The Official Blog of Coyote Hill
And He took them in His arms and blessed them... Mark 10:16
And He took them in His arms and blessed them... Mark 10:16
A child at Coyote Hill is given many intentional experiences and opportunities that they might never have received otherwise. There are the fundamental things such as a safe and loving home environment with a loving mother and father, and emotional, physical and spiritual support. Along with that, we also do our best to prepare our children for life after The Hill, by teaching Life Skills.
One of our staff that helps to facilitate our Life Skill training is Lance Rainwater, our Vocational Skills Director and Property Manager. You can find kids tagging along with Lance wherever he goes and whatever he does on the property. In any given day he may be helping a child learn how to repair a fence or create a craft.
This summer, while the children were out of school, Lance’s position expanded to include supervising three employees who are youth at Coyote Hill. These teens weren’t just handed the jobs; they were required to go through the entire interview and application process, just as they would be expected to do when trying to get any type of employment. Thus, they received instruction in the whole job application process – not to mention the valuable training they received from Lance throughout the summer.
Lance shared one insight that he’s realized after working with his three employees, “It’s fun to see all the little ways kids are influenced by you. For example, I always carry a pocket knife wherever I go. For a basic, all-around, go anywhere, be prepared tool – I just like to carry a pocket knife. As the summer progressed, I couldn’t help noticing that the two boys working for me started carrying pocket knives.”
Lance concludes, “Every time I see their pocket knives, it’s a little reminder to me that I am changing and influencing these kids. I am now a part of their story and I need to make sure I’m a positive part. A good part, a positive part, a mentoring part of their stories…and that’s my whole reason for being here.”
Sometimes you really get to see God’s hand at work in your life. Sometimes you get to meet people who energize you. Sometimes you get both in one day.
Such was the day that Megan Schultz came to visit. Megan is a reporter for KOMU News. She was assigned a beat called “What’s Working in Mid-Missouri?” Through her own exploration, she chose to dig into Coyote Hill. Megan came to visit on a typical summer Friday afternoon. After she interviewed me about all the “in and outs” of Coyote Hill, we went down to visit with Michael & Kayla Kauffman in The Wright Home. Michael & Kayla were both interviewed about their job at Coyote Hill and the experiences they had. It was all things I had heard before and knew. What I didn’t know was how much it was impacting Megan.
After the feature ran on KOMU, she wrote a blog post about her time at Coyote Hill. You can read the whole post here. For me, the best part of Megan’s visit wasn’t necessarily that we got a spot on the nightly news. It was the fact that she “got it.” Megan looked at Coyote Hill through the lens of faith. When the Home Parents and I discussed why we work here, and why we are building another home; Megan understood the reason behind it. She understood that every single person here is motivated by their belief in Christ and that we are called to work here. We are called to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Romans 12:1). We are called to love God’s children…and we do. We really really do!
Here are some of the things Megan shared about her experience at Coyote Hill:
This wasn’t an organization. These were people living their every day lives. These were people living in humbleness, people living in generosity, people living in love.
People living in the Spirit.
I saw couples surrendering their first years of marriage to be “house parents” to as many as eight foster children at a time, not including their own children. It’s not that they wanted to “have” more than eight children in such a short amount of time, it’s that they felt called to do so. Every minute of every day is filled with caring for these children who have stories of abuse and neglect that would shatter anyone’s heart.
And these children are high-demand. They need extra love and attention, having experienced extreme hurt at such a young age. Many are behind in school, many need counseling, and many just need to know there will be food on the table and a place to sleep every night, no matter what happened that day.
What a life of surrender.
I have to brag on our Home Parents now, because they truly are some of the greatest examples of how a Christian’s life is transformed by the gospel. In the book, “What’s so Great about the Doctrines of Grace,” Richard D. Phillips sums up why Christians decided to serve in this way:
I am happy everyday to come to work to be a part of the ministry of Coyote Hill. It is evident that this is not a job to our Home Parents (or any of our staff), but rather a joy. In the homes, where life is busy and constant, this joyful service to the Lord is played out.
The biggest thing I noticed, however, was the way these parents disciplined. They did it with sternness, but also with an incredible amount of sympathy and explanation. They explained why a kid was in trouble, but more importantly, that God still loved him or her despite the mistake. This is something many of the kids hadn’t received before. In their previous circumstances, they would be scolded and sometimes abused as a result of their mistake, not knowing why what they did was wrong.
While my heart ached for the children and their devastating stories, my mind tried to grasp the sincerity of these house parents. And yet it couldn’t. On my way home from my first trip there, I asked God how he could make such genuine people. I still have no answer.
Be open to answering God’s call for your life. It’ll make all the difference.
If my legacy in my entire life amounts to half of these people’s on a daily basis, I would be satisfied.
“Here I am. Send me!” — Isaiah 6:8
Summer is a great time for former residents to come back and visit. Our Home Parents love these visits, as it demonstrates that the child continues to seek the love and acceptance he received while at Coyote Hill.
One such visit happened shortly after school was out. Chad* was able to return to The Zimmer Home for a few days. Chad has been living with a family member for a few months now, but was so excited to come back for a visit. Chad accepted Christ last fall while at the Zimmer Home, and while visiting he reminded Charlie that he never had the chance to get baptized. Charlie talked to him a lot about that, did some planning, and was able to baptize Chad that Sunday at church! It was a great testimony to the current children in the home, to see that no matter where they go in life, they’ll continue to be loved and supported by those who cared for them during their time at Coyote Hill.
Another encouraging visit occurred when the Smith* family joined Michael and Kayla Kauffman and kids at The Wright Home for dinner. The Kauffmans had grown very close to the Smith’s children while they lived in the home several months ago, so they were so excited to have the whole family for a visit. The Smiths have been attending church with The Wright Home, and the parents are always excited to give Michael and Kayla great reports when their kids do well. It’s been exciting to see the family growing closer to each other and to Christ!
It was “one of those days” for Lance Rainwater, Coyote Hill’s vocational skills instructor and property manager. But 14 year-old Mason*, Lance’s sidekick for the day, declared it “the greatest day ever.”
Lance and Mason had set out after a heavy snow in March, with the intention of moving hay to a pasture for a few of our horses. The task normally wouldn’t take very long.
“Things went wrong from the start,” Lance said, “First, we left the gate open, thinking the horses would stay with the hay.” The horses had a mind of their own, however, and before Lance and Mason could stop them, they had taken off through the gate.
“They took off towards the arena where the rest of the horses were,” Lance said. “We tried to catch up to them but eventually had to hop in the Gator.” However, on their way back to the horses, the Gator got stuck in the snow and the two were forced to find shovels to dig it out.
After the horses were finally back where they belonged, Mason and Lance went back to the tractor to get the second bale of hay. Thinking it would be easier to turn the tractor off while hooking up the large bale, Lance shut off the engine. Upon hooking up the bale, Lance turned the keys to start the tractor – but nothing happened.
After 45 minutes of trying to revive it, Lance called Executive Director Larry McDaniel, hoping he would have some advice. “It took Larry literally five seconds to figure it out,” Lance said. “Larry asked us if the PTO was on. It was. All I had to do was turn it off, and the tractor started.”
“I had been pretty frustrated up to that point,” Lance said. “But when we found out it was simply an operating error, I couldn’t help but smile.”
Now, a few weeks after the event, Lance just laughs and shakes his head whenever he talks about it. “Mason got to do so much that day that he had never done before…digging things out of the snow, running after the horses. To him – it was a great day!”
We’re all proud of Mason’s positive outlook.
–story by Allissa Fisher, MU Service Learning Student
*name changed for sake of confidentiality
For those who agree with the teaching of Disney’s movie “Bambi” about hunters, you may want to skip this post. But then again, if you appreciate the bond of a father teaching his boy a new life skill and the satisfaction of working hard and succeeding in providing food for the family…keep reading!
We gained a 12-year-old boy in the Zimmer Home in September. Dad Charlie Marshman has been working hard at developing a bond with Curt*, like our Home Parents do with all of our children.
“We wanted to try hunting together,” Charlie explains. “Opening morning of deer season, we went out with our pastor. Curt and I didn’t get anything, but our pastor did. We were able to help him through the entire process of field dressing, skinning, processing and getting the meat in the freezer. What a learning experience for Curt!”
Charlie’s wife, Jaimee, shares, “Nearly every day during deer season, Curt and Charlie have been getting up early to go in the woods, and then back out to hunt again after school. They were having fun but hadn’t gotten to shoot at anything. They even went to another place in Columbia and saw, according to Curt, ‘the biggest buck I’ve ever seen!!’ Curt shot at it but said he was shaking so much that he missed.”
Jaimee concludes, “They decided to go out one more time on the Coyote Hill property before the season ended, even though they hadn’t seen anything out here. THREE doe walked right in front of them! Charlie let Curt take the shot – AND HE GOT IT!!! He was so excited, and they will be doing all of the work themselves to get the meat in the freezer. It’s been a great experience for them – doing all of this together.”
We are so thankful for our amazing Home Parents, our wonderful children – and our family of supporters that make life-time memories like this possible.
Before school started, Mom Kayla Kauffman from the Wright Home decided she wanted to treat all the young ladies in her home to a “Girls’ Night.” She got creative and figured out some things that they could do right there at home – including facials and manicures!
Kayla said, “The girls loved the oatmeal masks and painting each others nails, not only because they were able to stay up past their bedtimes, but because they were able to help each other. It was a great lesson in serving others!”
Whether or not you want to include your canine friend, we wanted to include Kayla’s oatmeal mask instructions, so you would be inspired to try your own Girls’ Night with some special young ladies in your life!
Anyone who knows anything about the history of Coyote Hill recognizes the names of Mark and Laurene Zimmer. Even new children that arrive at The Hill soon realize that Zimmer must be something or someone significant. After all, every time they come on the property they travel on Zimmer Lane, and our second home is named The Zimmer Home.
Thus, whenever Mark and Laurene come for a visit, our Home Parents excitedly announce to all the children that the Zimmers are coming! This happened last week, when the Zimmers brought some friends to The Hill for a visit and a tour. That in itself is not an unusual occurrence – but what happened to me as a result took me by surprise.
The very afternoon that the Zimmers were expected to arrive, I simply stepped into the arena to snap a few photos. Within moments, two young boys turned to me and asked enthusiastically, “Are you Mark Zimmer???”
Well, I must admit – I’d never been asked that question before. It took me a moment before I could reply…
“Do I LOOK like a ‘Mark’?!”
“Well, he is coming for a visit today you know!” and with that, they hurried back to their activity.
I forgave them for mistaking me for a man when I realized how awesome it was that they were SO excited about meeting the Zimmers. They were hoping that just about anybody who walked in would be their highly anticipated guest.
However, I’ve decided that the next time the Zimmers come for a visit, I’ll make sure I wear make-up and a dress before I go to work.
Summertime and family vacations seem to go hand-in-hand. Thus, as a part of providing that “Safe Place to Be a Child,” we love to grant our youth and children the opportunity to create those traditional, summer-time memories. Those memories will undoubtedly be carried with them for a lifetime.
Recently, Tim and Kristi Hughes and their family in the Hubbell Home loaded up and headed out on vacation. When we say “loaded up” – we mean LOADED – with three adults and eleven children in one van! The long road trip to Michigan provided ample time for lots of stories to be told and countless songs to be sung. They stayed with Kristi’s sister and family while there, and after resting up a bit on day one of the trip, they were ready to take the Detroit area by storm on the following days.
Mom Kristi explains, “We enjoyed splash pads and sprayscapes, Mill Race Village (a village of homes built in the 1800’s) The Yankee Air Museum, Turtle Cove water park and a day at the Detroit Zoo. When asked what the very best part of their vacation was, each and every child answered, ‘the zoo!’”
Kristi continues, ‘The kids loved seeing the kangaroos, elephants, tigers and monkeys. The Detroit Zoo is famous for their Arctic Ring of Life. Watching polar bears play with balls was a favorite with our twins. There was also an underground, glass tunnel through the polar bear and seal exhibit where animals could be viewed from underneath! The polar bears tended to lay on top of the tunnel as viewers walked by. The kids were amazed at how close we were to the animals, while seeing them in their natural habitat.”
We can’t mention an amazing vacation like this without once again thanking all of you who support our annual Pancake Breakfast. That one annual fund-raiser continues to provide the majority of the funding for our summer recreation fund. Thank YOU for the part you play in helping provide these life-long, family memories for our children!
One of our Home Parent Moms, Kayla Kauffman, shares what The Wright Home found to do on a recent rainy Monday in June:
Our mornings usually consist of swinging on the swing set, playing kickball or the favorite from our home – SWIMMING. However, the other day we had one of our first rainy days of the summer and it was overcast and dreary all morning.
Thus, we just came up with some activities for the kids to do inside. A generous donor provided the funds to decorate our home, so we went to Hobby Lobby and bought some frames and wall hangings. Our 17-year-old is our resident artist, and she painted two signs to hang up in either hallway; one that says GIRLS and one that says BOYS. The younger children made crafts and painted pictures. Our two-year-old son, Elijah, sat outside and painted a rock.
Playing dress up became the next rainy-day activity. The younger girls dressed up and pretended to be a country singer and a Chinese waitress. They waited on each other and pretended to bring everyone else drinks. It was really cute and a really fun way to interact with all the kids in the house at the same time. –Kayla Kauffman
Yes – summer is a great time for sharing lots of outdoor activities together as a family. However, we do our best to make the most of each and every day, whether or not the weather cooperates!