How I came across Kind At Heart Ministries is a bit of a fascinating story. Sometimes when our plans do not work out how we imagine, it's often because God has a different and better plan that is more suitable for our needs. My name is Abigail Falksen, and I am a Family and Human Services major at John Brown University. And as you might guess, God had a different plan for me this summer than originally planned.


At the end of last semester at JBU, I sensed that God wanted me to stay in the Siloam Springs area for the summer. At the time, I was hoping to work with kids and low-income families in the community, so I arranged to be an intern at a local nonprofit that works with this population.


When I returned to Siloam Springs after a short visit home, however, I found out that the non-profit was no longer in need of an intern. It was then that I realized God must've had something else in mind for me. Trusting in His promise to keep me in Siloam Springs, I began asking Him what I was to do next.


Later that day, I shared with Leola Leetch (a new friend of mine) that my plans for an internship did not go as I had imagined. "Coincidentally," I met her son Dave at that time and began learning about Kind at Heart Ministries . . . a faith-based organization in Siloam Springs. One conversation led to another, and within a short period of time I was "signed on" to be an intern with this ministry. Little did I know that God had a plan for me to love on some of the elderly and disabled members of this community . . . a stark contrast to what I originally had in mind for the summer.


Since the first day that God brought me into this ministry, I could not have anticipated the joy that I would experience in serving these Neighbors of Siloam Springs.


I've jumped into serving others through hands-on service (see picture above), I've driven all over Siloam Spring with Sena Knudsen (Encouragement Program), and I've had the honor of getting to know some incredible individuals packed full of wisdom, humor, and unique gifts and talents. Being on this team has been a perfect fit.


Abigail (second from left) joins DaySpring employees to stain a ramp for one of our friends & Neighbors.

I am convinced that members of younger and older generations can learn a lot from each other when they are intentional to listen to one another, lend a hand, and share experiences that allow for teaching, growth and flourishing.


I'd love it if you'd join me these next few weeks as I share a few things I'm learning this summer and introduce you to a couple folks who've been some pretty great teachers along the way. After all, each of us are on a journey, and some are further down the road than others. Who better to ask for directions than those who have already been where we are?


- Abigail

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(In Memory of Richard Geer - September 9, 1921 - April 11th, 2019)


I wonder sometimes how often we miss the HEROES AMONG US . . . so often simple people who have accomplished the extraordinary. People who have experienced the world in ways very few of us ever have or will. People who have stories that will never be captured in storybooks or big screen productions . . . though the stories have the power to change lives (our own included) if we would only take the time to listen.


Richard Geer was one of those heroes.


Richard Geer posing with his World War II medals (per our request)

One of the last remaining survivors of World War II, Richard received a purple heart and bronze star for his service in the infantry (and several other medals as pictured above). I remember listening to his daughter, Carolyn, as she explained the medals given to dad following the war. Purple Heart. Bronze Star. Army of Occupation. The list goes on. There was a sound of pride in her voice as she shared. You could tell her Dad has always been HER hero.


We are proud to say he was one of ours, too, as we had the privilege of coming alongside Richard’s family to support his “quality of life” in his later years. Thankfully, we always knew where to find him . . . on his front porch swing, enjoying an afternoon nap or a visit from a friend in the cool of the day. After all, that was the place where his Encouragement volunteer, Shane Carlson, would settle in for their regular time together (pictured below). And that was the place where kids and adults alike would gather to hear his silly songs and celebrate his birthday with balloons, cupcakes, and laughter all around (watch the video recap here).


Shane Carlson (Encouragement Volunteer) and Richard

When we learned of Richard’s recent stroke and transition to Circle of Life Hospice, we knew that a visit was in order. What an incredible gift it was to be accompanied by another great hero, General Harold Timboe, in supporting this World War II veteran! We were truly in the company of greatness.


(Pictured L to R): Wayne Thomas, Kind at Heart founder/director, General Harold Timboe, and Richard

Onward Christian soldier. Enjoy your place of greater rest . . . in the company of THE GREATEST HERO of all time.

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One of our volunteers, Barb Maples shared this on her Facebook page last Fall when a ramp built for her mom was disassembled and taken to a new location to meet a Kind at Heart Neighbor's needs. It was and is truly a gift of love! (Shared with permission).

 


I don’t think I have ever thought of a ramp as being a “Ramp of Encouragement”, but that is what Wayne Thomas of Kind at Heart Ministries prayed this ramp would be.


The image Barb captured of the ramp built for her mom, Christine Martin, before it was moved to a new location

Since the day I heard that prayer, I have realized that is exactly what this ramp has been to me. It was built in August of 2017. Mom had moved in with me and we needed the ramp to help when using the wheelchair. The day it was being built, mom had to go back to the hospital. She never came home from there and we never used the ramp for her.


For over a year, I have looked at the ramp with mixed emotions. Some days, it is a sad reminder that mom isn’t here and we never got to use it for her. But, most of the time, it is an encouraging reminder of the kindness shown to our family during a very difficult time.


Barb with her friend (and our Encouragement Administrator), Allison Bellomy.

So, when Wayne prayed the ramp would be a “Ramp of Encouragement”, my heart was truly blessed and my mind was flooded with reminders of the encouragement it had been to me. The ramp is being taken down today. It is being moved to another location where I pray that it will be a symbol of encouragement for the next person, just as it has been for me.


I am in a Bible study and we are studying 1 Samuel. A couple of weeks ago, we were in chapter 7 where Samuel set up a stone and named it “Ebenezer”. The “Ebenezer” stone was a reminder the Lord had helped the Israelites.


Even though the ramp is not made of stone, it has been an “Ebenezer” to me. A reminder of help given at a time it was very much needed and that has been encouraging.


Thank you again to the group from Sager Creek Community Church who built the ramp. Their kindness was such a labor of love, and there is no way I can ever express to them how much they ministered to me and my family at that time. And prayers for the new person this ramp is going to, and for Kind at Heart Ministries. I do pray it will be a “Ramp of Encouragement” to everyone who steps on it or who rides over it in a wheelchair.

 

WE ARE THANKFUL THAT BARB CHOSE TO GIFT HER MOM'S RAMP TO KIND AT HEART, AS IT PROVIDED THE MATERIALS NEEDED TO BUILD A RAMP FOR ANOTHER MOM IN NEED OF HELP. WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WAY TO PAY IT FORWARD! THIS PHILOSOPHY OF "RAMP RECYCLING" TRULY ENABLES US TO MEET INCREASING NEEDS IN OUR COMMUNITY AND, WE BELIEVE, IS GOOD STEWARDSHIP IN ACTION. A FEW YEARS AGO WE RECOGNIZED THIS POTENTIAL AND CHANGED BOTH THE WAY WE DESIGN RAMPS (IN MODULES/SECTIONS) AND THE WAY WE PUT THEM TOGETHER (SCREWS INSTEAD OF NAILS).

 

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