Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blog Update for 5/12 - 5/22

Well, it seems like it's been awhile since our last update.  Time goes by so quickly when you get busy and things are going on! 

When we last left you, my parents, Dave and Doris had just left to head back to Conway.  We had to quickly regroup and get ready for a group that was coming in for the weekend.  These days, that means trying to have all the grass and grounds cut and maintained at least by Thursday.  I've found that the grass here in Pennsylvania although about half the growing season as grass in South Carolina, grows about twice as fast.  If you don't get it cut at least once a week, you are getting behind.  I am usually busy with outside ground maintenance work at least a couple of days out of the week if you include work down at the other camp.  Anyway, our group last weekend was only here until Sat. afternoon.  It was a ladies' retreat from a local church in Mansfield, Pa, which is only about 30 minutes from us.  They had a good time, with about 21 ladies in attendance.  We had to have a quick turnaround with the cleaning and room clean-up because of different board members of Three Springs Ministries coming in for a board meeting.  Also coming in were families and parents of our 8 interns that were graduating on Sunday from the True North Internship program.  After a combined effort from multiple staff to get rooms ready,  we all went down to Three Springs for a ice cream social to meet and mingle with board members that were there, some of which our family hadn't had a chance to meet yet. 

Sunday afternoon everyone was invited to Three Springs for the intern graduation.  They had a nice ceremony and celebration of the past year with a recap of what they had learned and experienced.  Afterwards, everyone was invited to stay for a picnic supper with plenty of time to fellowship.  It is always a sad time each year, when the interns have to leave and move on to what the Lord is directed them to, but it is refreshing to see how the Lord has taught them and matured them throughout their stay at Three Springs.  

Kathryn's mom and younger sister Margaret, as well as her grandparents Bill and Julia Long came in on Monday, just in time to help celebrate Audrey's 5th birthday. 

 This was Margaret and Bill and Julia's first visit to see us, so we were very excited to have them for a few days.

 Unfortunately, the weekly weather forecast called for strong chances of rain everyday.  We did, however, find a few breaks in between showers to get outside and do some things.  We showed them around both properties, as well as taking them them on a short hike to see our wilderness cabin. 

The kids enjoyed spending time with everyone and just playing, reading books, and being silly. 

We did go out for supper Wednesday evening, but maybe the highlight for me was after we got back home.  We still had some daylight left and it happened to not be raining at the time.  I went and borrowed one of the four wheelers from camp and took turns taking Kathryn's grandparents and sister up the mountain across from us on our neighbors property.  Their view from the top of the hill is beautiful!  You can see for miles in about every direction.  I also rode them down to see the sugar shack, where the maple syrup is made.  Bill and Julia really seemed to enjoy riding around on the four wheeler, as it was the first time ever for each of them.  Grandmama even said that she wanted her picture on the four wheeler to make the blog, so this is for you 'Ma'! 

They all headed back towards South Carolina Friday morning.  We were glad for the chance to visit with them, but it is always hard to say goodbye. 
Missing our families and also our church family has been the biggest sacrifice of our obedience to come here to serve.  You don't realize how much you rely on the help and support that you get from family like we have, until you don't have them close by anymore.  However, God's grace is sufficient, and we know He will give the strength needed. 

I did manage to continue working throughout the week even though it was very wet and rainy.  I put on my rain gear and did some more pressure washing and also finished mulching the rest of the flower beds.  We even planted some flowers around the inn.

  I also have been training for my life guarding test, which will be coming up in a few weeks.  Luke, also on staff, and I have been going down to the YMCA in Williamsport to swim.  We've been four times so far and are getting closer to being in swim shape for the test, but we still need a few more times.  Our pool here at camp had the cover just taken off this week, but I would not even attempt to swim in it yet, as it is still very cold.  

Our group this weekend was from a church down in the Lancaster area or "downstate" as they say here.  We had about 14 couples from their Senior Ambassadors Sunday School class. 

 This was their first time here and they are planning to come back next year, so I think they had a good time.  Kathryn and I continue to tag team some of the meal times, so that we each can share some of the hosting responsibilities. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.  We thank God for you and your involvement with us as we serve the Lord here! 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blog Update for 5/3 - 5/11

The weeks just seem to be getting busier and busier as the days get longer and the weather gets better.  It has been so nice to have 5 beautiful days in a row with sun and warm temperatures.  The trees are budding out and the farmers are finally in their fields getting the soil ready for planting.  We've been waiting a long time for this.  God is good!

We've had a lot going on since last update.  I've been weeding all the landscaping beds in preparation for new mulch to go in at both properties.  It's always fun when you can really see the results of your work afterwards.  These beds really needed some attention.  The mulch arrived this past week, but only enough to cover about half of what we needed to do.  We'll have to get one more dump truck load to finish up.  (The camp has a small dump truck that we use for different jobs such as this.) 

 Last Wednesday, I took a day to get my driver's license changed over as well as registration and inspection.  The DMV office in Wellsboro is only open on Wednesday which makes it very busy and very slow.  Having to get title, registration, and inspections done all at different places took most of the morning and afternoon.  I also did a few errands for other staff members while I was in town.

On Thursday I took a day off, so that we could head down to Bucks County near Philadelphia, to see my grandparents.  Bill and Dorothy Rickert are both in their low to mid nineties and stay in an Assisted Living facility.  We are now only a little over 3 hours from where they live,  so we hope to be able to get to see them a little more often.  Mom and Dad were meeting us there to visit for the afternoon.  When we arrived, we ate lunch with my Aunt Jane, who lives only about 5 minutes away from my grandparentsAfter lunch we had a great visit with my grandparents.  We are so thankful for the Christian heritage of our families and especially for their faithful prayers for us throughout our lives.  The kids really enjoyed seeing their Great-Grandparents as well.

  We headed home that afternoon to prepare for my Mom and Dad coming up the next morning to stay over with us through Monday.

There was also a school group of about 70 fifth and sixth graders that were spending the day on Friday at Three Springs, doing all sorts of activities and games.  Exposure to the camp through school trips opens doors for the kids to come back during the summer to hear God's Word and the gospel.

It was a lot fun having Grams and Grandad here with us for a few days.  Mom's hip replacement surgeries went really well, and she is getting around great and is even back on the bike.  She and the kids rode their bikes often while they were here.  Since we had nothing booked with the Inn with it being Mother's Day weekend, we were able to spend most of our time playing outside with the kids or going down to Three Springs to enjoy the farm life there.

  We took a little hike to show Mom and Dad the Wilderness Cabin also.  It was great weather every day.  We even got to spend some time with our neighbors Ken and Sue Heyler.  We had gone over to introduce them to my parents and to let them see the dairy barn on Friday evening and on Saturday evening they came over to visit with us.  This was the first they had initiated a visit so we were very pleased that they felt comfortable to come over.  We had a nice visit with them.

  Mom and Dad got to come to church with us on Sunday, where they were able to see several folks they knew from their years of directing a week of camp here at Three Springs.  That is the connection after all, and how we knew about Three Springs and the work going on here.  

Monday brought a new week of work and continued good weather.  We began excavating a new lane at Three Springs Farm, which will connect the barn and our parking area, allowing our tractors to access the barn area without having to travel through the busy areas of camp.  This will be safer for everyone.  The top soil that we took away from the lane area will be used to create the terraces for our greenhouse.  I was helping drive one of two dump trucks that took the fill material from the lane and hauled it to our greenhouse site.

  I finished off the day cutting grass there at Three Springs with one of the other staff members.  There is plenty of grass to be cut now, and I am enjoying being back on the mower.  Mom and Dad left Monday after lunch to head back to Harrisburg to spend the night with my Mom's sister Marion and my Uncle Glenn.  They traveled back to Conway on Tuesday.  We are very thankful they were able to come for a visit.  Kathryn did a great job all weekend cooking for us, which I am very thankful for.  We did go out for dinner on Saturday night for our Mother's Day celebration.

We did have to host on Tuesday for a group of 18 ladies from a quilting guild from nearby Wellsboro.  Quilting is very popular here in the North, which I can understand with such long winters.   One of the ladies who heads up the quilting group was previously on staff here.  They made 13 quilts to donate to camp for different beds that were needing new bedding.  It was a blessing to have them do that for us and also very interesting to watch these ladies work.  They all brought their sewing machines with them and really had them singing all day.  They were very organized and very quick with their work.

On Wednesday I spent much of the day pressure-washing decks and gazebos here at LHI.  There are plenty of spring clean-up chores still to be done since we've had such a late start. 

All the kids are healthy right now, thank the Lord, and are really enjoying being able to play outside now.  We are all looking forward to Kathryn's mom and sister Margaret coming along with Kathryn's grandparent's Julia and Bill.  They will be with us next week, Lord willing, helping us celebrate Audrey's fifth birthday. Wow!  Where does the time go? 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weekly Update for 4/26 - 5/3

Hello from the Rickert family!  It is good to be all together again after a different looking week of ministry here for us.

If you read our blog last week, you will remember that I was just getting ready for a bus trip out to Missouri.  Nate, a staff co-worker here at Three Springs and I left around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon on our coach bus.  We had three groups to pick up in New York, who were all heading out to the National Bible Quiz Fellowship Competition in Kansas City.  We had a full bus load of young kids, with ages ranging from 12 to 18, and their coaches or leaders also. 

 Our group consisted of four different teams that were being sponsored by a ministry called Family Life Ministries from the New York area.  Nate and I would alternate four hour shifts of driving and sleeping for the 1,100 mile trip, which took us about 21 hours.  The trip there went well with no mishaps, and we arrived around 1:30 Wednesday afternoon.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn, where the quizzing was being held.  One neat thing was that our hotel was overlooking the Kansas City pro football and baseball stadiums of the Royals and Chiefs.  We could watch the fireworks after the Royals baseball games in the evening.

  There were 46 teams from all over the country that had qualified from their local levels.  I estimated that there were approximately 400 quizzers there and maybe the same number of parents and coaches.  They would quiz Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with the finals ending Saturday night.

  Our teams did fairly well, with the top team placing 12th.  One of our girls placed 2nd in the individual average score out of all the quizzers.  Nate and I enjoyed following our groups around and supporting them as we watched.  The thing that really impressed me was the dedication to learning God's Word that most of the kids had.  They quizzed on the book of John, and there were many who had memorized the whole book.  They knew that book left and right and any other way you wanted to come at it.  I know a lot of the learning was academic, but God also says that His Word will not return void. These kids will carry with them what they have studied and learned, which God will use to accomplish His will in their lives.  The leaders and parents where great supporters for their kids, and it was encouraging to be able to be used to support their efforts in this ministry.

There were a couple of negatives though on this trip.  The first being that Friday morning I woke up with a stomach bug, complete with fever and aches.  Thankfully I was able to rest and sleep all day in our room.  By Saturday I was feeling a lot better and was ready to travel again that night.  The only other negative was being away from my family for 6 days and 5 nights.  I can't remember being away for more than a day or two before, and I found that I really missed everyone very much and was anxious to be back home.

Kathryn and the kids also missed Daddy, but with the Lord's help through many prayers, they fared alright while I was gone.  Clay did have to go back to the doctor to get another round of antibiotics for his lingering ear infections, which seem to be doing better now.  They also had some very large storms that came through with lots of rain and lightning and actually lost power for about an hour one evening, (just long enough to get the candles and flashlights rounded up for a little excitement!).  Kathryn did manage to find some time to get the kids down to Three Springs for a picnic lunch and some play time in between all the rain we have been getting.  She did say that she could tell that people were praying, with the extra strength and patience she had while I was away.  Praise the Lord!

There was a group here at the Inn this past weekend.  We had asked a couple of the other staff to cover our hosting responsibilities for us since I was away.  We have this weekend open for the Inn and are looking forward to going down to visit with my grandparents and meeting up with my parents who are coming back to stay with us for the weekend. 

After arriving home from my trip Sunday night, we have been getting back into the swing of things here with plenty of yard and flower bed work around the property here and also at Three Springs.

I would like to thank those who have been praying for us this past week.  God has been good as always and brought us through a difficult week, and we could definitely feel your prayers.  Let us know how we can be praying for you as well as we love to hear from you too.  Have a great week!