On Thursday, our mission team packed lunches and headed to Big Horn Canyon National Park. Bea-u-ti-ful. Rolling grasslands stretched for miles meeting the deep blue sky far off in the distance. Dust devils spiraled in the fields. Herds of cattle meandered about.
After paying the enhance fees, we continued onto the switchbacks into the park. Our 15-passenger rental vans climbed to the top of the plateau (about 5,000′ elevation). Stunning vistas rewarded our trek. We took our team picture. Then…back into the vans for our lunch destination, the Ok-A-Beh Marina. The Yellowtail Dam created the world famous Big Horn Lake. Apparently it is quite well known as a fishing destination.
The 39 of us tumbled out of the vans and carried the coolers, cases of water, and boxes of snacks to picnic tables overlooking the reservoir. Tasty, scenic lunch! Scott emerged shortly thereafter with keys to a 12-person pontoon boat! He expertly shuttled our group over to a swim area. It was actually a natural rock/water playland!
Many fears were conquered as students swam out to large rock columns, climbed the rock layers, then plunged back into the snowmelt waters. Screams of delight, shouts of encouragement, and words of caution (from our mom leaders!) filled the air for a full sensory experience. What an amazing afternoon! It was a quiet ride home as most of our team drifted off into dreamland. God blessed us abundantly with a private play place to enjoy and marvel in the beauty of His creation.
But wait, there’s more…
As we finished our dinner of burgers and corn on the cob, a well-respected member of the Crow nation brought four horses for us to ride!! Everyone who wanted to rode around our camp. Two students, who regularly lead and instruct at home, worked with each person to mount up onto the western saddle and go for a ride.
Several of us also took turns for the rides of our lives! We rode out of the valley and onto the grasslands north of our camp. Occasional islands of evergreens dotted the prairie. The sheer wall of the rim rocks rose further north. We rode through gullies sculpted by seasonal rains, “herded” cattle, and cantered across open land. The setting sun completed the perfect evening as we literally rode off into the sunset. Freedom. Pure joy. The Lord’s attention to even our deepest yearnings overwhelmed me once again. Priceless.