nurse for Camp Agape attendees.  People attending Retreat Agape must be able to administer their own meds. 

To volunteer, you must have a reference letter from your pastor and attend our training seminar.

Each year I judge my “real” age by how I am able to perform at camp.  I don’t mean just physically but also mentally.  Because my family has been greatly effected by dementia, I’ve done a good deal of study on the brain as it relates to getting older.  I’ve learned that what is good for the heart is good for the brain.

I exercise almost every day for an hour.  This is divided into 40 minutes of arobic, 10 minutes of strength training and 10 of stretching and flexiblity.  I also understand that much of a person’s mental and physical strength depends on their health.  Strokes and heart conditions greatly limit a person’s physical and mental capacities.

In truth I purposely push myself at camp.  Five days of grueling exercise is a good gage of what the next year may hold regarding my stamina.  I figure it’s cheaper than going to a physical fitness camp or pay a coach to determine my physical abilities.  Each year I find ways that I must retrain my body.  

This year, I discovered that I had a difficult time packing luggage into the van we were using on our trip home.   It was not because I couldn’t lift the luggage but because I wasn’t able to maintain a bend position for the length of time the task demanded.  This year, I’ll be walking with my back bend at the waist each day to strengthen those weak muscles.

I also found that holding in my mind one thought or task that needed to be done was more difficult than it had been in the past.  With fifteen things that needed to be done all at one time, it is essential to keep a mental priority list going all the time.  I think I’ve let my brain get sloppy in this area. 

I’ve read that this is one of the drawbacks of an older brain.  The ability to maintain a list of tasks in your brain becomes more difficult.  It isn’t that the brain is defective.  It only means that the older brain thinks differently.  Keeping a list becomes an essential for an older adult.  Fortunately, as a child, I found that writing on the palm of my hand is a handy and portable way to keep a list.  I used my palm list a lot during the weekend.

In truth, keeping more than one thought going has never been a strong ability for me.  My husband has graciously told me that he believes that my concentration on one task has enabled me to accomplish more tasks in the long run.  Not sure that true but I took the compliment anyway.

Other than making lists, the professionals don’t seem to have any mnemonic tricks that will enable you to keep thoughts stuck in your mind.  What about you?  Have you found some little tid bit of information that helps you use  your brain in a more efficient way?  Comments and suggestions are welcomed!

Okay, I wouldn’t call what I’m feeling after camp a glow.  Perhaps a slow seep.  Tired isn’t the word for what I’m feeling.  Yet, after coming home there was still a lot of work to do.  Last year I learned to put away all my supplies and equipment as soon as I get home.  That means cleaning, organizing and reorganizing.  However,  next year, most of the work will be done in preparing the small things that are needed for camp. 

  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • rubber gloves
  • spray containers for bleach water
  • sleeves for the cabin numbers
  • magic markers/writing pens
  • tacks
  • walkie-talkies, with the batteries removed
  • batteries
  • paper towels
  • medication containers for each person attending who takes meds
  • Baggage labels (obtained from the Grayhound Bus Station)
  • 5 gallon water jugs

Because we don’t do our own cooking, we don’t have to deal with food prep.  Therefore, we are able to keep down the things we must bring to camp. 

For the past 25 years we have rented a wonderful camp ground called Life for Youth Camp in Vero Beach.  They have boat rides, go-carts, putt-putt golf, game room, canteen, gift shop, super slide, swimming.  Robbie and Sherry Stevens have blessed us all these years.

Before I became involved with the mentally challenged community, I had two ideas about camp.  First, this was something that children and teenagers did in the summer or during winter or spring break.  Adults went on retreats but they didn’t go to camp.  Second, some adults (who haven’t discovered the Ramada)  go camping, which means a tent, sleeping bag, a propane stove or a campfire and an inflatible mattress.

One of my first introductions to the special needs community was being invited to go to camp for a four-day weekend.  That seemed a bit bizarre to me.  I had met most of the members of the program that was involved and I knew that they were all adults.  My children went to camp.  As adults, we went on retreats.  Soon, I found that there is a entire national network of camps for people with disabilities.  These camps are populated with people who are mostly 21 years old and older. 

I have a confession.  This is my 20th camp and I still bristle when we speak about camp for our members, who are adults.  It seems so junior high to me.  I was thrilled when Special Gathering changed a portion of our name from Camp Agape to Retreat Agape.  The camp side is for people who need more supervision and more care.  The retreat side is for people who live in their own apartments or homes and are higher functioning.  They receive minimal supervision and no care.  Special Touch, founded by Charlie and Debbie Chivers, still use the term camp loosely but they officially call their annual “camping -type experiences” Get-Aways.

 I personally believe that we could all come up with a more appropriate name for what we all do, than camp.  However, no one else (except the Chiver’s)  seems to be bothered by the term.  Or maybe everyone dislikes the term but no one has seen the need to balk.  As we all recognize, blogs are the forum for spitting and balking.  Everyone does it on the internet, from left wing bigots to right wing bigots. 

What do you think?  Is the term camp outdated, or worse, inappropriate for adults?  What would you prefer to call this national phenonenom in which most of our adults members participate?  Retreat?  Get-Aways?

Special Gathering Retreat Agape–May 22 to 25

Location Vero Beach, Florida

Retreat Agape: A retreat for independent mentally challenged persons which has three different types of accommodations.  Persons attending this retreat must be legally competent and able to self medicate, if on medications. This is a non-smoking facility. 

1)   Married Couples $340 per couple. They stay independently in the motel which is on the ranch property.     All couples must be married to stay in the motel.

2)   Independent $170 per person. Retreat attendees stay in a cabin with 11 to 14 other persons attending the retreat. These persons must be legally competent.  There will be no supervision of these people.  They will be able to come and go as they please. They will be treated as any non mentally challenged adult at our retreat. They must be able to function independently.

3)         Low supervision $180 per person. Retreat attendees stay in a cabin with 11-13  persons attending retreat. They must be legally competent.  These persons receive no supervision regarding activities they choose, food they eat, or what they do.  As a safety factor, we make a roll call check on them at each meal and at night.


Special Gathering Camp Agape–May 22 to 25

1)         Moderate Supervision Cost is $200. These campers will stay in a cabin with 9-13 other campers.  This level of camping is for campers that will need no supervision on what activities* they choose, what food they eat, and what they do.  We will make a visual check on them every hour, and administer their medications.

2)         High Supervision Cost is $210. These campers do not need constant supervision. Campers will be allowed to move freely around camp, but we will make a visual check on them every 30 minutes (at the times they are out of the cabin) to make sure they are safe.  We will supervise their cabins when they are in them, limit the kind of activities* according to your request, monitor the food they eat, per your request, and administer their medications.

 *Activities:  Go‑carts, swimming, canoes, paddle boats, game room, ping pong, pool table, outdoor games, super slide, and putt-putt golf, basketball.

This is a non-smoking facility.

For information, contact Linda Howard at 772 770 1011

or e-mail at