Valentine Volunteers

It’s Saturday, and three young boys stand outside my office window in the dank morning chill debating the best way to transport cedar fence posts to where their dads are digging holes to construct a decorative fence for our new miniature horses.

Our Oklahoma valentines from Sunnybrook Christian Church in Stillwater are back!

They almost didn’t make it, scooting past the Dallas area, barely escaping the clutches of the worst of the huge snowstorm that paralyzed north Texas. Most of the trip was made at 40 mph.

But make it they did, arriving right on time Thursday evening—some 45 souls all in all, of all ages.

This is their second mission trip to Down Home Ranch. Last year they gave our bunkhouses and Pavilion bathrooms a face lift. This year they’re sewing drapes for the craft and resident meeting rooms, building a fence for our new miniature horses, and working on the Village lamppost project.

For the Ranchers, it’s a heart-warming visit. Our guests have arranged craft projects to do with them, and are providing dinner three nights in a row, concluding tomorrow with, natch—a Valentine’s Day Party. And we do love a party!

We simply couldn’t have built the Ranch without churches and church-going people. St. David’s Episcopal of Austin gave us money to install our very first septic system way back in 1991. (Jerry used to cringe when I brightly told members of that august congregation, “We think of you with gratitude every time we flush!)

Blythe Island Baptist from Georgia came all the way here to build our beautiful horse barn, framing it up in a week during a punishing September heat spell, then returning later to help finish the job.

Countless other churches and church groups have contributed over the years—Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Orthodox, Methodists, Catholics, Quakers, Presbyterians—the whole Christian church spectrum plus a sweet little bat mitzvah group of Jewish girls.
One thing we always hear from our volunteers is how blessed they feel to be able to contribute to the work we do and to get to know our Ranchers.

As for us, our gratitude knows no bounds. They’ve finished out our houses, built our fences, repaired our machinery, planted our poinsettias, dug out our gardens, and done everything else imaginable.

And they’ve also prayed for the Ranch, and for us, and for those in our charge.

And that has made all the difference.