Summers at Mo Ranch
Testimony by Sue White
I was in the seventh grade the first time I saw Mo Ranch. My youth group from the post chapel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio went on a retreat, and I fell under the spell of the Hill Country, Guest Lodge by the river with its rock and wood interior and ceiling beams made from oil pipe and painted to look like timbers and, of course, the slide. Laboriously trekking up the steep stairs with the old wooden sled, securing it to the rails just right and then, sitting on top of the world, pushing forward to begin the breathtaking journey down only to float gently out into the Guadalupe - all remain clearly in memory.
Years later Buz and I regularly took our young boys, Stiles and John, to Mo Ranch for a few days in August just to spend happy time together as a family before the busy school year began.
The richest, most meaningful days at Mo, however, have been the long weekends spent with our First Presbyterian church family during many Julys. Surrounded by the warm embrace of friends, the quiet beauty of the place, meaningful worship and study, sounds of music for praise and reflection, our family found true community. Within that community we watched the boys grow in faith and develop great friendships as they discovered the riotous joy of fellowship among friends in Christ. We applauded at talent shows , played games, did the chicken dance, ate ice cream and barbecue, star gazed, participated in sack races and relays and laughed ourselves silly.
Jesus draws us into community and in community at Mo I have encountered Christ at unexpected moments with unexpected people - resting under the shade of an oak, floating down the rapids, walking back from dinner or on the way to the pool, sitting together in the prayer tank, climbing up to the cross. I have enjoyed conversations with people I might never have encountered on Sundays in Houston. This is the essence of Mo Ranch for in this setting we Believers may listen, encourage, share and abide with one another in ways not possible in the city.
This summer Stiles and John will join me at Mo Ranch with their families. I am eager for the grandchildren to experience Mo Ranch in the same way their fathers did, and the dads can’t wait to take the kids down the rapids and, of course, the slide. Three generations of our family united with our church family - nothing could be any better!
Testimony by Stiles White
No matter how many times you visit, or however long you've been away, there's a special feeling you get when you return to Mo Ranch. As a kid spending summer days there with my family, I didn't know what it meant for a place to be "timeless." I simply liked that all my favorite things were always waiting for me, unchanged. I couldn't wait to soak up the sun at the rapids, take a wild ride down The Slide, or hike up to Chapel on the Hill and gaze out at the incredible view.
Years later, as a teenager with the First Presbyterian Youth Group, trips to Mo Ranch took on an epic quality. It was an event that anchored the entire summer vacation. You've never appreciated passing through those front gates so much than when you had to actually pedal there on your 10-speed bike all the way from Brookshire. The fellowship of our church family was strengthened and renewed after every trip.
This summer I'll be coming back and continuing the family tradition by bringing my son. After so many years, I look forward to rediscovering some old memories... and creating new ones. Sure, I'll probably notice little changes. But that "feeling" -- the spirit of Mo Ranch -- I know it will be exactly the same.
Testimony by John White
Growing up at First Presbyterian our family went to Mo Ranch every year. It was always the highlight of the summer for my brother and me. During junior high and high school I went on several of the legendary “Mo Ranch Bike Trips,” cycling from Houston to the Hill Country with the youth group. We had no helmets, no parents, and no problems! (It was the 80’s!) After high school I moved to California, but the memories of Mo Ranch were never far away. I am so excited to be returning to Mo Ranch this summer for the first time in 20 years. I can’t wait to introduce my two California kids to the joys of the Texas hill country, the rapids, the slide, the catwalk, the incredible fellowship, and all the amazing things “Mo” has to offer.