Thursday, April 30, 2009
It's Like Holy Ground
My most recent Community service story for Rolling Hills is now posted - title
Crystal Peaks-It's like holy ground-
Jenni is scurrying about like a mother hen, checking in on the 52 other volunteers helping ready Crystal Peaks for the spring and summer. She wants to make sure everyone knows where they need to be.
Some of the helpers on this one-day mission trip are planting purple and yellow and blue and white pansies into planters that line the drive into the ranch. Others are spreading large bark chips on the dusty ground. Another group is digging into a corral area placing wooden beams along the border. Still others are staining the wooden fences where horses roam.
The Snowcapped mountain range beams in the distance.
Jenni stops to talk to Kim Meeder, founder with her husband in 1995 of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch which rescues horses and children. Jenni and Kim are like old friends. They met through Jenni’s mother about 15 years ago.
Says Jenni, “My mom and Kim’s husband signed up for a ski conditioning class taught by Kim who was a personal trainer, and my mom called after the first class and said, ‘I met a girl just like you. She’s got long hair, she’s really athletic, she likes horses, and she’s into that Jesus thing.’ And I thought, ‘How does a girl share Christ in 45 minutes in an athletic class in a natural way and not be offensive’? I wanted to meet Kim right away.”
Jenni worked out with Kim several times and watched Kim interact with her mom. “And I would ask Mom, ‘What’s going on with Troy and Kim?’ and Kim would ask Mom, ‘What’s going on with Jenni and Mark?’ At the time, we were adopting all these kids.”
But not till Jenni’s mom passed away did the friendship with Kim really blossom. About that time, Mark, Jenni’s husband, was looking for short term mission projects for the church to participate in, and Jenni told Mark to look into helping at Crystal Peaks.
“And he said ‘You do it.’"
And she did. The first trip -- and the start of an ongoing partnership with the ranch -- was on May 1, 2004.
“I asked four women to go with me on that day. We drove the church van the night before, staying at my in-laws place at Black Butte, and we worked the entire next day at the ranch.”
The next work day that Rolling Hills would participate in drew 30 volunteers. Then 70. It was so popular they realized they had to do quieter teams for a while.
Jenni helped bring Kim Meeder to women’s ministry events at Rolling Hills, including as keynote speaker at the women’s retreat in 2008.
Over the past five years, Jenni has helped lead 14 volunteer trips to the ranch, with the most recent one in April of 2009 where 53 people left at 6 AM on a lazy Saturday morning to drive three hours to work on the ranch. And eat the most amazing barbecued ribs and steak for lunch.
Jenni says that over 1000 people have been touched by the ranch; either by reading Kim’s books or by hearing her speak at women’s ministry events. “We’ve taken over 200 people on 14 trips and many of those people are repeats.”
Jenni knows why people come back. “It is like heaven on earth. There is a line in the video about Crystal Peaks that says the ranch is like a greenhouse; things come broken and they just grow here. Kids, people, horses, men, women, children.”
“It’s like holy ground. . . the mountains, the aspen trees that make beautiful noises when they move. . . you are just in the presence of God when you are there.”
For more information on Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, visit http://www.crystalpeaksyouthranch.org/
For rolling hills stories visit: http://rhcc-compassion.blogspot.com/2009/04/crystal-peaks-its-like-holy-ground.html