Sunday, August 30, 2020

Oregon is Stealing My Heart

Hiking at Todd Lake

View of the mountains at sunset from my apartment

Day trip with the interns to Steelhead Falls

View from the top of Cline Butte

Camping in the mountains with the interns

Duckie (also from camping)

The herd grazing as a storm approaches

The Pacific Ocean

A rare and elusive storm

Sunset with Dakoda, one of my host family's horses.

Sunset driving home from young adult group at a local church

The greenhouse: my favorite place.

Hiking to Blue Pool

Blue Pool

Sahalie Falls

Sunset at a small local rodeo

It isn't all work and no play in Oregon, or vice versa. I love working on the ranch. It rarely feels like work. However, when I came out to the Pacific Northwest to serve, I had no clue what an adventurous place it was! This might be my favorite state now . . . 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

 Here is a portion of the final report I wrote for my Internship in Psychology class. My internship lasts until the end of October, but the summer class ends in August. 

            I have served 338 hours on the ranch, but my internship continues until the end of October. My time hasn’t been spent in the ways I expected. I applied to the internship expecting that I would be learning how to mentor children. However, the global pandemic intervened in all our lives, an unsettling reminder of how little control we have over our future and plans. Most of my hours were spent maintaining the ranch. I have weeded for hours at a time, in potato patches or flower beds or along the roads. I have filled in holes along paths. I have cleaned toilets. But I’m not sorry that I pursued the internship. I never guessed how many new skills I would learn. I have learned how to dead head flowers and prune trees. I have learned how to make birdhouses. I have driven Kubotas and backed them with trailers. I have bucked hay. I learned how to play horse soccer. Throughout all the tasks, I never felt like I was at work.

            Although I have not been involved in sessions with children yet, I have been able to apply my psychology education to daily life on the ranch. Mentoring children and training horses are not the same, but both involve an understanding of behavior modification. I have exercised my understanding of reinforcement when riding and training the horses. It is a great opportunity to take the head knowledge I gathered in the classroom and apply it to a real-life situation. This season required flexibility from interns and staff as the board of directors navigated Covid 19. Because of the coping mechanisms I learned in Health Psych and other classes, I was able to see difficulties as challenges, adapting to the needs of the moment. My knowledge of attributions and theory of mind assisted in piloting group dynamics. The internship is high demand and high control. There are a variety of responsibilities and tasks, some of which are physically strenuous. There is also a lot of choice and space for doing the task in the way you think is best. I believe that, combined with the intrinsic motivation to serve God and kids who need help, is what makes this internship so rewarding.

            My favorite part of the internship is working with the staff. I have never experienced an atmosphere like this. Each individual is completely sold out for God. They pray over the smallest decisions, and then step out in faith. Some of the staff have given up much “better” jobs to serve the kids who walk up the driveway. Their genuine love for people is evident in their generosity. I was worried about paying for food during the internship, since it is an unpaid position. I found soon after arriving that everyone is constantly feeding us—even families and individuals who don’t have steady incomes of their own. The staff loves wholeheartedly in a way I can only hope to imitate when I return home this fall. I think everyone should experience this kind of community at some point in their lives. The ranch heaps good things onto the interns: white-water rafting, hiking boots, fishing trips. I had no idea how much fun the Pacific Northwest was going to be!

            Moving out to Oregon was the most intimidating decision I have made in my life so far. I’ve been dreaming of visiting the ranch for years, but I barely believed it when I was accepted for the internship. I am here by the grace of God, despite hitting a deer with my car, running out of money, a global pandemic, and being diagnosed with a chronic illness on April 25th. Somehow, everything fell into place perfectly. This internship isn’t about me, I am here to serve my God and serve the ranch, but I’m thankful for the experience. I’m doing what I love, applying my knowledge in Psychology, and getting college credit for it! I don’t think it could get better.