Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekly Update for 4/19 -4/26

We hope everyone had a great Easter remembering our Savior's resurrection! 

Looking back over the last week since last Tuesday, I will try to give you an overview.  After a winter's worth of snowplowing on our gravel driveway and parking lot here at the Linck Hill Inn, it leaves quite a bit of gravel in the lawn and grass.  On Tuesday I spent a good bit of the day raking and shovelling up gravel around the property to get ready for grass cutting, which should start in the next week or so finally!

Clay never did get over this last cold very well, so on Wednesday morning Kathryn took him to the doctor.  He had infection in both ears, which he is taking antibiotics for now.  Pray that he will grow out of these ear infections soon.  When Kathryn returned, I headed down to Three Springs to work on a few projects.  There was still pruning to be done on the apple trees there, and I also assisted Nate with putting up some hay racks for the horses in their loafing area behind the barn.  The horses, in their boredom or for whatever reason, chew through the wood of these hay racks until they break apart.  These newly constructed racks are wrapped in wire fencing to prevent this from happening again. 

 We've had such a long and wet winter that the horses haven't been able to get in the pastures yet, due to the wet ground, but we could be in severe drought like other parts of the country, so we won't complain.

Thursday morning I helped Nate load up a load of hay that he was delivering for a local dairy farmer down state near Lancaster.  Nate is from that area and was heading home for Easter anyway and also had some hay equipment to bring back on the trip home.  This delivery would help at least with the cost of fuel for the trip.  The farm that we loaded hay from was so beautiful!

  Later that morning I finished up the apple tree pruning and would meet Steve Ochinno that afternoon to take a group on our nature trail.  This was a Brownie Girl Scout group from Mansfield about 30 miles from here.  We loaded up about 20 or so little girls and some parents in the hay wagon, and for about two hours had a great hike and many learning opportunities about different things that we came upon in the woods.  It was a lot of fun and everyone had a great time, even Bernie, the camp dog! 

We had no groups scheduled this past weekend because of Easter.  We had the day off on Friday, and a lot of our staff went home for the weekend.  We stayed home most of the time Friday and Saturday just doing house work and still unpacking a few things left from the move.  It was a little hard this Easter being away from our families, but Kathryn was scheduled to sing and also play her flute at church Sunday.  Her voice had improved enough from her cold the previous week that she was able to sing.  She did a great job singing one of Keith and Kristen Getty's songs called "See What A Morning".  Many people commented on what a blessing her music was which she quickly gave God the glory for.  It was a good day remembering the Lord and there was hardly an empty seat in the church .  We had been invited over to Jeff and Deanne Rush's house for Easter dinner with two other families who were not with their own families.  Duncan and Audrey really enjoy playing at Ms. Deanne's house.  In fact when Duncan was told that we had been invited, he said "That's one place I like to go, tell Ms. Deanne she thinked up a good idea!"

We have still been having some wet and cold weather lately.  I forgot to tell you that we even had snow on Friday for a while although it did not amount to anything.  Monday we had a little break with the sun coming out for a while.  I took the opportunity to weed and clean out most of the flower beds around the Inn as well as trimming a few bushes.  The kids love to be outside "helping" when I'm here working, which is nice having them around.  We came across our first snake in the yard and although it wasn't poisonous, we weren't sure at the time and took no chances.

Please pray for me as I leave Tuesday afternoon on a bus trip out to Kansas City, Missouri.  I will be helping Nate drive as we will travel straight through the night and be arriving Wednesday afternoon.  We are taking kids from the Word of Life ministry in New York for a Bible Quiz competition, and then coming back Sunday evening.  Please pray for Kathryn also, as she will have all the responsibilities with the kids while I'm gone.  Pray for extra strength, patience, and for the kids to do well while I'm gone.  I've got to finish up some last minute packing before I leave, so until next week, "so long" from the Rickerts!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weekly Update for 4/12 - 4/19

Greetings to everyone as we celebrate this special time of the year when we remember our Savior's death and resurrection.  It's great to have the hope and assurance of salvation as we await the return of our risen Lord Jesus Christ!

I hope that you all are not tired of hearing from the Rickert family by now.  We have been sharing with you a lot of the day by day things that go on here, which some of you may not need to know or care to know.  Our goal and purpose of our blog however is not to bore you, but to give you an accurate description of what our lives are like here so that you can actively be involved in our ministry through your prayers and correspondence.  We value our family and friends that we have left behind and still desire to be a part of your lives.  Our weekly blog is our practical effort to do this!

Having said that, I will try to give you a summary of our week.  After our post last Tuesday, we had been invited over to dinner with Clint and Lauren Owlett.  This is a couple that had been on staff for about 8 years with Three Springs, but had just resigned right before we came on board.  Clint and Lauren and their two children still live in this area and go to our church.  We had a good time of fellowship with them, and the kids especially had fun playing with their oldest son who is just a little younger than Duncan.  We could not have known, however, that their kids would wake up the next day with coughs and runny noses.  Yes, now all of our kids and Kathryn have had a go around with that same bug.  Pray for Clay, who is once again showing signs of a possible ear infection that we will have to monitor. 

On Wednesday, Steve Ochinno and went I down to Three Springs' wilderness cabin, which is tucked away in the woods down in a nearby valley by a stream.  It is a primitive cabin that is used by the camp and other groups for quiet getaway and ministry.  It has no electricity or indoor plumbing, but does have gas lights and a really nice outhouse.  It sleeps about 12.  We had a group of 10 young boys from the Philadelphia city area and their leaders, who were coming to use our cabin for a few days while they did some hiking and climbing  in the area.  Steve and I took some drinking water down to the cabin for them, and also started the wood stove to heat up the cabin some before they arrived.  Yes, we still need our heat as it was about 32 degrees this morning as we got up.

  After we left the cabin, we hiked our nature trail that is in that same valley as the wilderness cabin.  

No one hikes the nature trail during the winter months, but now that the snow has melted we will start taking some groups here soon on this particular trail . We were surveying the trail for any debris, limbs or trees that needed to be cleared away before anyone hikes it.  Since I have not been on this trail yet, it was good for me to get familiar with it as I will most likely be leading different groups on this hike.  These woods are a lot different from the low country forests that I am used to in South Carolina, but I always enjoy being in the woods no matter where I am, and am thankful to be able to have that as a part of what I do here.

Thursday morning was a nice morning compared to some of the rainy and dreary days we had in the beginning of the week.  That afternoon, a group would arrive at the Inn for the weekend, so I had a small window in which to do some outside work in the yard.  I blew out all the landscaping beds that were still covered in leaves, and got our mower from Three Springs and ran over the entire yard.  Although the grass really didn't need mowing, I still mulched up all the leaves and gave the yard a fresh cut look.  I couldn't resist as I've been waiting for a month at least to get on the mower.  The grass is really green though and starting to grow finally. 

Our group this weekend was from an organization that many may have heard of before called Moms In Touch, International.  They are a group that is nationwide, consisting of mothers of school-aged children.  Their burden and desire is to pray for our schools and the students and teachers in them. They have a website which is www.momsintouch.org if you would like to learn more about the ministry.  Our group of moms were leaders or coordinators in different counties from all around the state of Pennsylvania.  This was their second year here with us, and they really had a great time.  We even found time to build a campfire for them, so they could make smores. 

I also put up a volleyball net for use during their free time.

Since most of the family was not feeling well, I did all the hosting this weekend, except for Kathryn setting the dining room up for dinners.  I don't do well picking out the right tablecloths and the correct color napkins that go with them, so Kathryn always takes care of that.  Everything went well for the ladies.  We pray they went back to there homes encouraged, refreshed, and equipped to continue in the work of intercessory prayer.

Kathryn had planned to sing this Sunday morning with a group of four other ladies that she had been rehearsing with, but because of her cold, she wasn't able to sing.  She did help them rearrange the parts somewhat so that the rest of the group could still do it.  They all were glad to have the oppurtunity to sing and the congregation really enjoyed the special music, which they have'nt had very much of in the past.  Lord willing, Kathryn will be singing next Sunday morning on Easter.  Pray for her voice to be well by then and for the message of the song that she has prepared.  She really tries hard to pick out music that compliments the message or passage that is being taught and preached from that Sunday.  Sunday night we attended a meeting about a ministry in Uganda called Finding The Way.  Its website is www.findingthewayafrica.org.  It was good to be reminded of the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in Uganda, but it also reminded us of the needs of those right here in America. 

All day Saturday and Sunday, we had really bad winds and rain.  I don't know if it was any of that awful system that caused all those storms down south or not, but it did cause a lot of limbs and debris to come down here.  Audrey and Duncan helped me on Monday picking up limbs and raking up debris.  It took me most of the day to finish in the yard.  I did help load up another load of hay first thing this morning that was headed to the auction.  We have another couple of loads to sell as we make room in our barns for this year's hay that will be harvested this summer.  That will  have to wait for a future blog down the road though.

We have this weekend off from hosting any groups because of Easter, so we have discussed going up to New York to see Niagra Falls.  We'll see how everyone is feeling and how the weather is. There has been alot of rain in the forecast recently and for the next little while coming up. 

Keep us in your prayers and have a great Easter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekly Update for 4/5 - 4/12

NO SNOW! This may be the first week we haven't seen any snow since we've been here! It was actually in the 70's yesterday for the first time.  The grass and the fields are really getting green. Flower bulbs are pushing up, and it won't be long before everything is transformed and made new.  This season is truly a testimony to God's faithfullness, demonstrating the new life He brings, not only in the springtime on this earth, but also in our lives through the finished work of Jesus and His death and ressurection.

We've had a good week as I think back to review our activities.  Last Tuesday afternoon we were in the need of some more milk, so we decided to go across the road and visit our neighbors who own the dairy farm.  We've decided to give fresh farm milk a try, since it's more conveinent, cheaper, and also has good, natural enzymes in it.  We all arrived just as the Heylers were about to begin their afternoon milking.  They have about 50 cows that they milk, and we got to observe the process as they went through their routine.  It was very fun and educational, especially for the kids who have never seen where their milk comes from, . . . in addition to other natural cow functions!  Needless to say, after about 45 minutes visiting in the cow barn, we all smelled like the cow barn as well.  We did get our milk and also picked up some maple syrup that we had on order. It was a fun time at the dairy farm!

Wednesday morning comes early as I go to a young men's Bible study and breakfast at 5:30 at the home of one of the other staff members.  Later that morning after our weekly staff meeting, I helped Nate fill up the coal bin in the basement of the mansion here at Three Springs.  Thankfully, we had a conveyer belt to help shuttle in the dump truck load of coal that should last well into next winter.  Coal is a very effiecient, and cheaper way to heat in these cold parts of the country, but it is also very dirty to have to work with.  Afterwards I cleaned out the coach bus from our trip the previous weekend.  This is just some of the everyday maintenance and upkeep that goes into running a camp ministry. 

On Wednesday and Thursday I was involved doing other maintenace duties in the camp shop as I helped Nate refit our two new mobile chicken houses with some more heavy-duty axles and tires than we oringinally had on them. 

I'm not naturally mechanical, nor did I grow up learning mechanical things (as most of you know my father), but I do enjoy this kind of work and am learning a lot as I am involved with many different aspects of hands-on, behind-the-scenes work that takes place in our ministry.

Our 8 interns as well as Jeff Rush, our executive director, and Phil Dunbar, our intern director, drove out to Arizona on Thursday.  They are spending about a week out on the Navajo reservation working with some people who minister to the Navajo people there.  Part of our intern program here involves exposing the students to different ministry opportunities in various cultural settings.  They get to go to Indonesia for three weeks for a cross-cultural experience, and also make trips to Philadelphia to experience an inner-city environment, as well as a trip out west to Arizona.  Pray for our interns as their year with us will be concluding in about three weeks.  Many of them are still praying about where and how God will use them after they leave.  A couple are staying on throughout the summer to help in various ways.  Our next group of interns will come at the end of the summer, and we are looking to expand the program to 12 students.  If you know of any high school graduate who may be interested in the True North program, please direct them to the Three Springs Ministries website http://www.threespringsministries.org/

Since our interns have been gone, we all have pitched in to cover some of the chores and responsibilities that they normally have.  I helped feed the horses one day and cleaned up around the barn area.  Others help tend coal furnaces or wood stoves, or help with kitchen duties.  We all wear many different hats as we serve here.

Our group this past weekend was a couples group from a Mennonite church in Elizabethtown, Pa , near Harrisburg.  Their were only 10 couples here from Thursday afternoon untill Sunday afternoon.  It seemed a lot easier, compared to the group of 50 ladies that were here last weekend.  This couples' retreat was simply a relaxing get-away, with no scheduled activities other than mealtimes. 

Kathryn did a good bit of the hosting this weekend during mealtimes, while I watched the kids.
It's nice to be able to take turns, and share our ministry responsibilities.

We did all get out for church Sunday morning, but had to leave a little early to get back to prepare lunch.  The group seemed to have a really good time and headed home right after their lunch on Sunday. 

Sunday afternoon, we got a call from one of the Heyler bothers from the farm across the road, inviting our family over for cake and ice cream to help celebrate their daughter's birthday.  (She was turning 24.)  We were glad for the occasion to come over and spend some time with their family.  This is something that we have prayed about - to be involved with our neighbors and the community here where we live.

That evening, Audrey was participating in a church Sunday school program at Oregan HIll Grace Chapel.  Her class was singing with the older children in a musical called "Everyday Heroes", depicting different Bible character's lives.  She really enjoys singing and performing!

Kathryn went into Williamsport yesterday on our day off, to do all the grocery shopping as well as a few other errands.  The kids and I enjoyed playing outside in the warm weather and just being out of the house. 

Thanks for your continued prayers for us and the work going on here.  If any one would like to come up and visit or vacation, we would love to see you and set you up here at Linck Hill Inn.  It's a beautiful place that would make a great getaway trip. Think about it!          

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekly Update for 3/28 - 4/5

Well, it's Tuesday April 5, and I am watching the most beautiful snow falling!   Huge flakes coming down in bunches are turning the ground white again after it had just started greening up a bit.  It won't last long, but just the fact that it is snowing in April kinda blows my mind!  We have had a very busy weekend and are now taking a couple of days at the beginning of this week to catch up on some other things and just to have some time for family.

Last Monday after our weekend, Kathryn headed into Wellsboro for our grocery shopping and I stayed home with the kids.  Kathryn also had a voice lesson with one of the young lady interns later that morning and a Ladies Fellowship Night that evening with the ladies from the church.  I think she was as tired from being out and on the go as she is when she stays home with kids.  I know I was!

On Tuesday, Nate and I drove a load of hay back down to the auction in Middleburg.  We had a good trip and also got a good price for our hay.  A conservative Mennonite dairy farmer purchased our hay.  It was interesting to learn that, although he lived and farmed a lot like the Amish, he was permitted to use tractors.  The only stipulation was that the tractor had to have steel studded wheels, which would discourage using the tractor as transportation on the roads, thereby deterring any interaction with the"world".  These Mennonites were allowed, however to ride in a car with a neighbor, such as to the auction, but not to own one themselves.  

Wednesday found us preparing in a lot of different ways for our weekend group at LHI.  The young lady who does most of the housekeeping for the inn had gotten sick and was not available to finish the turnaround from last weekend.  We borrowed 5 of the interns that afternoon and finished making beds, vacuuming, dusting and setting up extra dining tables and chairs.  This group of 50 would be our biggest group so far and also be the most that we can accommodate in our facility.          

On Thursday afternoon, about 20 of the ladies from the church near Philadelphia arrived with the remainder of the group coming in the next day.  This was their third year with us.  They were very organized and familiar with the facility.  The big difference with this group was just the extra work that it took in the kitchen and around meal times. Cleaning up and setting up for 50 verses 20-25 is quite different, and also keeping the coffee bar stocked was challenging at times.  There were also the tasks of keeping enough toilet paper and hand towels for the restrooms, as well as collecting the trash.  There was one occasion after a session break, when everyone was using the restrooms, which caused the water in the entire building to shut off.  There is a safety control measure that turns off the water pump if there is a sudden loss of pressure such like there would be if a pipe burst, or if 50 women used the restroom at the same time! Needless to say, every lady I saw next was telling me their water was not working.  I had been warned about this possibility and I was quickly on the phone walking through the steps to manually override the shutoff and start the water pump again.  A separate occasion had me addressing a plumbing problem with one of the toilets.  Thankfully, we have those on staff that I can call if there are issues that I cannot take care of myself, which I took advantage of this time.  Another learning opportunity this weekend was running the sound board and the PowerPoint presentations for the music and the teaching sessions.  I have a new appreciation for all the computer and sound technicians out there now!

  Overall, everything went well for the most part and I believe the group really had a great time.  Sunday morning, the ladies all came to Oregon Hill Grace Chapel to fellowship with us and also provided special music with their ladies ensemble.  After coming back to the inn and picking up a bag lunch, they were on their way back home. 

Kathryn and I really have to tag team between our responsibilities at the inn and keeping the kids.  We are rarely both at the inn at the same time, unless it's with the whole family when we are greeting the groups as they arrive.  She will come over usually in the afternoons to set the tables for dinner as she picks different color schemes with tablecloths and napkins.  I gladly let Kathryn head up the decorating and flower arrangements, which Audrey also enjoys helping set out in each room.

Right after lunch on Sunday, as the ladies were leaving for home, I drove down to Three Springs to meet up with Nate once again.  There had been a youth group staying at Three Springs Farm that weekend from New York.  Nate had driven up with Three Springs' coach bus to pick up the group and bring them here for the weekend.  I  rode to NY with Nate to take the group home, and after dropping them off, I drove the bus back to get some driving experience for future trips.

 I have had experience driving a coach bus before, and I will be used from time to time to drive the bus here at Three Springs.  Nate and I most likely will be taking a NY group from a ministry called Word of Life, to Kansas City, Missouri right after Easter.  That will be about a five day round-trip, where we will take turns with the driving responsibilities.  The group on Sunday was from Grand Island, New York, just a few miles from Niagara Falls near the Buffalo area.  It was fun driving through parts of the country I've never been before, and I definitely plan to go back to Niagara Falls since it's only about a three and a half hour drive.  We got back Sunday evening around eight thirty, which then ended our busy weekend.

Continue to pray for us as we start to develop a routine with groups that are now coming about every week. Pray for opportunities as we have already had,  to tell others how and why we are serving the Lord here at Three Springs.  Also for us as we continue to get involved more at church and find ways to serve there.  The children are doing well right now, and Clay even slept through the whole night for the first time since I can remember.  Hope everyone is doing well, and thanks to those who keep us informed about what's going on in your lives too.