* This is my "Work it out with the Lord rock"....a LOT of time has been spent sitting here wrestling with God these last 11 weeks! A beautiful view*
Now onto sharing about all the exciting adventures we've had on Rancho Abierto! So much to share. I will be walking you through the Ranch starting at the front gate. Loads of pictures!
As you enter the gate of Rancho Abierto, you will see a beautifully crafted Pavilion on your right. Here we hold classes, worship, family time and special events. When it’s warm enough, it feels great to be in the open air and hear the birds during lecture!
Lectures have covered topics like marriage, parenting, and our walk with Jesus. So much great information from eleven guest speakers. Taking the time to allow the information to transform us is difficult with so much activity but so so enriching! For example, speaker and author Dan Baumann had been imprisoned in an Iranian prison for nine weeks. His teaching and testimonies on seeing the goodness of Gd during trials was overwhelming and really spoke to our hearts.
From 8-9am we have worship in the pavilion. Some days it is targeted for adults and some days for kids (Weston's greatest nightmare as you can imagine all the dancing and singing 😜) . Our worship leaders have such a pure heart for worship; I am thankful for their mentorship of Karissa! Watching Karissa worship God with her heart and soul is a beautiful thing!
The Coffee House
This is the Coffee House. It's called this not because they serve coffee here, but because Brian (Ranch owner) used to roast coffee here before they transformed their land to a YWAM base. The marriage small group, ladies nights, lecture on cold days (we have seen our breath here on chilly mornings) meet here.
The building is also a great spot for movies, games and sleepovers. On a side note it hasn't rained since the first few weeks. The weather has been chilly in the mornings usually around 50 and peaking in the high 70s.
The Yurt & Picnic Tables.
This place is always busy! We have a master of the kitchen, Luke, who is incredible at keeping us all fed well! Families take turns with clean up duty and the staff cook. The food has been stellar quality, we never go hungry here! I do feel like I’m being spoiled- this is the longest stretch of time in 25 years I haven’t cooked a meal!!! We have a few on the base that really have a talent for cooking and baking, and we are really enjoying their gifting! We often have homemade sour-dough bread and pancakes! The bell is rung when meals are ready- I think I’m going to hang one of these up at home. We all eat at the picnic tables- it’s only rained a couple times so eating outside has been a wonderful experience. The boys enjoyed digging up a few big rocks in the picnic area we had been tripping over....
We are supposed to wash our own dishes, but Weston and a friend took it upon themselves to wash everyone’s dishes! Sue told him he is spoiling our community. I love watching Weston's heart growing as he serves this community. Weston has also found some people to play strategic games. He met his match with John (from Singapore) at chess!
Shower & Outhouses
Next is the row of cabins and the shower house. There are outdoor sinks to wash your face and teeth. Reminds me a lot of summer camp. We have a laundry room and close lines for laundry. Brian and I still haven’t come to agreement how to hang it properly. I’m not complaining, he’s at least in there with me hanging it up! We have adapted to the outhouses...and well when I say 'we' I really mean everyone else except me. I was traumatized once by the ear wigs...but that story will come later.
Rancho Abierto also has a small Farm. They have rabbits, chickens, pigs, goats and sheep. They have a goal to be food self sustainable. Eleven lambs have been born during DTS! They butchered a sheep a few weeks ago and rabbits just recently. Harvesting food has lit a fire for Aiden. He wants to learn how to taxidermy when we get home and now has plans for mounting dead animal heads in his bedroom...this boy! 🤦🏻♀ Aiden was the brave one to volunteer to catch the blood of the sheep...he was OK until his job was done and passed out cold!
Tarantulas, black widows, brown recluses, and rattlesnakes share the ranch with us... and the very worst are EARWIGS!!! I call them Mexican cockroaches because they show up at night and are everywhere! (but they aren’t dirty insects like cockroaches). Thankfully one of the staff, Dave, set traps for them and estimates he trapped over 5000! They disappeared significantly after a week of the traps. Brian followed bobcat while hiking; sadly he didn't have his phone to snap a picture.
One day in the outhouse, I was sitting down and realize the toilet paper roll was empty. There are a few rolls stored above my head so I stood up to reach for a new roll and to my horror it was COVERED in earwigs!!! I drop it before they can start crawling all over my hand. When it hit the floor of the outhouse they scatter all over my FEET!!! All I could do was scream because my pants around my ankles prevented me from running! These are moments nightmares are made of!
The kids while we have been in lectures have had their own classes! They learned the same concepts but for their age. Weston and Aiden had a couple that actually met at the KC Super Bowl Parade! Skyler and Anna were just perfect for the boys. I had prayed for teachers that would show them how to love and be loved by Jesus and they were just that, they loved on the boys so well! And Skyler was able to hold a daily debate with Weston 😝, now Skyler has
a new best friend.
Karissa had a sweet Canadian family as her teachers. Her spiritual growth and vocabulary was so evident by the end of the 11 weeks. Their passion for teaching the kiddos was evident and greatly appreciated!
Fun activities..planned and unplanned
Wednesday night is campfire night. Families worship together and hear a short teaching from the guest speaker. One speaker grew up in Turkey with a Jewish heritage. His visit followed Passover and lead a traditional Jewish Seder meal with a focus on Jesus. Brian & Sue hosted a "Love Feast" at the end of marriage week where the staff made a really beautiful and special meal for the married couples!
The Singaporians led us in a traditional Singaporian Cheers!!
Friends have been so generous with their time! Our German friend has taken the time to teach Karissa guitar- she has found a new passion. A Hawaiian friend is a super talented hair stylist and gave Aiden & Weston probably their favorite ever haircuts!
A ping pong tournament was the brain child of one of the kiddos here. It was a heated competition! Aiden landed 3rd place! One of the talented teens even designed a t-shirt for all the participants. Watch out, the boys have had a LOT of time practicing ping pong...Weston can even beat me playing with his left hand now...🤦🏻♀️.
Lots of free time here for kids! West, Aiden & Karissa love their hammocks. Sleeping under the stars and moon in hammocks inspired the boys to construct a a more permanent vagabond village! 🤣 A large trampoline is well loved, hiking up the surrounding mountains is quite the adventure here. Brian lead a group up a mountain to watch the lunar eclipse. We experienced an earthquake! Aiden was outside when it happened and said he could literally see the earth moving! Karissa has been helping babysit little ones while families pack for outreach. She has such a sweet heart for the littles. Aiden knows his way to his momma's heart....fresh wildflowers! Weston has taken the time to sit down and talk each week with the special speakers. Every one of the speakers have been so generous of their personal time.
Brian has been installing a water treatment system during "OTS" (opportunity to serve). Pictures are the "before" and "after." They were having to drive an hour into town and another hour back to get water every few days! So proud of Brian's work and his servant's heart for the community.
Exciting news to share! Our outreach team is headed to Norway & Denmark THIS Tuesday! The team is composed of 5 families from Singapore, Canada, Montana, New York & KC! There a three activities planned for our 2-month outreach: 1) staffing a family YWAM camp in Denmark for 2 weeks 2) volunteering at The Send conference in Norway and 3) living in and helping with at a camp that is hosting Ukrainian refugees in Norway for 5 weeks. Please be praying for plans to fall together to love on these nations well! Brian and I went on a couples vision weekend last fall. One word the Lord impressed on our hearts was to reach out to refugees! So this outreach definitely feels like a great fit. We would love to see how we could continue with that type of outreach when we get back home. 💜
I can't believe we are off to Norway tomorrow. I would love your prayers that our family really bonds over the next 2 months as we worship and serve together to spread the love of God to the nations! Lastly, here is a very quick zip through our sweet Rancho Abierto.💜