Members' Corner

 

Thanks Be to God and We Will!

By Maddie Baltrum, December 2018


“Thanks be to God, and WE WILL!” sound familiar? Of course it does, we do it every Sunday, but do you know why? It was our way of sharing some experiences we have at camp with the congregation because that’s our sending every worship. We all love yelling it in camp and hearing it bounce off the mountains.

Sky Ranch offers many different ways to connect with God outside of a church setting. With different weeks for backpacking, day camp, and my personal favorite the Confirmation Intensive week. This week is a week where the confirmation students are able to travel back in time in different biblical stories including the story of the exodus, Jesus passion, and the early church, and learn a bit about what it would feel like to live during those times with everything going on.

This upcoming summer will be my 6th year going to Sky Ranch as a camper, but it has been a home away from home for so much longer. At camp I find myself making some of the best memories and the most unlikely friendships. Some memories can be as complex as trying to explain the burning feeling in your soul from the day, or as simple as laying in a hammock while everyone else is sleeping, looking through the trees and seeing more stars than ever before.

Camp is not something that just happens and then you wait for it again. We are constantly encouraged to bring our camp down the mountain and share it with everyone around us. And personally speaking, when I come down the mountain I think for the next month it’s ALL I talk about, just ask my mom, she has to deal with it.

I have always been raised in this religion and as my time of confirmation came around, I began to wonder if it was something I believed, or if it was something my parents made me do. But Sky Ranch helped make everything clear to me. The first time I went to camp, all I remember is having so many emotions. I not only heard the word of God, but seemed to be able to physically feel it. I was sure I felt God unconditional love and acceptance in that camp for the first time. Every time since then, whenever I went to camp I got a sense of who I was, and who I was being called to be. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m exaggerating but, to me, Sky Ranch feels like heaven on earth. The songs are too great not to sing along to and the morning worship out in the meadow, tucked away surrounded by trees while watching the morning sun sparkle on the mountains, I don't think there are words to being to explain that feeling.

Sky Ranch is a place to clear my mind and ask for help and really believe that I’m being heard, and watched over. Often when I am having a hard time in school or with my friends, I find myself wanting to run up the mountains. To run into the arms of God whether it be the harness I wear on high ropes, the trees that seem to be everywhere you look, or the hand of a friend whos helping you keep your balance on a low ropes element.

I wanted to say thank you, not only for helping me experience this, but also for the fact that you continue to support the camp and the campers who go to it. The support of the congregation has helped send our confirmation students to this camp for years. Campers whos family may struggle financially don't have to worry about missing out, and while they are up in the mountains enjoying the fresh air, they can even get a little gift from home when they receive a letter sent from a member. We would not be able to do it without your help.

 

Houston Mission Trip Report

By Robert Cotton, December 2018


This year we went to Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey repairs. Our team comprised 7 members from Light of Christ and 8 from BLC. It didn’t take long to meet with some adventure. As we approached Amarillo, the brakes in our bus “Josephine” went soft, and the radiator temperature gauge pointer went way up! We checked under the hood, and saw that the AC compressor unit had dropped down onto the engine block area. A bracket had obviously broken. When this happened, the serpentine belt came off, which is the driving force for all components!! We had 7 persons and a dead bus! While we waited for a flatbed wrecker to arrive, a very helpful deputy sheriff Garth took two of us in her squad car (a new experience for me) to the airport to find a rental vehicle for us to get us into town. We found one, but we could only have it for a day!


Once back at Josephine, we all piled into the rental minivan with our overnight bags, and followed Josephine atop the flatbed to a Ford Sales and Service Center. The Sales department was open, but Service was closed until Monday! Unfortunately, the surrounding area wasn’t the best so we asked if Josephine could be locked up. They put her in a service bay until Monday. Luckily, our filled luggage area was safe. We ended up staying in a local La Quinta for the night.


Saturday night, many calls were made to Car Rental Agencies, trying to find a 7 seater minivan we could have for a week to go to Houston and back. Eventually, one was found, but the vehicle was located in a downtown area that did not open until 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. So it was that 6 of us left Amarillo on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. bound for the Houston area. Two members agreed to stay and wait while Josephine was repaired.


At about midnight on Sunday with 6 in the minivan, a pickup just in front of us had a catastrophic front tire blow out, the rim hit the pavement, and fiberglass body parts were ripped off! Within two miles, we received a dashboard message of low air pressure in a tire! We stopped and sure enough the front passenger tire was low. We managed to make it three miles more to a gas station, where we reviewed the situation. With the book out, and 3 graduate engineers, we managed to retrieve the spare by jacking the car up, and pulling it out! It was 1.30 a.m. when we reached Grace Church in Katy as we crawled into our bunk beds for just 4 1/2 hours of sleep.


On Monday morning, 12 of us headed for NE Houston to start work on Wilson Chalmer's home. His roof had collapsed in the hurricane, and everything inside was flooded. New drywall had been installed, and now it was ready for mudding and then spackling all 7 rooms. Later, we painted new wood panels on the exterior of the house, and replaced wood work trim at the roof line.. By the end of the week, the walls were receiving a final coat of paint, a new wall had been built for the bathroom in the master bedroom, and the garage had new drywall.


But what about Josephine? It turned out that the a new bracket was not available (a 3 week back order) so the service department took the broken pieces and had them expertly welded together by a local company, who advised letting the welding cool down slowly overnight before installing. Josephine became available Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.


The two who had stayed behind in Amarillo drove Josephine to Katy. When the workers returned from a full day’s work at Wilson Chalmer's home, they were all eager to get into the rear luggage compartment to retrieve their belongings, after having lived out of an overnight bag for nearly four days!


Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church in Katy is about 20 miles due West of Houston. It is situated in an affluent neighborhood with a beautiful campus backing onto an Equestrian Center. The church has a weekly attendance of 3,000 and 10,000. After Harvey hit, they reached out to help the community by providing at no charge, lodging in their elegant mansion building to house 44 males and 28 females with bunk beds, a kitchen, and a continental breakfast for people wanting to come and help rebuild the city. Over the 10 month period, they have housed over 1,000 people. They were most hospitable to us during our stay and went overboard to help us with the problems we experienced with the breakdown of Josephine.


So who is Wilson Chalmers? He is a 76 year old retired supervisor of a drywall company. His wife, sadly passed away in 2010. His home was purchased in 1972. Today, his interest is hunting, using the 12 beagles that he keeps in his backyard. He has all the gear to transport them. Currently, he is living at his daughter's home, but the good news is that with the help of SBP and our bit of help from 10/15 to 10/19, there is a Welcome Home Party scheduled for him on November 20.


The team that came to Houston was great. We encountered unexpected problems, but everyone was upbeat and overcame the difficulties. Thank you for the two congregations who supported all our fundraising events to make this good work possible.

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