A Weekend In Texas!

The Ranch House!

Dan & Winchester part of the greeting party.

All the children of this amazing family

This past weekend I had the most amazing time with a precious dear family. I actually got on a plane and flew to Texas having never meet this family except for two of their children who I actually meet in Kazakhstan before being adopted. Heather wrote about a year and a half ago after they were home for a short time with these two. Her first email made me cry fore she wrote to thank me for loving their children saying that they had first loved me which soften their hearts to accept them as parents. I don’t have words to express how that note touched my heart and encouraged me to continue forward on this path I feel called to. The children had talking about this American Vicki that they wanted to see when they came to America and Heather had found out from the staff that I had traveled on short term trips through Interlink Resources who has an office in Taraz, Kazakhstan the same town as the orphanage. I always believed that these short term trips made a difference and felt that having someone speak into a life giving hope and encouragement can mean the difference between holding on or giving up. To have an opportunity to hear exactly how much those visits mean to the children’s heart was a gift beyond measure.

Heather and I emailed several times over the last year and a half and my heart felt a huge pull to visit these children before I left for Kazakhstan. Through a whole series of events this was made possible this last weekend. I can not express in mere words the gratefulness my heart and soul feels to have had this opportunity to hear and see for my own how they are doing.

It isn’t easy to adjust to a life here after a life so full of disappointment, heartache, pain and suffering, but with the help of their loving, committed family they are thriving. My heart just about burst with joy as I listen to these two talk about their memories of our time together in Kazakhstan and then just about broke in pieces has they shared some of the tragedy. It was still a very sweet time together.

Poor Nate was a little surprise that I had “aged” so much since 2006. To understand that I had colored my hair back then and last year stopped resulting in this “white” hair as he called it was a little hard to comprehend. How could that happen so fast. He finally seemed to adjust and loved me even with this “white” hair.

The whole family was an absolute delight. I stepped off the plane and into this family like we had known each other for years. They each openly shared their home and showed me their Texas life. The landscape at first glance can seem harsh, but when you look closer their is a beauty that it holds. I saw a road runner (couldn’t get a picture ’cause they are too darn fast) lots of other beautiful birds, saw deer (besides John Deer) wild hogs, javelinas, goats, cattle, hogs, chickens, horses, and dogs. I petted a deer and some chicken, feed a calf, watched them weigh pigs, went on a “safari” type ride around the farm, ate fabulous Texas BBQ and Tex-Mex unlike I’ve ever found in Virginia. All the people were warm and hospitable. I enjoyed my stay and hated to board the plane to fly home. I’vd made definite plans to go back for a longer visit when I come home for a furlough in 2 and 1/2 years.

Nate and his Dad

Nick fixing a fabulous breakfast of puffed pancakes. Yum, Nick, Thank you so much!

This young man could really cook. He made belgium waffles one morning and these delicious puffed pancakes another.

Kenzie enjoying Nick’s creations.

Nate and Ryan on the front of the top driver.

This is what we road around the ranch to give me a different view of life there. It was like being on a safari and I loved seeing all the animals, but mostly I enjoyed being part of this family’s fun and laughter. Life isn’t always easy, but they haven’t lost sight of the true meaning of life and keep laughter as part of the healing salve for the hurts that have cut deep into the heart.

The cattle thought we were going to round them up.

Having fun! Kenzie got tickled and couldn’t stop laughing. How sweet.. How wonderful to have a life where laughter is a normal part of being.

Two mama cows and their calves. They weren’t to sure of us..

A javelinas or Peccaries which is more related to the rodent family even though it looks like a pig.

The top driver next to the RV where I got to sleep. I had my own little guest house. An owl would hoot right outside every night. It was so much fun..

Laney hanging from a tree in the back yard.

The beautiful sunset.

Nate with the puppy Ellie and their pet deer “John Deer”. The puppy and deer where playing together. It was so funny to watch.

Kenzie, myself and Nate. I hadn’t seen them since 2006 in Kazakhstan.

Nate rescuing Ellie from the prickers in the grass. John Deer waiting to play again.

Ellie and John Deer playing

Laney and I with Winchester their Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Nate’s pig. He is going to show this pig at the local fair this week.

Laney and Fabio the chicken.

Kenzie feeding her calf with Laney.

Nate and John Deer.

Laney and one of the chickens.

Laney and Ellie the puppy.

I’m feeding Kenzie’s calf.

So many times I think people don’t step out of their comfort zones for fear of what the cost may be as well as fear of being uncomfortable. If nothing is risked nothing is gained. I think sometimes those greatest challenges, those darkest moments are what give those times of joy and gladness the sweetness. When painting one of the biggest mistakes beginning artist make are not going dark enough in the shadow or shaded areas. They are afraid to commit to the darkness, but without those dark areas the lights don’t show their contrast and bring the interest and beauty to the painting. Life can be that way too. Those dark times, trials and tribulations in contrast to the lighter areas bring the sweetness and gratefulness.

I would challenge each one of you to step out of your comfort zone, reach out to those around you who are less fortunate, are struggling with some heartache, or need a helping hand. Stick through the commitment and see what absolutely amazing joy will come on the other side. This isn’t a 30 minute sitcom type of commitment, this is a long term through thick and thin commitment to see something through. I think we in America have forgotten the joys of sticking through something. This country wasn’t built on walking away because it is too hard or uncomfortable, it was people willing to go the extra mile and sticking to things especially when things got tough.

Thank you dear friends for sticking with me through the long haul. Lois & Richard, Edith & Rip, Chip G, Susan & Bill, Pam G, Sherry B, Jaye P, Marc & Sarah, and so many more. I wouldn’t have made it without the support, encouragement and care of those around me who were placed along the way. It hasn’t always been easy, but oh, how thankful I am for all they have added to my life. I am blessed beyond measure and this past weekend was one of those great gifts in life that I will treasure the memories for my lifetime. Thank you Dino, Heather, Maddi, Kezie, Zack, Nate, Nick, Ryan, & Laney for opening your home and hearts to me. I had the best time ever and you each now hold a special place in my heart.

With much gratitude and love

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