Category Archives: SOWER Projects 2015

Our SOWER Ministries where we have worked in 2015

Wrapping it up

There’s a lot to be wrapping up around here, but I’m going to try ‘wrapping up’ this month’s SOWER project before too much time goes by. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but these three weeks (as always) just seem to whiz by! (Wait, Christmas is on FRIDAY??!!!!!) As usual, we’ve come to love the folks here at Heart of Texas Camp and have had a great three weeks. Job wise, it was pretty straightforward. First week – decorate for Christmas banquets.
HOTChristmas-15_edited-1
Second week, undecorate!
IMG_6228
We had our fun weekend in Wacotown, and then we were back for our last week of work! For me it was a new job – researching grant opportunities that might be available for capital improvements at the camp. And for Gary –
Untitled
Yeah – he was back on ladders doing that electrical stuff!
But the highlight of our last week was twofold. One, we were able to join the staff in their annual Christmas party. It was fun to join together with these good folks in a social setting – and enjoy some delicious food to boot! This year, instead of having the traditional gift exchange, we all brought items to be used in ‘goody bags’ to be distributed through a local ministry in Brownwood.
Untitled
Socks, gloves, toiletries, water, non-perishable foods – it was quite a bag when it was all said and done!
Untitled
Which brings me to the second highlight of the week. After putting those bags together, we ladies were able to delivery them on Thursday afternoon to Good Samaritan Ministries and see the impact this ministry is making in the community.
Untitled
They have a several food programs – from a food pantry available to county residents to homeless boxes (food and necessities) to meals for kids on weekends (when they aren’t getting school lunches) to Christmas food boxes. Over on the clothing side there is a Resale Store that is open to the public with the proceeds going to fund their various programs. And if a family is in need of clothing and cannot afford to ‘shop’, each family member is given 5 complete outfits. Our ‘goody bags’ will be incorporated into the Homeless Food Box program.
Untitled
There is also counseling available, food for shut-ins, and a variety of other services available to the community.
We were so inspired! Although there are some paid staff members, many of the positions are filled by volunteers from local churches, work or civic organizations. Their mission is clear – “..to proclaim the Gospel in both word and deed to all the people in need in Brown County, TX”. As it says on their brochure – because being a good neighbor is not an option; it’s a command.
Such a good place! In our world of bad press, it is wonderful to see folks living out Jesus in these ways!
We finished off our outing with a little visit to said Resale Shop (my personal addiction)and then lunch out.
Untitled
It was a pretty perfect “Ladies Day Out” with a special dose of inspiration thrown in!

So here we are, just beginning our official Christmas Break. We’ll be heading north (in the truck) on Wednesday to spend the next week and a half with our kids up in Ohio. We are so looking forward to hugs and kisses and giggles galore. With all 17 of us together, I’m sure there will be a bit of chaos also, but we are so blessed to be able to spend this time with the kids and grands. So if it’s a bit quiet around here until after the new year, please be patient. You know I’ll be back, with a heart full of family goodness. (And most likely a couple of pictures of the kiddos too!)

If you’d like to see a couple more photos from the Heart of Texas Camp, HERE is the link. And I’ll leave you with one more sunset from Saturday night –
Untitled

Thank you, Lord, for another month filled with blessing!

Half Done

Can you believe it? This month’s project is already half over! We’ve really been enjoying our time here.
The deer are abundant
IMG_6218
(and not eating any of my shrubs).
The lake is beautiful
IMG_6219
and every now and again, a road runner actually runs by our rig!
IMG_6190
But it’s not all flora and fauna – sometimes we actually work! My task for the last week was to assist in turning their auditorium
HOTChristmas-3
into a Christmas Wonderland for two different banquets.
HOTChristmas-2_edited-1
They had already started to hang some lights, but there was still much to do! Candy (my new partner in crime) and I worked pretty steady all week; doing a little set design
HOTChristmas-5
making hula hoops into chandeliers, stringing lights on trees, decorating tables and making boxes into podiums!
Boxes –
HOTChristmas-4
Podiums
HOTChristmas-9
It’s amazing what you can accomplish with plastic tablecloths and duct tape!
The first banquet was for a local church, and I think the finished project turned out quite lovely.
HOTChristmas-11_edited-1
That was Saturday. Aside from providing the venue, decorations and food, the rest of the program was up to the church. By the end of the evening the tables were clear, the dishes were done and the floor was swept. Monday morning we started decorating for the camp’s Christmas Dinner Theatre. Which was a bit more elaborate and actually put the all that “set design” to use!
HOTChristmas-17
HOTChristmas-15_edited-1
HOTChristmas-18
Camp Feud, Wheel of Camp, and “Are you smarter than a Camper?” Such a fun night!
Today was a bit of recovery and bookkeeping and tomorrow we start with the un-decorating. Oh, well, it had to end sometime. So many twinkle lights – so little time!

Gary? What’s Gary been doing? Well, he’s had a punch list of things to do, most of which are electrical in nature. Which means he’s pretty much had his head in the ceiling since we got here!
IMG_6204
Like I said – it’s been a good couple of weeks!
🙂

Sunshine

I was pretty certain, as we ran errands in town last evening, that the sun was on its way!
Untitled
So although we had to survive a pretty chilly overnight – we were blessed with a beautiful sunshiny morning!
Untitled
And after almost a week of rain and clouds – oh, my, did that sunshine feel good!

IMG_6146

Heart of Texas Camp is located right on Brownwood Lake, and with all of the recent rain it is considered 100% full. In fact, I think the folks here would consider it to be a bit over 100% full.
IMG_6157
I’m pretty sure that picnic table wasn’t built as a swim-up-to-table.
With all the water in the lake, we were encouraged to check out the spillway, located just a mile or so up the road.
IMG_6153
And while I have no reference as to what it looks like in the dry season, it sure seemed impressive to me!

So all in all, a good start to our project. The forecast is for sunny skies and temps in the low 60s. The folks here have been great and we’re enjoying our work. And – it’s less than a month till we head north to love on the whole family!
Ah, blue skies and sunshine – don’t you love it???
IMG_6147

From beginning to end….

From the beginning
New Life Ranch-1
to end
Untitled
our November SOWER project was excellent! Here are just a few of the reasons we loved this project. We’ll start with the practical.
They invited us to join them for meals whenever they were serving guests. Now you might think we loved that for the savings it represented (and believe me, we did appreciate that!). Or maybe it was the beautiful salad bar that helped me stay on track with the pre-holiday attempt to lose a couple of pounds (and you know – it did!). But what we really loved about eating in the dining hall was being able to sit with, and get to know, the staff. And even better than getting to know the staff, was getting to know their little ones. From 6 weeks up, there were surrogate grandkids everywhere. We never knew when a little one would join us for dinner or a hug or both! It was such a delight – and an honor – to get to know these dedicated families who have given their hearts to “To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to equip believers for ministry.” Plus it was pretty sweet giggling with the kiddos!

Then there was the property. From our parking area to the horse pastures to the hiking trails – this place really is “a valley set apart”.
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Oh – the Work! I confess there was no disappointment when we weren’t asked to clean cabins. Data entry of Guest Survey Cards (so fun to read the comments, and just so you know – Biscuits and Gravy was by far the favorite meal) and then sewing curtains in our very own yurt.
Untitled
Untitled
All of us ladies were pretty happy with our job assignments.
And the guys liked building their little gate house. They finally split up the team (5 guys on that little building got a bit crowded), but Gary largely stuck with the building.
Untitled
Untitled
(What is it about that guy and roofs?)
They got it as far as they could, and we’re pretty sure the New Life guys will be able to finish it up in no time.

Did I mention the Birthday Month? Since my b-day is in November, I pretty much claim any celebration as being done in my honor, and use any excuse I can to have a bit of cake and ice cream. I celebrated with our SOWER friends, talked and FaceTimed with all the kiddos and had several mushy birthday cards to open. It was a great day – and a pretty darn fun month!
Untitled
Yes, that bowl of fried ice cream is as big as my head, and I’m happy to report that four of us worked on cleaning the bowl!

Touristy stuff. NLR is tucked in the NE corner of Oklahoma. The closest town is Siloam Springs, AR and the Missouri border is not all that far away. I was amazed to discover all there was to see and do in the area. Everything from safari rides to historic villages to the very first Walmart store. We were pretty focused on getting the reno closer to completion, so we only took one day to be tourists. We headed over to Bentonville, AR (known as the birthplace of Walmart) but also home to a beautiful American Art Museum, Crystal Bridges. This was founded by Alice Walton and recently added a complete Frank Lloyd Wright house to its collection.
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
It’s pretty spectacular. And it’s free! What’s not to love!

On the renovation front there was my beloved desk project –
Untitled
and more recently, the addition of the long awaited (really, he’s been asking for a recliner for years!!!) recliner.
Untitled
We’re still fine tuning the furniture placement, but all in all, it’s working out just fine. Zzzzzzzzzzz

Then there were the people we worked with.
Untitled
Working SOWER projects is kind of like going to summer camp. Even if you don’t know anyone else when you arrived, when it comes time to leave it’s hard to say good-bye. Of the four couples we worked with we had worked with two before, had met one at a rally and one we had never met. By the end we were almost family. We worked together, often ate together, and played together. We’ve shared our sorrows and our triumphs. And we parted knowing we’ve found new prayer partners. Friday morning we all scattered in different directions – Texas, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. We’re gonna miss these good folks! Although we’ve parted ways, we’re still joined in the heart!

Yes, from the beginning to the end – that was one fine project. Seeing God at work in camps and schools and group homes and rescue missions across this country – and maybe being a small part of that work – is absolutely the best part of being a SOWER! Joining together with other folks to share in that blessing (and maybe even see a bit of this beautiful country) is just icing on the (birthday) cake!

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble on about New Life Ranch and our time here. If you just came by to find out about the bungee cords – well, the answer is 7. Unless you count the 3 factory installed straps that hold back the pocket doors and then the number is 10. 🙂

Psssst – there are more pictures of our time at New Life Ranch HERE if you’re interested!

Moving – and other updates!

We moved today.
Untitled
It wasn’t far, but still and all- the slides have to come in, the breakables need to be bungied down, and things that roll have to be secured. Okay, let’s be real – when you’re only moving from one end of the camp to the other, lots of things just get piled on the bed!
Untitled
We did have to wait for the horses to cross.
Untitled
It was a beautiful day for a trail ride, by the way!
But we made it safely and are now settled in our new neighborhood!
Untitled
And we are loving some of the neighbors –
Untitled
Hey, pretty girl – look this way for the camera!!!!
In other news, we had a great first week.
After a couple of days of data entry (inputting guest surveys), we ladies moved to this building.
Untitled
This is a Yurt. These buildings are usually filled with bunk beds for sleeping or chairs for meeting, but in our case, it was filled with machines for sewing!
Untitled
Every window in the camp is being fitted with the same basic curtain. And we are on the team that is making that happen!
Untitled
So fun! (Plus, I can go over in the afternoon and work on some personal (as in CHRISTMAS) sewing! Yippee!!)
All good, all good!
The guys meanwhile are making great progress on that gatehouse. From slab to under roof in just 4 short days.
New Life Ranch-6
Untitled
Untitled
And that was with a rainy day thrown in. Needless to say, with all the ladder work, my guy was pretty happy for the 4 day work week. And a jumbo bottle of ibuprofen!

There was a group from YWAM (Youth with a Mission) here this week so we not only got to enjoy meals in the dining hall, but we also got to interact with some of those great young people! Here are some of our SOWER hands playing a goofy table game with lots of other young hands.
Untitled
The more mature at the table did not win.
But we also had a game night and a really fun and delicious evening out at a local Amish(-ish) restaurant, The Wooden Spoon. They only serve an evening meal one night a week, and folks were lined up well before the doors opened. By the time we were done, we understood the draw.
Untitled
Untitled
Oh yeah, baby. Now that was a dinner! (Not to mention that salted caramel 6 layer cake that Gary & I split. Oh My.)

Today, while we were packing up and moving, the rest of the gang did a bit of sightseeing. Safaris, historic villages – there’s quite a bit to see and do in this little corner of Oklahoma. Actually, I think most of the sightseeing was in Arkansas, but who’s judging. Hopefully next weekend, with the interior renovation almost complete, we’ll be able to take in some sights ourselves.
One last picture before I say goodnight –
Untitled
Isn’t it pretty here?

Thanks for stopping by!
Steph