Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 21, 2011

Still Learning from Dad

Dad in Venice | June 1954

I often tell others that I credit my Dad for giving me a love for the nations. As a young man, Dad traveled extensively throughout Europe. Dad traveled light with only a spare change of clothes. However, he had to have a suit made when he ventured into Francoist Spain because men were required to wear suits in public at that time. He also sharpened his language skills by learning some conversational Portuguese, German, and a little Russian along the way. But perhaps best of all, Dad was an avid photographer and took hundreds of slides and black and white prints. The first camera I used when I ventured away from home was my Dad’s Zeiss Ikon Contessa camera that he had purchased in Germany. He taught me about f-stops and film speed and all sorts of technical things I needed to know in the days before point and shoot cameras. I took hundreds of photos (mostly slides) with that camera in the years before I purchased my own camera.

Looking back on my childhood, Dad did several things that made me curious about the nations. He planted the seeds that later blossomed into a love for those who live beyond our borders. I have tried to do the same things my Dad did in order to help my own kids love and respect others, regardless of who they are or where they are from. Here are some of the ways in which God used my Dad to shape my love for the nations.

Photos | One of my fondest childhood memories is of the nights Dad would set up his slide projector to show us his black and white slides and early color slides of places he had visited and people he had met. These family night sessions generated lots of questions and lots of conversation about the people and places beyond our hometown. We also enjoyed looking through Dad’s photo albums where he had carefully categorized his travels and included a little written commentary beneath the photos.

Books | Although there were not many travel books and guides available when I was a kid, Dad had some interesting books about other countries. I especially enjoyed looking at the maps in the atlases we had at home. Dad also subscribed to Life and Look, two popular magazines that were filled with great photos of current happenings at home and abroad.

Stories | Dad’s stories stirred my imagination. One of my favorite stories is of a journey that he and a friend took from France to Spain. Because they did not have a map, they used a world atlas to plot their route. They followed a particular road through the Pyrenees but it turned out to be a dead-end. Eventually they found an alternate route near the Bay of Biscay and made their way to Madrid.

Explorers Club | When I was in Elementary School, Dad paid the monthly fee for me to join Commander Whitehall’s Explorers Club. Every month, Commander Whitehall would send a package from some far-away place. Each package contained a map and information sheet, a small souvenir item from the country he was visiting, and a floppy record with his narrative about that particular country. I looked forward to receiving my package each month so that I could learn about people who live in other countries.

These are just a few of the things that Dad did to keep me curious about the nations. Dad has never lost his curiosity about the nations. Even as an octogenarian, he has an insatiable appetite for learning about people and the places where they live. Every time we visit, Dad and I spend hours watching and conversing about travel programs that he has recorded for us. I am still learning about the nations from Dad and grateful that he continues to encourage me to go beyond.


  1. man this is so cool…i want to leave that kind of legacy to my kids! i also really want to sit with your dad for weeks and weeks and hear his stories…and also grow up when you did. 🙂

    • Thanks, Josh. Dad does have some pretty cool stories.

      Your kids are fortunate to have you and Amy as parents and to benefit from the example of your service in Montrose. Thanks for all you do to serve and care for others through your ministry at Alpha House.

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