Monday, May 30, 2011

Honoring Our Wounded Warriors

On Memorial Day we honor our fallen heroes--those men and women who served our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. This morning I will be at a local Memorial Day service, listening to my grandpa give a speech on the Merchant Marines. After his speech, my sister will be reading a poem written by a mariner who recently passed away, and I'll be singing "This is My Son" (by the bluegrass band, Cherryholmes). We are privileged to have a part in honoring the military this day.

But let us also remember our military men and women who are still serving our country today, as well as those who have come home wounded.

With that in mind, today's guest is KC Frantzen! KC was here in April to ask for our support of the Wounded Warrior Getaway, and now she is back to share with us how the latest WWG went. I think you'll be blessed by her report:

Spring Wounded Warrior Getaway – Boerne, TX
April 28 – May 1, 2011

This year's theme: 2 Corinthians 3:17

"…Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

Absolutely right!

This Wounded Warrior Getaway (WWG) was at once the most intense and the most peaceful, from my perspective. Prior to everyone's arrival, there seemed to be a variety of attacks and "fiery darts" trying to derail the event in some form or fashion.

But we started on time and the folks who were supposed to be there, came. Thirty-six volunteers from all over the country arrived to help – California to Florida, Illinois to Texas - and my husband and me from Tennessee.

This was our third time to be blessed working in ministry side by side with these warriors and their families. As he says, "It's the highlight of our year."

About 35 warrior families came, several with as many as five children!!

Inspiring Speakers

Our keynote speakers were Clebe and Deanna McClary. (I had the privilege of meeting them last August, when a friend and I helped with the MARSOC Getaway in Myrtle Beach, SC.) They are one amazing couple with a phenomenal story and ministry, Clebe having won both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. If you want to know more, check out their books. Great reads!

How thankful we are that people like the McClarys put others first, showing their concern not only for physical healing but especially for spiritual healing. They truly exhibit the love of Christ, having been there, done that with Clebe's 30+ major surgeries and countless weeks of rehab after his severe injuries in Vietnam. Please remember them in prayer.

Because God used them in such a powerful way, 4 people came to faith in Christ before Sunday morning, and 3 more during the Sunday service. Who knows since then, how many have thought about the eternal truths of God's perfect love that the McClarys shared?

Warriors and the Wild West

MANY thanks to those who sent thank you notes. (I was hoping there would be more because they are so meaningful. Maybe next time?! HINT HINT!!!) Books were sent, along with gift cards and some prizes for the BBQ and Saturday night event too.

We fill welcome bags with these donated items to make the family's stay more enjoyable. Of course, there are also items for them to take back to their apartments or places they stay while their warrior is still in recovery.

** Think about this. It was the third time we saw some of the same families, which means their beloved warrior is still in treatment. This wears on relationships and the WWG serves as a time of refreshment for those who are weary.

We had a western theme, which meant a lot of fun for all. Not only did we have a petting zoo (with pig, lamb, baby chicks and a statuesque Holstein with saddle for photo-taking), but we had a chuck wagon making biscuits and peach cobbler over the fire *YUM!*, a trick roping demonstration and a wonderful evening with Dr. Gene Howard, a dead-ringer for John Wayne.

Things ran smoothly as we ministered to the families. Many had heard what a great weekend it is and were ready to get away from endless appointments and packed schedules so they could be a family for awhile.

Stories of Healing

And oh the stories. One lady warrior thanked us repeatedly for making her middle child feel special. Six recommitted their lives to Christ. One senior was ready to go to her first ever prom Saturday evening. There was talk amongst the volunteers about who was good with hair and makeup. Deanna McClary (former pageant winner) to the rescue! We found some hot rollers and Ellen, our volunteer who always hosts the spa time, had lots of Mary Kay cosmetics and skin care for the pretty teen to enjoy. She started to bloom… By the time Cinderella left, she was stunning. The next morning she teared up and told us she never thought she could look so beautiful.

Being a dog person, I had to meet Bosley. On the first occasion I sat on the floor enjoying his company and looked up at his master, a lady warrior.

A chill ran through me as I recognized her from two previous WWG's. She has terrible PTSD, nightmares and she sleep-walks.

When I said her name, she smiled broadly. Truly, I did not recognize her, she looked so fantastic! She shared how Bosley had changed her life. Her awesome dog has made all the difference. She is one of the people who came to faith in Christ this time.

Your prayers are so important. Thank you!

One young couple have been married three years. Not long after they married, he went to Iraq, survived a blast, and is now in a wheelchair. They've been having a very tough time, but after hearing the McClarys, they met with Deanna privately and told her they wanted what she and Clebe have. This couple both accepted the gift of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone Saturday evening. Watching them "dance" at the Saturday night event was one of the most memorable scenes for me.

An older warrior made a point to see each volunteer and gave us a special commemorative coin from Iraq. He said the WWG had changed his life. That he was going to be a much better husband and father from now on, as he puts Christ back into the center of his home.

How YOU Can Help

These are random thoughts, but I trust it gives you a glimpse into this outstanding Grace ministry. As always, volunteers pay our own way.

Joni and Friends takes donations to cover the cost of the Warrior families who attend, as they are not charged for the long weekend. Please send to:

Joni And Friends San Antonio
1370 Pantheon Way, # 165
San Antonio, TX 78232

I hope you will consider volunteering yourself, and getting your own group involved. There is a tremendous need with so, so many young men and women returning wounded – which in turn has a devastating impact on the family. They've done their duty. It is our duty to be faithful and take care of them in recovery.

Please PRAY: For the Joni and Friends San Antonio staff, who do things with love and excellence, for the volunteers, and especially for the warriors and their families. And DO join us next time with your support, and hopefully your presence(!), as we minister to our heroic American Warrior families.

6 comments:

KC Frantzen said...

Greetings on this special day of remembrance. Thank you for having me back to update your faithful readers.

Amber, as I say, it's an honor and truly a privilege to serve our military in this small way. We continue to pray for those whose husband or wife, son or daughter, sister or brother is serving, has been wounded and most especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. May we never take our freedom for granted.

Thank YOU for your participation today, with your family in the ceremony. We would love to all be there in person to hear your Grandfather and sister, and enjoy your singing. :)

Renee Ann said...

It's always encouraging to read about what's being done for our wounded warriors, KC. And how fun to be involved in the Memorial Day Service, Amber. Thanks to both of you!

Amber S. said...

KC,

So glad to have you back! It's wonderful to hear your report after having you here back in April. :) Thank you for all you do for the military, and for being such a great friend to me! And as you say, may we never take our freedom for granted.

As for the service I attended today, I actually ended up just reading the poem instead of singing. But oh, well. ;) My grandpa did a wonderful job!! He got the audience to laugh at some of his mariner stories, clap at his testimony, and give him a standing ovation once he was done! It was beautiful to see. :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Renee Ann,

So true! It's always a pleasure and an honor to host KC. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

~Amber

Amanda said...

Happy Belated Memorial Day!! Sorry I wasn't here sooner! When I seen KC was here again I knew I was gonna cry... and I did, lol ;) Once again she has brought beauty and joy and inspiration to us (and the wounded warriors and their families!) through these powerful testimonies and her obedience to go where the Lord has called her. They must be so blessed to have her there being the hands and feet of Jesus, praying and interceding for these incredible men and women. Thank you, KC, for all you do and all shared here. And praise the wonderful Name of Jesus that souls were saved!!! May God heal these warriors and their families from the inside out and give them peace and rest in their souls and minds each and every day.

Amber, I didn't know you like to sing!! Great song to sing, too, BTW ;) I bet you have a sweet voice and I'm sure your special music blessed all those there! That is so awesome how you and your family were so involved in that service! I'm sure many were touched by what you all shared from your hearts :)

Blessings to you both!!!
Amanda

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

Isn't it wonderful to have KC back? Her posts are always so inspiring and moving. :) I agree--praise Jesus for the souls saved and the hearts healed during the WWG!

As for me singing, well, that's a matter of opinion! ;) I do love that song, though. :) It actually didn't work out for me to sing this year, but my grandpa's speech went really well. I'll send you another e-mail soon to tell you more about it! ;)

~Amber