Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fall at Forest Springs


To our friends and family.

After a stable, yet transforming summer of adventure ministry, our busy fall is well underway here at Forest Springs. As always, the Trailhead students are up to their elbows in challenging and unique experiences. This week, for example, they were up to their elbows in pork!

Haley lives on a pig farm, and her generous parents dropped off a living 200 pound pig last week.  It was a rare and fascinating opportunity to butcher this pig and process the meat together. Yesterday we made 60 pounds of sausage and future meals will include barbequed ribs, pulled pork, smoked bacon and a beautiful pork loin that we will save for a special occasion.  Most of the students will never butcher a pig again, but they will always know what’s involved, and they will never see the meat aisle at the grocery store in quite the same way they used to.

This experience, along with auto maintenance, chainsaw class, canoe building and others, are simply the “extras” from the last few weeks. These are fun and useful skills, but the core of our fall curriculum is Bible training.  When they aren’t running a meat grinder or felling trees, our students are digging deep into God’s word.  The training they are receiving will equip them for their future, and make them a blessing in their churches. Pray for them as they tackle these difficult classes!

On the home front, we just celebrated our 8th anniversary and Charlie’s second birthday. It is hard to believe we have only known him for that long.  He is emerging as a social and observant little boy who cares about others.  He is also full-swing into the life-long journey of learning about obedience.  Mason is a happy and curious 8-month-old with hair that stands straight on end.  He is just starting to enjoy trying food with his new teeth, and loves watching and laughing with Charlie.  We pray their budding friendship is a blessing to them and others for life.  Our boys are a constant blessing and I must say that their mother is amazing.

God is faithful. We are celebrating with the board today, and reliving the many testimonies from our ministry this year. Your prayers and support have been instrumental in this. Thank you!

Dan, Laura, Charlie& Mason

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October Update

Its been a bit over a month since the last post and much has happened.

-Students enjoyed the two-week intensive course "Did God Write the Bible?"
-We began the Fall Bible courses and discussion groups.
-We started building a (normal size) canoe.
-We served many guests on the weekends.
-Students have shopped, budgeted for and prepared many meals.

That is right. I have long felt that butchering an animal should be part of the Trailhead year. Our food is so easy to come by these days that we easily forget how much work it takes to get it from the field to the grocery store. Often, the process of killing, gutting, skinning and butchering an animal is completely new to our students but every meat-based meal we eat requires that it be done.

We were blessed to receive a pig from Haley's parents in Iowa, and on Monday the process began. Most of the students were spared needing to be part of the killing and skinning (to be honest, having never killed a pig, I wasn't really wanting an audience) but everyone helped out with the butchering.

This afternoon we reduced the pig to chops, ribs, loin, tenderloin, pork butt (to be smoked) and bacon (to be brined and smoked). We also have about 25lbs of scraps that will be ground seasoned and stuffed into hog casings during SAUSAGE CLASS on Friday.

We hope this experience of following food from the field to the table will help ground the students in the realities of food production and stewardship. 


 The raw materials

 Much work to be done

 Planning the primal cuts

 Everybody did a great job today. I look forward to the big grill-out after sausage class on Friday!

Pray for the students:
1. Some are struggling with the classes. We are aiming high and asking much of them. They are working hard. 
2. This is the time of year when relationships start to get harder. Conflict and communication will be a focus going forward, but living together is difficult. Pray for grace, love, patience and forgiveness. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

September is a big month for us. Each year, the new Trailhead class arrives and settles in for the nine-month adventure. They will be at Forest Springs together until May, and they will really become the focus for us until then.

We have really enjoyed this group so far. They are diverse in so many ways, but seem to be taking the steps to unify. We just returned from a four-day wilderness adventure in the Voyageur canoe that was built with the help of the very first Trailhead class in 2013/2014. Sharing this type of a journey with a Trailhead group has been a dream of mine since the beginning and did not disappoint. The students even worked together to create a sail to speed things along. By the time we disembarked, we had covered about 25 miles. More importantly, I think we laid a relational foundation that will benefit the group for the year.

For the next two weeks (beginning Tuesday) the students will take part in a two week intensive course that we call "Did God Write the Bible?"  Dr. Dan Hayden will be with us from Orlando to teach the class. I have instructed the students to come armed with their deepest questions and concerns about God's word. Please pray that they come away with a greater confidence in the Bible as God's revelation.

Trailhead class of 2015/2016

                                                         The canoe is as long as a bus!

                                                                         The crew.

                                                                            Zip line!

                                                                         A fine craft.

Under sail!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A glimpse of Summer

Jacobson Family— May 2015 (photos by JaamesStokesPhotography)

To our friends and family.

The transition from Spring to Summer means an annual ministry change for us. After a challenging and fruitful year, the Trailhead program finished on May 10th.  We rejoice with these students over the times of growth (both in them and in us).  With a few weeks to change gears, the Summer Wilderness Program kicked off on May 25th.

During the next few months, we will facilitate hundreds of experiences in the woods and on the rivers, with a staff of 8 trained wilderness guides and groups of students coming from as far away as Missouri. As I write this, we are preparing for a week during which we will juggle four separate trips taking place at once.

We are always amazed at the effectiveness of wilderness ministry. Jesus so often taught outdoors, and used creation to emphasize God’s power and provision.  As you pray this Summer, please keep in mind the young people we will serve here at camp, many of whom will spend more time with their Bibles (and less time with their smartphones) than they ever have before.   Even though the trips are only a week long, when free from addictive distractions and immersed in God’s created world, real questions about life often surface.

Please pray that we would be ready with Biblical answers that bring truth to young lives, and glory to Christ.

We are glad to report our second son, Mason is doing well. Mason came about six weeks early, and lived at the NICU for the first three weeks of his life.  We saw much of God’s goodness during this time—and so many of you were a part of that. He is now four months old and is a healthy (and smiley) little boy. We are very blessed and grateful.

Charlie is talking up a storm and is a funny, curious little boy. The other day he asked "where did God go?" A big question for his 20-month old mind!  He loves all animals, but he definitely seems to like giraffes the most.

Laura is a trooper and an amazing Mom. With two boys under two, she has her hands full at home right now. As I watch her listen, teach, prepare meals and read thousands of stories, I realize often that these are two very blessed little boys.

We definitely have our sleepless nights on occasion now, but we love this phase of life and enjoy watching these little guys learn about their world.

May God bless you,
Dan, Laura, Charlie & Mason

Congratulations, Friends!— May 2015

Summer 2015 Adventure Ministries Team

Reflections from one of our Trailhead students this year!! :

“Who am I? That’s the question isn’t it?  I didn’t know the answer to that question

before Trailhead, but a few possibilities came to my mind if I thought about it.  I was a

misfit.  I was broken and I knew that there wasn’t a place for me.  I was a slave with

shackles on my soul that I could not break free of no matter how hard I tried.  I was

sinking and I couldn’t do anything about it.  That was before I had a personal

relationship with my God.  It was easy for me to identify myself with my parent’s faith

and not have to forge one on my own.  I could hide behind the fact that I was raised in a

Christian family.  I did not know who I had “worshipped” on Sunday for my entire

childhood.  But God knows the truth.  I can’t run from him, I can’t hide from him, and I

can’t fight him.  He knows I’m not perfect.  He knows that I can’t do this on my own as

much as I act like I can. He tells me who I am, and he tells me that Mathew 6:26 was

directed at me when Jesus said “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap

nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more

value than they?”  And this got me thinking during my year at Trailhead, about who I

was, who I am and who I want to be.  I was a kid who had been running, hiding, and

fighting for a lot of his life.  I was a kid who had fallen into a pit of despair, and the more

I tried to get out, the deeper the pit became.  I was an enemy of the cross who took

Christ’s sacrifice for granted.  But I am not who I used to be.  I am not the slave to sin

that I was before.  I am not in that pit of despair anymore, and I refuse to fall back into it

because I am not a bird, and my Heavenly Father will feed me even if it’s not in the way

I thought he would.  I am a young man of God.  I am a young man of God who can’t do

this on his own, a young man who needs help from his brothers and sisters.  I am a

young man of God who is not running or hiding anymore, but I sure am fighting. I am not

fighting for the reasons I was before and I am not fighting with guns, swords, or my fists. 

I am fighting for my soul, to make sure it stays in the right hands, because my hands

cannot keep it safe.  I am fighting to make sure that I am bearing God’s image with

honor, love, and compassion.  The weapons of my war are not carnal or material.  They

are from my Father in heaven.  I bear the Shield of Faith and wield of the Sword of the

Spirit.  He alone can sustain me, no matter how much the world wants me to think that it

can.  I can do all things through he who strengthens me.  My battle cry is “Alleluia” and

my marching tune is the sweet sound of Amazing Grace.  My chains are gone.

 I am free.”