Watching the Ranchers at the looms was a special treat this week. They make rugs, scarves, mug rugs, placemats and many other items.
This week our job was cleaning a storage room on the ranch and sorting through items to decide on disposal or usable. We hauled many, many items to the dumpster and some into town to the thrift shop. Bobbie and I enjoyed the thrift shop trips as we are only a mile away from Sonic. They will certainly miss us when we head home next week at the Sonic.
The three weeks of work go by so very quickly. Friendships just started are now being strained with goodbyes. We will miss this place and the Ranchers and the special SOWER couple we worked alongside these last three weeks. Yes, Izzy, the dog, we will miss you too!
After this last week of work we wanted to hit one more National Park on my bucket list- Saguaro National Park, near Tuscon.
As we headed south towards Phoenix we began to see Saguaro’s right away. Arizona is a state of great contrasts. It was 35 degrees in Camp Verde and 91 degrees when we got to Tucson. Our pickup air conditioner wasn’t working and I tried very hard not to whine. But it was hot and I maybe dressed a little too warm.
We were able to see both the East and West section of the park. Our picnic lunch was great as we shared a nice shady picnic table with a couple of other groups of people. We had a nice visit with people from Washington State and a couple from Colorado.
The church we found to attend was Desert Willow church and we really enjoyed our time there and were blessed by the worship team and the pastor.
SOWERS are known for playing games so on our last afternoon together we enjoyed playing some Sweep. It is a fun card game with rules that seem to change with each new SOWER group.
Rainbow Acres, you stole a piece of our hearts. The Ranchers and the memories will be cherished.
Wondering why we call our Daily Devotionals devotional? My old dictionary from 1828 says devotion is the state of being dedicated, consecrated, or solemnly set apart for a particular purpose. (I use a dictionary from 1828 because it refers to the Lord) It says a solemn attention to the Lord in worship; a yielding of the heart and affections to God with reverence, faith and piety in religious duties, particularly in prayer and meditation; devoutness. An act of reverence, respect or ceremony.
I guess we call it a time of devotion because we set apart this time to spend with the One True God. Any relationship is so dependent on time spent with each other. The Lord created us for this purpose. To commune with Him and enjoy time with Him in study of the Word and in prayer.
“The morning bids me to linger a moment before the sun proclaims the day as having arrived. And it is this silent space hewn from a day not yet on its feet that tenderly and at times abruptly positions me to better face the arriving day. And I am utterly amazed that there has never been a single day in the whole of my life where the day showed up without this gift. Rather, it’s that I have too often shown up too hurried to accept the gift.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough
As SOWERS we have devotions every morning before work. Since there are only two SOWER couples here we’ve had to do the devotions twice a week. This has put a dent in the devotions that we have prepared to share with others and have had to work pretty diligently to prepare some new titles this trip! The other morning we felt it was just important to gather together with some specific scriptures and pray for our nation and our world. I guess that was God’s plan as the other couple thought that should be our mission also. Isn’t God so good! It was a great time of praying for the concerns of our nation and our world.
Nothing teaches about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”
After work one afternoon we were able to go to the Rainbow Acres store and see all the beautiful things made by the Ranchers here. There are some really good paintings, some rugs, table runners, mug rugs and scarves made by the weavers here. Some 90 year old ladies come to thread the many weaving machines when they need to be threaded. They use old bed sheets and other fabrics to weave their beautiful designs. It is amazing what they can do and the beauty of it all. A stained glass company sends them all of their small pieces that they are going to throw away and they make wonderful stepping stones that sell very well. Some of the ranchers make jewelry and many other projects. I bought a memory bracelet that is silver and blue and Susan (one of the ranchers) was hoping that it was one she made. I hope it is too.
The barn is a fun place to be for sure. Debbie was telling me that she gets to do one on one time with one of the horses. It is a special time for her and for the horse. It is healing for them both. They have some goats and some sheep that they are preparing to show at the county fair and a little pony. Nancy was being a mentor to a new rancher. She got to take her everywhere with her and show her the ropes. She was having a great time taking her to classes with her and out to the barn.
There is a choir here that performs at many festivities in the area. Of course some of the outside activities were curtailed due to the coronavirus. Things are opening up again and that is making everyone happy.
At church this morning we met the woman that teaches weaving and we are excited to get to watch the ranchers weave this week. The looms are amazing and look so complicated. That will be a treat.
The farmer and I drove to the Grand Canyon this weekend. We walked several miles along the rim trail. It had been 30 years since we had been on the south rim of the Grand Canyon so it was definitely time to return. This time we didn’t have four children with us, so it was less stressful. We did miss showing them the canyon and all its beauty and God’s marvelous creation.
There are over 1000 promises in the Bible that God has made to those that believe in Him. Many of these promises are a two-way contract that we call a Covenant Promise. Some examples of this are found in the following verses.
Jer. 7:23 Obey my voice and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.
Matt. 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
His believers have a part to play in all of these covenant promises.
God keeps His promises and He always does His part. He never, ever fails us. We can take His word to the bank.
Is 54:10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.
There is one thing God cannot do…He cannot, will not stop loving you!!
The rainbow of seven (perfection) colors is a sign of His promise.
Genesis 9:12-16 And God said:”This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between you and Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
The rainbow is a beautiful symbol and reminder of all of God’s promises. The number of the colors and stripes in the rainbow are seven. That is the number of perfection in the Bible. Only God could put such a beautiful promise right up in the sky for us all to see.
Some people say there is a pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow. If there is I think I found it here at Rainbow Acres. The beautiful people “ranchers” here, absolutely are pure gold. God made them so beautiful. I spent the lunch time visiting with a rancher very knowlegeable about trains and steam engines. He asked me a lot of questions that I had no answer. Study on trains is a must if I sit by John again.
At Bible study on Monday night there was some lively discussion among the ranchers on the book of Ecclesiastes. One young lady there was very knowledgeable about the Word of God and had some great answers. The joy of the Lord is so apparent on many of their faces. Some have been here since the facility opened in 1974. Jeff came at that time and his parents died shortly after he came here. This is definitely his home. He collects lanyards and had a birthday on Saturday. Since the grandkids and I love to sew lanyards, I made one for him. The smile on his face was the ultimate pot of gold.
I think the pot of gold is doing something for others and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God keeps His promises. In the times we are living in, it is priceless to know that we have no reason to fear or even to worry. We know God is faithful, as we’ve seen it many times in our past.
These ranchers know the faithfulness of God. The covid lockdowns were very hard on them and being away from all of the other ranchers was such a strain. They have such joy in being together again. Their prayer circle in the morning is a delight, as their prayer requests are so rich. They pray for their families and their families here. They try so very hard to be kind to one another. I think they know more than the rest of us what it feels like to be treated harshly by others.
We are working on sanding cupboards in one of the group homes that is being remodeled. I think there are eight rooms in each house with a kitchen and big gathering room. A caregiver is in the home at all times. They don’t spend a lot of time there as they are busy with classes and working. One of the ranchers was so excited about her history class. The grounds are busy with bicycles and hikes and enjoying this spring time weather. Everyone greets you here. Everyone smiles and makes you feel special. Yes, I’m feeling pretty special in this place. They all are. I wish our world could be so in love with being together. Maybe, just maybe we could lay down our differences and cherish them instead.
Yes, the pot of gold is very close to Rainbow Acres. The pot of gold is seeing the love of Jesus in others. His rainbow is His creation and so are we and so are these precious ranchers. God is good all the time.
The farmer and his sidekick left the prairie last week and are 936 miles West and South of the farm and all of it’s flatland. The change in God’s great creation has been breathtaking. We’ve seen snow, desert, mountains, rocks and petrified trees. Even though Arizona is known for its hot low elevation desert covered with cacti and bushes, more than half of the state lies at an elevation of at least 4,000 feet above sea level. Arizona possesses the largest stand of evergreen ponderosa pine trees in the world. The two of us are incredibly grateful to take this journey and see some of the beauty available in our own United States of America.
Of course this journey isn’t just about sight seeing, as we came to this part of the world to serve once again as SOWERS (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready) at an adult handicapped ranch in Camp Verde, AZ. This beautiful spot is called Rainbow Acres. The story behind the dream of this ranch and the man the Lord used to make it happen, will inspire everyone’s faith. Ralph Showers in 1973 had a dream for a ranch home for handicapped adults. He was a pastor who had struggled greatly with dyslexia and other problems. But he knew how big God is. After they acquired the property an accident occured in moving a building to the property that left Ralph with no hands, as both hands had to be amputated after his electocution. Many would have given up at this point but Ralph still believed that God can do the impossible and use a willing vessel.
The adults here are called Ranchers and they all have responsibilities that they have chosen. The greenhouses here are loaded with the lushest looking lettuce and they are starting many other plants. By the way, the lettuce is delicious as I just had some for lunch. They have horses, sheep, goats and a small shetland. Many of the ranchers work in these areas on the campus and some have jobs off of campus. Everyday there are classes to attend of their choosing and they make some beautiful weavings and other articles for sale.
What makes this a beautiful spot is not the scenery (although that is interesting) it is the smiles and hugs and the love from the ranchers and the staff. It is the love of the Lord in this place and the fullness of His vision and provision. It is the delight of the ranchers to be able to be together again after the covid restrictions. It is the pride they have in their work and their accomplishments. Some are incredible artists, musically inclined with a choir that participates in area events, truely accomplished weavers, and so much more. Oh the talents and giftings the Lord has placed on His delightful children. Ralph Showers did not allow his handicaps keep him from accomplishing the task the Lord had for him nor do these ranchers. God calls people that are mentally challenged, physically handicapped, totally unfit for His purpose in our eyes and He equips them perfectly. The next time I feel unqualified (like today) would someone just slap some sense into me so that I could see God does not call the equiped, He equips the called.
Time for an update. Where have the last few months gone to? The farmer was busy last fall for 2.5 months driving a semi in corn and milo harvest for some friends. He delivered lots of grain to our local elevators.
This girl stayed busy with helping with grandkids, doing some work around our farm and completed a Christmas quilt for one of our daughter in laws. We spent a week in Texas in December with three grandkids while their parents traveled to Scotland.
All of our children made it home for a few days after Christmas. That’s the best Christmas present for this grandma. It’s so good to have family come home.
Some grandsons are involved in wresting which makes the farmer grandpa happy. Since two of them live within an hour of us we’ve had some bleacher time at wrestling tournaments.
Next week we will have our two youngest grandchildren for a few days while the rest of their family goes skiing. They were given a choice and chose our house over skiing so grandmas pretty thrilled.
A new sewing table had been the farmers new project and this girl has started another quilt. The sewing table is so sturdy and nice. This table does not rock and roll like my old fold up table.
At the end of February we are excited to pull the camper out of the Quonset and head to Arizona for our next SOWER project.
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
The SOWER song that we sing every morning following our devotions is “Our Best” written in 1912 by S.C. Kirk. Sometimes we sing off-key and sometimes we sing it beautifully but we always sing it with feeling. Here are the words.
Hear ye the Master’s call, “Give Me thy best!” For, be it great or small, That is His test. Do then the best you can, not for reward, Not for the praise of man but for the Lord. Every work for Jesus will be blest, But He asks from everyone His best. Our talents may be few, These may be small, But unto Him is due Our best, our all.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who get’s the credit.
Harry S. Truman
The staff at Living Waters had high praise for this great bunch of folks. They said the work we did was professional. We painted the outside of the Office, Snack Shop, Motel, and several other small buildings in our time here. The men leveled a big building, finished the inside of the new building, repainted the playground (much to the dismay of the kids who had to wait for the paint to dry before playing), plumbing and electrical repairs also. Stan Buttrick was the leader of the women paint crew. He and Carlie have done 180 projects. They will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year. He was a great guy to paint with and kept us all in line. I’m not a trim painter but through prayer and Stan’s direction he made one of me. I love to live in my paint and enjoy slinging it everywhere. But God answers prayers and He helped me to do my best. We had alot of fun and laughs also. There is never a dull moment with Stan and Carlie around. They are from Massachusetts.
Craig and Karen are from Wichita, KS. They were our fearless leaders. Karen is Canadian and is looking forward to seeing her family again. They are retired teachers and we were sure surprised to meet someone from Kansas there in our crew.
Linda and Richard are from Mississippi. We met them at the SOWER Roundup in Texas in March. Richard played guitar for us each morning. Accompaniment does help us sound better. I don’t think we set any dogs to howling this trip.
Roy has been a SOWER for many years also. He is trying to live again after losing his beloved wife last September. We admired him for his desire to continue to serve. We had also met him in Texas in March.
We have yet to meet a SOWER that wasn’t just precious to us. We seem to have such common goals. We all are retired and still desire to continue serving the Lord in any capacity. This might be cleaning toilets, painting, sweeping down spiders and rebuilding bridges. The three weeks go by so quickly. We are just really getting acquainted when it is time to leave for the next project or for home.
Since we had been gone from our little house on the prairie for five weeks now we were ready to head for home. We had a great time in New Hampshire seeing covered bridges, waterfalls, driving the Kancamunga highway and going to the top of Mount Washington. We saw a mama moose and baby on this drive. It was a sweet treat as we had looked long and hard for moose in Maine.
We traveled on to Vermont and wound up on a dirt road driving on a floating bridge in Vermont. We were in a mountainous region with no cell phone coverage but soon found our way to a highway that was on our old fashioned map. We still believe in map (paper map) navigation also. As we had not made any reservations this night we wound up staying in an older motel (but so clean) in Vermont with the kindest hosts in charge of the place. Since it was a weekend, in a very busy tourist area, we were blessed.
Driving along the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania was another highlight of the journey home. I think the highlight for the farmer with me was when we hit the farmland in Indiana and Illinois. Crops of corn, milo, sunflowers and beans were everywhere. Farmsteads with lovely old barns and cattle grazing in lush pastures were a wonderful sight to behold.
We saw a car in Ohio with a Kansas tag. We hadn’t seen that tag for a month. Home was beginning to call us home. Stopping and seeing our granddaughter in her first week of college was a delight and seeing our daughter and husband and their four children was another treasure. Our five year old granddaughter had one of her very first soccer practices while we were there. They played the soccer girls favorite music, ” Let it Go.”
It was bittersweet arriving home as we are in a drought right now and in desperate need of rain. But the sunset over the grain bin was a welcome delight. It was so good to be home.
“You know farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
The farmer and I always enjoy checking out the agriculture whereever we are. Farmland and its use is precious to us. I guess you can send a farmer on a trip but you never get the farm out of his heart. We’ve seen every kind of tree imaginable here and on the way here. As we drive the highways we have often commented on the scenery. “You’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all!” 🙂 You can tell we come from the wide open prairie!
On our adventures we stopped at one of those dome houses that was painted blue and was called blueberry world. We felt this was one of God’s great gifts to us as we visited two of the farmers there and sampled some blueberry goodies.
Maine has wild blueberries and we were blessed to visit with a farmer whose family tends to the wild blueberries. We had fresh hot blueberry pie at her store ala mode. Yum! We had a great visit with her about farming and the struggles they face with their product. The wild blueberries are indigenous to Maine and are, therefore, naturally resistant to many pests. One farmer we spoke to said that his family has been tending to the blueberries for 200 years. There are 38,660 acres of wild Blueberries in Maine. They are grown on a two year cycle. Each year half of the grower’s land is managed to encourage flower bud growth and the other half is prepared for harvest.
“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything wholesale, and pays the frieght both ways.” John F. Kennedy
We traveled north of here this weekend and found more farming communities. We drove along the north edge of Maine right against Canada to Fort Kent, ME. We drove adjacent to the St John River for many miles. Canada was two blocks away but we didn’t try to crossover as we were told it is quite an ordeal to do that.
Finally, the trees opened up and we saw farms and farmland. I had one very happy farmer on my hands. He breathed a deep sigh of total relief. One thing he hates is ground that is unable to be productive. Many of the farms looked in good shape and there were multiple small stands along the way selling new potatoes, peas, cucmbers, etc. Crops of beets, oats, sunflowers, wheat ready to harvest and prairie hay were seen. We even saw one Zimmatic circle for irrigation. The fields are small and hilly compared to Kansas but beautiful. One farmer was working ground in the US and we could see his counterpart in Canada also working ground. We wondered if some farmers have land in both countries.
“ I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.” Andy Warhol
Due to the smaller fields we saw many smaller tractors, potato harvesters, and blueberry buggies. My IHC guy was so happy to see the older tractors still in use. It was delightful to see agriculture thriving in this state in many ways. Some of the land appeared to be worked with a moldboard plow. The sod turned up and productive is a wonderful sight to see.
Monday through Thursday is our workweek. After all, we are retired. 🙂 We finished painting the Camp Office and started on the Snack Shop. This is a hot spot in the afternoon. Sometimes right after we were just served lunch. The kitchen crew is great and serves good food with hot bread and the food is kid friendly. However, you can’t kid friendly all kids. That’s why the snack shop is a hit. Soda (not pop) is available and all kinds of sugary treats.
We women have had to get very acquainted with more spiders than we ever thought possible. They love the underside of the overhangs on these buildings and they are not fond of being disturbed or being painted. The farmer and I even gave a devotion on the Power of God and told of a spider (Nephila that is found in the South Pacific) who’s web is so strong that fisherman use it for a net. Only God can create such wonderful creatures.
The men painted the floor of the building they are working to complete and they put a sealer on the wood on the ceiling and the walls. The kitchen staff come over every day to see if their new home is finished yet. Karen and I made curtains to go on the windows in that building. Electricity is next on the agenda, then they will move in as soon as the beds can be moved.
Pearl and Barbara are two older ladies that keep the flowers going here at the camp. They are beautiful. Every building and several other places have flower beds. This so adds to the look and feel of the camp. These two ladies volunteer their help every summer for this duty. This camp has so much support from the area and the local churches. Much volunteer work happens here. Some of the Board members and staff live in New Brunswick and are unable to come to the camp right now. It has been two summers. It is a difficult time.
On Friday’s we have traveled to see the sights of Maine. Last Friday we drove the coastline and pursued lighthouses. We found six lighthouses and started in Lube, Maine where the West Quoddy Lighthouse is found. The East Quoddy Lighthouse is in Canada. Lubec is the easternmost point in the United States. The Roosevelt’s had a beautiful summer home with gorgeous views which can’t be visited by us right now as it is in Canada. It is an International Park but can’t be visited by Americans at present.
Schoodic Point at Acadia National Park was also a stopover. We reached there at the perfect time at 4pm. The tide was rolling in and the waves were crashing on the rocks. The waves hit 50 feet high against the rocks. Impressive!
Work is now underway for our SOWER group at Living Water Bible Camp. We have four couples here and one single man who lost his wife a few months ago. Three of the people that are here we already met in Texas in March. It is delightful to see SOWERs you are now familiar with. There are 170 mission projects and places to serve across our nation and in Canada. SOWER stands for Servants on Wheels Ever Ready. Retired couples with a camper can join and work at these camps and projects. It is RVing with a Purpose. There are around 800 couples who are SOWERs either active or alumni.
We are in a cottage right on Grand Lake near Weston, Maine. From our cottage we can see Canada across the lake. Tomorrow we will take a little breakfast cruise and will go very close to the Canadian waters. This facility caters alot to Canadians so it has been a difficult two years for this camp and for the people who work here for the summer, who are across the border. Many of their summer homes are here left unused.
This place is very active and full with kids and families of all ages enjoying water skiing, wakeboarding, horsemanship, crafts, wall climbing, fishing and Bible study and worship. We have been able to attend church every evening with a dynamic pastor from Kansas (of all places.) He preaches the Word and speaks the truth about the days we are living in.
Putting insulation and boards on the ceiling of a new lodge is the project some of the men are working on. This new building will house some kitchen staff and be such a wonderful blessing to them. The men cannot complete the bathroom in the lodge however due to rules and regulations for sewer for this county. The kitchen staff is excited to move in anyway.
Painting is the word for the women many times in the SOWER world. We are painting the outside of the Camp Office building. There is enough painting to do on this place that it wil keep volunteers busy for many months. We have a good time doing it and love teasing each other and the camp staff. There are also some crafts for us to help with when it rains. One of the women is working in the bookstore every afternoon also.
They feed us well here both physically and spiritually. The views are out of this world. The loon call every night is eerie. The speakers amazing. The love of God and children is evident. Here at this camp it gives us hope for the future. Hope that young people will continue to love God and serve Him and their nation.
July 25 was the day we left the farm for the long journey to Danforth, Maine. Two thousand miles lay ahead of us and our August SOWER assignment. We were going to Living Waters Bible Camp near Danforth. This time we were taking the car and not pulling a camper. Living Waters has a cottage for us to stay in for the month. Since we had just had the motor replaced in our pickup this seemed like a good idea.
Loading the car instead of the camper was a whole new ballgame. The trunk on our car is big but would it hold all we like to take on this journey for a month in Maine. We loaded the car on the 25th and headed down the road about 1pm that day. The first leg of the journey was just to our daughter’s house for an overnight stay.
On our third day we stopped in Granville, OH to visit the farmer’s sister. He was born on her 14th birthday and she had never forgiven him for messing up her special day. It was fun to see her new place and eat lunch with her and hear them reminisce together.
We spent one full day in Niagara Falls and had a room close to the park. Since this is supposed to be a place for honeymooners, I mentioned to the farmer that maybe he could propose here. We’ve only been married for 49 years, after all. As we were walking by Bridal Veil Falls he handed the phone to a young man and asked him to snap our picture. He got on his knees and proposed to me. After 49 years, I still said, “yes”.
We walked 7.5 miles that day around Niagara Falls and did the Hurricane Deck walk below Cave of the Winds. We got so wet but really enjoyed seeing the falls from the bottom. Spectacular views of God’s glorious creation were staggering to us. The power of those falls spoke vehemently of our Creator’s majestic power.
After a night in Massachusetts, we were finally in Maine. As we drove along the interstate, we knew we were right along the coast of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean but were unable to see it. At just the right moment, the Lord had us turn off onto highway 1 and go to Orgunton, ME. We turned at just the right spot in town and came to a beach area. There was a spot for 30 minute parking. We grabbed the spot and headed to the beach where we got to step in the ocean. The beach was beautiful and I’m sure we looked pretty funny with the farmer in his cowboy boots and hat and his bride just wanting to put her feet in the ocean. The farmer snapped a picture of his bride just as the tide was rolling in and covered my legs up to my knees. The farmer got water up to the top of his boots but not over them. It was perfect and we knew it was a delightful gift from God. The beach goers cheered us on and celebrated our cowboy/farmer getting his jeans wet while they lounged in their bathing suits and beach clothes.