The first thing we did on Saturday was play. We played Phase 10, then we went out to the playground at the condo once we got dressed. This first picture and the next is of Todd cleaning the dirt off the slide so they boys wouldn't get all messy. We had to be somewhere at 2 and wanted them looking at least a little decent.
This is the picture of a daddy who loves his boys. And the mama is taking the picture, cracking up.
I didn't take any pictures of it, but the best thing we did in Hot Springs was to visit some friends of ours, Kirk and Marie Thompson. They are house parents for teenage boys at a children's home in Hot Springs, called Hillcrest. We got a tour of the house, the land, and actually met some of the boys at the children's home. Kirk and Marie were missionaries in Mexico for a while, but money just ran out. So they moved to Memphis for a while, then found jobs in Florida at a teenage pregnancy home for girls. I don't know the story as to why they left Florida, because they loved it, but this opening at Hillcrest came available, and it's close to home for both of them, so they took this position. They started in the teenage pregnancy area first, then were offered the house parent position for the teen boys. They weren't sure that's what they wanted to do, but it was obvious that God placed them there, and yesterday was proof that they are right where He wants them. These boys love and respect them so much, and Marie is just awesome with kids.
Right now they are house parents for nine boys, raging from 13~17. They are literally these boys' family. They eat meals together, Kirk and Marie drop off and pick them up from school everyday, they help them with homework, they have Bible studies together, they do chores together, everything. The meals they have and the luxuries provided in their "cottage", as Marie called it, are provided by churches that donate food and goods for these kids. They start accepting kids as young as five years of age, but we didn't see or meet any of the younger ones. The kids that are there are there from all different backgrounds. Some of the kids are placed there by D.C.S., and some are there because their families are unable to care for them.
Before we went to Hillcrest, Graham asked if we could "get" a boy and take him home. We didn't really answer, when he asked if Mimi and Papa could "get" one, so they would have someone to play with at their house. When I told Marie this, she just cried. It was such a humbling experience to see something like this. I am so thankful that the boys got to see and witness that there really are "needy" kids out there. I've talked about this before, but to actually see it is totally different. I am so grateful to Kirk and Marie for showing their lives to us while we visited. We will definitely go back the next time we go to Hot Springs.
I couldn't not post this...even though I don't like it of myself. Todd actually wanted to have our picture taken.
I thought I was going to scream getting them to sit still for this. Isn't it cute? It's birth order from top to bottom.
We went on a nature walk Saturday, and this is the sandbar that was not visible the day before. They were expecting lots of rain from Ike, so Friday and Saturday, they lowered all of Lake Hamilton, Lake Katherine and Lake Oachita by one foot. Talk about a lot water.
This is the reason we went on the nature walk. Drew has a seed project due on Monday, and we had to collect just one more seed. This is a gumball he's holding up...not a seed technically, but we want to make sure his teacher knew we were doing something educational while we were gone. She was kind of mad that he was missing school for vacation. Drew said she sighed when he told her why he was going to be gone for 2 days.
I do not know what she was talking about, but doesn't Mimi look like she's teaching something really important??
I was so scared this accident prone child was going to go tumbling head first into the lake. Fortunately, he didn't.
Later Saturday night, Ike started rolling in. We actually found out today (Sunday) that the eye of hurrican Ike passed right over Hot Springs. The wind and rain were pretty bad, and we lost power at 9:30 Saturday night, and still didn't have it when we left on Sunday at 10:00.
This was the picture before dawn. The one above is right as the sun's coming up. This one below looks like a postcard. The lake was so beautiful and calm. Hard to imagine that just mere hours before, this same lake looked like an ocean, with waves whitecapping and rolling in.
Every year before we leave on Sunday, we stop and eat breakfast at the Pancake Shoppe, and end in a visit to this store, the Toy Chest. This store was started by a couple who moved to Hot Springs 20 something years ago to retire, then got bored and opened this store.
And if you look closely at darling little Graham, he had his toy wrapped around his head. Grandma Sandy, if you're reading this, you may NOT want to look too closely! This is the hot springs behind them. A man told us that this water comes out at 130 degrees.
And right after I took this picture, we started heading home. We fell asleep within twenty minutes of being on the road, thanks to Hurricane Ike. We lost sleep last night because of the wind, and the fact that we were burning up with no air conditioning. We are glad to be home, but we had a great time. We are definitely refreshed for the next several months!