Joe and Sandy Wood had driven by our campus at 34th & Bowie hundreds of times, realizing it was a children's home, but knowing nothing more about it. They had gone to First Presbyterian with our kids for years and had been impressed with the houseparents and the children, but their involvement had never progressed beyond a casual observance. That is, until Joe had arm surgery in 2014. One Sunday as they were leaving church, a little girl and her sister from Amarillo Children's Home approached Joe, burdened by his cast, and told him, "We're praying for you." The next Sunday, the little sister came up to him, took his hand and asked if she could pray for him, "right now." Not one for public displays, the event was a bit embarrassing for Joe. But when a little girl is looking up at you with her big brown eyes, her tiny hand squeezing yours, asking if she can pray for you, you say, "Yes."
Sandy commented, "She bowed her little head and prayed so fervently, like a mini-evangelist."
In spite of their initial discomfort, the event brought tears to their eyes. Back home after the service, Joe told Sandy, "If that's the kind of children they're raising at that children's home, I want to be a part of it."
The Woods have spent the past three years growing into a relationship with ACH – attending events, visiting homes, serving on the board, even visiting us at camp. They represent a much-needed demographic on campus – that of "grandparent." The Woods don't have any grandchildren, but as Sandy exclaimed, "We do now! Forty or so!"
It hasn't been an easy venture. Both Joe and Sandy are most comfortable living quiet lives.
Joe said, "One struggle has been simply the leap to get involved." He also admitted, "It's rather awkward. We don't know how to handle them." And Sandy confessed she almost dreaded the first time entering an ACH event. "I didn't know what to do or say, but the more you attend, the more you get familiar. The only way you can really get invested is to go to the functions. The more you go, the more kids recognize you and say,'Hi." It doesn't happen overnight – you can't just pop inn and immediately be involved. It takes time."
Joe and Sandy have continued to walk into that awkwardness and bring to our kids the comfort and stability people of their generation offer. "I'm convinced the whole thing was not a coincidence. The Holy Spirit gave us a shove and said, 'Get out there and do something.' When you get to our point in life, you realize there's got to be more than satisfying your own self and desires. There's no satisfaction in the latest 'stuff' – it's empty. But the kids aren't. It gives meaning to our lives – it's selfish in a way. We benefit more than the kids do... It's been very fulfilling."