I expected to see soldiers with missing limbs and major physical injuries but was surprised that almost all had psychological injuries instead of physical. There were also families with autistic and emotionally challenged children and wives of soldiers who had to take care of their children as well as a wounded husband.
One soldier with PTSD could not take loud noises or be confined in areas with a lot of children. Our volunteer team ate our meals with him in a cabin away from the crowd. The first morning he was irritated, very much on edge, and spoke about his frustrations using a lot of expletives. By the third day his language had changed. He was calmer and began to eat in the main dining hall but wore headphones and listened to his music to avoid the crowd noise.
|Friday morning wrangler breakfast|
On each Friday morning, the camp holds a breakfast in an open meadow surrounded by trees away from the main buildings. The families ride horseback to the site where the staff serves up a breakfast cooked over an open fire. As I mingled with the families waiting for the breakfast to be served on this Friday morning, I looked up surprised to see our wounded warrior there in the crowd without his headphones! He seemed to be at peace and amazingly calm. What a transformation in just a few days!
One of the fathers, a wounded warrior there with his family, stood up and spoke out as we finished our breakfast. He tearfully thanked the staff and talked about how much the week meant to him and his family. He said that he couldn't put into words the healing that had taken place and what his family had experienced. I looked around and saw many of the wives and some of the wounded warrior dads in tears.
|Fun and games with the kids|
From the horseback riding, the morning devotions, the wonderful family meals, the hootenanny at night, to the games in the afternoon, all had worked together to bring incredible healing to the soldiers and their families.
I found that the power of the incredibly beautiful mountains and landscape was surpassed only by the power of God's presence among the staff and volunteers at the camp.
|Hitting the trail|
I was informed Sunday that after we left the ranch Friday that our soldier with PTSD spent most of Friday afternoon at the barn and was very relaxed and positive (no headphones on). That night after dinner, he and another wounded warrior broke down and wept and shared with the staff things they had never told anyone since their return home. There was lots of pent up anger towards God but both had realized that God was definitely moving during the week through all the beautiful people loving on them. Our soldier was the last man out Saturday, spending a lot of time with "his horse" and the wranglers, toting a Bible and looking forward to returning next week to visit, serve, ride and play his horn for the next group. God had certainly started the healing process in his life through the wonderful staff and volunteers and the beautiful setting.
What is amazing about the ranch is that it was first inhabited and developed by an itinerant preacher in the 1880's named E.J.Lamb. His prayer was that the land be used by God to bring people to Christ. Over one hundred years later the property is doing just that, using what God has blessed the new owners with to bring the healing power of the Gospel to families in need of restoration.
To read more about Wind River Ranch or donate go to http://www.windriverranch.com/