A couple of days ago I sat at the newly completed Cedar and Moss Cafe at Charis Camp and Conference Centre enjoying a rare moment of satisfaction in what has been an otherwise devastating year. Having a project like this completed caused me to reflect on the many wonderful people who have invested so much in this beautiful place over the years. In this moment of reflection I couldn't help but smile as I thought about a special moment I shared with Rev. Ewald Lieske as we walked around the camp. He was well over 100 and we were sharing stories and pausing as he took pictures with his smart phone from time to time. He smiled so much and he seemed so pleased as we spoke of things very close to our hearts, holding in common the knowledge that Charis had a special place in touching thousands of lives. Previously we had the great joy of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the camp that he and Rev. A.G. Knopp started along with the help of many from their congregations. True pioneers, they cleared and constructed the genesis of what is now enjoyed by thousands each year. As we walked together that day I remember taking such great joy in watching him delight in what Charis Camp had become thanks to the legacy of many others who came after him to build onto and invest in the camp he had been so instrumental in starting. He spoke of how it had gone “far beyond what we imagined: just a place where families could come and camp together.” We talked about the Greek word for "grace" and how I had named my oldest daughter using the same name as the camp because of a word study in fourth year Greek class and how the word had become so meaningful to me. He told me of how he paged through a Greek lexicon and knew he had found the right name when he stopped at the word Charis. That poignant moment has become a treasure for me as I think about Rev. Ewald passing from this earth. He knew as we walked together that the contribution he and other brave and godly men and women had made at the start, had not been forgotten. He knew that as long as I was connected to Charis Camp, I would do my part to keep reminding those who enjoy the camp now of those who have made camp possible. We also agreed that of all the named and unnamed people that could be honored, none should ever be proclaimed louder than the name of the one who personified God's great grace to all mankind, the name of Jesus. I received a great gift when I had the chance to walk with Rev. Ewald around Charis camp that day and each person who has stepped foot in this beautiful place also receives a gift, thanks to the faith, bravery, energy and vision Rev. Ewald brought to the very beginning of this place we call "Grace".
Rev. Lieske's family has asked that instead of flowers a donation be made to Charis Camp in memory of him. If you would like to support Charis Camp through Ewald's memory please use the link below.
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Guest Services Director
Many of you will remember that our beloved Cristal Koop left her position as Guest Services Director in July. When God closes one door, He opens another. Vivian hit the ground running, handled it like a champ and now that she is settled it we wanted to officially introduce you to her. Enjoy!
So, I think we are all wondering:
What’s up with the long name, Vivian?
In Brazil, where I am from, we keep all of our last names. It’s an honoring way for a girl to carry on her father’s last name and to honor both of our parents. Here in Canada you typically take your husband's last name. So, my first name is Vivian Karine. My mom’s last name is Nassar. My dad’s last name is Baptista. My husband’s last name is Goertz. When I lived in Alberta they didn’t care how many names I had but BC is making me change it. It takes a year.
I am never doing that to my daughter, it is so frustrating! I will give her the middle name Baptista and the last name Goertz. I want my last name to be Goertz like my husband….we will get there!
How did you end up in Canada?
My step dad is a geologist. He went to a conference in Brazil and Shell, Canada was there hiring. He prayed about it and felt we would be missionaries in Canada so he took the job. I was in grade 12 and hardly spoke English. It was overwhelming. I couldn’t read the menu at Boston Pizza- I read “chicken fingers” and I was like “who eats that? I am not eating chicken’s fingers. That is disgusting! What is this place?” I took English in Brazil since grade 10 and knew English grammar but not how to speak and read well at all. Someone asked me “What’s up?” and I looked up, confused.
What’s your Story with Jesus?
I grew up in a Christian home; my grandpa was a Pastor. The worship team and choir were my family. I took communion because I liked drinking juice in church, not because I understood what it meant. When I was 14 I went to YWAM (Youth with a Mission) King’s Kids and I accepted Christ because it became real! It happened when I was outside and read about God’s care for me being like the birds, a flock of birds immediately flew overhead and I was amazed at His care for me personally. I am very visual. When I was 18 my grandpa came to Canada to baptize me. This was a very precious thing for me because he was not only my grandpa, but also my Pastor growing up. He listened to my heart and prayed for me. I have always been involved with worship, writing and singing; it is how I feel closest to God.
How did you end up at Charis Camp?
I was working as an Environmental Technologist. I was frustrated at my job as it was not a good fit anymore. I love customer service and helping people feel loved and accepted. I loved worship. I have always been in love with camp life and I prayed that one day I could work in ministry doing camp. I wanted to go to Bible College to do a Worship and Counselling degree but it didn’t work out because of the cost.
One day I was driving to worship practice with Lois Piccioni and she told me about the Guest Services job at Charis. It sounded too good to be true. I had an interview with Darren and Clarinda and was literally offered the job the next day, so I quit my job. I am not a morning person, but my first day at Charis I have never woke up so happy in the morning! That is how my husband, Joshua, knew how great this change was!
What do you love about being at Charis?
Relationships. Everyone is gracious and supportive. I feel like I have been here for a few years, not a few months- it’s a family. I really appreciate it! I come from a very family culture background. I am home here; it is amazing how perfect it is!
Any Fun Facts we should know?
I worked as a clown doing parties and face painting for years and I play 11 instruments!
Wow, thank you Vivian! You have been a wonderful addition to the Charis family and we are so glad God brought you to us! Your love for people is so evident in all you do! We look forward to seeing your clown outfit in action!