Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Happy Hard Goodbye with One Regret


This weekend our family traveled many hours west. We had two missions. One was to visit my parents. The second was to drop Kirsten, our 19-year-old, off for a two-month internship. In our family, we've come to love internships that take place before a young person is committed to a college major or a career. 

As I've mentioned a number of times, Kirsten left her first home in Russia 3-1/2 years ago with a passion for horses. As Kirsten moved toward the end of high school, we weren't really sure how to help her pursue her passion. Oh, how we prayed for God's leading. And He was so faithful! 

This spring, Kirsten "stumbled" upon a ranch owned by a Christian family in western Nebraska. This family provides a "wild west dude ranch" horse-back riding experience for guests who come from all over the country (and even beyond the borders of the US). While that family hosts tourists, their main emphasis is ranching. They currently have more that 300 head of cattle on their 3600 acres. Thirty-six hundred acres! That size of responsibility boggles my mind!

Kirsten will help with the care of the family's guests. She'll help with cooking and dishes, etc. She will also get the chance to participate in the some of the family's ranching. In fact, the role she took on bright and early the first morning she was there was to mount her favorite horse, Cactus, and help round up 15 stray steer that had broken through the fence and "visited" their neighbors. She got to ride for over four hours in a real, working-ranch situation. 

When we talked to Kirsten the night after her first full day, she was elated with the experience! She commented on how much she enjoyed riding horses for a purpose, rather than just pleasure. She loves the sense of purpose she feels as she teams up with Cactus to 'get the job done'.

The family is loving and kind.  They immediately began treating Kirsten like one of them. A sweet bonus for Kirsten is that they have an older teenage daughter; the two of them seem to have great chemistry. 

After this glowing report, you may wonder what the "one regret" is that I mentioned in the title. Thankfully, its a small "Oh, if only..." kind of regret. I just wish I had thought to get a photo of Kirsten in her newly acquired cowgirl hat. The one she chose at our local western store combines the sun protection she will need with serious bling that fits her personality! She looks fit to be a rodeo queen when wearing it!

Here are some pictures from our family trip together:

I took this photo during  picnic on the way to the ranch. Even though five years separate these two sisters, Faith (right) and Kirsten have developed a tight friendship. I know they will miss each other!

The ranch's 3,500 acres are located in northwestern Nebraska is far off a public road and in an area of great natural beauty. In all honesty, after living adjacent to the state for most of my life, I didn't realize such dramatically different topography and fauna existed in the state. I thought all of Nebraska was cornfields!

Here, Kirsten's siblings are being introduce by Jeff, father and rancher, to the horse Kirsten will ride--Cactus.

The boys enjoyed socializing with some of those who will be Kirsten's friends during these next two months.

We hugged Kirsten individually several times over. Then all drew together for a group hug. It was time for the rest of us to load up in van and wave our goodbyes. Kirsten will certainly have our prayers during this adventure of a lifetime!

As we drove away, we thanked God for the beautiful scenery that will surround her this summer.

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