2009 Photos & Stories

Here we are, ready to go!
My heart is full all over again just looking at the pictures. Speaking of pictures, there are a LOT on here (and I ony looked through 1/3 of what I have!), but I just couldn’t stop. We had about 325 guests of honor this year. 😀 There’s so much to say, so I’m just going to jump right in and let the pictures tell the story…
Here’s a section of the army of volunteers getting directions from yours truly before being hooked up as buddies for the evening. We have a lot of unstructured fun first, then we settle down for a program after an hour and a half or so.

One of our guests enjoying the petting zoo which was huge this year! We had more than 15 different kinds of animals, I’m pretty sure!
This little guy wanted to “feed” the pig for a long time. He said it made the pig happy!  And this other guest got to feed the calf for real!
This big ole smiling face on the left is Gabriel. Gabe’s parents go to our church, Gabe comes to Sunday School and VBS and is a “helper” in our kids worship program. He is the happiest guy you’ll ever meet! On the right is J.T. He’s in my Sunday School class too. He brightens up the room with that big old smile of his coupled with his cranky-old-man personality!
This young lady got off her group home bus with a cut on her head! No one was quite sure how it got there, but it didn’t stop her from enjoying the party!

Here we are in full swing.
Everybody gettin’ down Hokey Pokey style. All the yellow shirts are the Sunshine Ambassadors. They are a group of youngsters who all have Down Syndrome and take dancing and singing lessons at a local studio.  Then they take their show on the road!  This guy in the striped shirt gave me a laugh. He is a basketball player at a local college and I’m pretty sure he only came because someone made him! But look at him gettin’ down to the Hokey Pokey after just a few short minutes!

Ah, my sweet Jordan. Jordan’s dad was my principal at my second teaching job. Now she’s in my Sunday School class. I didn’t think she was going to be able to make it because she had some family coming in from out of town. But while I was up on the track taking some hokey pokey pictures I looked down and saw the cutest little elbow stickin’ out and shakin’ all about and saw it was Jordan! That was the highlight of my night. Jordan LOVES for us to read her the Max Lucado book You are Special. And one of our freebies was a copy of two other Max Lucado’s books. She recognized the
illustrations right away and knew exactly that was a special gift for her!

This car belonged to a young man who came last year, but passed away recently. His parent’s antique car club brought several cars in Brian’s memory.

Each of the guests gets to choose a cowboy hat if they’d like.

Loving some bull-riding! And sweet victory at the ring toss!

The hayride was one of the new things we did this year, and it was a huge hit! (Especially once they got gas in the tractor!)  Enjoying the hayride are Valerie and her buddy, Jessie. Jessie’s in my Sunday School class too! She ALWAYS has a smile on her face and loves to help her other Special Friends when we need it!

Amelia loving on the calf.

One story I forgot that I’ll add here… One lady who came was 87 years old (or 78, not sure). Anyway, she is blind and has been set aside her entire life. She was beside herself to come to Luke 14! While she was at Luke 14, she got to go on her first hayride of her entire life. And had her first cotton candy. Her FIRST cotton candy. Can you imagine such a life in 2009?

Chad had to resort to holding hands… he had two buddies who were runners; But every time I looked they were all smiling!

One short story that just blessed my socks off… On the left is Patrice. She and I have boys the same age and they played soccer together last year. She has recently been asking the Lord to show her where He wants
to use her, and she’s feeling led toward helping us in the disability ministry. So she comes up to me as I’m pairing guests up with volunteers and says, “Just so you know, Melissa, I’m terrified to do this! I’ve never done this before.” But she came anyway! She put herself out there to serve the Lord even though she was terrified, and she gave glory to God’s name in doing so. I’m so proud of her!!

A funny story here about Robert…

Me, at registration time: “Robert, this is Mr John and he’s going to be your buddy tonight! And we’re going to grab one of your friends to hang out with you and Mr John too.”
Robert: “Aww man! I want a female! And I don’t want one of my friends with me.”
Me: “Sorry, Buddy! You’re stuck with Mr. John.”
Robert: “Awww, SHUCKS!”
Later… Me: “Robert, I’d like to take your picture!”
Robert: “But I got brownie in my teeth… hold on. I gotta rinse my mouth out. There. Now you can take it.” 😀
Dan has played for us two years in a row now. This time he had a bit of help! But look at the grin on Dan’s face. He’s having as much fun as the other guy!  And Matthew (yellow name tag) couldn’t resist!

Randy Kington, Vietnam Veteran, author and speaker gave the address.

The hardworking clean up crew. It’s amazing the what can get done in two hours when you have cheerful helpers!

My partner in crime (read: Sunday School teaching partner, kindred spirit and dear friend), Darlene, and me after 10:30 that night… I’m pretty impressed we were still standing!

The supervisors (not to mention mine and Darlene’s husbands). What would we have done without them? (Just bustin’ them, btw. They worked hard all day and have sacrificed many hours this spring so Darlene and I could do this thing! MANY other spouses have as well as this is NOT a 2 man show!!! We couldn’t do it without all the hundreds of volunteers we had pitching in!))

So does this not just look like the MOST fun you could ever have?! There are sooooo many hours of planning that go into this 3 hour event, but every SECOND is worth it! A guest speaker used this quote of  Frederick Buechner’s today in his sermon and it perfectly sums up my heart about disability ministry.

Your greatest calling“is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Disability ministry is that place for me.

Some of our older guests aren’t as active, but really enjoying just sitting around and watching. That’s okay with us!
Some hokey pokeying.  ~  A younger, courageous volunteer.
Everyone loves the animals!
These are my two favorite Luke 14 pictures I’ve taken. Don’t they just make you smile?