As some of you may know, since transferring to Virginia Tech, I have gotten involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on campus. I have joined a small group Bible study there, as well as helping out with audio/visual production during their 6:33 worship services on Tuesday evenings each week. Several months ago, I took a step of faith and applied to go on a Spring Break mission trip through BCM, despite having no idea what my homework load would look like at this point in time. As I filled out the application, I prayed that the Lord would either clearly open or shut the door, in order to show me what His will was. To make a long story short, it appears that His will was for me to be on this mission trip to Colorado over Spring Break with these awesome people from BCM!
|Our team, from left to right: Kim, Greg, Patrick (center), Matt, Joe, and me.|
This mission team consists of five current and one former Virginia Tech student(s) There are five guys and one girl on our team: Matt (Junior), Joe (graduate of Virginia Tech), Patrick (graduate student), Greg (Senior), Kim (Freshman), and me (also a Junior). We are working at Sky Corral Ranch, a Christian family camp located in the Rocky Mountains, north-west of Fort Collins, Colorado. Devastating wild fires and floods have swept through this area over the last couple of years, and we are helping with repair and cleanup work, both at Sky Corral, and in the community surrounding it.
Our trip certainly started off with some excitement. Our first flight was supposed to go out of Roanoke at 06:00 AM on Friday morning. However, as Thursday afternoon rolled around, an ice storm was forecasted to hit Blacksburg. Darrell (our campus minister at BCM) was concerned that we would not be able to make it to Roanoke the following morning to catch our flight, and he suggested leaving Blacksburg that evening and staying in Roanoke, making it easier for us to get to the airport the next morning. My parents offered for us to spend the (short) night at our house, instead of our team getting a hotel near the airport. We agreed on this, and Matt, Joe, Kim, and I left for my house at 8:00 PM on Thursday evening. (Both Patrick and Greg had separate flights to Denver out of different airports, due to scheduling conflicts.) I waited until we were in the car on the way to my house to remind (or inform for the first time, as may well have been the case) my fellow team members that I am the oldest of eight children. At this point, Joe made the comment that he had "Only brought enough rope for one." Ha-ha.
We arrived at my house and had dinner, and afterwards, Matt pulled out his phone to check on our flight. It had been cancelled. Joe immediately went into rescheduling mode, calling the airline only to find out that we had been booked onto another flight leaving Roanoke at 7:00 PM the next day. This would not work, as we had several other connecting flights to make, as well as a bus to meet on the other end in Denver. After spending over an hour on the phone (most of it on hold), Joe was able to find another flight out of Richmond International Airport at 7:30 AM the next morning that had four seats available. We immediately booked the tickets, loaded into the car, and drove through the night to Richmond. My dad drove part of the way, swapping with Joe and then dropping us off at the airport and driving back home.
|Richmond International at 07:00 AM.|
We went through security at Richmond International at 4:30 AM in the morning. Once we were through security, we picked the spots on the airport floor that looked the most comfortable and proceeded to take short naps. At 7:30 AM, we boarded the plane, and proceeded to sit on the tarmac for over an hour, waiting for the plane to be de-iced so that we could take off. This delay made our connection in Chicago O'Hare (to Denver International) very tight. With a little bit of running, however, we were able to catch it. After an uneventful flight to Denver, we met Patrick in the airport, and proceeded to board a bus for Fort Collins.
|Welcome to Sky Corral Lodge.|
From Fort Collins, we were picked up in a mini-van by Jon, a Sky Corral staff member. He warned us as we started out that it was possible that the van wouldn’t be able to make it up the mountain to the ranch, because of the large snow storm they had recently gotten. He assured us, however, that they had a backup plan. We got about halfway up the mountain before the mini-van started sliding. At this point, our team split into two parts. Joe and Patrick joined Jim (another Sky Corral staff member) in his four wheel drive pickup truck, and continued up the mountain to the lodge. Matt, Kim, and I rode back down to town with Jon to make a second attempt in his smaller, front wheel drive car. We were much more successful this time, making it up all but the last half of the driveway with the car. From there, Matt, Kim, Jon, and I hiked the last mile or so in the snow to Sky Corral.
That evening, all of us were pretty tired… a result of traveling for 24+ hours straight with very little (if any) sleep. We met some of the staff from the camp, ate dinner, and then went straight to bed. The next morning, we began our actual work in and around the ranch. We began by traveling down to the local fire station, where we will be doing light construction work. We did some planning, and decided to come back on either Tuesday or Wednesday, during another forecasted snow storm.
|Greg and Kim chopping firewood.|
Also, about halfway through the day on Saturday, Greg, our other team member from BCM, arrived at the ranch. He showed up just as we were finishing lunch and getting ready to start the next items on the to-do list. Matt shampooed the carpet in the dining area while Patrick sanded and refinished a door. Meanwhile, Joe, Greg, Kim, and I went with Jim up into the mountains to begin cutting down, moving, and chopping trees that had already been felled into firewood.
This morning, we attended Stove Prairie Community Church - a church that meets on the grounds of Sky Corral. After the service, we took a group to a guy’s house who needed help moving two gun safes. These safes were nothing to be laughed at. One of them weighed six hundred pounds, and the other one ONLY weighed four hundred. Both of these, of course, had to be moved up a flight of stairs. Thankfully, we accomplished this with only minor incident.
|Patrick enjoying the view.|
After lunch, our team took advantage of the opportunity to hike up into the mountains and spend some time enjoying God’s creation. After throwing quite a few snowballs at each other on the hike up, we split up to be by ourselves and spent some time reflecting, praying, and (in Matt’s case) singing. This evening, we went to Old Town Fort Collins (near the campus of Colorado State University) to have dinner. We ate at Moe's Barbecue, and then returned to the lodge for a time of sharing testimonies.
So far on this trip, I believe God has taught us all a lot about his providence and power over every detail in our lives. The biggest example of this was the way in which He orchestrated our travel details after our first flight was cancelled so that we were still able to make it to Colorado at a decent time. It also struck me as I was standing on the mountaintop today, looking at all the of the area around Sky Corral that had been destroyed by the fire, that if He is powerful enough to direct this massive fire and keep it from destroying the ranch, He is powerful enough to handle the small details of my every day life.
There are a few ways that you can pray specifically for our team. First of all, pray that we would work together well as a team and have a spirit of unity, both with each other, and with the staff at Sky Corral Lodge. Pray that our bond would grow stronger as a group, and that we would build relationships that would last a lifetime. Pray that we would be able to bless the people that we are ministering to, both with our words, and with our actions. Finally, pray that we would each somehow grow in our relationship with God this week.
|On the mountaintop: Matt, Kim, Greg, Joe, and me. (Photographer: Patrick)|