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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blog Update for 6/21 - 7/8

Well, it seems strange to me to be typing this blog post from Kathryn's parents home in Conway, S.C.  Our family just rolled into Conway this Friday morning after driving through the night from PA.  We will be here in Conway until July 18th for a family vacation.  It's strange being back as the visitor but it will be fun to have some time with family and friends and also some time just with Kathryn and I as the kids will be with family.  It's also different for me to be able to take some time away as I was never able to do that running my lawn care business for the past 10 years.  Pray that we will be encouraged and also encourage others as we interact with family and friends.

Things at Three Springs and Linck Hill Inn are continuing on.  We had a window of opportunity from reservations at the Inn to be able to slip away for a few days but things at camp are full swing with camp season.  Our first Three Springs sponsored residential camp was Grow Zone which is our Jr. High age camp. 

 We were down some in campers for the week but did have a great response from them spiritually. 10 out of the 33 campers made new professions of faith in Jesus Christ that week!  We were very thankful to a good start to our camp season.  I did help a few times lifeguarding during the week and also doing some landscaping projects down at camp.  We did have a couples retreat at the Inn the last weekend in June that we hosted, although we did not have to do the meals for them.  Please continue praying for the Lord to provide someone to fill the cooking position at the Inn.  We will be coming into our busy fall season soon and will be needed to do a lot of cooking for those times.  We are comforted knowing that the Lord is not oblivious to our situation and that He is sovereign in all things.

Sunday the 26th after church that morning, we went into Liberty, PA where we watched the town parade from one of the church families yards.  I think the parade was associated with Independence Day celebrations, but it had a lot of the usual small town parade entries.  The kids loaded up on more candy from the parade than I think from any Halloween or fall festival.  It was fun seeing the small town come together and celebrate.
We also shared a evening with Jeff Rush, our Executive Director,   and his wife Deanne in Wellsboro for a picnic and outdoor concert one night that week.

The following week we had a church from Pittsford N.Y. come and use the camp facilities and do their own camp.  They had about 55 youth plus leaders for that week.  They seemed to be very organized and intentional with their time and it was encouraging to see kids individually and in small groups spread out around the property spending time in God's Word.  I did manage to continue working on my frisbee golf baskets and can report that I am currently finishing up the last 2 baskets and should be ready to set up the course when we return.  I'll send some pictures of the finished product soon.  We did successfully put up around 900 more bales of hay into the barns this past Friday.  The hay field we were baling from was about three miles away which required us to shuttle the hay wagons to the barn with trucks.  I was able to use my Toyota Tundra to help which was fun to see it in four-wheel drive and low gear pulling a huge wagon load of hay up a gravel mountain road.  It definitely was tested that afternoon but did get the job done.  Notice in the picture that we got McKensie Rogers tossing bales from the wagon too.  She worked hard right alongside all the guys.  She and Alisa have done a great job helping on staff this summer and will be missed when they have to come home.

Saturday afternoon I left driving the bus to pick up a youth group from the Philadelphia area to attend a youth conference in Pittsburgh.  I had to pick up the group early Sunday morning which allowed me to spend the night with my Aunt Jane and also to visit with Grandmom and Granddad Rickert that Saturday afternoon.  I'm thankful to be closer now to them and to be able to visit more with them.  Granddad is 96 years old now and is still doing fairly well  and can still paint and draw amazingly.  I picked up a portrait that he just completed of our youngest son Clay which looked just like a photo!  It was good to visit with them! 

After an early start Sunday morning we drove to Ligoneir Camp and Conference Center where we spent the afternoon doing some high ropes course and mountain bike activities before heading into Pittsburgh.  The kids and I enjoyed the exercise and outdoor activities.  One side excursion before getting into Pittsburgh was going to the Flight 93 Memorial around Shanksville, PA.  It was only a few miles off our route and we had some extra time.  It was really sobering looking out into the field were many brave Americans lost their lives that September 11th day protecting our homeland.  Being July 3rd it was also very fitting as we remember the independence and freedoms we enjoy every day here in America.  We had a free night in downtown Pittsburgh walking and seeing the town before a busy day planned on Monday.  I shuttled the group around the city to visit an inner city ministry where we were able to hear about their work serving their neighborhood and also spend the afternoon doing some service projects for them.  After getting the group back to their hotel that afternoon I was free to start for home as the group would take the Amtrak back at the end of the week.  I was really impressed with this particular group and their leaders as they really showed a maturity and heart to live their lives in an intentional way to follow the Lord.  Their youth group has been coming up to camp for a winter retreat for many years and also partnered with Three Springs last year for a bus trip out to Montana.  One of their young ladies who just graduated will also be joining our True North intern program this fall which we are looking forward to.  I forgot to take my camera on this trip but may be able to share some pictures taken by others on a later blog.

We continue to enjoy the work God has given us to do at Three Springs and would value your continued prayers for all those who pass through our properties for camps and retreats.  Residential camps and horse camps will continue through August and then into our busy retreat season.  Pray for all of our staff and for God's spirit to move in people's hearts and lives.  Kathryn and the kids are doing well and we are looking forward to our stay here in Conway.  We'll catch back up with everyone once we get back to PA after the 18th.