Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog Update for 9/27 - 11/2

Well,  last time I updated the blog I was saying that fall had come, and now I am saying that fall has gone.  We had snow all day this past Saturday but not a lot of accumulation like some parts of the state.  It was very pretty to see all the trees and ground white again, but I am afraid we will be seeing that more than we think this winter.

We have about 2 more weeks of retreats that will cap off our busy fall season which has been non-stop for the last ten weeks.  We have hosted groups of church Sunday school classes, church ladies retreats, church  couples retreats, a hunting camp reunion, quilting retreats, scrap-booking retreats, and even a ladies Red-Hatters Dinner.  Although the majority of our groups are church related, we do have the opportunity to serve groups that probably are majority non-believers as our schedule allows.  It's a good opportunity to show Christ's love and to explain what our ministry is all about.  Pray for continued renewing and refreshing of Christians and also opened eyes for those who don't know Jesus.  The Lord has given strength and endurance for us, as we have been very busy with our hosting responsibilities.

In between time with the groups, we have tried to enjoy some really nice weather and also some activities with our neighbors.

 We praise the Lord for our neighbors who are mostly professing believers who have really made an effort to include us in their community.  This year has been one of the best apple seasons for this area in probably 20 years.  We got to help the neighbors right across from us pick apples out of their orchard for eating, sauce, and cider.

  They gave us as much as we wanted, and we got to see how they make their cider, just as they have done for the last 100 years.

  We love learning about the farming way of life in this area and experiencing a simple lifestyle that emphasizes family and friends.  People are very generous and have a spirit of servanthood towards one another.  We try to encourage them as much as possible and continue to look for new relationships to foster in our community.

We enjoyed having Kathryn's parents and grandparents spend about 5 days with us last month.  They got to spend a lot of time with the children, and we had a couple of nice days to show them around the area and just enjoying being together. 

Kathryn had planned to sing for a Child Evangelism Fellowship banquet last month and had worked together about a 30 minute concert, but she developed a cold and sore throat the week of the banquet.  She reluctantly had to cancel, but we continue to pray for opportunities for her to use her music and singing gifts for the Lord.  She is helping the children at church with a hand bells group that will be playing and singing this coming Saturday for a Veterans Appreciation Breakfast our church is hosting in the community.  Pray that all goes well for that outreach.  

Three Springs Farm is finishing up their field-trip season, in which they hosted elementary and middle school groups of all sizes for a day of fun fall activities.  They got to play games and do crafts, observe and catch chickens, watch horse demonstrations, walk our corn maze, eat lunch,  take a tractor-pulled wagon ride and take a pumpkin home with them.  We had groups about every day during the week through the month of October.  We pray that the experience they have with us will be very positive and that it will translate into many of them coming back for our camps in the summer where they will the Good News.

Kathryn and I are both participating in a mentoring program with our True North Interns, in which we spend a few hours together one afternoon  a week with our assigned interns.  Pray for us as we try to encourage them and  keep them accountable in their walk with the Lord and their growth  here. Kathryn's intern is a young girl named Katie who is from southeast PA, and my intern is Wade, who is a young Navajo Indian from Arizona.

All the children are doing well.  Audrey and Duncan continue to do homeschooling with Kathryn.  Their favorite part of the day is their Bible lesson, which they are soaking up.  We pray for their salvation and growth in the Lord.  Clay is really starting to talk a lot more here lately and is quite a handful.  They all get along really well and enjoy playing together.

Thank you all for your prayers, and thank you also to those who help us financially.  The Lord is faithful through the giving of His people to allow us to serve Him here full-time.  We think of you all often and love to hear how you are doing. 

For His Glory, The Rickert Family

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blog Update for 8/24 - 9/26

Fall is here in North Central PA.  The leaves are changing color rapidly,  pumpkins are being harvested,   the temperatures are getting cooler and the sound of geese migrating south fill the air.  Such a beautiful place to observe the changing of the seasons and to marvel at God's greatness through His creation.  We are so blessed to be able to serve God here with Three Springs Ministries.

The past month has really been a month of transition and preparation as we usher in our busy fall-retreat season, both here at Linck Hill Inn and also at Three Springs Farm.  One of the things we do in preparation for fall and winter is to refill all the coal bins, since we will be firing up the coal furnaces once again.  I took our dump truck for a load of coal a few weeks back and helped Nate as we stuffed the bins full.

 Fall cleaning and decorating here at the inn has been in full swing.   I've never washed so many windows or wiped down so much woodwork in my life.  All are necessary chores to keep the inn looking nice for all the guests coming through in the next couple of months.  Kathryn spent a day changing out all the summer decorations for fall ones.  Mums and fall wreaths now greet our guests as they arrive for a stay at Linck Hill Inn.  Fall has always been my favorite time of the year!

One weekend this past month, we were able to participate in our neighboring town of Morris's Old Farm Days celebration.  They do this every year, with lots of food and activities throughout the weekend, one of which is a tractor pull.  We had never seen this before!  It's simple fun, competing to see whose tractor could pull the heaviest weight on a big sled.

 Also on Sunday, they hold a community worship service there at the Fire Hall.  Our church participates in this, with other local churches, as they take turns sharing in preaching and music responsibilities each year.  Our church led the music this year and Kathryn was able to sing special music.  It was a good oppurtunity to meet some new folks and to share and fellowship together with other believers as well as share the gospel with some who were there only for the festival.

Kathryn also prepared and sang special music for our church the following week.  She just started yesterday teaching and leading the sunday school children in handbells which she said could be a challenge.  She is also now preparing to sing a half hour concert for our county's Child Evangelism Fellowship banquet next month, and to play her flute in a Christmas concert with area musicians held in Williamsport.  We are thankful for the oppurtunities to share the gifts and  talents the Lord has given her for His glory.

The last two weekends we have had a full house at the inn with the start of our fall retreat schedule.  Last weekend we had a senior Sunday School class from a Baptist church in Lansdale, PA.  We had 52 guests for meals, which really streched our capacity for dining and in the kitchen.  That was a good weekend to start with because all the other retreats are smaller and won't seem quite as hectic.  We had a group this weekend of about 30 couples who are all part of a hunting camp nearby, who have been hunting together for 50 years or more.  Most members of the group were in their 70's and 80's.  They were mostly believers, and they really enjoyed just being together rocking on the porch,  playing board or card games, and reminiscing about deer hunting in years gone by.  My kind of people!  Pray for us as we continue our busy fall season.  Next week we have a women's retreat for about 30 as well. 
     The Lord has answered our prayers for a new cook for here at the inn.  Amy, a young single girl, is arriving today from Colorado to start this very important full-time position.  Pray for her transition here, being far from home and right in the heart of a busy season.

The kids continue to plug away with their homeschooling, and enjoy the Bible lessons the most, which we are thankful for.  We continue to pray for each of our children's salvation at an early age.  
We have enjoyed these fall afternoons lately and being able to hunt and fish right across the road on our neighbor's property.  The kids enjoy catching a few fish and helping Daddy and Mama keep count of the doves that we shoot.   We even spotted a Bald Eagle perched on top of one our trees beside the inn!   Good fun and good memories!

We are so thankful for each of you and your support and prayers.  We think of all of you often, our family and friends,  as we serve Christ here.  Pray for God's continued stength and grace for us, as well as spiritual growth in our lives. 

Love from The Rickerts!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blog Update for 7/29 - 8/24

It's amazing how quickly a month goes by sometimes isn't it?  I knew it had been awhile since I had blogged but did'nt realize it had been that long.  I will just try to hit some of the high spots from the past month to keep this from being too long.

The month of August has just about finished, and with it our summer camp scheldule as well.  We had our middle school age camp Breakaway the first week in August which went very well.  I found myself very involved with many of the daily activities such as lifeguarding each day,  interacting in camp games and helping with programming needs for the camp staff.  Probably the high light for me that week was joining the campers and staff one afternoon and evening in local area State Forest lands at a beautiful vista overlooking the Pennslyvania Grand Canyon.  The campers hiked, played games, ate supper that we had grilled out for them, and concluded the evening around the campfire singing and sharing together.  It was really good to hear how the Lord was working in their lives and through that week at camp.  There were 13 professions of faith after the week had ended.  Praise the Lord!  It makes all the behind the scenes work worth it when we see evidence of God's Spirit working.

The following week we hosted a church camp at the Three Springs Farm property as well as hosting one of our own horse camps.  I continued to lifeguard and also do some support work for the horse group such as setting up and taking down camp sites for the group.  We would go ahead of the group to a designated campsite area and leave a support trailer with food and water and also set up pasture fencing for the horses to graze and pasture on overnight.

That weekend we did host a family reunion at the Inn.  We had a full house and everyone that came had a great time.  There were family there from as far as Alaska, Washington St., and Canada.  It's interesting hearing about life in some of these distant places.  One of the men there had brought his ski boat and wanted me to go with him to one of the area lakes to water ski and wakeboard with him.  As a host I felt obligated to do whatever I could to serve my guest so we enjoyed a few hours on the water!

Kathryn and I have really made efforts to be involved in our community and our neighbors lives.  We had about 20 of our closest neighbors over for supper this past week at our house.  We served them a good southern meal of chicken bog,  baked beans, corn casserole, sweet tea, and some homemade pies for dessert.  Everything was wonderful and everyone had a good time together.  All of these neighbors attend the Nauvoo Methodist Church which is right here by our house.  Kathryn had been invited to sing at the church as part of a  neighbors benefit concert for a mission trip she was taking.  They enjoyed Kathryn's singing so much they invited her to come to church this past week to sing in their choir and also to play her flute as part of the service.  One of the neighbors sons is a piano performance major in college and is very talented and Kathryn has enjoyed working with him with different music pieces.  She will probably continue to utilize him and the open invitation for her to sing whenever he may be home from school.  We thank the Lord for Kathryn being able to use her musical gifts and also continued doors of oppurtunity for witness in our community.

We are currently reaping the harvest of all the things planted in the camp garden.  We have been putting up sweet corn and green beans as well as enjoying fresh brocoli, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  The kids enjoy helping pick the corn as well as husking and feeding the cows next to the house the corn husks. 

The campers and staff have been enjoying the Frisbee Golf Baskets that I finished putting together late in July.  It was a long project to complete but was very satisfiying seeing the young people use and enjoy them. 

The weather has been really nice here the last few weeks with the temperatures in the mid 70's and 50's at night.  We can even start to see a tint of color on the trees as we look at the view of the mountains.  The Lord's glory speaks loud and clear through His beautiful creation all around us.  Audrey and Duncan and I even enjoyed a night of camping away from home this past weekend .  We enjoyed hiking, walking in the creek, roasting marshmellows, and sleeping in the tent.  I did see a purkupine in the middle of the night walking very close to our tent, but we survived.

We just had a summer ending staff meeting reflecting over the summer and the Lord's goodness to us.  There were approximately 60 professions of faith made in Jesus Christ this summer and many more who were challenged in their walk with the Lord.  Pray for these young souls in their continued growth and fellowship during the year.  We are just on the brink of starting a very busy retreat scheldule during the fall for us here at the Inn.  We will have groups here every week on into November.  We do have a lady that has volunteered to help do the cooking until we find a permanent replacement which we are thankful for.  Pray for all the preparations and details that go into providing these groups a refreshing  retreat experience, and that the Lord will use their stay here to encourage them in the Lord.

We also are starting as new year with our True North Internship program which we will be kicking off this coming weekend.  We have 9 new interns here for the next nine months that will be studying God's Word, experiencing cross cultural mission oppurtunities, and helping serve the Lord at Three Springs Ministries.  Pray for these high school graduates to have a life changing experience during their stay here.

Kathryn and the kids are doing well.  Kathryn has been home schooling Audrey and Duncan for the last couple of weeks and are getting a great start with that.  The kids love the Bible lesson time the best and we pray the Lord will use this in drawing them to himself.  Clay continues to get himself into everything he should'nt and we are working hard with him right now to train him in discipline and obedience.  For such a cute little guy, he can sure be mischevious.  We are very thankful for all our children!

Well, there's hay to cut and grass to mow, so that is going to be all for now.  Thanks for your continued prayers and support.  Drop us an e-mail at http://www.ickert/

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blog Update for 7/9 - 7/28

We made it back from Conway, S.C., and are now once again in the midst of a busy camp season here at Three Springs Ministries. 

Our time in Conway was very busy with lots of family to see and time to reconnect with friends from church and elsewhere.  The kids enjoyed playing with all their relatives.  They even spent an afternoon riding rides at the beach with grandparents and cousins, and a day at the beach playing in the sand and waves.  Kathryn and I were able to spend two much-needed days at the beach by ourselves.  We don't have that opportunity much, now that we live so far from all our baby sitters, but it was very refreshing having that time together.  After church services Sunday afternoon the 17th, we headed home, finally rolling in a little after midnight.  We thank the Lord for a chance to get away, but it was good to be back at our own home again.

After a day of unpacking and getting settled, it was time to get busy again.  Our senior high school camp, "Progress," was just starting down the road at Three Springs.  This is the week that my Dad and Mom helped direct back when the camp was just getting started in the mid-eighties.  This was the connection for me, having tagged along with them to camp for a week out of the summer for many years growing up.  This year I was able to interact with the campers a good bit, as I joined them in different activities such as playing Capture the Flag, life guarding at the pool, going to a swimming hole in a creek, doing community service work for local neighbors, and sitting in some of their teaching sessions.  God seemed to reveal to these teens some real truths from His Word and also from some first hand experience serving others throughout the week.  

We did host a family reunion at the Inn last weekend, which went very well.  This family has come for the past three years.  They had a very International flavor to their family as many of the families had adopted special needs children from several different countries.  It was good for our kids to interact with them and to see past the disabilities and enjoy them as God had created them.  We all had a great time with them.  

Our neighbors invited us to come and pick blueberries one afternoon, which was a good time to interact and invest in the relationships we have with our neighbors.  We also stopped in to visit a widow lady who lives very close by who had just turned 90.  She enjoyed seeing our kids and appreciated our visit.  We continue to have a burden to invest in and be a part of  the community we live in.

This week we have a church camp at Three Springs that we are hosting and also a girls horse camp going on.  Kathryn's cousin Emily Duncan came up from Conway to be a part of the horse week, as well as to stay with us for a few days afterwards.  I had the opportunity to help set up and take down two of their camp sites from the last two days, as they are riding and camping off site from Three Springs.  We set up a temporary corral for the horses to pasture and also leave an enclosed trailer or "chuck wagon" with their food, water, and other supplies they may need.  They are riding in some really remote but beautiful areas in these Pennsylvania mountains as they experience and reflect on the Lord through His creation.

Another first for me this week was being a part of the chicken harvest.  That's a nice way to say we had 133 meat chickens that we had raised at Three Springs, get out of the coup and into the freezer. We met at 4:15 a.m. one morning while it was still dark and the chickens were still docile, to crate them and send them off to be killed and cleaned.  We then took the birds and cut them up to be packed and frozen, so they can be used for consumption at camps and retreats.  Quite a process that I had never seen before.  I was surprised that Kathryn was disappointed she couldn't see how they were killed and cleaned.  Go figure!

Continue praying as the Lord may be providing someone to help with the cooking position here, at least temporarily through the busy fall season.  Pray for the remaining weeks of camp through August, as the Lord works in kids hearts and lives.  A busy fall retreat schedule awaits us at the Inn.  Pray that we can serve those who come here to get away and draw closer to the Lord.  Pray for Kathryn and the kids as they will be starting homeschooling for Audrey and Duncan soon.  Our ministry here is very diverse, but we really enjoy all the ways God is allowing us to be a part of serving others. Thanks for all your prayers and support.
God bless,
The Rickerts