Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mo Ranch

This weekend we traveled to Hunt, Texas to attend the "All Family Retreat" our church was hosting at Mo Ranch. This is our second year to go. Yes, we were crazy enough to go last year with two eight week old babies. What were we thinking?

Again this year I was just amazed at how wonderful this trip is. I did not get to attend any of the adult programming as I was helping with the children's programming at those times. I did hear the speaker was really good.

The thing that has struck me both years on this trip is how much my family feels part of the larger community. There were countless times where adults went out of their way to connect with my children. My children are learning that their church cares deeply and personally about them and not just on Sunday mornings but every day.

At every baptism in our church we as a congregation promise to help the child grow in their faith. Mo Ranch is one of those times when I feel like our church really does this, not just in the programming but more in the personal connections.

We arrived on Friday Evening in time for dinner. After unpacking and having a quick dinner it was time to go to the opening programming. Programming wasn't over until 9:30 so it was really late before the kids were all in bed. Rehm and Charlotte were staying in Grandma and Grandpa's room (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa). They had a leaking toilet and had to change rooms at 10:30pm! So it was a really late night for them. After kids went to bed I got the opportunity to visit was good friends for a few hours and catch up.

Saturday everyone was up and ready for breakfast by 8:00am. Then it was off to the morning programming. After the program we all met for lunch. That afternoon we had free time. Grandma and Grandpa were nice and offered to watch Ruby and Eliza Claire so we could take the big kids to the river. Ruby and Eliza Claire were so sleep deprived at this point they didn't want to nap. I'm afraid it wasn't a very pleasant afternoon for Grandma and Grandpa. Thanks again for doing this.

Michael, the big kids and I started off at the pool but with in a half an hour had decided to go check out the Guadalupe River. Charlotte decided she wanted to ride Big Mo, a really tall and fast "water slide." She rode with Michael. Her face coming down said it all (picture to come). When she got back to shore she said it was "pretty fun" but did not want to ride again. Rehm wouldn't ride.

After Big Mo we headed off to the rapids. This is an area in the river where the limestone is very close to the surface. The river has eroded the stone in a way that forms a natural water slide. Due to recent rain the river was probably a foot to foot and a half higher than last year and more swift as well. Last year both kids loved it. This year Charlotte loved it and went down the rapids proabbly 20+ times. Rehm only did it three times and two of those were with a borrowed intertube. Apparently it was too much for him this year. He enjoyed sliding down one big rock into the river instead. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the river and then it was time to head back. On the way back the kids convinced us to take out a canoe for a quick trip up the river. This of course is the first time I've been in a small boat in probably 20 years - since I used to go fishing with my Dad. This was the first time I'd ever had paddling responsibilities and of course I had not clue what to do. Michael was right it was pretty easy. The kids had fun and we paddled up to the rapids and back.

Then we had dinner and entertainment for the whole family (singing songs and face painting). After getting all the kids to bed we sat outside with our friends Clark and Meredith, Grandma and Grandpa, and Clark's parents. It was so nice to get to visit with everyone and connect across generations. Again that sense of community. Church is not just a place we go on Sunday morning. It is a group of people that truly care about each other and come together through their mutual love of God.

Sunday we had breakfast and packed up the room. I got locked out of the room and it took 3 trips to the office to finally get a key that worked. Then it was time for worship. Rehm had a complete and total meltdown on the way to worship (thanks to too little sleep and too many activities). It was not pretty. Luckily he eventually got over it and was able to join us for worship.

Worship is held at an outdoor chapel overlooking the river. It is always a moving experience for me. During the service we Passed the Peace (Meaning we would tell each other "the peace of Christ be with you" and the other person would respond "and also with you") What was especially moving for me was to bend down and pass the peace to all of the precious children around me. To do my part in helping them know that God loves them and that they are important to Him and our church. I'm sure they don't understand at this point but hope when they are older they will look back on these experiences and see that there were several adults besides their parents and grandparents that loved them and wanted them to know Christ.

After the service we finished packing the car. Had lunch with our dear friends the Weatherbys and the Kildays and headed home.

It was a blessed weekend. It is a tradition I hope we as a church and we as a family continue for many years to come. I think it is so important and part of what makes it special is that it is a multi generational experience. It isn't just something for families with small kids, or families with youth. Having friends, parents, and grandparents all there and involved is just an awesome experience. It is what the Church is supposed to be.

I'm reminded of a song my kids have learned in Sunday school:

The church is not a building,
The church is not a steeple,
The church is not a resting place,
The church is the people.

Here are pictures from this year and last. It seems that I forgot to take my camera to many of the things we did this year.

Blessings to all,

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